Gertrude Fairweather was tired. Her four boys — Shilop, Wilough, Kanel, and Philop, were all quite young and mischievous, with no father to care and guide them. Her husband, Walter, was a travelling merchant, but it had been years since his last visit. The last time they had spoken was when Kanel was only a few weeks old. There was a big trade to be had, Walter had said, and that he wanted to be a part of it to give their family something more in the future.
As always, Gertrude stood at the doorstep of their home, watching as her husband went off, this time towards the north. She was a bit worried about his going, knowing that many an adventurer would pounce on the first wealthy citizen they could find in the Wilderness. Thank goodness all the revenants of the Forinthry were banished away, but one still remained according to those who passed by her home. Months and years wore on she got worried. No letters were sent, but the money did come in to help feed her family. Still…
An adventurer came to her one day, handing her a ragged journal that she immediately recognized as Walter's. With trembling hands she took it, stroking the cover a little before hurrying inside. Kanel and Philop watched as their mother sat down on a rocking chair, staring at the journal for some time, before finally approaching her.
"Mama, what's wrong?" "Mama, Mama!"
Gertrude smiled sadly. "It's nothing… Someone found Papa's journal, that's all. He must've lost it while he was on the road."
"What did Papa write?" Philop asked.
Gertrude thumbed through the pages, occasionally reading parts of entries to the children. But when she came towards the end, she choked up as she silently read what seemed to be her husband's last words:
5th Age, Year 169, 3 Moevyng.
I've travelled to Edgeville, where clans of warriors and mercenaries gathered to show off their latest triumphs from the lands of the Forinthry. It would seem that the people have grown bolder now that the Revenants have been driven away down into the deeper regions of the earth. But the needless bloodshed! There is no honour among some of these people.
I will sell some the armour and weapons I have managed to obtain from my previous trades. I only hope that I can earn enough to send to my wife and children.
5th Age, Year 169, 5 Moevyng.
Great Saradomin save me!
I've travelled further north into the Wilderness, having heard of a camp not far from Edgeville. I walked into camp of bandits and then a fortress of Dark Warriors! Such tragedy of the human kind resides here. The bandits have let me go unharmed under the provision I give them some of the money I had earned. The Dark Warriors had other ideas. It was good fortune I managed to get away from them at least.
There must have been an abundance of people here years ago. There were so many ruins and graveyards I've passed by, once they were orderly, but now they are crumbling under the forces of nature and time.
A drunk bard I ran into during my explorations told me there was a fortune to be had, but with it a great danger. I will employ a few warriors to come with me with the promise of a share of the fortune, if found, in return for their protection.
Sth 4ge. Yaer 169. 10 Mnovnyg.
We funod it! We fuond the gerat fuortne! Oh and waht a sghit to bheold! Oh my lvoe, my Greturde! I can gvie you taht husoe you hvae awlays deraemd of! Mllioins to now hvae for us now!
I wlil haed hmoe now wtih my new froutne!
The entries afterward were barely readable, let alone understandable:
Potty training a bore, now come filled with lore. Magic runes all embued, full experience due. Ashes up in the air, crying with despair. Holey crawling climbing, all tangled up ropey! Hammer hammer nail nail, no more wood and wail!
Gertrude shut the journal, sitting back wearily in her chair. The children watched as their mother silently cried, wondering what was wrong. Gertrude looked at them, then got up and put the book onto the very top shelf before gathering her children.
"Let's go get some chores done," she said cheerfully. She had to be strong. He must still be alive somewhere, maybe. He had to, for who else would be sending them the money?
Maybe… Maybe the Chaos Elemental spared him…