Sunday, October 31, 2004

A Letter from Fayubi

The following letter was written twenty years before the events of Heirs of Mâvarin.

Sabedu, 5th day of Mudelem, 876 MMY


Well, I finally took your advice about that one prophecy. It only took me eleven years. King Jor turned out to be a rather nice man, with a streak of eccentricity that runs at least as deep as mine. He's worried now, though, as we knew he would be. He believed everything I said, even if he didn't understand it all. Perhaps now that he knows there's trouble ahead (not that he doesn't have plenty of trouble already), he will appreciate what he has while he still has it.

I got through the battle of Eplimar all right, wondering the whole time why the Infinite sent me here before the fighting started, and then told me not to talk to the King before the fighting was over. I managed to help the King's forces with some illusions. My only injury was when a horse stepped briefly on my foot. Nothing's broken, fortunately. I'm hardly limping any more. There were a few moments when I was in real danger, but a couple of the King's soldiers drove off the Mâtonans (not mages, but conscripted villagers) who had targeted me. I think the Mâvarin soldiers were named Jami and Pol. I have a feeling I'll see them both again someday.

After the battle, I finally found out why I'm here, aside from delivering the prophecy to the King. I was walking by a burned-out house--there is terrible devastation, far too depressing to describe to you--when I saw a girl sitting in front of it. Her eyes were all scrunched up, as though she was determined not to cry, not to show any fear or weakness. She was thirteen years old, tidy and pretty but not really beautiful. She was looking for somebody to help her bury her parents, whose charred bodies were still in the house. Mera was willing to exchange her freedom--four years as a bond servant, doing even the most degrading tasks a teenage girl might have--for her parents' burial and her own food and shelter. So of course I did what she wanted, but not on those terms. Congratulate me, Hasi--I have a daughter! Mera is bright and honest and hard-working, and a wonderful cook, it turns out. She's very lucky I heard her offer before some randy soldier got to her, and I'm very lucky she came into my life. Of course, it's not really luck at all, but a blessing from the Infinite.

I'm working on a comic ballad at the moment, partly to cheer Mera, and partly to be performed when I play the itinerant entertainer. See what you think of what I have so far:

Art by SherlockThe Beaver and the Bear went a-walking up a hill
(Back when the trees were growing there still).
And some bees started buzzing, like the bear’s own snore,
And the Bear said, “Look! That’s what trees are here for!”

The Bear said the trees were for storing up honey,
And the Beaver said trees were for building a dam.
But the farmer said, “The trees here are costing me money.
It’ll be much better when I clear the land.”

The Bear said, “You’ve used trees to make yourself a house,
And so does a human, and the tiny titmouse.
But the best tree-houses are made by the bee,
Because they’re the ones that make all that honey for me!”

It will be a whole parable about the way all the animals can use the land together until the farmer ruins everything. It probably won't go over well outside Gathmak, but oh, well.

Say hi to Pata for me, and come visit when you can. Mera and I should be home three weeks from tomorrow.


Saturday, October 23, 2004

From the Secret Diaries of Commander Wil Masan

The Sun and River, royal symbol of Mâvarin

The following diary entries, by the Commander of the Palace Guard, are concurrent with chapters six through nine of Heirs of Mâvarin.

Comerdu, 13th Day of Dortem, 896 MMY

There was an odd disturbance this evening, something about traitors in the city. 'Nishmû knows there have been plenty of so-called "traitors" arrested over the years, but this was different. Princess Cathma mentioned to Prince Carli at dinner that she met a girl her age at the home of the mage Rutana. Within an hour of that conversation, the First Minister had put the Palace Guard on alert. The girl, I'm told, is an impostor princess, in Thâlemar to overthrow the royal family. I have my doubts.

Sabedu, 14th Day of Dortem, 896 MMY

Queen Talea, Princess Tãrna and Prince Areno arrived from Fãrnet this afternoon. It's an awkward time for their visit, because of this business with the alleged impostor princess. She got away from Captain Herton, just barely. Instead, Herton arrested his predecessor, Captain Ramet, along with his son. I would like to have questioned these two, but Imuselti had already released them by the time I got the news--unluckily for them. I will have to get one of the Prison guards to keep me informed what's going on down there.

I did learn that the mage Dupili escaped from the political wing today, probably with outside help. Dupili had already been there for a week, a long time to defy Imuselti successfully. Naturally I'm glad that my ex-girlfriend's father is no longer imprisoned, even if I don't know how he managed it. I'm grateful that my Palace duties do not officially include what goes on downstairs in the Prison.

