Miriam's final notes
The Tale of Miriam Gainsborough
Miriam, or Mira for short, grew up on the streets. She never knew her parents, but she’s always had a headband that used to belong to her mother. She was taken care of by a couple of other street urchins, and their kin. They lived in the slums of the city. They were led by a man named Christian. Christian provided for children with no other place to go. Ones of age, the children were expected to assist in the gathering of food and resources. Thus, Miriam was taught, like all the other children, how to steal and how to move nimbly through the streets.
When Miriam turned 7 she was caught while escaping. Her friend Linus was about to turn around to help her, when he saw that the Earl of the region was nearby, he dared not oppose the Earl. The Earl, named James Thyrak Gainsborough the 4th, was a very old man whose only heirs had been killed some 7 years earlier. He was known as fairly ruthless, but fair. However, theft was not taken lightly under the Earls guise. The normal punishment would be the loss of a hand. But as he lowered his eyes and scanned the street urchin he gasped. He quickly ordered her to be taken to the tower for questioning.
Miriam was taken through the village closely held by one of the guards, with two more guards in tow. She was lead to the guard tower closest to the west exit, overlooking the Gainsborough mansion. There she was taken to a cold damp room. Miriam was crying her eyes out in shock and horror, she was convinced that she was going to lose her hand, or worse. After what seemed like years the door opened. Miriam expected the guard to come in to do the deed… Instead, the Earl entered. Miriam almost passed out out of shock. The Earl sat down in the only chair in room, while Miriam cowered in the corner. “I never in my life expected to meet you!”, Miriam shook her head in confusion and fear. “You are coming with me. I will hear no complaints!”, he said and rushed out. Miriam remained in the corner, shaking. The Earl came back in, and kneeled in front of her. “I am quite certain I told you to come with me.”, he said softly. Miriam simply fainted. When she awoke the next morning, it was in a very fancy bed. She was woken up by a maid. Miriam sat up, covering herself. She was rushed out of bed, and dressed up in a pretty dress. Miriam protested, but the maid got her way out of sheer stubbornness, saying that “You cannot meet the Earl without proper attire!”.
Miriam was led to a room where she met the Earl again. “I see Esmeralda took some liberties with dressing you, girl.”, the Earl said with a soft voice. “Oh, how terribly rude of me!”, he suddenly shouts. Miriam jumped back, and hid behind some curtains. Esmeralda tried shooing her out of the curtains. The Earl chuckled, “Leave her in there Esmeralda, I can understand her fear,” the Earl began. “I forgot to ask your name, is what I meant.” The Earl looked at Miriam with large opal like eyes, caring eyes that only family would show… They reminded her of Christian’s eyes, so full of caring and trustworthiness. “M—Miriam”, she stammered. “They say my mother named me before she died.” The Earl smiled. “Well, of course you are.”, he said with a kind smile. “What did you think of the dress, it used to belong to your mother.” Miriam answered without thinking, “I dunno, dresses aren’t really my thing, you can barely mo—m…mother?” She looked up, straight into the Earls eyes. “Yes, your mother used to live in this house, you know.”, the Earl said, looking around. “She was my one and only heir.”, the Earl sighed. “You see…”, and the Earl explained that he never cared much for the so-called “blue blood” idea, and only wanted his daughter to do what she wanted, with the pretext that she would inherit his position. His position is naught more than a figurehead, the law is made by the head of state, and it is enforced by the local guard. His position was mostly to preserve the sanctity of the law. And she had married a lowborn with his approval. Certain rogue elements in city had not approved, however. They had plotted to murder the daughter and her lover. Rumors had stated that she had given birth, but even the Earl barely knew anything about it. He knew that Miriam had once existed, but not that she was still alive. He explained that he recognised her on that her eyes are exactly like her fathers, and her face is exactly like his daughter. After the long winded explanation Miriam had gotten out from behind the curtain and asked. “Wait… Is your daughter… My…?” “Mother,” stated Esmeralda behind her. “That is correct,” explained the Earl. “Hmm, you prefer wearing trousers do you?”, he said peering to Esmeralda under his glasses. She scoffed and led Miriam out of the room, to redress her into trousers and shirt.
The Earl had a certain passion for the shooting arts, and Miriam, like her mother before her, was a very quick study. Miriam, herself, prefered hanging out in the library, much to Esmeralda’s dismay, as Miriam was too eager to learn for her own good, and kept leaving books all over the place.
