Archive for September, 2012

Shortages of Iron and Stone reported in Kumala!

More proof that the Chimera project is working…for the first time since we’ve been tracking such things, there is no stone or iron to be found at any price, anywhere in Kumala.

Each of the three of [REALM]‘s Chimera have two towns now (with the founding of “Hidden Vale,” pictured below), and with the promise of unlimited resources being showered upon them to facilitate rapid building, it’s putting a strain on the entire region. Signs of this are evident everywhere by the eerie lack of traders.

“There’s just none to be found…anywhere in Kumala” Said one trader who wished to remain anonymous. “I get asked by merchants from Devil’s Island multiple times a day, but there’s nothing. Rumor has it that Velociryx has placed orders privately with powerful, independent merchants throughout Kumala, and if true, this could mean limited availability of these two resources in the Kumala region’s open markets for the forseeable future.

When asked about it, Vel had this to say: “Yes, demand is increasing in the region, and The Chimera Project is responsible for a big chunk of that, no doubt. I expect that supply will catch up in time, but until it does, you can expect that what supplies are available on the open market will be more expensive than we’re used to paying here. Unfortunate, but also unavoidable…we have the funds, and we’re paying market rates for the goods.”

In addition to the six towns of The Chimera, Velociryx himself recently founded “The Hermitage,” the ninth town under his direct control. This will, no doubt, place further resource demands on a regional system already struggling to meet it.

“Temporarily,” Velociryx assures us. “Our first goal when developing new towns in this fashion is to get their native resource production up to at least fifty tousand raw resource tons a day (OOC: per hour), so they can stand more-or-less on their own. Even so, with the amount of Prestige we’re dumping into the project, they can spend it faster than they can make it…thus, the shortages for the time being.”

The problem even briefly got beyond the control of Velociryx’s normally extremely organized drovers and quartermasters, as the cities of Calimba and Kell faced temporary food shortages.

“It wasn’t so much a food shortage as an allocation issue…some wires got crossed and two expected grain shipments were delayed. Nobody did more than have a lighter dinner than they were used to, and then, it only impacted two meals…we’re back on track now.” Velociryx told reporters.

And so they seem to be. There’s an economic miracle rising up in the steaming jungles of Kumala, and it’ll be exciting to see what shape it takes as it continues to develop.

** Tylo Ghent posting for The Blind Scribe, stationed in Kumala

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The Going Away Party

Today we received news that was both good and bad.

On the one hand, a dear friend of our HighLord’s was bound for other lands, and what can be more exciting than the start of a new adventure?

On the other, Trill’s absence would be sorely missed, and as such, it was a time for a measure of sorrow and reflection.

We threw her a big send-off party and wished her well.

There was much feasting, drinking, and story-weaving that evening, but also, there was a general air of trepidation.

After all, we were at least nominally at war, and there had been reports that the Grand Master of the Alliance Family himself was under siege.

There was some discussion of this matter ’round the table that evening, even though it detracted from the celebratory nature of the gathering.

Velociryx stated our course clearly enough, however, by informing us all that his charter was to tend to the safety and well being of our smaller alliance members, and help them grow strong. He was doing that (thus, the formulation of The Chimera Project), and had a standing offer for unlimited resources and materials should the need arise.

“So…we are, in fact, carrying out the last order we were given, and we shall continue to do so until we are ordered to change course. We’ll be right here, doing what’s expected of us until our friends tell us they have need.”

And that settled it, so we all went about our business.

What I want to tell you about most of all though, is what it’s like to be involved in The Chimera Project, and how it is different from merely being in an alliance and the recipient of various and sundry resources.

When you’re enrolled as we, the members of this first class are, you are sponsored into the alliance, and your sponsor takes full charge of your maintenance and upkeep while you’re in the program. That is to say, he declares himself responsible for you until your “graduation.”

This is compelling, because it gives you a dedicated point of contact to go to with questions and resource requests. Not that any alliance member wouldn’t, or couldn’t help you…they all do. Everyone’s quick to lend a hand andn pitch in as needed, but having a central point of contact for such things is invaluable from a coordinative standpoint.

