News for the Month of the Snake, Year 5541

The sun rose to its highest point. No clouds were seen from the steep angle of gaze required to reach beyond the high fort walls. Ringing a bell sharply, a young man in grey-green leather climbed the stairs of the central scaffold, with its gallows where weekly the wicked were hung to great spectacle. “Hear ye! Hear ye!” he cried. “From the grand city of Emperor Drethik the Supreme I travel the land, sharing and gathering news.” The small community set aside their chores and made their way stand together and listen.

“The northern borders of the empire are once again safe from the savage attacks of the Bear People. General Stozar’s forces drove their camps beyond the Green River where they squat in mud deepening under daily torrents of rain. Winter approaches, and those her frigid claws spare, Stozar promises will fall beneath the axes of his Northguard after the spring thaw!” A few heads nodded solemnly, though most of these westerners in the fort had little true concept of the northern conflict.

“From the pulpit of The Temple Prima,” continued the crier, “Pope¬†Loucum Clemo declared the completion of the Ritual of Demihuman Suppression. Henceforth, those non-human races are shackled to a holy stone that prevents the rise of most extraordinary heroes.” Some faces turned in shock to look to those dwarves and elves in the crowd. Others showed some mix of disgust and satisfaction. Ten years ago, the pope had dedicated himself to the working of the spell that prophecy had decreed he’d complete. All knew this meant that those few demihuman adventurers and leaders who previously balanced empire aggression would now find their powers retarded within 400 leagues of the capitol. The crier concluded by saying, “Pope Clemo reminded the people of the empire that God sent The Anointed One to earth to undo the sins of all people who, yearning for power from demons, brought forth the scourge of the dead who walk. The age of punishment has begun. It calls to the age of abatement.” Most of the crowd answered with a quiet, “so be it.”

Changing tone, the crier announced, “Your father city Slateholm concluded the Festival of the Lion with a water parade down the river into the sea. Dim-witted pirates chose that night to raid the city and were quickly put down due to most of the navy already mobilized for celebration. The pirate Captain¬†Agarwal was hung and his body toss down The Purgamentum.” Most people of the area knew this to be the deep pit, perhaps once the entrance to dwarven mine, where the people of Slateholm tossed their refuse. Worse than death, this punishment was intended to separate forever a pirate’s soul from his beloved waters. The crowd let out brief cheer.

“Finally,” the crier concluded, “your general tells me of recent attacks by orcs and the vicious kidnap of two maiden, one a daughter of a merchant. Do not travel the road at night or unarmed. The party called Tienarth’s Raiders who recovered The Sword of Virtue returned from a rescue mission with no clues or evidence of the fate of the maidens, though they did return with loot.” Jeering and sounds of dislike were heard from the crowd. “A second rescue mission set out last week, but those brave men have failed to return. With orcs willfully attacking wagons along the road with no forceful response completed, it can only be concluded that the foretold wave of orc invasion comes before the octopus is with us.” Natives of the empire knew this meant the month following the month of the snake, named for the annual migration of octopus from the great ocean overland to the eastern sea.

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