My name is Megiddo sel Esdraelon, and I suppose that I am the Sheriff of this wretched place. I was once a King, but Mordengaard has ever had its share of Kings, and nothing good to show for it. With our vassals far to the East? and our bellicose neighbors so near at hand to the West, Mordengaard has often been a threshold to war. Our populace is diminished with the years, and I fear total annihilation.
Perhaps you have merely heard rumor of the Immortals, and perhaps you have thought it but a myth. Let me assure you, it is no myth. Immortals walk among us. I suppose it is not for us to know why we were selected, or how many of us exist, or to what end this gift--or curse--was laid upon us. It is said that many of the immortal live today with no knowledge of this gift. They are farmers or other tradesmen, and do not regularly see death come so near as to have a taste of it. Those of us in the martial classes--Warriors, Trade Magicians?, and others whose lifespans are so briefly punctuated by interesting tales of Adventure tend to discover early if the blessing has come to us. In retrospect, I suppose the lure of life ever-lasting in the physical plane has led many a pasture-weary farm boy or shepherd to an early and grisly death.
Mordengaard can now count four such blessed individuals in its regular roster--myself, the Squire Harold?, Pickles?, Doc Matthew?, and xx?. I have known these for several years now, and not one of us has divined the truth of our condition to any depth greater than the bottom of a mug of strong ale.
You might think that such a gift would be a blessing. It is not always so. When Shining Monarchs of the Celestial Kingdom march East?, they always make sure to come calling on Mordengaard. To see your families and neighbors slaughtered, the work of your back burned and plundered--to see the sword or halberd come crashing down upon your head, or cut open your belly; to know that you will awaken later, or tomorrow, and have nothing about you but the ashes of your failure, it is a thankless gift for sure.
But let me cease there. I have no great art with words, and I must bore you dreadfully if you have not left this book already.
Today, the peasantry revolted. I met with them in the Meeting Rump near the Old Keep to discuss their delinquent quitrents?, and they arrived armed--with farming implements, they claimed. There was a short one with a mean look, armed partly with a trowel, who looked like business despite his ridiculous armament. I would soon find out that a farmer's trowel was sharp indeed. Oh so very, very keen the edge of trowel proved to be.
I warned them that they risked their own mortal coils should they disobey me, and that attacking my person would at best delay me for some time while the gift returned me to this land, or at worst would bring the wrath of lords of Granite Spyre or the Kingdom itself.
Refusing to pay their quitrents, they attacked me, and I slew the first three of them very rapidly. Luckily, with rumor about, I had come armed with my shield and sword, and a coat of maille. To my surprise the most hearty of this lot (the first three slain), were chosen to have the gifts of immortality. They sprung on me unawares, and that damned trowel (other implements as well), brought me out of life.
I awoke a short time later, back at the Meeting Rump, and had a brief parley with the rascals. I managed to scare the mean looking one into near senselessness, and slew the other two. Making good on my promise, I went forth to their hovels along Addison's Turnpike, and made an example of the wife of one of them. This not deterring them, I made further example of a child. I was pursued then further to the clearing on the turnpike just east of the main thoroughfair, and there slew a child of another one. It baffles me that their little stay so near by during action. I must confess that I was compelled to duck a rock or two thrown by their tiny spawn. At this point, they were quite enraged, and though I was able to kill several more of the peasants (their brood becoming a tiresome distraction to my purpose), I was again sundered from my body.
I awoke, quite surrounded, and made some brief inquiry into their understanding of feudal legal structure, financial matters and so forth, pleading my case of the quitrents I must pay to my lords, not to mention the various fealty payments to keep our none-too-friendly neighbors at bay. I offered to negotiate payment for the quitrents and resurrect their slain families, when I was again slain, and could feel the final death of the day approaching near.
I realized that pursuing this strategy would bring us all to ruin, and I made certain offers, for which the goodman Haggar accepted to be my tax collector. He seemed to understand the finer points of the emolument in this position quickly; enough to make me wonder if their previous statements of ignorance were merely feints in their negotiating tactics. Either way, with a member of their troop firmly on my side, their spirit seemed broken they much more inclined to parley without violence, for their part at least. Given their penchant for violence, it occurred to me that such stout men, well-trained and Gifted, would make a fine force for lease. Such activities pay far better, and would press the local peasants much less for the available farm lots. They agreed to this in principle, if their quitrents were to be paid in the interim (Sir Zachry offering to cover their positions until they could be adequately remunerated for their future service), and we there and then formed the Loyal Order of the Arms of Mordengaard.
We now seek some means of compensation for our enterprise, and I must make a trip to the Kingdom Seat to prove our arms and earn or purchase a Warrant for our Charter as an enterprise of Men Under Arms.
