Note: the parchment pages pictured in this Letter are not Stalvan's letters to Tobias, but rather, letters to other people, or Stalvan's private thoughts, at different points in his life. The discrepancies between what Stalvan wrote in these, and what he wrote in the unseen letters to Tobias, which Tobias is responding to, are the point of this Letter.
Brother, it is so good to hear from you! Headmaster Crillian brought us your letter as soon as it arrived, and mother, father and I all gathered around to hear him read it. He read it twice, no, three times? Now he's helping me write this response. You know me, I never really was one for books and learning and writing - our teachers always did say you were the smart one! Guess they were right!
I must admit, when you first announced you would be traveling south to Stormwind so that you could continue your studies, I was apprehensive. It is such a long journey, especially for someone as young as you! Why, I think the farthest you'd ever been from home before was when we had to take the crops to Lordaeron because father was sick, and that was but a few hours' ride!
But you've definitely proved me wrong, little brother! It's great to hear you've arrived safely. We were all worried about you! Mom and dad have barely slept a wink since you've been gone - no doubt they were traveling the journey with you in their minds, imagining where you were and what you were doing. It's so nice to finally see them relax, knowing you arrived safely and are doing well.
And I bet you didn't expect this, but the whole village is buzzing about your travels! It's not often that someone actually manages to leave little old Pyrewood behind, but you set your heart to it, and by the Light, you did it.
It sounds like this Moonbrook is a nice place! What kind of produce do they grow there? Sorry, I know you wanted to get away from the boring talk of grain and harvests, but father wants to know. Ah, forget that nonsense! He's the only one who gives a crap, anyway.
You're tutoring children, your letter said? That's fantastic! Do they call you Mister Mistmantle? Mister Stalvan? Maybe Uncle Stalvan? You were always so quiet and withdrawn, but maybe being able to help and teach children was what you needed all along. Crillian is beaming, he's really happy his favorite student - wait, his apprentice - has followed in his footsteps.
Looks like all those years you spent with your nose stuck in a book have paid off, huh? Everyone always used to tease you about being a bookworm (even though I always gave them bloody noses for it), but look how things turned out! They're stuck sweating away in the fields, pushing plows and picking radishes, while you've traveled the world and visited faraway lands, gone to the big city and now you're getting your own schoolhouse!
Keep us updated on your life, brother! We're all so proud of you.
Sorry to hear the Moonbrook thing didn't work out. Crillian brought us your latest letter, which said you'd had to relocate to Goldshire because of some unfortunate events in Westfall. That's really too bad, I know how excited you were about being able to teach in your own schoolhouse. But there'll be other opportunities, just wait.
Is everything alright? We don't really hear much news of what's going on down there, just the odd whispered rumor in the Lordaeron marketplace. Father caught wind of some sort of bandit uprising, something about a worker riot concerning Stormwind's reconstruction? Sounds pretty ugly. Was that what happened in Westfall? Damn bandits, making life tough for those of us who do honest work. Hope you managed to get out of there without being hurt or robbed.
Things have been pretty chaotic here, too. King Greymane actually cut all ties between Gilneas and Lordaeron! And get this - not only has he broken off from Terenas, but Gilneas is actually building an enormous wall separating their territory from Lordaeron's! And the wall is being built south of the village, even though we're Gilnean citizens.
Needless to say, everyone in the village is a little concerned. Does this mean we'll become Lordaeron citizens? Or are we still going to be Gilneans, separated from the rest of our nation? Maybe the wall is just a defensive measure? No one knows, and it's making everyone really worried.
Mother and father said I should leave the village and go live in Gilneas City, so I don't end up stuck outside in case relations between the two kingdoms continue to sour. I know they mean well, but I can't just leave them behind. Every day though, I see that wall reaching up into the sky, and I get a little more apprehensive about it. It's a huge thing, Stalvan - Greymane really means business this time.
I wish you were here. I could really use your advice. What do you think I should do?
