Fourteen Years Strife, Part 4

Years 11-13 (+3 years)

          The crusade against Degrasse continued for another two months before a truce was drawn up.  The wet season had come again and their efforts were spent, so the armies retreated to fortify the gains they had made.  Rains bogged down invasions and supply routes, made missile weapons useless and encampments sink into the mud, while the winter dry months brought a heat so oppressive to the northern Celtinbrook armies that whole congregations were put to praying for relief.  Savage Coast garrisons, though no better able to weather either season were at least familiar with the territory and had the support of the populous.  The summer that year was particularly hot and wet and while the Celtinbrook invaders prayed, the Houses of the Savage Coast went begging to Yasa for help.
          They found little support.  Yasan mercenary groups had been repeatedly bullied, bribed, bridled or butchered into looking for employment elsewhere and the Church of Pelor was keeping a strong hand on as many of them as they could.  Some groups did slip through, shrugging the threats and curses of the priests and either abandoning their property or defending it so violently that none would seize it.  Some of these mercenaries came by sea, others walked up the coast on the dry road that winter.  Either way, garrisons were bolstered as the Savage Kings met to discuss where the Celtinbrook might attack next.  By the end of that winter, reports started coming in.
          It started in the south west, then appeared randomly amongst the islands but by the end of the summer it had the Peninsula of Cathas, the heart of the Savage Coast, in its grip.  Deadly within hours of diagnosis and with no known cure, the "bleeding halo" took the lives of a quarter of the humans in the Savage Coast in the first five months.  The sale of preventative poultices, wards and symbols skyrocketed and children sing songs and create dances inspired by the violent convulsions of the afflicted right before death.  By winter halflings, half elves and half orcs were being added to the overflowing graveyards.  Though most other races were spared the plague, nothing could spare them the ridicule, hatred, fear and grief of those who lost family and friends.  Hundreds of demi-humans were burned alive, lynched or stoned in mob reprisals.  Riots and violence came in between waves of grief and fear.  In these times, everyone was seeking to protect their closest friends and relatives and even the struggle over access, rights and privileges to Healers occasionally turned deadly. 
          The fortresses controlled by the Celtinbrook Paladins fared better, able to use their faith to protect their flock, but then they were soon overrun by hundreds seeking protection.  In Sansea the flow of ships, which set out full of passengers seeking help but arrived loaded with corpses, began to clog the large harbor.  A fire broke out and it was said that the flames from the burning ships in the bay could be seen on the other side of the island.  Three hundred hulls burned while the crowd cheered on the destruction of the plague ships.  In St. Augustin, the refugees filling the town turned out to be soldiers loyal to young King Taltos.  The ensuing butcher of the surprised garrison and anyone suspected of plague was epic, but the ransom offered for the two hundred Paladins of Tyr, a Bishop and two Lords who were captured was such a vast sum that many nobles in the Savage Coast thought King Taltos might just become the next High King.  In a queer move however, King Taltos declined the ransoms of the Paladins, granting them and their followers a portion of the fortress to set up a hospital to treat plague victims, so long as they surrendered their arms and armor.  It is rumored that the Saints of Celtinbrook sent an Angel to negotiate the ransoms and that the King was so moved that he made the offer himself.  Others say he was tricked into it by dark magic.  Either way, Paladins of Tyr are now working tirelessly in a city controlled by a Savage Coast King, yet another act by the Young King that has sent ripples through other Courts.
          Quarantines went into effect in some areas, in others Lords shut out their serfs in fear.  Churches, barbers, medicine men and witches had to choose between treating their own or sallying forth to seek out the affected and the dead.  Summits were held to discuss cures and preventions, but mostly led to talk of trade, supply and production.  Incidents of the Red Curse were rising among the gentry, clergy and merchants who could no longer afford the cost of Cynnabryl.  And then there was talk of the inevitable that would follow the plague.
          It was well known that those not buried on sanctified soil might rise again.  It is said that the more violent or sudden the death, or the poorer their bodies are treated after they pass, the more likely a soul will return to wreak havoc upon the living.  Sailors at sea, often unable to reach a port to bury their dead, envision a murky bottom crawling with their fallen friends.  Almost in proof, Sea Elves use the dumping of bodies into their waters as an excuse to relieve merchant vessels of their valuables and port towns have to keep a priest of Umberlee to turn them back when they come ashore in the night.    Now, as the body count begins and the numbers of missing corpses mount, merchants arm themselves with holy water for use against the packs of undead roaming the swamps and forests and even congenial Lords bar their doors against plague ridden villagers gathering around their keeps for protection.  Rumors abound that some have taken to profit from the availability of a free labor force.  Necromancers, though rare and secretive at that, are suddenly in high demand in many places.  Priest of Talona are also traveling the land, some of the few actually on the road, spreading fear but removing fever and instilling respect.  It is even rumored that a Carnivale Macabre is traveling the lowlands, offering a gruesome look at their "puppets without strings" and a skeleton band that plays their own bones.  Such rumors are among a long list of hideously captivating stories of revenge, greed, cursed souls and pyronecroanimalia.  Peasants are sick fucks.
Thane Aldo of Many Faces, Lord of Tilldown Hole, Harper Secretary General to the Savage Coast, Father and Husband:
          There is little talk about Bane these days.  The number of active agents in the region has dropped to the twenties, even after repeated reinforcements over the past thirteen years.  Palanis Julia went silent shortly after the burning of Sansea harbor and she was followed by a number of his own followers, advisers and family.  Aldo took great care of those he could, referring those he could save to "Cleo" the powerful mage that lived in a tower of Tilldown Fortress.  While Aldo quickly took the secret passage up to the tower to prepare for the journey, he prayed to Pelor, Sune or Ilmater that the priests would be at the temple and hadn't already done all they could that day.  Though Tilldown Hole has been ravaged and all of Aldo's family have shown the signs of the Bleeding Halo at least once, they have been spared the horrors of the worst stages of suffering and making past the darkest days of childhood.  In the last months, "Cleo" has often been seen in the swamps and forests around the remaining settlements, incinerating hordes of spirits and stumbling zombies with bolts of fire and flame.  These flamboyant displays are rare, however, for at least three assassination attempts have been made on "Cleo" and "suggestions" have been made by the Church of Bane to remove him from Thane Aldo's livery.  The Banites are getting very close to Aldo and the master of the Harper effort in the Savage Coast.  They might have been a lot closer if it weren't for the last few years distractions.
          Once raging firebrands of the Banite faith now spent most of their time stamping out the plague wherever it showed in their communities.  The relaxing of rhetoric has turned attention off the Harpers, but the quiet won't last long.  The Church has already declared that it will stop at nothing to seek out those that brought the plague and deliver them into the clawed fist of Bane for a lifetime of tortures.  The last reports that filtered in before the plague hit hinted at a place where such tortures would be conducted, a place that might also be where captured Harper agents had been taken.  Since then however, most of the Harper agents have been just as preoccupied as the Church of Bane…

