Tuesday 18 December 2001

A Few Grey Cats

The Origins of our Involvement

As far as I can determine, the involvement of our family in the matters I am about to relate sprung from the fostering of my late grandfather, Wodarn Ralcura, in the household of Branan, the late Baron Ertura, at at time when Ertura was an easterly barony of the old Kingdom of Histra. This was in the time of Queen Yloe, the last Tarashonis monarch to be entitled to enjoy the support of the nobility of all the old Kingdom.

Wodarn was the third son of his house, and as such not central to the plans of his father. It appears that, at this young age, he led quite a dissolute and careless life, showing little of the discipline and nobility he would demonstrate in his later years.

Possibly seeing the potential in Wodarn, Branan requested his ward, shortly after Wodarn came of age, to join a group of trusted courtiers who had been given a task of tremendous importance to the Baron; guarding his daughter, Mictila, who had been betrothed to Prince Bertan Tarashonis, third in line to the throne of Histra.

The Companionship

The most distinguished member of that group was Soros Yi Grisane. Apertan-born, Soros had been taken into slavery by the Dyrians as a child, and later achieved fame as one of the greatest of all Dyrian pit-fighters. He had by this time taken service as the Weapons-Master of Baron Ertura and, despite his lowly status as a bondsman, was recognised as a tremendous talent and was shown respect far greater than his position suggested.

The higher ranks of Erturan society were represented by Branan Hemsienan, the eldest son of the Sheriff of Kordaes (which is to effectively to say, in this context, Sheriff of Ertures), and Runesan Hemsharun, a knight in service of Baron Ertura. These were powerful and respected men in the Barony. The final member of this group of guardians was Nijhad Hirajavarus, a priest of Javarus, a fearsome and enigmatic character.

The group, with a large entourage of more than 100 soldiers, set out for the capital Karia for the wedding.

Ambush and Assassins

On the road, the entourage was ambushed by a large group of bandits, which bandits they easily defeated. Upon interrogation, captured bandits divulged that a man from Vinaria paid them substantial monies and that they were told that there would only be 50 soldiers guarding the entourage.

After the entourage reached Karia, an attempt was made on Mictila’s life by a small group of assassins. The assassins were defeated and survivors divulged that they were to bring Mictila’s heart to a Magus for some evil ritual. Following this attempt the Erturan party was taken into the Royal Castle under the Queen’s protection.

It will be remembered that this was a time of tension between Histra and the Kingdom of Kalmar (as it then was). Rumours were rife regarding Kalmarese intentions towards war.
Eventually suspicion fell upon Viscount Silhar, and the Queen along with the Dukes and Barons of the realm, heard evidence against him in private session. That Viscount was convicted, stripped of all lands and titles and exiled from the Kingdom. Kalmar did not accept him and he eventually sought refuge in Tibulanus. The Crown was given a mandate to govern the Viscounty pending a more permanent settlement.

Magi, Priests and Demons

During the inquiries by the group into the allegations of black magic, the group made contact with a number of magi and other occult characters. Two such were Raliol, a magus, and his assistant Arnoal. The group also had discussions with another individual, Laracer Ashenard, who they knew as an academic from Vinaria who was staying at the same inn as the party, and doing research into shrines of Shalebrol, the divine servitor whose ambit includes magic.

Soon afterward, the group encountered a rare demon, known as a Harlequin, close to their inn. Harlequins employ a form of mind control over other races of demons, and for that reason are hated by (at least) the Danavans. The Harlequin proceeded to attack the academic Laracer Ashenard, who clearly (from the devastating magic which he employed in his own defense) was also a skilled magus. The group fled the scene of the battle. When it had concluded, the magus was dead and the demon departed.

The reason why a powerful and reclusive demon should take an interest in such a man – let alone kill him – is beyond me. The magus Raliol was most interested. In return for allowing him to magically review the memories held by Nijhad of Laracer Ashenard, they presented Soros a sword.

It was made clear to Soros that this was an ancient heirloom of great power, but Soros was not told why he was being given the sword. It later became clear that this sword was one of a thousand like it, forged in the ancient Niban Empire by the Niban master smith Artan Shaol for the purpose of slaying demons.

