Emerald Chronicles, Volume 3 (book)
- Emerald Chronicles I
- Emerald Chronicles II
- Emerald Chronicles III
- Emerald Chronicles IV
- Emerald Chronicles V
- Emerald Chronicles VI
Emerald Chronicles III: Odurn and the Battle of Morganae's Arm
30th day of Ka'len the Sea Drake, 189
Please forgive your old friend! I promise I will not allow more of your letters to go unanswered. Each andu I wake before the sun and report to Second Odurn, who always has a list of tasks for me longer than a dowager's chatelaine. There is so much that consumes every roisaen that the months pass too fast for me to take notice. My responsibilities are now very great and I am taking pains to perform well so that I may see another promotion. But I have been forgetting myself to such tasks and have been a poor friend these past two years. I beg your forgiveness, Hren.
19th day of Dolefaren the Brigantine
Year of the Silver Unicorn, 189
I was glad to have your letter today and to hear you are all well after the storms that have beaten down upon the midlands these past months. When I heard a tale of a blacksmith's shop being blown to splinters, I feared for you all in the old man's loft. The Mighty surely smiles on you, friend!
Second Odurn arranged for monthly inspections by the Ferdahl, so today there was much ado and fanfare for his arrival. For andaen prior we are taken to raking the drill grounds, repairing unsightly problems and polishing our arms and armor. It is a good deal of toil, but it keeps the place looking sharp and it raises the spirits of the men to parade through the bailey before the Ferdahl. Commander Ptera does not enjoy such occasions, as I can feel from the chill in her voice when she speaks, but Second Odurn insists upon them. It is on his order that we attend chancel each andu for prayer, which has greatly complicated my schedule of watches.
Odurn has also stopped the forward missions because they put our men at too great a risk, and this has won him much favor in the ranks. I advised him that I believe we've lost ground to the Hand since we have ceased forward missions, but he is certain otherwise and I must trust his judgment. This eve I could see only 31 of our palisades before the Arm and at Katamba's last rising I thought I counted 33. I admit the error is more than likely mine, but it gnaws at me yet. What good is a watch if he cannot remember what he sees? I've resolved to count at each sunrise and keep a written log.
I have found a wonderful tonic for the hair and beard
to free it of nits. One of my watches, a Dwarf, applies
his lamp oil for several roisaen and follows with a stiff
combing. You may laugh at how crude this sounds, but it
works like a mage's spell. The Dwarf tells me the oil is
quite useable afterward, but since our pay has been
improved I have not had to resort to such efficiencies. If
you have cause to use it on the children, you may wish to
follow it with some perfume as the terrible odor lingers
for many andaen.
10th day of Akroeg, 190
I am forwarding some Shosandu gifts for the children and a pretty new glass bowl to leave Divyaush his cream in next year. I should hope Alizia will forgive the crudeness of these trinkets I have for her daughters, but they are the very best of the crude trinkets the sutler had to offer. The short sword is for Tijit. Though she is yet young, as your first-born she should receive her gift-sword from me. I feel the time is now, before I chance my life again.
Blessings, good fortune, health, and joy to you and
your kin this Shosandu!
5th day of Lirisa the Archer
Year of the Bronze Wyvern, 190
Good Glory! Alizia's scones are marvelous! She has remade your mother's recipe to perfection and makes suspect her claim of being Zoluren-born. I would swear those delectable things were created by the hand of a Northlander, and you may tell her so!
Blessings on your good fortune, too. It is unhappy
that the old man should pass to his end, but a cooper's
shop is work for younger men. Let the word be known among
the traders that the old man's price gouging is no more and
you should have much work indeed. You have weathered a
difficult time and your honor has carried you through it.
Chadatru smiles on those who persevere.
18th day of Moliko
Year of the Bronze Wyvern, 190
I have taken my first time away from the canyon since we arrived at the defenses and it was so strange. In seven years, it seemed very different to walk the streets of Shard. I did not care to tarry long in the taverns, nor did the lasses care to look on me long. Though I am not so ragged a soldier since our pay increases, I am no longer a fresh-faced lad with tales of glory. The lasses see it, Hren. I am becoming an old man who stares at the shadows.
When I returned to my post this eve, I took a count of
the palisades and saw only 19. I have shown my log to
Second Odurn who has ordered additional watches but only
along the western leg. I do wish my time away was enough
to travel as far north as the Crossing, as I would be much
comforted to hear your laughter again, old friend. Perhaps
my next leave will be longer, and you can remember with me
what we miss about being lads ignorant of this Southland
and its troubles.
10th day of Lirisa the Archer
Year of the Golden Panther, 191
I have enclosed with this letter a sketch of the view from the outer wall. My late-day watch is a good artist with charcoal (take care not to smudge it as you will lose the detail she has put into it). It shows more than my meager words could. Do you see the forest? The arbors grow and spread with great speed. Those vines tangled over the ramparts grew only in a few anlas and before evening they were upon the wall.
The vines require many strong arms and much vigilance to keep back, but the arbors that follow are not so yielding. The watch reports the arbors are building their number in the distance, but since our patrols now only cover the dead ground before the wall where our catapults cannot fire, they only encounter vines.
There is much concern that the wood will charge the wall and Commander Ptera has sent word to the Ferdahl that reinforcements be readied to aid us. Second Odurn objected to her order as they both stood before the ranks, but her look left no question her will would be done and our leaders retired to speak away from our ears. Such dissent cannot further our cause.
I've also included a parchment with the old-speech
words of the Lormandu songs your girls asked about. If
there are others they should wish to know of, I have a few
more in my memory.
