Here, I brought you some books on necromancy to peruse at your leisure. I advise not trying to make a phylactery until you are -really- good at this stuff though. If it goes wrong you instantly die. Now, onto business.
After convening with the advisors on the drow; we deduce that we can probably defend the tunnels easily enough through a number of security measures. Flooding it is a bad idea, but pointing those new ballista down a tunnel is a pretty good way to deter anyone from entering that tunnel. We’ve begun work on a concept of a golem that just fires the ballista if it sees any non-nalkas. While they could try to dig around it, I invite them to try and mine through rock without us being able to notice. I have created a new invention, its a needle. It moves when the earth does. If they start mining it’ll wobble and touch the edges of an enchanted bell to alert my office if there is any unsanctioned excavating going on near us. Between this and the ballista concept we surmise nothing short of an all out war would get them under our capital to do anything suspicious. While they extract water from the same lake as it flows underground, breaking through that to invade us brings them out at the bottom of a lake…so that problem is self-solving. The other tunnels under us are not close enough to the surface for them to launch a surprise attack, too much digging required and as mentioned I have solved that problem. The risk of their presence is still a factor if they fully commit to a war, but we are protected from surprises with these implements at least.
In the event of an actual war, we predict a stalemate or mutual annihilation. Their main city is a fortress, but the distance between us and them through the tunnels are just simply tunnels. Basically just a sea of choke points either side could exploit. The next solution is obviously to go through the surface, but like I said their main city is a fortress, an underground one our siege magic could not easily penetrate. However, they are vastly weaker then us in open combat in the snow. Our city is well fortified, they would have to lay a siege but that would attract the monsters to them and if that didn’t break the siege for us it would weaken them enough for us to do so ourselves. Not to mention if we committed all of our resources to building up the army to break the siege even in the middle of it, we would eventually stand a chance to break out. Even worse, the drow have no navy. They could not siege our port, so it would be a pretty terrible siege. To pile it on, one message spell and maybe the promise of some treasure and then we can summon Katara to help break such a siege long before our supplies would run out. From the reports, I hear this ‘Ankathi’ person is the nightmare to all elven kind. We could probably ask the Witch Queen to send her north for a quick bit of help given we are supplying her with gear for her own forces – she wouldn’t want to be cut off from her primary method of arming them that would result from us coming under siege. All this assumes Oda wouldn’t be interested in helping, but if they did the drow are practically fucked. They can’t take the port without a navy, and that means they can’t stop Oda from docking whenever they please and just circumventing their entire siege.
In short, whichever side is the aggressor in an all out war will not be able to win as things stand now. It would take years of building resources and plans to actually do so successfully. However, Uudistar would be far more vulnerable even if it is a fortress in its own right due to how we took the place from the monsters. It simply isn’t as well fortified nor staffed as Jämsä. Not to mention it is closer to them. This is the main potential loss in the event of a war despite the tunnel positions. So while we would be safe from total annihilation or conquest, we do stand at risk to lose a valuable colony.
That being said, we move on to their own politics. Marry an elf? Seriously? Don’t joke around about stuff like that. Also, despite Iraeka being Sakki’s favorite she is not necessarily the best pawn for us to work through. She is far from the throne, but also has no mindset for ruling. She wouldn’t last that long. Her older sister or mother on the other hand is far more suitable for us to deal with. We have had Sakki probe into their political sphere, the rival houses are caught in a position where the primary dispute comes as a result of territory. Because they are all practically trapped down there, and apparently don’t know how to grow crops on the surface efficiently, they don’t have much space to expand. But their long lifespans and overall free spirited breeding means their population keeps growing. The only thing keeping it in check is their own murderous ways, the homeless are basically open game for murder simply because it isn’t necessarily poverty that renders them homeless but lack of space. A fairly well off peasant might simply just be unable to out-bid some other peasant, thus rendering them homeless and in need of removal.
This means that for any given house, the technology behind surface agriculture is worth…pretty much everything they own. Obviously, we possess this technology. We predict that encountering us might cause them to explore the surface and the possibility of survival on it sooner or later. So there may be a time limited window that only we can provide it. They might discover it themselves with some exploration or learn of it from another civilization they make contact with. Not to mention if they just go south and realize just how easy it is to survive in the forest with their skillsets, or figure out what an ocean is and how to fish in it. We believe exploiting this potentially time sensitive weakness might be a key move to make.