Sir Guy Richeford of Whiterock, Harper Admiral (the Damned Womanless Heretic Pirate of Whiterock):
          The days of the plague ended the height of the Pirate of Whiterock.  The loss of three ships to the sea witch Jalanis, Scourge of the Seas and his minions was his first major setback.  A shady conflict with a port authority over taxes cost Guy the largest ship he'd ever captured, two disappeared without a trace, lost to any number of possible factors- plague, storm, shallows.  Two were lost to a Banite Bishop and three more to privateers taking up the Banite offer to raid Whiterock shipping.  Others had been captured or purchased in the meantime, but finding crew and keeping them with the plague going added difficulties.  When the plagues came, pressure let up from the Banites but ports became very selective as to who they let in and Guy's attention was forced onto Whiterock.  The Harper fleet shrank to five vessels.
         Traversing the seas was at once an escape from the plague but also a trap if it came aboard, and Guy was no stranger to the losses caused by the plague, quite a few followers fell to either its ravages or the conflicts they engaged in.  Guy was often trapped at Whiterock, facing the same decisions that other landowners wrestled with and having to make the same sacrifices, one way or the other.  When signs of the plague would pass from Whiterock, Aldo would have "Cleo" bring his family to take in the sea air and offer advice on estate management.  Though Guy believed himself fair and his sailors idolized him, the villagers seemed to quietly hide their disdain.  Aldo tried mentioning that you can't rule a village like you rule a ship, but he knew the comment would be lost.  Guy was aging and like all wizened individuals, he was set in his ways.  He was too good a Captain to know how to be a Knight.  Aldo also understood that the stress of loss and failure was added to his dish of plague and undead and despite all his loyal followers, Guy didn't have someone like Thane Senya to support him.  What Guy wanted was a good woman.  His servants mention that he speaks of her in his sleep…

