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Perpetum's Letters of Conquest

In 180 EE, as the Emberhand Legion felt especially proud of their own military might, they sought to explore the southern continent of Symmer for the first time. Some people might wonder why, but they clearly do not understand the spirit that drives Fortressian expansionism. 3000 men were sent south, along with at least 100 horses and supplies fit to upkeep those numbers for a considerable amount of time.   Symund Perpetum's campaign might have failed, but his stubbornness led him to push further than any other legionary that came after him. His letters, to this day, are looked at with great interest by a faction that is yet to give up on the idea of taking over the ashen continent below.   In the Paper Palace, the letters are organized chronologically, according to the stage they cover and how far into the continent Perpetum is guessed to have been at the time.  

Stages

Docking

The Letter

To the rightful Emperor, Terentius Emberhand II   Your most loyal troops have successfully reached the shores of the unknown. Without any food to be sighted on land, we intend to march swiftly south until anything of more interest is found. A few sentries shall be left behind to guard our ships.   Legate Symund Perpetum

Notes

  • Neither the sentries nor the ships returned to Fortressia.
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  • During a later expedition, legionaries found a charred prow of Fortressian design that most likely belonged to Symund's fleet.
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  • Knowing Perpetum's tendency to underestimate his foes, the sentries were likely unprepared to deal with either the local fauna or savages.
 

Signs of Resistance

The Letter

We have found life in this world. At the very least, we have found something that mimics it rather expertly. Our outriders fell from their horses and were unable to calm them down. Before long, people of ash rose from the ground and tried to attack us. Our dialogue was as inefficient as their combat, and we had to put them to the sword with minor casualties. They did not bleed. Whether they died or just fell apart, my men would rather not find out, so we pushed forward as fast as we could.   Besides the locals, we also found a grey root that is able to survive in the ashlands. No one has dared to eat one yet, but the horses don't seem to mind. An alchemist, in retrospective, might have been a useful addition to this expedition.

Notes

  • This letter arrived with a tiny sample of stokeroot
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  • The royal alchemists, after a few experiments, managed to cultivate the root in ash vases, which would eventually make a difference in many of the Legion's following wars
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  • More recent expansions have struggled to come across the ash people mentioned in the letter, though their existence has been confirmed. It is unknown if they are dwindling or extinct.
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  • Several other letters like this one arrived in the following days. They mostly described harmless animals that posed no threat and thus, are majorly ignored by the Legion's scholars even today.
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  • While not threatening, herbivores in Symmer are indeed capable of consuming stokeroot and not bursting into flames during its digestion. Further study might yield interesting results, if anyone can catch such creatures.
 

Disaster Hits

The Letter

Things have not gone well since my last pigeon was sent. Our horses were incinerated during the night, not by anyone, but spontaneously. Before our very eyes, they caught fire and ran off. The few we managed to put out were so badly wounded we ended up putting them down. Strange insects have swarmed our camps recently. Wherever we go, these blasted ember flies follow us. Anything combustible they touch is ignited, and we cannot spare the water to exterminate them. The land is so hot we've taken off our armor too. Only our boots remain, and that is because walking barefoot will cook our feet.   Our numbers took a great hit when the floor erupted from below us. Lava, flames and smoke engulfed at least half of my men regardless of their enchantments and training. Before the survivors could recover, we were attacked by elementalist savages, shamans who harnessed the ashlands' destructive power against us. It took most of our strength, but we pushed them back, capturing one of them in the process. The copper-skinned lunatic can't understand a word we say, but he carried a surprising amount of golden jewelry, much like his companions. There are riches to be found in Symmer!
 

Notes

  • The letter arrived with a pair of golden earrings attached to it.
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  • This letter is slightly charred across the edges, and most of Symund's seal was burnt.
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  • The elementalist tribesmen mentioned in the letter are the Mezi. Slaves of their kin from following expeditions ended up allowing Fortressian scholars to learn more of their language and culture.
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  • Currently, the Mezi are willing to act as wayfinders for the Legion in exchange of proper payment. In other words, legionaries can give them trinkets and junk in exchange of survival through the northern regions of the ashlands.
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  • The Mezi are, much to our disappointment, not willing to trade gold, even for our most embellished bits of junk.
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  • The next expedition that made it to the point of burning grounds marked it with a Tiberian checkpoint. While the flag is burnt down, the iron standard's structure is still intact.
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  • This is Symund's 15th and most popular letter, both because of the promise of riches abroad and because of the many perils it illustrates. The Legion's theorical formation, which involves the study of Symund's campaign, often teaches legionaries about the Mezi and the perils of their lands.
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  • Terentius II ordered the immediate return of Perpetum's expedition, but either the letter arrived too late, or his orders were ignored.
 

The End

The Letter

We have sighted green in the far distance. Lush, ██████████████████████████ stopped us. The guards do not speak the Imperial Tongue, but their weapons and armor are a match for ours. They are well-fed, great in numbers and they rejected our gold with ease. Behind the walls, there's prosperity. There must be. My men are no████████████████ers but we're few enough to try to sneak in. Once we're through we'██████
 

Notes

  • This is Symund's 18th and final letter.
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  • The letter is severely charred, making it close to unreadable.
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  • A great chunk of the letter is missing, either burnt off or ripped out by Symund himself.
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  • The pigeon that delivered the letter died shortly after its arrival. A physician found that its lungs had been petrified.
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  • The Symmerian Empire, upon first interacting with Fortressia, indicated that a group of foreigners did indeed reach their walls. Given how far other expeditions got, this group was most likely Symund's expedition.
 

Legacy

Symund's failure was not in vain. His letters awakened the curiosity of many Fortressian biologists and the greed of many Fortressian explorers and Emperors yet to come. He marked the beginning of a series of expeditions into the deadly ashlands of Symmer, fueled by the dreams of immense riches the land holds. Additionally, his discovery of stokeroot ended up playing a vital role in the Emberhand empire's future expansions.
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Comments

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28 May, 2019 09:00

Great story : I really liked your way of presenting both the documents and their notes, that did help to understand the context.   In the whole, this makes a pretty complete and interesting story!   Keep up the good work :)

With love,   Pouaseuille.   I finally participated to The Costume Challenge: here's an entry if you like!
5 Jun, 2019 15:03

Thank you very much for the kind words! Still coming to grips with the formatting, but the feedback is much appreciated.

6 Jun, 2019 11:01

Your choice of formatting was original, which is a good thing in my opinion :) If I had to suggest one thing, perhaps using the "full footer" part that is bellow the right panel and the left text, might be a good idea.

With love,   Pouaseuille.   I finally participated to The Costume Challenge: here's an entry if you like!