I recently posted a question on Linguistics:SE asking for a proper etymology of the name "Tarim" as in "Tarim Basin", as well as the name's possible connection with Tocharian (Please see the description of that question).
I originally expected these information to be readily available from etymological database like StarLing, and I was surprised to find it extremely difficult to place a single, proper etymology of the word. After a few days of search and inquiry, I am still unable to trace the name back to a definitive origin, and the question remains unanswered. I realize that this could be in part due to the limitation of consulting with only English sources.
As a result, I decided to repost the question here on History:SE, and instead of focusing exclusively on the etymological aspects of the name, I would also like to ask for a historical overview -- when did this word begin to be associated with the river / basin, and from which language did the name originate? Additionally, I would highly appreciate if someone could provide me with relevant information concerning the word's origin and historical development from non-English sources.
The Beauty of Loulan and the Tattooed Mummies of the Tarim Basin
Loulan was discovered in 1980, but it was 3800 years ago that she died on the trade route known as the Silk Road. The natural dryness and salty soil preserved her and over two hundred other mummies, individuals who had lived in several closely located settlements along the trade route. The mummy has been called the Loulan Beauty because of her amazingly preserved stately facial features that have remained quite beautiful even in death.
Unfortunately, the region where she and the others were found is politically unstable and the discovery of the mummies in the Tarim Basin in China was seen as a possible instigating factor for unrest. The Chinese government has been reluctant to allow full access to the mummies because of their racial identity. The Tarim mummies are Caucasian and this fact has given credence to the claims of the local peoples, the Uyghur, who look more European than Asian that they are the descendants of the original inhabitants of the area and not later arrivals, as Chinese history claims.
Victor Mair, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, was instrumental in getting access to these mummies. He and Paolo Francalacci, a geneticist, were finally able to obtain some genetic samples in 1993. Their findings revealed that the mummies are indeed European but they probably migrated from the Siberian region and are unrelated to the Uyghur. The Chinese government did allow further testing in 2007 and 2009 and the finding supported the Siberian connection as well as suggesting the mixing of people from Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, Europe and other unknown sources. It is unfortunate that the Beauty and the others are at the centre of this controversy because it has distracted somewhat from the fact that there were Europeans in China at least a thousand years before conventional history has Caucasians in this area of the world.
Mainstream historians have always had this strange concept that early people were not world travellers when in fact most evidence points to just the opposite. We are led to believe that many cultures lived in isolation and that the world was not truly explored until the last five hundred years.
The Beauty of Loulan’s people are clearly of Caucasian descent and their grave goods suggest that they were probably merchants of textiles and perhaps leather goods. They were buried with many clothing items including one man who was buried with ten hats, all of different styles. The settlements along the Silk Road might very well have been meeting points where merchants from the west traded their goods for goods from the east. Having multicultural merchants would certainly have helped facilitate communication between the traders. Pliny the Elder described the traders from this area as tall with flaxen hair and blue eyes. He also described their language as ‘uncouth noise’.
Loulan herself lived to be about 40 to 45 and she probably died from lung disease caused by environmental pollution from open fires and the gritty sand in the air. She was buried in well-made woven clothing and some of the other mummies are actually wearing plaid patterned loomed cloth. Many of the mummies are tattooed, perhaps even most of them, but the descriptions of the individuals often do not mention the tattoos, or refer to them as an unimportant curiosity. However, I believe the tattoos represent an artistic and cultural link with people all across Eurasia and even Western Europe. The tattoos appear to have been done in the manner of the Scythians, Thracians and the Pazyryk, where the design is achieved by the puncture technique not the sewing technique. The puncture method results in darker and larger fields of colour and is much more like modern tattooing.
One of the female mummies has crescent moons and ovals tattooed on her face. The moon designs are suggestive of Goddess worship in many cultures and the presence of the tattoos on her face tells me, a tattoo artist, that whatever the designs meant they were very important to her since she chose to display them where she could not hide them they also immediately identified her to others. She also had heavy tattooing on her hands which may be symbolic or simply decorative as hand tattoos often are. Interestingly, a male mummy from the area, known as the Chrechen Man has sun tattoos on his temples, the sun often represents the male God so it is possible that these two individuals functioned in some sort of religious or shamanistic role.
I believe a more detailed recording of the tattoos, their designs and the method by which they were done could reveal a great deal about the people, their beliefs and their connections both culturally and genetically with other groups all across Asia and Europe. Tattoos should not be ignored as if they are simply a decoration. A tattoo becomes the living flesh. When an ancient person chose to be tattooed, they were choosing to be changed, transformed, and brought closer to their deities. A person, either modern or ancient, intends to carry their tattoo to the next world with them in other words, it is a big decision not to be made lightly, and a commitment to quite a bit of pain. In ancient societies, the magic, prestige and power associated with a tattoo would have been an integral facet of the culture and an important aspect of their lives.
The Tarim mummies are ‘living ‘ proof that 4,000 years ago people travelled over vast distances, interacted, interbred and spread their cultural practices. The art of tattooing in both design and technique is one example of these connections and I believe there is much more to be learned if we just look closer.
Pliny the Elder, The Natural History, Chapter 20 thru 24, The Seres
The Mummies of Xinjiang By Evan Hadingham |Friday, April 01, 1994 Archaeology
Fission Uranium and its Chinese partner CGN are getting closer and closer to a point where they will apply for a licence to mine up at Patterson Lake. The plan is to build a dam and drain half the lake to build an open pit mine for more uranium. The way it works is the they submit their own Environmental Impact Statement to the Government who rubber stamps it then it goes for Public Review ( by then it is too late because they have already pre-approved it).
On June 10th - 14th we are inviting everyone who cares about Denesuline lands and waters to join us for a Prayer Paddle around Patterson Lake to ask for protection of this beautiful lake from this destruction. WE can stop this with our prayers and our unity. This is Denesuline lands and it needs to be shown some love and respect. This must be done without drugs and alcohol please.
Bring your own camping gear, food, canoe or kayaks if you have them. We will need a few support boats to escort the paddlers. We are trying to raise funds to get the supplies for ceremonies and gas for 3 support boats. If anyone wants to volunteer to provide a support boat please contact Mary Ruelling or Candyce Paul. If you can help with a donation please contact Candyce Paul.
If anyone can donate old sleeping bags for the sweat lodge we need about a dozen.
We will be posting more information in the coming days about where the Camp site will be.
MARCH 20, 2017
The meeting announced below is scheduled for March 24 -25, 2017. Please NOTE.
ATTENTION DENÉ SUłiINÉ LANDWATER PROTECTORS. Our people are crying out due to corporation encroachment and they're coercing our leaders and elders out bullying them into deals they don't quite understand We the traditional people need to take the lead in protecting our resources our land, our water and, our people by educating ourselves and understanding corporate tactics. A meeting has been set up on March 22-23 2017 in Cold Lake Alberta to discuss a strategic strategy to inter-generational abuse crisis plaguing our communities. We are a non funded traditional base entity and we rely on all donations from our people. Come one come all is welcome. If you have any questions please feel free to contact Daniel Montgrand @ 1 (306) 822-2550 Bring your prayer bundles.
DID YOU KNOW that up here in northern Canada where there is a huge resource rush going on that it is required that the companies check to see if their are historic archaelogical sites in the area they want to explore for resources? I have read numerous permits filed to the government which the government then approved showing that all they did was check into a government website. AREVA, a uranium mining company from France, noted in its application that there seems to be very few sites noted in this website. The archaelogical studies in northern Canada are not being done due to the difficulty of locating artifacts of nomadic peoples living in heavily forested areas. That by no means should be taken that there are no places of significance to be protected but it is damn convenient for making it easier to get resource permits.
This makes me think about Patterson Lake, north of Swan Lake (Descharme). This place has a Dene name. It has a history. It has a story. They want to drain it just like they drained the lake that was my husband's grandfather, Susnaghe, trapline. It is a lake no longer. It is the tailings pit at Key Lake. Because there was no recorded history there the government allowed them to go ahead and mine it. It will forever be a radioactive sacrifice zone to the uranium mining industry. Is that what you want to have happen to Patterson Lake?
