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Nearly a year has passed since your mother bequeathed to you the dubious gift of nobility. Yet, looking out over the rebuild Resolute Manor from your window, you feel certain that your mother would be proud of what you’ve accomplished.

For one, the reconstruction of the keep is now complete, creating a formidable defensive position. Under Nazariy’s steady hand, cooks, cleaners, scribes and others are now employed and keep the estate running smoothly. The last of the cobwebs have finally been cleared away, each room carefully furnished, and though there are no tapestries or expensive carpets, it feels as though you have a functional home. Nazariy has even admitted, in quiet moments, that he’s pleased, although he always follows that up with a litany of complaints about the weather, about the slowness of that washerwoman or how this cook uses too much salt.

Light catches your eye; the glint of sunlight on metal. You catch sight of one of the patrols; moving between the village and Resolute Manor. At this distance, you can’t tell if it’s one of your still-small band of Silverhawk warriors, or your militia. Rozaliya has spent a great deal of time whipping both groups into shape. She’s called the former “satisfactory, I suppose,” and the latter “brave for a bunch of gutless villagers” but you get the sense she’s not displeased with either’s progress.

Further afield, you can see the village and the gently spinning waterwheel of the mill. People continue to arrive in your lands almost every day, one or two a day, and at last count numbered almost six hundred. The fields surrounding your village are currently filled with the new green of rising crops. So far, there’s been enough rain and gentle sunlight to nurture a good crop.

You also have a fresh crop of goblins, who seem to breed like proverbial rabbits. Still, you haven’t had any problems with them serving as simple farmhands for the village. You recently visited their own encampment and found a disorganized scatter of huts and hovels, undoubtedly breeding even more goblins. You resolve to send someone, perhaps Nazariy, to at least straighten out their building and perhaps even introduce them to the idea of latrines. You know he would be thrilled. But with increasing numbers of beastmen being seen on your border, and even their raid last week, you know the importance of keeping the Goblins in line. You toy briefly with the idea of arming them.

A messenger knocks on your door and delivers a letter. You thank the woman and open it to find a report from Golshan, currently in the capital. You think back to her last report. Queen Florea retains her somewhat precarious grip on power, still quietly opposed by Duke Corvin and Baroness Sorina. Other nobles, such as Lord Firuz and Duke Marin proclaim their neutrality, but Karmus teeters unsteadily. A wrong step could send the country toppling into civil war. Duke Corvin and Baroness Sorina blame the Queen for the assassination of her brother Prince Andrei, an assertion the Queen strenuously denies.

You open the letter and scan its contents. Golshan begins be reporting on the latest news about the Silverhawks; your last job in which you negotiated a settlement between rebellious miners and a local lord has again increased your renown. All across the six kingdoms, people talk about the Silverhawks, though Golshan reports that many nobles remain suspicious, though they have proven more than willing to hire you.

A second paragraph is devoted to her findings about some of your own subjects. She reports, in particular, that Marcel’s father is preparing another offer to convince one of you to marry his son. She also reports that she intercepted a letter from Kari Vinter to her father, though its contents seemed entirely mundane. She also reports that she has located a new suitor for you, and says this match may be of much more interest than those you have already rejected or let languish.

It is the last part of the letter that concerns you. Baroness Sorina has sworn vengeance against Prince Andrei’s assassins and claims to be tracking them with magic. Golshan also reports a growing concern about the Beastmen, and writes that Thermus and Westun are also seeing increased activity. That is stoking fears that a new offensive may be coming, and that a conference is being considered for the Kings and Queens of the six kingdoms to consider how best to meet this threat. Finally, she reminds you that the draft is coming shortly and that some of you are likely eligible this year.

You put down the letter. As always, a Silverhawk’s work is never done.

#

Your adopted mother is dead.

You remember the first time you saw Alisa Denikin, striding through the ruins of your village. Tall and strong, blond and wearing shining plate mail, she was like a figure out of legend, and she plucked you from the ruins of your old life and raised you as her own. From then on, you were a member of her Silver Hawk mercenaries, riding about the Six Kingdoms, fighting wherever you got paid. You were joined by other orphans, also raised by Alisa, and together you fought Beastmen, defended the border with the Dead Lands, and even fought in the wars beentween Kingdoms. It was a hard life, but you had friends and family.

Then everything changed. Alisa took on a job and requested that you stay behind, the first time she’d ever done so. And so you waited, not worried. Your mother had fought in dozens of battles, hundreds of skirmishes.

A letter arrived and informed you of her death, and the destruction of the Silver Hawks. But with that letter came something else; a deed to land in Karmus, and a royal proclamation establishing your family as a new noble house, the first in the Six Kingdoms in almost two hundred years.

Stricken by grief, you travelled to this land. There a man you knew, Nazariy Silin, was waiting in the remains of a crumbling keep. Wordlessly, he handed you a letter.

My dearest children,

If you are reading this letter, then I am dead. I have always known this day would come, that I would leave you. It was the nature of my work. Nobody lives forever.

The Six Kingdoms are in crisis. Year after year, our lands grow ever smaller, our populations thin. I believe a new effort is needed to recapture lost lands. That is why I made arrangements to obtain for you the title of nobility. I am gone, but you have your adopted brothers and sisters. I charge you with the duty of raising up a new noble house.

It will not be easy. I have invested all the wealth I gathered over the years in purchasing this land, so I have nothing else to leave you. What I can leave you is the name of the Silver Hawks. Mercenary work will come, and with it, gold and further renown. The nobles of the Six Kingdoms will look down on you. Show them that your blood is as good and true as theirs.

Nazariy is paid until the end of the year. He will assist you however you require. You’ll need to find others, people to live in your lands, and trusted allies and associates. I have asked that one other friend join you, but I am not sure when she will arrive.

Know that I love you with all my heart, and that I charge you with this task because I believe you can do it. It will not be easy, but I know our future is in good hands.

-Mother

When you finished the letter, Nazariy clapped you on the shoulder. “Well, not to rush you, but I fear there’s work to be done. We need to survey the new lands, raise money to repair the keep, find subjects for you, decide on who will be the ruler and heir, and oh, there’s a small matter of some creature that’s infested the basement and nearly devoured me. Where do you want to begin?”

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Heirs to the Silver General lordmork