On to their house rivalries, they are comprised of the houses Eilsath, Ghuan, and Vaslochar. They really aren’t that different from one another. Notably, Eilsath is considered the poorest house. The reason they are our primary contact right now is they have not revealed the existence of Sakki to the other two, but they possess the land closest to the surface castle. It is considered undesirable due to the uncontrollable circumstances of the surface, the ‘you’ll die first’ of surface threats, and the lack of access to the cave network’s more bountiful fungi caves. However, the margin between richest and poorest is about 80%, while significant it is not so colossal that the richest could ignore the other two entirely. Ghuan rests in the middle on the wealth and power scale, and Vaslochar ranks as the most powerful house down there. For all of them, space is the primary problem and its what they fight over most frequently. But notably Eilsath has issues with food, Ghuan has issues with steel, and Vaslochar is militarily plagued as they are the most frequent target by the other two or even common civilians for their riches. While these niche problems might be targetable, any of the three we teach to farm on the surface will immediately become the most powerful house by a wide margin.
This brings up a few scenarios that could happen. If we empower one but not the others, they could grow so powerful that the rest are forcefully absorbed and uniting their city. It could also result in their destruction as the other two declare war and crush them to steal these secrets and result in the city being damaged by a bloody war ending in a two-faction city with both factions having access to the technology. Alternatively, the war might leave only one survivor thus also resulting in a unified city. As another path, if we give the technology to any two of them, Eilsath is likely to pull ahead as they control the major path to the surface despite its currently poorer standing but if two houses have it then the incoming war would not result in a two on one since only one would be the aggressor and the other would likely claim neutrality and sit on its boons. However, due to the current status of the houses such a war could result in Eilsath being wiped out. If we gave it to Ghuan and Vaslochar that would be a gauranteed result since Eilsath controls the surface route that would suddenly become much more valuable. In all these scenarios we can control who goes to war quite easily but we cannot pick the winner with certainty. If Vaslochar goes to war by itself against one other house it will win, but if both others go to war against Vaslochar then they would be the ones displaced. You get the idea, by trading technology with them we can invoke the war to work in a way we deem particularly favorable to our desires.
As another scenario, if we ignore the opportunity to trade off the technology it is nearly guaranteed that Eilsath will eventually take position as the most powerful house. They have the easiest access to the surface, but also only they know about Sakki and soon they will know about Oda and the rest of the surface world with their trip to the tournament. This is likely to prompt them to invest more efforts into exploring and gaining a foothold on the surface while the others will remain unknowing of the possibilities entirely. Gaining them a significant lead in the race before the other two even know there is a race.
Alternatively, we could have Sakki approach the other houses or perhaps send another suitable agent to play the field. We do not know the particular mannerisms of all three houses. Though we do know all our interactions thus far have been with Eilsath, including the death of Rakkel. Punishing them and establishing good relations with another house might showcase the costs of acting contrary to our interests or killing our diplomats. As such it could advantage us to gather more information to make our decision. Atop of all that we might be very well able to find the easiest one to place under our control to receive our rewards of the all-valuable agricultural technology.
Additionally, Sakki has not revealed our location. We could tell them about Uudistar to see how they attempt to interact with us first and draw them out into a vulnerable position while keeping the capital’s location above the tunnels safe. Political dealings on our territory might have a radically different effect on their behavior then diplomats sent into their world, it might also reveal what their first reaction is when they think they have an upper hand to play. To that end, while bringing them to the capital would reveal our location above their tunnels it could be a more impressive display should we go that route. Though, Sakki has cautioned they are deceitful on a level even demons would find to be an enviable talent. If they realize a location to send their best diplomats too, we can expect them to try and utilize these talents. However, they do not have any way of knowing how much we know to catch them with.
We also might be able to infiltrate them further to add to any of these strategies. Iraeka has made it clear to Sakki her motives are simply to leave her homeland. Bit of wanderlust I suppose. This might be possible to turn to our interests. If she has such minimal loyalty or optimism for her own people, and we are her only out, she might be turned to work on our behalf and prove a useful informant in order to stay ahead of any drow schemes.
There are a great many variables and situations to consider, and obviously asking for the council of wise men to advise on this results in us having thought about this a bit too long. But hey, you called for the assembly so this is the report you get. Do with it what you will. Now, on to other matters.
As for your agent and his team we found a guy. He is completely noble and trustworthy and no inquiries should be made into the quality of his character. He will go forth and capture you some orcs, though prefers us not to know his name. He instead takes his paycheck in person, has no bank accounts, and is generally living off the grid as not to be identifiable. Given his apparent confidence, and tools, I decided he should be apt for the job. I gave him his hiring bonus and sent him on his way and that was the end of our interactions with the mysterious stranger.