The group received the advice of a priest of Vilcanat called Jhadar Ialtan whom you, father, would later meet in very different circumstances. Jhadar Ialtan was the temple name of an Otgaidarese called Hiasr, who had (for reasons I will later explains) sworn an oath to ensure the marriage of Mictila and Bertan went ahead. He had played a major part in thwarting the assassination attempt on Mictila, having insinuated himself amongst the assassins and attacking them at a crucial moment.

Dynastic Events

The marriage of Mictila to Prince Bertan went ahead successfully. This happy event was offset by the death of the Queen’s second child, Yloe, in a horse riding accident later that year. This death had a profound effect on the dynastic conflicts which would later ensue, because Prince Bertan's elevation to the position of eldest surviving sibling to the heir meant that he would become Prince of Matora (and Mictila therefore would be his Princess) on the succession of his eldest sister Inaris to the Histran throne.

Rumours of pending war continued, and the Queen authorised a large increase in the recruitment of soldiers in the Kingdom by way of expansion of the size of each Mercer House.
Later, believing that they had received confirmation that Kalmar intended to invade, the Histran Dominions begin to mobilize. Count Tucinate – a Fontarbian Count whose son Jarnad was at Yloe's court– came to an arrangement by which he organized border skirmishes between the Fontarbrian Marquis and the Eastern Kalmarese lords.

During this time the companions were involved in a productive series of intrigues with Darlimar Komaresa, the Kalmarese ambassador to Histra. Darlimar Komaresa represented a coalition of 11 Kalmarese Barons who wished to break with the Kalmarese Dukes, either to join Histra or to depose them in a coup.

War with Kalmar

A large Kalmarese army crossed the border and assaulted Ertures City. The companions fought with distinction during the siege. They were joined in the fighting by Wodarn Hecak, a Fontarbrian knight and member of Order of Phaidos who was traveling in Histra in an effort to discover information which might lead to the resolution of the war of the Fontarbrian succession.
The siege of Ertures was eventually broken and the Histran armies began a counter- invasion. With several Kalmarese Barons defecting in the middle of battle, the counter- invasion went very well. Soon the Histran armies were advancing deep into Kalmar. The front lines solidified during the harsh Kalmarese winter and Baron Ertura’s forces were given winter quarters in Esakom, a southern port city.

In the spring, news reached Esakom that the Queen had been assassinated. Father, I know from what you have told me that it was the firm belief of my grandfather and his colleagues that this assassination was the work of Tokan Liod, the magus and magnate of Tibulanus, but there has never been any firm proof of this. While Tokan Liod certainly had some motive to slow the advance of Histra, surely the Kalmarese has more to gain from the death? In light of our recent detente with Tokan Liod, I would suggest that this particular conspiracy theory be left with my grandfather in his grave.

Victory in Kalmar

The King and the Dukes of Histra later signed a treaty with the Dukes and Barons of Kalmar, which made the 11 Kalmarese conspirator baronies Histran dominions.
Inaris Tarashonis was crowned Queen of Histra.
Baron Ertura was granted the southern third of the former Viscounty of Silhar.
The honour of Silhar was reduced to a Barony, and Jarnad Tucinate was made the Baron of Silhar.

Bertan Tarashonis was made Prince of Matora, and Mictila the Princess of Matora.
The companions went their separate ways at that point and prospered over the following years. As is well known, my grandfather Wodarn suffered a number of tragic bereavements – most notably a fire in a chapel – wherein his father, mother, elder brother, next elder brother, and all their respective children died. This led him to finding himself holding the title of the Baron of Alcura. Branan Hemsienan inherited his father's position as Sheriff of Kordaes and became a leading figure in the governance of the city of Ertures. Nijhad Hirajavarus was ordained Bishop of Javarus at Alcus. Runesan Hemsharun, the knight, grew in stature as an envoy in service of Baron Ertura. The fame of Soros Yi Grisane, the Weapons-Master of Baron Ertura continued to grow.

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