Monday, August 6, 2018

To Your Brethren in the Dark: A New Campaign

Forgotten days,
Forgotten thoughts,
In the hour of Chaos,
Pass a torch to your brethren in the dark
-To your Brethren in the Dark by Satyricon

    During the black tide which ebbs lowest betwixt night and nether night, your grandfather clock peals a haunted thirteen chimes.  The New Year races over the horizon upon black wings.  In the shivering realms of farthest North, the witchmen are unfurling their burning standards to march under the banner of Asavar Kul, the Everchosen.  You have heard rumors of a man who proclaims himself the chosen of Sigmar, a man who professes his holiness even as he leads thousands to certain death.  Holiness, of what benefit is it?  How can purity be more desirable than that which all men truly crave: wealth, power.
    You light a candle and set it in the bare window casement.  The bullseye panes of glass behind it ripple in the faint glow it casts.  Until tonight, you had been prepared to throw your lot in with the stream of brigands, highwaymen and thieves making the sullen journey to Mordheim.  Then the courier arrived - bringing a letter from Elector Count Fitzpatrick himself.  You clutch the parchment in your pocket.  Now, everything has changed.
    A wind sets the windowpanes rattling.  It carries the faint hint of blood.  War is coming.  Whether by the twisting flames of Chaos or the brilliant fire of Sigmar, the land will burn.  Only those with resources to match that of kings will survive.  You extinguish the candle.  The Light of Sigmar, the Light of Chaos - let them blaze against one another in the high inferno of endless battle.  What does it matter?  You've always preferred the dark.


Old Friend,

    I write you now in desperate need.  I know many years have passed since we last campaigned against the bestial hordes which descended in their veridian fury upon the Providence of Nordland, but there is none remaining who I can turn to.
    At the far eastern edge of my providence, on the rocky coast, there broods the fishing town of Fiddler's Green.  Its dour and taciturn inhabitants have for years sailed the icy waters, hauling in great net-fulls of silvery fish.  Rumors have always clustered darkly about Fiddler's Green: stories of pacts with Chaos Gods or worse.  Yet, the townsfolk have always kept to themselves - which is well, for they are the most ugly lot of men to ever befoul the world.
    None can deny their proficiency in fishing and for this reason, the Elector Counts of Nordland have traditionally left them alone.  In recent days, however, the fishermen of Fiddler's Green have ranged farther and farther afield - bringing back larger and larger catches.  The size of which can scarce be believed!
    Fiddler's Green has prospered due to this.  Their waters must be teeming with fish; no other boat dares draw near lest it become wrecked on the massive, treacherous reef.  Fiddler's Green, buoyed by their wealth is hardly a mere town anymore.  It must have at least 3500 inhabitants, buildings made of stone, a wall and regular guard patrols.  It is on its way to becoming a major trading hub.
    The providence's treasury is stretched thin with the coming war - my army devours my gold.  I know that Fiddler's Green has not been paying the proper amount in taxes to their Elector Count.  Their fishing hauls grow, their profit grows, but my portion thereof does not.  They have been concealing their increased activity.  Worse, I believe they are selling their hauls to neighboring Providences without paying any tax.  There are even some who say that the townsfolk of Fiddler's Green sell their fish to the Norse Marauders across the sea.  Imagine the scandal should this be found out - my citizens, openly supplying the Chaos Hordes!
    I have dispatched three Tax Collectors along with their retinues to ensure Fiddler's Green.  The first, Horatio Vause, has been confined to the Sanitarium of Sigmar's Peace.  He is kept chained at all times, lest he harm anyone.  He mutters only about "thousands of eyes" and "clinging, chanting polyps."
    The other two Tax Collectors I sent did not return at all.
    It is clear to me that an army would be needed to bring Fiddler's Green to heel.  My friend, you must know better than anyone: nearly every man at arms I have available has been dispatched to aid Magnus for the oncoming war.  I do not have an army.  I can barely maintain order in the capital, much less in so remote a place as Fiddler's Green.
    The townsfolk know this.  Each day they grow increasingly bold.  The whispers of dark rituals and collusion with daemons have become open rumors.  Whispers have become shouts.  Magnus is occupied with his war, but should he be victorious, what - or who - will he turn on next?  Magnus cannot even abide even the barest whiff of Chaos.  Fiddler's Green is quickly becoming an overpowering stench.  Magnus will be sure it is burned - and me along with it.  There are no innocents in Magnus' court - I have turned a blind eye to Fiddler's Green for years.  To him, that makes me guilty.  Magnus won't stop there.  My wife and my daughter Esmerelda will also be cast into the fire alongside me.
    My old friend, I need you to take up arms for me once more.  I promise you any reward that is within my power to grant.  Riches, land, a title - even my daughter Esmerelda's hand in marriage should you desire it.  I need this Fiddler's Green situation resolved before the war is over.
    Aid me in this, I beg of you.  Your mission will be to gather those followers which you can and travel to Fiddler's Green as soon as you can.  I will issue you a silver chain of office, making you an official Tax Collector.  Your primary goal will be to assess and collect the proper taxes I am due.  Secondarily, you are to investigate the fates of your predecessors.  Be discrete in your inquiries.  Fiddler's Green does not appreciate outsiders.
    I hesitate to write what I must write next.
    Bear in mind closely that the situation with Fiddler's Green is utterly untenable.  The rumors about the town is enough to get me burned at the stake.  Yes, my treasury is nearly empty, but taxes are the farthest thing from my mind.
    As you investigate Fiddler's Green, be sure the inhabitants believe you are merely there to collect taxes.  My old friend, you are the only one I can trust anymore.  If there is anyone who can accomplish what I require it is you.  I cannot send an army, and this is an army's task.  I can scarce imagine how you and a few companions can possibly accomplish it - but I know how resourceful you are.  I simply must have this done.  None can know of Fiddler's Green.  Even the history books must never contain words describing it.
    Your true purpose is this: to destroy utterly the town of Fiddler's Green; to slay every living thing within its dimensions; kill every man, woman and child - spare no one.

I remain,
Elector Count Fitzpatrick

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