FROM: General Debinani Rahl
RE: Chapter Two – Victor”s Diary
An excerpt from the diary of Pvt. Victor Smithson.
Victor was one of our fist recruits when Rhys and I
originally set up shop in Minoc. He was a country kid who
had never done much but work the forge with his father, but
his heart was in the cause as much as any other, and he was
a welcome addition to the company.
Minoc could never particularly be called boring. Being a
frontier town, it was always the source of one conflict or
another, the raid of the occasional troll, not to mention
that every low-life in the Empire seemed to be skulking
around every corner. However, being a smith’s son in Minoc
was the most boring life one could ever be cursed with. We
owned a small shack with a forge on the backside of Mt.
Kendall, it wasn’t the safest place to practice our trade,
but for the most part it stayed quiet. My father and I
would pull the ore out of the side of the mountain, haul it
back with the help of Old Bessie, and I would stoke the
fire as my father smelted it into ingots. Simple. Boring.
Minoc was in a constant state of flux, people coming from
all over the land trying to make their fortune in the
business, and those trying to make their fortune leeching
off the success of others. I never really noticed new faces
until the Captain came to town.
After “arriving” in Cove, I was of course, dead broke. Rhys
had been down on his luck as well. Since we both had a
little skill with mining and blacksmithy, we marched to
Minoc to try and make a little capital, as well as do some
I first saw them sitting on the shore on the west side of
the Mount, two men, lightly armored, sitting by a campfire
and cooking some sort of spiced fish concoction in an iron
skillet. It’s not often you see people making themselves a
camp so far out of earshot of the guard, yet so close to
the nexus of crime in the Northern frontier. They seemed
confident enough. Both had some low-quality mining
implements as well as various an sundry arms in varied
states of repair. They were talking about something
important. The young, dark-haired one was relaying a story
of one sort or the other to the older, blonde man, who was
nodding thoughtfully. I couldn’t resist, I had to go see
what they were up to.
As soon as I got within earshot, they both fell silent,
looking at me plainly with just the slightest hint of
distrust. I may have been very young, but I had worked the
mines and the forge all my life, I was pretty tough. I
walked up to their camp and sat down across the fire from
them. They didn’t object. In fact, they did nothing but
look at me.
“Um…Hi….” I ventured weakly.
“Hail,” replied the older man quietly.
“M’Mind if I join you?”
“It would appear you already have,” said the younger man.
“Oh…yeah…umm…right…., ” I floundered, “Umm…My name’s Victor…
The younger man interrupted me, “Well met, my name’s Rahl,
this is Cethwyn Rhys,” he said somberly.
“Do you smell something?” asked Rhys.
Rahl looked around questioningly, sniffed at the fish. Then
I smelled it…it smelled like a combination of rotted meat
and sweaty clothes…it was suddenly everywhere. And then we
heard the roar coming from the other side of the Mount.
The two men sprung into action as I hauled myself to my
feet and started sprinting towards my home. Rhys was right
behind me, brandishing a painstakingly polished blade,
tugging a mail tunic over his head as he ran. Rahl was
walking swiftly behind us, calmly crushing some sort of
smelly ash in his fingertips and mumbling quietly to
himself, at the same time trying to juggle a sword onto a
baldric on his hip. Rhys and I ran around the side of the
rock and I tripped over the corpse of Old Bessie. The poor
mule’s head had been ripped from her torso and her back
broken into two, clearly-defined pieces. I heard the sound
of wood being smashed from the direction of my home and I
hurried on. Rhys was already there, trying to surgically
remove the arm of the Troll that was tossing my broken and
bloodied father around like a rag doll. He wasn’t very
About the time Rahl finally arrived on the scene, Rhys had
done enough damage to the beast to make it throw my father
aside and concentrate on the man-thing poking him with the
sharp stick. I stood there helplessly dumbstruck, not
knowing what I could do to help or if I’d just get myself
killed. As Rhys was engaging in a desperate battle with the
beast, Rahl walked over to the body of my father and
checked him for a pulse. He didn’t look happy when he
Rhys was getting beaten pretty bad at that point, and Rahl
did something that closed the other’s wounds. I’d seen a
mage before…but never quite that close up…. Then he clapped
his hands together and a bolt of lightning came out of the
clear sky and crashed into the beast. It seemed to realize
suddenly that it no longer had the upper hand. With Rahl’s
lightning and Rhys’ steel, the beast was quickly falling
behind. It decided to bolt right at me. I was frozen in
terror as the huge mass of hurt, angered muscle loomed
closer and closer. And then it happened. I realized I had
picked up my father’s pickaxe off the ground. I hefted it.
