I have been in quiet pursuit of the Silent Storm, as per your instruction, since it left port at Cinulu. The journey has gone well & I believe I have avoided suspicion. Many trade ships ply these waters, so it is not strange that some should have the way by the isles of Rhas Cayerne.
From Cinulu, their ship left for the isle of Dol Mynan, in the west. It is a beautiful place, my lord, with rolling hills & blue waves breaking on harsh, rocky shores – a place of savage & sinister beauty that I think your lordship might appreciate. But I digress.
The Silent Storm is now piloted by Jadvyga Trinh, whose skill at piloting threw me off; we had hoped to intercept them at Val Karren, but by the time we got there the ship had already rounded the horn. It had apparently made a stop there, too, to take aboard some passenger – one Uthyr Oathbinder, a member of the local clergy or a kind of sacred judge, if the term will make do. A keeper of the law & speaker to spirits, it’s said he has a gruesome burn on his right hand from a trial by fire. & many other tales also in a similar fashion. Warrants investigation. He has been summoned, apparently, by the troubled Laird Llewellyn of Dun Creagh, to look into a matter of conflicting oaths.
I made landfall on Dol Mynan in a village some distance from the castle and approached on foot, so as to keep a low profile. When I arrived the ship had already left, but I will recount to you the owner’s activities to the best of my ability. I have surreptitiously interviewed the locals & believe they took me for nothing more but a curious bard. As I understand it, then:
Strange omens had occurred in Dun Creagh. Weird fish-creatures, warped men in body and soul, had been rising from the waters to plague & frighten the locals, for some weeks. This was a trifle, however, compared to the freak storm that arrived in pursuit of one daughter of Dun Creagh, the Laird’s elder sister, Beithich. Yes, lordship: Pursuit. The storm had followed them from open water, approached to within a mile or so of the coast, and then simply… stopped. Held at bay, the locals insist, by powerful oaths to the stone. & there it hung, keeping fishermen from fishing, raiders from raiding, merchants from merchanting &c. By carefully hugging the shore, some ships – including the Storm – had made it past to the harbor. As soon as they arrived, Laird Llewellyn summoned the Oathbinder to his castle, to have words with him.
In the town also was one Crioch Rhas Dunn, a hero. He’s an old man now, but was in his youth a great hero who sailed to Coral & Porphyra & even lost Okeanos if the tales are to be believed (which they likely are not). Whatever the case he’s still strong as an ox & clearly commands a lot of respect. Warrants investigation. He was invited to the Laird alongside the owner; they had traveled together inland for some excursion or other.
Uthyr Oathbinder spoke to the Laird, Llewellyn Rhas Dalmen, and learned what had transpired. Beithich, the Laird’s elder sister, had gone to sea alongside a handsome, dashing man of another clan – Brennan Rhas Muir – and the two had fallen in love. They had wedded at sea, sworn oaths of marriage to one another. Shortly thereafter, the storm had appeared to claim Brennan’s ship, dragging him and his men into the deep. The storm had disappeared mysteriously after that, but then resumed – in pursuit of Beithich, his wife. As you might guess, your lordship, this was the hand of the Enemy. The locals knew and feared as much.
At any rate, Brennan’s family was convinced the marriage had not taken place; they contested Beithich on this, and so Llewellyn required an Oathbinder’s aid to resolve the situation. Peculiar priorities in the face of a magical storm, but politics & greed have a way of distracting even the desperate I suppose.
I had the good fortune of encountering some servants who told me Uthyr met with the owner, & they exchanged words. This Oathbinder has a raven, they say, which is special & a token of his authority. The owner and Uthyr recognized kinship and exchanged words of wisdom, & perhaps of power also, this I don’t know. The two also exchanged words with Beithich, who was sick with worry and in bed. Crioch was with them. As this happened, a spirit bird – a gull – came before them in the windowsill, & it spoke with Brennan’s voice, in an attempt to lure Beithich to invite the storm inside. It almost succeeded but that the owner & his companions intervened. Dun Creagh is built on oaths, so merely slamming the shutters of the windows was enough to banish the spirit.
The incident, it seems, clued them off to the motives of the storm’s masters. It also told them Brennan was alive – a necessity for his voice to be stolen in such a fashion. Unless they had been deceived, which is always a possibility when the Enemy is involved. I know not precisely what happened next, but the following morning, the owner acquired a ship called the Bonny Seagull (I spoke with the fisherman who had sold it & he had apparently been paid fairly). They crewed this ship with only two sailors: Aedra, the first mate of the Silent Storm, and Siobahn, a knight who had been in love with Brennan (so it was known) and wished to rescue him. Besides these, then, there was the owner & Jadvyga, Uthyr, Crioch.
