[Editor's note: For the sake of brevity, I have omitted Lady Perrini's long-winded and absurd stories of her background and origin prior to arriving in the Dyrwood. Suffice to say, though she puts it more delicately, she is the daughter of a wealthy merchant who used his money and connections to purchase a title of nobility. Her upbringing was filled with the finer things, but the nobles of the old class looked down on her family as up-jumped pretenders, as they are wont to do with anyone who cannot trace their noble status back to the Grand Empire. Resentful at this treatment and filled with a desire to prove herself, Lady Perinni left the warring remnants of the Vailian Empire to seek her own fortune elsewhere in her mid-teens.
The stories here becomes farcical. At the age of 16, she claims to have signed on to a privateer. A year later, after growing tired of the harsh discipline and conditions of the naval life, she has abandoned her comrades in the port of Selona and supposedly been taken under the wing of a dashing rogue of high station among the thieves of that city.
The adventures recounted afterward are the stuff of children's fantasies, not history, and scarcely worth recounting. All that is worth noting from this matter is that, at the age of 23, she fled Selona due to complications she is strangely evasive about putting to paper. As she fled, she received word of an offer from a Lord Raedric of Gilded Vale, offering land to anyone bold enough to claim it. Missing the luxuries of her old life, and seeing the chance to forge a position among the landed gentry in those territories, she paid for passage on a caravan to Gilded Vale. And it is on that caravan the story begins.]
Wherein is related the journey to Gilded Vale and the great misfortunes that befell Petrona's caravan owing to the zealousness of the Glanfathans
Having found passage on a caravan, despite all obstacles, I braced myself for a long and dull trip. The majority of the other travelers, though pleasant enough, were unlearned peasants and merchants with little to offer in the way of conversation. I passed the time reading and enjoying the beauty of the Glanfathan countryside, which must be seen to be truly appreciated.
Unfortunately, as we were well into the journey, I fell ill. This was hardly a surprise. My constitution has never been strong and the Glanfathan climate doesn't agree with me to this day. I spent several hours of misery in the back of the wagons before the caravan master, Odema, called for a halt.
Our caravan sat before the entrance of an ancient ruin, surrounded by glowing crystals. A marvelous view which did little to ease my discomfort at the ill news I was given. Apparently I had a touch of the 'Rumbling Rot', contracted from a local beetle of some sort. The caravan master, his face white with fear for my safety, told me in no uncertain terms that I would be dead within the day without the proper cure. He told me I must take what the locals call a 'springberry' to ease my pain, a small pink berry that grows on some of the local bushes. Setting aside the agony tearing through my guts, and to the astonishment of everyone, I rose from my sickbed and set off into the wilderness to find this elusive 'springberry', perhaps the only hope I had left.
[Editor's Note: A number of things to be said here. To begin with, the 'Rumbling Rot' is nowhere near as dangerous as Lady Perinni claims. Drink enough water and it's little more than a stomach illness, gone within the day. As such, I must conclude that she is exaggerating her peril for effect. Certainly the sickness mentioned is nothing that requires an ill woman to be driven from her sickbed seeking berries in the wilderness. If Lady Perinni indeed ever even had the 'Rumbling Rot', then I have no doubt she had many chances to become acquainted with many bushes along the way to Gilded Vale, but not for the berries that grow on them, if my meaning is understood.]
Yet even as I insisted I be the one to find the springberry, 'lest anyone else in the caravan come to harm for my sake, Odema would not let me go alone. I was given the help of one of our guides, Calisca. She seemed capable enough, a warrior of few words and simple needs. Not wanting to be impolite, I accepted the offer and did my best to ensure she returned alive.
Prior to heading into the wilderness, I sought answers from the other members of the caravan. Most of them were decidedly unhelpful, simply remarking upon the obvious fact that caravan life didn't agree with me. Odema himself had much of interest to say, however, telling me of what locals call the 'Biawacs', storms that tear loose your very soul, and of the local barbarians who attack any they perceive as violating the sanctity of the Engwithan ruins.
Note to future adventurers
No matter how backward and absurd their beliefs and behavior, respect the customs of the locals. Laughing at their barbaric customs gains you nothing but enemies, and you won't be changing behavior which has remained fixed for centuries with a bit of conversation or ridicule. Pretending to understand why they believe the things they believe often leaves the savages absurdly grateful, which in turns makes them far easier to control.
A merchant by the name of Heodan from the Aedyr Empire was the only other traveler of note who would tell me much of himself. We struck up a brief conversation, and he offered to sell me some of his goods, but as always I had already come prepared and didn't need his help. Nevertheless, with a bit of charm I was able to win the beginnings of a friendship with him, listening to his story of expanding his family's merchant business into the Dyrwood.
Thus prepared, Calisca and I ventured forth, little knowing what awaited us beyond the campfires...
[Editor's Note: Some wolves await them. How much excitement can be milked from armed warriors slaughtering starving wolves, Lady Drama Queen?]