Emerald Chronicles, Volume 4 (book)

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There are six volumes in the Emerald Chronicles. These books detail the rise of Graev and the Emerald Knights as forces protecting civilization from the dangers of the Dark Hand beyond Corik's Wall.


Emerald Chronicles IV: Commander Graev

Shosandu

Year of the Emerald Dolphin, 194

Hren,
The Ferdahl has cut our pay and provisions sharply, so I am sorry to send you all such small gifts this Shosandu. The gem is quite good and I am told comes from the mines of this canyon. Take it to a fine jeweler to cut and set before giving it to Alizia. I hope the honey cakes arrived satisfactorily. They are best after having sat in the inglenook for a time to put some warmth upon them.

We've completed work on reinforcing and altering the rear wall that remains. I doubt very much we will be able to construct another wall behind this, as what stone we were able to scavenge was small and hard to come by. There's simply no choice but to push forward and reclaim Morganae's Arm. The damage to the Arm is devastating, but it will still require less material to repair than a new wall would be to build. I will not give up on the Arm. We will recover the lost ground before I pass from this life -- I swear it.

I've asked one of the joiners who assisted with the new refectory about your roof problem. He advises that you replace the thatching entirely as you will never be rid of the varmints. Until spring, you are wise to use only the first floor and wear a hood should you venture up.
Geoff


29th day of Akroeg

Year of the Emerald Dolphin, 194

Hren,
Now more than ever I wish that you had not stayed in the Crossing so many years ago. I need you here now, and hope Alizia will consider releasing you for a short trip south. Besides, I am sure the space made by your leaving for a time would be welcome and you could return in the spring to have your thatching done. How about it, old comrade?
Geoff


18th day of Ka'len the Sea Drake

Year of the Emerald Dolphin, 194

Hren,
Twins! Good glory, Hren, where do you find the time? Certainly you should stay north as I can only imagine how much there is to attend to at home! You may tell Alizia that my mother swore by cooled fennel tea to calm colicky babes.

I am hoping you might do me a favor, though, and speak with the Guild Masters in town as see if they have any difficult students they would send us for apprenticing. I can send you a good letter of introduction should you require it. Every day we need more supplies and strong backs to move them, not to mention strong arms to defend when the watch calls. I have already sent messengers to Shard on the same mission.
Geoff Graev


29th day of Shorka the Cobra

Year of the Crystal Snow Hare, 195

Hren,
How strange to come all the way to Ilithi on our grand escape from the drudgery of schooling and I find myself good at being an administrator! I must thank you for your good word with the Crossing guild leaders. Word has spread through the guilds that we will accept troublesome students and we have had a solid response. I have recruits coming from every corner -- even from the gallows! The chief of executions permits the crowd to decide if the criminal should be offered service at the Wall. Even the laziest of them can be made into a soldier - I find nothing motivates a soldier like the gallows' noose.

We have begun keeping a watch at the Darkling Wood outpost as raids have recently disrupted our supply lines. My wall watch can hardly stand to be thinned, but we can neither leave so vital a link with the outside world in peril.

The bronze piece enclosed is so you may buy some ribbons for the girls. I am so sorry to hear of little Maerissa's arm-break, such things are so hard on ones so very little. She is a very strong girl to have climbed from her crib so young and it's good to know Maerdelle has not made the same journey. Perhaps a canopy would keep tiny Maerissa in?
Geoff


21st day of Arhat, 195

Hren,
We have word from her. She is with those rangers deep in the Hand. Her messenger arrived on foot at the wall's eastern leg just after Meraud's Cloak. We spoke briefly before he disappeared into the mists and he warned of a strength growing in the Hand, that there will be a surge soon and we must prepare. There is part of me that thinks this could be trickery, but my soul wants to believe she would not leave others to fight the Hand alone. I will trust it and begin to prepare, though I dare not speak of why.

The chain shirts to armor my men sent by the Ferdahl are unriveted rubbish and will scarcely hold up to a good sneeze. If I can arrange to have a caravan bring them to the Crossing, do you think your friend at the forge would either rivet them or take them in barter for riveted shirts and I will forward the difference in cost? Speed is important, as the return caravan must leave three months following on the fourteenth andu.
Geoff


12th day of Moliko, 196

Hren,
We lost many this evening and that's never an easy thing for a Commander. The strength building in the Hand that her messenger spoke of was thrust upon us in the very early hours of the morning, before Berengaria's Touch alighted on the field of battle. The Wall stands yet, and so we have victory.

I suspect the widows and children will begin arriving by the morrow as word spreads of our losses. How can soldiers leave behind their hearts' joy knowing they may never feel the comfort of home again? How can they leave their love knowing that a stranger may tell them of their last moments? A stranger! I am a stranger to the widows who wet my epaulettes with their tears and a stranger who has let their love be slain, yet they thank me. And what can I tell them but that they died bravely and in the cause of right and holiness? What else can I tell them? Shall I tell them their husbands shrieked for their mothers in their last terrified moments? That they could not hold their bladders as they were drenched with the gore of their comrades?