She lived 12 years as the granddaughter of the Earl, going with him for official appearances and training to not be outdone by the noble boys in her age, and older, at the meetings. She was told not to over do it, by other nobles, as she was a lady after all. But the Earl had chuckled, and said that she is probably more capable than many of the other kids, which she proved time, and time again. She liked her life. It was full of adventure, she never did quite feel like a noble woman, but she enjoyed the Earl’s company, he had stories and experience that far exceeded any other person they met, even traveling adventurers! However, the Earl passed away. As he was lying on his death bed, he grabbed Miriam’s hand and thanked her. She knew what that meant, he thanked her for existing, for surviving. So that she would be able to take over his title… But she didn’t know the first thing about being a noble! She tried. She did her best. For several months she tried. But she made mistake after mistake. In the end, she felt that there was only one thing she could do… Leave. She spoke to Esmeralda. Esmeralda looked at her with sad eyes, but she understood. The Earl had taught Miriam everything that he could, but he could not teach her Miriam to be an Earl, he could only teach how he was an Earl, which she could not mimic. So she left Esmeralda and the rest of the staff in charge, and left. The butler Sebastian had taken care of many of the Earl’s business while he was ill as it was, and vowed to continue in her stead. She hugged Sebastian and Esmeralda, who had become family to her over the years, and left with a heavy heart…
It was a cold night. I had walked for several days and arrived in a village. The houses were boarded up, and when I knocked on the door of the tavern, located just by the gate, I got a scared “Go away!” as reply. I was cold, frozen to the bone. suddenly I hear something in the bushes just outside the gate. I climbed up on the roof, and started to scan the treeline. I saw a pair of golden eyes appear. I had read about the wolves on the north, but I had yet to see one myself. “Wolves travels in packs,” I whispered to myself. While I would be able to shoot, and probably kill the eyes I saw… That would not stop the rest of the pack. I spent some time studying the movements of the eyes, when more eyes appear. I counted six pairs. But, I was unsure whether or not they were all of them. Even so, I was able to gleam that they were winter wolves, of about 6 feet long (almost 2 metres), and they have seen with packs up to twelve. I counted my bullets, 16 slugs… That should be enough, should my aim be true. The houses were boarded up, and aside from the gate being open… There appeared to be no other exit. I picked up a hare I had in my bag, hunted earlier that day. I cut it up, so it began to bleed. As I had read that winter wolves are often clever beasts, until they pick up the scent of blood. I threw it down on the middle of the square. I waited no more than a minute, before the wolves had started charging from the tree line to the square. When the last pair of eyes had left the forest I fired my first shot. I hit true, the rope holding up the gate was cut, and the doors slammed shut. I spent some time running from rooftop to rooftop, in order to pick off the now panicking wolves. In my overconfidence, one of the last few knicked my leg as I jumped, and I fell on the ground. My gun fell a few feet away from me… And the wolf jumped up towards me. I was able to react quickly enough to take out my skinning knife, and pierced the head of the wolf as it landed on me. But its teeth stuck into my left arm. I gathered my senses, picked up my gun, and ran to cover. I was bleeding, the blood loss as well as the cold had dulled my mind, and my senses. I sharpened my eyes, and started looking for the last few wolves. I saw on at the end of a long alley. I raised my gun but just as I was about to shoot some snow fell from the roof behind me, and I missed. I hurried to reload, as the wolf turned towards me and slowly, intimidatingly, walked towards me. As I finished reloading, and raised my gun so too did the wolf start to run. I took a step backwards and stumbled on a rock that was covered by the snow. I fell down, into a sitting position. My reactions kicked in, and I quickly raised the gun, and fired straight into the wolf’s head. It fell, as it jumped towards me, right beside me. I thought it was over, so in my terror I simply sat there and breathed. I heard something behind, the final wolf had snuck up on me. It was breathing down my neck. I thought it was over. But, I heard a gunshot, and the wolf simply fell to the ground. One of the villagers had gotten out, and brought his rifle. He was an old war veteran, who now hunted for the village. He came closer, and it looked like he was mouthing a thank you, but the blood loss had gotten to me, and I fell unconscious. I woke up in a bed, with some soup served for me. And my arm bandaged up, as well as the scrape on my leg. I spent sometime in the village, while recuperating. Everyone treated me like I was a hero, it was a nice time. They offered to let me stay, but I said that my journey was not over. So they helped me resupply, both bullets and food. And as my wounds closed I left to continue my journey.