Of course I placed a scrying spell on him while he was in my office and waited for him to have to take a bath and then did some investigating to figure out who he is. His real name is Tomi Partanen, he is fairly old and predates entering the tombs. He has served as an executioner, a city guardsman, and an inquisitor. Now days he lays low and minds his own business, occasionally taking gigs as a bounty hunter. This would qualify as one of those gigs. According to my master, Ansa Jarvenä, the other inquisitors were investigating him as a potential culprit behind a series of serial killings but the long slumber came about before that got anywhere. Obviously all potential evidence is long gone now so we can’t really conclude that investigation. Might be why he has been laying low though.
Meanwhile, Uudistar has started up the process of acting as a monster observation platform to increase our understanding of such creatures. They’ve been working on a new research lab for such occasions as well to see what we might learn from this opportunity.
Sakki is taking Iraeka and an accompaniment of their drow to the Oda lands, more on that as it progresses. Travel time and all. On a similar note, Eamond is also traveling, and Essi is perfectly content just hanging out in her house until given anything else to do.
Gideon has made his way into the ruined city. The walls are still crumbling but they are under repair, meaning it has few effective defenses, especially given the size of the ruin compared to it’s population. However, the people here are actually natives of the badlands and technologically advanced and well armed.
The ruler of the ruined city is a tiefling named Faelyn Damaia. Apparently she is one of the major warlords of the badlands, or more so became one after she killed her father and took over his tribe. She was forced out of of Maji, apparently the central capital of the badlands, by a rival and fled north to try and rebuild. That was fifteen years ago, since she discovered the ruins she has risen to prominence again and killed her former rival but kept the ruined city she calls Lieksä. The interesting part about that, is that is the Nalkas name for the city. We don’t know what else it was called after us, though she seems to have found out the actual origin of the ruins.
The story goes that after she discovered the true origin of the ruins she opted to stay there instead of returning to Maji. Considering it a useful location but also of historic significance, somewhat bragging that she controls a Nalkas ruin as her home base to the other warlords. She has since been investing her efforts into fortifying and rebuilding it, fully aware that -bragging rights aside- Lieksä is positioned between the badlands and the north giving her a very useful operations center. It was after deciding to take permanent residence there, and killing her main rival, that she acquired the title of Ice Queen.
Her people are not openly hostile, at least not in a violent sense. They are very aggressive merchants though, Gideon spent all his money on things from their markets already. Perhaps worthy of note, they see mana as the preferred currency over gold. This is apparently true across the entirety of the badlands, which also means that is the currency they offer in large scale trade. This is part of how Faelyn returned to power and is continuing to grow rapidly, with access to the northern lands she is able to harvest it much more then anyone in the badlands. Overall, Faelyn’s people are well equipped for war and quite dangerous but their main desire is to fuel their greed.
What makes this interesting is the badlands are apparently much more interconnected then the forests or the north, where many of us have not seen another civilization for millenia. The badlands has almost no monster population, so they were more easily able to contact one another and expand into a more advanced society. While many are thieves and vagabonds, the most powerful warlords of the badlands are actually merchants who have found greater wealth to be in consistent trade rather then theft since they had a larger society to work within then our more isolated societies and tribes. This also is why this city is so multiracial. Faelyn found power in diversity, and aggressively recruited all stragglers she managed to come across. This is why she has humans, tieflings, elves, and orcs alike in her city. Notably, these are all races that live near the borders of the badlands. It appears those who were bold enough to wander into it were snatched up by warlords like her. This also means the badlands knows about every other civilization even if they don’t know much about the badlands. Faelyn herself knows the location of the Orcish capital, she knows where the Aywin capital is, she even knows exactly where Sybaris is. All of the warlords do, this is common knowledge to them. While they knew the Nalkas were not extinct, they didn’t know where we actually are.
This leads to the next bit, Faelyn found out Gideon was there less then a day after his arrival. She also immediately realized he was a nalkas somehow, and despite him never saying where he came from she already has sent an army in our direction. Though, they’re very spread out instead of a concentrated war party. It looks like she deduced he must have come from the west of her city and is intent on finding us one way or another and sent out an army of scouts to look for our location if Gideon won’t reveal it directly. Gideon assesses that she is probably not immediately interested in war, but she is dangerous none the less. He was being very careful not to reveal much about himself and she correctly, and confidently, figured everything out on her own and immediately took action on that information. He is pretty sure she’s going to try and trade with us whether we’re interested or not, and you might need to send Hes- fuck you Gideon. You might need to send…uh…your secretary to deal with any ambassadors she sends to monitor any deals she offers carefully given they are master merchants.
