Two Graves

Xander's Journal: Entry 48

Entry Forty-Eight

Days One- Four

I am beginning a new field journal as Iomedae has guided me to a new mission. Because I am a late arrival to this military campaign, I have picked up where the numbering of the field summaries for Master Eshrin L’vatt left off.

My quest began not long after my companions and I defeated the summoner, Nerashtu, and his fell bone devil. The horrors that I saw within that chamber stay with me when I close my eyes. I had returned home from Krig not two days before, and I had sought solace in my prayer to the Inheritor. As I prayed, her divine hand touched my awareness. I felt such immense love wash over me, but then it quickly turned to despair. It was a sliver of the feeling of her own despair, and it was so very intense in its depth. Deeply disturbing visions began to flash through my thoughts. I saw three sparkling jewels of civilization pass me by. Then I saw a burning crown. Masses of undead abominations were slaughtering the living. Armies of black cloaked men and women with rivulets of blood running down their faces walked among them. Then I felt an intense tearing sensation; as if some mighty and terrible being was trying to rip my very soul from my body.

When I was violently jolted back to awareness, I quickly sought counsel from the church elders. I entreated them to send me to Saorsis with all due haste so that I could root out the evil that Iomedae had shown me. The elders agreed. Transportation was quickly arranged for me to travel to Saorsis via the Great Threshold. I quickly put my affairs in order, retrieved my letter of introduction from the High Priest, and traveled through the threshold.

It has been awhile since I teleported anywhere. Despite the great distance traveled, the trip through the portal was surprisingly smooth. Even Abraxis didn’t seem to mind it.

Though I wouldn’t say so in Her Majesty’s presence, the city of Regunt is truly a sight to behold. I made decent time through the streets and was able to arrive at the Praesidium in good time. It was an interesting temple. The inside is beautiful of course. The National Police Force has its headquarters directly inside the temple. Certainly efficient. When I arrived, a nice young clerk named William quickly delivered my letter of introduction to his superior, a Chief Donovan. After a brief delay, I was ushered into the office of that man’s superior. He is called Chief Nigel Croft. He was an older gentleman as befits his rank, but he certainly held himself like a capable warrior.

After Chief Croft welcomed me to the Praesidium, young William came knocking on his door. He whispered something to the chief and was quickly dismissed. Chief Croft looked troubled and asked me to wait in the sitting area while he handled a matter of urgent business. I of course took my leave.

As I was making my way to the sitting area, I passed a relatively young man struggling to balance a hefty stack of papers and tomes. He seemed distracted and withdrawn as he approached. Just as I was about to pass him, I saw the unmistakable flash of bone-deep grief cross his features. It was gone almost before it surfaced, but I saw it all the same. I stopped and asked him if I could help him. Mistaking my offer to be about the papers and not his pain, he shuffled them a bit, said “No, I’m fine,” and entered the chief’s office without knocking.

After waiting but a quarter of an hour, I was fetched by William and asked to return to the chief’s office. When I entered, the bookish fellow I had passed in the hallway was still present. Chief Croft introduced the man as Eshrin L’vatt. He explained that he was a police warden of Saorsis. The Chief explained to Master Eshrin that I was a paladin of Iomedae, that I was from an exceptionally good family, and that I could be trusted completely. Master Eshrin just nodded vaguely. The chief told Master Eshrin that he would need someone he could trust, and he instructed me to assist Eshrin in whatever way I can.

Chief Croft went on to explain that my vision had been eerily accurate. He explained that there had recently been five wardens and that now there is but one. He further explained that a great threat hangs over the nation. He spoke of a cult of black cloaked men wearing headbands who were committing terrible acts of evil. While Master Eshrin looked on, the chief explained that Eshrin’s party had gone into a bog. They had descended beneath the waters in search of clues. When they got there, they encountered a great force of enemies and many fell creatures. Inside a tower, they had found a great trove of intelligence. While Master Eshrin continued to gather the invaluable tomes, the rest of his companions went on. They had an encounter with a ghoul. He did not have to tell me how they met their ends. As they went in not knowing what they would face, it would have been painfully easy for them to have been picked off one by one. This is very tragic news indeed. Things seem to be nearly as bad as I feared they might be.

