Geri’s Letter to Aini

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Steel Realms
THE TEXT IS WRITTEN ON PAPYRUS FROM DWINDOR SWAMP

My Aini,
I’ve tried to keep the worst from you my darling girl, but by now, posterity is here, and people will be talking. And i wont be around to untangle the myths from the lies, the truth as it happened and truth as it is known. My letter is my last words to you, everything else has been long prepared.

There was a terrible civil war in Bar-Innis. This you will have heard many times, but it was filled with unimaginable horrors and sacrifices that did not end. You are a product of that war. My uncle, Berithor, sent his “hound” after us. We fought many battle over many years.

I was captured and raped and eventually escaped. You were born in the midst of it all. I did everything to keep you safe, things others found… disturbing. Of course you will recall your early years, in Dwindor Swamp, far away from all the fighting. I made a bargain with allies there, and you were their ward. We saw each other so infrequently. I told everyone different tales about you – captured, dead, secreted away to 50 different places. But you had the darkness in you. You were speaking and walking by 1. Reading and writing by 2. Stalking creatures by 3. Even the Orrish of Dwindor who looked after you were terrified. And after they could take no more, we had only a year together. So much darkness. You learned faster than even I did, but that darkness in you grew as it absorbed knowledge. In one year you absorbed 7 years of magus training that i suffered through. I had to send you to a place that i knew would remove the darkness. It meant being… normal. But i am glad – looking back, normal would have been preferable to all the misery around and inside me now. The same darkness in me that was your birthright made me vampire, witch, and a near god if my plan goes right. But it will consume you and all i love, so i willingly give my heart and soul to the cause of defeating the Lich Aruna, who is coming as i write. In one fell blow, we will rid ourselves and Dunstrand of two powerful enemies with bearing no good will to us or our home. I have made dark bargains, and plans within plans. I have killed my brethren, to spare a greater number. I am wicked, and my thoughts are almost consuming me as they are consuming you. But i will surely be gone and damned, while you will be cleansed and rise again. I hope that my plan succeeds, or at least my plans for you. Your time in Loamwald will rid you of the darkness inside you. I wish i could see you laugh just once – you never have in 5 years. The folk there are everything we are not – they are not cynical, hard, or steeped in the blood of others. Emmaleus the halfling Freewarden I met by chance, and we became friends – though he nearly killed me over a misapprehension. He assured me that his folk had the cure for the evil inside you, and treated me like his own daughter. He is the only person I have genuinely trusted in the last 10 years it seems.

My gifts to you are a bloodline that weaves witch, vampire, celestial and the essence of mighty Dwindor and Dunstrand Vale itself. You will pass it on. The darkness of forbidden text, the ghoula fever, and the all consuming void will not be part of your birthright. The Aelishan line must have a cavalier branch in case the main bloodline is cut. Your Niece rules the county of Bar Innis now, she is strong. Her sister was vilely assassinated, but she will already be of age by the time you return to the family lands. With her is your step sister Sandi, a girl i adopted to make her a lady in waiting, to protect the family in the vipers nest of the count’s court. She awaits your coming eventually – you are to treat her as if she were blood kin.

Know These Things

Nothing in the mighty Dwindor is as it seems. Great powers lay dormant there.

You are descended on the Aelishan line; We have always supported the League of the White Lilly. One day, Bar-Innis will become part of the Riverdans and the Duchy and entire heartlands will be the better for it. The soul of the fallen east is in the blood of the Riverdans – these are your people. We trace our ancestry on the mother’s side… you are that lineage.

The blood of a celestial flows in your veins. Her name is Amerou. No one else living knows this. She is the Witch of Dwindor, trapped in that place due to my treachery. She is ancient, one of the original demigods that came to Helca and raised the blood of Nakria as their playthings. Only one of our blood can release her from this… unlike others who have worn the mantle “Witch of Dwindor”, she will never age. Do what you can to appease her enough that she remains stable, and continues the ancient missions of keeping the secrets of Dwindor and Scar Flow locked, and the ancient lands of Dunctrand Vale clear of chaos and darkness.

Thoughts About the Future

I hope the Gallants are rehabilitated under my efforts. Frankly, i could care less about our intractable foe Anwin… hes just a power wielding pawn meant to be a distraction ultimately. And he was a worthy foe, perhaps the only one we ever had. he was a simple mercenary – pure in intent, and with a code he would not break.

I do not know who will be alive when you read this. The Gallants are your brethren, they will accept you.
I’ve given strict instructions and spent much of the coffers – though they will never know. Its an investment, in what i hope is a choice you will make – though it may take some time. Be bold, and seek them out when you are ready.

Whatever they say about me, i never forgot these words:
the Bannerman Oath

  • I hereby espouse my love of home and hearth – that Bar-Innis is my home, the home now of my immediate family
  • I acknowledge that Lady Aelishan is the lord and master of my home, and that their law is my law and through it so am I protected and so shall I protect their people
  • I shall do all in my power to flourish here, to bring a sense of safety and stability upon my friends and family that are here
  • I will do all in my power to ensure the future security and prosperity of the land and its inhabitants
  • As my home and lord are one, as one prospers, so does the other; My Lady Aelishan is the will of the land and its peoples, their interest are my own
  • I shall obey the commands of my lord and liege; my loyalty is my honor
  • I shall contribute to the welfare of community through tithing to my lord, his family, and/or parties they designate in their stead

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