FE Journal: Ratchik

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This journal is written in draconic, with a light, cursive hand, on a scrap of parchment hidden within the recesses of Ratchik's hide armor.

Week of the moon twice waxing, day 3

I spake with the one set against our scheme, We reasoned and discussed matters: He believes what he is doing is right, as we believe of our task. My Mistress' cooperation and consent concerned him, but not enough to alter his perspective. I left him with this, may the one who is right, succeed.

Day 4

Well, that was interesting. After fighting the dragons to a standstill, they took us to their former prison. Noah seemed aquainted with the jailer. Xochitli confessed to not being a true Dragonborn, which explains her distaste for Dad.

Day 6

I had to nearly kill Wren today. Whilst I was scouting, she went mad, attacked the rest of us, she was nearly unstoppable. We prevailed, but what good is winning that battle if the war that took you by surprise, for her very soul, seems lost? I don't know what broke her, or how to fix her. She seems to have regained a little normalcy now, but e really need to defeat this malign influence. She claimed it was a blood addiction, that she needed to kill to function. She said she'd give us more warning next time. ...

We eliminated the groups I scouted. we're getting the hang of these maidens: It remains to be seen what else is in wait for us.

...

Icesword! Of all the people, Rux's intelligencer apparently in the thrall of our foes. Appearances can be deceptive, but still. We will reckon together.

...

As agreed, Icesword surrendered when the others were defeated. His news is both heartening and troubling: The throne empty, and I the only known surviving claimant. My siblings, my competitors, my rivals and comrades and arms... the lucky ones reduced to mindless drakes, the unlucky ones... Well, yes. Still, the Empire yet stands, we that remain, and we can rebuild, reach again to what we should be. I have renewed hope that we can make a better future for this world: The Oracle never foresaw the death of the Jailer. Uncharted territory! A blank canvas on which we can scribe the future we make for ourselves. The Dragonborn are rising!

...

Interesting. Vennerzad represented Vale, 'Rend' is the leader of the Bandits. 'Arroway' is the leader of the Crusaders. Hawkcorpse and Firepeak seem to be some sort of independent group. All called to a meeting by Torog. Curious.

...

I know the fate of my siblings. All 1365 of them. 800 are mindless husks, 400 are barely cognitive, 150 are sentient, 15 claim to be heirs. All of them, in one horrific amalgam throwing the biggest tantrum in eternity: "We want the throne, if we don't get it we'll destroy the Empire!" Heartwrenching. They can't see the fact that being Emperor requires protecting the people. It has become a meaningless word, a title, a goal to them. I tried to hold a mirror up to their words to no avail: They lack the awareness to see what they are saying. I have faith there is a way out of this: The negotiations ended peacably. Now we go to the Oracle, who after the death of our father by rights determines the occupancy of the throne. Is there a way forward here or must the 1,365 be put to rest?

...

Home. Our glorious capital, fortunately not as hard-hit as some of the rest of the world. There are thousands of us living, but some without homes, our habitations ruined. Our defences are mostly solid, but we must work on upraising all our people One homeless is unacceptable, and yet there are thousands! I have consulted with the Oracle, but his tidings are grim: Fire and mist, mist and fire. A sacrifice of the people for the Emperor or the Emperor for the people. There is a third way, but it is the future we make for ourselves. The only outcome the Oracle will accept is me upon the throne: We will see if we can manage to defeat the current threat to allow that to happen. General Karthorn survived, and showed us the old companion of one of the seven, in our secure holding area. he prays incessantly to dark powers and knows far too much: We must deal with him, then see about my poor siblings. The Oracle's words bolster my case: Let them know that to be Emperor is to be sacrificed for the people.

...

An envoy from the nine hells. Not happy about it, but better we force them to tell us than finding out the disadvantageous way. If I ever take leave of my senses, I may wish to remove the safeguards. My siblings are somewhere in the Whelp's Den, communicating with hostile entities which claim to not wish to get involved, amidst gloating over God-deaths. We killed a Phane which became hostile to us.

...

Deeper into the den. An old bone pile spitting out dragons and six-armed spellcasters. I can't help but feel we're getting closer, that soon the question hanging over my people will have its answer. But at what cost?

...

