Letters on Hereford

Hereford, Earls Marshall, and surveys
Proclamation by Lord Ranulf Farendon
People of Albion
By command of Her Majesty, Elspeth, Queen of Albion.
On the 28th day of November 1098, the Fey of the one known as Lady Katherine declared war on Albion and then immediately proceeded to sack the town of Hereford. None were spared, survivors are few. Let it be known therefore, throughout the lands that the Harts are now at war with the Lady Katherine and the Fey of the Court Tomorrow.

The Queen wishes to commend the heroism of the town militia. Their valiant defence to the last, in the face of overwhelming numbers, allowed a number of the populace to flee through the smaller town gates. All towns must now increase their guard and Lord Marshall Hugo will liaise with local commanders to give aid and advice where needed.
Because of the need for strong leadership at this time, the Queen, with the agreement of the Privy Council, has decreed the following. As Albion is under populated due to the number of people who left to join the Lions in Avalon, a new title is to be created to fill the gap where the Dukes should be.

This title is Earl Marshall. There shall be four Earls Marshall and they shall be in charge of the four duchies within the Eastern and Western Marches. The Queen wishes it to be known that the following are hereby appointed to those posts.
Ranulf Farendon

Lord High Chamberlain of Albion

– the Duchy of Gloucester
Benedict Karlennon

Master of the Assizes, Leader of House Karlennon

– the Duchy of Winchester
Alistir Crowlee

Speaker from the Council of Barons to the Privy Council, Leader of the Watchers of Darkwood

– the Duchy of Keswick
Remy Dayspring

Leader of the Bacchus’ Bastards

– the Duchy of York
For the 5th Duchy, that of Cornwall, shall the title of Duke remain, in recognition of the special part Cornwall has played in Albion history. General Tarn shall remain as Duke of Cornwall.

Each Earl Marshall shall be in charge of the administration of the Duchy they control. They shall also be responsible for organising the defence of the lands within their area. These titles shall remain in place until such time as there are sufficient numbers within Albion to allow the dukes to rise because a following of their own people.

The Earls Marshall of Winchester and York shall be under the direct command of Lord Hugo Charenten, Lord Marshall of the Eastern March. Since the death of Crown Prince Elias Karlennon, the Queen has not yet been able to appoint a Lord Marshall of the Eastern March. The Earls Marshall of Gloucester and Keswick shall therefore report directly to Lord Hugo for the present.

Each Earl Marshall and the Duke of Cornwall shall appoint 2 Sheriffs to administer the Counties within their lands. These shall be appointed with the approval of the Office of the High Sheriff of Albion. The Sheriffs of the Counties will be responsible to both their Earl Marshall and the High Sheriff. The Office of the High Sheriff has been authorised to appoint a number of Under Sheriffs who will aid the High Sheriff in his many duties.
Finally, as a result of the happenings at the Last Hunt, the Queen has commanded that all lords conduct full surveys of their manors and report anything unusual to the Master of the Assizes.
Written this 8th day of December 1098 at Gloucester
Ranulf Farendon

Lord High Chamberlain of Albion

Hereford Survivors Update
15th day of December 1098

To the People of Albion
It is with great sadness that I must inform you of the death of Grundy, wife of General Tarn. Grundy and her son had been staying in Hereford recently (one of his former baronies). When the fey struck Grundy took arms to defend Hereford as was her nature. It is reported that she with, two members of the militia and the father’s of two families held one of the small postern gates allowing the rest of their families to escape. Her body was found under rubble next to four dead fey. I send my sympathy to General Tarn at this time.
The seven women and children are now safe in Gloucester after fleeing east. However no sign of the boy, Young Tarn as he is known has been found. The escapees reported that Grundy was alone, none of the bodies of the male children that were identifiable found in Hereford were him, and there are no reports of the fey taking prisoners. However a large number of building were burned with people inside them and many bodies are unidentifiable.
Further family of three have been found taking shelter in the Greenwood by a party of Elven rangers, and a young girl and her grandmother were found in an old ruined shepherds cottage in the hills. However the grandmother had succumbed to cold sometime prior to their rescue. This brings the total known survivors to 139.
Over the weekend the cold weather has warmed, consequently the funerals cremating the bodies of those fallen at Hereford have been speeded up. A number of bodies remain to be identified, but with the warming of the weather this task may have to be ignored for reasons of public health. Many trees and woods near to Hereford have already been felled, but a program of re-planting will be initiated in the spring. The last of the funerals should be later this week, and will involve many of those who fell last including militia. There will be a service of remembrance to honour and remember all those who fell.
Any who wish to come are invited to attend on the 18th day of December at Stretton.
Ranulf Farendon

