Underdark I: An Unexpected Letter

  • Esquire

    The furnished doors opened. The chamberlain walked through, bowed and went to warm his hands by the fireplace. The lord’s room was at least bearable, while most of the hold was gripped by winter. A man sat behind the desk, scribbling his signature on a paper.

    “I told you I wasn’t to be disturbed, Frina. I still have dozens of papers left. That silly carpenter – his roof fell in again, an ambassador from Vinia and a retiring sergeant. I think my hand’s going to have the sores again - that idiot physician went and put mashed plant on it last time. Blast it, he’s supposed to be good.”
    “It’s a poultice, my lord,” Frina explained. “It’s supposed to draw out the pain.”
    The lord sighed and shifted in his chair. It groaned as loudly as he had.
    “My sores stay – as does that idiot physician. What are you here for? You’re supposed to be seeing to Megina.”
    “Lady Megina, my lord,” he said disapprovingly. “She says she’s quite fine and asks you to leave her be. To cut to the bone, I have a letter from the Ruler. Arrived this morning, sire.”

    Frina produced the letter. It was written on a plain scroll, still in its tube. It would be easily mistaken for an ordinary letter, except for the wax seal. Stamped with the ruler’s ring, it would be recognisable anywhere in Obrexia. The lord took out a pen knife and gently prised the seal off.

    Almost gleefully, he rubbed his hands together. “You do this one, Frina. It’s a fitting reward – haven’t gotten one of these for months." Frina frowned again but took up a candle and held it under the letter. A few moments later, the outline of a hawk appeared on the letter. Lord Humenis was leaning over to see it, grinning boyishly. He gestured for Frina to read it.

    “You know I’m not allowed to see it,” he said, sighing. “You better take the blame if I get in trouble for this.” The lord winked, which he chose to ignore. “The Ruler sends his greetings and asks how Megina and Ganivis are doing. He – oh, dear. He says if you’re reading this and you’re Frina, you’re doing a fine job, but please give it to Humenis and leave the room while he reads it.” Humenis chuckled, his chest booming with mirth, and waved a hand towards the doors. “He knows me all too well. Wait outside, please – I’ll need you later.” Once Frina was outside, he took a sip of wine and started reading.

    Dear Humenis,
    How are you holding up, old friend? Never liked that old tower of yours. Send Megina my regards and write back telling me how Sir Ganivis is doing. Last I heard he was a incapacitated for a month.
    If you’re Frina and you’re still reading this, I’m sure you’re doing a fine job. Please give Humenis this letter and let him read it – that man has no respect for security.
    Alright Humenis, you should be reading now. I’ll be brief, the reason I’m writing is the Underdark. Its power was supposed to be broken and its entrances destroyed forever, when my great-grandfather invaded the North. The scouts have confirmed otherwise. Proceed in all due secrecy – it would hurt business in the Golden North terribly if the truth was out. First find out what you can – the records are old and vague, more likely myth than fact. Then write back to me and take whatever action you deem fit in the meantime. Good luck, and may the sky bless you.
    Yours truly,
    Ruler Bryson Hawkson

Log in to reply