[Wednesday July 3, 2002]
Griflet's Report: "Peace does not last forever."
SIGNAL FIRES - Night of the Shrew (24th), White Witches' Moon, Year of the Lamia
"Yah! Gather all riders to the gate!" Shouts Griflet as he rises and hurries from the Banquet. As he's walking he consults with Corinth. "What do the fires say, Master Corinth?"
"Only that an attack is taking place, Sire. Your edicts are but days old, and our fire signalling language has not yet been fully formulated."
"Sires! My armour!"
Someone hurries to get your armour, and the Feast of House Royale is left in disarray, meals uneaten, wine undrunk. When you get to the gate with the assembled riders, you say to Corinth: "Stay here and maintain the defences well. Send a scout to the Harbour, but no fires east ward. Good luck to you Corinth."
"And to you, Sire."
You saddle and depart. You lead them the to gates in an ordered trot and you build up to a canter along the trading route towards the Stone Jetty. You and your division ride grimly north along the trade ridge. You ride at the front of the cavalcade with Gelblin, one of the warriors of House Protector who accompanied you Red Rock. You know it isn't possible to ride to the Stone Jetty in less than two days, especially with so many, so you don't push your elves, instead making camp near one of your warning towers as the tips of the western mountains grow bright with dawn light. About an hour later a fresh fire lights up on the top of the tower. This one is very smoky and the guards are sending smoke signals into the cold still morning air. Gelblin purses his lips. "It seems the attack is over, Sire."
HELIAS REPORTS - Day of the Squirrel (26th), White Witches' Moon, Year of the Lamia
You get some rest and saddle up in the afternoon. Late that evening, you approach the Stone Jetty settlement. The palisade walls seem intact and the Banner of Immutable Law still flutters from the garrison building. Cautiously, you give the signal to ride on. The gates are opened and soon you are in the company of Commander-in-Chief Helias.
"Greetings Sire. I am sorry to have dragged you from important business. The attack was sudden, but not unexpected. I had prepared for it. Nevertheless, the orders were to light the warning fires, and so they were carried out. It was of course my kin and they attacked, as I anticipated, from the tunnels near the Stone Jetty. Thanks to your letter and my own suspicions, the tunnel entrances have been closely watched, so the attack was ineffective. Until the area was secure, I sent the Swan Ship out to the lake, to guard against fire and sabotage. There was just one enemy casualty; a lucky shot, I do not know him. The rest - not a large group - soon realised that they were not dealing with grimlocks and beggars, and retreated. However, Sire, I know my kin: they will be back eventually. We like to think we rule all above and below Tovilyis; at the very least there will be spies. Our secrecy here is no longer guaranteed."
"Master Helias, I'm impressed with your competence and I honour your bravery. Your kin are truly great fighters and this news is bad for us. How many did you count in the attack? Did they bring Grimlocks with them?"
"There were about sixteen warriors that I saw. Hardly an assault force, though all were of course well armoured as is proper. Fools; I think they assumed the advantage of surprise. Grimlocks cannot tolerate any light; they would have been useless in any attack which did not take place at the dark of the moon. Besides, for effective control one requires a sorcerer or a pain-wand."
"A pain wand...indeed your people have taken to strange ways."
You think for a moment: "If the Elves of Torvilyus know we are here we must parley with them as soon as possible before more blood is shed. Helias, who exactly is in control of your kin? A council? How could we reach them with words?"
Helias looks uncomfortable. "Sire, I do not know if words would be effective. My kin have..taken strange paths since the destruction of the city. Technically our ruler is the Regent. He is not an...easy one to deal with. I counted myself fortunate to have been assigned to the upper Quarter of Contemplation, far away from the Regent and his court. I do not believe the Regent will deal with you."
"If he will not deal with me willingly, we must force him to parley. We know your people use the Red Rock as punishment. What could draw the Regent out? News that Coryon is no more? Do you think that not even the head of the Great Wyrm himself would rouse his interest? I think we've some chance to catch his attention Master Helias. It is important to take action rather than reactions if we are going to thrive here."
NEWS FROM THE SOUTH - Day of the Crab (30th), White Witches' Moon, Year of the Lamia
You turn back to Gelblin. "Take twenty riders and return to the Stone of Law. Retrieve the head of the Wyrm and our mightiest banners. Bring them here. Ride well."
Gelblin bows. "As you wish, Sire."
You settle down to wait, mindful of further attack. The swan ship returns to dock. There is a tense atmosphere at Stone Jetty. Everyone seems on edge after the attack. Four days later, as White Witches' Moon wanes to the merest sliver and then vanishes altogether, Gelblin and his warriors return, bearing the enormous and frightening head of the Elvenfoe and several large Banners of Law. Gelblin greets you. "Sire, Master Corinth sends a message. He says that the southern scouts have reported a large incursion of some kind of nomads from the Barrens into southern Whispering Earth, south of Last River. The nomads seem to have made camp in the southern plains."
"By the powers of Law, how many wander our good land?"
Gelblin responds: "Sire, Corinth's scouts reported over two hundred of these nomads, mounted on what looked like large featherless, flightless birds. As requested, the scouts did not engage the force, but reported immediately.
"Send 75 well armed warriors BUT don't engage, or close, ride swiftly back if they appear hostile. We must show some force. Otherwise parley with the Nomads, you may need a good linguist. Don't get too close. See what they want and if they have anything worth trading. Tell them they are welcome to stay for a week as is custom and then we will escort them North West out of our land. Report when this is done."
"I will do as you ask, Sire."