The whole system is essentially hub-and-spoke, with your sponsor being the resource hub, and your various towns being the spokes on the wheel.

You make a request, and resources are dispatched in the desired quantity, along with whatever Prestige is needed to facilitate a faster build. Both offered up in unlimited quantity until you reach a certain level of self sustainability as determined by the Alliance Leadership.

There are three of us in the current “Pack” of Chimera. Myself, operating out of the township of Haven, Finn, operating out of the town of Uusimma, and Kleo, a fiery redheaded human female of elfin stature but with the heart and courage of a Titan, operating out of Sunrise Castle.

I cannot speak to the experiences of the others, but for me, the effect is nothing short of astonishing.

Hordes of Master Builders and laborers poured into Haven. So numerous were they that we had them sleeping in our citizens’ homes, barns, lofts, and sometimes, on rooftops in an effort to accomodate them all…they literally outnumbered our townsfolk for a while.

The first things to be built were gigantic storehouses, capable of holding many hundreds of thouands of tons of raw materials, and those, I must say, were built with lighting speed.

On completion, the builders left as quiickly as they came, to be replaced by miners and farmers, who expertly began assembling our city’s infrastructure, such that we could begin supporting ourselves.

My sponsor has a total of eight cities, and five hundred sixty caravans.

These caravans have a combined resource capacity of 1,680,000 tons of raw materials in a single load.

They visit no less than three times a month (OOC: for convenience, I’m standardizing around the notion that one game day = one month).

Needless to say, development happens very quickly.

Normally, the paradigm is one full member has one Chimera at a time, but my sponsor (nominally listed as AvidDriver, the GrandMaster of our alliance) is away on business for the alliance family, and Velociryx’s own production is such that he can support two Chimera anyway, which is what he’s currently doing.

Our third pack member, Kleo, is being sponsored by an enormously fat, and quite entertaining Dwarven Lord known only as ‘Machete’. He has forgotten more about Devil’s Island that I will ever know, and as one of the island’s first inhabitants, is among the most decorated and highly regarded members of our alliance.

It has been an exhausting period, but also one of enormous growth and possibility. There are times when I think surely I’ll not be able to keep pace with the incoming torrent of supplies (That’s what they call them too…when they send mass hundreds of caravans loaded to the gills with supplies…a ‘resource torrent’…and it very definitely is!), but things are coalescing at a speed which still astonishes.

I look forward to seeing how things continue to develop in the days and weeks ahead.

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Chimera

I must have played the scene in my head a thousand times.

The slaves appear as if by magic through the Emerald Death along the Devil’s Road.

Tattered and threadbare to the point that their Elven immortality grows thin and begins to wane, they slump toward their final doom as the mighty Chimera, long-toothed and hungry, looms over them, eager for the promised meal that they represent.

Velociryx standing at the head of the sweeping grand stair that leads up to the main gate of the city like some Death Cult High Priest, whipping his foul creation into a frenzy as the beast strains against the chains that keep it at bay…

Except that wasn’t at all the scene before me, and I found myself perplexed.

Indeed, the slaves were there, and still in their chains as promised, standing at the foot of the staircase, which was also (obviously) present, and the HighLord of the Realm himself was also there, looking Regal, and even a shade jaunty as he stood with relaxed posture at the head of the stairs.

No matter that the scene did not match my imaginings of it, I reckoned I had scant seconds before my worst fears were realized, and for that reason, burst out of my hiding spot in the jungle.

“I demand that you stop this attrocity at once!” I cried as loudly as I could manage, and I must say to you that it had the desired effect.

All activity ceased at once, and all eyes turned toward me.

There was a pregnant moment of curious silence, then Velociryx broke into a grin.

“Well you’re a plucky one, aren’t you?” He said to me. “I must say I’m pleased that you survived the storm, but beg you speak your mind quickly so we can put this business behind us and get on with the rest of what stands to be a busy day.”