I think I'll probably end up going. Truthfully, I've kinda had an itching to get out and do a little traveling, after seeing what you've done. Gilneas isn't exactly traveling across the continent like what you did, but it's bound to be more interesting than our little village. And mother wants me to go, so badly, so I guess I should make her happy.
You remember that family who lived across the street when we were kids? The Crowleys? Well, it turns out they're cousins to a noble family in Gilneas, and they're going to be relocating to Gilneas City next week. They told mother I could live with them until I get settled, if I wanted to go, so it's looking pretty likely at this point.
Anyway, good luck on getting a new job as a tutor, little brother! I have no doubt you'll be back on your feet in no time.
I'll have to keep this letter brief.
Elwynn Forest, eh? I've heard of it - it sounds like a really pleasant place to live. Good for you! And I'm glad to hear you got a new teaching job with that noble family. I knew it wouldn't take you very long! Do you like private tutoring more than being a school teacher? It sounds like you would get to know your students a lot better, with only a handful of them.
Anyway, Gilneas City is really nice. It's huge, and the buildings and streets are so much more decorative than Pyrewood. It's quite a change, living in a major city and not a little farming village. But I'm getting used to it.
What I wanted to tell you though, was that things have gone just like mother feared - Greymane is extremely mad at Terenas and Lordaeron, and once the wall is finished (it should be done in a month or so) he's going to completely cut off all contact to those beyond the wall...including our parents.
Don't worry though, I made a trip out there just the other week and they're doing well. They're both healthy and said to send their regards. And the farm is flourishing, so much so that father was able to hire some local kids to help him with the heavy labor.
I'd love to still be able to write to you, though, so I asked one of Greymane's court magi to help me out. I had to beg and plead, since Greymane's firmly against what I asked him to do, but in the end he relented. I think even Greymane's inner court thinks their king's isolationist attitude is a little bizarre and unreasonable, but they don't want to openly oppose him - he's pretty intimidating.
You remember our family rings, that father gave us when we turned fifteen? You used to proudly wear yours all the time - I assume that's still the case. I do too, and so these rings have been imprinted with our essences. If you want to send me any future letters or correspondence, just write it down, then roll up the paper into a tube and slide your ring down onto it. I'll feel my ring get warm, and all I have to do then is roll up some blank parchment, pop the ring on, and it'll magically duplicate whatever you wrote!
Ah, the wonders of being neighbors with Dalaran. It's a shame Greymane is bent on cutting Gilneas off from the rest of the world. I suppose he has his reasons.
Remember to send your next letter through our rings! Pretty soon any normal correspondence won't make it past the wall, so this will be the only way we'll be able to stay in touch.
Did I read that correctly? My little brother found himself a girlfriend? Congratulations! She sounds like a real sweetheart. Mother and father would be so happy for you, too!
How is her family taking it, though? I don't mean to burst your bubble, but didn't you mention that she was already arranged to be married? I'm not sure how those things work, but I'm guessing that her would-be suitor's not too happy. Oh well, too bad for him! I'm sure once her family sees how in love the two of you are, they'll be all too happy to cancel that silly tradition. Who still does that, anyway?
It's cute to hear how sweet the two of you are. It's a good thing, too! Or else I was going to recommend making a trek up to Dalaran so you could get them to mix you up a love potion! Haha, but I can see that's not necessary at all. Besides, I doubt those uppity mages would actually do something like that.
It's too bad I'm stuck behind this wall, though, or I'd hop over to Dalaran and toss a coin in their wishing fountain for your happiness! Shame, really - I hear that fountain is more than just a normal, everyday fountain. It would only be a few hours ride for me, but you'd have to travel for days just to get here. Ah well, you two lovebirds sound like you don't need it, anyway.
Give my regards to the future Mrs. Mistmantle!
