Cartographies and Colonies

Chapter 2 Prologue

With the lich’s phylactery destroyed the undead thing was finally vulnerable, but she was still missing. But there was a way to track her. Surely the lich would want to create a phylactery. For that she would need two things; a valuable gem to hold her soul and a concoction of powerful poisons to complete the spell.

Vek’d and Rube raced to the lands of the Kajura, the most likely place to procure poisons from. As it happened they encountered the lich and fought her in the desert dunes, losing the cleric Fiona. Dadji and Mei-Zhen went to the Plains of the Hassan to search for the grey elf noble, Aisling who had in his possession an amulet of many colorful and shiny stones.

Surprisingly Aisling had not been killed out of hand for rudeness. His “gift” of several horses to the tribal leaders went a long way towards smoothing over any rough spots in his manners. He was reluctant to surrender the sigil of his house to Dadji and Mei-Zhen. The matter was finally resolved when he promised two dozen breeding pairs of horses to the Hassan if they would stand at the ready to fight if the lich appeared.

Sitting and waiting for the lich to appear (and making more gifts to the Hassan) meant that Aisling did not have the resources to make it to the swamps of the Knhum to trade for the spices there. But he did fall in love with the bakga his hosts brewed. When he returned to Mji he started to cast accusations that Nafu, a member of the Taya, had hijacked and stolen his ship. After the Taya made some further inquiries with him he suddenly remembered having gifted the ship to Nafu.

Aisling offered Mei-Zhen a personal boon from his house to hers if the aquatic elves could get word back to Elfhame that he needed a ship to return home with. A handful of gnolls and humans from the Hassan went with him to judge the horses he was going to send back. He also took as many bales of dried bakga as he could fit in the available space of the ship. Since then horses have been arriving regularly in trade for bales of bakga. Every now and then Aisling’s more direct representatives sail to Mboshu on airships to find a few gnolls who want to travel to Elfhame to work in one of his bakga houses.

Giant docks of imported wood have been built in Mji. Three merchant ships at a time can be docked there. There is also a lighthouse built of native stone that doubles as an airship dock.

Vek’d’s disappearance on the night of the Chama caused quite a stir. The disappearance of a member of the Taya is always like throwing a rock at a beehive. The Cleric of the Greatmother assured all that Vek’d was undergoing spiritual trials with the Greatmother. The voice of Mad Jenny assured Dadji of the same.

For two years there wasn’t much for a cleric of Mad Jenny to do. The tunnels of the Uramali have been cleaned of evil. The stories of great piracy were coming from the middle of the ocean where the ship Mad Jenny was preying on ships that bore the official sigil of the Elfhamish court. Eighteen months ago those stories abruptly ceased and even Mad Jenny has been quiet on the matter of what happened to her namesake ship.

The old Cleric of the Greamother was killed two years ago while trying to bring down a wildebeest, tossed nearly thirty feet. The new cleric, Hubiri, has been in her position for eighteen months now. She’s a young gnoll, but has a reputation for being a cunning hunter and of the three litters she has borne, all of the pups have come to life.

Right before Vek’d returned there was a meeting of the clerics. All the Great Ancestors were making reference to a notion of holy warriors. Very devout individuals have been approaching the clerics to join the ranks of these new paladins, including members of the church of Brigitte. The clerics have been responsible for the religious teachings of these new paladins, and most already know how to fight, but Vek’d has been teaching them the disciplines of being a paladin.

1) Several bakga plantations have been established by Elfhamish nobles in the more fertile lands near the river. They are generally overseen by half-elves from Elfhame and worked by natives. The native workers are prone to wandering off whenever they get bored, which the overseers are trying to prevent. The plantations are also tempting targets for raiders. For these reasons the overseers are bringing in armed guards from Elfhame
a. The cowherding tribes are behind much of the raiding. The plantations are on prime grazing grounds.
b. The Taya are almost constantly dealing with the aftermath of these raids.

2) Lord Aisling survived his trip into the wilds of Mboshu. He returned to Elfhame on the first ship that made it through Nafu’s one-ship blockade. He also exports bakga for a chain of tea houses. Aisling’s approach is different. He trades horses to the Hassan for bales of bakga, whether they choose to gather it in the wild or take it from plantations, it makes no difference to him.
a. Aisling sponsors gnolls who wish to visit Elfhame. Each of his tea houses employs a pair of gnolls.
b. There is a great deal of debate among the advisors of the Taya as to whether horses are cows and may only be possessed by humans or antelope which may be used by everyone.

3) The Hassan are rising to nearly unprecedented power as they gain more and more horses. Their raiders cannot be caught and they are becoming far more daring as their skills improve.

4) Trade with Elfhame is picking up. A proper dock has been built in Mji using imported wood. A lighthouse of native stone doubles as an airship dock. The usual trade items are iron ingots, silks, dyes, and beads. Foreign weapons are also in high demand. Trade caravans are tempting targets for raiders.

5) Mboshu is becoming an increasingly popular destination for Elfhame tourists. They are generally harmless. Popular past times include sport fishing with the fisherdrow and safaris. Every now and then there’s an accidental death as a result of these activities. But other deaths are more notable and are causing problems with Elfhame.
a. A young elf (third son of a major noble) tried to join a gnoll pack. He was killed accidentally in a fight for primacy.
b. A young human woman was officially executed after she carved her name in the base of the statue of the Greatmother. (This occurred about two weeks before Vek’d returned.)

