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Emperor Lysander has a great deal of tools at his disposal. Vicious mercenary bands like the Iron Circle supplement the Imperial Army he is forming in the capitol city of Nerath. He also employs insidious spies, deadly assassins and priests of Bane. Some of his agents serve multiple roles, such as the author of the following correspondence. This report speaks of the foreign powers surrounding the Empire and seeks to inform and advise the Emperor, even as he considers how to weed out the dissenting element in the Nentir Vale: Andrasian the elvish warrior, Krillorien Brightsong the eladrin priest of Pelor, Melanie Good-Melons of the Arcane Tower, and Lyria Thorngage of the Junction Thorngages.

Your Most Exalted Majesty,

What follows is my accounting of the foreign powers that lurk on the outer fringes of our mighty Empire. Rest assured that I have done all in my power to bring to you any and all answers for questions I anticipated you having. Should you find this information inadequate or incomplete, allow me to first convey my sincere apologies and know that I will either answer whatever questions remain vague in your mind or hunt down further expansion upon the information provided. But I ramble overmuch. Let us begin.

The dwarves of Hammerfast remain the most credible threat to the Empire. While they remain quiet within their underground city for now, they made it no secret that they do not recognize your legitimate claim to the lands of the Empire, nor your audacity and courage in crushing all who oppose you. Were our Imperial forces in stronger, better-trained numbers, I would recommend an immediate invasion to excise this dangerous, festering postule from the underside of your Empire. However, seeking new recruits for the Iron Circle and your own Imperial Guard has taken precedence, which I completely understand. To strike without our full strength would be foolish.

To the west, the elves of the Feywood have kept their own counsel. We have taken pains not to encroach upon their forests and they in turn have not meddled in our affairs. It is an uneasy peace, and I am afraid I cannot accurately predict how long it will last. The deaths of many of the ‘free land owners’ who traded with the elves has deprived them of certain goods and crops, and while we have provided them many opportunities to purchase these goods (albeit with an appropriate amount of Imperial taxation) they seem more interested in brooding in the boughs of their trees. Should they become an irritant I recommend as much magical and alchemical fire as possible lobbed into their woods from a good safe distance.

Their cousins, the eladrin, continue their practice of trade with the likes of Daggerport and Southport. Their ship captains are courteous to our customs agents but reports indicate that any stoppage beyond a routine check raises a considerable amount of ire. This has lead to a handful of ships being impounded by the Imperial Navy. To their credit, the customs agents are as expedient as they are thorough, and only a few eladrin have been held indefinitely while most are released after receiving a heavy fine and probationary status. I have it on authority that dignitaries from their cities, Meloravia and Sehavia, will soon be in the capitol to discuss the held eladrin with Your Majesty.

TO the north the situation is more vague. Beyond the Nentir Vale is a harsh, unforgiving tundra and several rocky passes leading into the Frostjaw Peaks. It is said the Peaks are ruled by a figure known only as ‘the Winter King,’ and a cadre of frost giants do his bidding. There is also a large tribe of orcs in that area that once swept down the passes into the Vale but have not been heard from in some time, since before Your Majesty made the crossing to reclaim the Empire. As I was unfortunately unable to treat with any of these orcs, I cannot say how willing they would be to assist Your Majesty and Lord Vhynnk in conquering the Nentir Vale.

I know you await the return of our ambassadors from the Caliphate of the Seven Stars to the south with as much eagerness as I.

In closing I would once again voice my opinion to Your Majesty on the subject of the Iron Circle. You are the final arbiter of who serves the Empire and in what capacity, and Bane shows His favor to those who are uncompromising in their conquest of the weak. But Lord Vhynnk and his converts are not followers of Bane. His patron, Asmodeus, is a dangerous and ambitious god, an aspect shared by the Iron Circle. Should he gain enough numbers and favor, I fear he may move to depose Your Majesty. I feel I would be remiss if I did not mention that Vhynnk was overheard expressing dismay at your agent dispatching the troublesome Dar Gramath and nearly slaying the quartet of troublemakers who came to the aid of the Harkenwold.

Rest assured that my next task will be to seek all I can on these four, and discern fact from fiction for Your Majesty. You should know at full who might stand in the way of your rightful conquest. If they be a worthy challenge, we will bring them to Your Majesty to further prove your might. And if they seem too dangerous, Bane will see them cleared from your path before you ever leave the capitol.

I remain your humble and devoted servant.

Quenora of Avernus
Sworn Sword of Bane
Imperial Mistress of Whispers

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