SURVEY THREE, section two
Autumn of the year 4663 of Balozkinar’s Reckoning
May it please my lord to indulge this diversion from our research on the halls of Thracia. Though it may not be of such great historic significance as our research targets in Thracia, this diversion may shed light on recent developments in this region. May the Wise Guardian guide these findings to those among us who would find them most enlightening.
I look forward to my lord’s esteemed review of these findings, observations, and analyses.
A Brief Request
I continue to meditate on what transpired with the oracular skull in the star-speckled vault of Thanatos in Thracia. Each of us who interacted with the oracle received a blemish-like mark on the hand, in the shape of a skull. This cannot be good, and seems entirely out of scope with the boon granted by the oracle. Would my lord have any insight as to how to identify the impact of this mark, and how to remove it?
I am humbled by my lord’s benevolence, patience, and expertise.
Doratis, minor port settlment
Field research was necessarily truncated due to impairment within the research team. While we awaited fresh supplies, one of my research associates (A.) invited us to join her in recovering an artifact that had passed from an ally’s possession into the hands of a locally notable freebooter. Though her motives were obviously suspect, there seemed no harm in indulging her in this diversion. While her contact may not have come by the artifact through legitimate means, confronting a feared brigand could improve the health and vigor of local settlements and mercantile endeavors, which would profit us all.
According to A.‘s contact, the brigand had retreated to the port of Doratis with his acquired artifact, a figurine carved of semiprecious stone. The port, rustic and insignificant, was known for nothing more than its salted fish. Upon arriving we consulted with their port authority, who informed us that the brigand had, in fact, become de facto leader of their settlement. Several days before our arrival, the brigand had captured and sequestered the settlement’s legitimate lord, and declared himself in his place. So poor is the settlement that they did not have any standing forces sufficient to dispute his claim, and lacked the organization to raise their militia to remedy the situation. While the brigand’s ship lay in harbor, he traveled freely between his ship, the settlement proper, and an unidentified encampment nearby.
While my associates indulged their palates and sought gossip in a local public house, I visited a wise-woman follower of Kutienna. She elaborated on the information provided by the harbormaster, and helped me establish a course of prudent action to present to my associates.
The brigand relied on brute force, intimidation, and the local populace’s organizational constraints to establish and maintain his power. There were no signs that he intended to establish a power base in Doratis, merely that he considered their government and their laws to be beneath his concern.
Once the sun had set, and it was established that he had left the settlement for the night, we dispatched those of his crewmembers who occupied the brigand’s ship. Onboard we found the rightful lord, whom we freed to gather the militia. One of the crew survived the encounter (a human named Berg). After a brief interview, we granted him custody of the ship and encouraged him to conduct himself discreetly. A. gave him some currency to facilitate his rehabilitation.
After freeing the authority figure, we proceeded north in search of the brigand’s hideout. An encounter with ferocious and surprisingly nocturnal crocodiles forced our team to retreat to the town. A. and her aide scouted ahead while the rest of the team recovered in the relative safety of the settlement.
By light of day our team made another foray, and discovered the location of the brigand’s encampment. Unfortunately, we also identified that it was too well-fortified and defended a position for us to engage them without careful planning. We spotted several human combattants and one dark elf. D. offered to plant alarm devices around the perimeter, and we briefly considered a controlled brush fire. We have yet to reach a consensus.
I will submit my next report at the earliest opportunity, at which point I hope to present a detailed review of the item we presume to seek. Eliminating or neutralizing the rest of this brigand’s crew, and remitting their gear to the local militia, would go some length in fortifying local government. I will also further curry the wise-woman’s favor, in hopes of establishing fruitful communication. There may be significant lore yet to uncover in these lands, and more contacts are always welcome.
I cast this document into the winds of fate, that the servants of our judicious Gatekeeper see fit to convey it unto my lord. May we all find illumination under His watchful gaze.