A Noble Plan
His Right Honourable Julius Maxim,
Lord High Regent
Kingdom of Slewrock
Your Great Highness,
Greetings from the Kingdom of Rill! I am writing this letter to you on behalf of her Royal Highness, Gurundun the Fourth, who is currently very ill and cannot pen this missive herself. Her illness is but one part of the concerns of this communication and I hope to convey her sense of urgency which she herself cannot impart.
A month ago, her Highness was taken ill with a fever and she has quickly deteriorated to the point where she can no longer eat nor walk about the hall. Nor can she bring herself to even deal with the day to day functions of her Royal Office. As she has fallen so ill she has handed the carrying out of official business to her uncle, Sir Heeg. It is Sir Heeg, himself, who has ordered me to write to you as he is not a very literate man and is constantly making spelling errors which, just between you and I, can drive you crazy if you must read a really long letter like this one.
Therefore, acting on his orders and being very much aware of both his and the Queen’s state of mind, I am making this urgent communication on their behalf. Please bear with me.
As you are probably aware, for the last number of years, things have not been going very well in our world. Not only in our Kingdom, but also, as I have been informed, yours as well. Not to mention the other three kingdoms that make up the bulk of the known lands. Namely the kingdoms of Tamora, Rundergrip and Delstatis. For your information I am also writing similar letters to the leaders of these three territories as well as yourself.
One could look at this series of years of decline as being simply a matter of circumstance. A mixture of poor climate events, economic uncertainty and health-related crises. Why certainly, every school child knows of the destruction of the once mighty, all-encompassing kingdom of Glyn that, until three centuries ago was the epitome of modern civilization but met a hasty and inevitable demise with the outbreak of the deadly Okmus Disease (the main symptom of which, as you'll remember, was that your hands fell off). Fortunately, with the eventual curing of that horrendous plague by the sisters and brothers of the Order of the Orange Angel, we had been enjoying a new age of prosperity and joy. That age, unfortunately and I’m sure you will agree, ended approximately five years ago. Almost to the day, some scholars here argue, of the first of the year.
To begin with there were the crop failures. And not failures that were purely a matter of unseasonal weather, but failures owing to various plagues of nature. For example, the great Rat Plague of 1108. Soon followed by the Locust, Ant and Moth plagues. In the kingdom of Rundergrip it got so bad that there was actually an Elephant Plague. You may not have heard of this as the Rundergrip authorities played it down thinking nobody would believe it. As well you may not as there isn’t a single elephant to be found there now. And not because they eradicated the problem. The elephants just simply disappeared. All of them.
I mean really, how do thousands of elephants just disappear? Then, at around the same time, complaints started being heard from locals about the ineffectiveness of the spells and incantations of the local magi. I am sure, that like us, you have approached your guild and tried to find out what is happening, just to be met with the same wall of silence. They were silent because they rarely, if ever, can’t come up with an answer to just about anything. Even when they aren’t particularly being asked. They always have an opinion. Always. Nobody knows why but that particular profession is feeling the effects of the last five years more than any others. They have taken to calling this seemingly unending malaise The Great Shadow. Being a relatively self-concerned group, they don’t really see that this infliction is affecting everyone. But you have to admit, as a title, it’s pretty effective.
And it doesn’t stop there. Every day more and more experiences are being compromised in one respect or another. Musicians can’t write or play music that pleases anyone more than once. And don’t even try to dance to it. Doctors prescribe medicines that have, at best, a fifty percent chance of being effective and, in some cases, actually make the inflicted even sicker than they were previously. That is why, incidentally, we stopped the Queen from taking any more leech treatments. Usually a cure-all for just about anything, even the leeches were not quite working as well. The leeches themselves are getting sick.
People of all status are meeting with what can only be described as freak accidents. Events such as weddings or festivals almost inevitably go badly. Last week, for instance, our Great Hall which was being used to house the desperate refugees from the Long Woods wild-fires, burnt to the ground. The week before that we were almost all washed away by the flooding of the Giant River. A river that has been bone dry for centuries and was being used as a significant housing project for the extremely well-to-do of our country. It had been an exclusive, sought-after community until it was washed away to the sea. Now there is nothing left but a few shells and the remains of the small monkeys that are common as pets in the households of the rich. Many servants died trying to save those monkeys and other household goods and the owners, watching from the safety of the riverbanks, wept openly as their faithful stewards drowned by the dozen in a fruitless attempt to swim to the dwellings.
We (and I’m sure you are experiencing this as well) have had numerous complaints from various groups including city dwellers, farmers, and shop owners. Not to mention the guilds such as the Magic and Armed Services Guilds. In fact, it was the latter of these that brought, in no uncertain terms, a demand that the hierarchy take action. And so, her majesty and the regent have held council and have devised the following plan.
We are suggesting that a supreme council be formed. Each of the kingdoms will send a delegation including its brightest minds, cleverest magicians, and other dignitaries to a specially built pavilion that will constructed on Lake Belvue, in the Fortress Mountains here in our kingdom of Rill. There the delegations will meet, confer and try to come up with answers as to why this affliction, that affects us all, is happening and, consequently, to formulate a plan to reverse this pattern of negative influence and return us once more to a future of brimming with brightness and joy.
Obviously, time is a factor as each day the conditions of existence grow worse and worse. There is no time to be lost. Having said that, the delegations must be allowed time and resources with which to complete their assigned task. We are hoping that each of the kingdoms, along with their best personnel will also send with them a sum of ten thousand gold pieces. This money will be used to finish the pavilion, feed and house the delegation and subsequently facilitate any and all solutions that the council arrives at.
Now, we know that ten thousand is a great amount of gold and we also understand that it would be tempting to mistrust each other with the use of such monies. That is why we have come up with two-fold plan to enable this financial transfer with the least amount of misgivings.
Firstly, the Kingdom of Rill will deliver to each of the other kingdoms, items of worth totaling half of the ten thousand gold pieces. As you know, Rill has long been known as the country that has produced the finest works of art in the world. Some of that art has routinely been sold to the great houses for huge sums, sometimes totaling in the thousands. We would not part with these works lightly as they are works dear to all of us and in fact, are the base of our currency. So, then, each kingdom would receive works totaling five thousand gold pieces, to be held in trust until our venture is complete.
Secondly, each kingdom would send a financial overseer to work in conjunction with the other kingdom’s overseers to make sure the gold is used as intended and to its best effect. This five-person 'financial board', if you will, would elect one of their number to preside over the office and to act as tie-breaker in the event of a split vote on any given financial matter.
This then is the nature of our plea. Please, bearing in mind the urgency of the matter, give this plan your immediate attention and send to us a letter of your intention at the earliest possible convenience.
This is not a time for small-thinking and petty ventures nor partisan squabbles. We must combine the resources of the five kingdoms and defeat this Great Shadow before it takes hold permanently and can no longer be dealt with by mere mortals such as us. It may already be too late. But we pray that is not so and we pray, also, that you will see things as we do and join with us to save the world as we know it and as we wish it would be once more.
For their Royal Majesties,
I remain, your faithful servant,
First Council to the crown of Rill