Aym 30 1333 YS
My lovely Calliope,
I cannot tell you how overjoyed I was when Dorak returned from the Explorer’s Lodge in Taginae bearing your letter. I don’t know what has become of letters one through seven, or where they have gotten to, but know that at least one has made it into my… hands. I am giggling here, just at the thought of seeing you, and touching you, again. So it shall be Cartenden where our reunion will take place. It has been ages since we last were there during the moonmelon festival. Oh I remember that one… very sticky evening. I blush even now as I think of it.
Oh that I would be so happy again, in your arms, but these last few months have dragged on, and have been filled with strife and a touch of sadness. These last few days, it has been due to the terrible bard that had escaped our clutches, and come back with another regiment of cutthroats to take his revenge upon us. Despite our preparations against such an ambush, hindsight is proving us in error in our plans.
You see, we knew there was a scout who’d spotted us on the road. We’d thought that once we made camp, the bard might be back to harass us, or set upon us with ill intent. Although I understand and feel for his cause, namely the opposition of the terrible cruelty of the Phthyan Empire and its policies, the methods this bard’s band of resistance fighters were terrible, and more cruel than that of the enemy they stand against. It is within their practice to simply slaughter their enemy to a man, and also to attempt murder on all who aid and assist them, namely us.
As it was at the previous battle in the illusionary woods, we were completely victorious, and the despicable bard fled unseen as soon as his men were defeated, scampering off in all directions when the fight went against them. Unfortunately, the great Collosini, Julius Cleaver was slain as he kept watch, overcome by some bardic sorcery then hacked up by the enemy’s minions. I think had we not split camps awaiting this ambush, we might not have lost our very large and friendly ally.
It had been decided that we would set up a dummy encampment, to lure the villains to attack, out in the open, whilst the other half of our group would camp several hundred yards away. Unfortunately, the enemy was able to get within striking distance of the faux camp, where myself, Ignatius, Smriti and Julius were posted. The rest of the group was at the hidden camp, waiting to swoop in if the enemy attacked. Well, when the bard did attack, he came in during the deepest part of night, you know – the time I like best, when it is so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face. They set up that illusory wood around our camp, which we saw through fairly easily. But they had also spread out some caltrops to harm us (I stepped on one and the thing pierced all the way through my foot – but I am ok now – just another scar to add to my growing collection).
The bandits surrounded our camp and came in for the kill. But our brave party, even with Julius slain, was able to trounce them. And no others on our side were slain. Like I said, the bandits were driven off fairly quickly, and we had taken some prisoners who’d told us of the main camps of the resistance. The nearer camp was deserted, as we suspected it would be. We’d followed their backtrail and easily found it, nestled into the cliffs by the Arcadia River. We also, at that encampment, discovered the tracks of a small rivercraft. We are positive that the bard and a few survivors fled across the river into Aetrelia. I hope that whoever he is, this wretched bard won’t follow us all the way to Cartenden. I’d hate to endanger you because of all of this mess. You know, in other circumstances, this bard and I might have once fought on the same side, against the Phthyans. But I know this, if we spot that fellow, he won’t be getting any second chances. Dorak for one, will have his hide. And I will be standing there, opposite Dorak, giving him the distractions he needs to pull off his skill at piercing enemies. Now that I think of it, I am not sure any of us got a good look at him. Shame that!
We marched the prisoners through the village of Veralamium and on to the city of Taginae. It is so strange for me to say this, but we sought out the Phthyan praesidium, reporting the news of the massacre of Julius’ regiment and returning the banner of the fallen, depositing the prisoners, and disclosing the where we’d hidden the rest of the regiment’s armor and weaponry. Of course, the Prelate on duty did not at first believe us. Typical. But we showed him the papers that the Praetorian Prelate had given us, and they essentially placed us under house arrest until our story could be confirmed. Several days later the soldiers returned with the rest of the fallen regiment’s gear, and confirmed our claims. That time spent there in Taginae was very stressful. We had several soldiers following us around at all times, and men were even posted outside the inn where we were staying. I do not hesitate to tell you how happy I will be once we are rid of the Imperials, and safely within the borders of Free Drusas.
Wish me luck,