Uramali influence is rising. Ghinjo relies heavily on the advice of Rosemary and her husband. Other Goldbergs have arrived to help with the various projects involving the volcano tunnels. They asked Ghinjo to stand as godmother to the first gnomish child born on Mboshu. Rosemary and John have officially renounced their Elfhamish citizenship so that they can act as ambassadors for Mboshu.

Many of the Taya and other Great Tribe leaders are discussing making the Goldbergs a Great Tribe. This is about more than just welcoming them into the arms of Mboshu. Making the Goldbergs an official part of the Mboshu power structure would give the Maw a clawhold of power across the sea. A contingent of representatives from the Great Tribes, including Ghinjo, are going to visit the Goldberg Festival in order to further discuss the matter.

Word has also reached Mji of a ship of drow from the Underdark that are sailing towards Mboshu. They have requested asylum.

Other Notes:
Traveling via portal or teleportation to or from Mboshu is no longer feasible. Due to the nature of Wild Magic if the spellcaster attempting to cast the spell has cast a teleportation spell connecting Elfhame with Mboshu before there is a 75% chance any medium sized or larger creature passing through will be turned inside out. A 50% chance of a small creature or smaller being turned inside out. If a spellcaster who has never been exposed to wild magic or created a portal to Mboshu casts the spell there is only a 10% chance that living creatures passing through will be turned inside out.

For a while there were stories of a pirate ship called The Mad Jenny. The stories came to an abrupt end eighteen months ago when the ship seemed to disappear. The original crew is said to be safe in Elfhame, but no one knows what happened to the Mboshu crew. The original missing drow have still not been returned to Mboshu.

In Elfhame
A year and a half ago there was a great deal of talk about a pirate gnoll on a ship called The Mad Jenny who was preying on ships that bore the official sigil of the Seelie court. Ships that surrendered immediately would have their maps and books taken, their weapons, any fisherdrow on board, and some of the food stores. These ships were directed to return to Elfhame and would be even be provided with food to safely make the journey back. Ships that resisted were slaughtered to the last man and burned to the waterline. A year ago The Mad Jenny disappeared. Her previous captain and crew were discovered in a port city near Llywen. The Goldberg family is now training them to pilot airships.

Lord Aisling has the most successful chain of bakga shops (only a few, but insanely profitable). This is due to two reasons. He does not own any plantations and instead trades horses with the Riders of the Hassan for bales of bakga, however they choose to gather it. He also brings over a pair of gnolls for each bakga house to oversee the blends and serve it properly in the “savage fashion.”

The Goldbergs also sponsor gnolls to emigrate from Mboshu to LLywen. These gnolls are brought over with the idea that they will take over the leadership of the gnolls that currently plague the northlands. The pilot program has been very successful and two packs were taken over with no more than the addition of fifteen percent of Mboshu gnolls.

Fisherdrow are not an uncommon sight on the docks of Tara at night. There are usually a few gnolls down on the docks as well, acting as protectors. This has raised a great deal of concern among the Seelie court, they worry that Unseelie spies could blend among the fisherdrow.

There are several Mboshu duergar who wish to join the Academy of Architecture and the Gemworkers Guild. This matter is being hotly debated in the guilds, schools, and the court. Their knowledge of differing techniques and access to novel materials are quite desired. However there are real concerns about Mboshu and duergar citizens learning the secrets of how important Elfhamish structures are built.

The Church of Brigitte is still debating the matter of canonizing Fiona the Missionary. Church politics are divided down the middle. The gnoll that left with the Crone from Mboshu three years ago never made it as a Maiden of the Church, nor did any of the Mboshu believers that followed (due mostly to very unmaidenly behaviour). Half of these failed acolytes returned to Mboshu, but some have remained and speak of the Cleansing Word of Brigitte on the street corners.

Spider worship is also growing in Elfhame. In the capital city of Tara thieves and assassins have been found bearing marks that closely resemble Llolth’s chained star. The chains surrounding this eight-pointed star have been broken however, and when in amulet form the middle is set with a pearl, not an amethyst. All of the thieves and assassins bearing these marks that have been found have been discovered after an unlikely twist of luck exposed them.

The biggest talk in Elfhame right now, surpassing even the matter of the executed Elfhamish citizen, is that there is a ship of drow from the Underdark sailing to Mboshu in search of asylum.

The Order of the Square and Compass has reported much more disturbing news. There have been two murdered streetwalkers discovered in the back alleys of the disreputable portion of Tara. In each, the liver, heart, and eyes have been expertly removed. The last time this occurred (nearly thirty three years ago to the day) there were over twenty dismembered bodies discovered. It is hypothesized that the Nightmare Codex murder cycle has been running for over two hundred years, no one knows to what end. Runners have been sent to the Sanctuary to retrieve the Nightmare Codex from the library. The cycle of murders has started again.

The Goldberg family is preparing for the great annual festival. This summer the fair will be more important than usual. Ghinjo, fierce but aging, is attending with her godson. Representatives from each of the Great Tribes are coming as well. If all goes well the Goldbergs will be acknowledged as a Great Tribe in their own right.

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