After the chief finished his briefing, I assured Master Eshrin that I was at his service. He nodded and woodenly said: “I have to go to my office now. Someone is waiting for me.” We crossed to the capitol offices and entered a generously apportioned suite of rooms. It was there that I was greeted by a sight I had not exactly expected to see. The rows of immaculately maintained books of course were no surprise. Nor was the bespeckled young clerk named Wilhelm. Waiting in the office however was a very unlikely trio of fellows and a vicious looking alley cat. The cat looked like it might have recently escaped one of the nine hells.

Master Eshrin nodded to one of the men and said: “Hello Bartholameu.” Bortholameau smoothed back what can only be described as an extravagant pompadour hairdo and said: “Hey Eshrin. Good to see you! It’s been a while.” Bartholameau looked a bit quizzical but waited for Eshrin to speak. I cannot begin to describe the fellow’s affect with any accuracy, so I will not even try. I will just say he seemed a very colorful person and leave it at that. In the sitting room with him were two other men. Eshrin looked at them and bluntly said: “Who are you? Why are you here?”

A well-dressed black haired elven man rose and bowed his head slightly. His clothing was very tasteful and cut of the highest quality fabric. He possessed the usual beauty of his race, and his manners were impeccable. He introduced himself as Salimeeriahn. He asked everyone to call him Sal. I recognized his name straightaway. His father is a member of the High Elven Council in Alberai. Not surprisingly, he explained that he is a diplomat to Seorsus. He makes his home in Crent in the elven enclave.

Sal explained that he has been working closely to aid the Citizens’ Advocacy Group. He recently sent masons to a place called Copper Chop in order to help with rebuilding efforts. He said that he wanted to help end the threats that have plagued the nation. He admitted it had taken him a while to realize that the wardens were the lynchpin to ending the threat. When he had realized this, he had come to their office to await their return.

Once Sal had explained all of this, we looked expectantly at the last man in the room. I have to admit that I have never seen his like before. Sitting at his feet was the largest warhammer I have ever seen. It was made of a peculiar dark metal. I would be hard pressed to wield the thing efficiently in battle. The man was perhaps a shade under six feet tall. He wore armor dulled in shades of tan, and he had a massive leather bound tome at his hip. His very dark skin and muted arms and armor lead me to believe that he hails from Mughim. He stared back at us for an uncomfortably long time until Sal said: “This is Farraj Marwan. He’s from Mughim. Do you want me to tell them a little about you Farraj, or do you want to do that?”

The man stood, and I could tell that he was very heavily muscled. He had a quiet and serious demeanor. He explained that he was usually on his own and that he was not used to being with so many people. He said that one by one the tribes of gnolls in the great desert had disappeared. He said that they were a savage people but that they had also been a part of the place. He had tracked the disappearance of all of the gnolls, and it had brought him to Seorsus.

I would say it is an incredible coincidence that so many strangers converged upon this office during this time of great need, but I don’t really believe in coincidences.

Once introductions were finished, Eshrin very matter-of-factly said: “Bartholameu, I called you here to give you some bad news. Sibyl is dead along with the rest of our friends.” Bartholameau looked thunderstruck by the news. It quickly became apparent that Warden Sibyl had been his inamorata. Bartholameau did not break down for even an instant. Not even when Salimeeriahn offered a very heartfelt condolence. Instead, he got that look that always worries me. The one that says he will never accept her death until he sees her again one way or the other. Master Eshrin gave a guarded explanation of what had happened to her and his other companions.

