Discorsi: The Other Strategy Guide Edit
Part 4: The Persian Occupation Edit
Continued from Part 3 -- Exploring Venice
I hope this letter finds you well. In fact, I hope this letter finds you alive. I received some very disturbing news and decided to write this letter and entrust it to Aeris: The Persian occupation has one single purpose – to find YOU. The Persians pose a great danger for you, maybe more than you expect. With this letter, I am hoping to not only warn you, but also to give you information that you need to evade the Persians.
As you might have found out by now, the bridge to the Arsenal District is sealed off, and the entire Inner City is controlled by Persian Mercenaries who watch all movement in and out of the city. Those who police the Inner City are recruited from the lowest ranks, and their knowledge is very limited. If they see you as a member of a Guild, or if you can convince them that you are a trader, they will assume that you are a Venetian citizen and let you pass.
Higher-ranking Persian soldiers will be more knowledgeable and less easy to deceive. Expect that traps have been set up to capture you. Be wary if somebody invites you with a deceiving smile on their lips. Always keep in mind that every Persian is your enemy with orders to kill you on sight.
The commander is a Persian prince called Hector, and I have heard troubling rumors. Hector was always ruthless, but I overheard two Persians complaining that he now engages in even riskier operations at considerable loss to his soldiers. However, and here the rumors are oddly similar to those concerning the Mistress, Hector seems to emerge from all confrontations unscathed. I have seen him from afar, and he is certainly an imposing figure. But this goes deeper, and we have to assume that he has powers similar to those of the Mistress. Beware!
Most urgently, I advise you to not go aboard the galley -- The Claw is Hector’s headquarters, and he will be surrounded by elite soldiers. The Claw is most certainly a trap for you. I fear that you will not be able to get off the ship alive. If you get caught and brought before Hector, I fear it may be your end. You – alone – cannot conceivably win against Hector and his hordes in battle.
But have patience and do not worry. As Hector is tightening his fist around the city, more and more good citizens slip through his fingers. A resistance is forming – a resistance that is led by the Gondolier’s guild, but that involves many more guilds, organizations, and individuals. I heard that even the Rogues are trying to stand up to the occupation, although their reasons are more selfish: their supply and communication lines to the Arsenal and Harbor are cut off. Be this as it may, perhaps even the Rogues may turn out to be useful, although it is always unwise to completely trust them. This is particularly valid for their duplicitous leader, Tusker.
While Hector is trying to starve the city, the Gondoliers have established secret supply routes to bring in necessary food and supplies. However, medicine is always scarce, and you can make yourself a reputation if you find ways to smuggle medicine. There are many other ways how you can help the resistance. Just talk to people and offer your help where needed.
Build up your experience and strength, and when the resistance is ready to strike, join them. They may be in need of your Moonblade to deliver the final blow against Hector. However, they will not trust you initially -- you could be a spy for the Doge, after all. Perhaps with enough reputation, perhaps if people talk about you and you are known for helping the people, not the Persians, you may be sought out by a man called Drago. He is the leader of the Gondoliers, and he is trustworthy.
If you earn money by helping the people, spend it wisely. There are two stores. In one, you may be able to buy better weapons. In the other, a witch sells items whose value you can gauge better than I do, but pay her a visit. Her name is San.
Aeris will have work for you as well. She mentioned to me that the recent disappearance of one of the Net’s members poses a puzzle, and that she needs your abilities to solve the mystery. She wouldn’t tell me more – just ask her about it.
And I have a personal favor to ask. The Old Cathedral is in ruins. People say it has fallen to the demons, but I know that the building has been overrun by Lectors – and I am partly at fault. This is a different story, but it seems to be related to your own quest. I will tell you this story: the more you know, the better. In any case, if you get into the Old Cathedral, would you remove the Lectors? Only with the Lectors gone, rebuilding can begin. I know this is a lot to ask, but I will reward you handsomely. It burdens me considerably that this beautiful building has fallen due to my own rash actions. There is also another reward for you reclaiming the Old Cathedral: Those marble statues you mentioned, in the Outer City Temple, there is another in the Old Cathedral. You will want to visit it.
You will be curious how I am linked to the Old Cathedral’s fall. You know that I have ties to the Net of the Mask, as I am a trader in books and scrolls from far away lands. Ancient wisdom, tomes that describe dark rituals, holy scrolls with enchantments to break spells, this is what I travel to find, and return to sell. The Net pays generously, and I let them select from my discoveries even before I display them for sale at my trading stall – the one we found ransacked and burnt down. My business sometimes coincides with that of Pollux the cartographer. Sometimes, we trade goods that fall in the other’s product range, although we generally keep our business strictly separate. This is why his stall was not ransacked. None the less, Pollux has taken his leave for a few days, because he fears he may be taken for questioning.
On my last big voyage I was traveling ten days by horse to the east to reach two cities at either side of a huge river, the names of which you probably haven’t ever heard. From there, I turned north, and it took me another six days by horse and then on foot to reach a range of dark and wild mountains. It was said there was a sacred cave with magical artifacts. After some search, I found the cave, and in it were indeed some riches. There was also a mysterious book: Red ink shining on black pages, a book the likes of which I have never seen before, written in a language unknown to anybody I asked. It was a magical book for sure, for it seemed to whisper to me as if it had a soul. I took the book with me and returned to Venice. Here, I let Aeris and her most knowledgeable literates examine the book. Two of the literates you know: Sophistos and his apprentice, Nox. We all felt the same way, that it was something evil. We decided to let a priest examine it, and a small group of Guild members brought it to the Old Cathedral.
There, we were ambushed by some dark spirits that the Doge and his allies must have summoned. It was evident that they were after the book, but we managed to hold them off long enough to give the book to Sophistos and give him a window to flee. We have not seen him since, but he sent word that the book was safe. Two of our group were killed in the ambush, but we managed to block the Cathedral entrance, capture one of our foes and fight our way back through the Catacombs. We brought the captive to the Net guildhouse for interrogation. He is still there, tied to a bed until we know what to do with him. Of course, he wouldn’t say anything, especially not how the Doge came to know about the book. Perhaps there is an informant in the Net of the Mask?
From that time, some forces in Venice have been desperate to find the book. They searched the Cathedral, tore part of it down even, but found nothing. They ransacked my stall and Nox’ quarters, to no avail. The Lectors, as I found out, are linked to magical books. Maybe this is the bright side of my ransacked stall, because otherwise, I’d have had an infestation.
You see, our stories intersect in some astonishing way. The Doge is looking for you, and he sent forth his allies to look for you and eliminate you. The Doge is also looking for the dark book. The book and you seem to belong together, you both have a strong bond to the world of the dead. Perhaps the book is meant to be found by you, much like the Moonblade? I would not know, but maybe in the future you can tell me your side of this tale.
As for me, I will be traveling again. I have reasons to believe that Sophistos has wisely left Venice, and I will try to find out where he went. His possession of the book is a secret, only known by Aeris and a few others.
My last words of advice repeat what I already wrote. Be wary of the Persians. Do not go aboard the Claw as you would step right into Hector’s trap. Make yourself a reputation as a helpful person who works and fights on the side of the innocent citizens. Wait until Drago makes contact with you, and when this happens, be ready to join the resistance to fight Hector. Have patience, because Hector needs to be removed before you can reach the Arsenal.
Continued in Chapter 5: Freedom For the City (Inner City and The Claw)