My dear Penelope,
I am writing to you to assure you that the situation in Bogwatch is well under my control. And I am begging you to believe me and to stay home where you belong. You are much safer in Phoenix.
Of course the swamp is dangerous. We founded this village eight years ago to keep the danger contained. The swamp is one of the dark places of this world, a stain on our landscape that we yearn to wash clean. The monster that lives within is a fiend that preys on our people, those foolish enough to enter the darkness and those unfortunate enough to pass near it. We cannot allow this place to fester. So we built Bogwatch from nothing, an outpost run by soldiers and knights united under one purpose: purge the swamp, slay the beast. We could not do it alone, so we were joined by doctors and clerics, alchemists and mages. These new patrons attracted a market, so merchants and entertainment flocked here to meet their demand. Bogwatch grew into a village. This special kind of miracle, a community coming together to share their talents against a great evil… This is why I became a knight! We all dream of being part of something greater, and now I am.
I do not need to remind you that our mission did not go as planned. With such a strong network of support, we expected to achieve all within six months. However, I regret to inform you that the monster cannot be killed, or at least, not in our current condition. The monster of the swamp is a Goliath, and Goliaths cannot be killed by any conventional means.
I trust you’re not familiar with these monsters; I know I wasn’t, when they told me. There are the ordinary monsters put on this planet by the gods, to keep us strong. And then there are the Goliaths, sent here from the deepest hells to break us. Our mortal weapons cannot harm them, and our armor is useless against them- the Goliaths are designed to destroy, and there are none better. The sages claim that Goliaths are demigods, cursed by their parents to roam the land as monsters. If this is true, then we are nothing to them.
This one is called Grendel. We don’t know much about it; few who see the monster even make it back to Bogwatch. Those who do tell of a scaly mass of claws, fangs, and barbs, before promptly bleeding out. All we know is that the monster is incredibly dangerous, but does not appear to eat people. It is merely angry.
I am blessed to be one of the few to survive an encounter with Grendel. Yet even I cannot be certain what I saw. The beast moves quickly, and in the darkness of the swamp, it is easy to miss the details. Even a decorated knight like myself will admit that the monster invokes a primal fear in all who witness it. I have tried to engage Grendel in battle, but the fight would be futile. I always limp back home, with no progress to show for my efforts.
Yet the fight is not hopeless. These monsters have been killed before. It is said that the powers of a god may smite a Goliath, or the magic of an archmage. More pressingly, it is said that a paladin blessed by his god may slay the beast. In the year 278, the legendary paladin Ourris Gylbar slew the Basilisk of Albanum with a holy sword. This has given me faith, for as a paladin, I too have a holy sword waiting for me in this world. I will not know it until I pick it up, but then… I will be the hero who slays Grendel and saves Parada from the swamp. I too will be a legendary knight.
I know this sounds worrying, but I am writing this letter to assure you all is well. Yes, we have lost people… but I always make it back to Bogwatch. For whatever reason, Fate seems to shield me against evil. Maybe I truly am destined to take up my sword against Grendel, and if that is true… how could I possibly abandon Bogwatch when the people are counting on me? Never fear; I promise you, on my honor as a paladin, I will always return home… at any cost.
I don’t want to mislead you, so I must be honest. You will surely hear the news soon enough. Six days ago, a whore from the Bogwatch brothel wandered into the swamp and was murdered by the beast. This has the village consumed by a panic- every claim has been made as to why she did it. Some say Grendel called for her, and she answered the summons. Others want to believe there is a great treasure buried in the swamp, and the allure was too strong.
But most claim she was trying to kill the beast. Word spread that she was found without any equipment, with no weapon but a single dagger (and I can confirm this is true). No one is simple enough to believe they can fight Grendel with a dagger. No, that theory is lunacy. I am sure she was drunk that night, she most likely wandered into the swamp and did not realize she was lost. That’s all this was, a freak accident. I don’t want anyone to believe that they too can take up arms against a Goliath. To try is suicide, and I need all the civilians in their proper place right now.
Finally, I must ask you to disregard the most toxic rumor completely- that is, that the whore chose to end her own life. This mania tends to spread once it is believed, and none of us want that. This wild theory is entirely without base- the whore clearly put up a fight against the monster. Besides, there are ways to go that don’t involve a monster designed to torture and maim.
Penelope, I hope this letter has changed you. I beg you to drop your notion of joining me in Bogwatch. This is no place for ordinary people right now- they are being lost to the swamp. Nevertheless, I am not ordinary, and I will put up my fight until our divine mission is complete. Meanwhile, I must beg you to remain home in Phoenix. You are safer there.
Sir Harris O’Pride
First Captain, Paladin, Fourth Squad