Once he had a moment to digest the information, Bartholameau said: “Eshrin, we have to do something. We have to go back there. We’ll go get them and bring them back to life.” Farraj said: “The gnolls are gone. Fighting this great evil is a worthy cause. I will help you with this.” Bartholameau said: “Good. Let’s go then.” Master Eshrin held up his hand and said: “Wait. Farraj, I can’t just let you know all of this secret information without checking your credentials and abilities and then checking with Nigel.” Then he asked what sorts of experiences Farraj had had. Farraj told the story of how he had come upon a fallen trade caravan. The wagons had been crushed, and the bodies of the dead had been badly charred. Sal interrupted and excitedly said: “Ooh, was it a blue dragon?” Farraj nodded and said: “A very young one, yes.” He went on to say that he had tracked the dragon to a cave, ignored its pleas to bargain, and slaughtered it. Eshrin asked what proof we had that the story was true. Farraj raised his chest piece a bit to show a thin belt made out of blue dragon hide. Bartholameau excitedly said: “Well I’m with you. Let’s go.” Sal said: “I don’t want to fight with you, but I can definitely drum up support. Maybe money. I should have a lot of luck in the elven community. I can go there right away.

Eshrin interrupted and said: “You don’t understand. We have to do better than the last group. They were the best, and they all died. Everyone but me.” The unspoken truth that he did not die because he was not even in the fight hung heavily in the air. I am trying not to judge the man. Truly I am not. He found extraordinarily valuable intelligence apparently. He deemed that worth the risk of staying behind. He and presumably his companions took a calculated risk.

After his statement settled in, Eshrin said: “Bartholameau, I’m sorry. You cannot go.” Bartholameau zealously argued that he could help. Eshrin grew a bit agitated and said: “They killed four of the best policemen in the country. You are a bartender. A business owner. You are not an adventurer.” Bartholameau explained that he had been involved in many bar brawls. He said that he had already gotten leave from his job and was ready to go. Then he said: “Have I let you down yet?” Eshrin again said that he could not go and reiterated that he was but a bartender. Bartholameau said he had been a member of the police force five years past. Farraj rumbled: “We could spar. To see if he can fight.” I pointed out that sparring within the city is illegal. He said they could spar outside of the city. I conceded that perhaps it would be a good idea to get a measure of the man’s fighting skills before he got in over his head. Bartholameau certainly does not carry himself like a warrior.

At that point, Bartholameau lost his temper. He turned on Master Eshrin and angrily growled: “You’re a coward.” Farraj took exception to this and asked in an equally angry voice if Bartholameau had ever seen the blood of his companions spilled in battle and if he had ever seen his friends die in battle. Bartholameau angrily spat back that he had not but that it did not matter. Farraj told Bartholameau that Eshrin was a much bravery warrior than he. At that point I was forced to intercede and ask people to cool their tempers.

I asked again how we could know if Bartholameau was a capable fighter. He said: “I give you my word. Isn’t that enough?” Sal chimed in and drawled: “The paladin isn’t going to….” I interrupted him and said: “Yes. It is.” Sal seemed incredulous and said: “What?” I said: “He gave his word. That is enough.” I will not besmirch the man’s honor by suggesting that his word is not good enough. I do know that he wants to do this for vengeance. And because he is in pain. As I said, I have seen that look so many times before. This is a man who is going to try to find his beloved and bring her back with or without our help. I know that he might be a liability. At least with our help he will stand a chance of surviving. And maybe we can talk sense into him. I am certainly not going into that bog until I have more solid intelligence.

Farraj again offered to spar outside of city limits. Bartholameau demurred and said: “I don’t want to hurt anyone.” Despite the absurdity of the statement, the man seemed earnest. He finally told Eshrin that he just needed to go to Crent to get proof that he is a capable fighter. With that, he hurried out to catch up with Sal, who said he was going to get a carriage to go to Crent.

After they departed, I asked Eshrin what he wanted to do. He seemed bereft and did not know how to proceed. I gave his shoulder a squeeze and said we would figure it out.

