Post-War Fehu, Pt. 1: A Mad Count or a Mad World?

Dear Constant Readers, I went to a dark land looking for a tome, but found an exclusive interview with the Mad count, The Butcher of Swaggnnar’s Folly. Yes, that’s right Count Mythos Cardan of Fehu himself.

You may ask, “But Victoria – what possessed you to go travelling to such a fearsome place alone?” I answer, dear Readers: haven’t you felt the delicious pull of dangers and delicacies in the darkness? I know you have, whether you’ll admit it or not. And so I, daring to do what others dream, went in search of a rare book, and found adventure instead.  Plus, Master Wilshire has infected me with the travel bug; if he can do it, so can I.

Besides, before you’re so quick to judge where the dangers lie, and with whom, wait until you hear this Tori-story.

Your intrepid editor-adventurer – wearing the latest in ladies’ adventure attire, of course – had made it as far as Fehu without incident. The wooded path was very quiet – the scenery only unsettled by the line of impaled bodies that had started a few miles back. I’d heard rumors of a recent civil disruption here; the sight – although gruesome – wasn’t completely unexpected. I was close to congratulating myself on a not very adventuresome adventure when a band of men dressed in dark hoods appeared from the shadows and surrounded me and my steed.

I hopped down from my horse, hardly knowing what I was going to say or do when another group of hooded priests leapt out behind the first. The fight happened in only a few blinks of an eye; blades flashed, bodies fell and the blood was a veritable storm around me until only a few of them were left. One, clearly the leader, presented himself – his hood shading his face. Certainly facing death with a wrong move here, I straightened my back, settled my shoulders, and tried to look fierce despite the trickle of cold sweat slipping down my spine.

He slipped the hood from his face and surveyed the area with wolfish grey eyes. Long, dark hair and a strong jaw, his expression was a curious mix of nobility and savagery. Seeming satisfied that his enemies were dead, he turned his unsettling gaze in my direction:

Count Mythos Cardan: “Good evening lady…sorry for the inconvenience, are you hurt?”

Victoria M. Xildithas: “Well, I am clearly better than those fellows. But my poor horse won’t make it back home.”

One of the crazy priests had done for poor Strider. While I pointed out the fallen horse, I noticed that the rest of this man’s companions were impaling the fallen, and any who weren’t quite fallen yet.

I did my best to keep on a brave face even as one of the bodies was particularly….jubilant in its release of blood. I wondered at the strange gap between the violence around them and the politeness of the man before me, so offered a handshake.

VMX: “I am well – thanks to you. I am Victoria Xildithas. And you are?”

In response, he took my hand with a very graceful and courtly bow, not at all in keeping with the recent violence and strange look. Keeping his eyes locked with mine, he gently kissed the tips of my fingers.

CMC: “My name lady is Mythos Cardan, better known in Elyria as the butcher of Swaggnnar’s Folly or Mad Count.”

A rogue and a Count! I could feel my cheeks redden with his bold eye contact. (I hate it, Readers, but professional ladies keep calm and carry on, even with their cheeks aflame!)

VMX: “Oh…my. The bards sing about you.”

Not exactly my best comeback.

CMC: “Oh the bards, they sing. But most often their songs are not as gruesome or tragic as life can be.”

VMX: “Oh bards, they exaggerate everything, or at least force it to rhyme. Who can tell if what they sing is true? Now I…I work for The Herald – perhaps you’ve heard of it? Only the truth there – tragic or gruesome though it may be. Perhaps you’d care to set the bards’ songs straight?”

CMC: “Oh yes, my lady, I am a dedicated fan of master Wilshire’s publications, even in this remote dump I make sure I have the Herald to read. I will be glad to set bards straight, no pun intended considering our surroundings.”

As if in punctuation, the Count’s men stretched one of the last bodies onto a spike.

VMX: “Hmm. Seems the bards haven’t penned you down properly at all.”

CMC: “Bards live in clouds while us mortals in mud, as you can see.”

VMX: “But wouldn’t you say we have at least some mastery over the mud? Although perhaps not when we finally rest in it. It’s a mystery to many men.”

I gestured to the dead and dying cultists around us, while Count Mythos called for one of this men.