5th day of Skullcleaver
Year of the Golden Panther, 191
Many thanks for your thoughts, Hren. I am grateful to yet have you as a comrade who knows my heart better than I myself do. Your words of advising are wise and bear the perspective of distance.
On your question of Roland, it has been a few years since I have heard from him myself. When last he wrote he was saving his coin to purchase Enfist's land so his widow would not be cast out. I cannot fathom our old comrade a gentleman farmer (on neither the count of gentleman nor farmer) but a cousin of Gertwynn who has come to work the Wall tells me that they are to wed before next harvest.
I don't have much time before the post rider leaves
for Shard, and I yet have to prepare my uniform for this
evening's watch. I will close this letter with my prayers
for your brood.
Year of the Amber Phoenix, 191
Shosandu greetings, friend! Enjoy the hog that attends this missive -- Alizia should know how to cook it if she's of the Mycthengelde. Take good care to find some red apples for the stuffing and you shouldn't be disappointed.
9th Skullcleaver, 192
Morganae's Arm fell. I do not know how it is that I write to you now, but it is surely by the will of the blessed Chadatru that I do. The fires of battle have been extinguished a few andaen, yet my hand trembles as I recall the fearsome siege. My dear Hren, I have never felt more a failed servant of Chadatru as I do now that I look upon the ruined wall across the lost ground now crawling with vines and haunted by shadow.
It was just after dusk when I heard the watch calling the Knights to arms from the forward tower. I ran through the bailey and reached the Arm in time to see the demon forest lurch against the stone wall with such terrible force that the great battlement shuddered and shook to its foundations. The Hand's twisted creatures came without end to throw themselves against the wall until it broke. We fought for days and nights without rest. I felt terror when I saw the wall shatter in the Hand's grasp and the foul creatures of the forest's depths storm the bailey. Those not crushed by the collapse of the wall were quickly swarmed and overcome by oily-skinned diggers. The [[Emerald Knights]] fought bravely, exhibiting honor so great that their defeat at the hands of such evil is in no way diminished. Brave knights, all, their blood staining our once-green yard and feeding the Hand's murderous march.
Commander Ptera stood with us, a small band of wounded and weary soldiers, backed against the rear wall. I spoke Final Penance to Chadatru for the strength to die well when the air began to whistle and I looked up to a sky peppered with arrows! We raised our shields against this new threat before we saw the Hand falling back from this death by air coming from high upon the slopes of the canyon.
As we attended the dead and wounded, the rangers came to us. There are eight of them and their leader, a twig of a fellow named Loro who is otherwise concealed by his cloaks. I don't know the others' names, but they were helpful in gathering wood for the pyres and healing herbs.
We have lost so many good and courageous knights and
the Hand yet threatens our much-weakened defense! Hren, my
fear is for us all. Should the Hand follow the path the
Dragon Priests once marched, do not let them enter your
home and find you alive. There is such blackness in these
realms your innocents should never see. But if ever it
should come to that, you will know that I have been felled
trying to stop it. I will close now so that I might rest
my wounds and calm my nerves. Chadatru willing, I should
write again soon.
Blood upon blood is spilled! The shame of it I can hardly bear to report to you. It was not so many andaen ago that the most terrible battle tore down the Arm. Now there is murder and treachery as the wicked Hand of darkness has surely reached into our hearts with seeds of corruption!
It was found by the men that the reinforcements ordered by Commander Ptera did not arrived because they were holding a position in far to the north of the walls. The thought of the Ferdahl's men sitting idle as so many good knights died was an outrage to the battle-weary and grief-maddened defenders. They took their vengeance upon the reinforcements' camp and left none alive.
It is the power of the Dark Hand. The taint of it corrupts the hearts of those too near it. Strong walls built of faith, courage and honor are easily breached by its darkness.
Second Odurn swiftly ordered the men who lead the massacre be hung for their crimes. They did not swing twice from the gallows before Commander Ptera's blade fell upon Odurn's throat and she executed his penalty for treachery with her own hand. If she speaks true, it was he who changed the order for reinforcements and left us to battle alone in a gamble for glory or death.
Since my last letter, there has been a constant rising
of smoke from the pyres and now the fires should burn for
at least another four andaen. I don't know what's to
become of the Emerald Knights, but these sorry events
can forge no good. I keep praying to the Mighty that if
the Emerald Knights should be no more that there be -some-
defense to keep the Hand back.
23rd day of Skullcleaver
Year of the Amber Phoenox, 192
Tidings, friend. We have been made to taste humiliation upon defeat by this Eloth. A detachment of his army arrived this morning to occupy the wall and relieve Ptera of her command. By the Ferdahl's order she has been exiled south on pain of death. She was given her sword but left on foot and without provisions. I hope she finds safe paths home to either the moors or to Chadatru's bosom. If she has indeed been blackened by the wood, may her soul find peace.
37th day of Skullcleaver
Year of the Amber Phoenox, 192
This Andu of Penance I have much thinking to put my mind to and I beseech your council in this matter, as you are closer to my soul than any of my own brothers. I've been offered the Command of the Emerald Knights and I must report my decision in little under a fortnight. I'm as unsure of my steps as a wee one learning to walk. Help me see my path, Hren.
The other officers support it, but I am not as sure of
myself as they are. Should I be the wrong man to lead the
Knights, then I put the wholes of the realms at peril. How
can I know? My mind remembers the songs sung by our
grandparents where the hero walked his journey with surety
and there was a knowing from the first that he would rise
above whatever evil came before the end. Chadatru forgive
me, I have no such surety of these things. Please write to
me soon and send your answer quickly as I cannot make such
a decision without word from you.