Farraj pointed to a very fat tome and said he had been reading the field reports that Eshrin had written. That was certainly a very sensible idea. I was quite surprised that the field reports would be so dense, but I reasoned that it sounded like they had been on a lot of missions. I know there was still shock in my voice as I said: “Those are the field reports?” Farraj gestured to a shelf with rows and rows of identical books and said: “No. All of these are the field reports.” They totaled twenty seven very thick volumes with fourteen volumes of follow-up information. I nearly had a heart attack right then and there. How are the police to utilize field reports efficiently when they have to comb through that much text? I tried to remain nonchalant as I suggested that perhaps I would summarize them so they would be more decipherable for a soldier’s mind. Master Eshrin grumbled something I did not quite catch, but he did not object.

I scooped up several of the volumes as we departed the office. As we were leaving, I asked Farraj where he was staying. He seems quite wild. I don’t wish for him to get into any trouble. He told me that he would be fine wherever he decided to lay his head that night. I let him know that vagrancy was illegal and offered to help him find an inn. I offered to relinquish my room at the church so that I could stay with him. He asked if I was referring to a traveling hostel, and he told me that his kind was not allowed there. Hearing that he had difficulty finding accommodations in Seorsus didn’t really surprise me. I assured him that I could help him find a place where he would be welcome.

I asked Master Eshrin where he would like to go. He said there was an inn they had been staying at before. But he said it seemed like his enemy had been spying on him and he did not trust that inn anymore. He didn’t have any other suggestions. Fortunately I found a very helpful fellow who pointed us to a place called The Ledger. Farraj seemed displeased, but the name did seem to lift Master Eshrin’s spirits at least a little bit.

The inn turned out to be a perfectly fine establishment. The innkeeper, Malcolm, very graciously offered to put us up for five nights free of charge because he held the wardens in such high esteem. He would hear no argument on the matter. As soon as we sat down, Farraj grumbled about the place being too soft. I tried to soothe him, but frankly I was looking forward to a nice meal and something to drink.

In the morning, a letter arrived requesting Eshrin’s presence at the Praesidium. That worked out well since I was planning on heading there for morning prayers. On the way to the temple, Farraj seemed very disconcerted by his surroundings. He kept studying the citizenry very predatorily, which started to make me feel uneasy. Then he began muttering about weak herds and soft people. I suppose he’s not totally wrong. He just doesn’t seem to understand the idea of societal contribution yet. He’ll come around though.

As we were heading to the temple, we ran into Sal and Bartholameau. I know a hangover when I see one, and I saw two that morning. Sal explained that he had hosted a party to drum up support and that Bartholameau had mixed drinks for everyone. Eshrin quickly broke in with a hushed demand of: “You didn’t tell them anything yet, did you? I told you not to tell them anything.” Sal smoothly calmed him and said he had not said anything.

I thanked Sal for his support in elven. He seemed please to speak his native tongue. It was good to brush up on my elven. It reminded me a little of being in Alberai. He seemed surprised that I spoke his language so well, so I told him about how I had spent a few years there.

While we were walking, Bartholameau handed Eshrin a large sheaf of papers. Apparently he has participated in many gladiatorial matches in Crent. He won ninety-three percent of his matches. That‘s certainly better than nothing. Presumably the man has at least gotten knocked around a bit. Farraj is right though. No amount of fisticuffs will prepare you for the first time a man slices into you with his blade or a wizard tries to burn you alive. Nevermind the more fell things out there. We all have to have our first battle though.

After reviewing the documents, Master Eshrin proclaimed that the only way Bartholameau could adventure with him was if he reenlisted in the army. Farraj echoed Eshrin’s concerns and said that they were valid. It is unusual to see such dissimilar men readily agree on so many things. We’ll see how long it lasts. Bartholameau seemed to see the writing on the wall and agreed to reenlist.

When we entered Chief Croft’s office, he seemed surprised to say the least. Eshrin explained everyone else’s presence. Chief Croft said that it would be best for Bartholameau to reenlist if he wanted to join the fight. He also made it abundantly clear that it was solely up to Eshrin whether or not he wanted to accept Bartholameau into his group.