No. And I would surely not deny any of them the right to have died ingloriously. It is a most horrific and inglorious place. I spare no shame on them, they have died in a cause few would take up and along the Wall that is glory enough. Surely I think there are some lies the Blessed Chadatru would excuse, don't you think? One of the fallen was my Second, Ilksin. He was a veteran of so many missions he could out-story an aged Elf. I feel deeply the loss of his counsel, but more deeply do I fear we will all suffer for the loss of his guidance and faith.
Geoff


18th day of Moliko the Balance

Year of the Silver Unicorn, 196

Tijit,
Your letter arrived just after we broke fast and it brought me sunshine though the weather outside storms. You are a very brave little girl for wanting to come and help your Uncle Graev, but I do not think it wise for you to enlist in the Emerald Knights this year. Perhaps when you have finished your growing, you will show us what a good knight you are.

But for now, keep polishing your gift-sword and practicing your lessons. You will be a big help to the realms' defense if you do your chores and wear your nightcap without your mother asking twice. The flat rock inside this package is called a whetstone and it is used to sharpen a blade. You must find some good oil first, but then your father can show you how to hone your sword's edge. I know you will do well if you are attentive, so do not be careless and cut yourself.
Your Uncle Geoff


27th day of Shorka the Cobra

Year of the Bronze Wyvern, 197

Hren,
I am glad to hear mother and babe are well -- congratulations to you and your burgeoning brood! It is just like Einselda to take to caring for the little ones. By your tales she is a real mother hen! I am sure you are both glad to have some help in her since Tijit seems to have other interests.

You and 'Zia have done a fine job making up for any brood I might have had were I "married to anyone but my duty," as you are fond of saying. Perhaps I am married to my faith so that we vanquish this evil that defiles our realm and affronts our blessed Chadatru.

My new Second, Farol, is working out to be more than adequate. He has not Ilksin's experience, but he is a natural in the seat of command and finds no resistance among the Knights who welcome his forthrightness and verve.
Geoff


17th day of Uthmor

Year of the Golden Panther, 198

Hren,
It was so good to see you that you've scarcely been gone a few andaen and already I'm missing you terribly. What fun it was to talk of those days before we decided to "see the world," when life was joyous and simple and our days were filled with hunting in the Danduwen or watching the regiments drill. Perhaps when your brother weds I should travel to the Northlands again and see all of the places that I have had to preserve in my memory. I am glad you tell our stories to your daughters, that they should tell their children and we should find immortality in tales of our misadventures!

I am told our bread will not last as long as we'd hoped when I saw you last, so I'm praying that Chadatru should consider smiling on our friend's yak for swiftness in its journey. I know you are mindful, but please do not forget to deliver the package on the fourteenth andu of next month. If he should squabble or give any doubt of his good word when you meet him, I have faith the Mighty would approve a firm reminder of his commitment and the wages of dishonesty.
Geoff


28th Uthmor, 198

Send some of your strongest hands to see that trader and tell him his missing platinum has been located and will be gladly returned upon the next full caravan he sends the Dark'wood post. That cur does not wish to contend with me, not in fisticuffs, swordplay or tactics. My Knights will not starve for his greed nor shall I neglect my command for his foolishness!


3rd day of Arhat

Year of the Golden Panther, 198

Hren,
Blessed be that we should have bread and lamp oil! This is the first writing I have done by lamplight in the many months and it's a luxury I am savoring. I am sorry for the anger of my last letter, old friend, it is I who was a fool to put so important a task in a fool's hands. We will find other means.

There is good news, too. We've pushed the demon wood back beyond the shattered ruins of Morganae's Arm. More than five years in the grip of the Hand has left a permanent mark on the place and though it is now released, it is somehow scarred beyond repair. The rangers say the land may never heal or be free of shadow.

Give Alizia and the girls my affection. Is there any nicety 'Zia would have for her birthday? I do not think my duties will allow me to take leave for the feast you are planning, but she will have my remembrance and a gift of her liking.

As for you, please take the bronze I enclose and buy yourself two stout ales -- drink them both (one for my part!) in celebration of the good favor you have done for the realms' defense and your comrade Geoff.
Geoff.


31st day of Akroeg the Ram

Year of the Amber Phoenix, 199

Hren,
I write you this morning from the wall walk; something I have not done since I was Captain of the Watch. We've driven the reach of the Hand back only a bit further beyond the Arm, it seems to have found a good foothold and is unwilling to be moved. Stalled, but not battering at our wall and that is a solid victory here. What troubles me is this matter of the lost ground, which is still consumed with the taint of the Hand. This makes me tremble at the possibility of it escaping the canyon. That which it touches never lives free again and should the wood ever conquer us, I fear there would be no second opportunity.