Down in North Dakota right now, the Lakota people have united thousands of people to stop a pipeline form going under the Missouri River. Landowners in Iowa are doing the same thing there. They are protecting the water. We know in Saskatchewan there have been more than 18,000 pipeline spills in the last decade. One has polluted the North Saskatchewan River and no one can get their drinking water there anymore. These companies cannot or will not clean it all up. The government won't make them so that leaves us, the people, to look after the water.
Patterson Lake needs you. All of the water needs you. Pick a day and get all of your boats on Patterson Lake. Pray for the water. Make offerings for the water. For the sake of ALL future generations please act now.
I was invited to the Camp up in Clearwater River this weekend but regret I cannot make it because I already have to be elsewhere this weekend. I pray that many people do go there and that ALL will work together to do ALL that they can to protect Dene Nene.
Patterson Lake is under threat of being drained for another uranium mine or two. The United Nations is working on a new effort to stop the production of all nuclear weapons. Canada and its trading partners do invest in nuclear weapons manufacturing. The uranium from the mines in Saskatchewan does eventually end up in nuclear weapons. It is up to us, the Old Ones warned us, to stop them from taking the uranium from under the ground.
There are not enough jobs in uranium mining to employ all of our people. There never will be. There is not enough money and they really do not have a way to ever clean up the radiation they release. Those mines will always have radioactive sacrifice areas and they will continue to threaten life for generations upon generations to come.
If I were able to be at the Camp this weekend, this is what I would have been asking the people to do:
Water Walk around Patterson Lake.
As many people as are able please make the committment to participate in a Ceremonial Walk to pray for the spirit and the life in Patterson Lake. Others would be welcome to join in paddling in the lake in support. I have already started gathering allies to help us when we decide to do this. So please talk about this. Let's make it happen. I hope to see lots of comments and ideas in support of this idea.
Nexgen wants a road. The only reason they want a road is because they are a year away from making a decision about whether there is enough ore in Rook 1 and Arrow drill sites to go for a uranium mine. After 3 years of drilling they finally went to the closest community and promised 4 summer student jobs. After 3 years of chasing off the animals in the area from people's traplines they came promising basketballs. They wanted a closed door meeting but were told No, only public. Chief of Chard sent advisors and Delphine brought independent observers as well. The community members were united. There will be no land deals and none were discussed. NexGen is offering a handful of jobs and were told to go back to their bosses and tell them the drilling must be stopped. They were told the northern Dene people are not stupid and know what this drilling leads to and that the Dene already know nothing they have to offer is worth the damage to the lands and waters.
This article is about what the true Denesuline world view is and how the uranium industry is messing where it was warned not to mess.
For those of you on this page who have been told that we are radicals and should not be listened to I want you to think about something. What is more radical, those who are protecting the land for future generations whose research is based on solid science or those who drain lakes and dig holes that will become contaminated places forever for money that leaves the country?
There will be a meeting on October 3, 2015 at 1:00 PM at the Spiritual Room a the Hospital in LaLoche. This meeting will be to talk about a response to Denesuline concerns for the lands, waters, and resources of Dene Nene. It is time to get involved. It is time to do something. Traditional foods will be provided. Everyone is welcome.
It is now the time that the Denesuline go north to fish, hunt and gather cranberries. We would like to hear from those folks on how the animals and fish are doing. Are there many moose and other animals? Are there lots of fish? What kinds are you catching and are they healthy? This is important information because SERM says that these exploration companies are having minimal impact on the animals and your right to use the traditional hunting territories. Are there restrictions on where you can go to hunt? PLEASE share this information on this site.
Don said he set a net two nights in a row and caught no fish. When we were up there 3 weeks ago there were dead baby pickerel all along the beach at Gedick Lake, no birds were eating them. When they set a net there was hardly any fish except suckers. Hardly any sign of moose.
More exploration sites are opening up with security and no access. Patterson Lake is a no go zone. There are semi trucks with containers marked radioactive barreling down the road. That is a lot of territory where people are no longer able to hunt.
Greetings everyone! Elders have called for a meeting to discuss concerns for our Lands and the rush for Resources. The meeting will be held in Descharme Lake at 1:00 pm on Saturday, September 13, 2015. This meeting is open to anyone who is concerned. It will be at Isaac School. Traditional food will be shared.
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The immediate fire danger in the northwest is lessening. I expect to hear from Don Montgrand as things settle down and get an update out for you soon. Welcome back to all of those who experienced the disruption of being evacuated. I pray all is well with all of you. We have much to assess and much to learn from these fires.
I spoke with Don today. He is back in LaLoche from working up north. He will be back at his Camp near the Clearwater River in the next day or two and is looking forward to any visitors who venture up there.
Don says, "Hello, to all of my friends and to all supporters of the Dene Trappers Alliance." The Camp is now an Occupation Camp in Dene Nene along the Clearwater River. Until the big fire is extinguished near LaLoche that is also heading towards the tar sands he is working as a Camp Crew Boss for the fire fighters. He has family holding the line at the Camp.
We have received notification that Cenovus has permits to be back in the area BUT this is only to clean up and and finish the remediation work at the Axe Lake Camp. They are to make sure that any hazardous material is removed to a proper facility so keep your eyes open at the LaLoche Dump and report any hazardous material. We will be monitoring this "clean up".
Got a call from Don last night. He urges caution. The conditions in the bush are very extremely dry. The Clearwater River is lower than he has ever seen it in his lifetime. The animals are suffering already from less food available. The bears have become a problem at the Camp because they are so hungry they are breaking into cabins for whatever food they can find. He said the Mother Earth is going to show us she has had it with our destructive ways. Listen up. There is a lesson coming in the winds.
I see a lot of critical people popping up with complaints that the site of the former Camp has not been left in a clean state. Please be patient. It will be cleaned up. It takes a lot of effort and more than one trip back and forth to do what needs to be done. Don has assured me that he will complete the task. He and the men always kept the Camp in a very clean state and I am sure the job will be finished as soon as possible. It would be nice if anyone is able to go and give a hand would arrange to do so.
It is time for another look at the BIG picture.
The situation with the encroachment of uranium exploration companies on Dene Nene has not abated and does not intend to stop any time soon. Several companies are continuing to cut lines and further disturb the land where we get our traditional food. Food from the stores is not going to get more affordable any time soon. Most of it comes from California which has been going through the worst drought you can imagine. Water is being rationed there and this will soon mean the price of food is going to get higher and higher or worse not be available at all. The Denesuline cannot afford to be forced out of our traditional land use.
AREVA is in big financial trouble and a CHINESE company is looking at buying off some of its assets. Remember they have an agreement with Saskatchewan through the FIPPA Trade Deal for uranium. AREVA has 227 mineral claims in the Athabaska Basin.
The Saskatchewan Government through their partnership with the Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation is pushing hard to get the idea that the north should be the place to test the use of Small Modular Reactors (SMR) to service the uranium mines. NOTICE I said test. There are no SMR's yet made that are proven to work. They will also leave us another mess to handle, spent nuclear fuel. The people of this province just spent 4 years saying "NO" to that experiment.
Canada/ Saskatchewan just signed a deal with India last month to sell more uranium. If YOU and YOU and YOU do not take this seriously enough to do something about it this beautiful land and all of the waters and all of the life that depend on it are going to be ripped open, contaminated and our future generations are going to be left with nothing. 30 years of jobs and money and this land will be a sacrifice zone.
TIME. We are all running out of time. There is no time left to be afraid. There is no time left to be weak. There is NOW.
Don is moving the Camp to the Clearwater River. Help him. JOIN him. Bobby is encouraging those of you who want to stay up in Descharme and have your kids educated on the land to do it. Cabins are waiting to be built. Gardens need to be planted. JOIN THEM.
Materials and muscles and your time are needed.
April 22, 2015
PLEASE REPORT ANY PORN TO THE ADMIN AND IT WILL BE DELETED AND THE PERSON WILL BE BANNED. DO NOT COMMENT ON IT.
Yes it appears that these porn posts are being brought into pages like this one where the stand is being effective. The last three I noted were on native people's names because they know we are mainly an indigenous group so they can sneak in that way even though we try to check out the pages of people who wish to join. As has been pointed out please do NOT click on them as they will let a virus into your computer that will either shut you down or allow them to watch your system.