It was clear that Chief Croft’s patience was already wearing thin. I thought it best to try to hurry things along. I asked Farraj if he wanted to join the police force. He quickly said that he respectfully declined. He said that he would be happy to go as an advisor. He said: “I have already pledged my strength and weapon to Eshrin.” Chief Croft explained that it would be a mere formality of drawing up a contract. This seemed to alarm Farraj further. He very firmly declined. Sal interjected that the written word was very binding in Mughim. It carries a far greater connotation than it does in Seorsus.

Chief Croft seemed quite exasperated by that point. I was not unsympathetic to the man’s plight, so I tried again. I asked if we could sign that we witnessed Farraj giving his oral pledge. Farraj grew agitated and said that he did not wish to be enslaved by words. I told him that I would never want that for him. Chief Croft suggested that not having Farraj under contract of any kind could be exposing weakness to the country’s enemies. He felt that the front the police presented had to be ironclad. Farraj looked even more perplexed. I again tried and failed to explain.

Finally, Chief Croft said: “Perhaps we can say that all laws of the county do not apply to you?” I didn’t like the sound of that at all. Neither did Sal. He seemed very alarmed that Farraj would have no protection. He tried to offer to just read a contract between the two since he was a disinterested third party. Farraj again said no. Chief Croft pushed on and said: “You would be acting as a rogue agent from another land. You will have our aid, but it will not be guaranteed by law. We will not be bound to each other.” Farraj quickly agreed. He asked us to sign as witnesses since he would not sign. I wasn’t thrilled with the arrangement, but it was his decision to make.

The chief said I would be treated as a foreign diplomat and would be offered an at-will contract with the police force. I’ve certainly had worse offers from governments in the past.

Once that was out of the way, the chief told us that the announcement about the deaths of the wardens would be made on the following day. He feared word would spread quickly and that it would not bode well. He said that we needed to establish a course of action.

Sal broke in and said that more than that needed to be addressed. Chief Croft suggested that we identify the most pressing concerns and find out who the enemy really is. As a group, we decided that the Bloomington Arboretum would be a very good place to investigate next. It is apparently two days’ travel to the Northwest. Farraj seemed very eager to destroy the other buds that might spawn what the group had found in the marsh.

We asked about the Courtwright brothers who had built the printing press the wardens found in the marsh. Chief Croft said that he was sure another team could follow up on that for him.

Sal expressed that he understood we could not leave for the arboretum right away as Chief Croft had asked for our help in keeping the peace in the central cities. The chief expressed his gratitude for our help in this matter. He did ask us to keep a low profile for a while. He doesn’t want it to appear that they were just parading new faces in front of the people immediately as if the death of the wardens did not matter. A very sensible and surprisingly sympathetic stance on his part.

After all of that business was finished, Chief Croft asked to speak with Eshrin privately for a time. After I finished my morning prayers, I learned that Bartholameau at least has a horse. Sal apparently insists upon traveling by carriage. He said he had a great many chests and picnic baskets that he is very attached to. He said a bag of holding simply would not do. I had nearly forgotten what it was like to spend time with high elves. Now I remember. I shouldn’t think too harshly of him though. My peers are not much better. When I declined his invitation to travel by carriage, I explained that I have a horse. Sal gave me a big toothy grin and said: “Let me guess. It’s a big white horse.” I told him my horse was a chestnut. Wait until he meets the fiend. Nipping at the tips of elven ears is one of his favorite pastimes.

When Eshrin rejoined our new group, he explained that he was supposed to be present on the following afternoon when they made the announcement to the people about the death of the wardens.

After we had returned to the aptly named Ledger and began pouring over the field reports once more, a very well-dressed messenger walked in. I noticed that the back of his hand had a scar. It looked like an old dog bite or something similar. It had healed already though, so there was little I could do for him. The man said his name was Alistar. He tried to buy us food and drink just to deliver a message. We of course declined. He said that this Citizens’ Advocacy Group wished to offer their condolences and meet with Eshrin. He said that we of course were also invited. We agreed to go in the morning.