I had reached the northern edge of the island. To a village called Armadale. As I enter the village, a distraught old man ran up to me. He was saying that his son and daughter had been taken by a giant bear. In my mind, they were already dead. But he said that this bear was being controlled by an evil man. I could scarcely believe it. He was taken away by some people, who apologised to me. Another man approached me, and told me that poor Eddard lost his children in an accident some time back. By my account, that was the fifth lie I had heard on my journey. I shrugged the man’s arm off my shoulder, and ran up to Eddard, who was being carried away. I asked him where this was. He told me that its hideout was in a cave a mile or two to the east. Before the people could stop me, I had left. I had sensed their panic. They didn’t want to lie, but they felt as if they had to. About one and a half miles to the east I found the cave. I saw a man practising some weird ritual outside the cave. I took position, and waited. Some time later a bear exited. I heard someone moving through the forest behind me. I figured it was the villagers who wanted to stop me. I took aim, and shoot the bear. I missed the head, but it was bleeding out of its thick throat. I immediately stood up to change locations. The man got up, and looked at his bear, and shouted something in a language no man should speak, and pointed to the forest where I was. The bear started running towards me, I raised my gun and shot the beast, this time I hit true. It let out a roar worthy of a lightning bolt, and fell to the ground. The man started panicking. I shot out of the forest, and shoved his legs, so fell to the snowy ground, and pointed my barrel to his face. I told him to stay as he were. I heard the other people coming out of the forest. I changed to have the man on the ground between me and them. The same man that spoke to me earlier came out first, with his arms up. He thanked me, and explained that the “sorcerer” or w-ever they called him, had extorted them and that they were now free. This time, he did not lie. They helped me carry the sorcerer back to the village, to face punishment. Both the son and the daughter were already dead. They had been used as sacrifices to keep the bear under control, or so the locals informed me. I apologies to the old man, and gave him the sword of the daughter, that had been left in the cave. He took my hands, and told me that it would be better used by someone like me, rather than an old man like himself. I accepted his gift. I stayed the night in the inn, they refused to let me pay for the room. And left the next morning, to go south west.
Spring was in full bloom, and walking through the countryside had become easier. I was staying in a village called Achnasheen. I had been there for a few days. I was helping in the smithery. Not that I know much about blacksmithing, but I do know some about gunsmithing. The principle is mostly the same. I mostly helped in an assistant type way, anyway. I heard someone scream. Both me and Geralt, the blacksmith, rushed out. We found a woman and a man arguing. Geralt was known to be a fair, but brutal man. As he approach, the crowd parted. Geralt asked what was happening, the man and the woman started shouting at the same time. Geralt stomped in the ground, and told them to speak one at a time. The woman said that the man had stolen something from her, but the man said that he was simply minding his own business when she had punched him in the back of the head. I walked in closer to them. The woman didn’t seem keen on explaining what it was that she was missing, and simply dodged the question. I saw something poking out of the man’s back pocket. I subtly made way over there, and took it out of his pocket, without him noticing. It was a ring, with the emblem of the local Duke on it. I went over to Geralt, as the guards approached, and showed him the ring. It was well known that the Duke’s son frequented the village, and fraternized with the women of the village. Geralt went up to the guards and explained the situation, and told me to subtly give the ring back to the lady, but to follow her to make sure that she returned it to the duke. I snuck up to her, and showed her the ring. She looked around nervously, and nodded. She took the ring, and left the scene. I followed her. And she entered a rather shady building, a building that Geralt had told me some less than legal deals were made. I snuck into the building, and watched her bargain for the ring. As the prospectors left the room to discuss, the woman took a deep breath and her head fell into her hands as she dropped her focus. In that moment, I stole the ring and left. I made my way to the Duke’s mansion, and knocked the door. The butler opened the door, and I explained that I had found this in the village. The butler sighed, and asked what I wanted for it. I threw it to him, nodded and simply left. I returned to Geralt, who asked me how it went. I simply told him that the ring is back where it belonged, he nodded and smiled. I left the village two days later.