Aragorn, Light to Nations, Bearer of the Mantle of Fire, Battlepriest of the 4th Crusade:
         Harper work and then the Crusade had kept Aragorn busy and content, though death could have taken him at any turn and he reveled in the excitement and the looks in his allies faces, but the plague changed things.  Though constant exposure was of little threat, the shear weight of bodies pressing against his door, crying out for help or demanding assistance, incessant and unrelenting was enough to drive a normal man mad.  Aragorn was hounded everywhere he went, so much disturbed at times that he could not even pray to Pelor for the ability to dismiss the plague from its victims.  So many would come, he had to turn away those that did not appear to be afflicted, only to see their names on the mummers wall the next day.  Donations to the Temple of Pelor flooded in, for charity could not be given to such a flood of people.  On one day he had requests from Aldo, Guy, fellow Pelorians, Priests of Tyr, Harper Agents and Lords of the House of Palanis, Uthan, Werehaus and King Relegan to remove the plague from friends, family and followers.  On that day Aragorn had to decide who would die.  It would be the first of many such days during the height of the plague.  He saw so many blistering, bleeding faces restored that he never even realized he'd begun to see some of them more than once.  One thing that haunted Aragorn that he didn't tell the others.  He's seen these wounds before, in Yasa, in Lord Dracna's Cages.  This time at least there weren't any daemons, only the undead.
           Traveling the countryside, purging it of the walking dead would have been an easy, enjoyable task, but it wouldn't fall to him.  Aragorn's power was needed to keep the plague at bay- too many valuable individuals were still getting infected.  Often enough however, when he was supposed to be in private prayer, Aragorn would meet a cloaked figure at the edge of the church yard in the early evening and return just before morning, sapped of the strength of Pelor but with the knowledge that a hundred or more souls were now free from their shackles of hate. 
           These days, Aragorn is exhausted almost all the time, even restorative elixirs and prayers don't help much.  When asked he'll say he feels like the valley during a river at flood- so much power has flowed through him that he's been stripped of his banks, denuded of life and had deep channels ripped through him.  As the plague fades the undead reports rise and little relief is in sight, but every now and then Aragorn passes a street where the children laugh and dance, singing songs in the face of tragedy and he knows there will be good days again- it is only the mantle of fire he must bear for others…

Fourteen Years Strife, Part 3

Years 7-10  (+4 years)

