The Day After in Gwynned
by Steve Miller
My name is Pax Killburn, and I am a kender adventurer. You may not have heard of me, but you have undoubtedly heard of my partner Ladine Dralathalas; she is a Silvanesti noble and a personal friend of Alhana Starbreeze.
I am writing you because another kender told me you collect reports of events throughout Ansalon and because Ladine keeps telling me that I need to practice my handwriting to make it more legible.
By the way, why are you called "The Herald"? Don't heralds announce the arrival of lords or report events? Shouldn't you be called "The Librarian" or "The Historian" or something like that? If you have the time, write me a letter in care of Alhana Starbreeze at the City of Morning Dew. While I am presently in Gwynneth on Northern Ergoth, I will not be here long, but Ladine and I usually return to the City of Morning Dew twice a year so she can meet with Alhana.
At any rate, I am writing you because we sort of got caught in the middle of a some sort of coup attempt against Emperor Redic. Word on the street has it that the Emperor and his entire family has been killed. As a result, all sorts of things are happening here. Here are some of them:
Thieves to the Rescue
The Ergothian Thieves Guilds are really weird. You'd usually expect thieves to want to overthrow the established law and order, right? Well, not here. When word filtered out from the Imperial Palace that the Emperor was dead, a number of nobles, merchants, and even some Solamnic lords who were living in the city as guests of the Imperial Court started rallying people and troops to their banners, hoping to seize power in the city and lay claim to the throne. Within hours, however, virtually all these would-be emperors were dead, drowned in their own blood. Several masked men and women proclaimed that the common folk supported the Empire and they wished for an orderly succession, orchestrated by men who put the Empire ahead of their own greed. It was quite a sight.
The Imperial Army has established order in the capital and the palace is surrounded by hundreds of the most loyal of troops, common citizens, and masked thieves. And they are protecting, not trying to break into it. I think there's something special here on this island, when you compare it to the rest of Ansalon where people don't seem to be loyal to anything but their own bellies and coin pouches.
Elves on the Run... Kender to the Rescue
While I can admire the Ergothian people coming to the aid of their leaders in a chaotic time, I can't help but feel disgust at the way some of them are treating elves at the moment.
Looking back at this letter, I see I forgot to mention that Ladine and I had come to Gwynned so she could seek an audience with the Emperor and ask for funds to support Alhana's Silvanesti government-in-exile; apparently, there's some ancient treaties between the Empire and Silvanesti, and Ladine wanted to discuss them with the modern government. We never did get to see the Emperor or even one of his advisors, because audiences were cancelled and no meetings were being held because of some sort of illness that had started to afflict the palace guards on the very day we arrived.
Along with the rumors that the Emperor had been assassinated, there were rumors that it had been done by elves. Apparently, some palace servant told some cousin who told some military commander that at least one off the assassins was an elf with silver hair. So, even as the city's thieves were keeping corrupt nobles from trying to take power, soldiers were rounding up innocent Silvanesti and Kagonesti elves--who's only crime was their hair color and species--and throwing them in dungeons.
Ladine barely escaped capture. The master of the inn we were staying at called for the watch as soon as he heard the rumor of the silver-haired elf assassin; I was awakened early when the mailed fists pounded on the door to our room. Ladine's bed was empty, and when the guards and that fat bastard of an inn keeper searched the room, they confirmed that she was no where in sight. I told them that she often woke early and left without telling me--a partial truth. Ladine DOES do that, but usually not when we're in a strange city or traveling just the two of us.
At any rate, once the guards had left, I gathered up my gear and what little of Ladine's that she had left in the room and went out the window; I was not going to give that inn keeper one broken copper piece beyond what we'd paid for our meal yesterday. It was wandering the streets that I witnessed both those cool thieves guild members and the mistreatment of elves at the hands of the soldiers. I started to grow worried for Ladine--if she was in the streets, she had probably already been arrested.
Deciding the best place to get information was from other kender, I went to the waterfront where I'd heard there was a small cluster of buildings that housed a bunch of kender from Hylo. In my experience, those kender are sort of flakey, but even flakey kender are better than the treatment we usually get from humans. So, I went hoping they'd know if a Silvanesti noblewoman with a big sword strapped across her back had been rousted by the local law. Imagine my surprise when the kender revealed to me that half a dozen Kagonesti and Silvanesti were hiding in the basement of the house, Ladine among them. She explained that she had left our room during the night to meet with some Silvanesti in exile who had a low opinion of kender--and she was right... I could feel the hostility oozing off them as we spoke--and that it had been a stroke of luck that all of them hadn't been arrested when the soldiers first started rounding up elves. I corrected her, stating that it had been because of KENDER that she and the other Silvanesti were still free. Her acquaintences were not at all pleased by my comment, but who cares? They have no right to look down upon kender when we're helping them.
All in all, these elves that Ladine went to meet with are sort of strange. They are all a little more heavily armed than most other Silvanesti I know, and their dress is different, too... more reminicent of Kagonesti. Ladine told me they are members of House Woodshaper and House Wildrunner who stayed behind in Southern Ergoth after the rest of the Silvanesti went to attempt to reclaim Silvanost--they had formed family ties with the Kagonesti there. With the coming of the Great Dragon Gellidus, these elves had been driven from the forest as the kender had been driven from Kendermore--if they weren't such jerks, I could have gotten along with them, I'm sure. But, they had extensive knowledge of Eastwatch and the ogre lands on Southern Ergoth and Ladine was interested in reconnecting with the Qualinesti prince Gilthanas. Exactly why that is, I'm not sure. The strange elves of House Woodshaper and House Wildrunner told her to keep quiet around the kender because "we can't keep quiet about anything."
I'm used to obnoxious Silvanesti. That seems to be their typical way. But this group really needs to show some gratitude. As I write this letter, the Hylo kender are setting up a way to transfer us to a ship in the harbor and get safely away toward Southern Ergoth. I'm not sure why Ladine is tolerating them, either. She's of House Advocate, and I'm pretty sure she outranks ALL members of those other two Houses in the Silvanesti caste system.
Well, I have the trip to Southern Ergoth to get Ladine alone and have her explain to me what's going on with these elves.
I'm going to give this letter to a kender who claims he's heading for Solanthus next week. He will give it to your agent there.
I hope this is of interest to you, Herald. I will write you again in the future, when I have something else to talk about. (Hopefully, that letter won't reach you before this one... I'm not convinced a Hylo kender is the best carrier for this letter, but it's the only option I have at the moment.)
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