Although Don was too busy at the Camp to attend the Land and Community: Responses to Resource Extraction in Saskatchewan Workshop in Saskatoon, Miranda Lemaigre and Brian Grandbois did a great job sharing the situation of the Denesuline and the stand against the uranium and oil sands exploration companies. Masi-cho to Emily Eaton and Valerie Zink for the invitation and opportunity to share and learn. Masi-cho to all the people who kindly donated.
UPDATE: March 18, 2015 - Day 120
An entire season has passed since the men took the road on Hwy #955. The Denesuline are still a presence at the Camp. WE are NOT LEAVING.
Today Don Montgrand talked to the Saskatchewan Government mediator, Robin Freemont. No contact has been made since Government ignored our call to sit with us on the land and listen to the people. He told the mediator that by not showing up the Government showed they have not and never have had the best interests of the Dene people in their sight. WE ALL now know that the only ones they are concerned about are the developers they keep giving permits to on OUR Dene Nene.
The Saskatchewan Ministry of the Environment did send us a partial list of permits and documents that we requested prior to the Big Meeting but we know of at least 4 more companies that are drilling looking for uranium near Patterson Lake. Another permit was recently given for the Lloyd Lake area. The trappers that trap there had previously told them they do not want them there disturbing the land, water and wildlife. Some of the companies are wrapping up their winter drilling operations but according to the permits, some will continue in the summer.
The mediator played dumb and said, “Are you still out there?” We know that Government knows the Camp is still active as SERM Officers were standing outside the Camp wanting to snoop around as soon as Don stepped outside when this call ended. Don told them to get lost as they have no business and no jurisdiction on Dene Nene.
At the Big Meeting, the people had a chance to speak. It was good. There was agreement that none of this development is going to help our people. The all said WE must protect the land, the water, the wildlife and our kids and future generations. No one else is going to do it. WE MUST DO IT OURSELVES.
Now that spring is nearly here we need all of you. We need our Elders to teach us. We need our young ones to help build a lodge, begin to grow food for ourselves. We need our spirits back on the land. We need to strengthen ourselves. The TIME IS NOW. Come. Let’s do this.
March 14, 2015
Spring clean up has started at the camp. The old tent has served it's purpose and kept the people sheltered throughout the entire winter. The embers from the chimney and the moisture have pretty much ended its usefulness. The men have been building a makeshift cabin and have now moved into it. They are clearing the yard and tidying up. There is still lots of room for visiting and anyone is welcome to come and lend a hand.
Don would like to remind people that this responder's Camp It is a clean Camp, a place you are welcome to come to begin reconnecting with the land. This is not a place to come if you are drinking. He encourages all to stay sober and not drink and drive for your safety and that of the people who may be on the road. There have been too many tragic deaths and we want you all to take the best care of yourselves.
He had asked for this message to be announced over the "public radio" in LaLoche but was told no messages from the Camp would be aired.
ANNOUNCEMENT: March 5, 2015
On Saturday we will be traveling up to the Camp to help set the foundation for the plans we made moving forward during the Big Meeting. Come and join us, and all the men at the Camp from 1 PM on and get involved.
Several people from the Holding the Line Camp attended the Northern Saskatchewan Trappers Association Annual General Meeting in Prince Albert this week. Don Montgrand gave a Statement explaining the objectives of this Camp that has been in place all winter, 104 days now. At the end he said, "We should be one, working together and I am asking for the support."
Overall he said they received a warm and positive reception from Trappers from all over the north. Both Dene and Cree were in 100% support encouraging them to never give up because they are doing this for the right reasons.
Some of the people from the Camp are heading to Prince Albert to participate in the Northern Saskatchewan Trappers Annual General Meeting. We will post an update as soon as they return. Prayers for safe travel and a good meeting.
Don and the people of the Camp express their heartfelt gratitude to all of those who came, who supported from near and afar, who cooked,
Overall, the Big Meeting was a success, the people have determined to keep the Camp going to assert guardianship of the lands and waters. People came from the South, East, North and West to encourage the people that care so much for their homeland and who want to protect it from the destruction of the uranium and oil industries. Government who is permitting companies to go ahead and drill, would not come to sit with us on the land. They will not bring the proof that they have ever had Title to these lands. They have shown they do not and never have worked for the people, only the corporations.
There is much work to be done. We will not tolerate being used and abused by industry with their false promises of a better way while they steal the life forces from the lands. No so-called consultations. No deals. No Collaboration. No agreements. No industry money. Not now. Not ever. There was strong emotion in the Camp. Every single person who sat in the circle has the deep conviction that we must never give up for all of the right reasons.
We encourage anyone to come out and join us. The door is always open and more hands and minds working together make things happen faster. We want to complete the cabin so we have a warm and welcoming space to meet. We were blessed with many offerings over the days of the meeting and it was good to be deciding things that are going to strengthen us in our own cultural traditions and that we are taking control over our own futures.
January 29, 2015
As we travel this morning to the Big Meeting we ask for prayers from all of the people across this land. The next time we post will be after the meeting is over when we will make a STATEMENT. Masi-cho to you ALL. Wait for the Official statement and news. Safe travels to all of you who are coming.
JANUARY 28, 2015 DAY 71
One more day until the BIG MEETING starts. Things are getting hectic and we need local supporters to lend a hand. Now is the time for prayers to be offered that everyone will speak from their heart and stay focused on the big issues we are facing today. This is about our children's lives, the land, the water. It is not about how we got in this position. We all seen how government and industry have manipulated and used people. We have seen how they have taken our independence and kept us in poverty while industry teases us with money crumbs. We have seen how they used our own people to divide us by forcing them to make decisions without talking and listening to us. While they break us they are working at taking all that our land has beneath it. They do not care if our land, water, and lives are destroyed, as long as they get their money.
SO, we ask you all to pray for us to sit together in a good way to find solutions and strength and unity for the sake of the children of Dene Nene. Masi-cho!
JANUARY 27, 2015 DAY 70
Relatives and allies are arriving at the Camp in preparation for this Big Meeting that begins on Thursday. The men and women at the Camp say a heart felt, "Marsi-cho!" for all of the donations that have allowed them to keep this Camp going all this winter. With the arrival of guests we need to remind people still coming that it will be a community kitchen and contributions of food will be needed. Please see below for ways to donate.
UPDATE: January 25, 2015
Edtlaniteh! DAY 68
Day 68 now and there are many people coming and going taking turns with a core group of about a dozen people out there. Numbers are now growing as relatives from across Dene Nene who also share in the effects of the impacts are coming in. People are car-pooling and hitch-hiking to get there. If you are coming BE PREPARED for winter outdoors.
More tents are going up but that means more wood, more food and more water will be needed to support this Camp as the Big Meeting approaches at the end of this week. If you can help in any way from near and far please do:
This is where donations can be made. More funds and supplies are required to sustain this effort. If you have supplies to donate there are people collecting in the following places:
North Battleford - Inbox Leora Harlingten
Fort Qu'Appelle - Inbox Stewart Martin
Regina - drop off at Queen City Hub, 1843 Hamilton St.
If anyone not in the immediate area would like to donate to sustain the camp, please get in touch. I can accept Paypal, email transfer, Cheque, Visa, MasterCard.
Paypay and e-transfer are under firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheques can be made out to Stewart Martin, Box 868, Balcarres, SK, S0G 0C0.
Visa & MasterCard call 306-331-6364 to process (You will see Unique Home Services on statement)
All donations will be posted on this page for transparency, accountability, and to acknowledge the contributor (if you prefer to be anonymous just let me know and we will respect that).
Supplies needed include:
good used power saw
spare lumber or plywood
Update: January 21, 2015 Day 64
Condolences to the families in LaLoche and Patuanak who lost their loved ones in the past week.
Support at the Camp has been growing, Preparations are going full tilt to get things ready for the Big Meeting January 29, 30, 31. This meeting will be held on the land so that we can all feel the spirit of the Earth beneath our feet. This is one of the most important meetings to take place as it is here and now that we must make a strong commitment to do what is right, not necessarily what is easiest, for the sake of ALL generations to come.
