Queenmaker

MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #96
Starday, 17 Sarenith, 4717AR

A happy first anniversary to the Duchy of Rivara! We are celebrating today in fine style, and the public is enjoying it. While the Duchess has not yet issued any edicts today regarding the addition of more official holidays, my hope is that these will follow within the next month.

The idea of a fish fry for holidays is becoming something of a tradition – and this seems to be strengthened by our construction of a new pier to enable more fishing and trade about the waters of the Tuskfang. At a cost of sixteen thousand crowns, it can be thought of as an investment in the future. All told, we brought in ten thousand crowns this month. The magical craftsmen continue to do good work, but nothing was especially noteworthy this month.

All told, we have some thirty-five thousand crowns on hand, and the Duchy is stable and established enough that we are ready to get back out on the road. This will give us an opportunity to see to some of the business of the realm beyond the borders of the capital. It will also allow us to investigate some of the rumors we’ve been hearing regarding events on and beyond our borders.

One final item of note: General Jeremiah reports that Sloth has been progressing well in his military studies. On its face, this is good news, though I remain hesitant about its implications. There has as of yet been no trace of the cruelty or malice in Sloth that his parentage might suggest, but I remain vigilant. If such a streak should develop once he hits puberty, I cannot shake the feeling that having trained him in military science will have been akin to training a child with a fondness for taking their friends’ toys in the finer points of how to be a better cutpurse. An untrained brute is a danger, but rather easily handled. One who can think and plan and lead an army? That can easily rise to the level of an existential threat!

If the idea is to train him to be a General and have him accepted by the men he means to lead, then at some point it will likely be necessary for him to take on the role of a rank and file soldier. Such a position will give him the air of having had an opportunity to earn any future elevation he is given. It will also give us an opportunity to see his nature in the fire of battle – both in competence and temperament. Perhaps I am completely wrong and it will all work out for the best. In any case, it seems wiser to be on the look-out for a worst case scenario that it does to assume everything will be fine and to then find yourself flat-footed if it doesn’t.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #95
Wealday, 17 Desnus, 4717AR

Peace and calm have reasserted themselves with the aid of a bit of pomp and ceremony. With our finances in as good of shape as they are, we splurged and constructed a noble villa as a residence for our Duchess. Expensively priced at twenty-four thousand gold crowns, it is to be hoped that its luxury will add an air of prestige and dignity to the Duchess’ reign. We should likely build a town hall in the not-too-distant future to ensure that the actual work of governance is given equal weight. We only brought in eight thousand gold crowns for the month, so it may take a couple more months to make up the expense of the villa’s construction. And a town hall is likely to cost a similar amount, which is fitting given the importance of showing that the state and its sovereign are of equal importance.

Further, the magical craftsmen constructed a magnificent cloak for Duchess Morrigan, melding protective magicks with the same owlbear motif found in her headdress. While the sale did not add to the treasury, we hope that it will prove useful both as a symbol of her status, and as protection when we get back on the road. That latter event could be as soon as next month, and I for one am looking forward to it.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #94
Moonday, 17 Gozran 4717AR

It would seem I spoke too soon regarding the idea that the cold of winter brings peace and quiet to the community. Apparently it just ensures that people keep their mischief behind closed doors – and near a warm fire. My prediction that Lily was trouble would seem to have been borne out, though it did not help me to uncover her mischief before it became a public scandal.

Falayna considers femininity to be the most sacred of things. Rings too, as the imprints of my daily devotional bear out. But she does not consider matrimony to be an essential part of that femininity – even for those who do not serve as sisters in our monastic order. A good thing, but not an essential one. We who are her sworn sisters do not swear to chastity. We do not swear to celibacy. And I am not so naïve as to believe that people will not find their sexual pleasures outside the bounds of a socially sanctioned construct like matrimony. So I am not the type to be easily shocked by news that consenting adults are sleeping together. But when such sexual liaisons result in a political scandal, or even threaten a blood feud? A line must be drawn somewhere.

The problem is not that Lily was sleeping with Kesten Garess. Nor is it a problem that she was sleeping with Rabbi Lyon. I for one find it easier to trust religious figures who have their sexual drive sated in the context of a relationship between consenting adults – the ones who claim to be “beyond” desire tend to have… “darker” outlets, which is a problem all its own.

But the real problem here is that she was carrying on with both the Marshal and the Warden of the Duchy of Rivara at the same time, and that the public became painfully aware of that fact. It makes those of us in leadership positions look like fools. Me perhaps most of all, as they are the two other public officials that I work most closely with. All three of us are supposed to be about the business of justice, not just enforcing it, but setting an example with our conduct. And I am supposed to mete out punishment over this entire affair?

In the end the direction we received was to try and make the situation blow over, and to withhold actual punishment for a later time. While apparently no one will be punished over the incident now, it will be keenly remembered should there be more problems in the future. Through a regimen of no-nonsense posturing on the Rabbi’s part, an unceasingly pleasant charm offensive from Svetlana, and silent stonewalling on my part (I seem to have a gift for it), the public outcry is starting to calm down, and I am hopeful there will be no lasting effect on that front. Still, this abuse of the public’s trust is exceedingly distasteful to me.