They sailed this fishing boat into the storm, liege. This makes knowing what truly transpired difficult, but there were signs (&c). Fortuitously, also, they did not keep the events to themselves; I have pieced events together from a tale told by Crioch Rhas Dunn at the feast the following day.
As the Bonny Seagull drew close to the storm, they spied in its center a longship; Brennan’s longship, suspended in the air by buffeting winds. Jadvyga piloted their ship closer, until it lifted into the air on the storm-winds, and rammed the enemy from above. Remarkable! Aboard the ship were a number of men, twisted into sea-goblins of some revolting kind or other. One of these, the first mate, had armor plating like a vast crustacean; he was the body-guard of the Captain, the only true-born Enemy aboard. Well, Crioch went swinging his axe at the captain, Jadvyga rained fire and flame-dust upon the first mate, and somehow the storm was turned against its masters, so that they were struck by lightning (warrants investigation). Uthyr, the clergyman, shouted down the sea-goblins and made many of them abandon ship, in fear of his thundering voice & menacing demeanor (warrants investigation, also). Eventually, Crioch was able to split the Enemy captain with his axe, so that he was weakened and surrendered. For some reason they gave him pardon, sire; bound him with an oath not to walk on land, for sure, but gave him pardon. Peculiar. Some important piece of information must have come into their possession through this act of mercy, doubtless, though I do not know exactly what. Crioch Rhas Dunn should have enough hatred for the Enemy’s kin that he would not spare them easily. I have made inquiries into his legend & believe I know the signs.
Crioch’s blow, and the storm, had damaged the ship so badly that it rent and was destroyed. But Brennan was on board as they had suspected, & they managed to save him even as the great ship crumbled. They fell down as the buffeting winds receded, but made it safely all back on the ship.
When they arrived ashore it was night. Brennan was badly sick, but alive, taken into the care of his wife and brother-in-law. The dispute was resolved & he was recognized as Beithich’s husband. The laird threw a great feast, which still had not completely died out by the time I arrived; the locals were therefore drunk & eager to share, which worked in my advantage. During this feast, Crioch told a tale of their heroism & Uthyr was presented with a bolt of purple cloth, some of the spoils from Beithich & Brennan’s raid. He gave this to the knight, Siobahn, who had now no hope of winning Brennan’s love. Interesting priorities. One shepherdess I spoke to said she afterwards saw Uthyr & Siobahn together in the grass outside the castle, but I put not much stock in her words, for she was a blabbermouth & truthfully perhaps only after my favors.
They feasted for some time. I have been recounted what they ate & drank but I will not bore you with the details, sire. A bout of gambling also took place & it seems some of the poorer sods were quite lucky. Just a day or so later, the owner gathered his sailors & his companions and went aboard the Silent Storm. The companions now included Crioch Rhas Dunn and Uthyr Oathbinder; evidently they had become fast friends, fast enough to travel further west & in quite a hurry too. Whatever the Enemy told them, it was obviously important.
Another detail bears closer examination; Crann Shorespeaker, the local Oathbinder, claims the mountain wished to speak with them. He seemed to mean it literally. I have investigated but concluded little, sire; mountains are not good conversationalists.
I have discerned, fortunately, their destination, overheard by some fisherman. Caer Gwynned, an island on the north-western corner of Dol Mynan. There is little chance of overtaking them but it seems reasonable they will stop at some nearby village on their way back; unless they sail even further west which I sincerely hope they do not. By sun and star, I’ll find my way to the northwestern shores and take refuge in some village there, Rias End or Ceirlidh or such, and see what I can learn.