Update: January 17, 2015
This is Day 60 of Holding the line at the Northern Dene Trappers' Alliance Camp. These men made the decision to take a stand. It is a courageous decision because they really haven't got a whole lot left to lose and they do not value what is being offered in exchange because if you think about it as they have, this uranium and oil may last 30 years or 100 years but what is that compared to eons that the land has and will no longer be able to sustain life? Masi-cho for all of those who find the courage in themselves to make the difficult decision about what is more important. May your future descendants thrive in a world without these troubles.
UPDATE: January 6, 2015 10:44 PM
The assault on the lands and lives of the Dene continues. Today an Elder who supplements his Pension by trapping went to check his trap line. What he discovered was devastating. From kilometer 108 - 86 two D-9 cats belonging to Big Bear Construction owned by CRDN Chief Teddy Clarke, had been line-cutting up towards Patterson Lake. Every trap he had set and any catch that may have been in them was destroyed. He was only able to recover one trap. This is not the way people respect Elders, the land, and the culture. It is not right.
We got word from the Camp this morning that the RCMP were lurking about with cameras rolling. This is a peaceful Camp and there is no need for RCMP to be there, saying they are just out for a drive. We know reconnaissance activities when we see them. There is an increase in industrial traffic heading past the Camp as the companies think they can do whatever they want. How about RCMP protect the interests of people not corporations?
Well it is a lot more like winter up here. The temperature actually dropped since daylight to -29 C and the windchill is fierce. I pray the people in the Camp are stocked up with wood and are hugging the stoves. The coffee and rabbit soup won't stay hot for long today.
This is Day 43 of Holding the Line against further oil/gas and uranium development in Dene Neneh. This is NOT about pushing government and corporations for jobs in mining or for compensation for the loss of land and rights. This is about telling them they have already taken too much. After more than 40 years of promises of prosperity people are more dependent on social assistance and less self-reliant. The lands and waters once provided for everyone and now game is scarce due to all of the mineral exploration. Government will deny this but the Dene know more about these animals and their habits than anyone else ever could.
The health of the people is being affected. Cancers and diseases that were rare are now rampant. Northern communities are constantly grieving the loss of loved ones who have suffered and died horribly. We see what the tarsands has done to the land, water, air, animals and people in Alberta. We have watched them have to prove that their people are dying from industrial pollution. We have already been impacted by the toxins and radioactive contamination from the
uranium mines. WE WILL NOT PUT UP WITH ANY MORE. KUH T'AH!
TO DONATE SUPPORT TO THIS EFFORT PLEASE SEE COMMENTS BELOW THIS POST FOR SPECIFICS! IF YOU LIVE IN THE REGION, PLEASE TAKE WHAT YOU CAN AND SPEND SOME TIME AT THE CAMP.
JollyDoc's Curse of the Crimson Throne: Updated 1/29/10
So you've met the League, the Legion, and even the Sandpoint Seven. Now, allow me to introduce you to K.I.A. the Korvosan Intelligence Agency (perhaps they'll have better luck than their predecessors).
'Ratbone', Half-Orc Druid of The Five Companions
* 'Ratbone' was born in the Mindspin Mountains in a small tribe of half-orc barbarians of Shoanti descent. Having been shunned by their human ancestors generations before, the tribe's founders set out on their own and started a small village where they could farm, hunt, and forage in relative peace (for a tribe of half-orcs). Ratbone's given name was Gruzzak Stonesmasher, and his parents both served the village as tribal shamans. When Gruzzak was 10 years old, the village was raided by a group of Chelish slavers, and the entire tribe was either captured or killed. Among the captured was Gruzzak's father and seven of his ten siblings. Among the dead were his mother and the remaining three siblings. Upon delivery to the slave masters, Gruzzak and his family were separated, and he has no idea as to their whereabouts, or even if any of them are still alive. Through an intermediary associated with the Korvosan black markets, Gruzzak was sold to Gaedren Lamm, whereby he became one of his 'Little Lambs'. For four years, he suffered under the depredations of the petty criminal. When Gruzzak had reached the age of 14 (the point where he no longer appeared as an innocent child) Gaedren abandoned the boy, but not before gleefully torturing him and leaving him for dead on a garbage heap. Gruzzak struggled to survive, and found a home living on the streets, eventually making his way to the Shingles above the Bridgefront neighborhood of Old Korvosa. There among the city's poorest and most desperate individuals he lived for four years, making it by on scraps found in others' garbage and capturing and eating small animals, such as stray cats and rats. Due to the numerous carcasses the growing half-orc boy would leave behind him, he was nicknamed by the other denizens of the Shingles as 'Ratbone', a name he didn't like but has become accustomed to. With all that he had seen and been exposed to, Ratbone had developed a deep sense of right and wrong, and he found himself aligning with the former far more than the latter. Before long, this was noted by powers above, namely Kharash the Stalker, one of Talisid's fabled Five Companions. The great lupinal had a soft spot for children, and he ventured on to the Prime and approached the half-orc adolescent. Kharash convinced the youth to take up the cause of good, and in doing so also unlocked his natural druidic and shapeshifting talent. Due to hard living on the streets, the half-orc was physically fit and was very cunning. However, he had never been exposed to any sort of learning and had little ability to develop or comprehend complex plans , and due to his tortured youth and subsequent life as a vagrant he was in no way adept at social situations . The half-orc's ability as a druid was unrefined by any sort of formal training or apprenticeship, but due to his life in the Shingles he was extremely attentive and self-reliant. Ratbone pledged his service to Kharash and the Companions, and also vowed to protect the poor of Korvosa. Kharash told Ratbone that if he were to give up material wealth, then he would be further blessed and protected by the Powers of Good. Ratbone agreed. Since making his promise, Ratbone has taken it upon himself to act as the protector of the poor, weak, and innocent of Bridgefront, especially children. By day, Ratbone continues his life as just another 'bum on the streets', but at night he prowls the alleys of Bridgefront in the form of a large mongrel. One more than one occasion he has broken up a minor scofflaw or stopped muggings as they were occurring. As a result, minor rumors have started about the 'Guardian Hound of Bridgefront'. Against those he finds to be evil and needing to be stopped, Ratbone neither asks for nor receives quarter. Ratbone has recently started trying to learn of the whereabouts of Lamm, so that he might free the enslaved children and put an end to his evil.
Valeris Aquitaine, Human Duskblade
Valeris is a Varisian orphan who ran away to escape abuse, only to fall into the hands of Gaedren Lamm and become one of his "little lambs." For once in his life he loved his new position and really loved the freedom of taking what he wanted and doing what he wanted. With the exception of Gaedren, he had no one to boss him around. Once his powers started to surface, however, and Gaedren realized that he might one day grow into someone powerful enough to challenge him, the crime lord tortured and beat him unmercifully, leaving him for dead. Now all he lives for is to find Gaedren and kill him slowly to make him pay for what was done to him. Over the years he has hired himself out as anything from a guard or bouncer, to roughing up shopkeepers for protection money. When possible, he has tried to study magic at the Theumanexus College when he can come up with gold to pay for it.
Herc Stoneheart, Human Fighter
Stoneheart comes from a long line of fighters and bodyguards. He has been training with arms and armor from a young age and loves the spirit of battle and fighting. Herc prefers his longsword and a spiked shield, although he has trained with all arms and armor. He is always been strong, fairly acrobatic, and has decent intestinal fortitude, although like most of his family, he is not terribly bright or good looking. Still, he has seen some battles and knows the streets. His family has been exclusively employed by the various members of the Orisini family over the last 150+ years, and Herc had been serving as the bodyguard to Vencarlo's 2nd cousin Aberalo for about a year when Aberalo's son went missing. Aberalo suspects his son ran away, since he never received a ransom. Herc Stoneheart has vowed to find Aberalo's son. After all, he had been teaching the boy to fight and look out for himself. He blames himself for giving the lad too much confidence and Herc was not smart enough to instill the need for him to remain at home where it was safer. Herc has been knocking on doors and scouring the streets looking, and has recently gotten a bit of news that a boy similar to Aberalo's has been spotted with Gaedren "Little Lambs."
