Minotaur Strife, Tax Riots in Jelek, and Ergothian Mystery

Honored Bard,

First, I thank you for your kind words to First Mystic Goldmoon regarding my recently completed history of the Citadel of Light. Naturally, it cannot compare to the works you create, but I am glad that both you and Bertrem of the Great Library found the information within its pages useful.

In return for your kind words, I am sending you some of the most interesting news that I have heard from pilgrims arriving at the Port of Schallsea. Perhaps you and yours will be able to spin tales around them, or perhaps you will find some of these warrant further investigation.

Blood Sea Isles Tensions Increase

I assume you have already heard about the deepening divide between Emperor Chot and the leadership of the Church of Sargas. Several travelers have said that affairs there have grown worse. Ship-to-ship battles between the sea barbarians of Saifhum and minotaurs have been growing more frequent and more intense, and the High Priest of Sargas, Touro Et-Pethis, has been stirring devout followers of his faith into frenzies of hatred against the human colony on Mithas by painting them with the same brush as the sea barbarians. You and I both know that there are the two human groups descend from cultural heritages that a long-standing enmity exists between them, but the distinction is apparently lost on all but the most sophisticated of minotaurs.

Although Chot is doing his utmost to hold true to treaties that were signed with the sea-faring humans of Eastern Ansalon, the emperor has lately been placed in awkward situation of protecting human merchants from minotaur "patriots." He can only hold the treaty with the humans for so long, after which the humans of Mithas may well set aside their ancient feud with the sea barbarians so that they can protect each other against their common minotaur foes.

I wonder if divided minotaurs will survive against united humans.

Tax Riot in Jelek

A roaming mystic in the lands of Neraka brought back a report of an uprising in the town of Jelek. Lord Knight Sammel Tyv made several sweeping changes to the city’s tax codes, many of which actually lightened the tax burden on many farmers and craftsmen. He wanted to streamline the collection efforts, however, and insisted that all taxes owed by all citizens be paid on a single day. He had the changes in the city’s tax codes, when the taxes were due, and how citizens were to determine how much they were to pay. All in all, it seemed like a sound idea.

However, the Lord Knight failed to take into account the high degree of illiteracy that the Dark Knights, and the Highlords before them, have fostered among the common people in that part of Ansalon. Few people even realized that there was a new system of taxation in effect until the Lord Knight declared martial law in the city in anger over the low adherence to his new laws, and demanded a full year of taxes be paid by all citizens, before the end of the week.

The response of the populace was an uprising so universal and violent that the knights were taken almost entirely by surprise, and they were actually forced to retreat into the town’s central keep. After a day of being besieged by the townsfolk, Lord Knight Tyv, who is an honorable man as far as Dark Knights go, opened negotiations with them rather than ordering his troops to attack. The root of the miscommunication—or rather the total lack of communication—was discovered, and the Lord Knight is now reportedly trying to find people willing to teach his citizens how to read.

The Mystery of the Wind Dancer Peaks Expedition

Since Princess Mercideth of Ergoth’s becoming a student of Citadel of Light, we have been receiving a steady stream of news from the Empire. Much of it is of little interest to anyone not personally involved in the complicated tangles that is Ergothian politics, but one event was particularly fascinating.

One of Mercideth’s brothers, by all accounts a reckless thrill-seeker who is quite unlike his regal sister, led a group of young nobles on a quest to penetrate the secrets of the Wind Dancer peaks. He and his companions weren’t heard from for almost three months, and then suddenly the prince returned to the Imperial Palace. Eyewitnesses report that a winged female of such beauty that it brought tears of joy to the eyes of all who looked upon her left him on the plaza in front of the Imperial Palace and flew away without a word.

The prince has reportedly been driven insane, and even the Citadel mentalists at the Imperial court can’t penetrate the haze of madness. His companions are still missing, and there are several powerful Ergothian nobles who are looking for answers about what happened to their first-born sons.

That is all I can provide you with for now, Herald. The bard who has promised to carry this missive must soon leave, or his ship will sail without him. I hope you find these tidbits of interest, and I look forward to speaking with you when you next visit Schallsea.

Respectfully Yours,

Iryl Songbrook
Writing from the Port of Schallsea, on the Isle of Schallsea

About Steve Miller

Steve Miller lives, writes, and watches way too many movies in Washington State. He started his professional writing career doing feature articles and reviews, but soon detoured into writing roleplaying games. With a little luck, he'll be balancing criticism and more creative writing in the years to come.
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