Well, at least I know the cost. Grazzt is the one backing my siblings, the abyssal prince doing so in order that the Empire be weak and easily taken over. Frankly, his reasoning was devoid of reason, his purpose nihililistic and self-defeating. Still, divine intervention was called for. The firemind of the city of Brass was the intermediary of choice, and Avandra answered the call. She agreed to nullify Grazzt, in exchange for reforms to the legal structure and militaristic outlook towards 'art, adventure and trade'. I believe that these reforms can be upheld both in spirit and in accordance with the traditions of the people.

We do not have enough Dragonborn to fill the ranks of the Legions, so military reform into squad-level specialist units to conduct operations - de facto adventuring parties - would both meet the requirement and be more appropriate for our current capabilities. The military focus becomes an adventuring one, but in such a manner that it remains palatable to our kin and does not weaken us.

The strict legal system is another area where pragmatism will be the fulcrum. Capital punishment will instead be commuted and trade restrictions eased, all in the name of preserving our people and strengthening the nation. Rather than killing or incarcerating our people, those found guilty through due process will instead be assigned to caravan or warehouse detail, reinforcing our trade backbone. Our first priority is rebuilding, rehousing, and employing our people, and an expansionist mercentalist outlook is one way to achieve that. Thus, can the price be paid without either trampling entirely over our traditions, failing to uphold the bargain with Avandra or prolonging the suffering of my people.

...

War is coming, and I must lead my people. We discussed at length plans and policies: I suggested a parley in good faith before the walls of the city, with my stalwart companions as an honour guard. If things go sour, we will be in a position to strike at the head: If things go well, we can avert disaster. Part bluff, Part trap, part legitimate parley: My foes know me: seeing me in plain sight is a gambit they cannot afford to take likely.

The army should be at full mobilization in 12 hours. We will make optimal use of our defences and siege, our regular forces stationed to take advantage. We discussed many things, then went on to the Oracle. Our the false heirs seek something in the bones of the mountain, some knowledge. The death of Avandra was foretold, five days' hence, by my hand, when she will attack me to stop me killing another, one who I will know must die.

To conclude the succession crisis, we must find the roots of the mountain, allegedly some kind of plant. What a tangled web we weave!

...

The crisis is at last resolved and in my favour. By service to the sand king, my gestalted siblings were bound. On our return from that, we came across a place of divine hospitality, greeting various deities. Pelor was able to free twelve of my siblings who wished no longer to be trapped in the Gestalt: They have sworn loyalty and fealty to me as their Emperor. It is, quite literally, a miracle, and one for which I have expressed my gratitude. Thus is the empire strengthened, and a precedent set: perhaps more will choose the right path in time.

...

It comes to this. The grand army is at our gates, never defeated in battle. I have parleyed with the voice of Bane at their head. According to the ancient lore, our champions will do battle. I will fight for the fate of my people, alongside those with whom I have travelled. I must prevail, no matter what.

...

We prevailed. Through trickery and curse, through the fires of the abyss and by dint of our effort. Bane's voice nominated our Oracle as a champion, to get out of the danger of execution. I was able to swathe him in shadow to protect him from harm. Alongside the Voice stood three balors, great demons of the abyss. One by one we slew them, through the maneouvres we as a group excel at. My city is safe, my empire secure, an army that has never known defeat has tasted it for the very first time. It is a true army at last. And now, to my Empire. There is much to be done, as well as freeing my allies from the curse that beset them.

...

Bane murdered my Oracle in cold blood. That detestable god now lies imprisoned in agony in Lucas Sommers' armor. He will suffer, perhaps for a time, perhaps for eternity. A generous and merciful fate opposed to the alternative. Those who deliberately harm my people without cause will beg for such mercy.

...

We embark on an attempt to set up trade links with a neighbouring settlement of survivors, to strengthen our empire and to act in accord with Avandra's terms. Some of our number had sought counsel from our guest: I am not in favour of doing so, and still have my senses. We parleyed with the Gods en route to get them onside for what must be done.

...

Avandra came, and was greatly wrathful. We were beset with laser-spitting tornadoes on every side, doing great damage to the caravan and causing substantial loss of life. My request for her intercession served as a distraction, due to which lives were lost. I offered myself as a sanctuary to replace the protection that had not been there, a place to run to in times of woe. A redressing of the balance, which Avandra accepted as a fair wager. I beat the Goddess of Luck at dice, and thus spared those with us from further suffering. An expensive cost, no doubt, but I must accept responsibility for my words and for my deeds.

...

The settlement. Rux had been here, and after him, bandits who despoiled the soil. We summoned the Gods to revitalise it before heading off after the bandits. An old man of the settlement recognised Arlette as the Wren, and others of our number. Curious.

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