Katarina is the daughter of one of Korvosa’s most prestigious Harrowers, the feytouched Varisian Mistress Ilga. Her father is a shameless Korvosan rake who serves as his wife’s “business manager.” While Mistress Ilga is singularly devoted to the Harrow as many are to their gods, her husband understands that those who approach fortune tellers may be taken advantage of just as easily as those religious fools. Katarina has two sisters: The oldest, Siouxsie, inherited her mother’s love of the Harrow. She is a skilled Harrower in her own right and is also a trained Varisian dancer. The youngest is Saryja, a dilettante who assumed all of her father’s larcenous tendencies. Siouxsie and Katarina share their mother’s fey heritage, long raven tresses and green eyes (Cha 14) , while Saryja keeps her chestnut hair cut short in the latest Korvosan style. Ilga trained Katarina and her sisters in the mystical art of the Harrow from a young age. Siouxsie embraced the Deck and grew in power, Saryja thought it was all a bunch of superstitious nonsense, but that their mother sure made a fortune by telling fortunes and it allowed Saryja to enjoy the decadent lifestyle she craved. Katarina was conflicted in her feelings. She acknowledged her mother’s powers with the Deck, but also saw the enormous power that lay in manipulating those who blindly believed every word from a soothsayer. Katarina was certainly capable of studying at the Acadamae. Unfortunately, the daughter of a Varisian Harrower – however famous – would never be accepted, so her father hired private tutors to further her studies. Her favorite tutor was charismatic young man named Tarim, and the two quickly developed a deeper relationship. Later, Tarim revealed to her that he really wasn’t a wizard at all, but a beguiler, somewhat limited in the magical arts, but gifted in many other ways. Tarim’s adventurous life quickly captivated the teenaged Kat, and she imitated everything he did. Tarim’s greatest frustration was the fact that he felt he couldn’t advance further due to his natural limitations, and he longed to impress his brilliant student and lover. He began to secretly experiment with various methods of achieving greater enlightenment. Finally, his search led him to try the dream-inducing street drug known as “shiver.” It didn’t take long for Tarim to become hooked, a fact he tried desperately to conceal from Katarina. His eventual overdose left the young beguiler in a coma and broke Katarina’s heart. It also made her mad. Mad at Tarim. Mad at “shiver”. Mad at the people responsible for the horrible drug - people who would have pay for what they had taken from her. Katarina has combined the powers of her Harrowing with her developing beguiler abilities to discover that a petty crime lord named Gaedren Lamm supplied Tarim with his “shiver.” She learned a lot of other nasty things about Lamm in her research, and now she’s ready to take him out.
Mandrake Sheekmore’: Human Paladin of Abadar
Mandrake never asked to be a paladin, never wanted it, in fact. The choice was taken from him, however, the day his brother, Petros, went missing. It was on that day that he had the Dream, or perhaps it was a vision. In it, Abadar spoke to him. How he knew it was Abadar, especially in light of the fact that he was agnostic, he couldn’t be sure. He just knew. The god told him where to find his brother. He had become addicted to the street drug shiver, and was holed up in the Dragon’s Breath Corridor, a drug house in Eel’s End. All that Abadar asked in return for this revelation was that Mandrake commit himself to the church body and soul. He didn’t explain why, except to say that his new paladin had been chosen for the turbulent times that lay ahead. When Mandrake woke, he set out immediately for Eel’s End. When he arrived at the Dragon’s Breath Corridor, however, he found that Petros had died in a drug-induced coma the night before, caused by a tainted batch of shiver. Once he had…persuaded…Bezzeraty, the proprietor of the Dragon’s Breath, the man had told him where the shiver had come from…a local crime lord by the name of Gaedren Lamm.
O’reginald Rijad: Human Sorcerer
O’reginald had been clean for sixty-four days, six hours and thirty-five minutes…yet he still craved shiver as if he’d last used yesterday. The young sorcerer had not always been thus. No, he’d once been a lesser scion of a minor noble house. True, he would never assume the role of patron of his clan, but still, he had prospects. When he first began to show an aptitude for magic, his family’s name had insured that he would gain admission to the prestigious Acadamae’…at least until it became apparent to all that his gifts were not of an academic nature. He was a sorcerer…a freak, born with a minor talent for the arcane that would never amount to anything of worth…or so he’d been told when his application to the college was torn up in front of him. To make matters worse, his father took his rejection by the school as a personal insult and embarrassment, one which he blamed on O’reginald. In no uncertain terms, he was informed that he was no longer welcome in his own home. He took to the streets, intending to use his skills to earn a modest living until he could come up with enough money to apply to Theumanexus College. As fate would have it, however, he fell in with a bad crowd during his travels thru the seedier sections of Korvosa, and it was thru his new friends that he first met Gaedren Lamm. It was thru Lamm that he was next introduced to shiver, and the rest, as they say, is history. His life began to rapidly spiral out of control from that point on, and he had faced many a debasement in his pursuit of the dragon. It was only as he sat by helplessly and watched his only friend, Petros, die in a fit of seizures that he realized that was the fate that awaited him if he didn’t get clean. Through a ferocious act of will, he endured days of sickness as he went through gut-wrenching withdrawals. Now, it had been over two months since he’d used, and he was determined that he would never watch another friend die to the drug that had almost consumed him. He knew that to kill a dragon, you had to cut off its head, and in Korvosa, the head of shiver was Gaedren Lamm.
“I know what Gaedren has done to you. He has wronged me as well. I know where he dwells, yet cannot strike at him. Come to my home at 3 Lancet Street at sunset. Others like you will be there. Gaedren must face his fate, and justice must be done.”
A simple note, printed on the back of a Harrow card, yet it was the beginning of a series of events that would change the history of the city of Korvosa, and of Varisia itself. Six disparate souls found the cards in widely disparate locations: one while he rummaged through a trash bin in search of his latest meal another hidden within her own Harrow deck a third slipped into the straps of his shield within the secret notes he studied in hopes of fulfilling his dream to become a mage in his coin purse, which also served as the symbol of his god and in the bottom of a hookah pipe, reminding him of a past he thought he’d escaped.
One-by-one they answered the call, unable to do otherwise. Their pasts demanded blood for blood. They gathered at the small fortune teller’s shop in the midtown district of Korvosa, their hostess not present as they began to file in. Two knew each other, for they had shared the same unhappy childhood at the hands of Gaedren Lamm, yet their lives had taken very different paths when they had finally won their freedom, and they simply stared at each other across the tiny sitting room, unsure of what to say. Likewise, the others had little to say, unsure of the motives of their fellow guests. They waited, and soon their hostess appeared, a handsome Varisian woman named Zellara. She made no introductions, but simply thanked her guests for coming and proceeded to tell them her tale. Gaedren Lamm had stolen her most valued possession from her: her mother’s Harrow deck. Her son went to Lamm to retrieve the deck, and was killed by the crime lord outright. Zellara found no help from law enforcement, and so relied on her own wits and skill with the Harrow. In time, she discovered one of Gaedren’s many hideouts, and discovered the names of others who harbored grudges against him as well. Thus her divinations had led her to call those before her, and to appeal to them for their aid in seeking vengeance against a common devil. There was no hesitation among those gathered in accepting her request. She thanked them, and before they left, she read the fortunes of each in the cards. All told a similar tale…a coming time of unrest and violence in the streets, and the role each of them would play as heroes to the city in its hour of greatest need.
The old fishery that served as Gaedren Lamm’s current hideout had stood abandoned after its former owner was killed by a devilfish. Under Korvosan law, buildings abandoned under such circumstances automatically reverted to the city, to be held in escrow for two years. Even after this period, however, the local government was slow to handle such matters, and Gaedren often used this to his advantage, setting up shop in a previously abandoned shop for as long as possible before moving on to the next. Not only was the fishery a convenient headquarters, but it also served as a money-making scheme to supplement what was brought in by his pick-pocketing ‘Little Lambs.’ It was a place where desperate fishermen could sell of their less fetching catches, and where fishmongers could dump their old sun-tainted wares. Lamm’s workforce of enslaved orphans toiled among the guts and slime, creating a foul-smelling slurry that could be resold as bait, fertilizer, or the main ingredient for ‘fish dumplings,’ a local favorite among the poorer dock workers who couldn’t afford a fresh filet of fish.
