Blackmarch

Journal of an Inquisitor Part I

Journal of an Inquisitor

Part the First
I know not what I have done to anger my superiors, but I have been transferred. Effective immediately, my duty station is as the Sergeant to the Brothers already in Foothold. Researching my new post, I learned that the Black March is a boil on the ass of the Empire, and Foothold is the place from which this boil must be lanced if the Empire is to be preserved and the End of the Age delayed.

What the Head Inquisitor thought of as punishment for some imagined slight appears to have placed me in the time and place best-suited to my needs. Once again, the Inquisition and I use one another effectively. I cannot believe it to be a coincidence.

The journey to this particular boil was uneventful. The merchants with whom I travelled filled the time with tedious tales of negligible worth. I did, however, glean some information of potential value, should it prove accurate – and I have no doubt that some of it will. These folk are too simple to attempt deceit. And my first day here has borne out much of the tales.

Upon arrival, I was assigned a home and was called to meet with a band of free companions. A clerist, a ranger, and a sorcerer. Scarcely had we set down to eat when we were accosted by a beggar attempting to sell us a map of some sort. Before he could get through his pitch, he was struck by a tankard of ale thrown by a nearby table of rabble-rousers and troublemakers.

After dealing with the troublemakers, I reported to Brother Lucas, who provided a focus for my investigations over the near term – it seems a local mine-owner by the name of Gold Finder or Gatherer or some equally Dwarfish name is suspected of Diabolical connections. We were given several incidents as containing evidence of his guilt, and were told to follow up on these incidents.

Incidents:
1) A local landowner refused to sell his land to the suspect. Shortly thereafter, his lands were cursed – his chickens hatched only vipers, and the eggs which were not hatched were rotten and foul.
2) Livestock around the mine has been afflicted, with a three-headed beast being born and then singing and prophesying until it was destroyed.
3) Another local mine owner (dead, now, for several years) was seen in Gold Seeker’s home, shrunk down to a height of two apples and kept within a jar very much alive.
4) A local lumber camp has had dramatically more injuries, accidents, and damaged equipment than is to be expected from a camp of this size. Not only that, but the workers apparently claimed that some trees and portions of the forest felt wrong, somehow. The owner, a local Dwarf known as Tree Feller, is apparently a distant cousin of Gold Sniffer.

The lumber camp stuck out most in my mind, as it has no direct tie that I could see to Gold Hunter’s thwarted desires or his presence, and so I gathered my band and travelled there to examine it first-hand. When we arrived, we were initially greeted with fear, which is appropriate given my inquisitorial robes and other regalia. Once it was explained that we were there about their troubles, however, they relaxed.

I questioned them at length and examined their shattered tools. There was no sign that they had been taught what to say. They pointed out on a map (provided by Tree Feller) where these locations were. When we went to investigate, the Ranger took it upon himself to scout ahead. He was quickly ensnared by a demon-possessed tree.

I find myself less-than-impressed by the quality of the assistance I have been provided.

Nonetheless, I sprang to his aid and swiftly dispatched the tree, at which point it vomited forth a surprise – a body wearing the regalia of an Imperial Inquisitor.

Upon returning to town, I was informed by Brother Lucas that it was likely the body of Brother James, who was the Sergeant before me. I asked for his records and information on his latest investigations, and was told that he had been operating independently and his book had been burned. No useful clues were extracted from its ashes.

So here is what I have:

1) A map, acquired by the flighty member of my team.
2) A team, consisting of a magic-using elf, a half-orc clerist, and a human ranger. The elf has the attention span of a gnat. The ranger has demonstrated the ability to fight in bars, but was then bested by a tree. A TREE! And I have yet to see the full measure of the half-orc.
3) A helm, previously worn by my predecessor. It is infused with the spirit of “Brother Theobald,” who wishes only to help. He seems knowledgeable with regards to the Empire, Druids, and matters diabolical.
4) More leads to follow than I have team or time in which to invest. None of them convenient.
5) A small stipend and a home from which to operate.

I pray this boil is lanced sooner rather than later. The elf in particular may drive me mad.

