The following excerpt is from our learned journeyman scholar, J. Silverwood’s recently published tome, “Whistleande Valley, A History.”
While I have taken great pains to record the information the quaint, yet stoic residents of Whistleande Village have offered me, I must beg allowances for fallacy. Some families seemed reluctant or refused to supply a full account of their ancient homeland. Perhaps it is because I am a Southerner, from the lowlands by the sea. This homely mountain folk has had fair reason to distrust my kin in the past.
One might recall from my past work, “The Diamond Wars” that the Southern kingdoms long sought the precious gems buried beneath the Northern Kingdoms. For those of you unfamiliar with northern politics, the North Lords each ruled a kingdom from the borders of Wylderland to the lowland border of the Azure Mountains. Lust for the North Lords’ wealth led to the latest and final war. As the latest war has ended with neither side a true victor, I took it upon myself to record what I could from these little-known fiefdoms.
Once, this village prospered from the diamond and lesser jewel trade. Since the war, few of their young men have returned and those left behind have suffered. The last of the great North Lords was overthrown and left to live among the people they once cared for. Their descendants were difficult to trace by record alone, thus I began my search for their ancestral home. Locals frequenting Mayve’s Tavern, however, advised against this. The road would take me to a long-unused path into the lower Wylder Mountains. According to local legend, the last North Lord went mad because the family home was taken by the Wylder Curse.
I thought it best to take their advice and found a room to rent for the evening. The folk sang of curses by the hearth while Stye, the owner and proprietor, told stories. I confess to having more than three of their sweet ales to warm my chilled blood. Perhaps it was the beauty of the roses Stye keeps upon the tables which brightened my mood. I did my best to blend in, despite my obvious, lighter southern visage and accent. The people as well seemed to loosen their tongues as the night grew long.
They spoke of the last great North Lord and his only son, Ceddrych. His wife was Mayve, a true genteel Lady who built her tavern after her husband’s death to provide for her family. Her son, Ceddrych aided his mother, along with their young cousin, Stye. The congenial man himself was only too happy to tell of the madness that infected his cousin, twice-removed on his mother’s side.
As Stye tells, Mayve did her best to give her son a fresh start, rather, the lad chose to make his living through trade. Ceddrych’s quest to rebuild the family wealth is something of its own legend among the locals of Whistleande now. He found himself a mysterious lowlander wife and they returned to the valley after a long absence. Upon return, Ceddrych and his wife, Wynyth build a new home close to the border of the Wylder Mountains. Not even the son of the last great North Lord dared to build any closer to the forbidding forest.
For a time, before the last Diamond War, the family and the village prospered. There was some rumor that Ceddrych planned to retake the family title and lands, even. He and his wife had several children, though Stye did not disclose their names at first. Tragedy struck them deeply, however, the Wylder Curse taking revenge, they say. Wynyth and her two youngest children were struck with fever and did not survive. After the eldest son returned home from fighting in the Diamond War, he was much altered. Old Ced, as he was called by then, decided to seek aid in the neighboring western north fiefdoms. It would seem he had not forgotten his quest to regain his family wealth and titles. Yet he and his eldest son never returned and what travelers have come through from those western lands, heard nothing from them.
Stye claims the curse caught up with the Whistleande family. None of the children could escape it. A fire stole the lives of the three eldest daughters. The only survivors were the youngest and perhaps oddest daughter, Vynasha and her nephew, Wyllem. I dared to ask Stye the following morning where I may find Vynasha. Surely a child of the North Lords would know where their ruin is. Stye’s reply was odd, I confess. A curious look passed over his face and his ever-present smile faded. He pointed to the roses strewn about his tavern and said his fair cousin grew them, just as her odd mother once had. But the girl had always been a bit touched in the head and after the fire, she and her nephew kept to themselves.
When I pressed him for reasoning (while pressing gold coins in his palm), he confessed more. I can hardly take the man seriously, for majik and superstition were all he would speak of after that.
As a southerner and a blue member of the Hall of Knowledge, I cannot displace my inner logic for such fanciful talk. But the following day, I not only met this Vynasha but found myself again at the edge of the Wylder Mountains soon after. One moment, I was speaking with the scarred and admittedly strange woman, then the next, about to take my first step onto the old forest road. I could not say how I came to be from one place to the next. The experience still chills me. As a student of history, I cannot discount the many accounts of majik and glamour. If there be such other forces in this world, I believe they must exist here in this forgotten corner of the map.