Zellara’s enforcers made their way along the wharfs from her shop to the fishery, exchanging superficial courtesies along the way, but each harboring suspicions and misgivings about the motivations of his or her companions. By the time they arrived, it was well after sunset, and the building was closed up for the night. This did not deter them. Some of them had waited most of their lives for that moment, while others for a far shorter time, but they all had one thing in common: their desire to see Gaedren Lamm pay for his crimes was all-consuming. Without hesitation, the big warrior called Herc used his shield to batter in the front door. In the front room beyond, they surprised a very startled-looking, sour-faced man, dressed in out-of-date finery. He was speaking with a small boy, and slowly rising to its feet, a deep snarl in its throat, was a powerfully-built cur. Ratbone and Valeris instantly recognized the man: Yargin Balkro, Gaedren’s right-hand man and longest-lived accomplice. Both of them had suffered greatly at his hands during their time of indentured servitude, and those old memories left them in no mood to act with diplomacy. Growling low, Ratbone stalked forward in his mongrel form, his eyes not on the other dog, but on Yargin’s throat. He paused barely three steps into the room, however, as he recognized a familiar scent. Turning, he sniffed the air and for the first time, got a really good look at the boy. It was then that he realized it was not a boy that he was seeing, but instead it was a gnome disguised as a human child. This then was Hookshanks Gruller, Gaedren’s overseer and taskmaster, a cruel creature who took great delight in bullying those who were even smaller than himself. A fresh surge of anger coursed through Ratbone, and he lunged at Yargin, taking the man down in a flurry of snapping jaws and flashing teeth. When Yargin’s dog, Boo rushed for Ratbone’s flank, Herc stepped in, killing the mangy mongrel with one blow. Hookshanks began edging towards the door, begging the ‘grown-ups’ to save him. Before he could make the door, however, Ratbone was on him, much to the shock and horror of his companions, who thought the half-orc had gone insane with bloodlust, attacking a child like that. It was only after the gnome lay motionless on the floor and Ratbone, reverting to his normal form, showed them the nature of the disguise, that they understood and calmed themselves.
Despite Ratbone’s vicious attacks, Yargin and Hookshanks still drew breath, though Valeris was eager to remedy that situation. Mandrake, however, insisted that they be kept alive and taken to the proper authorities for justice. Reluctantly, the others agreed and the pair were bound and gagged and left in the room while the avengers moved deeper into the fishery. They encountered no one else until they came through a door onto a platform overlooking the fishery floor. There, over two-dozen grimy, wide-eyed children cowered among the catwalk supports as a burly half-orc railed at them and beat them with a heavy-wooden flail, ordering them to kill the trespassers, all while he giggled maniacally. Valeris and Ratbone recognized yet another of Gaedren’s cronies: Mr. Giggles, a border-line insane brute who helped Hookshanks squeeze every minute of work they could from the orphans. Terrified as they obviously were of the half-orc, the children did not move to obey his maddened commands, which only enraged him further. As he raised his flail to strike again, however, Valeris and Ratbone were upon him, and this time, they were more thorough in their tactics, and Mr. Giggles did not rise from the widening pool of blood that surrounded him. Afterwards, Mandrake told the children to flee, and they didn’t hesitate, running like rats from a sinking ship. Several of them paused, however, as they passed the tied up pair in the front room. Katarina, who had silently followed the children to make sure they made good their escape, was the only one to bear witness as they drew small knives from their tunics and quickly slit the throats of Yargin and Hookshanks.
Moored to the pier behind the fishery, was the rotten hulk of an ancient barge called Kraken’s Folly. When the six companions found no trace of Gaedren within the fishery itself, they made their way to the boat. Within its dilapidated hulk, they found only a small colony of spiders the size of large cats. Once they had dealt with the vermin, however, Ratbone’s sharp eyes picked out a well-hidden door in the side of the hull. Upon opening it, they found a floating underpier beneath the main pier above. It lead to a lower level of the fishery that was not visible from street level. Within, they found a large, low-ceilinged, open area, with a sizeable hole in the floor overlooking the stinking river below. Standing on the far side of this room was Gaedren Lamm himself. He was a jaundiced, bent corpse of a man, his eyes yellowed and his skin speckled from age. His left leg carried a pronounced limp as he shuffled about, and he wore only a gray, cotton robe. When he saw the intruders, he merely sneered, for he recognized each one of them and knew why they had come. He taunted them each, cruelly and without mercy. He spoke of Ratbone and how he should have fed him to the sharks when he’d first found the half-breed. Valeris, his most promising pupil, was an ingrate in his eyes and deserved to have been left in a garbage bin. Herc, he told laughingly, was too late to save his charge. The boy, according to Lamm, had died just the day before. Mandrake and Katarina he chided for their choices of weak-willed family and lovers, so easily swayed by the offer of a little shiver. And speaking of shiver, he held a small vile out towards O’reginald, tempting the former addict with a bit of hair of the dog. Lastly, he spoke of Zellara, telling them he knew that she’d sent them, then remarking on her beauty and saying how he couldn’t bear to feed her to his ‘pet.’ He went on to say that she was in the next room if they wanted to see her, bringing looks of puzzlement and concern to their faces. No words were spoken as they fanned out around the hole in the floor, coming at Lamm from both flanks. Before they could reach him, however, a large crocodile lunged, roaring and snapping out of the river. This was Gobblegut, Gaedren’s pet, to whom he’d fed any number of his enemies and charges who’d displeased him. Still, such was the pent up rage and frustration of those assembled, that Valeris slew the croc single-handedly, while Ratbone tore out Gaedren’s throat himself.
Strangely, Gaedren’s death brought no satisfaction, and his final taunt weighed heavily on the minds of the six. When they entered the small office off the main chamber, they discovered amid the filth and refuse a strongbox, and a small, wooden hatbox surrounded by a cloud of flies. Within the strongbox was an assortment of Gaedren’s more prized acquisitions. Most of these were minor trinkets of small value, but one was an exquisitely-crafted brooch depicting a pseudodragon and an imp coiled around each other. The dragon’s eye was an amethyst, while the imp’s was an emerald. It’s value was incalculable, yet even more shocking was the marking on its back…the personal insignia of Queen Ileosa herself!
A larger, and more horrifying shock, however, still lay within the hatbox. When Katarina cautiously lifted the lid, she gasped as she saw the severed head of Zellara nestled within. It was poorly preserved and decorated with unsightly makeup in a crude attempt to give its sagging flesh the semblance of life. Beneath the ragged stump of the neck, lay the fortune teller’s Harrow deck.
The would-be heroes made their quickly back to Zellara’s shop, but when they arrived there, they found it abandoned, looking as if it had been so for weeks. No sign of food, wall hangings, rugs or Zellara herself could be found, and the furniture was smashed to pieces. No sooner had they entered, however, than Katarina felt a strange warmth emanating from her pocket. When she reached in and withdrew Zellara’s Harrow deck, she saw that it was glowing with a pale, silvery light. The glow grew until it formed the outline of a woman, Zellara, looking ghostly and translucent. She apologized for having deceived them, but explained that when she had gone after Gaedren, seeking revenge for her son’s death, she had only found her own doom there. Such was her desire for vengeance, however, that her spirit had lived on and contacted each of them. She thanked them for giving her peace, and explained that she now bequeathed her most prized possession, her deck, to them. She explained that, through it, she could continue to offer them her guidance and her wisdom. They had only to call.
When they emerged once more from Zellara’s shop, it became immediately apparent that something terrible had happened. Korvosa was in flames. Smoke rose on the horizon. The frantic clang of alarm bells sang out in harmony with a multifarious cacophony of screams, the clash of steel on steel, moans, and even the periodic detonation of arcane power. A wing of Sable Company griffon riders swooped overhead, angling toward Castle Korvosa at a breakneck pace. One of the badly wounded mounts rained blood down on the street around them before it succumbed and crashed headlong into a statue, taking its rider and itself to a bone-crunching demise. The others in the flight did not pause to check on their fallen ally. Amid the chaos, the voice of a Korvosan herald cut through the din: “The king is dead! Long live the queen!” only to be shouted down by the ragged cries of “Hang the queen!” and “The usurper whore must die!” Through an alleyway, they even spotted a contingent of hellknights clad in dark iron armor and horned helms pursuing a small gang of what appeared to be looters. The city had gone mad while the heroes had battled Gaedren in his lair.
