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The Rock in The Badlands – Eleonore’s First Letter

05/29/2012 Leave a comment

Excerpt from the records of the Dukedom of Parravon. Correspondence dated c1550 (2528 Imperial) to Sir Redemond of Parravon, from Eleonore (a damsel of The Lady, attached to the court of Sir Redemond).

 

 

My Noble Lord,

 

I write to you with heavy heart, for events have not been kind to your kin. We entered the Badlands ahead of schedule and accordingly made camp at the foot of the Dragonback Mountains. From there I took a small detachment of knights and men and proceeded towards the area highlighted in The Lady Madeline’s prophecy. We were however not the first to arrive in this benighted realm.

 

On the third day we encountered a small force of undead ransacking a small settlement. I took advice from your nephew, Sir Eldred, who claimed that these creatures posed no threat to those whose cause was just and carried The Lady’s blessing. How wrong we were. Unbeknownst to us they were lead by a Wraith of considerable power, no matter what casualties we inflicted by blade or by arrow, his magics continued to swell the enemy’s ranks. We were overcome and, to my everlasting shame, had no choice but to leave the field.

 

If only this was all I had to report. That night we made camp about half a league from the site of battle. While I slumbered a vision of The Lady came to me, imploring me to return to the village to make amends for my failure. Had only I known what was awaiting me there I would have fallen on my sword and spared you and the Kingdom further shame.

 

We returned at first light and found the village deserted, of the undead we encountered the day before, nothing remained bar the stench of evil and decay. As we were making preparations to advance towards our objective I fell to the ground as a wave of pure malevolence swept through the aether.

 

As I was returned to my mount I saw creatures of pure evil coalescing on the village boundary. Quickly we formed a battle line to meet this dire threat however once again we were cruelly outmatched. The daemons outmanoeuvred our forces with merciless ease and we had no choice but to retreat. As we were disengaging I saw in the distance that a unit of bowmen had been cut off by the vile creatures. I am proud to report that they sold their lives dearly, taking many of these aberrations with them on their final journey.

 

We marched at speed back to our camp to resupply and two days later we again set out to our objective. This time I decided to guide our forces through a forested area farther south to our original fateful route and, for a time, the fates were kind to us. On the fifth day our outriders reported a small force of armed men who were also heading, albeit on a different trajectory, to our destination. After hearing the scouts’ description of their livery, Sir Hugues (who as you no doubt recall has spent must time with our Imperial neighbours) concluded that they were most likely members of the Averland State Army.

 

While I was sorely tempted to parlay with the Imperial troops, as our armies drew closer I senses a disquieting presence emanating from within their ranks. This person or thing within their army was shielding himself from me, I could not ascertain his intentions and with the deepest regret I ordered our forces to make ready for battle.

 

To my dying day I will never forget the ferocity of what followed. Battle was joined in earnest with both sides trading missiles of arrow and shot while our respective warriors manoeuvred for position. Our Knights struck first and inflicted a terrible toll on the servants of Karl Franz all the while our bowmen mercilessly cut down all that their arrows could find.

 

The men of Averland did not stand idly by met our charge with a steely resolve one cannot help but admire. We were evenly matched; all it would take would be one singular moment or individual to break this bloody deadlock. 

 

It was at this point that a unit of spearmen appeared led by formidable warrior, evidently the man in command of the army. Our Knights and I charged this unit and each side inflicted terrible casualties, all of a sudden your nephew was thrown from his horse by this captain and before I could draw breath I was fighting him for my very life.

 

With one stroke of his sword he broke my blade and as he prepared to strike again I made myself ready to meet The Lady. However death did not find me today, he turned his blade at the last moment and instead delivered a blow to my head with the side of his blade and I fell into darkness.

 

I woke in the Imperial camp to find my wounds dressed and my body unsullied. At my bedside was the warrior who bested me who introduced himself as Captain Helmut Gerstein. He told me that he and his men had respected our code of honour and those Knights who survived the battle had been treated for their wounds and were residing in the tent next to mine.

 

Captain Gerstein told me that he and his men were here at the behest of a mage called Emmanuel Gant who is travelling with them, I am certain that this Gant is the source of the presence I sensed just before the bloodbath. The Captain proceeded to tell me that once I felt strong enough he would escort our survivors back to our camp under a flag of truce, seeing true honour in his heart I accepted.

 

Three days later, as good as his word, we were taken back to our camp. It pains me to tell you that of the knights that I left with only Sir Hugues of Quenelles, Sir Jacques or Lyonesse, Sir Aldebald of Montfort and Sir Hrodbert of Carcassonne survive.

 

Upon the return to our camp I received news that your son has encountered difficulty on his journey to meet us. Sir Aymeric reports that upon entering the Forest of Loren they encountered a sizeable force of Beastmen intent on pillaging the realm. Honour bound to assist he dispatched your younger son, Sir Ectorde, with your standard, thirty brave knights and as many men as could be spared to continue the journey to meet us. Once the Beastmen are vanquished, Sir Aymeric and the rest of his force will complete their journey.

 

I pray to The Lady that they are not too late

 

 

I am your humble servant,

 

Eleonore