Word has come again from Ptera of the Hand's gaining strength and we have begun to prepare. It seems to know when I am most tired and most need to rest my watch. "The weary shall have no rest," Father Galwydd would say, and that must be my standard now.

On the matter of your missing tools, I would suspect less of the girls than one of your hands. Tell them you must cut all their wages by half to pay for the missing items and I assure you, the culprit or culprits will be revealed to you before long. It's difficult to find help you may trust and I have come to value it above almost all other traits as those can be trained where trustworthiness cannot be.

I've made some plans with a trade clerk regarding supplies for next winter. Though it is yet a year away, I will rest easier knowing our overwinter supplies are secure. I've arranged for you to meet him on the eve of Lormandu at the boulder near the boneyard north of the city. Please forward him the enclosed and be sure to take some precaution, as I know little of the man myself.
Geoff


8th day of Lirisa the Archer

Year of the Amber Phoenix, 199

Hren,
Many thanks for meeting the clerk. I had word from him not long after and he was pleased to have met you. Everything is in order and I rest easier knowing our bellies should have bread for the coming months. By next thaw we will have more recruits and will need more arms. If we will supply the oil and the barrels, I have a weapon smith who will fill them for the Eloth's paltry allowance. I know you can arrange for the barrels, but the oil to pack the blades in is a matter that will require more consideration as my smith will not let so much of it go for so small a price. Do you know of someone who would?

As soon as you utter, "aye" the gold should be in his hands and work begin. You're a good man, Hren!
Geoff


30th day of Dolefaren

Year of the Iron Toad, 200

Hren,
I am glad to hear Tijit is improved from her illness and that it didn't spread to the other girls. Such fevers have taken a number of my men and if it could fell men of such stout character than surely little Tijit should thank the blessed Chadatru for sparing her. I know that such words have been in my prayers.

I think it is well you have bought the girls a puppy! They are good companions and in such a city as is the Crossing, can be protectors to your family and workshop. The recluse upon the canyon's rim keeps dogs and because of them there are none so foolish or brave as to menace her home. Einselda should not bear all the work of its care, as I know she will do without thinking. The other girls will learn duty in helping to care for it.
Geoff


24th day of Nissa

Year of the Iron Toad, 200

Hren,
Greetings! I have had a letter from our old comrade Roland. The date of it is many months ago, but he speaks of being quite well. He and Gertwynn have made a happy life on the croft. As you might think, Roland found he was more a gentleman than a farmer and lets most of his fields. He does plant a few crops to keep the two of them fed. He wrote some very funny tales of trying to train his warhorse to the plow. Sense came to him before too many injuries and it was sold to one of the Baron's men for coin enough to buy a plow mare and a cow. Can you just see our Roland wrestling with his steed to plow a straight furrow? I nearly burst my plate with laughter! Even now I cannot help but chuckle as I think on it.

I've posted a letter in return and hope to convince our comrade to meet us both in the Crossing for some ale between old friends, perhaps after next harvest. How is it the four of us boyhood comrades so bonded with affection should be cast so very far apart as men? Farthest yet, our poor Enfist, the Mighty bless him. We should not let his ale go untaken -- surely the three of us can shoulder that task?
Geoff


13th day of Shorka

Year of the Emerald Dolphin, 201

Hren,
I hope this letter finds a calmer Nebban home than of your last writing. On even the days of least order here at the Wall, where chaos undoes our entire making, I can't imagine fathering such a large brood as yours. You have great patience with them, Hren. If you wish that I should write to Tijit and advise her to be more at home than I will do it at your first word. However, I beg that you should remember yourself at her age and what adventures you sought. Were she your first son, she would have begun training three years ago. So why not bring her to the guild in the city and seek some training for her energies? I do not know the guild leader in your city, but Second Farol and I have met the Paladin guild leader in Shard quite often in recruiting and I am sure he would forward a good letter on her behalf.
Geoff


2nd day of Ka'len

Year of the Crystal Snow Hare, 202

Hren,
Tidings, friend. Many thanks for your letter of last month. I'm always lighter of spirits for reading your letters and though I have seen little of them, feel as close to your family as I would my own. In the bleak anlas of the morning, they remind me why I command the [[Emerald Knights]]. Were it not for them I would forget my purpose and lose heart with the struggles of each andu.

Everything is a challenge for us, as not even the moldiest crust of bread can be obtained without playing politics with the Ferdahl, and I do grow weary of it. But what alternative is there? I either further submit to that Eloth or we must forge our own road. But forging our own road has used sweat better spent at the fight, I fear.

This weighs so heavy on me because I've had another messenger warning of the Hand massing strength beyond our watch's sightline. I will expect a surge in the coming months and I've learned not to underestimate such warnings. I hope Alizia and you will not mind giving the candy to the girls. The sutler rarely has such treats and these peppermints are the best I have tasted. Geoff


Continue to Volume V of the Emerald Chronicles