Sir Rulman had intended to make this harrowing journey West on his own, unwilling to risk the safety of his fellows or any naïve adventure-seekers in this strange and savage land. However, the Brotherhood's authority within the Holds was not absolute, especially when it came to the Hall of Heralds. So it was that two men of the East descended the rotting gangplank of the Shipking Merlyn, one shrouded in black, the other radiating excitement in green and blue. Cecil Merswin, Bard of the Hall, had spent his young life dreaming of just such an adventure, and his breathless notes of the lands they had passed through threatened to overflow the parchment folio he'd brought to immortalize the occasion. His flaxen hair, cut fashionably short in an approximation of the knights' style before his departure, had been charitably tended to by Sir Rulman before they'd left the far shore. It was a small mercy Ruin seemed to suffer a dearth of mirrors. That youthful energy was near enough to dispel the gloom that seemed to follow his companion, a towering mountain of a man whose black tabard had weathered into a stormy grey, put to shame by the slick darkness of his beard. Here and there, red hairs broke free of the curly black mass, giving the impression of a coal breathing its last. With an iron axe hanging easily from a belt loop and his arms clearly girded with iron rings, Sir Rulman l'Ours' dismay at their surroundings was on full display. That these people should live in such squalor while their king dined so opulently was an ill omen indeed. Stalking silently behind his young charge as Cecil gawped at every novel sight and ran through a half-composed ballad on his maple lute, the knight seemed content to leave diplomacy to the Heralds. Accordingly, when they finally stepped before the crowned Merlyn in the depths of the earth, Cecil was the one to step forward with a flourish.
"Great Merlyn Zan Cuddlu, you have the gratitude of the Banner Holds for your magnanimous invitation. I am Cecil Merswin, Bard of the Hall of Heralds, accompanied by Sir Rulman l'Ours of the Brotherhood of Black Banners. We come bearing the light of fellowship for all, and eagerly await your songs and tales!"