I was nearly too stunned to speak, but I managed to find my voice with only a little sputtering. “I…You’d like that, wouldn’t you? Don’t want your Chimera to miss his noonday meal then? Two thousand slaves, served up fresh from the Devil’s Road?”

At this, the HighLord seemed genuinely perplexed, but he is possessed of a sharp wit, and caught my meaning quickly enough.

When he did, his reaction was not at all what I expected.

He burst out laughing and much of his assembled Court did likewise.

In fact, even many of the slaves joined in.

“Wha? You…you think I mean to serve these lot up for dinner?” He motioned to the slaves. “And who shall we feed them to, good sir?”

“The…the Chimera of course!” I cried. “I overheard you speaking of it…sitting here in your jungle stronghold, constructing magical beasts to enslave us. An army of demons!”

I didn’t think it was possible, but the collective laughter grew louder still, until surely every beast in the jungle must have heard it and been startled by its power.

For my part, it only incensed me further. “I….What is the meaning of this? I demand to know!”

Velociryx wiped his eyes, still chuckling, and motioned a man next to him forward. He was of trim build, sporting a well kept beard, and had all the bearing of a Lord of the Court.

“Finn, ” He said to this man. “Have you ever eaten an elf?”

I saw the two men exchange glances and stifle chuckles briefly before the one called Finn responded. “Nay, Lord…too stringy. Not enough meat on the lot of them to make even a single proper feast.”

Velociryx looked to me as though this settled the matter. “Well there you have it then. Where did you come by such a silly notion, anyway?”

“You said they were for the Chimera! That he had to see them in this state!”

“Indeed they were and indeed he did.” He nodded again toward the one called Finn. “Here’s your Chimera, lad…I’m not sure what you were expecting, but we’re certainly not running naked through the trees, chanting and praying to dark gods whilst we construct evil beasts, and Finn here has confessed to lacking the appetite to actually dine on our Elven friends.”

“If they be friends then why are they in chains?”

Velociryx sighed and bowed his head. “They are in chains, and in fact, I needed my Court to see them thus because it’s important that we all remember what is at stake. These noble elves could just as easily be us if we do not keep strong, and help one another….that’s what The Chimera Project is, at its core. Sacrifice by the strong to help the weak. The Chimera is a robust, magical creature born of the parts of many and made strong by it. So too do we here commit ourselves and our resources in unilimited amount to see to our Chimera. Our motto is, “Whatever the Chimera needs, the Chimera gets,” and that holds true even if we must put ourselves in harm’s way, or delay our own growth and gratification to do it. The Chimera always comes first.

“As to these slaves…I bought them in order to set them free. I don’t limit myself by thinking in terms of race or tribe…only in terms of the skills I need to make my project a success. Elves are magical, and it strikes me that we could use a stronger dose of magic than my own Court Wizards can provide, so I hit upon an idea…I would buy it.”

He made a dismissive noise. “Pfft. I have nearly as much money as the gods themselves at this point, and my cities churn out ten and a half tons of raw materials a day, most of which either goes up for sale in our various markets, or gets funneled to our hungry Chimera, so why not put the money to some good? Why not buy slaves, free them, give them their own city and put them to work for me? And that was the business we were about until you burst out of the jungle filled with wild tales about making them the first course of a meal for a monster. Are you feverish, perhaps? Do you need a Churigeon?”

No, I bloody well didn’t need a Churigeon, but I’ll tell you what I did need…a place to hide.

Suddenly, I felt quite beyond foolish, and I blushed several shades of scarlet at my gross misinterpretation of these events.

“I…forgive me, My Lord…I have wronged you greatly.”

Now the HighLord descended the steps with the one called Finn just behind him.

He clapped a big, calloused hand on my shoulder.

A commoner’s hand.

A working man’s hand, and I wondered at his past.

“You did no such thing…in fact, I’m honored by your courage. You saw a wrong…or at least thought you did, and stood up for what was right. By yourself, and with me surrounded by my entire Court, and for all you knew, a host of demons at my beck and call. That took guts, my friend.”

