Carse and the Cult of Katarga

EVENTS NEWS #14
Date: 10/15/2012 at 19:46
From: Anonymous
To : Everyone
Subj: Carse and the Cult of Katarga

The night was dark and stormy as the Moongazer edged southwards beyond a sunken reef. It had been a long tour near the Sunset Isles and, though much good had been accomplished in quelling slaver activities, the crew was ecstatic when they sighted the lighthouse near Crydee. The crew was looking forward to ten entire days of unsupervised shore leave and, as the dim lights of Carse appeared on the shoreline, they made haste to prepare the ship to dock and gather their unused pay.

The Moongazer docked with the usual lack of pomp and, as the last of the mooring lines were set in place, the crew disembarked with howls of excitement that woke up much of they modest town, much to the disgust of all who peeked out to see what was the cause of such commotion. The crew descended on the local taverns and brothels with gusto and, as will often happen when sailors get drunk and gold began flowing, arguments and brawls erupted across town. The town's guard hurriedly worked to drag off offenders and, as the extended week died down and the crew reported in a daze, the captain noted with his favorite scowl, that three sailors didn't show up for duty. After performing his second-favorite duty and sending off this list of their names matched with the bold red word, "Deserter," the Moongazer slipped out from port and sailed back to the west, ready to combat their slaving enemies once again.

----

When the town's guard captain received the letter from the Moongazer's Captain, his shoulders shrugged slightly in disappointment before pulling more letters from his desk. This was the fifth time in just two months that ships reported missing crew who had presumably abandoned their duties. What made the matter more unsettling was that one of his guards also was missing. While it wasn't unknown for a lad to occasionally find the courage to change his vocation on shore leave, it never happened this frequently, and guards rarely ran off to boot. Following his gut feeling, he decided to take the matter to the newly appointed magistrate.

The magistrate seemed rather excited when he got the news of the disappearances. When the Earl of Carse hired him for the job, he had begun to resign himself to the fact that his life was destined for handling arguments over farm shares and gold owed to innkeepers. An actual mystery in Carse was something he would have never thought to expect. Perhaps word would spread around once he solved the disappearances and he'd get sought after for someplace more exciting, like Krondor!

From the start, the investigation didn't go as the magistrate thought it would; he found many of the villagers actively avoided him, and those he could corner remained silent behind piercing glares. He always expected that lowly villagers would respond negatively to a well-bred, court-appointed official such as himself, but he was actually surprised at how bad that response turned out to be. In fact, he was beginning to appreciate his youth even more, as the locals almost always smelled of something between ammonia and rotten fish and, aside from their general lack of hygiene, had the most garish taste in jewelry with those large, grizzly-seeming talismans they wore.

On the fourth day of the investigation, the magistrate woke in his bedroom in the citadel with a fright. The two guardsmen who were helping his investigation were both dangling from ropes tied to his doorframe. Each appeared to have been suffocated, with large circular marks around their throats and bodies covered in slick, dark ink. In a panic, the magistrate lept from his bed and ran into the Earl's court. Completely disregarding his state of undress, the magistrate attempted a half-incoherent explanation to the Earl and, once the guards had found and removed the bodies, the magistrate calmed enough to relate the situation to the Earl. With a sudden confidence born of the frightening experience and the Earl's permission, the magistrate ordered the city gates closed and the guards to go house to house in search of any evidence of the perpetrators.

----

It took almost a full day for the searches to end and the magistrate was growing desperate. Not only had they not found any evidence of who murdered his guards, but there was a great deal of traffic growing outside the sealed city's gates. He had even received word that the Blue Bonnet was being held just beyond the harbor until permission to enter arrived. He received word that the recently elected Court Baron of Krondor, one Raelyr Matawa, was among those gathered outside the city and, hoping for some advice and perhaps another hand in the matter, called him into the city. After a brief discussion, it was concluded that it was perhaps best to allow traffic to flow again, with new vigilant aid from many people of renown that had gathered hoping to flush out the source of the town's woes. After a few moments, the magistrate gave permission for the gates to open and ships to dock.

A flood of traffic entered the city and, as Baron Raelyr had promised, much of it was directed at finding the source of the issues. It was Raelyr himself who first put together the stories of missing sailors and guards into a coherent story and, after a time, tracked the movements of certain villagers back to a single house. He discovered a hidden entrance to underground caverns, where many of the villagers had given up their normal lives to worship some unknown thing. They practiced unusual magics and, as Raelyr attempted to fight his way through their lair, slew many of his compatriots.

It was not until a man named Cross Lazariss found a discarded note that someone broke past the ranks of cultists and traps, and gained entrance to their sacred altar. As he arrived, he encountered the shrivelled old leader of the cultists, who professed his faith in something known as Katarga before attacking and slaying Cross. A short while later, a Moredhel named Malapardis, perhaps drawn by the chaos and clamor in the Kingdom city, managed to gain access to the altar. Blessing Katarga for the bounty of sheep to be offered, the high priest also attacked Malapardis, but was instead laid low by the unexpectedly ferocious attack of the Moredhel.

After the battle, Malapardis found a bound young girl who, it was discovered, was the daughter of the Magistrate, her disappearance having gone unnoticed by her father in the aftermath of his bloody awakening. With unexpected mercy, the Mordhel Malapardis escorted the girl back to her father in the Citadel and gave end to the unexplained rise of the Cult of Katarga and the rash of disappearances they precipitated.

Penned by my hand on the 44th of Wochem, in the year 37.