Author: Trug de Belleme

It’s a Bandit’s Life for Me

As I write this article, I am sitting on a stump in the middle of what may be the worst squalor I have seen in all my days on Elyria. I am being held in a cage made of roughly hewn logs, bound together with hempen rope and spikes. Some rotting straw has been scattered on the ground, presumably as a bed. The stench makes me wonder if it isn’t meant as a privy, however. My captors have been gracious enough to provide me with a scrap of parchment and some charcoal to write with, and I have been asked to write a tale of their “bravery and, ya know, how we’ve stood up to that barstid up at the castle (they presumably mean our beloved Duke – his keep is a short distance up the river)”. Not a one of these louts can possibly be literate, but I will do my best to tell you, dear reader, from what I’ve seen here at this den of thieves.

This morning I was on my way north, following the river road to the Ducal seat to interview the townsfolk about his Grace’s most recent levies to support the conflict along the Western borders. One moment I was walking along, the next I heard a footfall behind me and I knew no more. I awoke some time later, surrounded by a gang of toughs. Each seemed more brutish than the last, and their unwashed stench almost overwhelmed me. Their leader goes by the charming sobriquet of “Gasher”, and he explained my situation to me.

Y’see, writer man, what we’ve gots ourselfs here is a bit of a misunderstandin’. That fat arsed pollock up t’castle, he run every one of us out of house and home, he did. Take ol’ Jiggy there,” he said, pointing at a one-eyed gentleman who had been staring at me unblinkingly with a most distressing grin on his face. “Jiggy was a barber not that long ago. Damn good one too.” This explained the razor which ‘Jiggy’ was fondling, clearly. “But that sod and his bloody taxes! Jiggy lost everyfin! So now he’s one of us, and we ain’t gonna give up until the people put that barstid in his place!” A ragged muttering of agreement passed between the rest of the men.

Apparently this motley crew makes its living by kidnapping travelers and ransoming them back to their families, along with more prosaic highwayman activities. About 10 men call this camp home, somewhere in the wilds off of the river road. An informant from the town I had spent the evening in last night had apparently passed word of my status as a writer in the Elyria Herald ahead to the bandits, and they believed that Master Wilshire would be willing to pay for my release. That, along with the story, I have been ordered to write was enough to make them think I was worth the effort.

The camp is stirring, a man has just ridden in with a sack of coin. Apparently the Herald felt that I was worth the ransom, praise Ao! The scabrous scoundrels are on their way over now, I shall show them the article and tell them it is a testament to their heroic deeds, et cetera.

Editor’s Note: This article was next to the unconscious body of Mr. Belleme as he lay in the street outside of the Elyria Herald this morning. His clothing had been removed, and a note had been written on his chest: “I was a scribe, you illiterate swine. -Gasher”

Daemonic Cults – Horror or Hoax?

“It’s right this way, Master, you’ll see for yesself soon enough!”

My guide is a short, wiry fellow, with dirt-caked skin and a crazed gleam in his eye. He refuses to give me a proper name, insisting the I call him “Maebolg”. We’re currently shuffling through a narrow crawlspace underneath his rather ramshackle home, where his mother (Doris Clatchey, 58) and two cats (Misty and Whiskers, ages unknown) currently reside with him.

“Here we are, Master! Behold! The dread idol of SARNOCH!”

The crawlspace has opened up into a sort of root cellar, and ‘Maebolg’ has prostrated himself in front of a crude… altar is the best word, I suppose. A rough plank has been laid across two sawhorses, and a pair of guttering tallow candles give the dread idol a sallow glow. The idol itself is clearly the motheaten head of a cat inexpertly sewn onto the body of a leffit, and sawdust has leaked out around the stitching. I thanked ‘Maebolg’ (real name Peter Clatchey, 32, as told by his mother) for his time and left, skirting a sack of potatoes on my way back to the crawlspace.

Talk of daemonic cults has been on the rise lately in these frontier towns, and they have been blamed for everything from soured milk and ruined crops to murdered children and wives. Almost every villager I have spoken with knows someone who knows someone that has had dealings with these cultists, but the closest I have gotten to any actual cult activity has been Maebolg and the dreaded Sarnoch. I sincerely doubt that they are capable of murder, but I can vouch for the soured milk – the tea Mrs. Clatchey offered me had chunks of it floating on the surface.

I spoke with County officials to determine what the government stance on the issue was. The harried clerk at the local constabulary (Timothy Harper, 22) confirmed that no cultists have been arrested, jailed, executed, or even brought in for questioning. “Quite frankly, Mr. Belleme, all this ‘cult’ business is simply rumor and superstition. People out here have enough trouble without dragging daemons into it. Last year it was evil spirits, this year it’s cultists, and who knows what the peasantry will come up with next year.”

Walking back to my lodgings at the local inn, I considered what I have seen so far. In the interests of objectivity, I cannot say that daemonic cults do not exist. But I can certainly say that whatever truth there may be in this story is buried under a mountain of falsehoods and tomfoolery. And clearly my lines of inquiry have brought me to the attention of at least one of the local pranksters, as a scroll of oddly pale leather has been shoved beneath my door while I was out. A rather dark brown, flaking ink has been used to draw what I believe to be a crude dagger, pointing downward, bisected by three horizontal lines. “Get out of our town, scrivener” is written below this rather sinister picture. Clearly just another variation on the theme of the ‘dread idol’, but nonetheless… I believe I hear the road calling, and the beds here are not the most comfortable. Time to take my leave.

Travel Safely,

-Trug de Belleme

Canis Rabbit Invasion Imminent?

Briarfield is a typical frontier village – a scattering of homes around the local watering hole. Twelve families call this village home, most earning their livelihoods as farmers and woodcutters. But not all is as it seems in this bucolic setting, if the local county government office is to believed. “Canis rabbits are no longer just a pest, they are a plague for our brave frontiersmen and women.”

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