His next words shocked me to my core.

“I could use a man with that kind of pluck and courage, and since it seems as though Fate has returned you to me, how would you like a job? A posting in my Court?”

This time, I really was rendered speechless, but in time, I found my voice sufficiently to accept the HighLord’s offer, and that is how I went from Reporter to Castaway to Court Member to Chimera, and Lord Mayor of the town of Haven (population 1869, with 73 Elves having died on the transport ship to Devil’s Island, and another 53 dying en route to Cerilon, despite the best efforts of the guards who accompanied them), in the middle of the Emerald Death, along the Devil’s Own Road.

You might think that the story ends there, but it does not.

This merely marks the end of the beginning.

~The Blind Scribe~

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Introduction…

On the Illyriad forums, there’s a section for diplomacy where you can log in and create a thread announcing this or that diplomatic initiative, make pronouncements, and so forth, and I suppose I could have done that with [REALM], but when inspiration strikes, sometimes you have to do as our Elven chronicler did, and follow the impulse to see where it leads.

Where will the story go?

Your guess is as good as mine. It’s being driven by actual diplomatic events and other in-game happenings, so there’s really no good way to tell, but since it seems to have struck a chord with folks in the forum, I decided to give it a more permanent home here and make it a formal part of our alliance’s charter and history.

Wherever you read it, I hope you enjoy!

Credits:
Story and composition by: DeVel’s Workshop
The Folk of Illyriad.co.uk for providing the wonderful game world in which this story is set
Christina Stone – Introduction Vid
Kevin McLeod – Music
Bad Company – Bad Company

| –> Begin Story!

Of Things Unsaid, Of Things Unseen…

Okay, I admit it. I followed him.

Not two nights after I happened to run into him in the sleazy drinking establishment in Kell, I followed (stalked?) him back to Cerilon and waited for him to make another late night trip to meet with his collected ruffians.

I did not have to wait long, and this time, what I found was yet more distubring.

He met with a ship’s Captain who had made the trip special from Southeron.

Of all Velociryx’s cities, three are coastal, but one of these (Cloudpeak), only just. Yes, you can see the ocean from most of the apartments in the southestern quarter of the city, but the way down is a sudden drop of nearly two thousand feet.

A port city, it is not.

Dol’Doras has a passing good port, but is poorly situated to do more than serve the southern portion of Devil’s island. One would have to sail from there, around the Horn of Ghedd, or worse, waste the better part of two weeks sailing west to round the greater bulk of Devil’s Island to even begin making for the mainland, and sadly, Southeron, while being fairly ideally situated, is cursed with wickedly shallow waters and trecherous reefs, making entering the sheltered port a feat best reserved for daredevils or madmen.

That said, if Vel wants to ship something, it either arrives by Knight’s Ocean Port in the north, then overland through near a thousand miles of trackless jungle, or south from Shimmering, then meandering up the Horn.

There were brief diplomatic talks with KV Kumala early on, when Velociryx was first emerging as a regional economic power, but as I understand it, those ground to a chilly halt when no agreement could be reached over some fertile farmland (-896,-636) just outside of the city of Parthaway. That, coupled with the provacative use of a semi-permanent armed garrison on Mount Spurling (-894, -639), and the two lords have not spoken since.

All of that so you will understand something of the sort of man Velociryx was meeting with.

This blessed fool had not only sailed into the dangerous shallows of Sutheron’s harbor, but done so unannounced, and in the dead of night, THEN proceeded via horse up the Devil’s Road to Cerilon, all apparently in great haste and without stopping.

By the time he arrived in the SouthShanty district of Cerilon, he was a sight to behold, I can assure you, and smelled worse than even the foulest Orc I’ve ever run across.

Nonetheless, he seemed both agitated and animated…practically beside himself in his excitement.

“They’ve agreed!” He told his Master breathlessly. “They agreed to your price…they’ll part with them!”

