Author Topic: Stories of Hallowmoss  (Read 16 times)

Hallowmoss

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Stories of Hallowmoss
« on: December 27, 2020, 06:17:28 pm »
(this post is a duplicate of an Account dispatch meant to give background for the roleplay on Discord,  I'll use this topic for future narrative works set in Hallowmoss, supplementary to material on the rp channels)

Wuldarick III Fernpoole, Prince-Warden of Hallowmoss, drew pensively on his pipe as he examined the small bird on his balcony, his head swimming slightly as he took in the bittersweet smoke of mugwort and wormwood.  There was, of course, no mystery as to who had sent it.  A greenwing marshjay would be an unusual enough sight this far up-river on its own, but Wuldarick knew of only one man who would have though to tame one for use as a messenger.  The little devils were notoriously aggressive, diving relentlessly against hunters and fishermen in the brackish labyrinth of the Leekemoss.  They were clever, certainly, cunning as crows, but few knew that if one were to brave the storm of pecks and beating wings to collect the eggs close to their hatching time it was possible to hatch and raise the chicks by hand. Marshjays rasied this way might even be tamed and trained to respond to complex commands.  Wuldarick knew.  And so did Alfger Reed.

Alfger was both the Prince-Warden's nephew by his eldest half-sister and his elder foster brother, having been born almost exactly a year before Wuldarick.  As a child Wuldarick had spent three summers in fosterage with his sister and her family on their modest estate deep in the Leekemoss.  One summer, only a few days after Wuldarick had arrived with his luggage on the creaky barge from his family's home in Bathgate, Alfger had taken him out fishing and they had been beset by a marshjay deep in the branching channels of the swamp.   The thing had savagely attacked Wuldarick, who had been small and timid for a boy of nine summers, and had drawn blood in several deep gashes before Alfger had killed it with a well aimed stone.  In an attempt to hearten the younger boy Alger had climbed into the rushes and retrieved the bird's nest to show him the bright blue eggs speckled  with little yellow spots.

Wuldarick had been a sensitive boy, and rather than distracting him as Afger had hoped, the sight of the orphaned eggs had made him hysterical with guilt.  Alfger had spent five days with those eggs in his tunic, warming them against his own body to make Wuldarick feel better.  To everyone's astonishment, several of the eggs hatched, although only one of the chicks had survived to fledging.  The boys had spent the rest of that summer catching  anything they could think of for it to eat, and the thing had attached itself to Alfger, hopping and flapping after him like a little puppy.   Alfger had even managed to teach the little bird to fetch small items for him before it ultimately fell prey to one of the household cats.

That had been the final summer that Wuldarick had fostered with his sister.  That winter his father had petitioned for him to be placed in fosterage with the Prince-Warden, and despite his shy nature he had been accepted, setting him on the path that would lead him to the throne.  Although they saw one another less, Alfger had remained his most loyal and intimate friend, exchanging weekly letters with him as the boys grew to men.  Alfger had even fostered again with him, briefly, under the former Prince-Warden, but the older boy didn't really have the correct constitution for a candidate successor, preferring the active life of a trader and adventurer.  In any case Alfger had been all but assured to inherit the title of Warden from his father, so his stay in the royal palace had been brief.

Now Wuldarick held the highest office in the realm and Alfger managed the fleet belonging to his family's trading house, spending most of his year abroad in the small ports of the Great Bay to the north of Hallowmoss.  Alfger's two-year-old son Alfmund had already been approved a a fosterling to Wuldarick once he reached the age of six, and Wuldarick genuinely hoped the boy would prove himself to be a worthy successor. The two men saw each other at the Midwinter moot, but other than that they mostly communicated by offical post, with Alfger acting as the Prince-Warden's eyes and ears in the region.  For his foster brother to have resorted to such unorthodox means to get this message to him could only mean it was of an extremely sensitive nature.

Even after all these years Wuldarick hesitated for a moment before touching the marshjay, half expecting it to attack him as his hand drew near.  Instead, the bird merely cocked its head  and took a single hop toward him.   He picked it up and untied the little roll of cloth attached to its foot. The Prince-Warden retired from the balcony to the desk in his study, unrolling the message as crossed the room.  The marshjay waited at the threshold patiently, as if expecting payment.

The note was unsigned, but the cramped runes were obviously in Alfger's hand.  It read:

Brother,
Unknown foreign fleet, armed.  The Prefencians have met with them.  Sources say they will sail for Prefencian waters.  I fear an alliance may weaken our hand.  Will your highness allow me to meet with the strangers on your behalf?   Our little friend will find me.
 

Had it been any other man, such a message would have warrented an emergency meeting of the Select Council for deliberation, but Wuldarick trusted Alfger implicitly.  Only one word was necessary in reply:

Godspeed

Grabbing a small rind of the cheese he had eaten for breakfast, Wuldarick crossed the room again.  Picking up the marshjay, without hesitation this time, he tied his note, to its foot an held out the rind.  The bird blinked once at him and took the offering before taking wing. It flew off northward with the odd dipping flight of its kind, off over the crowded chimneys of Holisowe, over the coiling waters of the Leeke toward the great estuary and the sea beyond.  Wuldarick watched until it disappeared in the late-morning haze.

Godspeed.

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