Children of the Night
Diary of Sir Elias Redcliff of Caliphas
Fireday, 18th of Arodas, 4707 AR,
At last we've reached Vauntil. After nearly two weeks of inns with barely enough stuffing to make a proper bed between them the vineyards along this last stretch have been positively majestic. It really has been too many years since I've made the journey, although I must say it is not improved by visiting each pitiful little hamlet along the way. (note to self, the peasantry seem far less filled with heroic requests than one might guess)
In any case, dear reader, I should explain just what is going on, especially since an inpatient few of you may have skipped the earlier volumes. I understand as well as you that this is where the true excitement begins. Still, a little refreshment on what brought us here is in order.
I was born on the 24th of Neth in the year 4690 AR to Matthias and Svete Redcliff. Which reminds me, if you have not already learned the history of House Redcliff, both illustrious and tragic, I must recommend you do so, for it is sure to have some bearing on my own tale. In any case, I seem to have been their last, making my way into this world just a few minutes after my twin, and finding myself the youngest of six. I'm sure you shall get to know the others, Gregor, Petros, Merigold, Albin, and Rennis, in due course. Being born into such a setting ensured I was raised in the finest conditions, given the best education, and taught all the proper manners of the nobility of Ustalav. I am as well positioned as any to know both the virtues and the vices of this highest class of person.
From a young age I knew I was not destined for the drudgery of the family business, and thankfully Gregor seems to have taken that mantle up with pride. Nor was I destined for the church and order like Albin, or the purposeless academic squabbles Petros so loves at University. To occupy myself I enjoyed the best that Caliphas has to offer. The most glamorous of parties, the most beautiful of women, the most moving of poetry, the most daring of mischief. It was certainly fun, but as one goes on in years a certainly self capacity for reflection does grow, and this is how I came to realize that I must work towards more noble goals.
You see, I could not help but notice the pettiness of what my family has become. Merchant enterprise may be a useful foundation, but what good do we do with it? This country is a wreck, and has been for many years. But we, descendants of heroes, let our legacy lie still as the principality rots around us. Well, no longer.
The nobility must lead by example again. Courage and heroism in the face of evil. Maintenance of justice and the rule of law. Obedience to one's betters and responsibility for one's lessors. Wisdom and benevolence in leadership. Sacrifice towards the common good according to the means of each. If others will not take up the mantle of re-igniting these virtues, then I suppose the task falls to me, just as it did to Filip and Odric.
Starday, 19th of Arodas, 4707 AR,
Well, Vauntil has proved to be just what I was looking for. A true adventure, and a rag tag group of companions to boot!
Last Breath itself has been much the same as usual, not to put it down by any means. I can't deny being gratified by the room at the Dancing Bear, and must commend their dedication to service. Dinner was excellent, fresh venison and some sort of roots vegetable, along with a sampling of the events wines of course. The company however, was a little plain. too many recognizable faces, and far too much talk of business. Luxurious as it was, I did find myself pining a tad for the times when Rennis and I encamped along the edge of the Sczarni tents, or the year I found a welcoming bed in the Lynyse tents. Still, it is a perfect base from which to explore the festival's true delights.
This morning I headed out early to see what was to be found, picking up a few tips from the horse master (the name seems to have slipped my mind). I recall a certain "fortune teller" sounding particularly interesting, though events swept me from that path. And now that I speak of it, he also introduced me to the lovely Shaelynn. I shall have to thank him for that later.
The goods I found strolling through the central square were as sumptuous as ever, and I even stumbled across a few interesting leads and persons among the crowd.
I met some fellow, name of Sullyn or some such thing, I shall have to get the correct spelling from him. Foreign, obviously, though I'm not sure where from. Said he was here looking for family, and was quite ragged really. Still, he had a certain determination to hi,, and that edge that those who have seem battle always seem to have. He'd even ferreted out news of a trove of artifacts from the Shining Crusade being discovered on a nearby mount. Even offered his services as a bodyguard, saying he'd learned to fight in the Riverlands.
Anyway, this Sullyn fellow and I were just starting to recount stories when some terribly deformed fellow made a raucous at the octopus stand, yelling that they'd poisoned him. Almost turned into a fight with the guards, and I thought I might have to intervene, but he stormed off first, pummeling a boy to the floor on his way. Still, you can't expect some poor brute to properly understand high cuisine.
After that I had to good fortune to spot who I correctly guessed was Halda nearby, listening to some drunk rave through his attempts at poetry. Obviously I introduced myself, and must say I found Halda to be a very pleasant surprise, not at all the stodgy merchant I was expecting. Instead, she seems to be in a rather similar place as myself, breaking away from the family to make a real name for herself in this world. I think we shall get along quite well.
