Distant Reaches - Agent Salbrand on the Mede Coast Binder Cult

Imperial Archives / Agent Salbrand on the Mede Coast Binder Cult

Agent Salbrand on the Mede Coast Binder Cult

Agent Salbrand on the Mede Coast Binder Cult
The colony clung to the hill like a barnacle, and the road lay far behind me.

Agent Viroc Salbrand (687-759 AE) was a liaison to the highly secretive Office of Inter-Amal Affairs, which reports directly to the Executor of the Imperial Catechism. Held in high esteem by the courts and advisors to Emperor Rorei the Young, Salbrand’s reports are only now being made available to the public after close review by the current Executor.

“It was a calm night, very clear, and one hour before sun-up. Mate Coran was on midship watch along with Mates Rodah on stern and Gelgalas on bow, as customary of a ship our size. Mate Coran complained of strange lights playing for at least an hour on a high ridge overlooking the coast that threw their light for quite a ways. He saw, quite distinctly, an odd clearing in the forest which otherwise covers those high ridges. What drew his attention was not just the lights, but their location in an isolated, difficult part of the ridge, near the summit. Mate Rodah can corroborate this; however, Mate Gelgalas cannot. Mate Coran also claims the flashes were followed by extremely dim, far-off sounds that were neither the surf nor nightbirds. Being a veteran sailor of twenty years and well-trusted amongst this crew, he says he knows what he heard, but cannot actually describe these sounds, other than they ‘did not belong,’ and that they disturbed him, an unshakeable old salt, a great deal.”

Report from sailors on the ship Merry May (Cap. Mosa Delune) in northeast Mede coast, delivered to the Imperial Catechism by way of the town guard, on the morning of the 9th.

As per my instructions, I left early on the morn of the 15th, disguising myself as a simple wayfarer, careful to appear not too destitute, so as to avoid the appearance of an easy mark for brigands which dwell out of the way of Imperial influence. I took first a series of carriages as far north across the Eastland Mede Coast as they could ferry me. Arriving in the specified region, known to my superiors, I spent two nights in two separate inns, The Sevastar Inn and The Topaz Inn, where I probed for rumors.

The superstitions of the earthy peasantry are a double-edged sword: On the one hand, they attribute dark meaning to every little thing, but on the other, I find it makes them terribly keen observers, and stories do carry. In this case, that observation confirmed some notions of mild disquiet in the north, though I learned little from them more than sightings of “lights.” I then spent some days traversing the final leagues on foot, my curiosity satiated as much as could be.

This is a sparsely populated region, wild to be sure, but not without a certain rugged beauty, and with many an untouched span. It was amid the dense growth of thin trees, which climb almost the entire high ridge I was ascending, that I found the sizeable clearing mentioned in the attached report. As the captain’s dutiful reporting said, it was almost near the summit, very much unique for a good ways around (perhaps artificial), remote, difficult, and isolated. I roughed my clothing up as befitting a wanderer who had taken a bad turn, to deflect any suspicions.

I prepared well. When I stumbled into their small colony, I was met with a group of eight furtive individuals, four men and four women, who gave me lingering stares from over their shoulders. They looked like they had been caught. They were engaged in simple labor within a circle of five huts. I did not see their interiors so I am unable to ascertain if they led underground. They came together without greeting me, and spoke quite anxiously for a moment. Within the chatter I heard much reference to a “leader.” Two of them stepped forward and asked was I lost. I said I was, of course, to which they hastily replied where my destination was. This opened them up to revealing something of their location, which they falteringly suppressed the realization of before saying I must come inside and speak to their leader.

The central hut was the largest by a decent margin, and that was where two of their number escorted me. I did not learn their names, nor, in fact, did I learn the names of any in that settlement. Inside this hut, which was windowless and lit entirely by a great spread of candles on the floor, a figure sat upon a cushioned dais at the far end. Surrounding this dais were tables upon which were loosely piled books whose contents I could not discern, but I suspect I know what they were now.

The two from outside brought me before this leader and beseeched him — I say this, and not merely asked — on the best way to guide me from the village. I noted the tone of their voices, and I confess some minor disquiet at the clear devotion in their simple words: a devotion which all but settled the matter for me there and then.

This man, this leader, leaned forward and seemed to appraise me. He was perhaps middle aged, sallow-skinned, with long features and short hair, dark brown it seemed in the darkness. Then he wished me well in a mellow voice, stating with some reserve that I must have been quite lost indeed.

I assented, replying to him in a stilted dialect of the region, explaining I was a traveler unfamiliar with this part of the world, who had been seeking a shortcut, and had come terribly unprepared, so I sought some elevated position to help find my bearings. I happened to mention that the region was quite beautiful, and quite boldly asked, in a forthcoming manner befitting a wayfarer glad of rescue, that this was a rather isolated spot, was it not?

The leader went very still and gazed at me for several long seconds, during which I wondered if some paranoid nature was not asserting itself, and just what my escape plan might be. But he then stated, with some measure of forced informality, which I ascribe to a guarded nature, that they very much enjoyed their quietude, and he then appended quite suddenly that he was sorry, but I must leave at once. He then commanded his people to lead me half a mile east, for a trail ran there that would take me to the road below.

The man did not mince words, but, in the moments I saw him, two things above all else were clear to me: His accent was distinctly that of an Amalcross native, and that below the tattered black mantle about his shoulders, I glimpsed nothing less than the worn remnants of Imperial College apparel.

Not a moment later, he sat back in the shadow and bid me farewell. I was silently escorted into the treeline past the stares of the remaining six “villagers” outside. I began to prepare this report the moment I felt they had ceased to watch my departing, but I don’t doubt one of them trailed me for some time after.

This agent’s suggestion to the Catechism is further investigation of what seems to be a nascent Binder Cult, for the safety of the individuals there, and potentially the people of the region. Though it is promising that they did not display any aggression towards me, that may only be due to their extremely guarded nature.

I would also recommend this matter be brought before the Imperial College. No doubt any rogue element or disgraced member of the College would interest them.

And lastly, the Imperial Catechism knows all too well the dangers of popular cults springing up and being imported from afar in the capital. No repeat of groups like the Threshold Walkers nor the Meridian Kin must be allowed. At any cost.


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