The Eroding Empire
Mayor of Tameron
Mayor Sequito is of average height and has a slightly pudgy build. A thick ring of white wraps around his pink head, with the skin on his face and scalp blotchy after years of whisky in the evenings. Two huge sideburns of thin, curly white hair push out sideways from his face.
Why are the Gods doing this to me? I’ve always tried to be a fair and just mayor. Tameron born and bred, all I ask from the gods is their help in keeping my townsfolk – nay, my friends – safe, dry, with a belly full of food and perhaps a little bit of wealth so we can educate the little ones and have a feast and some merriment on occasions. Why are the gods making it so difficult for me to do that? Have I offended them in some way?
Until recently my days were spent making sure that Tameron payed its tithes to Axis and dealing with petty land disputes. The biggest problem I had had to deal with until now was the town’s hunters and fur-trappers. The Wild Wood is becoming increasingly dangerous, as though it is trying its best to drive the hunters and trappers out. We’ve lost quite a few of our townsfolk to the wood in recent years, and most hunters and trappers refuse to set foot inside it anymore.
Some have been fortunate enough to find work elsewhere, but most of them remain idle, drinking their days away and causing drunken mischief. Nothing that Sheriff Borse and his team can’t handle, but nevertheless unpleasant. Unpleasant enough for them to be my chief concern as mayor of Tameron… until recently, that is.
It can’t have been more than a week ago when Sheriff Borse marched into my office and told me that a death cult nearby had been destroyed. Every single one of them brutally killed and the camp razed to the ground. I’ll never consider myself a friend of those bizarre death worshippers, but Tameron had got along with them peacefully, and genocide is something that no son of the Gods of Light such as myself can abide by.
A party of five strangers rode into town that morning. Well, four strangers and a boy I hadn’t seen in many a year. Marcus’ boy – had always been an odd one, that one. Decided he didn’t didn’t want to have anything to do with the farm he grew up on, and left. I guess he must have come back to Tameron to make his peace with his father. Marcus had been sick for quite sometime, and I heard that he had passed on this very week. Marcus’ boy had four companions with him.
One companion was a strapping lad, quick to flash a smile and turn on the charm. But I’ve seen his type before: idle second-borns of petty nobility with a lot of time and money, but not much sense. But I could be wrong about that. I shouldn’t be so quick to judge. Though Sheriff Borse did mention that he comes close to matching the description local charlatan, suspected of faking demon manifestations and then banishing them for a fee.
Another companion was an odd leaf-eater covered in tattoos. Seemed a likeable enough chap, but I’m not sure the unemployed hunters and trappers down in the Melancholy Manticore would see him that way.
A shifty-looking gnome was also accompanying Marcus’ boy. I didn’t care for him much. He seemed to look upon the world as if everything was an object to be used, and his eyes were a bit to close to each other for my liking. Borse said he could smell Wildling on the gnome. He could be right, you know. But Sheriff Borse has a habit of presuming everyone guilty. A good habit for a sheriff, I suppose, but it does make for boring conversation.
The other companion was clad in the armor of a cleric and wore a white mask. With all that armor and the mask, I wasn’t quite sure if she was a man or a woman until she spoke. She didn’t have much to say though, seemed to prefer to keep to herself.
Borse took charge of death cult incident. He conducted an investigation but couldn’t find anything conclusive. He said he’s sure the shifty gnome had something to do with it, though. Borse, the fool, also promised the masked woman that he would protect the ruins of the death cult from human scavengers. Idiot! I had to spend the rest of the afternoon appeasing angry townsfolk who were demanding access to the site so they could rustle up some firewood or perhaps even stones for building walls.
The very next night after the destruction of the death cult, a Hell Hole opened up just outside of Tameron! Why Tameron? Were the gods punishing us for not defending the death cult? The Hell Hole was out near Marcus’ hamlet, and Marcus’ boy – what is his name again? – and his companions were – to all reports – quite heroic and found a way to close it before it could spew demonic destruction upon us. Given that there was no evidence remaining that there actually was a Hell Hole – aside from the testimony of a few scared villagers – I normally wouldn’t believe such a story. But my informants tell me that agents of the Crusader have been poking about town, so perhaps there’s some truth in it.
The very morning that news came filtering in about the Hell Hole incident, we received some glorious news to help take the sour taste of the death cult and Hell Hole incidents out of our mouths. The Fair was coming to Tameron! I couldn’t believe it. It hadn’t visited in generations. My grandfather was just a boy last time it visited. He would speak fondly of it, but I do remember thinking that some of his stories about it must surely have been exaggerations.
First the gods inflict a Hell Hole upon us, and then they bless us with the Fair? I do wish they would make their minds.
The Fair is not entirely a blessing, however. It’s damned expensive, which is going to make it all the more difficult for me to collect the taxes when the seasons turn again. Also, the Fair attracted some unwanted attention. I got wind of Cabin Goodmar’s intentions of joining us for the Fair. Although his family has a good reputation, there are whispers going around that the boy is trouble. Especially when he drinks. The rumour has it that the incident that ignite that failed peasant revolt at Azelot last winter wouldn’t have happened if Cabin Goodmar had kept is breeches on.
So I hired uh that’s it! Thybalt! Thybalt and his companions – some of the townsfolk have been calling them the Heroes of the Hell Hole – to watch over young Mr Goodmar. Keep us safe from him, and keep him safe from us. They were quite precocious when negotiating the price. But if they really had closed a Hell Hole for us, then perhaps I could afford to be a bit generous with them.
It turns out everything my grandfather had said about the Fair was true, and more! What a wonderous place! It brought glow to this old man’s bosom to see his flock about to relax and have some fun for once, without having to worry about braving the Wild Woods to make a living or sweating on whether the frosts would come early this year. And the little ones were having the times of their lives. Having playful adventures that they too would be telling their grandchildren someday.
And now most of them are dead.
Without warning the ground shifted beneath us. the walls came to life and pushed some of us left, some us right. Some were crushed into the ceiling, others were pounded into the floor. And then the darkness accompanied by the low rumbling of the earth shifting around us. Shouts of pain and agony echoed around the randomly arranged corridors in the darkness. Names were exchanged back and forth in the darkness the townsfolk tried to reunited with loved ones that had been torn from them. Coughing accompanied all the shouting as we struggled to breath with dust hanging thick in the air.