The farms west of Britain have not yet returned to normalcy, as the investigation into the ill deeds there continues - albeit slowly. In my previous articles on this topic, I placed the blame for the livestock deaths and crop poisoning squarely at orcish feet. While orcs were indeed involved, they were but pawns in the grand scheme - meant to distract the Volunteer Royal Guard.
After the orcs set up a small camp north of the farms, I discovered a note and a journal in the campsite. The witting for each was a very poor forgery of orcish, and they were dismissed as planted evidence. Sometime later, however, I discovered fragments of a torn page scattered at the camp. When pieced back together, they shed a new light on why the orc camp was there.
"Lat gimb Mojo Wadder ub humies. Majoka try make Mojo Wadder fur orcz. Nub want fuud make sick. Gu tu furt wid Mojo Wadder."
"You find potion of humans. Mages try make potion for orcs. No want food make sick. Go tu fort with potion."
It indicated that the orcs were looking for a potion to counteract poisoned food of their own. Farther northeast of the camp, I chanced upon a bedroll tucked under a fallen log. Ever curious, I poked it will my staff and noticed the corner of a small notebook underneath. Within was a familiar seeming script...
Less important than your other tasks, but find some seeds if you can. If you do, I'll add another two thousand to your pay.
Curious, I thought, iN was the signature used by Imperus Noxum a month prior in the journal recovered from Shame. Noxum had lured the Volunteer Royal Guards there to test his plan for immortality, the binding of his soul to elemental poison. The Guards had soundly defeated the fiend, and presumed him dead. I presented both pieces of evidence to Captain Savos of the Royal Guard at their next meeting. Tomas agreed that the handwriting on the instructions was very similar to that of the late Imperus Noxum, and it was assumed he had survived and may be causing the current troubles.
The repaired orcish note seemed to fit in with the reports Captain Savos had received from scouts in Yew and Skara Brae. Orcs had been witnessed planting poisoned crops into fields and then returning to their mine. Curious behavior.
Once again, the Guards laid siege to the orc mine to discover just how involved the orcs were with the plot to poison the Britain food supplies. Once inside the mine, the enraged orcs defended their home from the invading Guards. During the fight, several things were discovered.
First, the orc's chief food supply, corpsers, had become infected with the toxin and were now diseased.
Second, a bottle of green dust was located with the orcish mages.
Third, three journals written by an orc named Mojon were discovered. Combined, these journals explain that the orc believes humans and elves brought the poison into the mine and made the corpsers sick. The orcs brought the poison back to the farms in retribution, and possibly to obtain the cure from one of the farmers. (Copies of these journals may currently be found in the north Britain Counselor's Hall, or permanently in the Library of Sosaria - just south of the Yew moongate.)
Victorious, the Guards returned to their unfinished Training Hall in the mountains north of Shame. While discussing the new found information, a single orc ran up to the fortified enclosure. His name was Olodagh, and he pleaded with those gathered to spare the orcs and to stop attacking their forts and mine. Eventually, a truce was made between the Royal Guard and the orcs. If they would remove their camp at the farms, the Guard would end its attacks.
The investigation stalled briefly, and no new poisonings or orcish incursions occurred. In fact, the two farmers who had been ill had recovered somewhat. I continued to investigate the matter, feeling the pieces still didn't quite add up.
I found a muddied scroll along the base of the mountains far to the north of the farms; it had been too badly damaged by the elements to read. The scroll has since been retrieved for restoration. I then headed to the home of Carina, the farmer that had originally been a suspect in the poisoning deaths. He informed me that he had seen Captain Savos franticly searching the area around the orc camp for something, and that he didn't trust him.
Curious about what the Captain of the Royal Guard may have been searching for by himself in the woods, I headed to his tiny office within the walls of Castle British. Just outside the main gate, I found a scrap of paper... part of a note. Upon checking the guard houses for a potential owner, I discovered yet another scrap. Two parts of the same note, its contents were disturbing.