         The Savage Kings are rulers as fluid as their constituents, vying for the loyalty of independent Barons in order to form military and trade coalitions.  One King may have loyal Barons scattered all over the Coast, supported by multiple Houses irrespective of those Houses own politics.  These Kings were once the most powerful, influential or wealthy members of a given House, but upon attaining Royal status they quickly abandoned family ties as they ascended into the highest political and social groups.  Over time they have become their own entities, both the aspiration, targets and pawns of the Savage Barons.  A commoner, half starved, blighted by the Red Curse and sifting through the mud for Steel Seed may never see, know or care which King their lord has pledged their allegiance to.  Such concerns are the business of the Priests and Nobility.  Sometimes, however, events are interesting enough that the gossip reaches even into the slave pits.
         King Uthan Relegan, a minor king who had been pivotal in the downfall of the House of Thane, has reinstated the Thanes with backing from Palanis Barons.  Two other minor kings, Penin and Talltos have also lifted their banishment of the House of Thane and invite them to Court.  The gray and black banners of Thane now appear over a growing number of their old holding in the southwest as petty lords and knights renew their vows of fealty.
         One of the three High Kings, King Yorik Savoy, passed away.  This unexpected but also unremarkable- that his three sons managed to simultaneously kill each other in a bout to claim title to the throne captured the interest of the masses.  One of the Kings illegitimate daughters now claims the seat, though she has not eliminated all competition.  Rumors say she's a tiefling, born to a whore in the Pirate Isles, or worse.
         This left two High Kings, one of which had already announced his intention to retire and divide his crown between his beloved daughters, who were courted by Barons from House Balek, House Palanis and Princes of Yasa and Hurlon.  King Werehaus Ithica had been supported in this by the Church of Bane, who insured a clear and binding separation of powers and did indeed draw up the most elaborate will.  The Church, however, had not considered the old kings temperament.  At the ceremony itself he found cause to banish his favorite daughter, eliminating her from an inheritance.  The more romantic bards say she fled to Hurlon with the suitor that would still have her.  Over the next few years, the ailing King was passed back and forth between his two remaining daughters, suffering the incredulity of children who, though meaning well, took delight in their new positions of power.  Stripped of his dignity and raving mad, King Ithica disappeared.  Most of this would have been forgotten by now, but just recently the eldest princesses was hanged for treason along with her lover, one of the Priests of Bane that had composed the will.  House Palanis has stopped short of declaring the will illegitimate, at least until the mad old King can be found.
         On the 18th of Aubon, on St. Jesop's Day, two years after the Banites used the severed hand of a mutilated Ilmater priest to dedicate the Degrasse church, Twenty Saints of the Celtinbrook Archdiocese issued an edict to be read in every Cathedral in the Archdiocese.  The next day two thousand ships embarked twenty thousand paladins and sailed south.  Hell had came knocking on The Gates of the Savage Coast.
         At least that's how the bards sing of it. 
         It actually took some time for the armies to form up and set sail, nearly two years in all, but it was still a dreadful day when the Kings of the Savage Coast first heard of the Crusade announced against the fortresses of Taloor, Melba, Sansea, St. Augustin and Degrasse.  At least three of the Saints personally led their own Guard into the teeth of the Coast and though there were far more than twenty thousand armed men in all, there were nowhere near that many paladins.  Never the less, the massive religious backing of the armies was enough to put the fear of the Gods into the garrisons of House Balek, Uthan and Palanis alike. 
         Though fierce enough in capabilities, these Houses are at best ragged bands of disorganized nobles who, though hardened by centuries of infighting, disease and the Red Curse, were still only used to small actions against their neighbors- brutal but quickly resolved.  What came at them, they were told, was like the ocean when the moons are high- an unstoppable wave that would rise against them on all fronts, cut off their trade with Hurlon and Nentha and make the occasional Yasan or Pirate raid look like ripples in a pond.  The garrison of Sansea, first to face an ocean filled with the gleaming white sails of the Celtinbrook bishops, surrendered without a fight.  The Lord of the fortress, Palanis Francois, though then diposed, was allowed to remain a Constable of the Port and became a very wealthy man very quickly.  Word of this spread, enticing others.  The Banite church declared him a Traitor and a Curse Upon the Faithful.  Six months later he was found gutted and piked, the gulls picking at his entrails on the very warf where the first Crusaders landed.  Two weeks later his children's eyes inexplicably burned out of their skulls.  Celtinbrook authorities were too busy elsewhere to attend to the matter; the crusade was going badly.
          The first sign of trouble was the loss of the greater part of St. Ingleton's army in a hurricane off the Mermaid's Tale, a series of rocky shallows north of the Savage Coast.  Successful sieges of the ports of Taldoor and Melba, the sprawling fortress of St. Augustin were humbled by a catastrophic defeat of the army besieging Degrasse.  King Balek Bern, the last of the High Kings left in the Savage Coast, was killed by a catapult stone during a naval action, but his eldest son, dubbed "The Tyrant" and an avid supporter of the Church of Bane, assumed the throne quickly and without opposition- bringing Bane to the highest Courts of the Land.  King Balek Ainvar has proven himself a brilliant political tactician but has yet to prove himself in the field, content to let his Barons from Houses Balek, Uthan and Yorik fight back as individuals.  The young King Taltos, however, has managed to unite a few Barons from almost every House into a single, cohesive force.  Though not the largest force the Savage Coast has ever seen under one flag, the young Kings amiable character and martial skill has made him the most dangerous opponent of the Crusades and earning him a reputation.  They say not a month passes without at least one defection to his banner.
          Celtinbrook ships have also been unable to establish a blockade of the Coast, so outgoing trade has merely been hampered but the supply of Cynabryl and steel seed coming into the Celtinbrook has withered, making the crusaders limit their use of firearms to only the most highly prized units.  In turn, the Baronies of the Sword Coast have been hording their own stockpiles and though the Sword Coast lacks skilled gunmakers, Handcannons and other easily manufactured firearms are being produced in vast quantities.  Nearly every garrison can now equip at least half their troops with basic guns and even finicky weapons called grenades have exploded in popularity amungst Barons eager to relieve themselves of a few Cursed peasant "volunteers." 
          After three years of fighting, the Crusade has secured a few main ports, one or two dozen outlying islands and four of its five objectives.  For the Harpers, it was good to have the Church of Bane's attention drawn elsewhere, but it has come at the cost of increased awareness of spies and violent acts against foreigners, especially those with accents or names reminiscent of the Archdiocese.           