I have terrible news. Lordaeron has fallen to a horrible army of the undead. We are still cut off from Lordaeron, Silverpine and Hillsbrad, so we don't really know exactly how this came to be, but awful noises started faintly echoing from over the wall about a week ago. Inhuman, bestial noises...unlike anything I have ever heard before. I still hear them in my dreams, and they are the sounds of nightmares.
Not long after that, the cries for help started.
There must have been dozens of them. Men and women, elders and children, all had flocked to the wall, fleeing the undead monsters that had ravaged Lordaeron. We could hear their desperate pleas for help, could feel the panic and terror in their voices. We went to Greymane, imploring him to open the gates and let in these poor victims.
Greymane refused, little brother. He would not budge, but instead insisted we let those outside succumb to their awful fate. We screamed at him to relent, to change his mind, but he stubbornly refused. He said it was to protect the safety of the kingdom, but what kind of kingdom would allow its neighbors to claw futilely at their door while monsters butchered them?
Many of us went home sickened that day. I was too shocked to be angry. I saw Crowley cursing up a storm, for he still had many friends who had been left outside the wall, in Pyrewood. Like our parents.
The Scourge swept through Silverpine and destroyed everything, Stalvan. And you know father. He would never abandon his farm, not even if the world itself was cracking in two. It was his life's work. And mother would never leave him.
Every day, I went to the wall. I hoped not to hear their voices coming from the other side - maybe some of our old neighbors had convinced them to flee - but I had to. I had to know.
And then...one day, I heard them.
They were tired and exhausted, and I had never heard such fear or panic in their voices...but it was them. I knew instantly, in my heart, that they were on the other side of that damned wall. Only a few yards of mortar and wood stood between us. Between life and death. It was agonizing.
I shouted until my voice was hoarse, calling out to them. I yelled at them to leave, that Greymane was not going to open the wall. Maybe, just maybe, if they left right away, they could still slip away before the undead horde arrived from the north.
They heard me, eventually. But it was too late.
They cried, Stalvan. From dread, yes, but more because we were safe and would not suffer their fate. I told them we would never forget them, that I would tell you what had happened. And I told them that some day, I would go find you and we would come back to lay them to rest.
I stayed at the wall as long as I could. They were exhausted, but I could feel their presence on the other side.
Then, the Scourge came.
Father saw them first, I think. The people camped outside started to scream and cry, but I heard his voice clearly, as though he were right next to me. "Go, Tobias," he said. "Go now. Don't let this be your last memory of us. We love you, son."
I didn't want to leave them, but I understood. I didn't want to hear what was about to happen. It was bad enough knowing. I think hearing it would have driven me mad.
It's been a few days since then. The ache in my heart has dulled some, replaced by rage. I've spoken with Crowley, and others who are just as incensed as I am. Greymane has gone too far, this time. Isolation is one thing, but abandoning our former neighbors? Our former friends? Our FAMILY? No, this is too much.
He'll pay for what he's done.
I'm sorry to dump this in your lap, brother. But I had to tell someone. And I had to tell you what happened to our poor parents. Say a prayer for them, for they walk with the Light now.
It's been over a year since I've heard from you. I hope all is well. Did you and that Tilloa girl get married yet?
Things in Gilneas have...well, where do I even begin. We - that is, Lord Crowley, myself, and a number of other Gilneas outraged over Greymane's abandonment of those trapped outside the wall - formed a resistance group and started to rebel against his rule. We'd had enough of his tyranny, and one way or another, he had to be stopped.
It was a violent, bloody affair, Stalvan. Many lives were lost, and I saw countless friends and acquaintances - on both sides, mind you - lose their lives. But every time I started having doubts about our cause, I just had to think of mother and father, with nowhere to go and no one to turn to for help, and my heart hardened. I know you'd have done the same thing were you here, brother. We Mistmantles don't forget nor forgive betrayals lightly.
Sadly, the fight against Greymane wasn't going very well for our side, and a large number of us - myself and Lord Crowley included - were captured and imprisoned. However, something happened that made both sides put aside their differences and band together.