When the beast drew near I sidestepped and brought the pick
down on the beast’s skull.
The shock of the impact jarred my entire body, and when I
opened my eyes I was lying atom the beast, covered in blood
and grey-matter. My home had caught fire when the beast
spilled over the fire and was slowly burning down tot he
ground. Rahl was slapping a poultice on a particularly
nasty wound Rhys received during the battle. I looked at
the body of my father lying off to the side. I looked for a
long time. When I looked up I noticed the two warriors
looking at me. I nodded. Rahl got up and laid the body of
my father into the pyre that was his home. They both
settled down back at his camp as I watched my father’s body
burn. No one had said a word.
It was after dusk when I finally turned my back on the
embers of my father and home and walked around the Mount to
the two men’s campsite. Rahl had just finished cooking up
some venison (after discarding the burnt and unappetizing
fish) and they were eating. A bowl full of the stew was
waiting for me by the fire. The silence continued while we
ate, and at the end of our meal the stars had come out and
the crackling of the fire and the sound of the sea lapping
against the shore were the only sounds to be heard.
It was Rhys who finally broke the silence.
“You move pretty fast for a kid your size,” he commented
quietly. He reached into his pack and pulled out a bottle
of the local whiskey and poured a small amount into our
“It killed my da.”
“I know, kid, and I’m real sorry I couldn’t do anything
about it, but you’ve got potential you know.”
“I didn’t know.”
“‘And from great tragedy comes greater fortune..’,” quoted
Rahl quietly, “We’re here on a mission, Victor. A mission
to find people to rebuild what was once the greatest and
most feared order of all time.”
“What does that have to do with me?” I asked, confused at
Thus began my journeys with the two men who were The Black
Rose Society. They taught me how to fight, by myself and in
a group, on guard and in a line. They taught me how to be a
warrior. And they told me our quest: To find Tablenhelm, to
return the last remaining book of the Annals to the Great
Library there, and to fulfill a sacred oath that the
Society will not be disbanded until it is done. Neither men
thought it was very viable goal, not even The Captain,
that’s what I had to call Rahl after I joined up. So we did
what we did best, we soldiered. Over the course of the last
year I must have been to every city in the world, but
Rhys…I mean…The Lieutenant…. tells me there’s a few more
we haven’t gone to yet. We worked for a little bit of
everyone, local lords needing to supplant a brute squad
with some talent, long-distance scouting, and even the
occasional assassination. I had finally got to see the
Actually, the kid finally got to see Vesper, Cove, and
Britain, as well as a few smaller settlements in the area,
but we didn’t want to burst his bubble. If he wanted to
feel well traveled, he was welcome to it. The kid never
talked about many of our engagements over the course of
that year, nor how he probably saved Ceth’s and my bacon
with his sheer brute ferocity more times then I’d like to
mention. He was pretty humble about soldiering. I skip now
to his final entry.
Last week we arrived back in Britain, after completing a
simple reconnaissance mission into Shadowclan territory for
Lord Blackthorn. The Cap collected our pay and got us
hooked up with some nice rooms at The Rose and Crown, a
privately owned inn and brothel outside of town. We’ve been
here most of the week, but I haven’t seen The Cap’n much.
Rhys has been drunk for most of the week, and he seems to
be sampling all the women the place has to offer in turn. I
don’t feel so promiscuous, I think Emily will be just fine
for the remainder of my stay. Well…maybe Lucile too.
Yesterday I actually followed The Cap’n, determined to find
out where he was goin’ all day. And I’ll be damned if he
didn’t walk right up to British’s palace, wave at the
guards and get let right in. I went back to the Crown and
asked Rhys about it. He said Rahl was working with Old
Humboldt on the great mystery, and that it was nothing to
Tonight a bunch of roughs showed up at the Crown, started
making a lot of noise and roughing up the girls. I wanted
to step in, but Rahl wouldn’t let me, he said they had a
funny look in their eyes. I don’t know, never tried to
figure out what a man was thinking, in a fight it’s usually
pretty obvious. Well, it’s about time for me to turn in,
Rahl said something’s gotten a little hot about a job we
did a while back, so we’re bugging out in the morning.
Victor was killed that night when the as yet unidentified
assailants broke into our rooms in an attempt to put us in
the dust. Rhys and I barely escaped with our lives into the
woods…Victor never made it out. There was a healer’s hut a
few miles away and we waited there for days, hoping he
would come walking out in the death-shroud ressurectees are
always wearing when they come back, but he never did. To
this day we still don’t know what became of Victor, or if
anything became of him at all.