Ambassador Duka Killed, War on the Horizon?
Prepare for the worst my fellow citizens.
Tragedy has fallen over Brightshore. In previous months, the neighboring Hobgoblins – The Stalwart Shield – and Brightshore had established a peaceful alliance. In an exchange, Brightshore and The Shield traded ambassadors — Sir Maximilian Von Tibblesworth, representing Brightshore, and Ambassador Duka, a prevalent member of The Shield — solidified Brightshore’s adherence to the terms of the treaty: No westward expansion into The Shield’s territory, and no “atrocities” for one year.
As of Monday, Triciary 16th, Ambassador Duka was declared dead.
But what has crushed the hearts of nearly every citizen is the main suspect, Council Member Selene Skipriver, who sits in the Greystone behind bars as you read this. She will soon face the charges of murder, should no other conclusions or evidence be discovered by the authorities in the meantime.
But the atrocity does not end there, fellow citizens. Per the numbers of the Guard, and any and all militia or adventurers available, Brightshore is brutally outnumbered, outgeared, and underprepared in comparison to the might of The Shield. We can only pray to The Four, that they are merciful and forgiving as this is not the first time peace has failed with the Hobgoblins. Prepare for the worst, my fellow citizens.
Hellions’ Mouth Sealed At Last! (Special Field Report)
Loyal readers of the Voice may recall that it has been one year, nearly to the day, that Indomitable Malcolm Bradford was rescued from the fiend-infested cave south of town that came to be known as Hellions’ Mouth. In the following months, intrepid adventurers returned in two consecutive attempts to eradicate the fiendish scourge. The first claimed the soul of poor, brave Binval, and the second avenged his death, slaying the fiend that had slain him and returning Binval’s ashes to Brightshore.
Yet the rift that let these twisted creatures into our world remained open. Despite continued urgings from the Council and promises of gold rewards, a full five months passed with no further attempt to end the threat. I know from my conversations with others in town that I wasn’t the only one to feel increasingly uneasy about this doorway to the netherworld lying open not a day’s journey from our walls. And as the Olteus River took on a most unnatural shade and stench, I simply couldn’t sit and wait for others to do something any longer. I put down my quill, picked up a sword and pack, and headed out for Hellions’ Mouth on my own.
I now have a greater appreciation for what the courageous defenders of our town face when they venture into the wild. And I can attest that when a guard tells you it’s foolish to go out there alone, you should listen. I lost my tail to a hungry flock of axe beaks (thank the Four it was only my tail), and that was before I’d even reached the dreaded cave. Inside, I heard disembodied whispers and felt a creeping, stabbing cold. There was writing on the walls that made my eyes spin.
Words can scarcely relate how grateful I was when a party of adventurers arrived on the scene. But I didn’t just stand by as they saved the day. I helped them decipher the otherworldly scrawl, and when we discovered that only a blood sacrifice would allow us to complete our quest, I volunteered myself, not even knowing for certain if I would survive. As luck would have it, I did, but the demonic energies our ritual released very nearly claimed my soul.
I must give credit where it’s due. While I wrestled with the darkness spreading through my body, the others ventured into the rift itself. I wish I could tell you first-hand what lay beyond, but then again, I’m glad I was spared that grisly sight. The others described a world that resembled ours, but only in foul parody. They fought their way through abominations of ooze, shadow, and claw, and somehow all survived to destroy the source of the rift’s power and return in one piece. For a few terrible seconds, I glimpsed one of the creatures as it burst from the portal — a pillar of living slime with a single, burning eye — but Borivik the dwarf forced the creature back into the crack just before it shut.
With the path to the netherworld closed, that dark magic lost its hold on me, and I soon felt like my old self (minus the tail). I have never been happier than when I saw the trees of the wilderness give way to the rolling farms of home. But, while I’m not eager to relive my harrowing experience, I don’t think this will be the last time I set out on a field report. There are strange things happening outside our walls, and though it may be frightening at times, you deserve to know what’s out there.