Earl-Marshall of Gloucester Lord High Chamberlain of Albion

Victory at Chester
15th day of December 1098

It is my pleasure and privilege to be able to report our first major victory over the forces of the Usurper Katherine since War was declared. A force estimated to comprise around a quarter of that which devastated the City of Hereford at the changing of the month was broken on the approaches to the Chester Pass into Cymrija in the dawn hours of Friday 11 December.
Around 200 enemy are confirmed slain or prisoner. Having held the field in the main action and most of the subsequent pursuit and skirmishes, our casualties were predictably light. The names of those fallen in defense of Albion cannot be released until next of kin have been informed, but their comrades know them, and their names will be remembered.
This victory can be rightly claimed by the foresters and rangers of Cheshire. Their vigilance gave warning of the threat, and their tireless pursuit gave the enemy no time to scout the earthworks and other defenses of the Chester pass approaches before their unheralded dawn attack upon defenders they supposed unprepared. Their haste was to cost the Fey attackers dear, as pit traps and tripwires, stakes, caltrops and siege engines disrupted their initial charge. Their second charge faltered also, and a sally by the brave defenders separated a large section of the attackers from their fellows. That was enough for them and they retired from the field in good enough order that we could not hope realisitically to pursue the main body which was observed travelling Northwards.
The isolated group which was forced South was another matter entirely, travelling as it did into a county warned and ready. A series of skirmishes and running fights almost entirely wiped out the retreating Fey, while we sustained negligible losses.
Although this is a significant victory which should give our enemy pause, we must not become complacent. More than a thousand Fey, including their Generals and other exceptional assets are still loose in Cheshire and Ellenbrooke Counties, and we did not stop all the Fey heading over the border into Cymrija. This was just the first battle, and we have not won the War. Yet. They will not underestimate us so badly next time.
Remain vigilant, remain resolute, remain prepared.
Albion forever!
Hugo Charenten KCE

Lord Lieutenant of the Eastern Marches

Marshall of the Harts Armies

Articles of the Rules of War
15th day of December 1098
To: Katherine of the ‘Tomorrow Court’
Regarding articles of war.
While the massacre at Hereford perpetrated by your forces might be taken as an indication of the rules by which you would conduct this war, it pleases Her Majesty Queen Elspeth of Albion, upon the advice of her Marshall, Generals and Privy Council to offer the following articles to govern the conduct of both sides during this conflict:

  1. Transgressions of these articles shall be considered a capital crime.
  2. A white flag shall be a sign of truce. The bearer of such a flag shall neither initiate hostile action, nor have hostile action initiated against them. This also shall apply to those who are within sight of the flag.
  3. A white baton shall be the sign of a Herald. A Herald shall not initiate hostile action, nor shall hostile action be initiated against them.
  4. Surrender will be accepted where offered. Prisoners taken will be treated fairly, with enough food, shelter and care provided to preserve their life and limb. Reasonable methods of restraint are permitted.
  5. Quarter will be offered, and where accepted will be taken as token of surrender.
  6. Captives will not undertake any hostile action until they have been free for two sunrises. They will not be expected to give greater parole than this under duress.
  7. Captives will not be used to labour for their enemy.
  8. No form of attack which corrupts a Life Pattern shall be used. Specifically, this includes the use of Cold Iron against Fey, and the use of Necromantic assault.

While these Articles may be incomplete and in need of clarification, it pleases Her Majesty that they be the rules by which the folk of Albion shall conduct this conflict, until such time as they be altered by her hand.
Albion forever!
Hugo Charenten KCE