14th of May
A nobleman recognised me. Which meant that I had to stand for ceremony. While I always liked the Duchess of Aberdeen, as she seemed kind, I prefer rubbing elbows with the “normal” people in the villages. But I was forced into a pretty dress, and cleaned up “proper”. I did manage to keep my mothers bandana on, though the servant staff seemed to disapprove. However, as I entered the dining area to meet the Duchess, she glared at her staff. She apologies, and said that she was aware of my aversion to dresses, and that the staff would be dealt with appropriately for it. I said that it was fine, and that she shouldn’t be too harsh on them. That seemed to satisfy the Duchess. A three course meal was served, and we spoke throughout. She was exactly as I remembered her, kind, true to her words and all around agreeable. She mentioned my grandfather, and spoke of him softly. She admired him greatly, apparently. However, she got down to business after the food was done. She said that she had picked up rumours about a certain young lady traveling the countryside, helping and serving who ever needed it. I thought she was going to scold me for leaving the Gainsborough lands, and traveling about like a peasant. But she smiled, and said that she understood. The old man had very big shoes to fill, and not anyone could do what he did, and all nobles have to find their own way. She said this way of finding it, while unorthodox, suited me. She told me that reason why she asked me here, was because she had a problem. A giant hawk had terrorized the local farmer’s lands and cattle. She had sent guards to deal with it, but to no avail. She couldn’t bare to lose more men. She remembered my talents, and had heard of how they had grown. She asked me to take a couple of guards with me, and deal with the bird. We left the next morning, and I let one of them take point, as they knew the land better. The hawk lived on a hill. I told the guards to stop, as I climbed a tree and scouted the bird and its lair. Even in the books, I had never heard of a bird that size. Its wingspan must have been at least 20 feet. However, it was sleeping. And I felt that I should be able to get close enough to land a killing blow, without any troubles. But as I got down, one of the guards had gone ahead to scout. I told the rest to stay, and went after the scout. I heard a branch crack, and the hawk awoke. Before I was able to get to the man, the bird had grabbed him. I quickly got up a tree, and took aim. The bird was taking the man back to its lair, presumably the eat him. I took the shot. I hit it in the wing and it fell to the ground 10 yards away from me. I dropped the gun on the ground, drew my sword and jumped to the bird, before it could kill the guard. I fell on its head, hurting my leg, and my sword pierced its head. The other guards helped us back. The Duchess met us by the gate. She thanked me, and lead us into the mansion where they took care of our wounds. The day after I was about to leave, but the Duchess stopped me. She told me that she was aware of that I rarely took payment, aside from supplies, but she offered me a cloak. She said that it was made by the finest seamstress in the shire. She had made sure that it bore no emblem. I took it, hugged her and went on my way.
3rd of June
After reaching the port of Ramsgate I found myself in a spot of trouble. Apparently five days before I arrived someone started stealing from the rich, and giving it to the poor, mimicking some individual from a forest, or some such, called Sherwood. This individual was fairly short, wearing a bourbon coloured cloak, and was equipped with a rifle. And thus, I was arrested. I kept telling them I arrived the same day, but they wouldn’t hear it. They threw me in night cell in the guardhouse. I woke up in the middle of the night by the bars creeking. I stood up and looked at the little window. A cloaked individual spied back at me. He told me that he come to set me free. They imprisoned me for the things that he had done. I told him that this is not the way to do it. I told him that stealing from the rich, and giving to the poor will only end in more misery for the poor, as most nobles are less than stellar people. He nodded to me. And, he asked what I would have him do than. I told him to speak to the people, I said that what my grandfather always said: “The nobles exist for the people, not the other way around. Those who rule, will have nothing to rule over should they ignore the pleas of the people, and the people will revolt.”, he nodded and left. I sat in there in two days time until I saw a mob in the distance. My grandfather had told me about mobs… It sounded silly… I mean who would use a pitchfork, and a torch as a weapon? But there they were, pitchforks and all. The tumult continued for hours. Until someone came and opened my door. I had never seen him before, but he was short and he bore a cloak. As he started speaking, I recognise him as the man outside my window. He thanked me and gave me his belt. He said that he would not need any longer. I accepted the belt. As I left the guardhouse, I saw what had taken place. The mob had marched right up to the Baron’s house, stormed it and finally killed the Baron. The daughter of the Baron had taken over. Unlike the Baron himself, she had always been liked by the people of Ramsgate. I left to board a frigate to France…
4th of July
