Epistol delivered the following letters from Aledral to ThoomCare’s office. Unfortunately they were temporarily lost in a pile of fishwrap and various solicitations. A thousand Thoomish apologies. -Para
Dear Denizens of Puddleby,
I will reiterate that your kindness in hosting a lost scholar such as myself does not go forgotten. My 80 years’ worth of research is being pored over by my colleague, Ledarla. Master Sombrion has informed us that once we have completed our ruminations over the meaning of my findings that the report will be delivered to representatives of your town immediately.
I found my journeys with your people to be enlightening, and I feel that my perceptions of the world have grown as a direct result. This will aid in my further research, and for this, I am grateful.
Ledarla and I spoke of the fiction that the kind yellow-clad Fen'neko woman taught me of, and we did take some time to investigate Sombrion's library in search of some in an attempt to understand this concept - "fiction". We did find one book that contained a story that we both concluded could not possibly be true. The book is on loan from the youngest brother, which encourages us to believe this is fiction. I will transcribe it for you below.
The Story of Falinea, of the Winged Centaurs
Long ago there was a beautiful island, inhabited by many unusual creatures. Among these were the Winged Centaurs, an ancient and honorable race, devoted both to the hunt and the pursuit of knowledge. They lived for many aeons in peace, respecting and protecting the land, for the island was sacred to them.
But after many years a band of orga appeared in boats on the shores of this sacred island, with many of their Shamans and Warlocks. The orga began to hunt down the inhabitants of the island, killing with violence and magic. The Winged Centaurs and their allies would have defeated the evil, but for the appearance of the creature known as Bartok, who the orga called their god. Bartok brought forth terrible creatures of shadow that corrupted everything in their path and tore at the land itself. Though they fought bravely against these forces of destruction, at length all the Winged Centaurs were killed by fire or shadowy magic.
All except one.
It is indeed possible that others escaped the destruction, but as far as is known only Falinea escaped the carnage. As an intrepid explorer and pathfinder, Falinea was traveling in a distant land at the time of the invasion. By the time news of the decimation had reached her, it was too late. She flew swiftly as her wings could carry her, only to find her island ablaze. There were not even any bodies left, and to this day she does not know what really happened to her kin. She still mourns, and still hopes that others escaped and that she will one day be reunited with them.
Falinea, weary with grief, flew from her ruined homeland to the island where her cousins, the non-winged Centaurs, lived. They made her welcome and mourned the great loss with her, and offered her a home among them. She gratefully accepted and lived with them for many years, but eventually she became homesick and decided to visit the island that was her original home. It was a bittersweet sight to see the forests beginning to regrow and the animals beginning to return. Falinea decided that just as her lost kin had once watched over the land, she would watch over this new growth in their place.
As guardian of the land and its seasons, she was welcomed into the sacred grove at the island's heart and made her home there. To this day, Falinea seeks solace in the beauty of the Grove, roams the forest paths, heals wounded travelers and is ever vigilant, keeping a close eye on the orga. If Bartok should ever return, she will be ready.
The conclusions my colleague and I came to begin from the difficulty in determining the time or place of the piece. The details are very vague, and there are no historical records of winged centaurs. Similarly, there is no historical record of the Orga ever building boats, and they have remained concentrated on Lord Lugubrion's island. Our conclusion is that this seems to be a fabrication of the work. Ledarla noted that there are Orga recorded on various other islands in the chain, but they are so few in number that we agreed this was anomaly rather than proof of validity.
Our final reason for concluding that this story is a work of fiction pertains to the subject of the piece. Falinea is a constellation and assumed to be an ancient, which would make it very unlikely that she has survived all these millennia. Even the Lord brothers are not that old.
Dear Denizens of Puddleby,
I apologize for being unable to send my above letter until now. We have not had a line of delivery to your town until Epistol was tasked with acting as a carrier for the Lord brothers. It has granted the opportunity to further my review of the studies I conducted with Ledarla, and I am proud to report that it should not be too long before we are able to send a copy to your town. Ledarla's assistant has volunteered to copy the report line by line for the purpose. Master Sombrion has insisted multiple copies be made. Admittedly, I worry if Ledarla's single assistant will be able to prepare these in a timely manner, but I shall bring my concern to Master Sombrion when he next returns. However, we are to visit Leradla and discuss our conclusions within a few zodiacs.
He did tell us that he visited a fantastical island with lush environments that was teeming with birds. Ledarla posited that it may be one of the few locales that the youngest brothers might both enjoy. The Master seemed most elevated in mood after the foray to this island.
I have determined from his various musings that Master Sombrion has been receiving conflicting reports of who was involved in the theft of his storeroom. I grow concerned that there may be accusations or insinuations that are causing unwitting difficulties in continued friendly relations. I would be very sorry to lose the ability to communicate with your people.
Chaos Storm #1279 has swept the Lok'Groton island chain. Please post any changes you have observed and wish to share with others in the comments.
Delta Tao's "What's New" for v1279:
I hate being on my best behavior. It brings out the absolute worst in me. — Colleen McCullough (1937–2015)