Campaign of the Month: January 2022

Lakes of Blood and Ash

A Declaration of War
A blog for your campaign

A Troublesome Meeting

The days have been long and quiet with Tenya and Batu gone. The governance of Gem has become smooth with the cutting of the chaff – everyone doing their duties such that only the occasional authorization was needed at the start of each night. Still, the pinnacle of the government, the Despot, much was still expected of him without a complete overhaul of the government. With the great stores of free time you had accumulated, the new found horizons of learning and power at his fingertips, overtures were being made for a small delineation of individual tasks. In this case, the troublesome affair of a visiting delegation of Realm Imperialists asking questions about an uptick in rumors regarding Anathema within Gem. Tales of beastmen brazenly visiting the nobility, of warriors wielding great power and never sleeping, and the disgruntled bemoaning of failed statesmen as their positions were rooted out in mass by a crystal eyed upstart.

This was the task set before you today, where normally the Despots gruff dismissal would be enough, Gem’s reliance on Lap fodder for the upcoming war was too important. What was needed now was to buy time, perhaps a year or more, till the Lap was no longer needed. Locking negotiations and investigations up in the lower rungs of the court to give the illusion of progress – the weaving of that illusion was in your hands.

The three Dynasts before you, two mere honor guards, though you did not doubt their capabilities with the jade weapons at their hips – that they were even allowed to bear them here a testament to the concessions already made to Creation’s greatest Empire. Really, the wealth of magic and artifacts upon these two made you feel a pauper in your newfound wealth, even a quarter of the wonders on one of them would take a mortal lifetime to purchase. Still, the one sitting in the chair across from you was far more troublesome, wearing robes of some foreign material you could not put your finger on and a ancient styled circlet upon his brow – his station was evident from head to toe. And here he was talking of Anathema to an Anathema, “Minister Agal, the Empire appreciates the time given, my concern is in regards to these rumors that have been filtering back to the Lap and from there to the Realm. Cavorting with beastmen, talk of anathema, a war hero who supposedly does not sleep or bleed – all of that is most circumspect with the already proven facts that Gem trades human souls to the Fae and employs demons. Your anonymity was not purchased cheaply, but do not think any amount of wealth would turn the Realm’s eye from such degradation and betrayal to humanity if proven true…” the words linger heavy on the air.

Before he answered Nin did as a missionary had once tried to teach him. With joined palms before heart, head, and higher still before lowering his face to the Dragon before him he said, “This a mortal born of dust, bows in humility and delight to the most wonderful blood of the Dragons, Holy in Might, to the Most Exalted Realm-of-All-Under-Heaven, and to the Shogun, warden of the Earth, iron hedge against all wickedness without and Jade foundation of all the excellence of men.”

Straightening he returned his hands to the arm rests and continued.

“This man begs ten thousand pardons that this Minister must treat with thee as the voice of a city toward a most excellent emissary and asks you accept an offering of a jade-wrought porcelain amphora depicting the victory of Ragara Hekatos’s victorious archery duel with the Pestilence Archer anathema. The artisans were given explicit instructions to depict the route of the anathema’s unfaithful forces when the hundred companion archers and ten ballistae of Mela, Immaculate in Her Majesty, ’s Fulminous Wrath released their united barrage as a sign of their brotherhood, discipline, and faithfulness.

We have heard these same rumors of which you speak and are greatly sorrowful that mortal weakness should offer vexation to her Most Exalted Majesty, the Empress of the World and to the Ten Thousand Dragons.

Concerning the beastmen, policies were sculpted according to the teachings of the Seventh Patriarch. In submission to the doctrine of universal elevation made possible by the diligent practices, it is according to the Compassionate Virtue to assist even the most debased in spiritual cultivation in order to hasten a favorable rebirth. His Most Despotic Majesty, though giving all due regard and reverence to the Perfectly Immaculate Teachings, was not the primary initiator of such policies nor was I. The previous minister in charge left recently and unexpectedly and there has not been time to survey and evaluate all of his outstanding decisions. We of course welcome the insight of one of true spiritual accomplishment to amend the failings of dull intellect in proper interpretation.

As to this, hero, it is shameful to state that it is a matter of blasphemy, though most providentially not of the worst case as loose tongues might suggest. Many in these distant lands are ignorant of the perfect hierarchy and their place within it. Contortion with spirits, though blessfully uncommon, occurs with much greater frequency than on the Pure Blessed Isle where the moral character of the people is continuously strengthened in accordance with the Reverential Immaculate Teachings, appointed for the enlightenment of mortals and protection of souls from the rapacity of fair and foul. Such… liaisons are often fruitful. This hero, celebrated by the common troops for slaying rabid animals before they could put several weary and injured men at risk, displays many of the traits commonly ascribed to certain earth gods who live in the mines or the stone skinned gods who live in the mountains. As for the lack of sleep, we cannot confirm this though he has been noted to patronize the dream parlors.

Concerning the selling of souls, this one humbly begs your forbearance. The Most Honorable Guild of Merchants generously services the city by providing numerous luxuries and handling the trade of such few exports as we have. It is the fashion among some of the wealthy to keep slaves, though the Continuous Perfection Texts are quite clear that they lack the station to do so by virtue of birth. Being the idle fancy of the rich the market is often afflicted with eccentric tastes and so the Most Honorable Guild often has unused stock. We, of course, lack any power to compel or dictate their activities as far as their property is concerned, and it may be that some of them most ignorant of the Clear and Immaculate as Pure Water Philosophy may engage in such terrible trade as to consort with the enemies of Creation. Even so, we could not ask that the worthy and diligent populace of the Lap supply us with more food and so are, by grim necessity, deal with the Most Honorable Guild for the time being.

Please, Most Exalted One, correct this one if the explanations offered are insufficient that it may be rectified and continue the path to progress until it attains to the supreme worthiness is the next life or one which shall follow."

Cathak Jubei studies the mortal contemptuously, “I hear you mouth the words, but I can tell your heart does not carry them. Gem is a city upon the precipice of damnation, scant steps from a place of no return. And lest we forget, An’Teng too traded with Hen’i-tai, it was a sign of the corruption growing within them. We know what happened to them – what must happen when mortals can no longer cleanse the blackness from their souls themselves. Not that I believe for a moment damnation resides with a few fools dirtying their souls for a pile of obols – but to use such words against the Realm itself. This, Minister Agal, I have heard it’s like from your much mightier neighbor only so many months ago. Such spiritual decrepitude inevitable leads to the destruction of law and order – to so fixedly hide behind others for such actions is damning as well. The Guild, they find markets where mortals allow them, weakness and corruption the water and soil for their vile seed. They have no offices or markets in the Realm nor even Lookshy, those who keep strong of spirit, need not allow such demons of human flesh into their homes. I see now why they have so ensnarled this place as to hold what amounts to a second throne.”

At this Jubei lifts a hand from the rest of his chair and one of his honor guard places a scroll into his hand, gilded and smelling strongly of grain, “Still, you have cleared the Gold Road, for this you will be rewarded for this service. This scroll is a promise from Satrap Cathak Sijip’s own hand – ordering the shipment 330 tons of grain to be delivered in three days time. This will provide enough grain to bake a loaf of bread for every man, woman and child in Gem. The Dragon’s provide, but only to those worthy of their gifts. The demon and the anathema will never feel their touch and we would ever see their blessings withheld from such blind heathens. This will be the last of those gifts, hold a festival or make it last as long as you will, when we retake Golden Seal – you’ll be next.”

The dignitary stands and turning on heel exiting the room with honor guard in tow.