The Umber River Strategem

Are we being taken for a ride?

Liliwyn worries that the Synarchy has hidden too much from the adventurers

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I am beginning to fear that we are being exploited by the Synarchy. We have found Groa, as they asked, and persuaded her to go find Enais. However, the more time I spend with her, the more I find her to be a trustworthy and bright woman, and the worse I feel about keeping the secret from her that we fear her beloved foster father might be turned into some kind of undead thrall by the Thay.

Worse, I am beginning to see why she is suspicious of Aglorand. There is nothing good about their policy of trying to know and see everything while refusing to be transparent themselves. I know they would not want us to go to the Red Keep of the Unliving and would prefer instead we just find Enais wherever he is, but at this point, that’s all the more reason to keep exploring. We are in grave danger here, and not knowing why or much about what is going on will only make it more so.

Of course, I am also not passing up an opportunity to go to a place that is no doubt teeming with undead.

Our attempts to save this Orc village have left me in a sour mood. It seemed so straightforward at first: Humans killing innocent Orcs, including children, who have doing nothing wrong but to shun the maddening crowd to live the lives of humble farmers at one with the land. But fighting them caused me to commit a couple of acts I regret, starting with the death of the direbear.

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I had no choice, of course, but to kill such a magnificent creature that bore us no personal animosity, but had been kidnapped and forced into service to murderous humans, broke my heart.

I also endured a bit of humiliation after being turned into a chicken. Oh, how my companions laughed at me, but the chicken is a noble beast that harms no one. Cackling at one is amusement for the all too easily entertained.

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But what caused my sinking stomach was the assurance that human had, before we killed him, that he was somehow doing right by setting a building of unarmed Orcs, many of whom are children, on fire. No doubt such a belief is inherently a racist delusion. Still, I had my concerns that mere racism was not enough to drive a bunch of humans to such madness.

And sure enough, a little prying revealed that these humans did have reason to be afraid. Not of Orcs, but I have no doubt that they have seen ships traveling the Umber bearing weapons that will soon be used against Thesk.

My current theory is that the Red Wizards of Thay are deliberately provoking racial anxieties in Thesk, hoping that humans and Orcs will war on each other (possibly taking out many half-elves and gnomes with them). These wars will leave the countryside decimated and the population’s defenses weakened, making it easier for Thay to invade, enslaving all of them. Theskians should be working together, but poor communication and prejudice will make these kind of internecine wars nearly inevitable.

But the real question is what role Aglorand is playing? If they were, as they say, simply interested in protecting Thesk against Thay invasion, surely they would have been more forthcoming about what is going on here. I doubt it is simply that they wished us not to get sidetracked from our mission. After all, by not telling us more, they have piqued our curiosity. Our ostensible leader, Orsic, could not give a fuck, and neither can anyone else, about just finding Enais when there is a greater mystery at stake.

Except Groa, of course, who seems reluctant to go to the Red Keep instead of continuing upriver. I feel the time to tell her the whole truth is drawing near. Secrets do not help anyone.

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AmandaMarcotte

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