Were it entirely up to me, I would see to it that Lily, Kesten and Rabbi Lyon are kept well away from each other. Things between Kesten and Rabbi Lyon in particular are somewhat… “strained” over the affair. As Kesten and the Rabbi must each travel about both the settled and unsettled areas of the Duchy in order to do their jobs, the simplest option might be to banish Lily from the Greenbelt. Failing that, it might be possible to put her “beyond” reproach. If she were married off say. Preferably to someone besides one of my colleagues. Though it feels like a slight upon the institution of marriage to do such a thing merely to sweep away the public memory of a scandal. But these are the gentlest consequences I can think of. In all of this, I will defer to the Duchess of course, as I am her Enforcer, and her Justice.

Part of the reason that the scandal may be dying down could have to do with the fact that the people are always hungry for the next fantastic and intrigue filled tale, and we have seized upon the first one that came along. In this case, a well-known local lumberjack named Stoss claims he and his prized magic spear (I’m assured that is not a euphemism) had an encounter with a Hodag. Such creatures are said to be highly ferocious, and Stoss claims he stabbed the creature with his spear and then abandoned the weapon in order to escape with his life. His friends claim it’s likely an empty tale he’s telling in order to cover up for the fact that he got drunk and lost the spear somewhere. Stoss is promising the spear itself as a reward for anyone who tracks down the creature and kills it in order to prove the truth of what he’s saying. There is something refreshingly simple and diverting about a good old-fashioned monster hunt, and we have promised to see to it once the weather is warm enough for us to travel once more. With any luck, we’ll run into some troll blood donors either on the way there or the way back!

On the more mundane side, we had a good month financially. We constructed a cistern to ensure a supply of fresh water for the public. It cost a scant three thousand gold crowns, barely half of what we received in proceeds from the magical craftsmen after they forged a Druidic ring of sacred mistletoe and sold it off. Between that and our more conventional incomes, we brought in fifteen thousand crowns for the month. As a result, we are now back above the total value of our initial seed money, with fifty-seven thousand gold crowns in the treasury. Here’s to hoping that that part of the month will be borne forward, while the scandal will a one-time aberration.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #93
Fireday, 17 Pharast, 4717AR

Spring officially begins in a week, but it still seems a long way off. There is still snow on the ground in places, and the winds coming in off the Tuskwater remain frozen, even if the ice on the lake has softened. Still, Jhod assures us that the weather will have changed enough to begin trying to plant come the equinox. I think it may be a case of people using both the plowing and the celebration of a holiday in order to “will” the season to change. I’m not sure this works, but if it makes them feel better and gets the fields planted, it’s hard to find fault.

As for the difficultly we will face in breaking the ground for plowing? That I can attest to first-hand. In keeping with our effort to improve public sanitation, we have been building a sewer system this month. In addition to being especially back-breaking work in the dead of winter, it has been exorbitantly expensive, costing some twenty-four thousand crowns. This represents more than double our incomes this month, which amounted to an otherwise respectable eleven thousand crowns. I am hopeful that such an investment will prove a wise one, but it will likely be some time before we can confidently say that it has paid off.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #92
Fireday, 17 Calistril, 4717AR

The short days and long cold nights continue, ensuring that the promise of spring remains firmly in the forefront of the mind. We have started to think of ourselves as a large town, as the population has grown to well over two thousand. We have added an interesting subset to our population. A group of mites who were apparently away from the area during the late unpleasantness with their kin have decided to settle in the Duchy. It has taken the public a little time to get used to them, but they have been surprisingly helpful in teaching us some of the ins and outs of the local environment, vastly increasing productivity. They seem not to bear a grudge – hopefully this is as it seems, but I will be watching just in case.

The exotic district made an offering to the Duchess of the proceeds from an impressive magical wand they created. Between that, the help from the mites and the normal incomes provided by the economy, we brought in some seventeen thousand crowns this month. We put six thousand of that back into building a brewery. The new local vintage has been dubbed “Dragon Stout.” Tōgg is also working on an idea that would enable the use of magic to create a kind of “food bank” for those who find themselves running short during future winters here. Still, if they wish to see a truly unforgiving winter, I would submit that the windswept reaches of the Storval Plateau might force the locals to reconsider their idea of “bone-chilling.”

