I have, over the years, done quite a bit of in-world writing. A lot of the stuff that has appeared here over the last however many months was written as though it was in-world. Doing my development that way helps me both to give depth to the world and to find layers in the story idea that I didn't realise were there. Writing about something from inside lets me get into the head of someone who lives in that world.
Today's post is possibly unique in that, so far, the story for which it was created has not been written. This was created in two parts, the first part being Bartelmann's briefing for the Ambassador which was written before I attempted to write the story. The Ambassador's reply was written after I'd moved on with the development and realised that pretty much everything I'd come up with and put in Bartelmann's briefing was wrong. The story might, some day, be finished. In the meantime, you might find this interesting.
Please find enclosed what little information the Bureau has been able to acquire on the Red Hand. I apologise for its sparsity, but due to the clandestine, criminal, and nationalistic nature of the organisation, we have been able neither to insert agents into its ranks nor to find members willing to divulge information about it. Any information you are able to gather whilst on your mission to Tarsith that would confirm, deny, or expand upon the briefing would be appreciated. All due care should be taken, however, as both the Hand and the D’nurans have violent responses to those showing an interest in the workings of the Hand.
As always, the report should be destroyed as soon as you have finished reading it so as to protect our agents in the field.
The Red Hand
Compiled by: [REDACTED]
Compiled for: Ambassador Nyffilheim
The official D’nuran stance is that the Red Hand is purely a criminal organisation. Unofficially, it is understood that the Hand is a nationalist group fighting for Tarsithian independence. This latter is also a matter of common knowledge amongst the Tarsithians themselves, and, as such, the group received a lot of support from all ranks of Tarsithian society, despite their criminal activities. Those activities included every sort of larceny and intimidation, but were mainly focused upon piracy of D’nuran trading vessels and attacks upon D’nuran caravans and military outposts. Recent months have seen an increase in both the violence and frequency of Red Hand attacks against wealthy merchants and nobles, many of them Tarsithian. This new modus operandi has cost the Hand a great deal of support amongst the Tarsithian nobility, though not amongst the lower classes, many of whom see those nobles as collaborators in the new regime. This shift in the Hand’s targeting, from primarily D’nuran’s to anyone of wealth, might be the result of an ideological split within the Hand, or it might be evidence of a rival group acting within Tarsith and hiding their activities by falsely claiming affiliation with the Hand, perhaps in an effort to discredit the organisation.
A Red Hand connection to the new wave of piracy that sprang up in northern waters after the passing of the Regency to Prince Hassan has long been posited. This connection was confirmed ten years ago when the local pirates became organised by a man named Juven Perello under the Red Hand banner. Juven styles himself an admiral, and has command of over a hundred ships, though many are smaller vessels. Under his command, the fleet has won several major victories against the D’nurans and succeeded in choking off all sea-borne D’nuran trade out of Tarsith which has sent most of it overland into the eastern ports of Castello and Llyndis.
While Juven is accepted as the leader of the Hand’s naval efforts, there doesn’t appear to be any sort of unified leadership, or, if there are, no one knows who they are. This fragmenting of the efforts, whether intentional or not, appears to have been quite successful. Though the D’nurans have captured, interrogated, and executed any number of Hand operatives, all their efforts to break the Hand have failed. It may be that most Hand operations on the local level are purely crimes of chance, and that every crime against a D’nuran is, whether committed by a Hand operative or not, claimed by the Hand. That there is a national scope to the Hand, however, cannot be denied. Some operations are just too well coordinated for there not to be someone in charge.
This lack of available targets has forced the D’nurans to focus all their attentions on Juven and his family. The man has never married, but he does have two siblings, both sisters, both of them senior captains in his fleet. The Perello’s were once the lords of Rhyntal, and one of its richest merchant families. Prince Hassan believed Lord Perello was sympathetic to, if not connected with, the Red Hand, and had him assassinated and all his holdings confiscated. Juven, a young man and already captain of one of his father’s ships, refused to surrender his ship to the D’nuran authorities. In a fight on the docks, he killed several soldiers and managed to make his escape, sinking two D’nuran naval vessels as he did. Hassan sent soldiers to arrest Juven’s two sisters, but they had already fled. How they managed to reach the Hand is not known, but the next we hear of them, they were both captains in the fleet, and quite successful pirates. The D’nurans have high rewards on all of their heads.
Dear Professor Bartelmann,
I hope this letter finds you fully recovered from what must have been a truly incapacitating illness.
During my recent debriefing on the Tarsithian situation, I was reminded of the request contained in the covering letter for your notes on the organisation calling itself the Red Hand. I would be remiss in thanking you for those notes as they proved to be no more than a recital of the D’nuran cover story for its own illegal activities in the country. In order to prevent any further such mistakes, I have decided to call to your attention these brief memos I made on the true situation in Tarsith. I trust you will find them illuminating, and that no further illnesses will interfere with your duties in providing the best available information to Her Majesty’s agents and ambassadors.
The Red Hand is a cover story concocted by Governor Busqueta to cover his own illegal actions and those of his allies and compatriots. The Governor, as so many D’nurans before him, was more interested in wresting as much wealth from the Empire’s subject peoples as possible, most of which, naturally, went into the coffers of his own House and those of his Patron, Prince D’baeza. The Governor has been implicated in over two dozen high profile assassinations, and numerous instances of highway robbery, piracy, arson, murder, and treason. There are thousands of other cases that might, eventually, have been connected to him if the Empire had not stepped in to shut down all investigation of his activities following the destruction of the city of D’baeza by the barbarian Reaper Hawk.
The Tarsithians, in actuality, appear to be reasonably happy beneath their Imperial yoke. Few have any real reason to complain, they are, by and large, well treated, well fed, and have ample opportunity to further themselves and the prospects of their families by employment in the D’nuran bureaucratic corp. The only instances of disgruntlement appear to have been instigated by the late Governor, and as these instances led to his demise and the exile of his killer, even these are resolved.
The Perellos, far from being the leaders of a band of rebels, were loyal citizens of the Empire before the assassination of their father and siblings. It was a Perello, the youngest surviving member of the family, in fact, who murdered Governor Busqueta, but there is no evidence that her two remaining siblings were at all involved in her actions, nor that her actions were anything other than revenge for the Governor’s extralegal actions against her family. The two siblings, following young Killian Perello’s exile, were branded traitors in order to keep them silent about what had actually happened during Lord Busqueta’s governorship of Rhyntal.
There is some great mystery here, connected to a weapon developed by, or used by, the Busquetas that posed a threat not only to the Diamond Throne, but to other nations. What the exact nature of the weapon is, or was, I was unable to determine. But given Reaper Hawk’s involvement, one assumes that it had something to do with the barbarians, and with D’baeza.