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TOPIC OF THE MONTH:
THE TWAELAR MERROW EMPIRE
This is an account of Favonius Viator's imprisonment by the Twaelar during the past nine months. Although it gives us very little description of their lands, culture, and such, it does give an accurate account of their motivations for the war against air-breathers (as they call us).
Many a citizen has asked me to describe what I have experienced as a prisoner to the Twaelar. After repeating my story to several nobles, military leaders, and even the Emperor himself, I grow weary of such constant questioning. Perhaps by writing it down people can read it on their own and leave me alone.
It of course started last year when I was on a ship heading toward the Hinterlands to explore possible new merchant venues. The first thing we heard was that there was a leak below the decks, but no one knew how it had occurred. Soon enough, many more holes appeared, and this time, the tip of weapons were spotted retreating from several of them. That's when the captain gave the order to man the battle stations. It didn't help; our assailants never broke the water surface, and none of the men could go and fight underwater. To make a long story short, the ship sank.
While swimming for my life, I recall seeing a few heads appear before me. They were human heads, although their skin was blue and green. They raised strange-looking crossbows my way, and the next thing I remember was being covered with a net. I speculate that the net was fired by these crossbows, but I must admit I really did not notice where it came from. Two merrow then placed themselves beneath me to keep me afloat and safe from drowning.
Approximately 12 of us were taken prisoner. The rest were either slain mercilessly or left to drown in the middle of the Sea of Dread. Our group was all huddled together and placed in one large net. A female merrow, whom I had not noticed before, approached our sorry bunch and began casting a spell. Once done, the merrow pulled us beneath the waves as we cried out, not wanting to drown. Surprisingly, we were able to breath the water. They tied our net to the back of a giant winged fish (a sage told me was called a manta ray after I described it to him), which dragged us down to the bottom of the sea.
That's when we saw the enormous city on the ocean floor. Buildings several dozen stories tall were the norm, and many were much, much bigger. It must have been the size of Thyatis City, for it stretched further than I could see in these murky depths. Strange glowing sea-shells provided light in the city "streets" (for lack of a better word). Hundreds of merrow would be swimming up and down between the numerous floors of their buildings, much as we walk down the streets in the city. And they were all lean, fit, and well muscled on their upper human bodies; I guess the constant swimming forces them to always be in shape. None wore any clothing - not even the females - indicating a lack of modesty in their people. Had I not been so afraid for my life at the moment, I might have stopped to enjoy it; like I said, they were all in good shape [Favonius had other comments we deemed inappropriate for publishing at this point. Ed].
We were dragged to a huge palace in the centre of the city. This building was seemingly made from corals. The roof and several of the upper floors of the building had been completely destroyed, and they were busy repairing it, a feat which would take a few years judging by the size of the building. My story was discredited by the Legion at this point because sages claim that corals cannot possibly be found this deep beneath the sea. Because of this, they think that this Twaelar threat is merely a joke or some insane ramblings on my part. But I know what I saw; it was corals, and it was immense.
That is also when I noticed the legions of merrow soldiers; the threat our Empire does not believe in. Easily thousands of them, training hard for battle. They each carried those special crossbows, nets, and spears. They had a cavalry riding these strange fish that looked almost like horses [we assume he means giant horsefish. Ed.]. They even had siege weapons, mainly ballistae, again modified in some fashion. This here was an army that could easily rival the Legion, although no one believes me.
The palace was extremely beautiful, what with those strange greenish lights coming from the sea-shells hanging everywhere. It was also very fragile; I easily removed some of the corals from the wall with my bare hands. They had made it delicate on purpose for the advantage of beauty. Soon enough, we were brought to the rulers of the nation.
The Emperor (I did not get his actual title or name) and Empress talked to us, using magic. They informed us about how disrespectful our people were, crossing with impunity over their waters and polluting their ocean. That is when I learned that the colonist ship The Laurana which sank back in Yarthmont AC 1012 [on the 12 according to PWA3. Ed.] had landed on their palace and caused the damages we saw upon arriving. I tried to explain it was an accident, but they seem to have been tired of hearing about accidents which have been occurring regularly over the past couple of years (what accidents, I did not manage to learn). The Twaelar Emperor informed me that he has declared war against the air-breathers and will sink any ship they see in their waters.
We were then brought to their dungeons (dug into the rocks below so we could not break free). They would interrogate us often, asking about our forces, strengths, and underwater capabilities. They also wanted to learn all they could about our culture. When we weren't co-operative, their methods of torture convinced us to be more helpful. Their most successful method was to let their water breathing spells run out and watch us drown if we didn't talk. [Several other descriptions of their methods have also been deleted for the reader's benefit. Ed.]. Three of us lost our lives to this. And there we stayed until a band of adventurers rescued us from this infernal watery cell.
I would love to tell you about the harrowing escape, but the adventurers made us promise not to reveal anything; they want to get a professional bard to tell their story.