Eshrin told us more about his previous dealings with the group. He also told us about a man named Racillio. He felt concerned that the man may have tipped the ghoul, Michael, off about their plans and inquiries.

After reading and scribing at the inn for what felt like an eternity, I began to feel like I would pull out my hair. I looked up to see that Farraj looked exceptionally fidgety. I didn’t need much of an excuse to do something new for a bit. I asked Farraj what he would like to do. He didn’t have any real idea. Eshrin didn’t have anything he wanted to do either. He seemed quite content to continue to write reports. Sal helpfully asked what Farraj likes to do in the evenings. He said he likes to consult the teachings of Sarenrae. That one surprised me, I have to admit. I know I shouldn’t make prejudgments about people. That’s just not what my first guess would have been if asked who Farraj venerates. Sal offered to go to the lake with him first thing in the morning to watch the sunrise. I thought that was a very kind offer. Sal told him something about an imprisoned sunbird. Bartholameau shook his head and said that was a very sad story indeed. Farraj said he very much wanted to see this “bird of the sun.” Sal explained it was in Crent and they could not go there right then.

Farraj dejectedly said he would go confine himself to his box. The guy sounded so pitiful that I had to find something he would like to do. I finally seized upon the idea that we should go running in the park together. He perked up a bit at that but then eyed me rather dubiously. He said that he enjoyed running very much for many hours per day. That worried me a little, but he said he would like to go. He didn’t even take his armor off. As we were leaving, Sal was setting a chess board up so he and Bartholameau could play a game.

Farraj and I ran in the park. For a very, very long time. Even with my magical boots and no armor, I could just barely keep up. By the time we got back to the inn, I had that burn you get in your lungs when everything tastes bloody. He looked upon me with approbation though. At least he doesn’t think I’m soft. The guy’s a beast though. I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong end of that hammer. I should keep training with him though. It’s been a long time since another warrior pushed me to the edge of my stamina like he did.

When morning rolled around, we went to the office of Senator Carina at the Church of Abadar. Not surprisingly, she is a very stern woman of later years. Joining her in her study were Representatives Banes, Toler, and Hasgrad. They are a dwarf, a human, and a half-orc respectively. It appeared that Representative Hasgrad had a strong affiliation with the Church of Cayden Cailean.

Senator Carina was very polite in the welcome she bade us. Representative Toler thanked us for rallying to the cause of righting wrongs and defending good. He also let us know that the group is working hard to prepare additional aid for us and for the cause. The representatives told us of their goal to relieve the plight of the everyday citizens. This certainly sounds like a very commendable organization.

Representative Banes was very emotional about the deaths of the wardens. He was a bit hostile about wanting to know why he should trust us and what we were even capable of doing. I believe that his brusqueness was simply a measure of his grief and his fear, so I don’t take it personally. Sal did a very good job of trying to calm him with reassuring words. He told Banes that we were not trying to fill the shoes of the wardens but that we wished to fight to confront the threats that this nation has been facing. Banes seemed a bit angrier then, but I think that was about the fact that there are threats against his nation. Bartholameau somewhat unintentionally added fuel to the fire when he fiercely proclaimed that we needed to take up the sword and bring the wardens back. He told the representatives that he was in the military now and that he intended to see the job done.

Representative Toler seemed moved by Bartholameau’s words. He asked if he could share his story after an appropriate amount of time in order to inspire the everyday citizens to greater action. Bartholameau eagerly replied: “Nothing would be cooler.”

As the representatives wished to know more about our party, Sal introduced Farraj. He told them that Farraj had pledged to stop the great evil. Farraj looked squarely at the stern faced Senator Carina and said: “Matron…you help citizens incapable of helping themselves. Why do you foster such weakness?”

