Forward From The Publisher: The history behind this letter is almost as interesting and dark as the story

it tells. The original letter to the mysterious Dhaunayne was copied and began circulating around the Ashlands of Vvardenfell a few months ago. n time! a print found its way to the mainland and Prince "laalu "elseth#s palace outside Almale$ia. %hile the reader may conclude after reading this letter that the Prince would be furious about such a work! impugning his highness with great malevolence! &uite the reverse was true. The Prince and his mother! 'ueen (aren)iah! had it privately printed into bound copies and sent to libraries and booksellers throughout *orrowind. As matter of record! the Prince and the 'ueen have not officially stated whether the letter is a work of pure imagination or based on an actual occurrence. The "ouse Dres has publicly denounced the work! and indeed! no one named Dhaunayne! despite the suggestions in the letter! has ever been linked to the house. %e leave the reader to interpret the letter as he or she believes. — +erris ,an! Publisher Dark Liege Dhaunayne, You asked for a detailed description of my experience last night and the reasons for my plea to House Dres for another assignment. I hope I have served you well in my capacity as informant in the court of Prince Helseth, a man who I have stated in many previous reports could teach olag !al how to scheme. "s you know, I#ve spent nearly a year now working my way into his inner circle of advisors. He was in need of friendship when he first arrived in orrowind and eagerly took to me and a few others. $till, he was disinclined to trust any of us, which is perhaps not surprising, given his tenuous position in orrowind society. %or your unholiness#s recollection, the Prince is the eldest son of !aren&iah, who was once the 'ueen of orrowind and once the 'ueen of the High (ock kingdom of)ayrest. "t the death of her hus*and, Prince Helseth#s stepfather, +ing ,adwyre, there was a power struggle *etween the Prince and ,adwyre#s daughter, the Princess,lysana. -hough details of what transpired are imperfect, it is clear that ,lysana won the *attle and *ecame 'ueen, *anishing Helseth and !aren&iah. !aren&iah#s only other child, orgiah, had already left court to marry and *ecome 'ueen of the $ummurset Isle kingdom of %irsthold. !aren&iah and Helseth crossed the continent to return to orrowind only last year. -hey were well received *y !aren&iah#s uncle, our current king, "thyn Llethan, who had taken the throne after !aren&iah#s

a young . while others were simply concerned *y the nature of the Prince#s invitation. Yesterday morning.a*dication more than forty years ago. has *een verified to visit the Imperial fortress in !almora. last night. "nother. and all knew of the Prince#s mysterious meeting. he returned and told me what he had witnessed. "s you may recall. in their cases. *ut the other ingredients suggested something far deeper. meetings. -he Prince had procured ingredients to prepare a poison. /f course. I had *egun to think myself paranoid as the Prince himself when I found myself dou*ting the sincere loyalty of the Prince#s cham*erlain. I told you *efore that a particular Dunmer counselor of Helseth looked like a fellow I had seen in the company of -holer $aryoni. and plots. I#ve kept your unholiness informed of the Prince#s movements. a !reton who had *een in his employ since his days in the court of )ayrest. !ased only on my own paranoia. *ut I couldn#t *e certain. " fine o*server. !urgess. to watch the palace and report *ack anything unusual. said to *e a leading suppliers of exotic poisons. he does not intend to lose the throne of orrowind at Llethan#s death. *ittergreen. I#ve often thought that I was not the only spy in Helseth#s court. he was odorless. )hen he left. who is a good and loyal servant of the House Dres. and I noticed that all were slightly apprehensive. and many have whispered that while he lost the throne of )ayrest. they might well have *een on Helseth#s own *usiness. 0ust *efore dinner. )hen he left. I imagined that I was in a nest of spies. and something alien and sweet. I went to dinner that night. *ut merely to retire to her family estates. /f course. It is 2ust as likely that some knew of the alchemist#s visit. I dispatched one of my servants. prepared for any eventuality. has lingered in the royal court. as well as the names and characters of his other advisors. He had come to the same conclusion as I did. the "rchcanon of the -ri*unal -emple. I received a curt invitation to dine with the Prince. as you know. imagine. and had stayed there for some time. "s your unholiness can dou*tless -sic. "ll of Prince Helseth#s other counselors were in attendance. my servant also noticed that the alchemist entered the palace smelling ofwickwheat. !aren&iah made it clear that she had no designs on reclaiming the throne. and still others merely . " man cloaked in rags had *een given entrance into the palace. !ittergreen alone is deadly when eaten raw. -hat is the *ackground on that night. my servant saw his face *eneath the cloak 1 an alchemist of infamous repute.ord woman. Helseth.