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Setting the Stage
What happened before the adventure

The Elf Queen sends an earth elemental to Elanesse and Deleva with a message: a new imperial inquisitor is coming to Blackmarch. They are to travel to the town of Foothold and join his adventuring company as “free companions” for an undetermined time. This will give Elanesse a measure of official protection, because nobody wants to get on the inquisition’s wrong side. Strings have been pulled and favors called in to ensure that they are chosen.

The Elf Queen is of two minds about the inquisition: she finds it distasteful and wrong-headed, and despises their methods, but the Diabolist whom they oppose is a serious threat. The pair should always remember that they are not inquisitors themselves. They should do nothing that goes against their conscience, but are also not required to oppose the inquisition’s abuses.

Nureddin gets orders from his commanding officer that a new inquisitor is coming, and Nureddin’s been assigned to babysitting duties. Try and keep him from getting killed, okay?

Khash gets a message from his imperial handler that he will soon receive an invitation to join an adventuring band assembled in support of a new inquisitor in town. He is to accept this invitation, and take advantage of it to investigate reports of a formal alliance between the Diabolist and the Orc Lord. In addition, be alert to mentions of a “Brother James”.

Khash also gets a message from his orcish handler: the ranger Nureddin, a dedicated foe of the Orc Lord, is now attached to a new inquisitor in town. See if you can find out why. Is the inquisition’s scope being extended to include sympathizers of the Orc Lord?

Hochnor Half-Hand receives orders from the Imperial Inquisition to travel to Foothold in the Black March and report to Brother Lucas, the Senior Inquisitor of the provincial tribunal. He will fill Hochnor in on his duties. Hochnor is given a horse for the journey, a badge of office and just enough gold to get him there.

Hochnor travels to Blackmarch with a Chauceresque group of merchants, clerics, scholars, spooky rangers and swaggering paladins of the Crusader. From them, he picks up the following pieces of information:

  • Despite its name, the Wretched Hovel is a good, comfortable inn that’s a favorite of adventurers. It’s run by a halfling named Molly. You have to check your weapons at the door.
  • Count Henry has been in charge of Blackmarch for three and a half years. He made his name as a capable, brave, smart general during the Red Sorcerer’s Rebellion. The Crusader’s paladins like and respect him, but think he’s in over his head.
  • If you’re ever seriously down on your luck, the Gods of Light Shelter in Low East Side offers a place to sleep and some bread and soup.
  • Mining, lumber and banking are major industries in Foothold.
  • Micah Strong, the current mayor of Foothold, also served with distinction in the Red Sorcerer’s Rebellion. He has a magic glove. Or maybe a magic hand? Anyway, they say it makes him strong enough to flatten an ogre with one punch. Or it shoots fireballs.
  • Traveling medicine shows will carry magic potions and maybe oils. If you need runes as well, you’ll have to go to a wizard or sorcerer.

When Hochnor arrives in Foothold, he reports as instructed to Brother Lucas. Lucas reveals that Hochnor is to serve His Imperial Majesty as the tribunal’s sergeant, their agent in the field. He will investigate reports of diabolical activity, kick down any doors that need kicking down, kill any demons and cultists that need killing, apprehend suspected servants of the Diabolist and deliver them to the local law enforcement agents for confinement till their trials. Then he will be debriefed by Brother Valan and Brother Siegfried or their secretaries.

As sergeant, Hochnor will be supported in the field by a band of free companions. Brother Lucas has taken the liberty of approving them: Nureddin, a ranger; Elanesse, a sorcerer; Deleva, a wizard; and Khash, a cleric.

Because His Imperial Majesty has decreed in his wisdom that the Inquisition may no longer funds itself by seizing the property of traitors to the Empire, Hochnor’s pay will not be great. However, the Inquisition will provide the following:

  • A modest four-bedroom house in the Low West Side, perviously occupied by his predecessor, Brother James
  • A monthly stipend for the bare essentials of food and clothing

In addition, he and his free companions are permitted to engage in adventures not related to Inquisition business, so long as they do not conflict with Hochnor’s duties. He may keep the proceeds from those adventures, but His Imperial Majesty is not responsible for any debts or obligations that Hochnor or his companions incur.

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