CMC:“Puss! Assist lady Victoria.”

VMX: “Puss? Like a big cat?”

I reached for the giant’s hand when he offered it, and he pulled me up with him onto his horse. We began to trot further down the wooded road. I must say, Readers, I felt quite like a rescued princess in that moment, and very safe. I thanked him with as much grace and majesty as this bookworm could manage.

CMC: “There is always a mystery…at the moment of birth and moment of death. Even those vermin who attacked you have it. They are remnants of old ways, a barrier to progress that has to be cast aside so that this land can become civilized and have a future”

VMX: “Speaking of the…vermin, as you call them (and I cannot disagree, why I’ve never done anything to them!) Why are they lying in wait on this road? They don’t look like your typical bandits…in fact, they look like friars or monks.”

CMC: “They are servants of Old Misery a horrible superstition, a death cult, a madness that made these lands infamous; even my father succumbed to its poison. And as any disease, it has to be cut from its root.”

VMX: “The songs say you murdered your family. But they never say why.”

As I answered, I looked back down the path toward the men who would have taken me, killed me…perhaps worse…and I was grateful they were dead. I won’t deny it.

CMC: “Oh my father. The beloved handsome lord of free folk, that’s what they called him. Before. A woman named Raven took his mind away…and he banished my mother, but that was not enough. He followed Raven in that cult, and Old Misery, the goddess of the Pit, needed sacrifice so my father would be granted eternal youth like that harlot Raven. So he sacrificed all his seven sons by throwing us into the pit. Well my brother Arwan the Crafty and I refused to oblige.”

Never having heard a tale like this, I leaned forward to listen, and almost fell off the horse. I was only saved by the uncanny speed of the giant man called Puss.

VMX: “So…the harlot Raven promised your father eternal youth – and seemed to have it herself – if he would sacrifice all his sons to that thing’s pit?”

“And he did it!?”

CMC: “Yes my lady, I didn’t know how Raven did manage not to age, at that time I was just a boy, not the Mad Count you see now. Would you believe me if I told you that they called me Mythos the Gentle?”

I knew I couldn’t give a watered-down, for-polite-company answer here, so I met his gaze with a serious look. And there – yes, a softness, a twinkle of care that you might just miss if he didn’t let his guard down a little.

VMX: “I would, in fact.”

CMC: “Swaggnnar was a just and good man. But something deep in him woke. Something dark, hungry; something that could never be satiated. I fear that curse runs in our family now. Thanks to these SCUM!!!”

He screamed the last in rage, but quickly composed himself.

CMC: “I try to change all of that, my methods might be slightly heavy handed but for Fehu to be part of the kingdom of Arthos and for my brothers of Golden Horde to be accepted order must be restored!

VMX: “I…can’t blame you for hating them. So you – and your brother – you refused to die? But you lost five?”

CMC: Yes five brothers, they died in agony. To survive Arwan and I had to do…unspeakable things. We had to trade our sanity.”

VMX: “I will not ask you to speak of unspeakable things, Sir. As for heavy-handed…What mother would not wish the same for one who had thrown her sons into a pit to die?”

CMC: “There is that defining moment when Mann can sense the shift, when the universe seems to stop when Gods have their eye on you…a moment that defines you for all the time to come.”

VMX: “And what do you think the Gods saw in that moment when they looked at you, Count Mythos?”

CMC: “That moment was when my six-year-old brother Dervan the Smiling died by my hand. The light in his blue eyes slowly fading…me singing the lullaby to his ear, same one Swaggnnar sang to us: ‘Twinkle twinkle little star.’”

He trailed off, looking haunted for a moment.

CMC: “Same lullaby I sung to Swaggnnar when I gutted his entrails with the dagger made from Dervan’s remains.”

VMX: “I hardly know what to say, but I can only imagine that your brother’s fate would have been worse had you not intervened? Is that correct?”

CMC: “It is correct. There is always a price to pay dear lady, there are no happy endings.”

VMX: “And the County, it’s been torn asunder by this death-cult in its midst? These cultists intend to kill…just everyone for this miserable pit?”