Thane Aldo, Lord of Tilldown Hole, Harper Secretary General to the Savage Coast, Father and Husband:
         In the first six years, the Harper effort in the Savage Coast languished, Churches to Bane rose and their influence solidified and came out into the open.  Though the Chuch of Oppression was now an easier target, it was a bigger and more powerful one as well and it's shear scale and complexity laid like a crushing stone upon Aldo.  It didn't help that the House of Thane rejected the Church, who's views are popular in the King's courts, cutting off easy pathways of influence.  Though some of Aldo's Court "facades" were popular and effective in getting him close to the Kings or the more powerful nobles, the pressure of the job and other distractions have diminished Aldo's effect. 
         There was also a valley of grief that has been his to bear.  Aldo's grandmothers passing, plus two of his cousins and an uncle falling in battle added to the weight of nearly sixty Harper agents gone missing, dead or deserted.  Aldo's chamber darkened with his mood and he began to see visions.  He remains quiet about them but close friends know that he is haunted by the past, in particular his youngest brother, Thane Cleo, who was slain on the deck of the Felon Steel so many years ago.  Whenever Aldo travels by sea with Guy, Cleo seems to be constantly in the shadows.  Guy has yet to tell Aldo where he too began seeing Cleo- in the marshes to the west of Piss Pot, long before Guy brought him to Aldo.
         What was left of Aldo's strength has been sapped by Thane business.  The family has officially reinstated Aldo as Lord of Tilldown Hole, a large tract of swamp and rocky high grounds recently reacquired by the family near the Savage Road.  Strapped for noble blood, the land and its care was veritably forced upon Aldo, while the family set about knighting every eager gentlemen that approaches in order to secure their hold on their old territory.  
          There has been a spark of light in the east, as Aragorn might say, for unlike Guy, who's beleaguered property has generated more debts than income, Aldo's seemingly useless property quickly turned profitable, though no one has had time to find out why.  Another, even greater surprise was Aldo's secret marriage to a Lady of Good Standing, the second daughter of Balek Betanard.  This news was the rage of King Balek Ainvar's court (and the amusement of King Uthan Relegan's) for almost a month, not just due to the web of intrigues and cloud of disgrace surrounding the marriage but also because Balek Senya, now Thane Senya, was slated for the Kings harem before she was plucked by this impertinent bastard of a dead House.  Prominent noblemen claim that King has been slighted, even if He has not mentioned it, for Senya's merits were well known in Court.  Soft spoken in public but with a wickedly sharp wit in private, it is rumored that a Banite Inquisitor had gotten hold of her a year before and that after only a few hours it was he who left the room weeping.  The darkly beautiful Thane Senya is one of the few people who can bring a smile to Aldo's face these days, which she does with such power and fervor that it reminds Aldo's family of his younger day.  Aldo's two year old twins reinforce this image- two boys who's darkly handsome features are the best combination of their parents gifts.
          With crusading armies sacking northern ports, Kings calling up their retainers to defend the lands, the southern nobles gutting trade to make a profit and Banite Inquisitors scouring the land for treachery, the fortress of Tilldown Hole somehow manages to float peacefully along in anonymity.  As do many other overlooked backwaters…

