Fall CY572 in the Lower Vale
“The independent folk of this region were beset by all manner of incursions for decades on end. With remarkable resiliency, these freeholders, yeomen, and lordlings withstood great violences, showing an imperdurable stoutness….”
Histories of Highfolk and the Vesve,
Sevvord the Younger, Abbot of Mitrik
Temple of Pelor
I. Wyvern Hall.
• Radek. After taking his leave, Radek sets out to the east to meet up with his companions, stating that he should return in two months’ time. That time passes, and a fortnight as well.
Three riders approach the hall late one afternoon; they have an extra horse in tow. They hail themselves as companions of Radek. Their company of “good folk” travelled east to look into matters in their old locale. Radek was slain in a fight with bandits near the southern edge of the Vesve.
As was his wish, he was laid to rest with the Temple of Fharlanghn in a nearby town. The men bring some gold—Radek’s share of the treasure they had taken—to give to the servants at Wyvern Hall. They hand it over to you to give forth as you see fit. It was Radek’s wish, they explain. These men of company accept whatever hospitality you extend, and then ride east again, back to their homes in northern Furyondy.
• Families. In the past summers, two families tilling the fields in the shadow of Wyvern Hall have named their sons Hellish and Gregor, respectively.
The families farmsteading the land around Wyvern Hall are riven by the death of Radek, especially the children.
• In the intervening weeks since Radek’s departure, Mary— the matronly maid who presides over the domestic staff— has handled some of Radek’s portfolio of duties. She has performed well, but she knows little about matters outside the kitchen. With those issues, you have all managed to act competently in Radek’s stead, but such affairs are tedious at best. Mary has asked whether there shall be a replacement for Radek in the offing.
• Radek was well known in Redbridge as well, and the people of the village are deeply saddened by his death.
In the days that follow the arrival of this news, there are drunken commemorations in his honor. Jorg Haider, the village alderman, leads many a toast. Micah, the innkeeper at the Three Lions Inn, gives emotional tribute. Not willing to speak at length publicly, Tarmalion the elvish herbalist retreats quietly to his residence in Ottman Wood. It has been said that he has been hit especially hard by these ill tidings.
As Radek was seen as your vassal, a number of you are asked to speak to his service as steward of Wyvern Hall.
• Villagers in Redbridge did not warm to you so easily when you first took up residence in Wyvern Hall. You heard, from roundabout sources, that they spoke of you as “Everton’s lackeys” or “whores to the blue tower” (a reference to the blue tower in Everton’s livery). After a couple of winters dispatching petty goblin raids and clearing out small bandit camps, though, they refer to you as “sire” in the village streets. Occasionally, some slip into “lordship” or “m’lord.” Eventually, they seem to settle into referring to you as “our lordlings,” seemingly reflections of your renown, relative youth, and not-quite-noble status.
• Each year, during Brewfest, the people of Redbridge have a contest of strength, endurance, and swiftness. Called the Pol-Tora, it is a race in which contestants run a course with a rock strapped to their back or chest. You may recall that the traditional course starts in the village square in Redbridge, runs about the northern circumference of Ottman Wood, and ends at Wyvern Hall.
Years ago, you participated. As local lordlings, do you participate still?
• Several years ago, when you first competed in the Pol-Tora (villagers recall that Hellish barely beat Sarian that year), there was a young man who ran a strong race. If memory serves, he ran a close fourth behind Keane in that contest.
His name eluded you then. When you returned from your brief wars in the Upper Vale, you heard his name again: Edin Djeko. A simple woodworker’s son and apprentice to that trade, his parents told you to let the young man have two more summers before entreating him to take up a warrior’s life.
Early this winter, you have a visitor: Lord Ethelion. He accepts what hospitality you offer. After a brief catching up on events, he tells you that he intends to accept Edin into the select brotherhood of rangers. Over a two day period, Ethelion visits with Edin and his family, who are tradesfolk of decent means. Another day later, Ethelion and Edin ride southward, but not before Ethelion stops by to say his farewells.
III. Everton and Highfolk.
• The war to the south years ago left Lord Everton crippled. As a result, his lordship’s oldest son (Kial) is the new Lord Everton. Wilmot Proviso, Everton’s steward and your acquaintance from many a visit to their keep, has assumed the role of regent to the boy, who is in his teens.
• In Highfolk, the years after the Short War are marked with the building of fortresses in the southernmost reaches of the Yatils. Referred to at the Spine of Stone, these keeps buttress the land’s southernmost provinces. Dozens of leagues to the south of your freehold, you know little else about these keeps but that they exist in some form.
IV. The Big Picture.
• Elsewhere in the lands of good folk, some rumors are cast about that Furyondy and Veluna may consider war against Iuz and the Horned Society—a war that would undoubtedly involve and embroil the people of Highfolk and the Vesve. Those rumors, now several years old, lie moldering in the back of people’s attentions.
• One other rumor—a rumor both insidious and impossible to confirm—is that Iuz has been freed.
Iuz, the namesake of a land of unspeakable evils; Iuz, equal parts god, man, demon; Iuz, the wellspring of malevolance; Iuz, the Deceiver; Iuz the Old, of fearbabe talk…. that Iuz has been released from imprisonment. Wild rumors abound about the specifics, but there is little in the way of countervailing rumors to the contrary.