My name is Sir Endrus; I am a Knight Commander in the Orbonnian military; a leader in the mission we call “Faithful Rising.” My father was born of LaRochelle, my mother of Igraine. I’ve seen nearly two decades since their passing. As I toddled on my father’s knee, he would tell me stories of the great prestige, glory, and heroism of the Sutherlands. He knew that all was not lost and that we would some day return home. At long last, the mission finds me stationed in the Sutherland city of Finis. I’m not sure of all the reasons we were called to this particular city, but our duty so far has been to purge and protect its walls from undead invaders. Damn the Sovereign’s name! Our duty appeared to be a simple one, as our numbers are great and some strange magical protection has been cast on the entire city. Glory be to King Evandar! The undead simply cannot enter and I do not understand it at all. But that is not why I write this open letter…
Reconstruction efforts were underway in Finis and the people had finally achieved some measure of security. As each brick was put back in its place, so it seemed that each heart was mended piece by piece. The people of this ruined city lived under the thumb of the Dark Sovereign for so long; it must have been a nightmare. I can’t understand it, but I do see the power that this new freedom has on their souls. They would reforge the city and their wounded hearts.
Then it all changed. One morning, as I was breaking my fast, I noticed something strange. The streets of Finis are normally humming with activity at any time of the day, but all I heard was silence. I tell you, I was worried that we had somehow been attacked in the night. Grabbing my old sword, I dashed out into the street. What I saw is not what I expected.
The central gate of Finis lies on the north wall. From this gate, a major thoroughfare extends deep into the city. Normally, it is bustling with activity, day or night. As I mentioned, it was now silent and I could see why. Hundreds of Finis elves lined the sides of the street. 8 of 10 were kneeling or bowing, the difference frowning. It took me a moment to realize what was going on. Down the center of the empty street, a party of five individuals walked slowly. There was a bearded male Drae clad in all black, a male elf wearing the colors of Sahde, two elves dressed in the fashion of Finis aristocracy, and a female elf wearing the garb of the woodsman or warrior in the lead position.
The others were impressive, but the leading woman awed me. I do not know why, but I felt a sense power from her, of leadership and poise. It then became obvious to me that these elves bowed to HER. Who was she? I turned and whispered to a guard next to me, “Who is this woman?” Looking concerned, he only said, “Talendra Silvertree.”
The rumor-mongers have spread word of her visit. An account of her speech to the nobles of Finis follows:
“I have not returned to rule over you–I have returned to guide you as I once did. If you will have me, I will lead you once more. There is something you must know: no magic flows forever. Once the source is depleted, it will fade away. This… protection that Lord Miles has conjured will not last forever. When it fails, the forces of that lich will swoop in and take the city again. We are simply not safe.
“The population of Finis is elven. For too long you have been separated from your true homeland. Ristell made that decision for you and without you. But I will not. Now is the time to reunite our people. Now is the time to secure our future. Now is the time to return to the Darkwood.
“Ristell saw fit to sacrifice all of you and Finis, all the while his house ascended to power over all others. Do not be fooled by his treacherous acts. This was not in the best interest of our people, but a choice governed by his greed for wealth and lust for power. Like a coward, he bargained with the Maiden for his own gain, condemning the rest of you to suffer here. This once great city was a stronghold, a strategic location in the fight against that lich. And he just gave it away. He tipped the scales in favor of that lich with his betrayal and thousands more lives were lost! Ristell was a fool to think that lich would keep his word and leave Finis untouched, for he returned Ristell’s betrayal and set upon this great city, forcing our people into the protection of the Darkwood. I seek not retribution for what I’ve been through, but I do ask that Ristell pay for the nightmares he brought down upon you all, for you were the ones he truly betrayed. He brought the headsman’s axe down on the body of our people. Severed in twain, both pieces suffered greatly, but none more so than each of you. Finis is your death-house and it must be abandoned. This is where the body died and its rot fills the air.
“There is nothing for you here–the Darkwood awaits. I leave the choice to you. It is time to unite the elven people. If you stand with me, then ready your houses, gather your belongings, and join me in reuniting our people. If you belong to House Ristell, don’t bother. We move by week’s end.”
After that day, the murmuring, unspoken ‘language’ of the city changed. Whispers from the street no longer spoke of rebuilding, but leaving. Elves by the score abandoned the reworking of the city. Those that didn’t raged at their counterparts and stubbornly refused to participate in whatever was amiss. Store fronts were closed, wagons filled, and homes packed. I’m still struck by this. Our forces had liberated the city and now its people were leaving. What in the name of Tyrra would possess them to do so? Was it this Silvertree lady?
I stood there, on the north gate, and watched the hundreds, the thousands, depart the city. This Talendra was there, coaching them on. By now I had heard her referred to as a ‘queen’ and as a ‘princess.’ She fit the part and her skill of command was as great as any general I have served under.
On the 13th day after her arrival, the city was nearly deserted. Some elven houses had remained behind, but their ranks numbered in the hundreds. Their dark scowls told us not to inquire of them, and we didn’t. Rumor among the troops said these houses were cast out by the other elves.
So there I stood, along with thousands of my brothers, guarding an empty city. I do not know what transpired, but it was powerful. We eagerly await some word from our superiors, but they are silent and seem dumbfounded.
Sir Hemrick Endrus