Letters from Derrien

It was very late after a long night of entertaining in the Mighty Griffin in Derrienport when Emmeline returned to her modest room and sat down with her travel desk. She lit her little candle pulled out a sheet of parchment, inkwell and quill. The quill in her hand hovered over the ink. A lot had happened and she felt… strange about it all.

It was an odd feeling, something she hadn’t really ever felt before. She missed the midnight talks and walks with the Baron. She missed the security being in his castle had given her. She missed other things, too, things she couldn’t dwell on for fear of just getting up, packing her things and going back north. Going home.

Homesick. That was what felt so strange. She hadn’t been homesick before. Her uncle’s house had never felt like home to her and when she was with her grandfather, home was wherever they’d chosen to be that day. She barely remembered her father and so what she had in Uzec was the closest thing to a home, however briefly she’d actually been there, that she ever had.

And her feelings about the Baron were more part of that than she dared admit to herself. The journey had to continue.

She set her ink-laden quill to parchment.

First Letter

My Dearest Baron d’Uzec,

So many things have happened of late. Things I want to speak to you about, but for now a letter must do.

The journey to Derrien was not so easy as I had hoped it might be. Thanks to help from Elemix and his man at arms, Arande, I was able to avoid capture by yet more overly-enthusiastic would-be suitors. It appears my uncle is determined to marry me off to this or that local well-to-do house for his own self-interest. This time they had papers. Well, I collected those papers and sent them packing. They won’t be back until new ones are drafted as they no longer have any means of proving legal (Thalassan) authority over me at this time. The campfire seems to have somehow eaten those papers. I wish my uncle would stop with this nonsense, but as yet I have no solution to make it stop. For the inconvenience and danger it has put my friends in, I’d do almost anything (legally) to make it stop.

Unfortunately, the kidnappers were not the only spot of trouble we ran into. Bandits attacked us as well. They had cover, numbers and even set dogs on me. How could someone do that to another person? It was an outrage and misuse of those poor animals. I regret very much we had to slay one — but only after it had savaged and murdered poor Arande. Elemix and I gave better than we got, I think I can say, but we were driven off. I was near to death and practically defenseless when we fled. But, that was not the end of it. Desperate to avoid inevitably being run down and murdered for the few trinkets I had, I swallowed a magic potion of healing we’d retrieved from the goblins north of Calder Keep. The effect was… dramatic and more than a little alarming. I apparently erupted into living flame which engulfed nearly everything I had, but yet did not burn me. I foolishly, very stupidly, charged in a rage at those bandits, raised my hand and… all that fiery magic came pouring out of me! It burned their captain to death on the spot. People will assume I have magic now, I suppose. Honestly, I can only think that is not such a bad thing. Perhaps kidnappers and bandits would think twice if they assumed I was not such easy prey. Lives might be spared.

Suddenly our little battle was over. Only a couple bandits had survived and they managed only to steal poor Arande’s horse. We collected our scattered things and looted the bandits’ bodies in revenge. When we got to Derrien, we were surprised to find out this bandit captain was a wanted man. Later we were able to collect a reward that has vastly improved our situation, my Baron. Of course, we also made sure Arande’s family received his fair share. We will not be so exposed and vulnerable when we travel in the future, I can promise that. 

Although, it would seem the dangers our investigation continues to stir will be all the more dramatic.

We must remain in Derrien a little longer while I finish a contract for entertaining and Elemix completes alchemical work creating potions of healing — real ones this time and not crazy goblin concoctions that may as likely poison the next desperado as it might heal them. I will write again tomorrow night about what happened next.

Miss you.

Yours,

Emmeline d’Cerisey

(Sealed in wax with an image of a tree.)

===

Second Letter

Another night, another few gold. Emmeline’s entertainment gig at the Mighty Griffin was quite profitable. During the day she had been spending much of her time inventing new songs and tunes, then trying them on the audience at night, around requests for older favorites. They were being well received so far. But her subject matter was of things people could relate to. Songs of journeys, and the tragic ends of villains who never thought themselves the villain were cunningly sprinkled in among classics of love and tales of adventure.

It was again late when she began to put quill to parchment to write a second letter to Baron d’Uzec.

My Dearest Baron d’Uzec

First I wish to convey that I passed on your letter for the Duke to Proctor Henri d’Eniac and he interviewed me. After our discussion your actions as well as ours were accepted. He did, on behalf of the Duke, add me to the ranks of the gentry.

