A dark day becomes a new dawn
I hope that you are well and that you enjoyed the Feast of Saint Oliver which I know you shall be hosting at the family manse this evening. A large part of me would gladly quit these wretched jungles for the olive groves and vineyards of home. To replace the oppressive, damp heat for the gentle breezes that blow off the sea. To escape the crush of human desperation for the wide boulevards and merry shops of Arncourt.
Alas, mother, I have now truly drank from the cup of loss and feel that it has forever changed me. My good friend and loyal servant Victor is no more.
Events have unfurled quickly here in Centaria. After my last letter Victor, Sunbow and I left the lizard-man village of Kembai, returning south along the river in commandeered canoes in the hopes of catching up with the villainous Qu Tol. We could not know for certain where he would head but our best bet was to head for Sun to see if the viper had returned to its nest. After paddling for much of the night we set ourselves a camp on the riverbank in a small clearing. As we brooded over how best to recover the stolen totem our ears alerted us to approaching creatures. I did not have time to don my armour but drew my sword and prepared for what may come.
At first it seemed that fate had been kind to us when several human mercenaries stepped from the jungle into the light of our fire. Their leader, whom I had treated with in Kembai on a number of occasions, demanded that we hand over the amber idol. They were unaware that we did not possess the totem, but I could see by the set of their eyes that they would never believe the truth of the matter. Predictably a fight broke out and Sunbow, Victor and myself proved more than a match for them, despite their greater numbers.
To be honest, mother, I relished the combat and felt the sting of our betrayal lessen as I fell my enemies. I admit now to horror when thinking on how good it felt to spill their blood.
We captured a few of the mercenaries, but having no way of safely transporting them we released them after depriving them of their own small river craft.
On our return to Sun we reported to Prelate Vander and soon I found myself shunned and almost scorned for the way in which we had lost the idol. We joined the search for Qu Tol who was rumoured to have arrived in the city and had been co-ordinating some kind of festival!
Saboon, the chieftain of the local tribe who holds nominal power, once more suggested some distant relation of his as a potential ally in finding the location of Qu Tol. The little man who he summoned was a singularly peculiar individual. Physically he was very much like the gnomes who wander through the Northern Kingdoms in their colourful and festive caravans. How such a creature had come to be in Centaria is beyond me, but it seems that he has become well acclimatized to his surroundings. His talk and manners were those of a local and his erratic methods and arcane powers indicated a long association with the shamans.
The little man, whose name is Jabilo, proved his worth using his sorcery to hone in on the location of the totem, using drawings provided by Sunbow, Victor and myself. It seems the Qu Tol had hidden it in a freshly dug latrine, probably intending to return for it later once the search had moved away from the city.
Though I was determined to personally oversee the safety of the totem Saboon and the council took possession of it and I was denied the right to help protect it. I admit that this stung my pride as I was once more dismissed.
It was while I brooded on this outside of the Church of Saint Lucius with Sunbow that we noticed movement across the churchyard on the roof of the courthouse. Ever vigilant, it was Sunbow who drew our attention to a group of lizard men who had penetrated the cities defences to gain access to the very heart of Sun. Amongst their number was a large lizard man whom I immediately recognized as the fiend Enoch, who had been freed from his cell.
We sprang into action mother. Brave Victor and Jabilo, who had just left the church, Sunbow and myself. With cries to Saint Lucius, Saint Clevoy and almighty Pelor I led the charge. We were held up only briefly by the shuttered church gate but soon enough we were amongst our enemies. My shouted challenges were met by a foe more skilled in combat than any of the lizardfolk that I had yet encountered. Their poisoned blades were hideous so that even the smallest of wounds sapped ones strength as the venom of the dreaded canopy spider ravaged us.
Victor, having dispatched his foe vaulted onto the wall to stop Enoch who only had a mind for flight. In a desperate move my faithful friend threw himself bodily on the larger lizardman, dragging him from the wall and into the compound on the other side. After I finished slaying the last of the lizard foot soldiers I tried to render aid, but found myself to encumbered by my heavy armour to gain the heights of the wall. I was forced to waste valuable time pushing a wagon to the wall while on the other side sweet Victor was succumbing to the cruel knives of his enemies.
Jabilo had done his best to hinder Enoch and his final remaining companion, but the spells that he had used were unable to fully contain them. Once Victor had been dispatched he knew that the only option was to see to their destruction. Even as I mounted the wall a ball of fire erupted in the yard, searing the lesser lizard man and leaving Enoch injured. Sunbow, whose own mastery of the arcane is impressive, finished the matter by directing a pair of lightning bolts from the stormy skies above to smite Enoch, leaving him naught but a smoking ruin on the hard-packed dirt.
I can hardly describe my sorrow at the loss of Victor. But even then, duty demanded my attention and, as the poison took its full toll on my body, I returned to the church to see to the safety of the totem.
Even as I was convinced that the item was secure word began to circulate throughout town. News of the sack of distant Sol by a ravaging army of lizard folk reached us. Word is that the garrison and the townsfolk have all been taken. Too weary and heart sick to take part in the preparations for a sortie, I returned with Victor to the barracks where I saw him cleaned and readied for burial. Because all others in the Vintaran quarter were busy I stood the lonely vigil by myself before seeing Victor to his final rest.
It was through the many hours that I stood watch over his body that a new determination grew within me. I was appalled by my previous obsession with glory and the promotion of my own name. I came to realize that the true meaning of honour is not in dispatching ones enemy but in defending those who are too weak to defend themselves and doing so without compromising ones morals. As I contemplated these things I felt a new awakening in my heart. I felt touched by the grace of Pelor and the warmth and peace that it brought me was succour to my soul.
I have determined that I will stay here in Centaria and give what aid I can to the piteous inhabitants of this land. I will not do so for the sake of glory, but for the sake of humanity.
This is my new vow and it is one that strengthens my resolve.
I fear that I will not see you again for some time, mother, nor shall I feel the sea breezes or walk through Arncourt or enjoy the Feast of Saint Oliver until the folk of this land are secure from the predations of the lizard man.
Best regards from your ever-loving son,