Velociryx’s eyes lit up in much the same way I remembered them doing when he spoke so passionately about protecting the weak and helpless around the Realm, and I confess that I felt a surge of pride at what I was seeing.

Here was a man content to get in the muck and mud in order to build a better future, and a good thing too, because such men are hard to find, and…

I was on the cusp of singing his praises till I heard the next words tumble from his lips.

“Bring them up the trail (by this, I took him to mean the Devil’s Road, which cut straight through the heart of the jungle), still in their chains and shackles, all the way to the gates of Cerilon. I want the Chimera to see thim just that way.”

Chains?

Shackles?

Was he buying prisoners? Were they violent criminals? Madmen sold as slave labor? Or worse, captured women and children taken prisoner in one of Illyriad’s numerous ongoing skirmishes?

And what was he going to do with them that he needed them in chains along the horrifying march up the length of the Devil’s own road?

And what fate awaited them at the end of that march, when the Chimera laid eyes on them?

Were they to be…food?

A sacrifice to some unholy thing Velociryx was building in his hidden jungle stronghold?

Had I been so completely wrong about the man?

I determined to find out, so I followed the Boatman when he left Cerilon, back the way he had come, down the Devil’s Road to Sutheron, then back to his ship, which would undoubtedly be returning soon, and with a most unsavory cargo.

That explained his skill in navigation.

Most Lords of the Realm took a dim view of Slavers, and wanted nothing to do with them, so they had to learn to operate on the fringes. Had to be able to scurry in and out of the most meager of ports and harbors…places that respectable Captains would simply pass by.

Was I now seeing the man behind the mask?

Was this who Velociryx truly was?

I hoped not, and it was that hope that led me on my mission of late night thievery.

Into the camp of the wiley BoatMan, and into his vest pocket, where he had tucked the scrip given him by Velociryx.

I have reproduced it below.

Evidence.

Proof, both of my poor judgement, and of this ruffian’s misdeeds and dark dealings.

Based on what this note contains, I see little choice. I will hide myself away until the slaves arrive at the gates of Cerilon and confront him then, in full view of them.

Someone must stand up for them, and if this supposed reformer will not, then it must be me.

It may cost me my life, but I cannot let this stand.

Elven Slaves.

Gods!

I will not.

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Our Story So Far…

Here’s a map of the region, showing my travels to this point.

1) Not knowing how hard overland travel was, I foolishly requested to be dropped on the shores near the City of EastGate, which lies some twenty miles inland. Worst twenty miles of my life, just to get to Vel’s lands.

2) From there, it was west through the jungle to Cerilon, and it was on this leg of the journey, that I learned not to fashion hammocks out of Devil’s Vine.

3) After my interview with Velociryx, he took me on a whirlwind tour of his Realm, through the city of Parthaway, then to Cloudpeak. We didn’t stay in etiher place long, so I only have the barest impressions of them, but I can say that both were busy, bustling places.

4) From Cloudpeak, we skirted the edge of Candle’Bre’s (that’s the name of Vel’s holdings, collectively…The Duchy of Candle’Bre) border, then onto her main center of trade, Kell.

5) After that, it was back north to Cerilon to resupply

6) then on to Dol’Doras on the coast.

7) From there, south to the city of Calimba (bright and boisterous, and filled with song)

8) before arriving at Sutheron, where I took a barge across the shallows to the Horn of Ghedd, and

9) overland from there on the Shimmering Highway to the city bearing that same name, where I borded His Majesty’s Trading Vessle, The Tiger Lilly, which ran aground where I’ve marked the map with an “X”

then 10) back to Kell, where I chanced to overhear Velociryx talking with Felestro Shadewalker.

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The storm triggered my Elven senses.  It was not a natural event.  Who caused it is a question for another time.  The important thing now is that it has happened, and Elves have long memories.

Unless the storm’s creator had a serious-and-most-unhealthy grudge against the jungle flowers and edible tubers that made up the bulk of the ship’s cargo, there was little question that the storm was directed at me, though whether it was intended to kill or strand is as yet unknown.  All I know is that the fact of the storm triggered an inquisitive impulse in me.