I hope my ibis finds you well & in good health, your lordship. Quincy will know where to find me, but I’ll be on the north-west for some days I hope, it should quicken the search & make matters easier. As always, I am
- your faithful servant,
It seems I was fortunate in taking the way past Rias End on my pursuit of the Silent Storm. This village is located at the mouth of a river & is somewhat of a trade hub, as well as a haven for lumberjacks & huntsmen & other humble folk who live off the woods. The Storm had stopped there on its way to Caer Gwynned. I interviewed the locals & was able to learn more – they were bound for Caer Gwynned on a quest to stop the Enemy, who had somehow seduced the local Laird (warrants investigation; I was unable to find him, for reasons which will become clear). It seems plausible they learned this from the Enemy Captain they spared & weighed with oaths beneath the ocean at Dun Creagh. Whatever the case, they took on more crew at Rias End & intervened in the affairs of one Fairlin also, a woman now appointed Oathbinder, for evidently Uthyr possesses authority to do so. This woman was curiously bound in marriage to a tree for religious reasons & Uthyr Oathbinder dissolved it to have her join his religious order. This Oathbinder evidently possesses great authority, beyond even that of the clergy (which will also become clear, liege).
The crew was remarkable as well. One Morag Strongbow, an outcast & bandit accused of murder, as well as his band of ‘merry men’ if the term will be permitted, liege. These were to serve with their bows & thews against the forces of the Enemy on Caer Gwynned. Having learned this, liege, I followed suit to the accursed island. Travel posed some difficulty for me as the locals were (understandably) afeared of the Enemy, but a lone fisherman took me to the island on condition that I learned what became of his nephew, named Padraig. Dream of my surprise to learn, upon arriving, that the Enemy had already been banished. Clearly there are greater wonders in the Silent Storm’s wake than even I had previously guessed.
I was told of all this by a good authority on the subject, liege, one witch-woman named Sulahani who had with her own eyes seen the crew of the Silent Storm deceive the Enemy & slay their commander & shatter the contract which gave the Enemy purchase upon the island. Remarkable! Supposedly one was slain by the owner (warrants investigation, wouldn’t you say?) but I am getting ahead of the sequence of events now. I will recount what I have learned in as chronological an order as I can manage, but first, let me apologize that I am once again too late. The Silent Storm & its crew has already returned to Rias End, from there to continue their journey southwards. I am thankful of their bearing, as traveling further west would pose great difficulty, if not impossibility, for your humble servant.
However, as is my task, I will recount the events that took place on Caer Gwynned.
It seems, liege, that as the Silent Storm made landfall they came upon an abandoned village. In this village were gibbering men and women, driven insane by the hand of the Enemy. Here Uthyr Oathbinder spoke some manner of sorcery & drove them into a deep sleep, that they could be put out of their misery. It seems certain, liege, that this Uthyr is no ordinary clergyman for this sorcery bears the signature of the Enemy in more ways than one, or so the witch claims, which is undeniably troubling. They ventured inland to a stone circle called Cruathan. This circle was raised by the Ancient Queen of Rhas Cayerne & possesses great power, but situated in the depths of a dark and uninhabited forest on a hill. On the way to this circle, the travelers ran afoul of some goblins & a knight named Alistair & his slave. From these, they learned the truth of the situation: That the Laird Lachlan of Dun Carrack, the castle upon Caer Gwynned, had invited the Enemy to its shores in exchange for the safe return of his daughter & only child from the sea. A despicable act I’m sure, though I sympathize with the pains taken to protect one’s child & am sure you do the same, liege, who understand better than I.
Presently Uthyr & the owner somehow found themselves separated from the group at large; I am not certain how this occurred. Being thus, a goblin servant of the Enemy spoke with them, and Uthyr bid this creature tell its master to meet the group at Cruathan. It was at this stone circle, liege, that the remaining villagers (that had not been driven mad) were gathered, & the witch named Sulahani also was there. Measures were taken to reinforce the place against an Enemy attack, which was soon expected.
Instead, a true-born appeared. Her father, a true-born Prince, invited them all to ‘his’ castle at Dun Carrack, there to feast in the home of the traitorous Laird. Uthyr declined & instead invited the Enemy with all his retinue into this place of power, this stone circle raised by the Ancient Queen. The Enemy evidently accepted this queer invitation, for the Binder (so claims the witch) spoke with the authority of Heaven. Liege, it seems clear to me greater forces than I had possibly suspected are afoot. Please inform the relevant parties.
What happened next is difficult to discern, for most witnesses were put to sleep by the cleric’s strange sorcery midway through. I have spoken with the people involved & tried to piece it together, but it is difficult to glean. Fortunately, Captain Trinh of the Silent Storm was present but somehow not affected by the sleeping-magics, and it seems she spoke a little of the events that occurred – though did not, perhaps, understand much of what had transpired. It seems the events were such:
Uthyr planned a great big feast & ritual to draw the Enemy’s attention. The others did not consent to this plan, but had little choice but to proceed given what was at stake. Violating the sanctity of the stone circle would break its magics & perhaps deprive the island of its most vital connexion to Rhas Cayerne & even Creation. The Enemy has gained disturbing ground in Rhas Cayerne, liege.