Lord Lieutenant of the Eastern Marches

Marshall of the Harts Armies

Encounter with Katherine’s forces
17th day of December 1098
People of Albion
I write to you to report an encounter between a small party of Albiones and a band of Katherine’s unseelie that occurred over the weekend.
After leaving Hereford, I and my companions travelled northwards to continue our expeditionary forays into the hills between the Greenwood and the Cymrjan border, our party numbering six.
We travelled two days westward into the hills, when we first found sign of the enemy. Within a small copse of trees we discovered the remnants of a camp. It had been well concealed, but I suspect that they had been in a hurry to leave as they had neglected to cover certain signs of their stay. We discovered signs that they were headed for the Cymrjan borderlands and so followed their trail, until Corley, one of the best trackers I have known, realised that these tracks had been laid to deliberately confound us. We backtracked, and picked up the true trail heading northward.
We followed them for nigh on eighteen hours, gaining very little ground on them (it seems that these foul creatures can run like the wind), until finally we caught up with them. A party of sixteen fae, accompanied by two of the “Norscan Great Trolls” had made camp in the centre of a piece of woodland. Concealing ourselves in the brush around their camp, we spent several hours listening to their conversation as they rested. Of the information garnered, the following has been cleared for public release:

  1. The unseelie fae seem able to run without tiring noticeably. The Great Trolls do not share this ability.
  2. Their leader referred to one “Lord Christopher”.
  3. After the attack upon Hereford, the unseelie forces split into much smaller groups to leave Albion.
  4. There are relatively few Great Trolls assisting Katherine’s forces.
  5. The Unseelie fae referred to some sort of military unit, known as a “Claw”.

I do not know how they discovered our prescence, but discover us they did. Taking up arms, they started searching the bushes for us. We were left with no option but to flee. I regret to inform you that only four of us made it. The next of kin of those who were lost have been informed and have given permission for them to be named.
Missing In Action:

Adam of Tewkesbury.

Sargeant Martyn Fletcher of the militia.
They will both be missed.
The rest of us made it from the wood, and we intend to continue to scout for signs of Katherine’s forces.
Albion Forever
Quarim Almalik

Response from Katherine to the proposed articles of war
17th day of December 1098

o: Katherine of the ‘Tomorrow Court’
This message was posted to the Main Erdrejan nexus by a creature of Katherine:
People of Erdreja,
For some time now, many of you will have been aware of the dispute between my Queen, Queen Katherine of the Court Tomorrow, and the rulers of the Harts of Albion, and most of you will know that at the Open Grand Council of 1098 we declared a formal state of war to exist between the Court Tomorrow and the Harts.
My Queen wishes it known that this was not a decision that was taken lightly. The Harts have proved time and again that they are without honour, that their attitude to diplomacy is barbaric at best. They have refused utterly to discuss the matter, have assaulted and killed our emissaries, stolen our items and insulted our people repeatedly. They even tried to assault my Queen herself, when she came in person to try and open negotiations with them.
After long and hard consideration, and with a large amount of regret, a decision was made. We can no longer tolerate these actions, and as the leadership of Albion has not responded to diplomacy, we have been left with no choice. Our first action of the war was an emphatic victory, as we had known it would be. The town of Hereford was destroyed as a message to the leaders of the Harts. They can not hope to win this war. We can, and will, carry out dozens more attacks on the same scale as Hereford if the Harts do not accede to our demands. We sincerely regret the loss of civilian life involved in actions such as this, but we are resolute in our determination to win this war.
How may this be stopped? Simply. It is our wish that the current government of Albion be removed. That the leaders, who have led their people, through foolishness, to war against a superior foe; quit their positions of authority, and present themselves to us for trial. Trial for crimes against the Court Tomorrow, and the fae of Albion. If this should come to pass, then the Court Tomorrow will withdraw its declaration of war, and no more innocents need die for the pride of a powerful few.
Hugo Charenten, who is in himself partly responsible for this war, has made public his “Articles of War”. This document, whilst I am sure that it is deemed satisfactory by the leaders of the Harts, is yet another attempt by these criminals to enforce their own views upon us, with no regard to our culture or our desires. As such, the Court Tomorrow refuses to accept it, and wishes to make its own public declaration. There will be no quarter asked for or given to either side, until our demands have been met. There will be no use for Heralds or white flags of truce, the time for talking is over. The capture, use and release of prisoners will be dictated by the conscience of each side. No form of attack which corrupts a Life Pattern shall be used. Specifically, this includes the use of Cold Iron against Fey, and the use of Necromantic assault. This is the position of the Court Tomorrow and its Queen.
We shall triumph, Coll Alpha