Sir Guy Richeford of Whiterock, Harper Admiral (the Damned Heretic Pirate of Whiterock):
          The arson of Degrasse Church, though morally contrary to Harper beliefs, did achieve some good in the end.  Five months later, Harpers located the three rogue's hideout and searched for any Banite correspondences they might have collected hidden away before they were captured.  The cache that was eventually recovered, mostly intact, contained encoded fiscal reports and supply networks, which were taken back to the Celtinbrook Archdiocese and decoded by a team assembled by Thane Aldo.  Once legible, those documents supplied the names of the ships victualing the churchs of Bane in a number of fortifications along the Peninsula of Cathas, as well as the origins and nature of their cargoes.  Admiral Richeford was swift to disperse his fleet and began a series of cat and mouse campaigns spanning three years, thrashing the Banite lifelines while the Harper network sought to lay its hands on similar information elsewhere.  Vessels captured by Richeford's men added to the Harper Fleet, which rapidly expanded to eleven vessels in total, primarily armed merchants of various sizes and a few fast "message" cutters.  Guy was promoted to a Harper Admiral, tasked with smuggling goods to supporters and harassing ships flying Banite pendants, though his recent infamy has severely hampered his ability to feign neutrality.
          His political opinion of the Banites became known after his years spent at the tables of Palor, Uthan and Werehaus noblemen and it didn't take long for the Church to discover who was striking their shipping.  Sir Guy Richeford now has a new nickname, "The Pirate of Whiterock."  The Houses of Balek, Yorik and Uthan have declared their grievances caused by this errant Knight of Palor to King Balek Ainvar and King Uthan Relegan but as the Palor Lords no longer have any sway in Court and the first Crusaders, frothing with religious fervor, have begun landing in the north, the declarations have been a mere formality.  On the other hand, the Banite Church has declared Sir Richeford an Enemy of the Faith, a Heretic and Damned, making a hero of any who wish to pillage his property, hang his followers or murder his acquaintances.  Rumors that Guy travels with an Angel and an entire tower of powerful Mages has dampened any immediate reaction to this news.
          The irony of it all is that Guy Richeford had thought he'd earn his fame hunting pirates.  Now, with his own secure haven, permission from the Duke of Palor to raid shipping at will (so long as the proper portion is set aside for the House) and mounting pressure to fly false flags, he is the pirate he once hated.  Ha ha!  Dirty pirate…

