Hello, old friend. I’ll get right to the point, as depressing as it is. I regret to inform you that the excursion into the mountains of Hungary I wrote to you about, led by the Albion Vigil and the Order of Unbound Knights, has failed completely, and that a full retreat has been issued with limited success.
I had hoped that our group would be sufficient in number to handle the threat posed by the vampire nest we were meant to rout. A good deal of us were green, but there was such a significant number of senior hunters on hand that I thought we stood a decent chance.
But I was mistaken, and because of my hubris, a lot of good people were lost. Among those whose lives were claimed are my grandfather, Louis Harker; and our mutual friend, István Blaskó. I’m sorry for not listening, and for leading them to a gruesome and untimely death. I know now that if I had heeded your cautionary letter, these and other losses could have been prevented.
Our failure can be attributed to many factors, but only three of them outside of my pride are of any real significance:
First, we were ambushed, as you warned me we might be. The nest was far bigger than all of our previous intel lead us to believe, and we only realised just how prepared they were for us far too late to issue a retreat that could have saved a lot of lives.
Second, as you suspected, they had help that could only have been the result of an inside job. I don’t know who or why, but somebody privy to our strategic planning meetings and recon mission reports sold us out, which gave them more than enough time to set their trap. I’ve already started heading a purge to try to flush out any moles, but, honestly, I don’t expect us to find any in either Order.
Third, and most worrying, is something none of us could have expected. The nest was headed by three of The Twelve, working with each other to bear down on us with all the thralls, beasts, and minions they had to throw at us. Even if we knew about this and had planned for it accordingly, I’m convinced that our effort would have proven just as futile in the face of such overwhelming force and power.
I may have made a bad call, but I’m not a fool. I know that the focus must shift from extermination to damage control and, if it comes to it, containment. I don’t want to think about what would happen if the three of them got the same idea Dracula had. If they ever decide dealing with the locals is a lot harder than setting their sights on developed nations where vampires have faded into a distant memory, remembered only within the pages of a book, then the world as we know it will cease to exist. As it is, local governments are starting to ask a lot of funny questions.
Right now, I’m trying to draw the other orders and any independent allies I know I can trust into the fold. I’ve already sent out messages similar to this one to the Winter Guardians and the Order of the Divine Light to brief them on the situation, as well as all the independent hunters I know of and any solitary revenants like you I know well enough to trust with recon and espionage jobs. If we all come together, the world may stand a chance.
I have included, along with each of the messages I’ve sent, a copy of a compendium of knowledge written by István. I promised him I would publish it for anyone in the know to read, and in sending it out, I am keeping that promise to honour his memory and everything he stood for. I’ve translated it into English from the original Hungarian it was written in to make sure the broadest possible number of potential allies can read it, and included a few notes of my own where there was room to do so.
Godspeed, and may there ever be at least one candle to light the darkness,
-Joan Lucy Harker, Paladin of the Albion Vigil