AlbrechtErinsford. The family has a reputation for justice, fair dealing, and defending the population. Their vassal fiefdom is known in lore and legend as the Champion's Duchy. In the generations since the Wyvernesse family took control of Erinsford, it has prospered, becoming a sort of secondary center of trade. It has none of the grandeur of Elvish Cirdanth, but for a Human city, it is a pretty, cultured place. Perhaps that was why certain, more gregarious members of the Red and Green Sisterhoods decided to settle in Erinsford. It was civilized, but not too civilized. Unfortunately, Erinsford bears out the law of entropy, as does all else.
The trouble began during the first years of Albrecht's lordship. The Magehunters, frightened and incensed by the deaths of their own people, spread that fear throughout the town. Albrecht, the intelligent, benevolent son of an equally intelligent, benevolent father, did not know how to respond to the troubles. As a result, he did not react strongly until the tension had broken forth into open violence. Albrecht, honoring the traditions of his forebears, fought to defend the Magickers
Guilt-ridden, Albrecht took personal responsibility for the riots within his walls and began to seek out the power to stop something like that from happening. The wisest among the citizens of Erinsford say that the Magick Riots changed everything, including Albrecht.
Albrecht evicted the Magehunters, publicly blaming them for the rioting. He began to court the learned, but most of them had already vanished. He was forced to be discreet, since fear still ruled Erinsford. Not even the Lord Mayor could be seen openly seeking arcane knowledge, even if it was only for the sake of understanding the learned and preventing other such rioting.
His search for arcane knowledge was pure in its motives at first. He found an apothecary named Kurwen who had remained and was willing to teach him something of the deeper arts. Albrecht proved to be an apt pupil, much to the pleasure of his teacher. He learned a great deal about herbal medicine and by extension, herbal poisons, since Kurwen's work often involved countering the ill-effects of a badly chosen dinner ingredient.
Albrecht learnt other things as well. As a close student of Padrig Kurwen, he heard, and took personally, many of the rumors that were spread regarding Padrig and his beloved. He had known before that the people of Erinsford had turned on the learned, more or less from ignorance and fear, but the degree and nature of the turning remained beyond his knowledge until he began to associate with the learned. He became angry with himself, with Erinsford, and with the kindly learned. He had realized that his public acceptance of responsibility had been more appropriate than he had realized at the time at which he took it. Fear and anger soured his investigation of the arcana. He was determined that such tragedies as the Magicker Riots should not happen again. He was even more determined that his own personal weakness should be put aside.
He left his teacher and even more discreetly began looking for a teacher who could instruct him in the arts of power. He hid his search from the people, but also from the Gardeners. A few years after his departure from Padrig's tutelage, it seemed that the two men had never studied together. Albrecht's motives and interests had changed. Padrig was not mentioned, but also not allowed to come to harm.
Albrecht found a willing tutor in the person of a wandering alchemist. The alchemist lived in the Mayoral palace for three years, then vanished without a trace. Only Albrecht knows the fate of his teacher, who taught his noble student too well. He poisoned the alchemist so cunningly that the man was past healing when he realized that Albrecht had chosen to poison him in the simplest way possible. Each knew the abilities of the other, so Albrecht poisoned the man with a simple fungal toxin - too simple to be thought of until other antidotes had failed. Albrecht's benevolence was replaced by greed and cunning.
Albrecht's desire to rule was kept in check only by his understanding that he must rule cunningly. In generations past, the people of Erinsford had known their Lord Mayors to rule by consent, if not by plebiscite. He knew that they would have to choose his tyranny for themselves, so he set out to make it happen. Always presenting a face of civility and concern, he began to allow the slow, marginal corruption of his ruling apparatus. Murders increased. Some of them were never solved. The people accepted more laws and more city guards. Many of the laws did them good, but some simply limited their freedoms. Most of the new guards, like some who now serve in Waste's Edge, were genuinely concerned about the safety of the people and the rising activity levels of the bandits and the Stiletto Killer, as the Men of the Knife were corporately known. Some, however, could be bought. They were bought with money out of the official coffers.
Albrecht maintained his discretion, fearing discovery by his own guards. Tyrants in the past had died at the hands of those assigned to protect them. Albrecht did not want to be added to that list. More than his guards or his hired 'help', Albrecht feared other alchemists and learned folk. Life for the learned was allowed to get increasingly difficult. Most chose simply to leave Erinsford for Cirdanth, the Wilds, or the Human-controlled northern parts of the world.
Quite by accident, Albrecht's brigands waylaid a dragon hunter, badly injuring him before Monks and rangers came to his rescue. Both sides of the skirmish come away bloodied. The Rangers melt back into the woods, while the monks took the wounded hunter back to their monastery for treatment. The brigands reported their find.
At this news, Albrecht realized that his time had come. He gave his hirelings free rein, beginning with the destruction of those who had found the dragon hunter. He wrote his letter to Marcella and sent Alek's band out to find the monastery. A month after the failed ambush of the hunter, Padrig was murdered in a 'botched burglary.'
The Misty Tower
I would imagine that Albrecht is quite good at deceiving most people of his real plans. He may in fact be working together with the Forestkeepers to get rid of Alek's bandits. That would serve two purposes: for one, he could draw the Forestkeeper's attention away from his doings in the tower. Second, he could give the impression that he is doing something against the bandit threat, while at the same is able to hinder any efficient measures against them. Working both with the bandits and the keepers, he could easily make sure that the bandits are not defeated, i.e. by passing on the Forestkeeper's plans, etc.
Forestkeepers watch over the Towers, but in case of DB have since long been aided by the Lords of Wyverness. Because of this connection, Albrecht knew that the Tower is located on a site of powerful magic, as several meridians meet there. So when after the Riot he sought for that kind of power (at first with good intentions), DB seemed the ideal place to set up his lab. The Forestkeepers may have had some concern, but Albrecht had proven that he fought on their side, as had many of his ancestors. They allowed him his studies, although they were watchful. One reason that may have helped their decision was that dealings with magic had to be kept secret in the days after the Riot. So a remote place like DB seemed safer than the town of Erinsford.
For some years, little happened. From time to time, Albrecht went out "hunting". Now as we know, nearby DB lies the lair of Grendal, staining one of the meridians with its long cultivated evil, thus corrupting Albrecht as he tapped the power of the meridians. All that was lost to the Forestkeepers, who do not deal with this kind of magic. Also, Albrecht showed no signs of change on the outside, since from Grendal he also "learned" patience. He could wait.
When he found out about the dragon egg (possibly through his studies), he saw his opportunity. But of course, he was too weak to move directly against the Forestkeepers. His townguards were hardly the men to be led into battle against a group as respected as the Forestkeepers. Besides, he was more used to working in secret than to seek an open confrontation. So he needed a way to escape the watch of the Forestkeepers for some time. Hence, he hired troublemakers from afar to draw the Forestkeepers' attention away from Dun Barethsol. The Tower was no direct threat to any wanderer, but the bandits were. So the Forestkeepers had to withdraw from DB and guard the people living in the wilderness.