Baele Nax, the crowning achievement of Gaaldron and the very spot which is said to be the birth of the Empire so very long ago. Twisted and dark iron architecture adorns much of the city landscape; a single red carpet stretches for thousands of feet, leading through the war fortress and to the High Priest’s throne room. The High Priest sits upon his throne as a wizened old orc dressed in tattered robes marches towards him and kneels.
"Your most High Excellency… I must confide to you that the humans will betray us; I have seen it in my dreams." The orc closes his eyes and furls his brow, deep in thought as he recites his visions. "We march in slow mass, content in the ruse of safety. We are taken unaware by their armies... There is a fierce battle, but they push at us, forcing us all to fall to our deaths in the vast dark of the Rift!"
The orc opens his eyes, pleading with the High Priest. "This pact will mean the end of Gaaldron. I can tell that the uneasiness I feel is shared by others, but now, I have seen it with my own mind, and you must be told.”
The High Priest barely blinks, skilled at keeping his emotions hidden, though obviously contemplating the orc's words of counsel. After several uncomfortable minutes, he rises from his throne; in unison, the sounds of dozens of armored warriors on both sides of the hall can be heard kneeling.
"Wargatoth, your Empire thanks you for your concern, and for your warning. Your visions have never failed us in the past and today will be no different." He pauses, looking down upon the orc. "But the answer is not to abandon hard work and difficult decisions. With your warning of betrayal we will make the preparations needed to avoid this dark fate; yet we will not be deterred from our destiny.
"To do great things you must take great risks. Yes, it may mean the end of Gaaldron, but only as we know it now. Only those who are strong of faith and conviction can make the hard decisions needed to enact great change. Do not fear this necessary change, Wargatoth, for when the fog of battle has dissipated, and the corpses of our enemies removed from the field… then, the new glory of our people will be limitless!"
As the High Priest sits back down, the old orc stands, staring flatly for a few moments before bowing his head in reverence and turning to leave the hall.
* * * * *
Subjects of Travance,
By now, most of you have seen the treasonous letter penned by Duke Balliol and other nobles. I rushed to Loez upon word of it surfacing in the mainland. Upon my arrival, the Duke's forces had already mobilized, sacked the town of Dularn in Loez, and had begun marching on the city of Kradaw. I rode out with a battalion, but arrived too late. Kradaw is now fortified and held by Balliol's forces. I returned to Alieander and promptly began rallying our armies to action. I will be returning to Travance in less than a week, once I feel that all of our bannermen are sufficiently mobilized. Our scouts are trying very hard to assess which territories of the Kingdom have been seized.
Regarding this declaration, I have no intention of fulfilling the wishes contained therein. Regarding the Duke and the other nobles - to raise arms against Kormyre is to commit treason. I do not know what lies behind this conflict, but their actions could not unveil their intentions any clearer: they want war and they have already brought it to us. I have been advised to consider the perception of the masses, consider the thin veins of truth that lie in the traitorous letter, move fully back to Travance, and separate Travance from Kormyre once and for all. While I understand the sentiment behind such a thought, to do so would be to abandon hundreds of thousands of innocent common men, women, and children. I will not gamble with the lives of these people. We would risk condemning them, abandoning them to a dark age of subjugation or worse. We will protect the innocent people of this realm, and we will fight threat head on; all while continuing our quest to seat a fair and just ruler on our throne.
I have spent the last several days routing spies out of Castle Alieander. They were buried under deep cover and had infiltrated even the upper echelons. Our efforts were thorough and I am certain the spies have been eliminated; however, the desire to put my trust in the hands of administrators in mainland Kormyre is waning. I do not prefer to leave this effort in the hands of mainland bureaucrats and those whom have been untested until this point. I do prefer to put my trust in those who have never failed to deliver under times of great need - the Heroes of Travance. Upon my return I will bring the necessary maps and intelligence for you all to direct, manage, facilitate, and orchestrate efforts of war in order to eliminate this threat and save the innocent lives that hang in the balance. This war will not just be about swords and sorcery, but also winning back the hearts and minds of the commonfolk who have been unduly manipulated. I have no doubt that there are layers upon layers of complexity to this situation. It will take careful and skilled investigation and diplomacy to uncover the truth and restore peace among our Kingdom. Individually, you each are under no orders to assist with this effort, but you have my faith and my willingness to trust you collectively with command of Kormyre’s armies and resources in this endeavor.
Until my return,
Count Sebastian Everest, Warden of Kormyre
* * * * *