Interestingly, Herton dismissed Lok Awer from the Guard for attacking the Ramets after the arrest. The First Minister upheld his son's discharge. Good for him. The lad has always been a troublemaker.

Nishmudu, 15th Day of Dortem, 896 MMY
No news on the impostor front today, only rumors. The word is that the impostor princess has a brother down south somewhere. He is said to be dead or dying. Nobody seems to know the source of this intelligence, if that's what it is.

Meanwhile, we've been kept busy with the royal visit. There are few Palace duties less interesting than watching Princess Cathma show little Princess Tãrna the royal gardens and the royal wardrobe. I suspect Princess Cathma would agree with me on this.

Masheldu, 16th Day of Dortem, 896 MMY
No news on the alleged impostors. I kept an eye on Princess Cathma and Princess Tãrna as they toured the local churches. Sheldi Aldan had more interesting duty, accompanying Prince Carli and Prince Areno on a hunting trip. Modo Bruber guarded King Jor and Queen Talea. Their conference seems to have been almost as ceremonial as their children's activities. I have to wonder why Fãrnet's royal family, minus the ailing king, would travel so far to accomplish so little.

Thaledu, 17th Day of Dortem, 896 MMY
Princess Cathma was missing from the Palace for a short while today, but nothing came of it. It was during a lull in her scheduled duties entertaining Princess Tãrna. Smart girl, that Cathma. In the evening, she finally got a real break from her babysitting, attending a play with Prince Areno. It wasn't a good play, but I doubt she cared about that.

The weird news of the day is that tengremen were spotted in the city. Rather than give the order to attack the creatures that kidnapped the King so long ago, the First Minister actually met with them. My guards were not allowed in the Sun Room during the meeting, so I have no idea what was said.

Meanwhile, there was another magic-assisted escape from the political wing of the Prison. This time the prisoner was a tanner from Liftlabeth. He supposedly knew the impostor princess, but when I spoke to him he refused to say anything helpful. He seemed more bewildered and put upon than conspiratorial. He was gone before anyone else questioned him. I have not reported my failed interrogation to the First Minister. Fortunately for me, he and King Jor seem content to exclude me from the obviously political arrests. As long as Imuselti is their royal interrogator, I'm not going to do anything to change that.

Still, I would like to know what's really going on.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

A Letter from Rithe Fost

The following predates the beginning of Heirs of Mâvarin by almost exactly fifteen and a half years.

Rani Fost at age 15Masheldu, 6th Day of Genorem, 881 MMY

Dear Meligor,

You will be pleased to learn that my son was born yesterday, just as you predicted. The midwife tells me that the birth was among the easiest in which she has participated, although it did not seem that way to me. What matters is that he seems to be a completely normal, completely healthy baby. Dear Mâshela, may he always be as normal as he is now!

I have named him Rani Fost, since it seems foolish to give him the surname of a father he will never know. Rani is as dark as his dad, which will be a little awkward in this village where everyone is as pale as I am. Still, the people of Liftlabeth all seem to be friendly, tolerant people. They should provide a good environment in which to raise my son, far from the madness, the savagery and the magic I left behind. Mâshela willing, Rani will never need to know about any of that, much less experience it himself. He will obviously know of his Mugalan ancestry, but not about the terrible life that his father and I were forced to lead, the enslavement that had nothing to do with the color of his father's skin.

If your son survives, recovers his wits and comes to see you, please tell him to stay away from Liftlabeth. I have begun a quiet, stable life here. His arrival would compromise that. After what happened, I can't ever trust him to be around Rani. Even if he is fully recovered and stays that way, he will never be normal enough for Liftlabeth, and his belated appearance would invite questions that I'm not prepared to answer. Please tell him that I'm sorry. I know he is not in any way to blame for the attack, and I wish things were different. But that is how it must be, for Rani's sake.

The money Zagorni gave me is almost gone, but I'm now earning enough at market each Comerdu to get by. I have even started to get custom orders for clothing, especially dresses in the hard-to-get colors. My customers don't need to know how I produce the red, green, silver, gold and purple cloth.

Thank you for all you have done for us.


Art by Sherlock

Saturday, October 09, 2004

A Letter from Uncle Jamek

Art by Sherlock
The following is the message for Crel that her Uncle Jamek sends north with Bil Gorben in Chapter Seven of
Heirs of Mâvarin.

Sabedu, 14th Day of Dortem, 896 MMY


This will have to be cryptic. I'm sure you understand why. The bearer of this letter can tell you about recent local events, but that’s all. The less he knows about our plans, the safer we all will be if something else goes wrong.