CMC: “Fehu was never a county before; it was a cesspool for bandits, pirates, smugglers and nomads with strongmen like my father constantly squabbling among themselves. I intend to bring order and I am first count of Fehu. There are no knights and pages in Fehu, only hard men and women.”

VMX: “So you have quite a lot before you: Bringing order to the settlements in the county, routing the death-cult, and restoration of the Horde for the Kingdom? And in the midst of it all, your own suffering – and that of your remaining brother?”

CMC: “And people wonder why I am called Mad Count?”

VMX: “More perhaps for your ambition than your methods?”

With that volley, we arrived at Count Mythos’ stronghold. I simply could not keep the look of shock off my face. Like a ray of sun shining through a cloud, there sat Swaggnnar’s Folly. Count Mythos’ lips curled a little in a knowing smile as he caught my expression.

And if you want to know what I saw and heard there, dear Reader, you’ll have to grab the Elyrian Herald tomorrow, when I’ll finish this exclusive interview with the First Count of Fehu, Mythos Cardan.

Remember Elyrians, if you can’t be good, be good at it.

Victoria M. Xildithas

 

**Edited by Bradford J. Wilshire**

Jameson Wilshire: A Tribute To A Jolly Giant

It has been the longest journey I have taken to date, yet the shortest in distance. I return to you dear readers, even if just briefly before I continue settling my father’s affairs. Many of you have been patient and supportive to not only The Elyria Herald but to me personally as well. I thank you for that and am excited to share a memory of my dear old dad.

It started back on the farm. Mum and dad weren’t of nobility or from a family with carts full of gold. We didn’t have servants, squires, or jesters yet dad seemed to make my brother and I feel like we owned the kingdoms, were valiant knights, and we would laugh all day long. My dad, Jameson Wilshire wasn’t defined by his work to the king as a farmer. Rather he will be remembered by his booming voice, jovial nature, and by every passer-by who met him. Over 2 meters tall, you didn’t forget Farmer Jameson, and he certainly never met a stranger.

Something that has come to mind these past few days, was his ability to tease his way to friendship. Growing up we learned quickly that his practical jokes meant love, but it also kept us on our toes. A favorite story of mine was when I was still a young Elyrian, toddling around the world, dad decided to drop a cold stone from the river down my shorts. He used to sit and drink black tea with these cold stones from the river to recover from a long day’s work. This evening, in particular, was no different, and he had the added joy of watching me dance around with a cold stone in my shorts. Mum shouted something from the front of the cottage and dad got up to investigate.

I was only a young boy, I could barely walk, but I waltzed around to and fro trying to reach the cold stone before it froze me to death. As I stumbled I remember the relief of dislodging this horror from my pants.

Mum and dad came back around to enjoy the sunset and found that I had resumed my playtime. My dad took a big drink and with a cheeky grin asked if I had gotten the cold-stone out of my pants. I nodded as I played with my wooden horse. Mum, seeing no stone around, asked where I had put it.

I looked up at my dad and with all the pride I could muster, pointed at his large cup of black tea. Mum couldn’t contain herself, her laughter was the highlight of my evening as my dad realized the cold-stone he had put in my shorts just moments before, was at the bottom of his drink. He looked at me with surprise, dumped his large drink out, and with a big grin said;

“Well done son. You are already turning out to be a great Wilshire.”

Words like these are etched in our memories, moments that live on past death. I hope you too have a memory of your loved ones. If not, take a moment today and make one, you won’t regret it.

Until next time,

Be Bold. Be Known.
Bradford J. Wilshire

The Leviathan That Lurks In The Shadows Eyes Vornair

I find it fascinating the ways I hear from my dear readers these days. It seems that even the ‘unsavory’ types read an article or two in the dark alleys and secret taverns. When I arrived home from writing a few notes on my latest story last night, I saw a note with a flower pinned to my door with a dagger. Unfortunately, there was blood on the dagger, so I decided to leave it be and rip the note off to give it a closer look. I only hope the blood was strictly symbolic, and not indicative of a lost soul. The note read like this:

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Nirath & Arkadia Strike Peace

The war led by Zygethia & Nirath against the kingdom of Arkadia might just be coming to a peaceful resolution. Peace talks between not just two but three warring kingdoms require a delicate touch, to say the least. Fortunately, I was able to find an opportunity to sit down with Dragor, King of Nirath as well as Raziel, ‘King’ of Arkadia.

