To: Sitara Devi, Councilor of Ayodhya
From: Vorm Longeye
Re: After Action Report
It's still strange to call you by your real name instead of "Onyx" … just as strange as it is to hear my name on your lips. I had become used to "Topaz." Just for the record, I still think keeping our old code-names is a good idea. Things haven't stabilized enough to risk our families and friends, but if you say it's important to send a message of confidence, then I'll do so… albeit grudgingly.
We're nearly at the two month mark since the attack on our city that has resulted in our current, messy situation. We've thrown our lot in with the occupiers who attacked us, which is not a popular move in some circles, but again, I trust you. You say this is the best path to creating new, more egalitarian government and I have no reason to doubt you. Still…
Current death estimates are at nearly 50,000 citizens. Between the Emperor's ritual and the violence in the streets we have been quite literally decimated. The would-be Varunan conquerers, with their Titan of the Sea and creepy army of vaguely snakey soldiers clearly expected to conquer us by force and set themselves up as a new divine ruling class devoted to the sea rather than the sun. A big blue dragon put paid to that plan, and now the Varunan priest Kalyan is our "interim governor" while he desperately tries to avoid being assassinated (although, according to some, he's already been assassinated at least three times. The guy seems to have multiple lives).
You don't need me to tell you all this, of course. You're his new right-hand woman, rooting out Suryan loyalist insurgents, devil-summoners, saboteurs and assassins in the name of "Civilization."
I tell you this because, while I still trust you and follow you, the others in the cell are having second thoughts. It's all well and good to push for a new Council-style government, but we need to make the "interim" part of Kalyan's title a reality sooner rather than later. We need an Ayodhyan in charge of Ayodhya or this whole city is going to go up in flames. Now, my goddess may get a thrill out of that, but I'd rather not get stabbed in the back.
And that is my long-winded way of approaching the subject of this report: The week-long nightmare that has been the visit from the "Regal Swan", a ridiculous boat-temple to Sarasvati that sailed on up to our city without a by-your-leave seeking to spread "cultural understanding" to Ayodhya. Of all the paternalistic bullshit I've seen living under a literally immortal emperor, this takes the cake. All that "art" and "dance" and "music" and "culture" and hedonistic, naive decadence floating on a fragile, intricate machine has been occupying my nightmares for the whole week it was here. How many assassination and sabotage attempts did we foil? Way too many, that's how many.
Don't get me wrong, the whole thing was a marvel, but who sends a floating art museum into a simmering would-be war zone? Their high priestess should have her head examined.
Fortunately not all Sarasvati priests are so clueless. Saatvik shared my nightmares that whole week, I suspect. He and his team did marvels helping out the boat's chief paladin, Kai, along with me and the other security forces you sent. Having Vin there, publicly, probably deterred more attempts than anything. The guy has become a legend, appearing wherever he's not expected to capture or kill insurgents, preaching the ways of his twin goddesses. He's public enemy number one among some of the older noble families. I know there's been at least six assassination attempts on his life in the last month alone. I didn't expect the druid to be much use, but he rooted out at least one infiltrator and seemed to have a knack for finding the parts of the boat least-attended-to which also happened to be the places enemies tended to gravitate to. Even that head-in-the-clouds wizard of theirs got bloodied up a bit, foiling an attack by Twilight himself, or at least an agent of his. That one ended comically (although that's probably the most I need to see of one of Varuna's pet sea monsters). Even Tavi the Terrible proved useful. Her stories of their exploits against the Risen Son gave even the hardcore Suryan loyalists something to think about. Better to be an occupied city than one converted to undead.
The festival is over, the boat survived the various attempts to destroy it or discredit the message it was trying to send of cultural openness and sharing. It's hard to convince a formerly insular and xenophobic society that the rest of the world has anything to offer, but I must grudgingly admit that it did seem to make a difference.
More importantly, all the attempts we foiled netted us some useful prisoners. Hopefully we can finally start taking down the Royal Assassins that have been making life nearly not-life for so many of us.
Oh, as for that other thing, I have three of our most trusted agents ready to start moving around the city disguised as Vinihata, Tavi, etc. to keep up the illusion they're still around. Apparently they're off spinward into the hinterlands on some mission for Videha. Vinihata especially is too good a deterrent to allow to lapse in their absence, so I've done my best to keep their journey a secret. Whatever they're looking for out there, I wish them luck. I don't expect they'll come back. They're not Ayodhyan, after all. They have no reason to care, really, what happens to us so long as our troubles don't spill over into their Kingdom. Still, I gotta give it to them, they put a lot more effort into helping us than I would have expected. So. Good luck to them.
Bah. I've rambled on for too long. Reports are supposed to be concise. I'm a war-cleric not a writer.