Oh boy oh boy. I'll sure follow this one. Shame about the last one but the Crimson Throne is of on a good start. I hope the characters will grow on me like the last times.
Oh boy oh boy. I'll sure follow this one. Shame about the last one but the Crimson Throne is of on a good start. I hope the characters will grow on me like the last times.
Yes, a fine assortment of characters. It migth just work out, if the two darker souls are a little more subtle in living out their alignment. In other words: not like Reaper.
Great start of the story hour and awesome description of the PC histories. You could really feel the tension. Glad you wrapped up RotRL the way you did and thanks for continuing to share your exploits with us!
First PostYes, a fine assortment of characters. It migth just work out, if the two darker souls are a little more subtle in living out their alignment. In other words: not like Reaper.
HEY. Reaper wasn't THAT bad.
Most of the PC histories above were written by the players themselves, and its really cool to see the deep amount of thought that went into them. Should be an interesting to see how it all shakes out.
Oh, and we have no cleric, so healing is going to be limited to 'cleric-on-a-stick' for the time being.
IN HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE
Eodred II’s health had been declining for some time. That was common knowledge, but his sudden death had caught most of the castle off guard. Rumors quickly began to spread on the streets that he suffered from some disease beyond even the priesthoods of Sarenrae and Abadar’s skill to cure, and that even Asmodeus’s disciples were summoned from their pentacle temple in the deep of night to try their dark hand at restoring the king. Worse, the castle’s seneschal had apparently vanished as well, supposedly slain in one of the initial riots. Desperate citizens, salty dock workers, soot-covered smiths and all manner of tradesmen, already stifled by Eodred’s spendthrift reign, roared at the thought of Ileosa taking the throne. Dock workers abandoned the seafront wards and caravan men left North Point. Frustrated merchant ships and wagon convoys turned around when they found no one to offload their goods, much less to buy them. Food and other staples trickled into the city, while thousands vied for the last sack of flour or bundle of cook-fire timber in the market. Riots erupted throughout the streets. Entire wards plunged into chaos. Those who did not rove the streets with cudgel and torch in hand instead locked their doors against the gathering mob. The Bank of Abadar closed its gilded gates and a contingent of the Coin’s Faithful stood at the ready with halberd and crossbow to repel would-be looters. The Acadamae closed its doors as well, shutting its students and professors within its walls and closing them to the rest of the city. In the space of a dozen hours, all of Korvosa’s oppression and anger exploded into chaos.
It was into this madness that the six new companions stepped. Their mission was complete, yet now they were adrift, unable to return to their previous lives, and now dependent on each other for the relative safety that numbers would afford. At first they were divided as to where they should go and what they should do. Ratbone advocated aiding the victims of the rioting wherever they could, but Mandrake felt they should return the stolen brooch to the queen. The paladin’s reasoning was that they were obliged to restore the stolen property to its rightful owner, while the city guard could assist in dispersing the mobs. In the end, a compromise was reached, since the company would have to traverse a large part of the city to reach Castle Korvosa, and they would be able to lend their assistance if it was needed along the way.
Their first chance came quickly and unexpectedly. As they passed by a small tavern, an obviously drunken guardsman came staggering up to Valeris, seemingly having mistaken the duskblade for someone named Neffi, from some place called Sandpoint. When Valeris denied the acquaintance and proceeded to chastise the soldier for dereliction of duty in the face of citywide lawlessness, the man became defensive and belligerent, claiming that there was no point in trying to help. The city was lost. Mandrake recognized the guardsman, a well-liked Watch Sergeant named Grau. The paladin stepped between him and Valeris, and attempted to diffuse the situation, offering to escort the watchman back to the Citadel. Grau grew tearful and remorseful about his abandonment of his post, and agreed to accompany the group after all.
Further along, they came upon the edge of a riot where a mob of half-a-dozen men wielding shovels, chair-legs, and lengths of iron pipe surrounded a beardless young nobleman. One of the laborers, a fat, bald man with greasy muttonchops framing his rotund face, jeered at the young man, accusing him of never having worked an honest day in his life, and of being a lapdog of the “whore queen!” As the big worker raised his pipe to strike, however, Katarina stepped in, a wave of her hand and a quickly chanted spell putting two of the thugs to sleep. Between Valeris’s intimidating stance and Mandrake’s polite but firm suggestion that they disperse, the other men picked up their drowsing companions and slunk away, grumbling. The nobleman was grateful, and identified himself as Amin Jalento. He was in no frame of mind to stick around, however, and tipped his saviors several platinums before disappearing into the streets.
Eventually, they arrived at the Citadel, and while Grau’s fellows readily accepted his return, they were not inclined to accept the offer of the young heroes of further assistance. They were advised, in no uncertain terms, to return to their homes or face incarceration. Reluctantly, they continued on their way. Castle Korvosa was not hard to identify against Korvosa’s skyline. A magnificent achievement of architecture, the castle walls and spires rose high into the air above. The entire structure loomed even higher for its ancient foundation…a Thassilonian ruin in the shape of an immense, flat-topped pyramid. Normally, petitioners to the monarchy approached from the Great Ramp, waited in the Public Courtyard to speak to the Korvosan Guards on duty, and hoped for a chance to be heard. When the six companions arrived, however, the Castle had been locked tight, and bristled with pikes and crossbows. The guards demanded to know their business. At the mention of the queen’s brooch, however, their attitude changed. Hurried words were exchanged among the watchmen, and then one nodded that the group should proceed to the courtyard…after leaving their weapons at the gate.
A group of obviously nervous guards armed with heavy crossbows escorted them up to the castle. As they reached the top of the pyramid and the wide stairs curling up to the castle’s third floor, they were greeted by a beautiful woman dressed in magnificent full plate armor…the queen’s handmaiden and bodyguard, Sabina Merrin. She nodded curtly in greeting, then asked to see the brooch. When it was presented, she smiled, dismissed the guards, then led the company to the throne room, asking how they would be introduced when they met the queen. As they rounded the corner to the throne room, she announced their arrival with a loud, clear voice, and then stepped aside. Queen Ileosa sat upon the Crimson Throne, a vision of celestial beauty despite the black mourning dress and veil she wore in honor of her husband’s death. A small silver coffer sat in her lap. Sabina stepped forward again and took the brooch, then handed it over to the queen with a flourish. She took up a position at the throne’s left side as Ileosa addressed the companions. The queen thanked them for the return of her property, something she had not expected to see again. She spoke of her love for Korvosa, and the turmoil her husband’s death had brought to the city. She promised to reward her heroes, but suggested that they might do her and their city further service. She offered them a position at Citadel Volshyenek among her city guards, if they so chose. Then, claiming that her grief had drained her, she retired, directing Sabina to hand over the reward…a king’s ransom of twelve gold Korvosan ingots. Sabina then looked questioningly at them, obviously waiting on their answer to the queen’s offer. The six unlikely heroes glanced at each other, then agreed as one.
Sabina Merrin and a contingent of the royal guard escorted the new guardsmen to Citadel Volshyenek. Once there, they were shown past the same soldiers who had ordered them away on their last visit, sheepish looks of contrition on their faces. They were taken into the central keep, where a harried and tired-looking woman rose from her desk to greet them. This was Field Marshal Cressida Kroft. She introduced herself and asked for their names. She was pleased to see them, pointing out that they had seen the situation in the streets, and the guard was already stretched thin. Every bit of help they could get was welcome. Skipping any further formalities, she proceeded to explain that Korvosa had enough problems without her own men losing their way and going rogue. Apparently this had already happened several times. Many had deserted their posts, concerned about family and friends, yet some were using the riots for personal gain. One such was a man named Verik Vancaskerkin. He had convinced a small group of his fellow guards that Queen Ileosa was going to ruin the city. Cressida explained that she couldn’t afford to pull any of her guards off duty to deal with him, and she didn’t want to expose any of them to him in any case, not wanting to risk further desertions. She needed impartial agents, and that’s where the newcomers came in. She explained that Vancaskerkin and his men had holed up in an abandoned butcher’s shop in North Point called All the World’s Meat. She wanted the group to investigate the place. She asked that they try and avoid killing any of the deserters, if possible, but understood if it came to that. Specifically, she wanted Vancaskerkin alive for interrogation, so that she could find out if there was more to his desertion than simple politics. She dubbed her new operatives the Korvosan Intelligence Agency…K.I.A.