I know where your brother is going. R. is with him, and yes, F. was right. My hired help and I are going to try to catch up with them. It's not likely that I'll be back soon. I going to go with your brother rather than try to bring him home. This is partly for R's sake, but mostly because F. was right about your father, too.

YOU ARE IN DANGER. Strangers have been here, almost certainly from Mâton, asking questions. There's a chance they know who you are, and where you've gone, but they probably don't know where specifically you're staying. Do not go outside P's house. Do not talk to strangers. Especially, do not go looking for F. We don't know how he fits into all this, or whether he's really on our side.

In the unlikely event that something happens to your hosts, try to get to the place where you saw the mice. M. can probably keep you safe if you stay out of sight, and say nothing to anyone about all the things I'm sure you're dying to talk about. Just tell M. that I've gone to find the man who never came back, and that I'll pay for everything when I return. If the first part of that doesn't make sense to her, remind her where I used to work. I'm pretty sure she already knows that much.

I know this isn't what you wanted or expected, and I know you feel I no longer have the right to tell you what you can and cannot do. But please, for your own safety, rely on my borrowed authority a little longer, and obey. Most of all, be careful!

May the blessings of Mâshela and Thâle be yours.



Journal Entry #1: Crel's Diary, First Entry
Journal #Entry #3: Crel's Diary, Second Entry

Sunday, October 03, 2004

A Londran Police Report

The following takes place concurrently with the third volume of Mages of Mâvarin, in the alternative version of Gerbrin, the capital city of Londer. Londer is an ocean away from Mâvarin, and very different in language, calendar, technology and societal norms.

Progess Report
Gerbrin Police Department
Magic Enforcement Division
Case # 78234
Subject: "Faithful" Cult
Supervising Officer: Inspector Stradle
Date: 4/21/04

We are maintaining surveillance of the River Street residence where the monsters were found and the cultists arrested. One of the reported monsters, formerly a cultist named Mondred, remains at large, with no further clues to its whereabouts. Also missing are three other monsters, all of them reportedly foreigners, and the cult leader, Cherlas Dewared, age 47.

The human cultists remain cooperative. They have all renounced the use of their illegal and dangerous "spirit drink," a variant of which caused the transformations. Analysis of this potion reveals a high blood content as well as undefined magical properties. The blue spirit drink conferred illegal abilities to the cultists on a temporary basis. The green variant, reportedly made with the blood of the foreign monster, induced the unnatural transformations. It is not clear exactly where this monster and its formerly human companions came from, nor where they escaped to after the debacle. Inspector Reger has suggested that one of the ancient portals may have been found and activated. Eyewitness accounts suggest that before they became monsters, the two human foreigners spoke an unknown language they called Mavarinue.

Dr. Sowart has analysed the bodies of the three monster cultists killed yesterday, as well as the human cultist who was apparently killed by the monsters five days ago. All four bodies appear to be completely human now, with no trace of the hooves and horns and fur my officers and I saw in three of them before we shot them. The cause of death in the murdered human was a slash across the throat, possibly from a monster's claw. The body had numerous gashes, quite obviously from the monsters' teeth and claws. He has been identified as Ruthar Gawareth, age 43, a physician. The three ex-monsters have been identified as follows:

"Sister" Belithize Waltor, age 27, a primary school teacher,
"Sister" Nane Verdun, age 52, elder sister of Councillor Shane Verdun, and
"Brother" Torben Isling, age 25, a shop clerk.

Before expiring, the monster Belthize stated, in barely understandable words, that cult leader Cherlas Dewared had been killed by the foreign monster whose blood was used in the green spirit drink. Our working theory is that the fourth monster cultist, "Brother" Mondred Pons, age 36, a locksmith, escaped through the same portal as the three foreign monsters. Our search continues for the alleged portal as well as the fugitives.

Due to the clandestine nature of the cult's operations, and the quick actions of this department, very few people outside the cult and the constabulary seem to be aware of recent events, particularly with respect to the monsters. The only non-cultists seen at the River Street address today were three relatives of one of the deceased cultists, although none of us seem to recall which one. There have been complaints about what amounted to a small illegal zoo behind Dewared's residence. However, most of the animals were gone by the time of the arrests.

An artist's rendering of the monsters is attached. Each one has four legs after the manner of a horse, two arms that end in clawed hands, a heavily-furred upper torso, and a wolflike head with yellow eyes and a single horn. One of my detectives remarked that whoever created the creature evidently drew on several well-known mythical creatures for inspiration. An unconfirmed report names the monster a "tengrem."

Yours faithfully,
Detective Inspector Petro G. Stradle