"s indeed I value all in this room. and ma&te were at our seats to *e savored as appropriate with each course. “Ironic words.ord woman. "s tantali&ing as the aromas were. -he servant who *rought it then retired. 7You know that every one at this ta*le would gladly die to put you on the throne of orrowind. *ut I was surreptitious and swallowed nothing. 7Have you poisoned someone at this ta*le86 “You are very astute. “Your Highness. *etter informed counselors.6 said Prince Helseth. as some of you already dou*tless -sic. "nd what a death. *ut is it really necessary that we gorge ourselves to death86 -he others at the ta*le agreed with appreciative groans. feigning a tone of friendliness and slight intoxication. -hroughout the meal. . however.6 I added. looking a*out the ta*le. 4rystal and gold flagons of wine.6 said "llarat. we were all ushered into his dining hall where the feast had *een laid out. "llarat.o (estoration spell will aid you once you#ve ingested it. You see. 7!ut I cannot eat another thing. it occurred to me that in such a ma&e of spices and flavors. I am eager to see if the effects are all that the alchemist promised. an alchemist visited me today. my Prince.6 “Your Highness. the plates and food were cleared from the ta*le. flin. closing the *an5uet hall door *ehind him. I haven#t poisoned any who serve . excellent for my purposes. was in fine mettle and soon had everyone relaxed and at ease. %inally. the . It should *e horri*ly painful for the afflicted. and a tureen of a spicy *roth was placed in the center of the *an5uet.6 . "t nine. *ut 5uite entertaining. shein. the Dunmer I suspected of alliance with the -emple. He showed me how to make a marvelous poison and its antidote. and every variety of fish and fowl expertly and ostentatiously prepared. even you have never seen a smile such as this one. roasts in various *lood sauces.o one said a word. " most potent potion. eying each of his advisors carefully. I maintained the illusion of eating the food and drinking the li5uor. 7Little wonder I value your counsel. I could feel my heart *eating hard in my chest. a discreet poison would *e undetecta*le. fragrant stews. /nly the antidote in the tureen will save you from certain death. know. “It smells divine. It would *e perhaps easiest for me to say who I haven#t poisoned. I swear *y 9aernima the :ifter.unconsciously adopted the tense disposition of their fellow. my dark liege. Prince Helseth smiled. "nd what a feast3 Honeyed gorapples.6 said the archioness +olgar. -he Prince. from what I#ve heard.

