|Lord Mayor Montaire’s note to Victoria|
My daughter, try to understand. The mansion was, and has always been, an embarassing stain on our family’s reputation. When my father abandoned it, he told me, in no uncertain terms, that it was cursed ground, and that we were to avoid it at all costs. Now that it has collapsed completely, and has been tied to this sordid affair involving vampires and monsters, well…it was time to absolve ourselves of it completely.
And as for gifting it to the Draconic Brotherhood, well, that was a masterstroke on my part. Adventurers, you see, love mystery. They will spend time poking about the ruins, teasing answers from the rubble. They may solve the riddle of why my father abandoned the place to begin with, or they may not, but it will keep them interested and involved in the city affairs either way, while, at the same time, keeping them busy. And perhaps they may make some use of that useless property.
You may, perhaps, have noticed that times are dark indeed. This business with the dockworkers and Gaston is ugly, and it brings unrest. We need to be seen making some positive steps for the people, or we may find ourselves with their spears at our throats. I cannot believe I was such a fool as to not notice what foul business Gaston was involved with. This makes us on the council look particularly bad, and I am not keen on having a fetch of myself merrily on fire in my back yard.
Victoria, you are still young, and you have much to learn before you are able to take my place. You cannot alienate those who would support you, because they are the foundations upon which all our fortunes depend. With the Merchant’s Guild gone, and Bulrick pulling his little stunt, we are more vulnerable than ever. So we must ensure that we have allies of our own. The Fiendslayers in particular are a powerful force. See what changes they have wrought on our city in only a month’s time!
There are those with sharpened knives in the dark who are waiting only for us to give the appearance of working against the interests of the common man to strike. The White Foxes may be a myth, but it is a legend that I am not interested in testing. I know Rali hurt you. I have heard you cry at night. And I will, in time, ensure that she pays for the harm she has caused your heart. But that time is not now. Now is the time to embrace the adventurers with open arms.
|Bodak Steelgrinder’ Memoirs|
This must be what they mean when they talk about the price of success. I’ve gotten, like, 15 different job offers in the last three days alone. It’s time to expand…and damn do I wish I had that twenty grand now. It would help to be able to hire new talent. The Slayers are doing so well that it’s like a curse, because I can’t keep up.
I remember those days. Back when it was all new and fresh, and I thought that, as long as I had a strong team to back me up, I could take on the whole world! Aslar’s party cured me of that. But hey, they haven’t had a total wipe yet. That’s beating the odds, especially for a team that size. Lots of roster changes, yes, but no outright mass replacements.
I wonder how long that can last, though. I’d like to split them up, to be able to tackle more at once, but I don’t think that’s going to work well. I’ve gotten a few new recruits, though. Jil is shaping up to be a fine warrior. I’m worried about her revenge focus, but that’s manageable. And Pierre came crawling back. I don’t want to let the little weasel work for me again, but I need to find adventurers somewhere.
I’ll talk to the Slayers. Perhaps they can find some fresh-faced heroes willing to step up.
It seemed so new to us, back then. A world filled with possibility, after the horrors that the Dark Army had inflicted on our lands. We knew, those of us who had been chosen by The Emperor himself, that we had a mission – to protect this world, this shining bastion from the forces that would destroy it, as Avaleron had been corrupted and destroyed. I and my new bride, Leroux and his newborn half-elven daughter, Lianna, and so many others crossed from the Feywild, leaving its beauty behind, for beauty of another sort. And is that no Amyra’s wish? To preserve beauty?
We weren’t the first generation of the White Fox to arrive here. We came to help the society that was already well-established grow and flourish. Yet things are different here. The humans can be so quick to let their greed, ambition, or fear get the better of their good natures. Our own offspring, the half elves, have as much of one parent as the other, both well and ill. We must be ever vigilant that one does not take more than a fair, earned share. I have always believed it best to try and teach through Amyra’s love the true path, but there are times when love, sadly, is not the answer, and the call to arms must be made.
But the price of vigilance is, of course, that you see things. And I have seen terrible things. The Doom of Abbeville was caused by someone overextending their reach, grasping at powers not even the gods would dare to take. And here, in St. Clarice, the dwarf who has kept this city secure has finally let his avarice overcome his sense of honor. Such a shame.
But there is more shame still, and it comes from a place I once called my home. A decade ago, changelings began to come through the Shroudmist Gate, with horrible claims – my people, my own flesh and blood, were hunting them down. Slaughtering them! A systematic attempt to wipe the changelings from existence. I could scarcely believe it. I didn’t at first, but more and more arrived with the same stories, it became impossible to ignore. The Fox came together, a meeting of minds that hadn’t happened in decades, and we decided that we should help them. Leroux suggested the method—a series of safe houses and contacts, allowing the changelings to utilize their natural abilities to blend in with the people of this world.
The Underground came into place, with each of the Foxes trusting the others to do their part. But something is wrong. Very wrong. I should have seen the warning signs long ago-wondered why we never received word of how the people we placed were doing save vague assurances that they were fine. The reports of attacks on our caravans growing ever more frequent. I should have seen that something was very, very wrong before this point. But, blinded by my trust in my fellows, and my vain hope that this may still have only been some gross misunderstanding, I may have been letting something monstrous bloom in the garden I hoped to cultivate.
The Wild Hunt arrived, asking permission to peruse the records kept by the Church. No, demanding permission, on the orders of the Lady of Minas Elendrii. And my wife Angelique quailed in fear at them, and told me that she had seen their faces before—on the bandits that nearly ended her life, scarcely a month ago.
The Wild Hunt is here. They are openly hunting those we swore to save. My own empire, for whom I once would have given my life, has turned into something dark and evil. And someone, someone I know and thought I could trust, is helping them.
My shining lady Amayra, I pray to you now. Help guide me through this crisis. What am I to do?
|An Encoded Missive, Sent Via Magic|
Greetings to Our Lady.
Your plans proceed apace. The dockworkers, whipped into a suitable frenzy, will provide an excellent destabilizing force. The Sheriff has decided to seize the assets of the Merchant’s Guild for himself, a foolish move that will have the population out for his blood if he handles it wrong. Not planned, but definitely an advantage. The city should be in chaos soon, and ripe to fall on schedule.
I dislike having your agents interfering with my affairs. They are too brazen, and are drawing unwanted attention. I told you before, I can handle the search for the Shards. Two of them have fallen into my hands already. You should not have sent your daughter on this search—it will only lead to uncomfortable questions for her in the future, something we should strive to avoid until we are ready to handle them.
As always, I send you my best regards.
|From the Journal of the Jack of Ashes|
Ah! The music of discord! Sweet strains of cacophony clamor in this vicious cabaret. The overture of the symphony of destruction has begun!
Faith in the institutions of government falters. The people say they want change, and they grow disillusioned with those who rule over them. Faith, in these times, is a precious commodity.
Where will they turn, then, when their trust is betrayed? To the comforts of the gods, false promises of salvation. Ah, and when those hopes are shown to be false as well? Where will they turn, when they find they can trust neither man nor god? Anarchy! Anarchy! And the gods, who feed on faith and belief, will be starved. The well of faith from which they drink will dry up, and what little draught is left will be as a poison to them, weakening them.
And what a perfect opportunity has presented itself. Thanks to Audric’s unwitting help, I am now privy to secret melodies that subtly harmonize disparate events, and can sway the whole city to my designs! I had no idea how widespread this White Fox Society was, and how many tiny things they influenced. They will be the perfect tools. The second movement begins!