Olarune 22 998yk

Shipwrecks May Mark Pirate Escalation

By Dorius Del Davandi

TROLANPORT — The Lucky Larkspur washed ashore on the Zilargo coast last week. The bodies of its crew had been mutilated almost beyond recognition, and its cargo was missing. The Lucky Larkspur is the third ship to suffer such a fate in the last two months, and port officials speculate that a new band of pirates may be responsible.

"Pirates revel in the fear they cause, but this sort of ritualistic murder goes far beyond the pale. These pirates, whoever they may be, are by far the most bloodthirsty madmen I've ever come across," said Parlo Garrelspan, the Trolanport harbor administrator. Garrelspan asserted that most of the merchant ships plying the Sea of Storms are hiring extra marines to guard their vessels against the pirates. Thus far, the marauders have left no survivors, and no calling card other than the dismembered bodies of the crew.

"While this new band of pirates is bloodier than others, they represent only a new incident in a worrisome trend," said Garrelspan. "We've seen a real influx of pirates on the Sea of Storms recently. The conclusion of the Last War left too many war-trained sailors and not enough peacetime ships for them to crew. Unfortunately, a lot of them turned to piracy."

Thus far, all the stricken ships have been owned by smaller merchant companies, but House Lyrandar and the navies of both Breland and Zilargo are taking the matter quite seriously. A House Lyrandar captain, however, speculated that pirates might not be to blame. "The sahuagin dwelling in the Straits of Shargon have some appalling sacrificial rites," Captain Derenver d'Lyrandar said. "If a sahuagin tribe has migrated into a shipping lane, its members could easily produce this sort of damage."

"I know what the gnomes think," d'Lyrandar continued, "but pirates are too smart to just butcher everyone. They want their victims scared enough to surrender, not so certain of their impending doom that they're willing to fight to the death."

Karrn Employed Necromancy

By Dorius Del Davandi

SHARN—In the final days of his regime, Karrn the Conqueror employed necromantic magic to trap the souls of suspected conspirators against his rule, according to controversial research from Adele Corsinian, a Morgrave University historian specializing in Karrn’s era.

A critical reevaluation of period documents suggests that the conspirators executed in the “purge of Shekesaal” in the last year of Karrn’s reign remained animate after their execution. The bodies were beheaded before their bodies were burned, and Corsinian contends that the heads were kept alive with necromancy so that Karrn could maintain contact of sorts with the conspirators.

“It’s important to consider Karrn’s mindset at the time,” Corsinian said at a symposium on Wir. “He could see his empire fraying at the edges already, and he’d seen proof that some of his closest advisors—his most trusted inner circle—were conspiring against him. He did what he had to do, but then he secretly kept them alive.”

The exact nature of the necromantic magic is lost to time, Corsinian said, but would likely have ensured the conspirators’ loyalty as well as restoring a semblance of life.

Conventional histories of the era record the executions of twelve conspirators. “But the executions were beheadings, and they weren’t public. That makes the purge of Shekesaal unprecedented in at least two aspects. Why didn’t General Shekesaal and his alleged co-conspirators get the gory public executions that every other traitor received?” said Corsinian.

Corsinian further notes that among Karrn’s funerary gifts, twelve lacquered boxes are listed. “Amid all these artistic treasures and powerful receptacles of magic, why list twelve boxes? I contend it’s because they held the necromantic remains of Shekesaal and the other conspirators, and that Karrn intended to be buried with them.”

Few of Karrn’s funerary gifts were actually buried with him because relatives descended on his palace shortly after the Conqueror’s death, stripping it nearly bare, Corsinian said. The lacquered boxes were undoubtedly taken by one or more of those relatives, then lost in the chaos following the fall of Karrn’s empire, he said.

Corsinian’s declarations at the symposium did not go uncontested. Ghaul ir’Jurchek, master historian at Korth’s Shrine of the Conqueror, said the necromantic survival of the Shekesaal conspirators was “a fairy tale that isn’t true just because it isn’t directly contradicted by anything in the historical record.”

While Karrn the Conquerer employed talented magicians of all sorts and had no particular dislike for necromancy, that doesn’t mean he kept the heads of condemned criminals alive after death, ir’Jurchek said.

A more interesting historical question, ir’Jurchek said, is whether all twelve of the conspirators were guilty of treason. Many believe that General Shekesaal’s interest in continuity of rule was tragically misinterpreted by court gossips, ir’Jurchek said. Two of the executed warlords, Kau and Hujiri, were far from the capital at the time and evinced no interest in court politics. And trial records shed little light on what role Yahina the concubine and Vlohr the alchemist played in the conspiracy, if any.

“Historians like myself and Corsinian have been going back and forth over the purge of Shekesaal for centuries, and we’ll still be arguing in centuries to come,” ir’Jurchek said. “As much as I’d like to ask Shekesaal’s animated head whether he was really guilty or not, real-world history doesn’t work that way.”

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