Emerald Chronicles, Volume 1 (book)

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Contents

There are six volumes in the Emerald Chronicles. These books detail the rise of Graev and the Emerald Knights as forces protecting civilization from the dangers of the Dark Hand beyond Corik's Wall.

Emerald Chronicles I: The Ferdahl's Challenge

21st day of Ka'len the Sea Drake

Year of the Crystal Snow Hare, 181

Hren Nebban,
We've arrived at last in the city of Shard! Enfist nearly fell off his horse straining to see to the tops of those spires as we approached the city on the bridges leading to it (it's set upon a lake, Hren! Imagine it!). Luckily Roland rode astride and caught his back before he rolled rump-round from his saddle. You would have shared our good laugh! Even Enfist laughed, though it was not for quite some time. Not since we left the familiar comfort of home have we laughed so. The city's spires are of real crystal after all, Hren, not just Elf-lies! I am so sorry you were not here to see it with us. Do you think you will join us before long?
Geoff Graev


39th day of Arhat the Fire Lion

Year of the Crystal Snow Hare, 181

Hren Nebban,
What a city, Hren! What taverns! The lasses are sprightly, the bards bawdy, and there's a dice game at every table. Spirits and lodging are quite costly, but the Ferdahl's challenge brings a heavy purse. Everywhere in this city there are gathered such an assortment of warriors and fools from lands we have yet heard tales of, Hren. Most of the best-looking fighters are Northlanders, of course. The challenge's start has brought such excitement that some cannot wait to test their steel upon the foe and waste themselves in duels. Others spoil themselves with spirits and are unable to leave the bottle for combat. We three have none of the fighting though it is oft Roland that needs some convincing. Enfist is mindful to keep his head out of tavern-brawls and return it to his beloved Gertwynn with the Ferdahl's purse in hand. I do wish you would leave that girl in the Crossing and come south. There are many girls here you will find to your liking and all of them will find you to their liking if you are among those contending in the challenge. Your green-eyed is a sweet one, but don't you yet have love for your boyhood comrades?
Geoff Graev


2nd day of Akroeg the Ram

Year of the Silver Unicorn, 182

Hren Nebban,
How does the new year find you, friend? I hope you're well and that your celebration was as festive as ours! The three of us took to the taverns and fell to sleep at dawn. Next dawn we will ride south with other contenders to scout this demon forest of the Dragon Priests. There is much anticipation, as you can imagine. Enfist has gotten a new tattoo for the occasion and Roland had his chain shirt blued. I've spent the rest of my coin on a new sword and the blessing of a cleric who prayed to Chadatru with me. Should this be my last letter to you, friend, please carry word to my mother and do marry your Alizia. We tease you about settling as a cooper's apprentice but it is not so foolish a choice.
Geoff Graev


16th day of Lirisa the Archer

Year of the Silver Unicorn, 182

Hren Nebban,
The hand penning this letter is quite alive as of the date, you see, and I shall endeavor to remain so. You are right to scold me for scaring you, but I admit to you that I have been scared myself. There are frightful beasts in the forest, the likes of which my most fearsome nightmares could not have imagined. You may not believe in my words, but the forest is alive. It breathes evil, and it is not content to be the hunted; it is a hunter, and we are its prey. From what unholiness is this place born? We have had a few skirmishes, but our missions have been much in the way of scouting and only enough of battle to make us thirst for more. We will be cautious and listen to the ranger we've been riding with. It does not take long to see that those who charge into the wood at dawn without a good scout do not return at dusk. Roland has taken after his brothers and excels at taking the lead. Enfist's nature does not set well with being ruled, even by a friend, but his strength is ours and we would not have him different. I hope you and your bride are well. With our good wishes on your wedding, please enjoy the fine frostgrape wine that comes with this letter. Thank goodness for the Elves of this land, else we should be left to starve upon the fare the Eloths take for food. If you like the wine well enough, you can name your first-born for me!
Geoff Graev