No doubt, depending on what my inquisitive impulse uncovers, some stronger, baser response might ultimatley be called for, but again, that’s for later, and I have resolved to study the matter with an open mind.

I washed ashore within sight of the rescue effort in progress, though with no means of contacting my would-be rescuers to let them know I was waterlogged, but otherwise relatively unharmed.  I was not sure if I wanted to do so in any case, as it occured to me that the spell’s caster could have been among the “rescuers,” either to finish the job in the event that the storm did not, or to verify that I was, in fact, no more.

In either case, I opted to keep the fact of my continued existence hid for the time being.

Instead, after watching the earnest-seeming efforts to rescue me from the watery deep for a time, I made my way overland back to the outskirts of the City of Kell, in Velociryx’s domain, where I installed myself in one of that city’s least glamorous drinking establishments.

No reason in particular, save for the fact that I was deep in the grip of that strange impulse now, and determined to see where it led, which is the way of my People.

I’m glad I did, although what I discovered by pure happenstance raises yet more questions in my mind.

Velociryx is surely not the only Lord to have disguised himself and slipped quietly into the dark corners of his own Realm for various purposes.  My own Grandfather was known to do similiar to sample the delights of the various low born Elven Maids who…but alas, that’s a story for another day.

In any event, it is by no means unusual for a Lord to do such things, so although I was surprised to see His Lordship when he entered, I took advantage of the natural shadows that my corner table afforded and hid my surprise to watch the comings and doings from a distance.

Velociryx met a rugged, rough-edged human of rather slender build in the corner opposite from the one I was skulking in, and again, my Elven sense served me well.  I heard the Lord address him as Felestro, and that name gave me pause.

I know of only one Felestro in these parts, and him, I know only by his fearsome reputation.

The same man then, or a pretender?  Or a code or alias of some sort?

I did not know.

The subject of their conversation was most curious, and I scribed it word for word.  Rather than offer up any embellsihment, I simply present it here for your consideration:

Velociryx:  ”What news, Felestro?”

Felestro:  ”The Men of the Company are ready.  When the first of the Chimera are born, we will give them a worthy trial by fire.”

Velociryx:  ”Excellent.  I wish it were not necessary, but these are dangerous times we live in.  They must be ready.”

Felestro: “No worries there.  The men of Bad Company will….”

(At this point, Velociryx shocked the entire bar into silence by backhanding the famed killer with such force that I feared for the man’s safety.  The blow seemed designed to take the man’s head off.)

Velociryx:  ”What is the first rule of the company?”

Felestro (shamed and a bit crestfallen): “You don’t talk about B…the Company.”

Velociryx:  ”The Company does not exist.  Say that name again and I wil kill you where you sit.”

And in that moment, despite the fact that during my entire stay with him earlier, I had never heard him raise his voice, nor say an unkind word to anyone, much less resort to any sort of physical violence, but….I believed him.

More importantly, Felestro believed him and merely bowed his head in submission.

“What of the other matter?”  Felestro asked in a moment.

At this, Velociryx threw up his hands in frustration.  ”I was delayed.”

“Your guest?”

He nodded, and I immediately realized they were referring to me.  ”My guest, yes.  Nice enough fellow for an elf.  I wished him godspeed and safe journey, then wasted no time in reaching out to K…tried all day, but to no avail.  Every time I proposed to eliminate a barrier, he’d raise another.  Bottom line…he’s either not ready, or not willing to deal with us.”

“So we still need another Master Tradesman.”

“Gods yes we do…it’s all I can do to handle the daily business of the Alliance.  I can’t take on that and the duties of the Master Tradesman.  And lead the Chimera project, And see to the formation of The Legion.  And lead the company-we’re-not-supposed-to-talk-about-cos-it-doesn’t-exist.”

“Can you keep it together till you get him on board or find someone else?”

He shook his head.  ”I know when I’m overmatched.  We’ll have to simply let some projects idle until we get more people…till we reach critical mass.”