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Zygethia Responds to Death of King & Queen of Dol Aderyn

Official statement from Zygethia regarding death of King & Queen of Dol Aderyn
The Kingdom of Zygethia offers full condolences to the people of Dol Aderyn and we are determined to prevent the spread of such plagues as they are the enemy of mannkind.
We offer safety and shelter to the clean and healthy refugees that have fled Dol Aderyn, we however will not accept those carrying the plague to prevent the spread and to keep it locked within its birthplace.
Again we offer full sympathy to the dead and will ensure the survivors get the required care and shelter.
– Zultra

Dol Aderyn’s Collapse After The King & Queen Found Dead.

When I was young, we harvested a strange sort of flower called the Datura for the local markets. The Datura would only bloom one night out of the year, and it was imperative to harvest the flower on this night. Once the flower was cut, it would remain “frozen” in time and it’s perfume and beauty would last an entire year. I was always amazed how quickly this transformation took place. In the course of hours, small green shrubs turned into towers of white and purple flowers unfolding out of a tall green stem. If you returned the next morning, all that was left was a blanket of withered petals scorched from the morning sun.

Dear Elyrian, today we mourn not only two great leaders but also a great kingdom whose legacy will be one for Akashic Records. I still have a Datura from last year in my office and it serves as a reminder that something so beautiful can be easily lost overnight. Today I bring you the news of the death of King Evelake Rhyne & Queen Aelirenn Velithorne.

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Arkadia’s Response To Zygethia & Nirath

The Shady Pig. Not the most flattering of names for a tavern, but their Butter Ale runs smooth all night long. I spent some time listening to the conversations happening after the news of Zygethia & Nirath declaring war on Arkadia was announced. I have not spent much time in Arkadia, but the people seem to be rallied behind their fervent leader Duke (“King”) Raziel Alexandros Iulii of Arkadia. In fact, I was able to bear witness to a rather boisterous speech.

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Power Shift: Will Common Folk Lead The Kingdoms?

Kingdoms are not always destroyed by towering siege weapons, armies that shake the ground with their marching, or Kings with tactical prowess. Sometimes kingdoms crumble from within. It starts with an idea, a belief so small that it seems innocent in its conception. Slowly it grows to influence more of the decisions we make. It becomes the core of what the Kingdom’s people believe until one day, that belief is acted upon.

No need to be fearful dear reader, I don’t assume that all ideas or new beliefs can bring a Kingdom to it’s knees. I believe these ideas are few and far between. In fact there are often seeds of ideas that instead of crumbling a kingdom, bring it into a new age, and enlightenment. Change can be good, and if you find yourself on the “right” side of change you can become a very wealthy and powerful leader in the new order. Today I found two men who want to bring a vast change to our kingdoms, as for where this change will lead us, I leave to your wise mind.

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The Warrior Queen of Dol Aderyn

What does one think of when the word Legends is said? Do they think of swashbuckling heroes, riding the waves to the Edge of Elyria? Or perhaps a man who would be King, gathering a group around him and daring any to defy his right to a crown. Well, my friends, I am Raulwicke Legendsinger, and I tell you that these and more are the Legends of our world.

Over the past few months, I have traveled Elyria in search of these Legends. Brave men and women who have transcended to mundane to become the tales we tell our children and our children’s children. The souls that once they have passed into the Akashic Record will forever be heralded as some of the greatest that ever graced our world. In my travels I have sat with Kings, Beggers, Counts, Journeymen, and common men. In these conversations, I have found that not all Kings are great, and not all commoners are common. In fact, that is the story I wish to tell you today.

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War! Nirath & Zygethia Draw Swords on Arkadia

I was having a lovely afternoon today. It always seems that the news comes in a whirlwind right as I return from a journey. Yesterday was one of those days. Zultra alerted me of an official statement declaring war. No, it was not a war against Nirath. Rather it was a war against Arkadia alongside Nirath.

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