By the following morning, the initial civil unrest and outbreaks of rioting were quelled quickly, thanks to the swift action of the Guard, the Sable Company and the Hell Knights. The streets were relatively safe to walk, but a thick tension remained in the air. Riots, fires, and lootings continued to erupt sporadically, and certain smaller areas of the city remained out of control. North Point was one of these. Fortunately, Ratbone knew those streets, and he was able to lead his companions along back alleys and side streets, avoiding the major thoroughfares.
When they reached the butcher shop, they found that it was apparently still a going concern, as several patrons were lined up outside the door, entering and then leaving with wrapped parcels. Dressed in their normal garb instead of that of the Guard, the group drew no attention to themselves as they walked down a side alley and approached the shop from the stockyard. Quietly and unseen, they entered the building, finding themselves on the killing floor, a large, blood spattered chamber where the livestock was slaughtered. The room was unoccupied, however, and they began cautiously opening adjoining doors. Behind one, they surprised two men, both dressed in chain shirts beneath their aprons, slopping three surly-looking boars. The men, Karralo and Parns, late of the Korvosan Guard, asked if they were lost, saying that they were trespassing on private property. At first, Valeris tried bluffing them, explaining that they were there to join Verik’s cause. The two ex-soldiers denied knowing anything about that, at the same time loosening their weapons. After that, there was no more room for diplomacy, and things happened quickly. Despite the best efforts of Valeris and O’reginald, the men were subdued, mostly due to Katarina’s deft use of her magical skills, repeatedly dazing the warriors while her companions rendered them unconscious. Within moments, however, two more men, Baldrago and Malder entered the room, but they were likewise dealt with. Finally, Verik himself appeared, but by that time it was too late. He was outnumbered and outclassed, and he soon joined his cohorts in captivity. A search of the shops offices turned up nothing incriminating, but Valeris did find a beautifully ornate silver dagger, which he slipped surreptitiously into his tunic.
When the group left the shop, a crowd had gathered outside, having witnessed the melee. They began to grow violent and unruly when they saw Verik and his men being dragged out bound hand-and-foot. Katarina and Mandrake, however, were able to calm the mob, explaining that the men were wanted criminals. When they added that any remaining meat in the shop was free for the taking, that sealed it, and the people surged inside, allowing the company to take their prisoners and slip quietly away.
Field Marshal Kroft was very pleased that, not only had her new agents dealt with Verik and his men, but they’d managed to bring them all in alive! The financial reward she gave them was generous, but their achievement was such that she had another assignment for them immediately. When they gathered in her office, however, she was not alone. A handsome, middle-aged gentleman, whom she introduced as Vencarlo Orisini, was also in attendance. Herc’s face fell when he saw the man, for it was Vencarlo’s nephew that the big warrior had been assigned to protect when the boy was kidnapped by Gaedren Lamm. Orisini knew him as well, and he was quick to reassure Herc that neither he, nor his family held the man responsible for what had happened. Though this did not assuage Herc’s guilt, he could tell the nobleman was being genuine.
Cressida cut the amenities short, as she was anxious to get down to business. She said that Vencarlo had often been a source of information for her, and he had now brought her some ominous news. It seemed a man named Darvayne Gios Amprei, an ambassador from Cheliax whose disdain for Korvosa was well known, was attempting to undermine the city’s economy to the point where he could buy up large portions of real estate from desperate landholders and establish himself in a position of power. Even before the current crisis, he had been ready to recommend to his government a sanction on trade, or perhaps even an embargo. Cressida was emphatic that his plans had to be stopped, but not by simply killing him. Not only would it be wrong, but it would martyr him in the eyes of Cheliax. Fortunately, Vencarlo had learned that the ambassador had been making regular visits to Eel’s End in Old Korvosa, a den of vice run by a dangerous man named Devargo Barvasi, better known in Korvosa’s alleys as the King of Spiders. He would never let anyone he recognized as an ally of the Guard into his establishment, which was were the K.I.A came in: she wanted them to pay a visit to Eel’s End and secure an audience with Devargo, find out what he knew about Amprei, get proof of any illicit goings-on the ambassador might be involved with, and bring that proof back to her. She agreed to supply them with gold to bribe the crime lord, as he might not be willing to part with such information willingly. The six companions accepted their assignment without question.
Vencarlo volunteered to escort the company as far as Old Korvosa, since his fencing academy was located there. Along the way, he took the time to thank them for how they handled the situation with Sergeant Grau, adding that the man was once one of his most promising students. As he spoke, Katarina recalled a rumor she’d heard about some sort of scandal involving Grau, Vencarlo and Sabina Merrin. The details escaped her, however. Vencarlo paid quite a bit of attention to Katarina on the long walk, playing the role of the gentleman suitor. He also took an interest in Ratbone, inquiring specifically about the half-orc’s charity work in Bridgefront.
Soon enough, they reached Old Korvosa, and Vencarlo took his leave with a bow and a final kiss to Katarina’s hand. He pointed them in the direction of Eel’s End, though Mandrake unfortunately knew the way quite well. When the group reached the long pier with five large barges moored to its end, the paladin was nearly overwhelmed with memories of his last visit there…when he’d found his brother dead inside the shiver den known as the Dragon’s Breath Corridor. Now fate had brought him back, and he could not help but believe that it was no coincidence. Abadar worked in mysterious ways.
Along with the Dragon’s Breath Corridor, the Twin Tigers, the Goldenhawk, and the House of Clouds all were heavily patroned by sailors, thugs, prostitutes and what could even have been a few well-dressed nobles, all carousing together. Only one ship, the largest, the Eel’s End itself, had an unoccupied deck, save for a pair of large, grim-faced men dressed in chainmail. The group made their way onto the foredeck of the barge, and when they were questioned by the guards, Katarina’s obvious charms convinced them that she and her friends had legitimate business with Devargo Barvasi. They were taken inside the cabin of the King of Spiders, where the brooding crime lord sat on a makeshift throne crawling with spiders, as a group of thugs sat at tables before him enjoying a sumptuous meal and loudly telling stories. The room became hushed, however, as the newcomers were escorted in. At Barvasi’s questioning gaze, Katarina stepped forward to speak. She explained that she was an adept of the Harrow, and had recently been given visions of important events swirling about the Spider King. When Barvasi said that he did not deal in the whims of fortune, but instead made his own fate, Katarina asked to give him a reading. Bemused, he agreed, all the while fingering the filigree on the armrest of his throne. Katarina took out Zellara’s deck, and began dealing the cards. Her reading was inspired as she spoke of Barvasi’s sordid past, his obviously successful present, and his clouded future, in which she claimed to see divided loyalties. Barvasi sat forward with interest, peering down at the cards. When he asked what she meant by the latter, Katarina spoke of Ambassador Amprei. Barvasi listened in silence as she offered her proposal, ending with a heavy sack laden with five-hundred gold coins. Barvasi remained silent another moment, but then abruptly clapped his hands in delight, and thanked Katarina for her generosity and entertainment. He then asked that they wait while he adjourned to his private quarters. When he returned, he brought with him a packet of papers. He explained that he had learned of a scandalous affair between the ambassador and the wife of an important noble back in Cheliax. He had paid Amprei a visit, attempting to befriend him and make a proposition of opening a line of trade with Cheliax. When the ambassador refused and had Barvasi escorted from his property, Devargo had lifted the man’s house key. He later returned to the house under cover of darkness and stole several letters from Amprei’s paramour. He’d been selling them back to the ambassador since then, but he still had two left, and these he handed over to Katarina and her friends.