By now you may have heard of some of our exploits of these past couple weeks in Derrien and Derrienport. I hope my account here helps fill in details and put things in context.

We continued to investigate rumored sightings of the woman that accompanied the man named Tuderic. By speaking with a wide variety of people, including the Duke’s protector Magus Alix, we were able to learn that this Tuderic may be in some way an incarnation of an ancient sorcerer from Imperial times. The woman who was with him was a half-fey, part human and part dark elf. She went by “Thea” in town, so we poked around until we managed to stir up a bit of a hornet’s nest. 

These people had been smuggling magic items to parts south, through Breven. Thea seems to have been awaiting a piece from their associate, the sorcereress we killed with goblins north of Calder Keep. This piece was shattered of course, and Thea and her people hadn’t realized for certain their associate was slain.

After finding our friend Tiffanie and the ever-competent Sister Jocelyn, we proceeded to search where Thea was hiding out. The local thieves guild had been disturbed by these illicit, non-guild activities and so this Tolliver met with us. 

It is very late now, my Baron, and I am left exhausted by the demands of my audience tonight. I will send a new letter tomorrow.

Your Emmeline d’Cerisey

(Sealed in wax with an image of a tree.)

===

Response to First letter

To our dear friend Mademoiselle Emmeline de Cerisey, late of Thalassa, by the grace of Aarith, we, Roland d’Uzec, Baron and Lord, send you greetings and ready desire to please,

We are relieved you made it to Derrien by the will of Aarith and the strength of His blessings, the valor of your companions, and your own cleverness and fortitude. It seems that bandits have been getting bolder lately, but despite their villainous efforts you are well. It is sad to hear of your troubles, and about the death of the Magus’ servant of course, but to the safety of his charge and by extension to yours, his death could not have been more honorable.

Your journeys farther south should be safer, and hearing good news of your current healthy state, we are pleased. Road guards, are of course, a wise precaution. The strange thaumaturgical effect that came upon you during the battle is of concern to us of course. Please ask your Magus to investigate any lingering effects. We have learned that his mother is an expert in such phenomena.   

We know you are blessed with certain skills of leadership and rhetoric, which your companions look to for inspiration. We look to for you to share with my daughter the fruits of your natural and trained acumen to supplement and temper the education of her person, and we suspect you possess other skills that are part of the greater mystery and fascination you are to us. We know you also travel in circles that some find unseemly, dangerous, and adventurous, that we once also travelled in a similar way during our days of errantry. We are also not blind to the great potential in your person both as an honorable and valorous gentlewoman, and as a dear friend to ourselves whose acquaintance we desire and miss.  

As such we are torn in mind and spirit, despite our words of freedom to you. We do not enjoy hearing of your close brush with mortality and want to whisk to directly to golden Thalassa and back to us. Yet, we know you have a way toward survival of your person that we trust will continue as you press on your investigation of the depredators of our loyal citizens. Your devotion to them, despite brief acquaintance, is honorable and well noted by us. 

On the matter of your uncle, of which we hereunto have known little, we are not surprised he would go to great efforts to use you are a beautiful pawn in his own machinations, whatever they may be. What was the will of your father in this matter? Is there anything we can do for you here? If it is within our power, we will help should you request it.

We look forward to hearing of your continued adventures and to your swift and safe return to our person, by the grace of Aarith and the tides of Fortune, which you so deftly navigate.

Your Baron,

Roland d’Uzec

(sealed with his smaller personal seal, not the Baronial Seal.)

===

Third Letter

The third night left Emmeline feeling a little irritable. Although she hadn’t let it affect her performance, the two young men who’d come into the Mighty Griffin had cut her with their words. It appeared they’d seen her a few nights about down at the Rusty Nail and had assumed some things about her. Their remarks had been to each other, but they were loud enough it was clear they meant her to hear. Ymry’s suggestion several days ago that a night ‘entertaining’ men on her back would earn her a hundred gold had tempted her, but she was very glad now she hadn’t been so foolish as to accept such a job. That would have made the things those two rude young men had said all too true. If she did such a rash thing, she would have to be desperate for money and have a very good disguise.

It really hadn’t been what they had said that aggravated her. But rather the disrespectful way they had spoken that had ruffled her feathers.