“But you said that if we didn’t create a functioning system from whole cloth that…”

I know what I said!”  He roared, and I feared another backhand might be coming.

Felestro seemed to fear it too, for he actually flinched away.

“I know what I said.”  Velociryx continued more calmly.  ”But if he’s not ready to deal, then he’s not ready to deal.  I would rather assemble our engine piecemeal than risk the whole project, even if we might have to recussitate certain bits later.  It is unfortunate, but…”

“We could threaten him.”

“We will do no such thing.”  Velociryx said evenly.  ”And I’m within my rights to kill you for even sugessting it.”

Felestro said nothing to this, and the two men held one another’s gazes for the longest time.

“We’ll not be threatening him, or anyone else.  It is not our way.”

“Understood.”

I did not like that word…’understood.’  There were undertones of nastiness in it that disturbed me.

They spoke about mundane topics for a few moments, then parted ways, and left me in my corner to contemplate all that I had learned.

Apparently, there are more projects planned than just The Chimera project, and at least some of them are interconnected.  Interrelated in some way.

The Chimera Project.  Something called ‘Bad Company’ that’s not supposed to exist.  A trial by fire for the Chimera when they are born.  Some scheme involving trade that requires the presence of a dedicated Master of Trade (probalby related to the topic Velociryx and I discussed during our interview (“Hubs are one of the keys.”).

So….many interconnected pieces to the puzzle, but what does it all mean?

I am not sure.

My gut is telling me that the impression I got of Velociryx during our interview was correct.  That he is, at the core, a compassionate reformer, but he’s a more complicated figure than I first reckoned, as this second (much more candid) look reveals.

There are lots of initiatives going on, and he seems to have a council of advisors outside normal channels.  These advisors include at least a few less savory types, and therein lies the question.

Am I being duped?  If I am not, does this good hearted reformer run the risk of being corrupted by the less savory types he has at least some dealings with?  Does he run the risk of disagreeing with his cutthroats once too often and falling victim to them, or can he keep his various factions of supporters more-or-less allied with him in some common purpose?

Are there any darker overtones to any of the projects I’ve heard whispered?  If not, why the secrecy?

As I see it, there are two basic courses of action open to me.

I can ride into Cerilon and announce my miraculous survival (based on the conversation I overheard, I do not believe Velociryx was in any way involved with, or responsible for the storm that has marooned me here), and ask these probing questions of the man direct, or, I can keep my presence hidden for the time being, and see what else might be gleaned by keeping an ear to the ground a while longer yet.

For now, I send this, and drift off to a restless sleep, uncertain of what my future holds.  Uncertain when I’ll see my homeland again, or even if I want to.

There is something both strange and compelling about this land and the story I have stumbled into…

~The Blind Scribe~

* Mr. Ghent…do not publish this on my behalf until you have confirmed that Velociryx and his minions do not read our publication.  It would be tragic –and possibly life threatening–if he discovered these words.

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Emergency Bulletin

Breaking News!

Our special correspondent, The Blind Scribe, filed his report to us this morning before boarding a ship at the southernmost port on eastern Devil’s Island, the City of Shimmering.

Sadly, less than a day’s sailing from that port, a freak storm blew the ship into the reef just off the coast of that city. 

Rescue efforts are underway, but it is unclear at this point if there were any survivors…


~End INN Breaking News Bulletin~

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Part, The First: Come Kumala!

Velociryx Promoted!

INN (Illyriad News Network) reporter The Blind Scribe Reporting:

Velociryx, one of the Lords of the South, currently residing on Devil’s Island, in Kumala, was recently named HighLord in the STEEL Dominion Alliance [REALM], where he shares power with that alliance’s current HighLord, AvidDriver.

This reporter journeyed to Devil’s Island to get full details in hopes of an interview, and although the elusive Lord agreed, the details gleaned from that meeting were cryptic at best.