I know, it sounds like a fairy tale, doesn't it? One that you might read to your young students. But this was no happy story. A terrible curse broke out in Gilneas, and people started transforming into these horrible, savage wolf-men. We coined them worgen. The affliction spread through the population like wildfire - the disease spread through blood, so any time the worgen attacked, anyone who survived was doomed to become a worgen themselves if they had suffered but the merest scratch.
Greymane freed our forces from jail, and we tried to fight back the worgen...but there were too many. They were everywhere. Crowley, myself and a few others held a last stand at Gilneas City's Cathedral so that the worgen would come attack us, and let the last wave of fleeing citizens escape. It worked, maybe too well. We were overwhelmed and...
Stalvan, I was infected.
My last conscious thought was that I hoped my injuries would kill me, rather than condemn me to live the rest of my days as a savage, brutal beast. But to my surprise, when I awoke I discovered that though I was now a monstrous worgen, I still had control over my own actions. It turns out that Greymane's court alchemist, a man named Krennan Aranas, was able to devise an elixir that would let us keep the beast within at bay.
Furthermore, we also received help from the night elves, who had a great deal of knowledge and expertise about overcoming the worgen curse. I wouldn't find this out until later, but the elves were working closely together with Greymane, and later Crowley. I had never seen a night elf before, but I was impressed by their compassion and knowledge. Have you encountered any in your travels? Perhaps during your time in Stormwind? They are an amazing people, and I owe them a great deal.
However, even with the worgen curse seemingly defeated, other calamities soon arose. You are no doubt aware of the massive earthquakes that shook the land recently? These tremors shattered Greymane's precious wall, and soon our nation was at war once again. Not with ourselves, this time, but by the walking dead. It seems the Scourge hadn't been idle outside our doorstep. Now they called themselves the Forsaken, and led by their vicious queen, an undead elf ranger, they butchered many of our people and tried to conquer Gilneas.
We fought hard against these undead monsters, but their insidious war machines and wretched poison blight were simply too much for us. We were forced to flee Gilneas, and sought refuge in the faraway night elf capital Darnassus.
It is ironic, isn't it? I wanted to travel and see the world...just not like this.
However, things have brightened somewhat as of late. It took a great deal of diplomacy and apologies by Greymane, but he has finally managed to mend the broken bridges between himself and King Varian Wrynn. Greymane has joined the Alliance! No more isolation or stubborn independence. I don't think I will ever be able to forgive the man for condemning mother and father to death at the hands of the Scourge, but at least he is smart enough to realize his past mistakes and admit his failings.
But, anyway, that is all in the past now, little brother. Did you realize what this means? We are allies and friends to Stormwind now! Stormwind, and Westfall, and Redridge, and Duskwood. All of these fall under Wrynn's banner. I can finally come visit you!
I'm sending this letter ahead of me, for I still have to help Greymane and the other Gilneans settle into our new home in Darnassus. And the priestesses are still helping those of us afflicted with the curse, making sure that we are able to master the feelings of rage and violence that now lurk in our hearts. But as soon as I am able, I intend to catch a ship to Stormwind and come find you. It has been so long since I've looked upon your face, Stalvan! We have a lot of catching up to do. I hope Tilloa won't mind.
See you soon, brother.
Show/Hide Letter Notes
I have the sneaking suspicion this will be one of those Letters that only makes sense to me, and anyone who has done both the old Stalvan quests, and the new ones. Ah well, so be it.
The Legend of Stalvan quest series was always one of my favorite storylines, pre-Cataclysm. It was awful, yes, but it was amazingly well done. Few other quests in the game have evoked that same sort of slow, building dread as you progress through the quests, slowly uncovering page after page penned by Stalvan, battling restless spirits, talking to NPCs who grimly shook their heads at the bad memories...it was a terribly frightful experience. I remember being genuinely startled when I was attacked by a ghost in Stormwind's canal district, because I assumed that - being in a city - I would be completely safe. Great questline.
