To: Ms. Violet McGowan of the Noble House Bonisagus,
From: Maximilian Foster of House Tytalus,
I have recently become aware of certain suspicions that you might have voiced in influential ears regarding myself and my associates, particularly vis a vis the band of hoplites sponsored by your covenant and being led by Captain Trombley. I am writing to assure you that there is no impropriety by providing certain details you may currently lack. Forgive my presumption should you already be in possession of all the facts.
As you know, two of my own band, the late, lamented Abstract of House Merenita and Cobalt of House Flambeau (may they rest in peace), had pre-existing grudges against Ms. Elisavet Whalen and Mr. Douglas Turner, respecitvely. So vexed were they by these personal vendettas that they felt compelled to challenge their rivals to Wizards War. In fact, I strongly suspect that much of their own efforts as hoplites these past few months have been for the purpose of seeking magical resources toward those efforts.
In this they succeeded, although it did not ultimately help them.
You are aware, of course, that the initial three targets provided to me, the members of your own House comprising the so-called “Phillips Gang,” were giving us quite the chase. We were able to establish a dialogue through mundane proxies wherein I was able to negotiate their surrender. The terms of this surrender are a matter of public record at The High Court of Hermetic Justice, but I will re-iterate them here for convenience. I offered to the Phillips Gang a re-trial at Tribunal or, should one be called, Emergency Tribunal, based on certain evidence I had uncovered indicating that they had been treated unjustly by the Emergency Tribunal of 1866. I would ensure that sufficient favors were called in to grant them a stay of execution from the High Court until such a time as their re-trial can be heard. In exchange for this great favor, I asked that they surrender themselves completely and peacefully to me and to remain peaceably in the custody of the Order, and that they would, collectively, owe me and my band of hoplites, individually, a favor to be called in at our convenience.
I have faith in our system of justice, and was willing to allow the Courts to finish their deliberations before making any rash requests, but my two youngest and foolhardiest companions were not so long-sighted. Upon receiving the surrender of the Phillips Gang, Abstract and Cobalt indicated their desire to “cash in” their favors immediately, claiming that they would not honor my agreement unless the Phillips Gang satisfied their demands. The demands were, as you might imagine, the assassination of Ms. Whalen and Mr. Turner.
I objected strenuously to this, and appealed to all parties to listen to reason. I told the Phillips Gang that if they were to accede to becoming assassins-by-proxy, this would not endear them to their judges at a re-trial. I appealed to my companions to remember the Code. The Wizards War had not yet commenced, and slaying a magus outside those bounds, even if done by-hire, would make them no better than the criminals we hunt.
In the end, a compromise was reached. To satisfy Abstract and Cobalt, Percy Phillips would secure the blood of Ms. Whalen and Mr. Turner, no more, and that Abstract and Cobalt would then restrain themselves until the proper beginning of their Wizards’ Wars.
This was done. It would appear, unfortunately for me and for others, that Percy Phillips was not altogether precise in his efforts. Although he did not violate the code (it is clear that he COULD have slain Ms. Whalen, Mr. Turner, and all their associates had he wished, and by restraining himself did not “slay or seek to slay” his sodales), his assault was nevertheless indiscriminate and caused understandable harm and ire in the uninvolved companions accompanying Ms. Whalen and Mr. Turner. This led, as you will see later in this letter, to physical harm to my person, something I certainly would have never willingly countenanced.
In any event, Percy Phillips delivered the blood to us. I, suitably offended by his lack of precision, destroyed all blood not belonging to Ms. Whalen or Mr. Turner, hoping that in so doing it might permit me to smooth over any hard feelings.
I convinced Abstract and Cobalt to delay their hunt until we had properly delivered the Phillips Gang into custody. That task complete, however, I felt I could restrain them no longer. Mr. Horse and I accompanied them as neutral parties, concerned for their enthusiasm and seeking to ensure they did not violate the code in their pursuit of vendetta.
Making full use of their forfeit immunity under Wizard’s War, Abstract used her mastery of the imaginem form to scry upon Ms. Whalen at regular intervals, tracking them as they pursued their target, the Marched Ms. Wendy Silverman. Ms. Whalen and her companions, using knowledge I am not privy to, determined that Silverman was hiding in none-other than Pea Ridge, the infamous battlefield where Mr. John Westphal earned his reputation during the war. It would appear that the carnage inflicted there was sufficient to cause to arise an infernal aura, complete with multiple-tiered regio. It was within this regio that Ms. Silverman had established a covert laboratory.
Abstract and Cobalt determined to set an ambush, hoping that the dangers of the infernal regio would weaken their foes and give them an advantage. We discovered where they had staked out their horses, and Mr. Horse, using his affinity for such beasts, convinced them that they were safer under a distant tree. We then waited, and Abstract watched.
She related to me that Ms. Whalen and her associates engaged in great hardships within the infernal regio, ultimately flushing Ms. Silverman from hiding. Through our own great fortune, Ms. Silverman ran right into us. Not wishing to permit a Hermetic criminal to escape, we assaulted her in unison and with great prejudice. It would appear that she was merely a spirit, inhabiting her own dead flesh. I recovered the invested objects containing her ghost when over the rise rode Captain Trombley upon an enormous invisible mount that we all knew well was, in fact, Mr. Westphal in his bear form. His other companions, including the targets of my two companions, were doubtless also invisible passengers.
Mr. Horse and I stood aside to permit the Wizard’s War to commence without our interference. For the most part, the fight was clean. The only potential exception was when the enormous and invisible Mr. Westphal assaulted me.
I would like to speak briefly in defense of Mr. Westphal, and to explain why he was not in violation of the Code, nor was he interfering in a valid Wizard’s War. He very clearly could have slain me, but chose not to, much to my relief. In that manner, much in the same manner as Mr. Percy Phillips’ assault, he proved not to have violated the code. I have every intention of resolving any dispute that he and I may still have in a civilized manner, before a Hermetic Court at a later date. He was not interfering in a Wizard’s War because, with his immediate words, and the words of Captain Trombley, it became rapidly apparent that his grievance had nothing to do with defending his companions. Instead, he and the Captain were understandably concerned about the fate of the blood stolen from them by Mr. Phillips, and presumed that I must possess it, and therefore possessed an arcane connection that I might use for nefarious purposes.
Although I reassured them with all candor that I had destroyed the blood procured from them, and that my motives were entirely selfish, not wishing to make of them my enemies, Mr. Westphal chose to batter me unconscious, declaring that he was “arresting” me or some such foolishness. Whatever his motives, when I eventually came to my senses, I was in the capable hands of Mr. Horse, and my possessions, including the artifacts taken from Ms. Silverman, were still upon my person.
It is my intention to see to the return of the bodies and personal effects of Abstract and Cobalt, who reaped the rewards of their own youthful foolishness, and then to return to Washington where I hope to peaceably resolve any remaining disputes that might exist between myself and Captain Trombley’s troupe. I hope this letter finds you well, and acts to reassure you that the hoplites your covenant is sponsoring are in no particular danger from me, nor are there any remaining members of my own troupe with personal vendettas to pursue.