So this gets a bit more complicated now. Faelyn doesn’t know about the drow, and she’s likely to run into them looking for us as they are between us both. This could complicate the entire situation in both directions. Also, I am distinctly aware I got this report AFTER we sent Mr. Manhunter to kidnap orcs from Faelyn’s city. So lets hope he doesn’t get caught because he’s kind of hard to contact once he starts walking. We’ve come up with a few ‘most likely’ scenarios regarding these things.
The first of which is that if Faelyn finds the drow, she could very well beat us to the punch in regards to manipulating the houses through the trade of technology. This scenario is the most likely by the nature of the Badlands being technologically advanced trade merchants. From Gideon’s assessment, Faelyn would be greatly interested in taking control of the drow for herself and her own growing kingdom. Alternatively, the drow might kill her agents and invoke her ire as whether or not she is interested in trade we have seen how aggressive the drow tend to be even when you come in peace bearing gifts. At which point they could wind up at war with one another, since house Eilsath will be her only contact at first she might not realize what proverbial hornet’s nest she would be kicking. However, this would alert the other two houses to the existence of outside forces whether we want them to know or not. A third possibility is that in her search for us, she might inadvertently or even intentionally lead the drow to us.
As a result of encountering the city, we have learned a lot about badlands culture through Gideon probing around. Their culture stems from the criminal origins of the badlands founding. They tend to lean towards ‘gang loyalty’ mentality. They are extremely loyal to one another, but towards outsiders they can be be manipulative and murderous. Apparently, Maji is ruled by a lineage of incredible inventors for the last few centuries, and is responsible for the advanced technology the denizens of the badlands have access to. This dynasty supposedly consorts with demons to maintain their power and acquire some of their technological inventions, creating the idea of a demonic tech based theocracy. They are kept in power through economic influence and also because even if someone killed the current reigning king for the throne they couldn’t replicate the inventions he produces every now and then. They fear that killing this high priest could anger the demons and cost the entirety of the badlands its most valuable assets. Which might be relevant to know if we intend to pick a fight with the badlands.
Now I know this was all a lot to process, but clearly we will have to act fast on some of this week’s bullshit. By the way I’m going on vacation have fun with all that.
Despoina has managed to group up with KouKou and they are currently fleeing further from the fort. To similar ends Euterna has changed directions to head towards Areti’s last known whereabouts instead of becoming accomplice to Ankathi’s concept of politics.
Ankathi reports from the mountain fort that it is extremely well defended but largely due to terrain. Its position is fortified, but on the top of the mountain it is difficult to access and even though its staff might be limited they do have advanced technology to defend it with. Organizing an army to assault it would result in the army likely being destroyed by cannons while they’re still trying to climb the mountain. However, they are positioned there out of interest to exploit the resources of the forest to trade back within the badlands. We could lay siege to them simply by cutting off the forest side as it doesn’t matter if they can supply their fort from the far side if the fort is not able to yield them the primary profits it was constructed for. But the downside to that is it could be a very long struggle before they give up and they might reinforce the location to push out into the siege. Though, its mountain positioning makes it easy to notice when they send people down into the forest to cut them off unless they do so in the darkness of the night. At which point, KouKou might be an ideal attachment to any army seeking to do this given her unique talents.
As for building a village to trade with the Fukuchi, as your advisor I have to point out that is a bad idea. They are a nomadic people and honestly more likely to come to us for trade then anything else, but you never know when they will just pick up and move somewhere else away from the village. Also the cosmic force of all things might be about to delete them from the game.
As for Marilena and Christina, they are traveling.
In other news…Nina wants an audience with you. More so the thing that she calls her master does. Actually to be exact, they demanded one. I have done some prying into this before bringing it up. The reason this being named Orias that gives Nina her powers was referred to repeatedly as a ‘dark entity’ is because we weren’t entirely sure what they are. I have since figured out Orias is a demon king. So get comfortable because I have to explain all of demonology now.
Tieflings are descended from demons but are usually the result of mating between a mortal race and a demon. Real full blooded demons descend from the abyss, both thought to be a place and an entity. Just as “the wilds” are a primordial entity that druids draw their abilities from, “the abyss” is the one that warlocks, demons, and people like Nina get theirs from. It exerts a will of its own but does not really exist the same way we do, it can be communed with but not spoken to. That is a whole other talk if you want to get into religion, but for now that’s the gist of it. So if a werewolf is a cross between a person and the wilds, a tiefling is a cross between a person and the abyss. If a wolf is a descendant of the wilds, a demon is a descendant of the abyss.
