The last fourteen years passed quickly; it seemed like only yesterday you were sitting around that worn oaken table in the hills outside Manitoba, the autumn light piercing the cool darkness of the Archbishops personal chambers. You've revisted that hallowed cloister many times as the struggle against the rising Banite powers in the Savage Coast grew more futile, yet little in those first few years would foreshadow what would come. Times would pass where it seemed that the Harpers, as a clandestine institution, was incapable of obtaining results without resorting to violence, murder, arson or thievery and trampling their good names. Indeed many of the order, new to the region and frustrated by the stubborn resilience of the people, would collapse under the weight of the effort and resort to these tactics. Others would shoulder it with steadfast determination, anonomously advancing the banner of freedom in a shattered land. What would become known as the fourteen year's strife would finally end that night that Aragon trapped the soul of an 8 year old child in a black sapphire worth a small estate.
The first two years (Part 1):
Despite the Harper's lack of linear organization and restricted knowledge of other members in the network, the difficult task of integrating fifty eight foreign agents into the Savage Coast went more easily than predicted. In those first months, Aldo and Aragon devoted much of their time to creating a complex network of spoken, written and magically transmitted communications, then to the gathering and handling of the flow of information. In an age where "recent" news is regularly a few months old, the Harper's system could pass along information of only moderate importance within a few weeks. Redundancies within the network covered for the loss or capture of agents, though it did increase the number of contacts each agent knew.
When sensitive actions needed to be taken, a "freind of the order" would appear, conceal the agents in illusory disguises or move them from place to place, then disappear, allowing Agents to assume almost regular lives.
In those first two years, only twelve agents had run-in's with the mess of local laws, and even then a "friend" was still able to spare seven of them from the dungeon, ant pit or sword.
Guy Richeford was once heard to mention that even an ant pit would have been a refreshing change from the den of theives he had thrown himself amungst. Negotiating a transition of power between unfriendly neighbors advised by scheming councellors, with an unwilling seller and belligerant buyers without getting many killed in the process involved such delicate diplomacy that only the help of Aldo's persuasive abilities did Guy manage to prevent an all out war. This is not to say that any nobleman managed to stay out of the field, but that skirmishes, posturing and seiges played into a healthy amount of the negotiations. The effort would in all take seven years to complete, but much of the groundwork for opening serious talks was laid in those first few years.
In the Pelor doctrine, shear strength of presence is prized over the rapier delicacy employed by Guy and Aldo. Being a paragon of his faith, Aragon lacked any of the later and perhaps because of that, was able to successfully make demands of the many religious powers in the area. With religion as his undeniable badge, the "Light to Nations" could conduct open and direct diplomacy, fueled by inteligence from the Harpers, an ability many in the organization must avoid.
Despite constant interruptions to tend to other duties, he was able to generate a united front amongst religious organizations in the Celtinbrook Archdiocese and the Planes of Yasa against the church of Bane. Monetary assistance, supplies, favors and diplomatic assistance began to blossom in the warm light, while hostile or unfavorable stances by competing groups were at least neutralized by much of this early work.