High Ambassador to Queen Katherine of the Court Tomorrow

Scribed this 12th day of December, 1098

The Response:
Coll Alpha, Ambassador of the Court Tomorrow:
But for one item, I will not here dispute the facts you claim as truth. The time and place for that will be upon the fields, amidst the forests and in the streets of this Land of Albion and its Arcadia. Know that your message has been received. Know also that Tomorrow is ever the other side of midnight, and your Court’s time will never be.
I am pleased to receive your rules of engagement and doubly pleased that your Folk repudiate the corruption of Patterns. Tell your Queen that we will still be pleased to receive word of her surrender by Herald, marked by white baton. Let it also be known that while you leave us no option but to fight to the death, we will still accept surrender from your soldiers, and they will be treated as we would expect our prisoners to be treated by a civilised foe.
So, finally to that matter you claim as fact. That you soundly defeated the City Militia of Hereford is not in doubt; 2000 elite troopers attacking the 27 on-duty guards without warning can hardly be considered a fight, let alone an emphatic victory when you still lost personnel. That the ensuing massacre of more than 4000 civilians, even down to the 952 who were not even of majority age, could be considered merely regrettable simply emphasises who your real enemy is. The folk of Albion will resist you to the last. In truth you give us no option. If you were to prevail, it is clear that Albion would die with its last defender, for you have forsaken her, and that which you once were.
Hugo Charenten KCE

Lord Lieutenant of the Eastern Marches

Marshall of the Harts Armies

Hereford Update
19th day of December 1098

People of Albion
The last of the bodies have been laid to rest. A fitting service of remembrance has been said and goodbyes made. Searches of all outlying farms and countryside have been completed, and a final four survivors have been located. Two dwarf families who had left Hereford early on the morning of the attack to attend a family wedding in the mountains. In typical dwarven style it lasted 2 weeks and they have only just returned.
This brings the total known survivors of Hereford to 143. I have little hope now of finding anyone else alive. This brings the death toll to 96.5% of the approximately 4000 inhabitants prior to the attack.
Many people have asked for more details of those who survived. After talking to many of them myself I have managed to ascertain the following:
The majority of those that escaped were human, although there were 28 dwarfs from 200 odd members of the merchant community who traded out of Hereford for products from their mountain caverns to the west. Most of these escaped together via one of the postern gates, forcing their way through the fey lines and making into the hills south.
Of the survivors there were:

– 90 Females

– 53 Males
This has been further broken down as follows:

Aged Number
0 – 5 9
6 – 15 42
16 – 55 58
55+ 3 4

As can be seen, most of those too young to escape by themselves were killed. Of those older children many were dropped over the walls by their parents who stayed to fight. This leaves many orphaned children who have need of caring families. If any had friends or relations in Hereford with children please contact me to see if any escaped. Most of the adult survivors were women, although there were 16 adult men and dwarfs. Of those aged over 55 the majority were dwarfs.
Ranulf Farendon

Earl-Marshal of Gloucester

Lord High Chamberlain of Albion

The Hereford aftermath
Account dated 8th day of December 1098

Account delivered to Brighthelm Stane Library, 25th day of January 1099
It’s a cold blustery morning and after a night’s camp devoid of comfort Taliesin D’Schall and I have joined up with a supply train travelling to Hereford. The troops with the train have heard tales of the sights at Hereford, and their faces are set grim. There’s little levity amidst the toiling mud. December is no time to be running the third train in as many days along the road to Hereford; the Empire’s paved roads are a memory long faded.
According to the carters we were still a league from the last crest above the town when I first caught the faint wafts of smoke and roasting meat. It takes a lot of wood to burn a corpse. Clouds are building from the south as the oxen labour up the churned back slope of that ridge towards the saddle from where I’ll be able to see the terrible place, and the pale cold winter sun is quickly obscured. The troopers at the beacon merely nod in response to their fellows’ quiet greetings, and the hauliers rest their teams after the long climb out of the Vale of Stretton.
From the top of this rise we can see the ashy smudge that must, only last week, have been Hereford. Smoke still rises from places in the ruin of the city, but more rises from locations between us and the North gate. The crematorium smell is stronger now. The wind brings the threat of rain, and, pausing only to make our subdued goodbyes to our travelling companions of the last twenty-four muddy hours, we begin to make our way down the treacherous muddy road together. An hour later we pass the outer piquets. Not a problem, you would think, but these troops look drawn and twitchy, and we’re closely watched while the knight in charge inspects our travelling passes. They only relax slightly when he motions us through. All are armed with clubs or blank staves as well as the usual sidearm or bill, and half the arrows nocked are unpiled; it’d make no difference at this range.
The wind has dropped now, but it’s not so calm that smoke won’t move, and the smell of the crematoria is only just strong enough to hide the smell of death. It’s fortunate that the week has been chill and dry. Could have been colder, though, so the mud wasn’t just a thin crust of ice. The clouds still lie low and threatening, grey with smoke and winter’s dimness. Looks like they’re settling in for the day, at least.