I traveled for a while in France. I knew the language, but I noticed that my accent could use some work. I stopped in a village called Orléans. I met a nice young man named Jean. He showed me around, and we spent several days together. His girlfriend, Claudia, owned a flower shop, which I frequented. She too was very nice. I stayed in Orléans longer than I had anticipated. One day I was out walking with Claudia, just conversing and looking at the landscape, when a man ran up to us. We barely understood due to his lack of breath. But we were finally able to it out of him… Jean worked as a grape picked on a local winyard. Apparently a pack of rabid foxes had gone through and grabbed several of the workers. I rushed back to my room, grabbed my weapons and went after them. Claudia tried to stop me, telling me that the guards would handle it. I said answered that when they had mobilised, it would have already been too late. I dashed through the plains, until I saw the fox den in the distance. Foxes were not known to work together, so there would be fighting before any spoils could be consumed. There were a whopping 25 foxes gathered… And they were big. At least… two metres, as the french would say. A little more than 6 feet. I couldn’t fight them all on my own. However, I would be able to scare them away, giving the people time to run. The guards should be here in roughly 2 hours, I thought. I figured that if I shot a low hanging branch right above the fox hole, that I could trap some inside, and the rest would be confused. I waited for as long as I felt that I could. And fired. The branch snapped, and covered the hole. The foxes scattered, running towards the tree line. I shouldered my musket, and ran towards the people. I tried to wake them as I passed them looking for Jean. I found him, he had been bitten in the leg. I helped him up, and let him lean on me as we tried to leave. I shouted to those who could walk on their own, to help the ones who could not. Some ran away as soon as they could though. We had gotten about halfway back to the village, since strength and endurance aren’t exactly my fortes, before the foxes caught up with us. Jean told me to let him go, and run away. I told him that that would never happen. And I was not about to let him die then and there. I hung Jean on to another farmer that was running next to us, who was a friend of Jean’s. I drew my gun as I kept running next to them, and turned around and shot one of the foxes. This made them scatter, and thus slowing them down. I shouldered my musket again, and drew my sword. I kept running, but I wanted to be ready, should they come too close. I made sure to be at the back of the group. I only had to turn around and slice one or two foxes before the city guard came running on horseback. They cleaned up the stragglers. A few got away, but that is probably for the best. I sat down, panting and gasping for air. The guards had started to pick up the people who were still not back, prioritising the wounded. One of them picked me up, and we returned to the village. Claudia waited for us as we returned, she hugged Jean and myself. We went back to their house, and called for a doctor. Jean’s wound was infected. But it should be fine, or at least so Claudia and I told ourselves. The next day Jean started having a seizure, and foaming at the mouth. The doctor panicked and wasn’t able to diagnose him. But I remembered reading something similar in a book, and asked him if it could be rabies. The doctor nodded, and started treating him. Sadly, Jean passed away only a day later. I stayed for the funeral, and left the day after. Claudia saw me to the gate, and gave me a ring she had found in Jean’s pocket. I told her that I could not accept such a thing. She insisted. She had enough memories around her of Jean, but I had none. It had been enchanted to protect the bearer. I accepted it, hugged Claudia, and left. On the inside of the ring had been inscribed For the days yet to come, and the days already had… Je t’aime.
The days before
I reached a village outside of Vengham, not intentionally, but even so. I decided to browse the village’s alchemy shop, to stock up on black powder for more slugs, when a woman suddenly tugged my arm. She told me about her son who was supposedly still stick inside Vengham. When she said his name, my heart skipped a beat. Linus Farnsworth… My childhood friend. She must be Ludmilla Farnsworth, then. They were of Russian descent. I told her my name, and she gasped. She came in closer, and whisper in my ear: “Th—the granddaughter of Earl Gainsborough?”, I nodded. Linus had told her about me. Apparently he had described me more fondly than I recall myself being in my days before meeting my grandfather. I vowed to her that I should do everything in my power to either save him, or retrieve his corpse, should that be the sad outcome. I said that I would leave in the morrow. I saw her back to her ramshackled house. After which, I went about my business stocking up on supplies for my dangerous trip. I thought about how it would be that Linus should end up here, and that he should have met his mother that he spoke of so fondly. Which reminded me, he never once mentioned how or why he came to be separated from her in the first place… Perhaps he never knew. As I returned to inn, and checked into a room I thought maybe I should immortalise my journey thus far. At least the more important events. So I went and bought a diary book and began writing about how the little terrified Miriam came to be under the Earl’s care, how I left after his death, and of my journey to this point…