That is when the true start of this tale of heroism began though, for a tribe of goblins seem to have gotten it into their little brains to spoil the party. My first true battle! They seem to have worked their way into the crowd, for all at once they were everywhere, with reinforcements approaching from the outskirts of town. Things turned into a rather desperate fight, with guests being cut down everywhere. Obviously I set about myself, and I was not even alone in the struggle. Halda showed herself to indeed be quite a practitioner of some sort of magic, and that Sullyn fellow, as well as the brute from earlier, joined the battle. Some noble fellow from up north, and a rather strange girl I have not properly met yet, also made their presence felt in the battle with the little beasts. Together we prevailed, quite literally saving the town from destruction. I myself received a rather nasty slash, although a combination of the ministrations of Shaelynn and some alchemist fellow have set me mostly right. The matter of glass in the wreckage of the stalls was rather more troublesome than I had supposed though. Thankfully, that poor beast from earlier, I believe he goes by Vargan, proved he had some decency, helping clean a bit of the debris.
Tragically however, we soon learned that some wagon fulls of guests had been carted off by the retreating goblins, and we quickly arranged to set off after them, my good name securing us several horses. We've been riding allth rough the night, and it seems we are to set off again. We shall catch the beasts yet!
Till next time dear reader, when I believe I shall have a tale of rescue for you to enjoy.
Sunday, 23rd of Arodas, 4707 AR,
Ahh, how events can sweep one away. Well, now that I've returned to Caliphas I suppose a bit of catch up is in order.
The rescue did indeed come together quite heroically. I believe not a one of the poor peasants found lost their life after the assault on the town, and all thanks to our unflinching resolve. Of course, it was not an easy task. Frankly I don't quite recall how many nights without rest we went, but in the end we caught the monsters within spitting distance of their lair and cut the lot down. Of course, we did run into some trouble along the way. First a gang of goblin dogs staking out an ambush at a campfire, then a gang of bandits – forget the affiliation – tried to waylay us. Both turned into brawls, though we came out just about uninjured. Much more bark than bite in those lowlife types it seems, though I must remember to speak to the master at arms about proper grip on these rapiers.
Of course, the confrontation with the bandits did inspire a rather more difficult issue, While discussing our approach Vargan spat some rather crude words at Aetherton, and I believe I may have rather impetuously let my newfound abilities take charge of me in putting him in his place. In any case, the incident seemed to push Persephone off the deep end, for she ranted at my quite insensibly for several minutes and stormed off, leaving Sulayn and myself to present a front against the thugs. Thankfully she and the others did come to their senses after the fighting started, but it is clear that she is struggling with some sort of prejudice. Sadly, it is likely due to the weakness of others of my class, but I am quite confident that all shall be right between us in the end. Vargan continues to intrigue though. He is certainly uncivilized, but seems to acknowledge strength and good leadership readily.
On the way back I had a chance to spend another excellent evening with Shaelynn at the Dancing Bear, and enjoyed a few of the leftovers from the festival. Though the village was certainly exuberant about the return of their fellows, the festival itself seems to have fallen into a bit of a mess. Uproar is the nature of it though, and tales of the goblin assault are likely to serve as inspiration for many next year. Whatever the case, this has served as an excellent beginning.
Starday, 29th of Arodas, 4707 AR,
Thank the ancestors that is done with. After the festival and goblin hunt this last week has been terribly boring. Father was of course pleased by my contact with Halda, and is thankfully eager to have me continue to grow the relationship. That should provide more opportunity to get out into the world. I really must devise a proper plan of how to get away from business more permanently. The old man still seems to have some illusion that I'll turn out like Gregor. No fear of that!
I did do a bit of poking around about the Black Blade, since that could provide both adventure and excuse, but had little luck. Perhaps a tomb near the Amaans, but that is far too vague to be of much use.
I suppose I should mention what little of interest there has been though. I saw that alchemist again, Vali was the name I think, at a guild party. Obviously quite poor, but I snagged a card. He may not have had much success in money, but if that potion and the samples he left are any indication, he does have some real skill. Perhaps the family can bring him in. I could certainly use a steady supply of those potions in my new line of work.
The Venianminov's was a real event I suppose. The dancers were absolutely marvelous, and Adja gave some excellent insight into the details. Must remember to visit the Barbed Boot down by the docks again. Altain Fenglove invited me boar hunting, which should be a decent enough diversion, especially since the others seem to be invited as well. I wonder how they impressed old Altain? Perhaps his libido getting away from him again, Persephone is not without a certain dangerous charm. Also possible that he put Vargan up to whatever he did to that noble though, that fellow really does need someone to take care of him.
Well, it's about time I'm off to court, and then to see if I can extract what old Altain is up to, I heard that some of the Barstoi are to give a report on possible demonic incursion so things should not be too dull.
Till next time!