When the true-born Prince arrived, it was with a great big retinue of knights & soldiers & pipers & drummers & many other things besides with which I will not tire you. Three true-born Enemies were there in all, a Huntress, a Knight & the fearsome Prince, wearing a fine pelt of a Wolf. These Uthyr appeased with flattery & gifts & and exchange of niceties begun. Gruesome & terrible presents were exchanged. In the meantime, I am told the owner disrobed & entered the forest for some reason; I know not its relevance but Captain Trinh had found it funny & told the villagers. Perhaps she was lying or else deceived by Enemy magics or those of Uthyr; it is difficult to discern, liege. Crioch, the warrior, played at swords with the Knight & the Huntress & soon Uthyr Oathbinder had gotten the Prince drunk on some magic or other & they were asleep. The villagers were drawn into slumber also & report disturbing nightmares that have evidently left deep scars upon them; what sorcery this is, I do not know. Whatever the case, the owner stole the Wolf-pelt from the sleeping Prince & then cracked his skull. Many of the goblins scattered at this, the Knight surrendered, the Huntress did battle with a Wolf appeared from somewhere & general confusion took place. A strange man wearing black and white also arrived only to be slain. I can only guess what all this means & will not, liege, for I leave the inference to you in this matter. The witch (as much as she can be trusted in this matter) tells me that all the true-born kin of the Enemy were either slain, banished or driven away at this time. Only one remained & it was in the castle with Laird Lachlan. The following day the retinue set out for Dun Carrack.
In Dun Carrack a swift gathering of the Knights and their families was made. Even those imprisoned in the dungeons were called & assembled to be judged for worthiness & interviewed to what had happened. This gathering was rudely & suddenly interrupted by Laird Lachlan himself, appearing as if drunk, shouting & domineering. He was greatly fearful of the Enemy & the power they held over his dearest daughter. As the owner revealed the Prince’s clothes & the nature of his demise, the Laird ran back to the tower in blind panic. He suspected the Prince’s death had ended the spell & consigned his child once more to the waves.
It seems, liege, that the Enemy had instead deceived him & one of the true-born had taken the guise of his daughter Angharad. Their magics bound all who looked upon her to confess her beauty & innocence & none could speak out against her; none, it seems, except Crioch Rhas Dunn (warrants investigation). This man instead split her skull with an axe & the spell was broken; the Laird saw clearly how he had been used in a most cruel fashion & swore an oath of vengeance on the spot. For reasons that are not clear to me, he left the castle in the care of the Silent Storm’s owner. Then away he went in blind fury to avenge his dead daughter; he disappeared into the woods with a naked sword & has not returned.
The owner interviewed the Knights of the castle & appointed a man named Owain, a low-ranking relative of Lachlan, as true ruler of the castle. This he did by authority of Uthyr & the former Laird’s consent that he hand it to whoever was worthy. This Laird Owain seems to be a decent & hardworking fellow & almost all the deaths & miseries inflicted upon the Castle are now accounted for; except for the court Fool, who somehow mysteriously disappeared without trace & has not yet been found neither dead nor alive. Unusual.
I am staying as a guest of Laird Owain for the moment & am considering my options. A trade-ship in the owner’s care is outbound soon, carrying mead & mushrooms & I believe I will try my chances with this ship back to Rias End. From there, I must find swift passage south & fear I will lag even further, liege. I may have to pull some strings. The Silent Storm is headed for the Godspear, home of the Oathbinder Circle, there to put Uthyr on trial for the crime of collaborating with the Enemy. It seems an incident occurred that involved the Knight Alistair, mentioned earlier; but he would not speak of it. The locals are shy to offend their clergy, liege, & especially this one who commands such power.
I am sure if I can merely get to this place the local clergymen can inform me of what has passed, & perhaps also tell more of those aboard the Silent Storm.
But it is a long journey, liege, and I fear my next letter may be long in waiting. By sun and star, I will find some way to reach this distant place of pilgrimage & report to you from there. Many ravens pass in and out, though few ibises; but Quincy will be able to locate it I am certain & if you have need of me, I suggest you send word to this place if you can. I hope this letter finds you in good health and spirit. As always, I am
-your faithful servant,