To the Khan,
I have sent this missive to you with an orc named Thargald. He has proven himself a worthy ranger, and is to be honored. Without his efforts, the south would be lost in chaos already. I have trusted him with what I have learned of the situation in Two Rivers, to be recounted to you. I do not feel that those facts are safe for writing.
What I have done since will soon be common knowledge. I write this so you know the why before your enemies.
There is an alliance of elves working with remnants of the Sky’s Fang Clan. I have confirmed that they live. I do not yet know where they have been hiding, but I will find out. Their army overwhelmed the eastern human outpost and has passed beyond the mountains into the south. They are now mustering somewhere, and will soon strike the castle at Peak’s Cleft from the weaker side. If Thargald has reached you alive, you will now know why my need is urgent. If he has not, I hope you can guess.
I could not turn to Bloody Oaks for aid. You are too far, and if our enemies take Peak’s Cleft the only satisfying answer will be a March. As you have told me, a March aimed south will be the end of our way and the start of something new. I do what I do to preserve the Khanslaw.
I sent skraelings to Peak’s Cleft to warn the defenders there. They are allies I have made in Two Rivers. I trust them to defend their city. However, I do not believe the standing forces at Peak’s Cleft will be enough. I have turned to the most useful Middle Clans to build my own army.
First I went to the Moon Bears, for I will need raw strength. The Bears have this, which they proved by putting a champion against me in their glory pit. It was a splendid fight, I regret that you did not see it. They are worthy of the honor I have given them, and they will be my siege-breakers. Their chief is Gaz’ul, to whom much glory must be given whether the elves die soon or when you come to finish them.
Second I went to the Whiterock Clan, for I will need defenders and engineers to hold the castle walls. I did not know the Whiterock before now, but I think you do. Their chief is Orrig, and he is old and clever. He rightfully holds his clan in high esteem and, I think, would have liked to fight our enemies on his own terms. I convinced him by promising him a place of prominence at Peak’s Cleft and a fair share of any tribute there. If he lives, he has merit as a rival for you. I will enjoy your victories over him, and I am sorry for any diminishment of the tribute in the meantime. The insult is not mine.
Third I went to the sugar-teeth at the Elk Hollow Clan, for I saw soft spots in the force I assembled. I could go no farther north, and the Elks do have some uses. Their shamans are masterful healers. They have strong minds for numbers and clever trades, and strong backs for moving supplies. Mannar will expect a place of minor favor in the Hall, and if his honor is true he will have earned it. He has sent his daughter Ulla with me. She seems capable. I have promised her a place near your ear and a season to prove her clan worthy of more. You well know that the Elks are too clever with gold, it is my thinking that Ulla and the Elks will lessen Orrig’s impact on the tributes.
These three chiefs have made oaths, and I vouch for their honor if they stay true to me. I have exempted their clans from the call of the Gory March, if we kill the elves and the Sky’s Fang. Our standing is intertwined, and their failures will be mine.
If we are killed, it will be the end of our way and the start of something new.