First Letter

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July 28, 1152

My Beloved Catherine,

It is my sincere hope that this letter will lay to rest the fears you have expressed for my safety and that of my men. As you must understand, this trip could not be avoided. Both the Kilburn investigation and the Blackshire appointment require my personal attention, and I haven't visited the Northwest in ages. It troubles me that you should fret over my welfare during my absence, however short it will be. So please, dear, accept my promise that I will return by September without mishap.

After all, what could go wrong? I have five hundred armed men in my expedition, all of them veterans of the Archibald campaign. I am a popular king travelling in lands no one disputes as mine, and we have heard no news of rebellion or unrest. Many people flock to watch us pass through their hamlets and villages, eager to get an admiring glimpse of their king and his men.

Nothing stands in our way and no dangers beset us. Even the monsters are scarce. We've seen but a handful of goblins and ogres, and not even one dragon. The only trouble we've had was a freak snowstorm that struck as we entered the village of Rockham, Even that—peculiar as it was—was of little consequence, as the villagers put us all up for the night in their houses and barns.

Of the devils that some say plague towns in the Northwest, we have only rumors. We have not yet encountered a soul who claims to have seen one himself, nor anyone who has found the bodies of Lord Kilburn and his Rangers. The only devils we have seen are these huge mosquitoes that love the swamplands so much. Wretched pests! My place in history would be assured if I could only think of a way to rid the world of such nuisances.

No, Catherine, Lord Kilburn was probably slain by something much more mundane than devils—perhaps a pair of dragons or a large band of highwaymen. Either way, we shall resolve his disappearance in short order, bringing any human culprits to justice or slaying any monsters. I cannot have my men attacked with impunity!

Now, once again, put your fears to rest and believe me when I say that I will return come September. Tell our son Nicolai that I love him, and know that I love you with all my heart.

Forever yours,
Roland Ironfist