She pushed those thoughts out of her mind and sat down at her little travel desk. It reminded her of a happier place immediately, so she removed her quill, inkwell, and parchment once more.

My Dearest Baron d’Uzec

Thank you for your kind letter. When I read it, I can hear the sound of your voice in the words and it encourages me. 

As to your questions, I’m afraid I don’t have the answer. I know my father’s name was Hoel and my mother’s Lara. But my father left home when I was only 5. He gave our farm to his brother and entrusted me to my grandfather on my mother’s side. I’m afraid I remember very little of my father, and nothing of what he might have planned for me, if anything. I only know he seemed to have never recovered from losing my mother. I am told he was lost at sea.

Is it possible that being your vassal might grant me some semblance of freedom from my uncle’s plans? The other night when another pair of would-be kidnappers managed to stuff me into a bag (they were not particularly competent — I simply cut my way free and scared them off), I had a thought. I think I might be able to complicate matters enough to escape this harassment in the future, but I will need to wait until I arrive in Thalassa.

Leaving the subject of my boorish uncle and his pedestrian designs behind, I would like to talk a little of the progress of our investigation. It has been concluded as of some three days ago, as far as Derrien. I shall enjoy regaling you with the story when next we meet, but here is the most important part.

As I mentioned in my previous letter, we had begun to track Thea and gained the assistance of a local master of the rogues’ guild. Unfortunately, we had managed to also attract Thea’s notice. In short, she assassinated him and the resulting fireball nearly ended us all, Tiffanie included. However, Tiffanie managed to save us all, then sacrificed herself by becoming Thea’s hostage. 

Charged by the Duke to end this disruption in his city, Elemix and I, joined by Sister Jocelyn, ventured below Derrien and Derrienport to hidden dwarf ruins and hunted Thea and her henchman. Another near-death experience later, from which I gained a strong aversion to giant-sized isopods with tentacles, and we were able to capture Thea’s henchman. Then it was a fast chase to the docks to catch Thea before she departed Derrienport. She attempted escape by taking the shape of a raven, but we brought down and captured her alive.

Questioning them wasn’t entirely successful, but it was nonetheless enlightening. Because they had in fact executed multiple murders, engaged in smuggling and various other crimes, the Duke had them executed by hanging. 

I was deeply troubled by all of it. Not that Thea hadn’t deserved what she got. It is more that I see them as people. Thea did not consider herself a villain, nor did those who supported her. To them she was a hero, perhaps even a martyr — one they will surely raise from death. She did feel remorse for things she did. She was, in the end, someone who had been hurt and homeless and had turned to the destructive ways of Tyaa. She became a priestess of destruction because she thought there was no other way to secure a home for her kind. It is a shame because it is such a waste of life, talent, and strength of will. I will never understand why a people can think that bringing harm to others will achieve any kind of “balance”. So, I could not watch her execution not because she didn’t deserve it — she very much did. Rather, I refused to grant her the dignity of thinking she and her efforts would be remembered. 

When Elemix finishes creating some potions of healing, ones that will not light me up like a living torch, we will proceed to Breven and from there, I expect we will arrange for transport to Thalassa. I’m afraid we have lost the trail of this Tuderic, the sole remaining member of this conspiracy. But, be assured we will use all available resources to investigate further what they might have been up to and keep our eyes open. If we get close to uncovering their goals, I’m certain they will make another appearance — if only to attempt to silence us.

Enclosed is something I can entrust only to you. 

Your Emmeline d’Cerisey

(Sealed in wax with an image of a tree.)

(Also enclosed is a lock of her hair. The idea is that if she died and her friends were unable to bring her back, then perhaps eventually the Baron might choose to do so.)

===

Response to second letter

My dear friend Mademoiselle Emmeline de Cerisey,

We pray this letter continues to find you well. Your second letter has arrived almost as soon as the first departed our hands. We are pleased our most excellent sovereign the Duke has accepted the relationship, as we were certain his grace would do. 

We take note of your actions below as aligning to our expectations for such an investigation and are please they are proceeding apace. We do not remember a woman named Thea in our errantry or during our sojourn in the East; however, the Tuderic we did acquaint ourselves with did have a young girl as a companion. While this child may not be the Thea in question, it is likely, should this Tuderic and yours be one and the same, that this child grew up to be a follower. She was, if memory serves, devoted to the old man, despite his rantings. 