Aragorn, Light to Nations, Bearer of the Mantle of Fire:
          Stretched between parties in Celtinbrook cathedrals and the sun-scorched plains of Yasa, Aragorn saw little of the Aldo's darkening chambers in the Savage Coast, relying on the occasional message from Aldo or Guy to bring him up to speed.  Despite the Harper effort collapsing in the Savage Coast, calls from the Temple of Pelor to hold back rising threats in Yasa kept the Light to Nations away for more than two years.  Oracles had seen the coming of a horde, a swift moving force from the east swamping Yasa with refugees bringing worship of false gods, pushing the shining light of Pelor low into the west.  Whatever the Oracles saw, it never developed into a recognizable form, but Aragorn's capabilities were still needed to address other issues.
          There was continual conflict with the hobgoblin and human tribes to the south, who tenaciously and persistently sallied forth from their infertile lands to enslave whole villages and small towns.  At the height of their insolence Aragorn and others set about burning their war camps and freeing slaves.  One of these expeditions led them into the heart of lands supposedly ruled by a Lord Dracna.  There they found that hundreds of slaves were penned together and starved until disease and infirmity took them.  The souls of these hapless folk were used as currency to summon demons to assist Lord Dracna's expansion into upper Yasa.   This plan was defeated easily, albeit in piecemeal, for many of Lord Dracna's lieutenants competed harshly or even violently with each other to appease their lord and advance their own agendas.  Some suggested that eventually the whole effort would just have collapsed in on itself, though certainly hundreds more would have perished first.
          Aragorn's attention quickly returned to the Sword Coast when the Twenty Saints of Celtinbrook announced the Third Crusade into the Savage Coast.  His fervent efforts to gain assistance in curbing Banite expansion in the Savage Coast fermented while he was away and the decision, though surprising, has gained the full support of the Temple of Pelor.  Aragorn is now tasked with assisting the Celtinbrook crusade with all his effort, earning powerful allies for the Temple…

Fourteen Years Strife, Part 2

Years 3-6 (+4 years)

In the grand scheme, the Harpers were losing hearts and minds.  The Banite's were preaching a coming of order, one that would provide safety, security and increased prosperity.  Though the rich and poor alike saw favorable aspects of this philosophy, it was by far the former that would benefit.  Banite clerics were an adimant supporter of crushing lawlessness, strengthening family and community ties, reducing royal taxes and strengthening Baronies authorities.  Barons were encouraged by the simple and swift justice dispensed by bailiffs that espoused Banite beliefs, while communities that turned over enough knaves, villains, adulteresses, brigands or harlequins to the church soon had a Banite priest take residence to heal wounds, cure diseases and make the crops more fertile.  Where noble families took in Banite councellors, rigid hierarchies and strict loyalties reduced infighting.  Barons seized what little property belonged to the followers of Ilmater and turned it over to priests of Bane, taking up the Banite churches call to end "the welfare state" that existed amongst the poor due to the charity of weak willed religions.  Servitude became slavery and the profits of the nobility soared.  The Banite church was exemplary also in its unification.  Speaking to one cleric of Bane was like speaking to the Church as a whole, and when they acted, they acted as one with very little deviation in opinion or message.  The Harper's message of freedom, peace and acceptance, issued by many but disparate sources, was getting little traction in the Savage Coast.

This rapid adoption of the Banite faith fueled the construction of many shrines and rededicated holy sites to Bane.  Five years after the three of you took command of the Sword Coast envoy, the largest Banite church in the region was completed in the port city of Degrasse.  The master of its opening ceremonies took great pleasure in belittling the many slaves that died in its construction and the glory of subjugating an Ilmatrian holy site.  The completion of the church marked the high point of the Harper's frustrations.  Nothing seemed to be working- for every nobleman that could be convinced or bribed to turn down the promises of the Iron Grip, three others would greedilly take up the Red Claw of tyranny.  
A year and a day after the Degrasse church was dedicated, Harpers acting outside the auspices of the agency firebombed the building in the middle of a worship, destroying an icon of Banite faith but sacrificing many of its informative texts and burying precious relics of Ilmater deep in the rubble.  Phillipe, Magus, Torstan and Yvane were captured, tortured and slain by the Baron Balek Degrasse but revealed little information about other Harpers in the area, thanks to Thane Aldo's deceptive messaging network.

Sir Guy of Whiterock:

Guy Richeford, for his extended loyalties to the House of Palor in their negotiations, was made a Knight of House Palor, awarded the Tower of Whiterock, the village of Brickyard, the port village of Whiterock, the pastures of Horn Cliff and Killgully as well as the betweens.  It might be a one horse estate, but interest in it grows with the reported portage of several captured House Balek ships and rumors of a powerful mage in residence.  Guy's opinion of the Banite church is also well known at this point, and word has spread that followers of Illmater may be organizing a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Barnoly at Whiterock. 

