Translation of a Ciphered message set by Songbird to Mount Olimpia
Quartus the 5th, the 1669th year of Theus:
Honored Mother of us All,
I have troubling news to bring to your attention. There is a hidden malevolence beginning to take shape here in the Triple Kingdoms. This unknown menace lurks in the unknown corners of this land, and has obscured it’s plots and designs in the darkest shadows. I only became aware of the danger when I accidently stumbled upon one of its plots by the merest chance. I will detail these events below.
My handmaiden, Brianna, had gone missing, and I had enlisted the city watch, and some of the gentleman callers to our establishment in the effort to find her. Some of the Gentlemen had tracked the girl to a cave on the outskirts of the town. I enlisted those same Gentlemen to explore the cave with me, and we discovered that the cave has been hiding terrible secrets. Not only did we discover the years dead remains of the soldiers of my home country, victims of some past misdeed, but we also discovered fresh horrors.
The members of the City Watch that the Lord Mayor had dispatched to search for Brianna had obviously found the cave as well. Their bodies had been butchered, and I use that terminology with some precision. They had been ripped apart in one of the most savage displays of brutality I have had the misfortune to witness. Your Holiness knows that I am no blushing maiden to the horrors men subject other men to, and I must admit that the carnage almost stirred me to some irrational emotions. Oddly, some distance from the carnage, the cave contained additional secrets.
There was a section of cave that served as a form of primitive prison, in which two men were incarcerated. One, a Vendel doctor seemed a quiet but efficient man of action. The other was a grizzled man, obviously from the wilds of Ussura. I’m not certain what to make of these men. They were caged with all their equipment and weapons upon their persons, and given free range of their, admittedly, small cell. They were held bare yards from the location of a vile act of murder, but seemed to have no knowledge of it. And one of the men carried a MacEachern Blade! I felt it’s presence the instant I got close to the cell. At that moment I began to wonder if Brianna’s capture was the bait to a trap designed to remove me or one of your other agents from this realm. Subsequent events have tempered my suspicions, but I’m still not easy in my mind about a MacEachern Blade under my roof.
After freeing the men from captivity we continued to search for my missing servant. Deep into the cave we came upon the scene I alluded to earlier. A gathering of men crowded into a torchlit cavern, blasphemous sigils were scribed into the rock, and a crude alter had been erected into the center of the cavern. Upon the alter was the missing Girl, unbound, but clearly under some foreign influence, as she writhed in apparent pain, and made no attempt to escape. The men surrounding her appeared to be cultists engaged in some ritualistic endeavor. The most ominous of which appeared to be some form of high priest. He chanted in a dialect of Cymru and clearly intended some form of mischief towards Brianna.
I must admit, for the first time in many years I allowed an outburst of actual emotion to penetrate the public persona I wear. I drew the men’s attention by screaming out Brianna’s name. Your Holiness will understand, Brianna and I have become close over the past year and I look on her almost as a daughter. When I gaze at her I can sense the faintest wisps of that emotion I have heard so much about, but that has ever eluded me. Regardless, my momentary outburst drew the cultists attention, who then moved aggressively to defend their ritual. My companions and I obliged them, with extreme prejudice. While the Gentlemen were thus engaged I moved through the bedlam and dragged Brianna from the alter to realtive safety. After a quick examination I determined the girl was most likely under the effects of some form of exotic venom.
I must here commend one of Deirdre’s innovations to you. She has ever cautioned me to carry an antidote with me at all times, and has collaborated with a trusted jeweler in order to fashion a hidden vial within a set of pearl earrings. Thanking her for her foresight I quickly retrieved it and administered the dose to my charge. While the Antidote seemed to stabilize her somewhat it did not cure her. Your holiness must realize what a terrible danger this presents to our organization. Your hidden hands across Theah will have difficulty in carrying out their missions and will be put in extreme danger if someone has found a way to formulate toxins we cannot control.
With Brianna out of immediate danger I joined the Gentlemen in subduing the cultists, and in short order they were all unconscious, and their leader was under our power. While the Gentlemen tried to cow him for information, they met with limited success. With additional time to observe him I discovered something truly troubling, the leader of the cultists evidenced traces the blessed bloodline. Knowing I had the best chance to extract the information we needed from him I put my training into effect and attempted to use the skills you carefully instilled into me during my training. While I had better success then the Gentlemen, nothing seemed to work until I utilized the Ussurian stranger’s MacEachern Blade. The vile thing felt like pure crystalized evil in my hands, but it did manage to extract some useful intelligence. I was forced to cause the end his life when he continued to obfuscate about the particulars required to save Brianna.
After my consultation with your Holiness I moved quickly to acquire the necessary materials to heal Brianna. A quick trip to the swamp, and an urgent consultation with the old man who lives there produced the sought after root. On the morrow I’ll have one of my servants send him a supply of the best wine our establishment houses as a gift to repay him for his assistance. The rest of the evening is a blur as I hurried to prepare the roots, and administer them to Brianna. The preparation worked and the malicious power which gripped her seemed to recede. Seeing her safely to bed I tasked Molly with looking after her. I know my some of my sisters have expressed reservations about Molly’s loyalties, and her honest intentions lie, but I will once again express my confidence in her. Though her antecedent is amongst the darkest of the unforgiven, she has ever been a loyal and dutiful daughter.
After excusing myself from the Gentlemen, whom I have given temporary run of the more public areas of our establishment, I retired to Brianna’s room to keep vigil over her until she awakes. I pen these lines while I watch my dearest friend’s breathing, and my relief is almost tangible, as is my dread. It cannot be coincidence that this mysterious evil chose to enact it’s terrible will so near to one of our mission houses. Nor can it be coincidence that the targets of it’s malice are young women. The fact that it seems to be able to command arts for which we have no known immediate counters is deeply troubling.
Holy Mother, you know I am one of the most devout believers in our struggle for Theah. I am your hidden hand in the darkness, a remover of inconvenient obstacles, and I feel that this new threat could be a great importance to us all. I have often wondered why you wished me to reside here in the Triple Kingdoms after my successes in Montaigne. While establishing La Belladonna has been a satisfying challenge, I have felt it was perhaps a somewhat frivolous use of the talents you helped to foster. I see now that I have been correct in trusting to your wisdom and foresight.
I therefore would humbly ask that you send instructions on how you wish me to proceed in curtailing this new threat, and how you wish me to treat with these new Gentlemen of my acquaintance. They seem to be bound tightly in this strange business and may prove useful to you in the future.
As ever I remain your beloved daughter,