We also take note of Mademoiselle’s reference to a guild of thieves. This troubles us that such organizations exist. We will discuss the matter with the Duke at our next conclave should it be necessary to reign in lawlessness of that kind. For your part, please be careful as they are not to be trusted. They are, after all, thieves and by definition are without the honor and kindness demonstrated by your person and that of your companions.

Would you be able to inform ourselves of the Reverend Sister and her desire to remain cursed? Will she be returning as a he, remaining as-is, or simply not returning at this time? So far, his Eminence the Bishop has not deigned to inform me of his or her disposition and that of my local temple.

By Aarith, we pray for your continued health and success,

Your Baron,

Roland d’Uzec

===

Response to third Letter

My dear friend Mademoiselle Emmeline de Cerisey,

Thank you for this token of trust. We will both cherish and protect it, welcoming you home to our selves and our land by Aarith’s grace.

It seems that sending yourself to befriend and mentor our noble daughter was a fortuitous. She too feared we would marry her off to some noble as a prize. It is true such unions are common. Our marriage to her mother was such a union. This is not our intention for her at this time – but the future could force the issue. While she has not had the literal kidnappings (which those against you anger us greatly), there have been attempts to sway our hand in this matter. 

The Tyaanite woman’s death is tragic as is the plight of her people, but remorse or not, she committed those acts and given the same circumstances would do so again. The people of the Upper Valley did nothing to her or her kind, yet they killed and enslaved many of them and the brave heroes that were sent to save them. Regardless whatever you do, we ask that you please take caution with these people. They left our garrison to die decades ago, and they will use deception to gain your trust. Be wary.

Please let all three of your companions know that they are welcome to be part of our court and our service should they wish, including Sister Jocelyn, whose actions have tempered my initial annoyances. 

We look forward to your safe return.

Your Baron,

Roland d’Uzec

===

Final Letter

Emmeline waited a couple days before writing an answer to the Baron’s two previous letters. She knew this meant she would be leaving soon and so this would be the last, but wanted to synchronize her replies a little better.

When she sat down to write once more late at night, it was with anticipation. The next day, or perhaps the day after at the latest, her little team would be setting out on the road once more.

My Dearest Baron d’Uzec,

This letter will be the last I send from Derrien, and possibly the last for some time. Therefore, I chose to wait to be certain your replies had arrived.

Let me first thank you for accepting and safeguarding the enclosure I sent last time. I rest a little easier knowing you have it, Baron.

To your questions regarding Sister Jocelyn, I can positively say she is very happy being who she is. The Temple is not making this easy for her as you might imagine. They believe she may be corrupted somehow and seek to punish her by doing some sort of penance at the temple in Thalassa. She has been sentenced to go there. Sentence may be harsh term and that is certainly not the term the Temple or Jocelyn uses regarding it, but I can see it for what it is. As a result, Sister Jocelyn will not be returning with us or traveling with us any further than Thalassa, I’m afraid. It is a shame because she has saved lives being with us, both our own and others. She is an exemplary priestess; talented, smart, and above all pious. Her piety will not permit her to argue or defy the temple in any way. She has great strength in being willing to undergo any trial in order to remain who she is. In my opinion, this is not the curse. This is who Sister Jocelyn was always meant to be. 

I also have faith in that one day Sister Jocelyn will return to Uzec. Just not with us. I believe her peers will eventually come to see her virtues and strengths as I do. In the meant time I will enjoy her company for as long as she can travel with us.

My companions and I will soon depart Derrien and so this will be the last letter I may send for some time. I will be thinking of you and of home. 

Your Emmeline d’Cerisey

(Sealed in wax with an image of a tree.)

===

Response to Final Letter

My dear friend Mademoiselle Emmeline de Cerisey,

Enclosed is a letter for Sister Jocelyn to deliver to her superiors on Thalassa. It is a letter of our support for her swift return. Please add a letter of your own, signed by yourself, M’selle Tiffanie, and Magus Gungaroon detailing her valor on your behalf, and by extension myself and Derrien.

When you meet Lady Rivanon, you will note that her specialty in the college was negotiation. If she passed the , she should be a diplomaed advocate, which may help your case against your uncle. It would please us if she helped you in this matter.

Also enclosed is a parting gift. A small seal based on the hand-drawn wax seals you have made. Master Stormovich created it for us, and now it is yours.

As always, we wait for your return,

Your Baron,

Roland d’Uzec

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