12th day of Uthmor the Giant

Year of the Silver Unicorn, 182

Hren Nebban,
I wish these words could be spoken to you and not sent on parchment so far away. I don't wish to burden your happy mind with such thoughts, but I cannot share them with my party, lest I compromise their courage as mine has been. My faith is tested every day that I should have the strength to face the terrors that are born of that wood. Strong warriors are shattered in its grip, torn asunder like rag dolls by those horrible, reaching branches. Some contenders are young and sound like children when they plead for life and die in its endless night. I falter sometimes, Hren. It is more than even a soldier of Chadatru should bear, and I beg for strength. Damn the people of these Southlands for leaving this scourge upon our realms! I wish I had better things to send you from my heart, but it is feeling very black and tainted by its travels. Now as the dawn comes, I am late to meet the others to ride again into the Hand.
Geoff Graev


39th day of Arhat the Fire Lion

Year of the Silver Unicorn, 182

Hren Nebban,
Congratulations to you both! I hope this letter finds you, Alizia and your new daughter well! True, it ties you to the shop you dislike but in the bargain you have a home with kin to welcome you when your day is through. The challenge goes well in the Southlands. Bjon is a new scout riding with us. He is not as cautious as our last and we have seen more combat, some quite terrible. The Ferdahl's challenge is blood sport, so it matters less in the end how many of us return than it does how many trophies we return with. Our numbers are climbing and, as you can well imagine, Enfist and Roland are locked in a battle to at least best each other if neither should be champion. Please don't inform good Alizia, but it is unfortunate that your daughter should be named for her grandmother. Hindrelgaarde is a very large and fierce-sounding a name for one so very small and innocent. She is just a little tijit of joy, not some fearsome spear-maiden, man!
Geoff Graev


37th day of Dolefaren the Brigantine

Year of the Silver Unicorn, 182

Hren Nebban,
I am so very sorry to say this letter brings you terribly sad tidings, old friend. Our dear Enfist has fallen to the shadows of the Hand this midday. It is now the late hour of Revelfae and my grief has just ebbed enough to write you. It was quick, as he was unmade and thrown to the stars before his death cry reached our ears. He did not suffer, as did our scout Bjon, and I can only thank the Mighty's blessings for it. I am unsure if I will go on with the challenge and you may be greeting Roland and I both as we travel homeward in defeat. Roland has been without comfort and is insisting that he bring the news to Enfist's widow. He's been greatly changed by the loss of our comrade, Hren. You would not know him, even if his beard had not gone snow white. We were not such lads when we came to this place, but our adventures have aged us greatly.
Geoff Graev


18th day of Akroeg the Ram

Year of the Bronze Wyvern, 183

Hren Nebban,
Roland brings some presents for you, Alizia, and little Hindrelgaarde. I am so sorry not to see you all myself, but there is little for me to return for and what little there is for me there would not welcome me in defeat. The fifth son of a middling squire has little to build his future on in the Northlands. Here I am no better off, but I do not have to bear the social pains of mediocrity and landlessness. I've decided to stay my course and will arrange to replace a fallen armsman in a group riding with a Therengian paladin. If he is as skillful a leader as I am told, then you shall have more letters from me and perhaps all is not yet lost for your Geoff to win the Ferdahl's purse.
Geoff Graev


3rd day of Shorka the Cobra

Year of the Bronze Wyvern, 183

Hren Nebban,
You might scarcely believe what I tell you, friend, but I ride for a Maiden of the Moors! The flaxen-haired lass' strength is uncommon as she wields a two-hander in one upon a mount. I should not call her lass, as it seems Ptera is crafted solely for battle. The power of her command is no less and there is wisdom in it. Some of our party do not see it, but she chooses carefully when we fight so that we have our best advantage. "Know your enemy," she says. Her tactics are cunning, but we are all alive and still contending in the challenge. One called Odurn makes no secret of his contempt in taking commands from Ptera. He is a Northlander, but for a gypsy's song I couldn't tell you more with certainty. From his fighting, he looks schooled and speaks like nobility, though he carries no title. He sneers at her as though she were a tavern wench and the rest of us as worse. I fear we have no ally in riding with him, though his sword arm is fierce. I have been sharing meals with the only Elf in our party, a scout called Iceleaf (his given-name is in such a tongue that I can neither speak it nor choose letters to form it here). Upon first meeting, I thought his silence strange and suspect, but Odurn says this is the way of Wind Elves. He has never lead us astray nor failed to clear threats hidden to our eyes. He stalks the shadows and slays what harm could come had we not an ally in their midst. Chadatru shun me for confessing so, but it's quite an asset to have a skilled swordsman on your side not bound by our Code. Yet odd as it would seem, the knight Odurn is far greedier in his kills than this shade-walker. Hren, these are neither the comrades nor the tales I thought would be mine when we left home, but for better or worse this is the path I have chosen. I will write again soon and hope you will ask Chadatru to keep watch on your Geoff that he not lose hold of his honor while honor all around him is lost.
Geoff Graev


