A House of Cards

A Glimpse of Light

- Excerpt from the Journal of Curate Salazar Raman Tiberion Masalla Thieron de-Antanaria

Blackmarsh Mission, Day 3

It is clear that it may be several days or weeks before I am able to submit correspondence with any hope of it reaching High Falls, so I will keep some record of my experiences here. Having dispatched the troll preying on travellers of the main road, we have moved on to survey the more distant farmsteads and villages. The desertion and decay worsen, if anything, and the settlements have been taken over by wild beasts – enormous rats, aggressive wolves – and even the dead walk these lands. The priests and priestesses of Ammonar’s courtiers have passed from these lands, and their temples sit empty and dilapidated.

We have located such a ruined and desecrated temple of Ianna. Fortunately, the beasts, scavengers, and lesser undead are not familiar with the ways of the servants of light and the sword of the high priestess of Ianna remained safely ensconced in the temple’s altar. The sword was truly a weapon of power, and drawn from the altar, it glowed, the sky darkened, and crows sounded warning. The two formidable Mycenaean mercenaries with whom we travel are followers of Ianna, and have taken it upon themselves to guard the weapon and return it to the Iannan church at the earliest opportunity. I must say, it comforts me to know that neither are the forces of evil well enough established to have found and removed the sword, nor are we lacking in weapons blessed by the forces of light with which to combat them.

Several hours down the road, at last we have come upon signs of sustained life, and the darkening wilderness has opened to maintained and prospering farms and ranches. Inquiring with the locals, we have found the source of this relative safety – a local Constable has taken it upon himself to protect the region. The Duke’s military and administrative representatives, Commander Silanas and The Honourable Carthonian, have expressed concern, however, about the local collection of taxes and the Duke’s levee requirements. Indeed, both seem self-destructively obsessed with these short-sighted goals. The Commander went so far as to have his man strike the Constable for providing excuses for not meeting their obligations; they had sent riders who have not returned (or broken past the troll), and are continually beset by raiders and hobgoblin attacks. As proof of their situation, we were ambushed by hobgoblins at this tense moment. With the blessings of Ammonar, the Mycenaeans and Blackmarsh soldiers made short work of the attackers, but not without the loss of two local woodcutters.

Having fought a common enemy, and with demonstration of the power of the Duke’s representatives, the parties returned to negotiations considerably calmed. I was able to convince both parties that this reconnection is fortuitous although it would come with some changes to reestablish the ways of order and government. Reconnection will mean taxes and levees for the capital, but also the effective training of a strong local militia and the return of trade. The Gold Hill mine, too, may be reopened, as it seems the mine was not played out but simply unmanned, the miners lost to a cave-in or taken off to fight the recent war. There remains a dwarven craftpriest in the settlement, and his presence may provide a connection to bring in new dwarven miners to exploit the mine.

To assuage the concerns of the locals, soon to lose many of their able-bodied defenders to the Duke’s levee, I have proposed the extension of our presence in the region to root out the source of the hobgoblin attacks. It seems both sides have seen the benefit of such a solution, and we spend the night under the Constable’s roof this night. Our survey of the mine did not turn up any hobgoblins, and it has been sealed for now by the fatal cave-in. We turn our attention, tomorrow, to several likely locations for the hobgoblin camp – I pray Ammonar will grant me the ability to seek out this evil and end it.

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