The Book of Charnadis; How long has it been since last that tome brought havoc and fear to the forests of Yew? It was a book like none I have ever held before, and though I knew that the destruction of every copy had been called for, I could not help but preserve one copy. Sitting on the steps of Connemara, Aedon gazed at the night skies and tried to summon happier thoughts. But events of the past days had served to increase the feeling of urgency. The Hand, though seeming to leave Yew in an uneasy peace following the departure of Governor Gillian to safer quarters, had increased attacks on other members of the Alliance, and had recently taken one of the Rangers captive. Aedon did not know Ashley well and in fact knew few of the Rangers past casual pleasantries-but he did know the sort of horrors that would be inflicted on him. Already the rangers had received a package containing a single ear reported to be from the unfortunate lad. Aedon had spent several nights searching the Yew area for any sign of the Hand or their captive. Luck was not with him, nor with any who also searched any corner, cave and abandoned building to find the missing Ranger or at the very least some rumor of his passing through. At this point there was little any of them could do except wait. Would the Hand issue any demands for Ashley’s safe return, or would the Rangers continue to receive him piece by piece? The Hand was well known for using this sort of terror to break the resolve of any who stood in their way. Could the alliance continue to stand together if one by one people of Olympus, Skara, Spiritwood and Yew vanished only to be butchered and sent back as a bloody warning to all? If the Hand were to be broken, then they would need to find a way to draw Mikael out. Or perhaps the Alliance might take a page from the Hands manual and capture one of their members. I have no doubt that neither Mikael nor Omen would offer so much as a glass of water to get one of their own back. After all, life to them seemed a disposable commodity. Aedon could not help but wonder if there was anything he might offer the Hand for the safe return of Ashley. He could not help but feel a sense of responsibility for what had befallen him. Perhaps Gillian’s deal would have given them time to prepare a solid strategy to fight them. Cede Yew to the Hand for the time being, and gather the forces and means needed to take it back and drive the Hand back to wherever it was they crawled out of. Some were speaking of trials should they be captured, but Aedon knew well that a trial would be a monumental waste of time. The best thing to do and the only thing Aedon wanted was to see Omen and Mikael swinging from a hangman’s noose. But more than that, he wanted D’Amavir to suffer. To feel for a fleeting moment one tenth the pain and terror he had inflicted on so many over the years. Yes, the thought of Mikael writhing in pain as the skin was slowly peeled off his face gave Aedon a moments delight. Looking out across the Valley Aedon pushed the bloody thoughts from his mind as he watched a family of wolves pass to the side of his house. They did not seem to see him sitting there, nor did seem to either mind or welcome his company. To them he was little more than a motionless statue resting on the steps. Not a threat, not a meal, just there. Aedon could not help but laugh as he thought of the fact that there may be many in the land that saw him that way…Just there. Standing, he headed into the house and went to the deep recesses of his office. From beneath some movable floorboards, he drew out a small chest, and opened the lid. Yes, he should have surrendered it to be burned with the rest, but something made him wish to hang onto this book. And now he wondered if by using it, or perhaps offering it to the man named Penrose he could rid Yew and the lands of the D’Amavirs once and for all. Knowledge is power, and power can corrupt even one who seems the most docile of men.