I am reporting in as requested, to fulfill my obligation to House Atreli in my service to Master Theren, Adept of House Atreli.
I have taken the opportunity to highlight where I mention any specific person from the party so as to make things more clear to aid in your review, sir.
I submit my long overdue report after a most harrowing journey from Balic to Draj. My humble apologies, but as you know, post service is not wonderful in the best of times and is, in fact, nonexistent in the Silt Sea.
Our journey began fairly uneventfully, with various members of the party observing the crew of the ship and in general getting to know the dangers of the desert and the Silt Sea. As we approached the ruins the captain spoke of, we were alerted to the presence of some form of desert nomad creature by the Elf, whose eyes are quite keen. I must recommend that if we ever need an agent to act on our behalf that we can effectively distance ourselves from, should something go wrong, he seems quite capable.
At roughly this time, the crew also noticed another ship approaching from the opposite direction. The captain, in discussion with Master Theren and Praetor Retaliation, turned the ship sharply towards the approaching ship, both closing the window until combat with the starboard nemesis and keeping the nomadics at a distance until we were prepared to deal with them properly. Most of the party was able to help dispatch the crew of the oncoming ship via ranged weapons, with Master Theren treating it like a day at the range targeting clay ingots, and his aim reflected perhaps a night of heavy drinking beforehand. I bravely stood my ground directly in front of the ship’s wheel and observed the rest of the short combat. Praetor Retaliation managed with apparent ease and even disdain to simply swipe the opponent caster directly into the Silt Sea. After we carefully rescued the caster, who seemed a necromancer of some sort, a most interesting set of events occurred.
After she was detained and safely bound and her ship commandeered for our own purposes, a discussion, if it can be called that, broke out amongst the party. Praetor Retaliation was furious with the woman for her impudence and gall, and simply wanted to ritualistically gut her and leave her in the silt. Bard Balthazar seemed to see no reason to leave her alive, showing a startling grasp of common sense that isn’t always present in an artist of his caliber. Brent Edwards and the Elf seemed fairly unconcerned either way and Master Theren was debating the merits of keeping her alive when Raen, the hired blade, showed a shocking amount of courage and stupidity by demanding that she be left alive. He threatened to get in the way of any attempts to end her life or spill her moisture.
Master Theren observed the stalemate for a few moments before taking Raen below, while requesting that Brent guard the prisoner and asking Praetor Retaliation and Bard Balthazar to stay their hands temporarily. Naturally, I followed, and naturally, no one noticed either my presence or absence. Sigh. Master Theren seemed unable to get much direct information from Raen, but was able to present a case, albeit without much, if any, actual information, to the Praetor and the Bard to keep the prisoner alive, although in the most constrained of circumstances.
After this, there was a brief flurry of a combat with the nomadic creatures that was really more of an annoyance than anything else. In short, the Elf shot them.
Only later that evening when I saw Master Theren writing by candlelight in his bunk did I think something was amiss. I am certain he saw me observing him and even more certain he knows of my real reason for being near him as he later “left” his journal where I could easily read it without being seen or risking others reading the journal. That he both knows my task and lets me do it without disruption is a blessing and a curse, for now I know that everything I observe is possibly suspect as I’m sure Master Theren could deceive me if he put his mind to it.
Here is the contents of the relevant journal entry, word for word, emphasis my own:
“This has gone on long enough. I have kept the blade around as one keeps a useful implement in the kitchens, a keen horse handler in the stables, or a flexible courtesan in the bedroom. He has a purpose to serve and this pathetic business of morals and concerns is trying my patience. I know not what we will face on the way to Draj, so I am forced to tolerate his mewings for now, but when the time comes, he will find himself without that pretty blade and find instead the crushing force of my hammer at his windpipe. Let him whine for justice and the past when he cannot draw a breath.
I think the templar and the bard both see the right of things. The elf may even understand it subconsciously. We must survive if we are to help anyone and if someone is unable to survive and do what must be done, they should be culled and left behind. This is not cruelty, this is the reality of the desert.
I have arranged with Balthazar for a concoction to be blended in with the prisoner’s ropes. From what he tells me, she’ll receive a fatal dose of slow-acting poison within a few hours, and should seem to pass out and then fade away in a coma about a week from now, with no apparent ill effects before then. Hopefully we’ll have resolved the Raen problem and dispatched her more directly, but being prepared is always wiser.
Once we have left the ruins and we are back on course for Draj, I shall work out a plan to dispense with Raen. It is unfortunate that I cannot keep his protection as he is useful to me, but I must set an example and also ensure that only the strong and willing are nearby."
This concludes what Master Theren wrote on the matter.
After a period of rest from the trials of the day, we were travelling in peace when we were set upon by what I can only describe as a giant silt squid of some sort. Tentacles roamed across the ship at will and the beast was most troublesome in avoiding the party’s direct confrontation. Over time, the beast was weakened and eventually dispatched, but from the stories I hear the crew relate, it may only have been a younger form of this monster. During the combat, it wrecked the main ship and we were forced to evacuate to the secondary ship. Master Theren, I note, was very keen to ensure no one touched the prisoner’s ropes and instead suggested she simply be left in her crate.
Upon arriving at the ruins, we arranged a cunning plan to ensure the ship remained safe and the prisoner was brought to shore, still bound in what I now knew to be quite deadly rope. The party ventured deep into the ruins, and I dare not bore you with the tale. It was a fairly standard set of ruins, from what I could perceive. I’ve attached a ledger of the various things that were found, although it would have been easier to prepare without Praetor Retaliation tossing everything about in a flurry. Alas. The Elf was quite a force to be reckoned with and Praetor Retaliation is showing more and more signs of pulling slightly to the defiler’s view and less and less concern for the natural world around us. I cannot say I blame her, as I have had the most awful case of desert rot in my shoes. Curses and good riddance to “nature”.
Of interest is that once the most pressing threat was dispatched to the underworld, the party seemed to sense a problem coming to a head. Both Praetor Retaliation and Bard Balthazar made attempts at injuring or pushing Raen to the brink. Finally, after the lich had been ended, Master Theren stepped forward and in a most surprising turn of events (to those who had not read his journal), proceeded to send the bladesmith flying through the air into a far wall with one vicious smash of his hammer, ending things once and for all. As Raen slid to the floor, his neck broke and his body crumpled, Master Theren announced that we could not trust someone who wasn’t willing to do what it takes to survive and both Praetor Retaliation and Bard Balthazar seemed shocked but glad to have the assistance of Master Theren. His cunning was so deep as to actually heal the hireling earlier just to keep him alive to the end. I am glad I serve House Atreli and not their foes.
The ranger, who is in no danger of seeming either useless or overly soft, still made loud exclamations on his value and obvious willingness to look the other way in times of dubious moral standing. Brent merely stood his ground.
Upon returning to the surface, the necromancer was gone with a haughty note left behind. I assume the silt will claim her in a short time.
We cleaned the ruins out and slowly made our way to Draj. Fairly standard routine of lying low and resting while the goods were fenced. Otherwise, nothing of note has happened since our arrival earlier today, but I’ve seen Brent scratching something on a piece of parchment, so we shall see what he is up to. I shall likely prepare a 4th report before we leave Draj, or within a few days, whichever comes first. I’ll include the text of Brent’s note then.
My pleasure to serve House Atreli always,