Ezra’s Expedition Returns
This month saw the return of the expedition that had set out to explore and map strange new lands to the south. Though townsfolk turned out in droves to meet The Albatross at the docks, they found not a triumphant crew, but a deeply battered group that seemed grateful to have survived to make it back to Brightshore.
A quick headcount indicated that more than half of the crew had been killed in actions within what has come to be called Goodleaf Jungle, including the entirety of the specialist corp that had set out to unlock the mysteries of this strange new land.
Expedition members seemed to be universal in their assessment of the Goodleaf Jungle, that it was incredibly dangerous and a mistake to go. Gilded Shield Cleo of the Defenders said, “Going on this expedition just reinforced my beliefs that money and treasure mean nothing if you place it above your own life. When you chase rumors for glory… you remain a memory. Why would it all matter when you lose what actually means a lot more to you? Your family, friends, and your life. Money won’t matter when you pass away.” Longtime resident Baern said, “Worst expedition I’ve been on, but at least I survived. Bradford says that means it’s a success, but tell that to the men and women who lost their lives on a poorly planned trip to a jungle hellscape.” Expedition leader Ezra refused to comment, as did Flint.
Captain Hardwick Fairbeard, an accomplished captain from the Smoking City and captain of the newly built defender warship Albatross, said, “It were th’ most dangerous seas I e’er seen. Squalls and hurricanes there and back, whirlpools and mor’ storms around the ruins, and then the sea devils and a kraken! Be it not fer that halfling hero Finn, me ship would be at th’ bottom o’ th’ sea an’ I’d be shark food.”
There was one bright spot, however. Arbat the Druid, thought killed in an earlier attempt to map the coast to the south, was found alive in the ruins of an ancient dwarven city that has been named Boviomatua. She was seen meeting with both Indomitable Bradford and Professor Colin, but has otherwise refused to talk with anyone about what the jungle was like. Those who knew her well from her time tending fruit orchards around Brightshore say she has changed and shudder at what she must have experienced to survive.
Rumors have also spread that the dangerous jungle hides vast riches and incredible magic. They say that there are cities made of gemstones and temples full of gold, untold riches hidden for any strong enough to take them. No one knows if these tales are true, but a strange native of the land, who professed her newly discovered love of mead, has been seen wearing a fortune in gemstones she appears to consider but baubles, so there does seem to be something to the rumors.
Little public knowledge is known at this time, but contacts close to the council indicate that a new undersea nation has been contacted by Brightshore diplomats, and peaceful relations have been established. The docks are awash with speculation of what this might mean, and some sailors are already crediting these tritons with keeping Founder’s Bay relatively safe. I will have more information as I can.
Goodbye to a Hero
To all those reading this today, I first thank you for your time.
Today, I formally write this to say goodbye to a close friend of mine who gave up his life so I could be here today to share his story with you all. Finn Goodleaf was more than a friend and Defender ally; he was an unexpected brother. We first met almost a year ago and believe it or not, we were afraid of each other at first. Over time, we started getting to know each other better and went on adventures together, which continued to forge a bond of friendship between us.
Finn Goodleaf was a halfling who had a large heart, regardless of his height. He was always considerate of others and always knew what to say to help make people feel better. He enjoyed drinking this alcohol stuff, but never let it go to his head. Keeping busy all the time, he still seemed to make time to check in with those he cared about and help out with high ambition and determination. He was part of the Arcanum and had two students he taught magic to. He also worked at Gost Citadel as the barkeep. Among all that, he still made time to join The Defenders and put his life at risk for the safety of all others.
While he did have a troubled past, his friends and family would all be proud of him now due to his sacrifice and his actions. I would not be here today if it wasn’t for him, so I owe it to him to make sure he is not forgotten.
Finnan Goodleaf, I knew you well enough to consider you my tribe brother and family member. You helped me through my worst and was there when I was at my best. You not being here leaves a void everywhere I look that will not be filled, but it will help me in remembering what you did. You shall not be forgotten as long as I can help it and I will remember all you taught me since we met.