Third Letter

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August 11, 1152

Dear Catherine,

I cannot honestly say that our trip to Edenbrook was uneventful. As we approached the town we encountered a trickle of refugees fleeing Edenbrook that gradually increased to a flood. When questioned, they told us that an army of "devils" had been spotted walking and hopping towards Edenbrook—a town with no wall and no standing garrison. I immediately increased our pace to reach the town before the monsters could sack it.

It was well that I did, for our arrival was but hours ahead of the enemy. Exhausted and ill-prepared to fight against an unknown enemy, my men nonetheless girded for battle. I ordered archers to the hilltop overlooking the town, and infantry to hide amongst the houses near the road, with flanking cavalry out of sight around the hill. Thirty men on horseback were sent on ahead to lure the enemy into the trap.

It worked. The devils must have lacked even rudimentary discipline or intelligence, for they immediately gave chase to my men. The horsemen raced past the archers hiding below the crest of the hill, and passed into town with the devils hot on their heels; the bait was taken, the strap sprung. As hundreds of the most filthy, vicious, and stupid beasts ever to draw breath filled the road beneath the hill, I have the archers the signal.

Arrows rained down upon the devils from above while the infantry sprang from their hiding places to bar entrance to the town. Before the first shock of the two armies' clash faded, the light cavalry rode around the hill, charging into the main mass of devils with lance and sword. Then the battle began in earnest, and it was all we could do to hold our lines against the demonic horde.

Though the battle was short, the tales of valor and bravery are many. Sir Ragnar rescued Chief Sorcerer Tanir from certain death, when he was set upon by no less than five devils, after his fireball spell failed. Ragnar charged into the group swinging wildly and screaming like a barbarian. His first swing lopped one head clean off while the next skewered an enemy through its black heart.

The other three devils quickly overcame him, but a recovered Tanir slew all three with his famed "insides out" spell in time to save Sir Ragnar. You;ll be happy to hear that he is recovering nicely at the House of Healing in Edenbrook and will be out of bed in no time.

Unfortunately, many were not so lucky. Others who survived the combat itself contracted a disease our healer says was caused by the filthy condition of the devils' claws. In all, eighty-three men fell in the fight against these devils. Yet, we have providence to thank that our fortuitous arrival in Edenbrook's hour of need prevented the death of hundreds more. The devils suffered much heavier losses: 272 dead. The survivors,—much less than half, thankfully—fled as one, on some sort of unseen signal, and we were much too exhausted to give chase. After a short rest here we will hunt them down and finish them off.

I know you will want to know that I have survived the battle unscathed. I fear that what I have just written may be disquieting, but you would never forgive me for telling you anything but the truth. I am entrusting my advisor Sulman to take care of the detail of informing the families of the fallen as I have entrusted him with so many other things, including the delivery of these letters to you. He will handle the matter with tact, and can be relied on to select the speediest messengers for my letters!

Roland Ironfist

p.s. I will send another letter after we have caught up to that demonic army and dispatched it. You and Nicolai should hear from me in about a week.