Chapter 1 - Lost But Found It had been a long winter. As I approached the window the wind blasted against the shutters releasing a flurry of snow. It made me shutter even though the fire was roaring behind me. I looked down into the courtyard, all I could see was the leafless trees, ice hanging from their branches. It was a sorrowful sight, lending not one drop of hopefulness that it would end. That spring would be coming and signs of life would once again return. I looked back towards the fire. A large portrait hung on the hearth. The fire flickering, casting shadows about. Mr. Fugger looked well in the frame. Eyes beaming, hair in immaculate order. I often wondered what had happened. Where did he go? Who was he working for now? Would he ever return? It had been almost three months to the day since I had heard from Jakob. His last words, sent by raven, were to inform me that conditions were not well and that he was in need of my presence. I took the message, as anyone would, I sent word to the others that he would be returning soon. Everyone was in excitement. The thought of our beloved friend and leader returning brought much happiness to our small quiet group. flashes backward We had just about everything in order when a knock rapped at the door. It was a messenger from the city of Minoc. He had bad news. You could tell by the look in his eye he was afraid to inform us. Jakob had not been seen or heard from in two weeks. I took it as bad news, the worst news...maybe the large castle had finally swallowed him whole. Took what was left of him and broke him into tatters. I had no way of really knowing.... flashes forward That night still haunts me, the last three months had felt like hell. The dreams stopped after several days but the thought of why? how? no...where could my friend be? I had instructed a local miner to keep watch over the castle. To notify me at once if there was any signs of life. It was nestled high in the mountains, close to one of the largest mining camps in all of the lands. Surely if anyone would be able to endure the brutal Minoc winters it was one of their mountain men. I knew spring was going to break soon. The coastal regions had thawed and ships had begun to come and go again. I had already sent word to form an expedition. I hired one of the local trading companies to help with navigation through the mountains. As well as some unruly folk to protect us along the way. The journey to Minoc as spring breaks can be a treacherous one. One with many pitfalls. Swamps with alligators as big as a swamp dragon and deserts populated with scorpions. Their poison so strong it would rot out your heart! All of that before even coming to the mountains. Mountains which are said to be inhabited by pixie spirits that cause avalanches without a word of warning. Yes it is quite an undertaking to make it to Castle Avalon this time of year but after all he was the single most important man in all of City. Jakob Fugger had led this band of misfits and muggers to become a great force. Reckoned only by the Alliance of the South. Skye and her henchmen had it out for Jakob. They were noblemen from the City of Trinsic. Pretentious folk that wore furs and fluttered around on prestigious mounts. I had often wondered if they had anything to do with his disappearance. Only time would tell and that time was now. I had only one week left to prepare for our journey. Almost all of our provisions were in order. The trading company had given notice that their transports from Britain to Vesper were on time. Our mountain supplies would arrive just before we were to set foot into the forests of Covetous. We could have taken the ships but there was a man we needed to see. An old man. Supposedly he had information about Jakob's whereabouts. I had received a well timed tip by courier from the mountain man I hired in Minoc. He had heard of a portal in the woods that led to the fearsome Buccaneers Den. Allegedly where this old man lived. Buccaneers Den is a murderous hive of wenches and thieves. Full of vile vultures that would peck the eyes out of a still living sailor. As much as I did not want to go to such a place, I wanted, no NEEDED to find out what happened to Jakob Fugger. To be continued?