5th day of Moliko the Balance

Year of the Bronze Wyvern, 183

Hren Nebban,
I have your letter of last month. Was there another that you sent? I have made no comment because there is no question of whether you should tolerate the old man's ill words if you wish to complete your apprenticeship and make yourself a business. Otherwise, you should begin looking to find some other way to give your daughter bread and shoes. Were you and I more clever lads we would have been first-born in the house of Dunshade and retired to the countryseat by now, but we were not so fortunate. Brace up and turn your deaf ear to his nonsense. Last sunset the challenge was ended, and this morning the Eloth Ferdahl Alec called the contenders out to the meadows before Berengaria's Touch to announce the final count. Odurn had made his own count in talking with the men and was quite surprised to find his count fell short of only Ptera's. He has called for a recount, and there are tales in the taverns that Ptera's charms are what ensured her victory with the Ferdahl. I cannot see the root of his hatred for her, but I suspect it may be made worse by her being a lass. However, Odurn is unimportant now. The challenge has ended and your Geoff is no champion. The Ferdahl announced that a new legion, called the Emerald Knights, will be lead by his champion and will occupy the southern defenses. The enlistment rolls open tomorrow morning and I intend to put my name to them. I have no Ferdahl's purse to live on, and this looks to be work with steady pay. The Ferdahl's purse will be mine only a coin at a time, but it will do for a simple soldier's life.
Geoff Graev


24th day of Moliko the Balance

Year of the Bronze Wyvern, 183

Hren Nebban,
You asked for a glorious tale to tell your daughters of their Geoff, but I'm afraid you will have to bring some glory to the tale I have to tell you, for in truth there is little of it there. On the morn of the Confirmation Day, the enlistment rolls were read at the city's Great Tower and those riding with the Emerald Knights were issued verdant silk tabards and helms. Many arrived upon horseback, but infantrymen were given shields painted with a laurel and lion's claw crest. The legion was sharp- looking as we marched together through the city's streets where green and white banners hung from balconies and mothers stood with children to catch sight of us. There were prideful moments that morning, friend, and I came to regret them soon enough.

At the tower-plaza, the Eloth spoke long on Ptera's might in a grand speech. Afterwards, the crowd cheered for so long it required him to raise his hands for quiet to present his purse to Ptera. The Eloths seem to have a great love of ceremony and this one lasted nearly four anlas before it ended quickly by Ptera's hand. I admit my mind wandered, caught up in the pomp, and I do not recall what was said at the moment before she spoke. Her voice rang like a bell through the steady speech of the Ferdahl and noise of the crowd. My eyes were drawn to the dais where she stood in the stirrups of her mount holding her sword aloft. Her words cut sharply through the haze of my revelry and pride. "Our cause is not fame. Our cause is not wealth. Our cause is to fight this evil that defiles our realms. If you do not swear your blood oath to fight the Hand until the last, you do not ride with the  : Emerald Knights. Scars will be your medals, and your glory only another dawn. Swear your life and ride with me." She then rode through the crowd and left the tower-plaza.

There was utter silence and in one stroke my humility returned. I told you, I am not to be bound for glory after all. As we left the city's south gate, the trumpets sounded but there were no crowds to cheer nor ladies rushing to offer their favor to any of the Emerald Knights. I have never known Ptera to have a greater defeat before, as there were many in verdant tabards that did not ride south with us that day. You will have more from me when we are settled. The walls have been unoccupied for a long time so there is much work to be done and I don't suspect we should be gifted masons after the events of Confirmation Day.
Geoff Graev

Continue to Volume II of the Emerald Chronicles

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