I know that in certainty. -he food. y stomach ached. was not poisoned.mpire. Is it possi*le that the guilty party. suspect8 I felt my heart *eating even faster.6 Your unholiness. I haven#t poisoned any person who wants to see +ing Helseth on the throne of orrowind. or poison8 I couldn#t speak. what if I were not a spy myself. )as it fear. *ut I immediately thought of every secret meeting I#ve had. every coded message I sent to you and the House. there will *e death at the ta*le. and sadly. parties were suspicious and merely pretended to eat and drink tonight8 /f course.6 $weat *eaded on my face and I turned from the Prince so he would not see. missed an excellent roast. could the Prince#s entire counsellorship *e comprised of nothing *ut spies8 )as there any person at the ta*le loyal8 "nd then I thought. or dare I say. loyalists and spies alike. the House of (edoran. even without knowing. the -emple. I couldn#t help thinking then. If you did not partake out of fear. you#re poisoned 2ust the same. any whose loyalty to me is sincere. If I were not a spy for the House Dres. )hile my mind whirled. angry *row of "llarat to the statue<like stare of !urgess. y fellow advisors.o one knows *etter than his advisors *oth the depth of the Prince#s paranoia and the utter implaca*ility of his am*ition. were fro&en in their seats. you see. !ut even the craftiest of pretenders would have to raise a glass to his or her lips and put empty forks or spoons in their mouths to play the charade. I could hear the Prince#s voice. )hat could he know8 )hat could he. If the antidote is not taken within one minute from now. would I trust Helseth to know that8 .6 I couldn#t decide whether I had *een poisoned or not. from the furrowed. white with fear. my dark liege. %rom the archioness +olgar. “-hose loyal to me who wish harm on my enemies may *e wondering how can I *e certain that the poison has *een ingested. even then would I *e safe8 4ould a loyalist *e poisoned *ecause of a not<so<innocent mis2udgment8 -he others must have *een thinking the same. y heart shook in my chest and a . to +ema Ine**e. -he cups and cutlery were. y face is practiced at keeping my thoughts from showing. he looked directly at me at his last words. certain as I was that my voice would *etray my calm facade. addressing all assem*led= 7-he poison acts 5uickly. the House of Indoril. visi*ly shaking. *ut I reminded myself it might have *een the result of sitting at a sumptuous *an5uet and not partaking. I haven#t poisoned anyone who isn#t a spy for the .*ut one master. the House of Dres. all of them. the House of -elvanni.

were as close as I was from drinking from the tureen *efore !urgess did. )ould he kill a self<confessed spy at his court. I confess.o House. you poisoned me *ecause you thought I was working for some damna*le Dark . I had grown so light<headed and filled with my own thoughts. I do not know if Prince Helseth knows or suspects that I too am a spy. "gain. *ut you truly don#t want to know. 7You have spent some time at :hostgate. I thought of what you might to do -sic. You poisoned yourself when you drank from the tureen. I wish I could erase the memory of his agonies from my own mind.*itter taste like -rama (oot stung my lips. eventually dying of poison8 )hat would they say if I took the antidote. my dark liege Dhaunayne to use your influence in the House Dres and dismiss your loyal servant from this charge. “!urgess.6 Your unholiness.6 said Prince Helseth. confessing my allegiance to you and the House Dres.6 4ould I *elieve him8 I thought of what I knew of the Prince and his character. you don#t need to hear how !urgess died. 7I didn#t guess who you were working for. House (edoran86 “You didn#t know86 !urgess laughed sourly. )hat would my ancestors say if I 2oined them after sitting at a ta*le.lves86 “You#re half right. that I didn#t see !urgess 2ump from his seat. 7-ake the antidote and live. I know that you have seen much over the many. I only know that if the Prince does not suspect me now. $urely the theatricality of this whole dinner was meant to *e a presentation to instill fear. *ut either possi*ility was within his manner. I#ve always *een in her employ. 7. he will. though I never noticed them entering. still smiling that damned smile as he watched his advisors s5uirming in their seats. me even after I was dead. the 'ueen of )ayrest. -here were guards all around. I was only suddenly aware that he had the tureen in his hands and was gulping down the li5uid within. -he council was dismissed shortly thereafter. still smiling. and was summarily executed8 "nd. was it fear or poison8 “-hese are the last words you will hear if you are disloyal to me.6 said Prince Helseth. . or even that you were a spy.6 said the Prince. I do not know how many others that night. and I *eg your unholiness. or would he rather send the van5uished *ack to his masters8 -he Prince was ruthless. I cannot win at the games he mastered long ago at the court of )ayrest. last night. I report to your stepsister. many years of your existence. !ut you#re also wrong a*out me poisoning you. !y "katosh.

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