From now on I shall write as Imperus Noxum. Put out that journal of his so people can see his writing style... They've probably forgotten him. iN (Nice forgery. eh?)"
TS... Tomas Savos. This note implied that Captain Savos knew far more than he had told the volunteers, and that he may have had a hand in the foul deeds themselves. I reversed direction and headed for the Counselor's Hall to see what others would make of this discovery. Once again, I spied a slip of paper wrapped around the bottom corner of the memorial there.
It was badly damaged, and I couldn't locate any missing pieces in the area. From what was written on this section, I could tell it was another note to Tomas...
the castle c
row. Don't b
on't forget t
ons you need t
ave so bad news
Simple deduction indicated two things immediately, something was to be found in Castle British, and that the 'bad news' was that Imperus Noxum was alive. As I rushed back to Castle British, I considered why Noxum's remaining alive would be bad news. Other than the obvious threat to Britannia nearly all immortal mages seem to represent, the only other conclusion I could reach was that someone was indeed forging the missives signed with his mark.
A thorough search of the Castle, wish caused many a nasty look from the nobles, revealed a note hidden behind a bench in the small chapel on the first floor...
"Peace" with the orcs...lovely. I do wish you hadn't gotten my best alchemist killed in the process though.
Another not to Tomas from whoever was pretending to be Imperus Noxum. But who was this alchemist, and how did they die? I could only speculate that it was an orc, killed during the last raid... Or was it someone else, as yet undiscovered?
I waited for the next meeting of the Volunteer Guard, and as they left the Counselor's Hall for the mountain Training Hall, I pulled Lord Magnus Grey aside and briefly told him I had evidence against the Captain. We agreed to wait for the opportune time to present it.
Captain Savos was just taking the dais to speak as we came through the gate. He informed the gathering crowd that a man had been arrested in Trinsic for striking a guard during a drunken bender, and was serving a short sentence in the local jail. The man, one Marcus Lucian, was a trader and had been the one to sell seeds to the farms in Britain. He wished for the Guard to question the man while he met with Lord Casca.
After temporarily releasing Marcus from his cell, he was grilled repeatedly about the seeds and their provenance. He says he received them in trade from a farmer in Skara Brae, and that he sold them to Julie in Britain. The questioning quickly became monotonous, and it became painfully apparent that this man would be of little further help in the investigation.
Returning to the VRG Training Hall, we were soon joined by Captain Savos. He informed us that Lord Casca had chosen to nullify the treaty with the orcs. I immediately questioned the sanity in reneging on one of the few good things to come out of the recent turmoil. No explanation was given for this imbecilic decision.
After being informed of the trader's uselessness the meeting was about to end before I spoke up about what I'd found. Captain Savos denied the allegations that he was involved with the poisoning, the forgery, and that he knew who was behind the plot.
However, as denial is not evidence, Lord Grey placed the Captain under house arrest for the duration of the investigation or until his guilt or innocence could be firmly ascertained. Grey led a crestfallen Savos through a moongate to his confinement.
Shortly after they left, the already stunned gathering was further surprised by the appearance of a poison elemental. None other than Imperus Noxum himself, coming to give his thanks for having one of the men who had maligned his 'good name' arrested. He continued saying that he wanted the Captain and 'his friend', meaning whoever had been writing the notes, punished - and he wants us to do it!
When he was soundly rebuked by the Guard in the name of Justice, he set his minions on us. A fierce battle ensued as the Hall was flooded with poison elementals, bog things, poison clouds, acid elementals, and a particularly nasty acid serpent. In the end, the Guard triumphed over Noxum's hordes.
Could Captain Savos be a traitor? Who is he working with? Is the master criminal known as 'Pauper' pulling the strings? Keep your eyes open friends, don't let any scraps of paper go unnoticed - you never know what they might reveal...
Lady Martyna Z'muir, Library of Sosaria