I’m not sure if it was the use of the word “matron,” or the fact that he was talking to a worshipper of the god of cities and civilizations in his very temple that alarmed us all so much, but I noticed that everyone in the room scooted back in their chairs save Farraj and Carina. And perhaps Representative Hasgrad, who burst out in delighted laughter. The laughter cut off abruptly when Senator Carina held up her hand. In a clipped tone, she said: “Allow me to explain our view. It is true that each individual in our civilization is less tough than those where you come from. However, all citizens have something to provide. Most provide valuable services that strengthen the nation. As a whole we are stronger because of it.” Farraj obstinately grumbled: “It is odd you do not allow them to do for themselves.” Senator Carina gave him what I would characterize as a withering look. Farraj opened his mouth, closed it again, and then said: “As you say.” Smart man.

With the same displeased countenance and clipped tone, she asked me to say more about myself. I blurted out that I have pledged my life to protecting the weak and would die for that end if necessary. She praised me for my words, and they seemed to mollify her for the moment.
Sal wisely changed topics and asked if our new group could still use the multimental creature the last group had used to communicate with the Citizens’ Advocacy Group. They said they would need but a bit of time to attune it to us and then we could use it.

The group did pledge their support again and asked what they could provide that we needed. I told them we needed more solid intelligence as that is what we seem to be lacking most. A few in the room seemed to think I was intending to insult Master Eshrin. That is not the case at all. I just know that his group died in part because they did not know what they were walking into until it was too late. You cannot win a war without a large system of intelligence gatherers.

After we were mercifully released from Senator Carina’s office, we split up for various tasks before the announcement was to be given. Bartholameau said he had a private errand to attend to and that he would catch up with us. Farraj elected to go sit down by the harbor so he could watch the sun for a bit. I feel for the guy. It can be a very difficult transition to find oneself in a new and very strange land.

The rest of our number went to the Praesidium. As is my custom, I thought it best to inquire up front about rules of engagement. Unfortunately, Chief Croft was not in the temple. Chief Donovan was however, and he graciously agreed to meet with us. After exchanging pleasantries, I asked him outright what the rules were regarding taking prisoners in the field and killing combatants. He said that if we felt we could safely manage it, prisoners would be welcome. He did quite obviously see the value of gathering as much intelligence as one can. He said they would certainly interrogate anyone we brought back alive. Chief Donovan stated plainly that we are contractors duly empowered to execute and adjudicate the laws. He said if we were confronted with a clear and imminent threat that use of more lethal means were acceptable. He also pointed out that all of our actions were reviewable by our peers. I was pleased to hear all of these things.

I was somewhat less please to hear what he said next. I struggled with it. Very much. The words concerned me because they sounded so much like they could take us all down a slippery slope. I do understand where he is coming from with regard to wanting to protect his people. I just…struggled.
He said that the people may be their own greatest threats. That may well be true. I have seen men do terrible things out of fear many times before. He said that in order to protect the people from themselves, “that may mean concealing information from them when people have a moral right to know.” I felt alarm at those words, so I did ask him to explain what he meant. He spoke of the families of the victims of Copper Chop. He said they may very well still be in grave danger, but he said it was not in their best interests to know that. I expressed my concerns. He sternly reminded me that I was acting on behalf of the Saorsite government. I found it to be a bitter pill to swallow, but I finally did say that I understood what he was saying. He told me that I would fit in well there.

The conversation turned to Bartholameau’s past experience. He said something about fighting for the ones he loves. I admit I barely heard what was said at the tail end of the conversation. I was still working out his words in my mind. I suppose as long as the government is doing everything within their power to protect the citizens of Copper Chop, they do not necessarily need to tell them that they could yet be in grave danger. I have heard that the police force is spread incredibly thin. It makes me worry that they are simply not capable of keeping those citizens safe but continue to leave them in the dark; not giving them enough information to decide if they should flee and seek greater safety.

When we departed the chief’s office, I made my salute with much more pronounced vigor than was strictly necessarily. I recognize what I did for what it is. I made an exaggerated show of respect when I was not feeling respect for Chief Donovan’s position. I will make penance to Iomedae for my infraction. I haven’t the time to do so properly now before the announcements are made. I barely had time to finish capturing my thoughts in my journal. I must go and find Farraj now to make sure that he understands what our purpose will be today.


rwdalpe Julie

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