Almost without warning the road bends out of the woods where many axes ring, and Hereford’s North gate looms. Banks of smoke roll from the fires and over the rows of white shapes lying in the field at the edge of the road. As we proceed, the chanting of the Incantors drowns the sound of felling timber. A procession, ghostly in the smoke, bears its sad burdens to a large unlit pyre, the incantors’ incense putting a sickly edge to the smoke’s already charged aroma. By the time we reach the gate another ten bodies are being returned to the earth and sky by fire and tears. During the next few days they will have to do this more than four hundred times.
The gatehouse itself is largely undamaged, barring soot marks from the arrow loops, but the gate is missing, used to fuel a pyre maybe. Its hinges hang bent awry, two of them, anyway. No battering ram did this. Above the smoky remnants of arson, there’s another, sweeter, smell now, cloying at the senses. Blood. There’s some on the walls in this gate passage, but not enough to account for the smell.
Through the gatehouse and into the street. Or what used to be a street. Now it’s just a mostly clear space between burned out buildings. Frontages have collapsed into the street here and there. In the open, the smell is more of the burning. but that stench of death underlies it all. And now we can see why. The gutter down the centre of Gloucester Road is full, caked with dried blood. There are no bodies. They’ve all been collected, and it’s too cold for them to start to putrefy. But the deathly aroma of blood hangs in the air like thunder, oppressing the senses the more because there is no battle rage and all of a sudden those clouds hold a promise not a threat. We carefully pick our way to the centre of the city, and the blood stains the cobbles more and more strongly. Even in the alleyways and backstreets we use, directed by hastily chalked signs around a blockage too treacherous to clamber over or through.
It takes nearly fifteen minutes to negotiate the route from North gate to Town Square, where the town hall, raised by the proud burghers of Hereford as a monument to its pivotal role in the local economy, stands. Buildings either side of it are charred, fallen beam alone, even the wattle burned away. This is the most complete burning I have seen in all the city so far. Like all raiders the Fey had no time to be thorough in their arson. What time they had they used for their sport with the townsfolk. And buildings further from the town Hall are more typical of the haphazard incendiary vandalism we’ve already seen. On the floor, the blood almost sticks us in place. The soldiers have worn paths in the gore, which we try to keep to.
The steps to the Town Hall are clean, the Mayor’s blood washed away so as not to disturb him in death. I can almost feel the rage of the unquiet spirits of those who died here, though I can’t see so much of their blood. Every wall has nail holes in it and there’s some blood splashed around, but no more than you’d find in a butcher’s, say. The Council Chamber is the worst. Little bundles of white cloth lie silent in rows on the long tables, the floor. Hereford was a township of over 4000 people. Over a thousand children met their untimely end in this place. We decide that we really don’t want to be here when the sun sets.
Another quarter hour or so later, we exited the town through the South gate, on the Bristol Road. Darkness is falling as we report in to the Adjutant of the way fort that will be home to some hundreds of soldiers while this dreadful work is completed. We’re upwind, now, and the stench of smoke and death is less overpowering, but the barely-hidden rage and despair is evident in the grim, sooty visages of those who return from the fires North of town. The camp is quiet over dinner, and afterwards, any drinking is to drown memory, not warm hearts. Sleep does not come easy after what I’ve seen today. I have witnessed the carnage left in the wake of Undead attacks but I prefer that mindless slaughter over this callous disregard for Human life. The memory of those little corpses will be firmly in my mind when I next have to face these creatures. They are not fighting a war of conquest, they are not soldiers. They are ravagers, destroyers. They have no regard for innocence or honour.
I apologise if some of these images are horrific and the stuff of nightmares but you must realise that Albion is under attack and unless you are spurred to action it will be your husband or child that is the next plaything for their Trolls or victim of amusing experiments.
Contact your local Wardens Office and enlist today.
Apollo, The Shining One