Journal Fragment 1
[The following material was found in the damaged contents of an undelivered Imperial Courier package recovered from the wreckage of a caravan that was recently looted by bandits on the Normarch Highway. The heading and address line of the letter were burned away, but the lean salutation seems to indicate it comes from a “Master Tracker”…]
“One of my contacts brought me spore purchased from local shepherds who recently found the shattered corpse of a notorious bandit in a thicket beside the Upper Heath Trail just north of the (Cret?) Forest. Some of his loot was scattered nearby, including a leather journal that had been mostly ruined by exposure to the elements. The few intact pages stank of sour whiskey, and the writing was in a language completely unfamiliar to me. (Also – and I’m sure you will appreciate it when I say that someone in my line of work can’t afford to be sentimental or superstitious, so what I’m about to say should hold some weight in your mind – there was something about the script that was disturbing to view, and left me with a strange feeling of dread. I’ll be curious to hear your impressions when you see the excerpt I’m sending.)
Anyway, after painstaking research I was able to find a retired maester of religious studies to translate for me. Apparently it is a variant of an ancient dead language called “Abyssal”, supposedly used in pre-Imperial days by secret cabals devoted to dark gods. I’m sending you the excerpt along with the translation below. Please advise on how I should proceed with this investigation. I have informed the Duncestor branch to await the contracted funds for my monthly retainer.”
- Linus Perithian, M.T.
[Begin translated journal excerpt]
“…mother walked with me to the temple, as we did every Quatrelune. I always hated going, but once I was there, the liturgy and the carvings and the incense captured my imagination, just as they were designed to do. Looking back now, after my own service in the clergy, I realize there was more to it – the dark spell craft I learned to master had been working it’s power on all of us weak-minded fools since birth. The clergy knew their craft; I’ll give those bastards that much.
That morning was Blackwatch, so we had to participate in the Binding and Loosing ceremony, which always left me feeling sick inside. I never understood the waste of animal life, although the symbolism of the child the congregants chose to release was not lost on any of us. Perhaps it was the smell of burning animal flesh (the incense could never quite mask it) and the threat that it was always distinctly possible the congregants would remain silent at the moment of Decision, leaving the child to Descend instead of the goat. There was a black rumor about a village, conveniently stirred up occasionally by the priests and acolytes. The tale loomed over our huddled temple gatherings each month – that years back somewhere near Highdoon one of the local clans did not show up at Blackwatch because they were helping a neighbor whose house had caught on fire (started by whom?). They number of congregants was short of the moot required to save the constable’s son, who was dropped him into the pit below the altar, screaming to be saved from the horrors we kept below our sanctuaries… Those monstrous priests and their cheap theatre of blood. How did I every let them recruit me into their vile “religion”? If it weren’t for my dear Merilandra and Therion, I would burn the temples and churches of every religion – I know too well what lies at the heart of even the “good ones”. The best of these petty “shepherds” are fools and hypocrites, and I know too well (may my memory of who I was be cursed) what drives the worst of them. I can only hope the Imperial fools purporting to rule Belpan are competent enough to undermine and sabatoge the remnants of my former religion … but sometimes I fear it might actually be going the other direction… and they are lying in wait in plain sight, biding their time to reveal themselves when it will be too late to resist them…
It is morning now, and this broken body’s agony (torment – my oldest remaining friend) is starting up again… I need to find a drink…