Here’s what we know:

First (if the author may be permitted a moment of personal observation), Devil’s Island is aptly named! The entire place is a steaming morass of punishment. Towering trees, oppressive heat, and the promise of death at every turn, courtesy of giant anacondas, fierce jaguars, or worse.

Fortunately, Velociryx’s forces are vigalent, and keep the main byways cleared of the worst of the dangers, but between that, and combatting “Devil’s Vine”, the troops are kept in near constant motion.

And what is “Devil’s Vine,” you may ask?

Simply put, it’s an awful, rope-like, thorny vine that “sweats” a viscous goop that burns like fire when touched and causes a rash that lasts for days (and it can grow up to a foot a day! “Reminds me of Kudzu, blasted stuff.” Velociryx told me during one of our walks outside the city gates).

The author knows the full extent of these effects because, alas, he attempted to use some of said vine to fashion a hammock so as to avoid sleeping on the ground (sleeping on the ground in Devil’s Isle is formally known as “A Very Bad Thing.” – army ants, rogue anacondas, cats who will drag you off and eat your head, and all manner of other dangers…no no…it’s no good to sleep on the ground…it is not advised, however, to try and fashion a hammock out of Devil’s Vine either, as the rash you get in places you don’t want a rash, EVER, is beyond unpleasant).

All that to say that this author was not in his best form by the time he actually reached Vel’s capital of Cerilon.

Once there, however, I must say that the city itself was pleasant enough, and though large, it still retains some of its backwater charm…a thing I’ve discovered that is common of many of the townships of those most excellent SouthLanders.

As to the man himself, he actually had relatively little to say on the promotion, jokingly toasting me with “here’s hoping I have not just risen to my level of incompetence.”

In speaking with him, I came away with the picture of a man who is a passionate reformer, very interested in the safety and well-being of the Lords of the smaller townships in the realm, and not much interested with the comings and doings outside Kumala.

I asked him about the trouble between NC and STEEL, and he had this to say: “From the look of it, only one side thinks there’s a war on…the other side’s sending care bears, or care vans is it? Something. Anyway, it usually takes (at least) two to Tango, yes? But…they are far from one another, so beyond opportunistic sniping, I don’t see it developing into a full blown bloodbath. I could be wrong, of course…we shall see.”

On alliances in general, he told me:

“The current alliance system is broken and makes no sense…allies all over the continent…impossible to do more than offer moral support for your supposed alliance brothers and sisters. Being in an alliance should MEAN something. If you get in trouble, it ought to mean more than sending you well wishes and a prayer, but if it takes two weeks to get troops to your far flung allies, then in times of war, it means the promise implicit IN the alliance is bound to be broken for those far from the alliance core…and that’s in cases where alliances HAVE cores…most are more like extended social clubs, really.”

When asked how he planned to do things differently, he replied, “I won’t say no comment, but I will say that there are some alliances who are already on the right path, and we could learn much from them. Think locally, trade globally. The hubs are one of the keys.”

Beyond that, he would say no more on the subject.

When our conversation turned to the smaller and independent Lords of the Realm (those not affiliated with any alliance, or smaller Lords, regardless of alliance affiliation), he talked at length about the need for all of Illyriad to continue the time honored tradition of safeguarding the small and the weak, and ended with the cryptic phrase, “The Chimera Project will begin to change the face of that though…change how we go about doing that. At least in Kumala, and who knows? Possibly beyond, in time.”

I stayed in Cerilon for three days, then took a tour of the other seven cities in Velociryx’s steaming, off-the-beaten-path realm, and by the end, I found myself not wanting to go back.

There is no way of telling how serious a reformer he actually is…time and his own actions will tell the tale better than I could, but I am both interested and curious. He is a serious minded fellow (a rare trait among humans, in my experience), and has some interesting ideas, but I left with as many questions as were answered.

What did he mean “The Hubs are one of the Keys?” How does “think locally, trade globally” translate into an actual, usable alliance strategy? And what, exactly, is “The Chimera Project?”

This reporter will be watching with interest, and as I learn more, you’ll be the first to know!

~The Blind Scribe~

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