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #91
Toilday, 17 Abadius, 4717AR

The New Year finds us happy, prosperous, and harmonious – if somewhat cold and snow-covered. The Tuskwater itself has frozen over, and is unlikely to thaw until spring. The weather has kept our construction efforts closer to home. We have set about trying to build a district that will support more exotic craftsmen like Tōgg or our friendly neighborhood alchemist. All told, this required us to lay out ten thousand crowns, which perfectly balanced with our incomes this month. It seems worthwhile to break our string of months turning a profit in order to enable the creation of magic items. All in all, the cold has kept things rather quiet and peaceful otherwise.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #90
Starday, 17 Kuthona, 4716AR

We are making good on our promise. This month’s construction project is a dump meant to improve sanitation. For four thousand crowns, it seems well worth the effort. Tōgg has also set about using some magicks as street sweepers as a sort. I am not sure they will have a tangible benefit, but the place looks terrific! He is also working on some way to use magic to provide persistent illumination on the streets at night. Albeit, we have not had too much of a problem with crime thus far. But I suspect this would improve public safety, and therefore I am all for it.

Despite the turn in the weather and the arrival of a persistent blanket of snow on the ground, the economy continues to hum. Svetlana unveiled an unparalleled success of her own – the body of the great deer that Oleg had brought down has now become a large and popular line of jerked meat. I forewent the protein of a trout this month in order to try Svetlana’s elk jerky when she unveiled it. Falayana forgive me, I swear it is among the more delectable things I have tried. All told, we brought in close to fifteen thousand crowns this month, making it our most profitable yet.

We also received some news that perked up my ears (such as they are). An alchemist who has set up shop in Avalon is convinced that he can use troll blood to create healing potions. He is offering some twelve hundred crowns in potions to anyone who can bring him four gallons so that he might test his theory. Obviously the reward doesn’t interest me, though my companions could surely benefit from it. But the rationale for further troll bloodletting does reach out and grab the attention.

On the one hand, anything that reduces the troll population is a plus in my book. I would gladly crush the skull of any that found itself in my grasp. And the idea that the blood of a creature that causes so much destruction could act to heal that same destruction has a kind of harmony to it. But I also see potential causes for concern.

If the alchemist’s theory holds true, will he want to keep trolls in captivity in order to harvest their blood? Trolls are said to regenerate from even the smallest piece of themselves – does this extend to their blood as well? Are there other effects drinking troll blood might have on a person? All of these seem grounds for trepidation, not to mention potential threats to public safety.

Once the community is well established enough for us to resume adventuring part-time, I will personally see that the alchemist gets the troll blood he wants. Indeed, if there are sufficient troll donors, I will see to it that he gets an ale barrel full, never mind a single waterskin. But I will be sure to keep a close eye on the situation, both during and after his experiment. In the meantime I will wish him and everyone else a happy and prosperous new year.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #89
Oathday, 17 Neth, 4716AR

Snow at last. Despite my skin being as far from snow-colored as possible, I feel a kinship with it. It is silent, calm, soft, pure, and if you are not prepared for it, it can be lethal. Blessed be Falayna for enabling our preparations.

A few days into this month we got our first flurry, and the dustings have been regular since then. Game will likely become scarce in the coming months. It’s undeniably good that we have been able to build up some food stores. Our population has grown to some fifteen hundred people, and it will require some work to keep them fed through the winter. We have built up a district of shops and storefronts to further enable commerce among the growing population. These projects cost some eight thousand crowns, but we took in another ten thousand in incomes, making this our second straight month in the black.

The weather and the increased number of people has also made another hazard apparent however. There was a short but acute outbreak of sickness two weeks ago. Thankfully we managed to contain it, but had we not done so the situation could quickly have become critical given the cold and the close proximity of people living in an urban setting. As such, we will need to focus on improving the sanitation and public health of Avalon in the coming months.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #88
Moonday, 17 Lamashan, 4716AR

Still no snow, though the frosts are now occurring at night with regularity. We built a library for Entem and the rest of the citizenry, at a cost of six thousand crowns. That makes this our first profitable month, as we raised ten thousand crowns in incomes. Other than that, the month has been uneventful.

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MISSION JOURNAL OF SISTER SCARLET ENTRY #87
Starday, 17 Rova, 4716AR

We are now in the business of digging in the earth. We made our way back to the vein of gold we previously discovered. Clearing out the area and establishing a mine took a little time. We also broke ground on a tannery this month. Given the fact that the winter will necessitate the hunting of game and the butchering of some cattle to sustain the people, it makes sense to put the skins and pelts of such animals to good use rather than simply using the carcasses for meat. The weather has already started to cool, and I suspect we might see our first snows as early as next month. It’s good that we were able to get the mine up and running before the topsoil froze.

All told we had to lay out some fourteen thousand crowns to set up the mine and the tannery, but we brought back in another eleven thousand when the harvest proved better than anticipated. We end the month with thirty thousand crowns on hand. I think we are edging closer to bringing in more than we lay out. It is difficult to say at this time how much of a fund we should keep in reserve in case of a crisis. But for now we will not get ahead of ourselves, and we will focus on building up the land we have already claimed. Entem has specifically requested we make good on our promise to him by building a library.

Rabbi Lyon has also had an excellent notion. He has asked Jhod to begin blessing the local farmsteads in order to increase their crop yield this coming spring. It will prove a time-consuming task, but an annual blessing for each farm should be doable.

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