As I sit here writing this letter of application, a great darkness looms over the city of Plinkerton. Some say it comes from deep below the town’s sewer system, from the putrid earth fabled to have stood here centuries ago. Others say it was simply born out of the shadows cast by the citadel’s belfry. They say the bell only chimes the devil’s note. They say the melancholy of the bell’s tongue is what attracted the whores and the scoundrels that fill the city taverns. The truth be, it was such rumours that pulled the scum to our fair city. Those opposed to such unsavoury lifestyles constructed wild tales of mockery, and unintentionally filled the streets with that which they detest. That which they fear. These same mouths believe their own lies and say the shadows of that same bell gave wake to the death that now walks our streets. I, myself, am more inclined to believe it rose from the putrid earth.
How was Tanis Plinker to know the dirt upon which he chose to stand his empire lay atop the putrid earth spoke of in the scriptures? Besides which, no one can say for sure the scriptures are written of truth. They speak of a deep cave far south of here. While many have ventured in search of this deep cave, and while many caves lie between here and the edge of Barantar, not one man has returned boasting of his exploits. Most do not return at all. Those that do return often spend what little coin they have left drowning their failure in sex and ale.
Of course, now, no man can leave. The King has closed our gates and surrounded the city with a garrison of his finest men to slay any who try to flee. So says the notice, anyway. In truth, they are likely the King’s most ill-equipped men. I am certain they were posted on account of dreadful rumours that have no doubt found their way to the City of the Throne via trader’s tongues. The rumours, themselves, are no surprise at all; the casualties have been alarming. Not just in numbers but to bear witness to them is to see nightmare. The holes that pock their skin ooze a green hue; the strange lack of hair they all have; the grotesque tumours that burst if prodded too firmly.
What frightened me the most, however, was when they started to appear larger than they once stood. It must have been a month or so after the first deaths. They were dying with increasing frequency. It was then I noticed. When some unfortunate souls that I once knew fell victim to this mysterious plague. They had not died their same self. They had changed before they died. They were taller, and broader. They had limbs where before there were not. Their faces were twisted with hatred and anguish. They were monsters.
I write you to inform you that I know. I know what you are doing, and I know this darkness did not come from the putrid earth far below our city’s sewers. If, indeed, it ever existed. No illness is at play here. I know not of the twisted magick you employ or wretched alchemy you might weave, but I know. I know it is you who wear the masque of death that walks our streets.
I seek not vengeance nor justice. I seek only to join you. I do not have the skills of a swordsman or the knowledge of wizardry. But I do wield a quill like no other, and I do know diplomacy. They say the pen is mightier than the sword, and while it might not be as mighty as the grandest of magicks, it will certainly not ensue a witch hunt.
Simply put: if I have unraveled the riddle you have written with the blood spilled upon the cobblestone, others surely will. Not now, not soon, but they will. And when they do, can your magick and your pile of ghoulish corpses save you from the wrath of the Three Kingdoms?
Meet me at the grand fountain at the witching hour with your response.
The tendril that knows.