So from there, demons are a rare but highly intelligent being but they all come from a ‘hole’ in reality to another world. Though it isn’t another world you could walk around, they float around in the abyss as merely a consciousness but it gives them a place they can retreat to and appear from at will. While they walk within our world they become very much like us, but while they reside in the abyss they become seemingly omnipresent even if they don’t actually do so we can barely tell the difference. Whether or not they exploit this ability, or to what extent, differs based on their personality I guess you could say.
Now to get into ranks. There are minor demons, demons, demon lords, and then demon kings. Minor demons are more akin to beasts, the term demons include the likes of succubi and other humanoid and intelligent creatures of the abyss. Notably, these are called major demons by demonologists but common people just call them demons, but then again common people refer to almost all the ranks as demons. Demon lords are those ones you would expect to see leading armies or destroying cities. A demon king, however, is the thing you hear about in fairy tales that make deals and have the power to affect the world for long stretches of time.
The hierarchy of demons is something that can be climbed by any of its members. All demon kings were once minor demons, though it isn’t exactly known how this ladder works. But it cannot a coincidence that every demon lord has a vast expanse of influence, no one has ever heard of a poverty stricken demon lord.
As a sense of scale, Heseli, you, or myself could face a demon lord about fifty fifty odds. A demon king could theoretically destroy all of Sybaris overnight if it manifested. Actually, the physical act of it manifesting might release enough energy to do that as just a byproduct. As stated earlier, Orias is a demon king that Nina somehow “befriended”. Though it should be noted, demon kings almost never manifest for some reason. I’m not really sure why.
Now to get back to the point, Orias and thus Nina have demanded an audience. I researched exactly what Orias is because of this. So I know he might very well be able to back up the offer he’s trying to make as Nina explains it to me. Orias has four children, all of whom are demon lords. One of which is trapped somewhere and he wants us to retrieve them. If we do…the offer is that said demon will remain in our territory to act as one of our princes for a minimum of one century.
I have been…contemplating this. I cannot be sure what Orias is planning, his existence is on a level higher then our intelligence can handle. He might simply be sending us to save one of his kids and making said child pay the compensation, but these are creatures who are known to lay plans millennia in advance. I have done my best to figure out the details of this deal.
Obviously having a demon, a demon lord no less, as one of our princes would help a lot with our population issues stemming from the curse. Demons are notoriously good at breeding, and obviously our curse can’t kill them. Though the immediate ramification is that we’d have a lot of tieflings in our population. It should be noted that tieflings make more tieflings, in the long term this could dramatically impact our population if not turn the entire nation into such creatures. Though…it is said that the more powerful the demon the more powerful the tiefling. Originating this practice with a demon lord, one directly associated with a demon king, could have peculiar result.
In summary, short term this would dramatically improve our population growth – not to mention economy. Long term, I cannot fully foresee the ramifications and we’re dealing with an entity that is widely known for thinking of the long term. Though on the upside, you and I will probably be dead of old age before then so it’ll be someone else’s problem right?
Greetings keeper! It is a glorious day for the Oda people. Iwanagi continues to move along down the coast. Apparently it might be a bit of a trip as he has to go around an extrusion into a bay area. However, the fort he came across has sent a few ships north to meet with us, though obviously it will take a bit of time for them to arrive. Never the less Konya has begun preparations to receive them.
Related to that, Quetzalli has organized to have the tournament around the time of their predicted arrival in the hopes of having something interesting going on when they do manage to get here.
Kaze is aboard the fleet with Chinami to help her get a grasp on the aspects of naval warfare. So far this is going well, though Chinami’s great difficulty still seems to be her tendency to give commands in her usual tone of voice. The crew have been getting used to it, though Kaze has made sure to help her pick a very shouty first mate to help relay her commands. So at least that is coming along, they have set off to sail into the sea in search of monsters to act as a sort of field practice thing along the nalkas coast due to the reliability of monster appearances around there.
As for expanding our influence it may help to scout around to find more. Perhaps other islands exist out there similar to the one we encountered. Though given the destruction of a few places among the forest, it may also help to take advantage of the open areas available to build new colonies of our own to expand our range of operations. Though doing so would definitely require more investment due to the lack of mountain protection out there. For the most part the search for life looks like it will be taking us into the Badlands.
Yuzuki has begun traveling east to find Shime at the frontline between the elves and orcs thanks to reports from the Katara that she was found there. Occunohaka has set out east to visit the badlands beyond the initial distance we have managed to make it through. He made it to the fishing village on the roads and is now venturing out further.