Thane Aldo:

Thane Aldo, despite never appearing in disguise while on camera, is most assuradely making use of it while parsing the task of inserting, extracting and supplying Harper agents scattered across the Savage Coast.  With Guy and Aragorn so often away on other buisness, Aldo has taken on the burden of running the entire Savage Coast operation.  A tragic turn of fate saw the opperations resources nearly wiped out, but aid from an unlikely source, Aldo's estranged warlord cousins in the southwest, has recently put the Harpers back in buisnes.  These cousins have ruthlessly expanded and reaquired Thanite holdings, officially reestablishing the House of Thane by allying with King Relegan and the House of Palanis and reviving their trade agreements in Hurlon.  Requests from family for reconcilliation have grown with Aldo's power and the family has recently offered to carefully relocate Banite clerics from the lands they reclaim, so long as Thane Aldo returns to the family and aids them in their reconquest.


Aragon, reunited with his followers in the Celtinbrook after yet another narrow escape from death in the Savage Coast, headed south to travel extensively in Yasa.  There he worked to cut the ties of Yasa mercenary groups to their Banite employers in the Savage Coast and rooted out the growing number of allies of a returned Mummy Lord named Dracna.  He returned regularly to the Celtinbrook, where the growth of the Banite religion in the Savage Coast was finnally gaining some attention.  There Aragorn attended guild rallies and spoke to High Councils of Tyr and Torm and was the honored guest at several somber meetings of the Ilmatrian Charity.  It is rumored that Aragorn may have even spoken on more than one occasion with the Twenty Saints of Celtinbrook, the advisors that supposedly direct the many separate oligarchies that comprise the Archdiocese.

Fourteen Years Strife, Part 1

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. 

Thane Aldo:

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:

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.

An Introduction to the Savage Barony Campaign
Premise of the current Campaign

The Savage Baronies are a collection of small, unstable viscountcies, baronies, fiefdoms and free strongholds, loosely ruled by a collection of kings who are in turn little more than puppets of the major family houses. The Baronies are spread over three distinct topographical regions- the swampy deltas, the high peninsula plains and the jungle island archipelago.

This land is defined by constant political strife, intermixed family loyalties, shifting boundaries, stifling heat and the unrelenting Red Curse, which deforms those not protected by the rare crystal Cynibryl.

Fueling this bubbling cauldron is Steel Seed, a substance that when ground can be used to create gunpowder and when smelted with iron can create Red Steel weapons, which are capable of penetrating even the most powerful creatures resistances. The rare Cynibryl crystals found alongside Steel Seed are one of the few ways of delaying the onset of the Red Curse and can also relieve some of the detriments of deformities brought on by the Curse.

Both of these substances are highly sought after on the trade routes to Nentha and Hurlon; slave and serf labor extracts Steel Seed from the swampy delta land of the Lower Palas rivers. From there it sails north into the Werelan archipelago for refinement and distribution throughout the world. Both these regions rely heavily on the bountiful Peninsula of Cathas for produce and goods.

The delicate balance of chaos and oppression has been upset recently by the return of an Expedition to the Promised Land. Though the expedition failed to find a cure to the Red Curse, what little goods it did return made a few minor houses very, very wealthy. Violence and upheaval followed right behind the gold and now new threats are emerging.

The Harpers have been watching the region for a century, ever since the first influences of Bane’s clawed hand began to show in the region. Long considered too unstable for the organized forces of Bane’s church, the draw of power has increased with every new development in firearms. Suddenly a Banite presence has come into the open and is gaining influence with the new powers. The Harper’s suspect a renewed drive to establish a single kings rule over the Savage Baronies, to raise a leader that can put chaos to the sword of law and order, a single individual which the church of Bane will no doubt control.

This regional upheaval is what the party, a collection of local and foreign Harper agents, now grapples with.

Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.


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