The goodmen of Mordengaard resolved to in their course, the Sheriff explained to the men that they must sue for a Warrant from His Majesty by favor, coin, or force, but they must do so before they can engage in the Art of War as a body of Men Under Arms. That explained, they chose from among them a gamey old man who had an air of wisdom as an emissary. The Sheriff recognizing him approved of him as a formal emissary of the The Shire of the Duchy of Mordengaard, and of the Person of the Sheriff in this matter alone. The goodman and Tax Collector Haggar prominently, the Squire Harold, and several of their solid compatriots, the goodmen Wulf and Daniel joined them in their journey.
The Sheriff took Haggar aside for a word on this journey, being no stranger to quests mighty and small, but Haggar seemed impatient to escape his bonds and listened not to the words of Megiddo and was quick on his way. The left by the Northern spur to the Ironwood Highway, as it was known that His Majesty moved often and quickly through the land, and this towne mayhap have more information on his whereabouts. Apparently, they soon met two stout Associates of the Loyal Order and Association of the Gentlemen of the Highway. A word on these Gentlemen. First and foremost, they are no Gentlemen at all, but instead a low sort of escaped surf, mean of spirit, full of guile, and strong of back. They have over time, by dint of harassment, begging and theft, come in to arms and armor of not insignificant quality, and their regular use of them, much of which may have dated back to the Orc Wars in the South, has made them a pestilence upon the road.
Now, under normal circumstances, these men would ask for some pittance, a shilling perhaps, or being approached by a larger party, no recompense at all. The good men of Mordengaard seemed an easy target, and the Associates of the Yellow Stretch, their allotment of banditry among their peers upon this Highway, were detained by the man Forthright Hibblethwait?, of distant extractions, and his partner Dansul. They asked for ten shillings per man, 3 more for traveling provisions, and an extra five when it was discovered that there was a magic user among the party.
A series of scuffles ensued, as well as some nasty business which we shall not record, less it impugn the name of the Healer Harold, may his hands rest easy on the suffering, old, and injured. Forthright and Dansul were outright slain by the party, and the men of the Green Stretch, Flyfornicate Hibblethwait, a cousin once removed of Forthright, and Hansd pursued the good men of Mordengaard, claiming justice for murder. After some confusion, the men of the Green Stretch were belayed and left behind, and the path for the men of Mordengaard seemed clear all the way to Ironwood.
In order to further train our fledgling mercenary group, we have seen fit to move to a more exotic area of the lands surrounding the Shire. Because of the preferences of they fey creatures of world for areas of intrinsic power, these creatures often are all a-clumped together. Some areas will be nearly bereft of them, and a man may pretend that the long days of grandfather's grandfathers are still with us, and we are not accursed with the strange whims of magic. Other areas are so full up and lousy with them, that a man might go mad trying to find a world of sanity among the magic.
Either way, a particularly maddening zone of fey exists somewhat to the South of the Shire proper, near a graveyard of ancient provenance. This area has been for a long time particularly vexed by magic and its denizens, and we agreed that if our Charter is to prevail, the most expedient trainer is a Sword of Damocles over our heads.
Basic drills will continue in the Shire proper, where we can train without too many distractions.
The Peasants of Mordengaard, after a long period of training, finally decided to pursue a warrant for their right to bear arms as a Company of Free Men. Now, while Sir Megiddo had in the past enjoyed the delusions of grandeur of these men, he was not so sure that this adventure was good policy. Especially with the rise of Neville as the newly appointed Sheriff of the Shire of the Duchy of Mordengaard, there was very little coin in it for the Lord of Esdraelon. Additionally, with the elemental unrest brewing to the East, the Lord of sel Esdraelon thought it might be best to approach the traveling band and dissuade them from pursuing this folly.
Having forgotten their previous plans of traveling to Ironwood, the peasant troupe headed toward Shadow Keep along the Blue Road to meet with the Fire Giant King and sue for a Warrant of Arms.
Megiddo met them upon this high road, and with little provocation, was slain. Awaking back in his keep, he took to his mount (the trusty steed Sunflower), and rode down the vanguard of this pack of peasants. After a few sorties, the peasants were turned back. Megiddo retired to his estates on the edge of the County to mend wounds and rest Sunflower.
In the interim, the damnable peasants burned the Tower of Esdraelon to the ground.
First, stunning news! Erin Forsaken I, a mere month into his Reign, found a way to release his soul from the Curse of Immortality. Left behind to us, the Prince Regent, Harold Grayseer becomes Harold Grayseer I, Crowned Monarch. His affordance to be confirmed at the next great Allthing.
Meanwhile, Sirs Zachary and Crom devised a cunning plan to force the peasant militia to return to their fields. While the armed peasants may not fear for their own lives, it was discerned that they would not see their families starve. To ensure this, it was devised to burn their grain stores to the ground, forcing them to return to the fields for a season. Even if no quitrents could be extracted from a late harvest, it was hoped by the noble Lords of Mordengaard, that a second season in the fields would remind them of their station.
In a daring action, the grain silos were successfully burnt to the ground, forcing the peasants to stay and till for a season, and extracting retribution for the burning of Tower Esdraelon, and apparently, the municipal manse of Arch Duke Crom Ironwolf.