Frustrated, she pulled again, harder this time, bracing her legs against the side of the punt and heaving backwards. Stuck fast.
It gave this time, casting the dredger back into the flat bottom of her craft. With it came a mass of rotting vegetation, rocks and mud, that bobbed quietly on the surface. A sickening rancour rose with it out of the dark waters and hung heavy in the air. Bryda new exactly what would now happen next; it was something all the dredgers tried to push to the back of their minds, something that they all wished would happen to someone else. The floating body of detritus appeared to emit a groan, and then, slowly, began to creep towards the punt, crawling and coalescing around the dredge line she still held in her hands. Panicked, Bryda dropped the rope and scrambled for her pole. She cried out into the gloomy mist covered lake as she planted the pole into the mud and pushed away from the approaching creature."Marshwalker!" Her cry echoed out into the swirling fog. To her relief she heard the sounds of splashing and comforting replies from her fellow dredgers...
Last season, an immense sinkhole opened up in the north-western Empire, radically changing the geography and ruining the livelihoods of a great many people. The area affected by the sinkhole was prosperous and rich in resources - many of which were destroyed by the subsidence. The lands around Dunhearth Hall in Hahnmark were known to have been particularly badly hit. With the support of the Imperial Senate, however, the construction of a new hall - New Dunhall - was speedily undertaken on the northernmost edge of the great pit.
The Imperial Senate also passed two other motions to do with the sinkhole; to auction the rights to name the Sinkhole, and to create the title of Delver of the Depths, to make ownership of the sinkhole - and its valuable bounty of weltsilver - a matter for the Imperial Bourse.
The civil service estimates that whoever purhases the title of Delver of the Depths will receive 50 ingots of weltsilver, 20 tempest jade, and 12 crystal mana each season. With careful monitoring, they are confident that there will be not risk of rousing the trogoni that lurk in the depths of the crater, and that it will take at least a decade before there is any chance of the rich bounty beginning to slacken.
An opportunity has come to light, in the form of the popular scholar and historian Peter of Hintown. The sometime civil servant has a great deal of interest in ancient history. Along with a party of Winterfolk, he was responsible both for uncovering some of the secrets of the Gildenheim runeforge, and for discovering the rich vein of mithril that would ultimately lead to the foundation of the Pride of Ikka's Tears. Stormcrow Tormund Crowstooth has contacted Peter and his companions, and suggested that he might be just the person to undertake an exploration of some of the deeper tunnels exposed by the sinkhole. Peter has agreed, and is excited by the chance to explore the sinkhole, but cautions that such an expedition would not be cheap - and it would be the sole responsibility of whoever ends up as Delver of the Depths to issue him an invitation. Otherwise he will stay away.
Peter has agreed to compile a short report about any findings he makes in the depths, and make the results public. All that is required is to for the Delver in the Depths, once they have won the title, to send him a winged messenger at New Dunhall, Wood Heath, in Hahnmark authorising him to undertake his expedition. He would require 5 Thrones for supplies, weapons, and armour (the Delver of the Depths would need to ensure this money was in their inventory and e-mail email@example.com after the event).
Alternatively, as Peter is still associated (at least peripherally) with the Department for Historical Research, he is prepared to accept an announcement by the Dredgemaster of Feverwater, Advisor on the Vallorn, or Minister of Historical Research, or by a Senator, instructing him by name to explore the tunnels. Again this would require 5 thrones, and again he would insist on making his discovery public - but crucially this would not count against the limit of two historical research commissions imposed on the Empire by the diminished size of the department. Peter of Hintown is essentially on an extended sabbatical from the civil service as he and his brave Winterfolk companions explore the depths of the Empire for mysteries of the past.
Trouble in Serra Briante
Three days ago, a winged messenger was received at Anvil from one of the overseers of the Great Mine. The magistrates quickly became involved. It seems that with the eyes of the Empire turning toward Anvil, a daring gang of orcs launched a clever heist against several of the wagons transporting mithril from the mine to a civil service maintained warehouse. There was some fighting. Four wains of mithril are unaccounted for, presumably stolen by the orcs along with the wagons and the oxen. The orcs themselves are believed to have fled back into the mountains, perhaps even reaching Jotun held territory in Liathaven already.
The immediate repercussion is that the Great Mine will provide slightly less mithril than normal - while it will continue to provide 22 wains of mithril going forward, this season it will provide only 18 wains. Given the seat is up for auction at the Autumn Equinox, the civil service are quick to disseminate this information so that anyone interested in claiming the seat can make an informed choice.
The Freeborn egregore has also let it be known that the militia in Serra Briante have captured one of the orcs ... and a herald apparently in the service of a Summer eternal although they refuse to reveal any information about which one which makes things even more awkward. The egregore is also aware of a conjunction on the Sentinel Gate that will permit up to five people to travel to the Great Mine in Serra Briante at seven o' clock on Friday evening. It is assumed that, in the absence of a current holder for the Bourse seat, the militia will be responsible for investigating the theft, seeing if any mithril can be recovered, and if possible ensuring another similar theft does not occur. Individuals with particular expertise or interest in this case may wish to make themselves known to the militia as soon as possible after reaching Anvil.
One question that seems quite important is how precisely the orcs got to the Great Mine of Briante in the first place, as well as how they got the wagons of mithril away, given regular patrols from the garrison at Fort Braydon. Perhaps this mysterious "summer herald" knows more.
The visit to Serra Briante is a tent encounter with wheelchair access available. It is not well lit by default. If a fight happens on this quest, it will be in a contained area that it will be possible for Non Combatants to avoid (well signaled IC, and if required OOC). You may stay Non Com on this quest and expect your character to survive and, not to experience any OOC danger of being hit provided you have followed the guidelines about the fight area.
Shadows over Feverwater
A few days ago, another message reached the civil service at Anvil with a desperate message for the Dredgemaster of Feverwater. According to the note, something has attacked the boats that trawl the Feverwater for valuables and Terunael artifacts. Several people are dead, others missing, and there are signs the creature has moved inland to threaten Black Sails steading. The creature appears to be an immense marshwalker, and there are concerns that its attack is not a coincidence. The Druj, after all, are known to make use of these creatures from time to time, and half of the Feverwater lies in the Mallum. There have been concerns from the dredgers in the past that the further east they pushed, the greater the danger the Druj might decide to launch an attack against them.
When a sinecure is threatened, it is generally the responsibility of the title holder to ensure it is defended. At the moment its not clear who the Dredgemaster is. The Navarr egregore reports that there is a conjunction on the Sentinel Gate for seven o' clock Friday night. It will allow up to thirty citizens to visit a location near Dredgemaster's Wharf at Black Sails steading in East Ashes, where the offices of the Dredgemaster are located.
Whatever is waiting on the other side of the gate, it will be a high combat encounter.
During the Autumn Equinox, the rights to name the Northern Sinkhole were purchased by Lorenzo Macelliao von Temeschwar for five Thrones. He named the sinkhole "Lorenzo's Deep Pockets".
Tobrytan Dunning of Wintermark was appointed Delver of the Depths, and duly provided permission to Peter of Hintown to explore the sinkhole, as well as the money to fund his expedition. The results were eventually made public.