Of course, it's all changed now in Cataclysm. In fact, the actual murder mystery questline is gone completely. Now, Tobias Mistmantle is there in Duskwood, quite confused about what's happened to his brother, since no one in town will tell him. And you have to go track down the pages of "The Legend of Stalvan" (which is a collection of all the letters/journal entries from pre-Cata), much to the town clerk's regret.
Then, at the end, you have to help a grim, horrified Tobias summon Stalvan from the grave at Manor Mistmantle, where you killed him in the old questline, so Tobias can learn the truth about his beloved brother. Poor Tobias wants so much for everything to be a lie...but of course, it isn't. It's all true.
In a way, I miss the suspense and fear that came with the old quests, but the new ones are pretty powerful, too, just in a different way. Fetching the pages is silly - really nothing more than courier/retrieval quests, and though the clerk grows increasingly nervous about your mission, it's nothing like the true horror of the old storyline.
But when Tobias confronts Stalvan...that is a tremendously gut-wrenching little conversation. Poor Tobias. Not only was his brother really a murderer, but the fact that Stalvan would taunt Tobias so about his worgen condition, and essentially force Tobias to kill his own brother...it's pretty crazy. I mean, the worgen have it bad enough already trying to contain the curse's rage, and to be betrayed by your own brother like that? Tobias just can't catch a break, can he.
The fact that Stalvan would provoke Tobias, and mock him with his dying breath by saying they were the same, and Tobias' horrified denial at what he had just done...well, it really goes to show what a wretch Stalvan truly was.
That scene in Manor Mistmantle is probably one of my favorite moments in all of Cataclysm. In fact, my dwarf never handed the quest in, instead keeping Tobias' ring so I can go back and watch it again whenever I want.
As for the Letter itself, I debated how I'd do this one for weeks. I couldn't come up with a good connection between the two brothers' vastly different origins. I mean, the timeline alone was a nightmare! Did Stalvan leave Silverpine before the Greymane Wall was constructed? When did the Scourge outbreak occur? When did Stalvan commit his heinous murders? When was he killed by adventurers, compared to what was going on in Gilneas at the time? All of these are unknown.
In the end, I decided that focusing on Stalvan's numerous letters/journals already existing in-game would be the safest bet, and that I'd put the Mistmantles as originally from Pyrewood, giving a clear timeline (before the Greymane Wall, for Stalvan) and add to Tobias' personal grudge against Greymane, since his parents could be some of the ones trapped outside the wall when the Scourge came.
It would make a lot of sense for Stalvan, who clearly likes writing, to send frequent notes home. In his first letter, he is clearly excited to be out in the world and traveling, and seems young and carefree. You get the impression that he's led a sheltered life, and that everything is new and exciting to him.
So naturally, when he (in his mind) discovers "true love" in Tilloa, it would only make sense that he would write home about it. And not only would he write home and mention her, he'd probably - in his excitement - exaggerate, and make it sound like they were madly in love, and dating/engaged. He probably wouldn't have mentioned her young age, either, since it wouldn't matter to him. So Tobias would have no idea that Tilloa is actually a young girl, nor would he realize how foolish/naive his brother's infatuation really was. He's only going off what Stalvan wrote him, after all.
Of course, once the Greymane Wall was finished any future letters wouldn't reach Tobias...so a little cheat with the ring was necessary. Since both brothers wore those rings, and clearly cherished them, I figured that was as good a route to take as any.
As for the sadness with the Mistmantle parents being outside the wall, and poor Tobias being there and knowing they're doomed...that came out of NOWHERE. I was just going to have their fate be "unknown, presumed dead", but it didn't feel as solid to me. I thought Tobias needed a real, undeniable reason to hate Greymane enough to join up with Darius Crowley, so dead parents it was.