In which the protagonists of the ZEITGEIST saga are introduced.
From the Desk of Stover Delft, Asst. Chief Inspector, Royal Homeland Constabulary, Flint branch
To the Office of Margaret Saxby, Lady Inspectress, RHC, Flint branch
RE: Leocamp Assurgent Cell
Esteemed Lady Inspectress, I have been charged by your office par my duties as Cell Director of our Flint branch to evaluate the junior agents of our most recently formed operating cell, officially designated Leocamp Assurgent, and to determine whether or not its four members are fit for duty as official representatives of our King and Country, able to hold full legal authority as deputies of the Crown, assuming all responsibilities thereby.
Before I discuss the individuals who currently form the Sea Lions, it behooves me to discuss the christening ceremony that precedes the formation of every and all new RHC cells.
I have in the past expressed concerns in respect to the involvement of the ministers of the Old Faith in the complex affairs of law enforcement and state security and need not repeat those opinions here. I am a loyal man of Risur, and as such, acknowledge that our national identity is inexorably linked to our land, its spirits, and its ancient magic. More importantly, it is the will of our King that such rites be retained in the halls of officialdom, and that the skyseers who perform them be respected.
Suffice to say in the case of Leocamp, the ambiguity of the astrological visions regarding their lot—interpreted as an aquatic lion emerging from a crest of waves—has complicated the training of this band of recruits. Not a few senior agents have candidly refused to work with them. The ramifications of the symbol weighs heavy on certain of the team as well.
Were it not for the passionate words of respected senior Wrethu, the christening ceremony might have resulted in the dissolution of the Sea Lions and the reassignment of its members. Where others saw a rapacious creature emerging from the fey depths to ravage, Wrethu chose to interpret the symbol in an auspicious way. “Suffice to say this first appearance in our visions of the Leocampus, a creature known for its untamable ferocity, is bound to cause consternation. It is a ravenous beast whose realm is beyond the ken of our great society. But we should place our faith as always in the stars, for just as such a beast can turn its jaws on those of the land, so too must it prowl in depths unfathomable. The sea lion surfaces, to lead the hunt where few would follow.”
A few cynics among her order believed that Skyseer Wrethu was dissimulating on behalf of her young protégé, Lethe Greenbark, an Elfaivaran transplant assigned to provide mystical assistance for the newly formed cell. While these naysayers vowed to hold Skyseer Wrethu responsible should any of the Sea Lions ever betray their oaths to King and Country, the majority were swayed. I must report that I myself, though I might wish to reduce the role of these archaic mystics in our government, could not but help but be moved by the elder Wrethu’s speech.
So because, or in spite, of the matter of their christening, I must assure the Lady Inspectress that what follows is a sober and secular assessment of the four persons who, for better or for worse, go by the cell designation of Leocamp Assurgent. Additional details concerning them may be gleaned from their individual files, which I have included along with this report.
At the head of the team is a man, and indeed, I’m proud to call him such, who needs little introduction. However, for the sake of a thorough report, I will simply call out the relevant facts from the legends that surround this local idol. Our organization first took note of this adamantine-tungsten alloyed gearman only after he enlisted on our nations’ behalf toward the end of our most recent conflict with Danor, over seven years ago. We know that he was created independently (and illegally) of the crèche-forges of King Clockwork by a rogue artificer named Tomas Licht whom the Danoran government ordered killed. Talus himself served our military in the prevention of his unique and powerful model from being mass-produced for Danor by one Tinker Oddcog, a gnomish golemancer who pilfered Lichte’s designs.
The remainder of Talus’s record in the last Yerasol war is certainly distinguished, punctuated by the valorous deeds that denote it’s greatest heroes. He was, at the outset, mentored by Aurok, an orc-blooded holy warrior of ours who saw something profoundly special in the young clanker. While he was dismissed as little more than a mascot at first—especially by less “technology-friendly” Risuri soldiers—Talus served well with little complaint. He quickly achieved a reputation for bravery and self-sacrifice, often refusing to leave his wounded, flesh and blood compatriots to die on the field of battle, carrying them to safety on his massive shoulders or administering to their wounds with the delicacy of a surgeon. By the time the ceasefire was declared, Talus had achieved the rank of field-commander, the only gearman to rise to such heights in our Royal Army.
However, it is the work Talus committed to after the war that made his fame. He traveled the breadth of the nation, and like a questing knight-errant right out of an old storybook, helped whomever had need for naught to a pittance in compensation. He challenged and defeated robbers and beasts that threatened the lives and livelihoods of country folk, though his help was often initially refused. Even in the face of prejudiced superstitions that his mechanical race are an affront to our fairy “benefactors,” Talus protected the weak and used his modest battlefield medical expertise to treat the minor injuries of men, woman, children, and animals.
Talus’s good deeds did not go unnoticed; he made enemies as easily as he made friends and won over traditional hearts and minds. The least of his enemies are the fey, druids, and hedge mages offended by the mechanical knight’s intrusion onto their territory. These should not be underestimated. Any could have allies among the Unseen Court or ties to politically-connected skyseers. The worst, however, are the criminals Talus has thwarted. It is said that along with Nex, whom Talus briefly allied with to defend Seaton from Crimson Fleet raiders, has a price put on his metallic head by no less than Captain Harliss Javell herself!
While Talus is applauded and acknowledged by other war vets and those among our city who support the King’s vision of an industrialized Risur, the local gearmen regard him with no small amount of awe: Talus was among the most notable of his race whose name and deeds were instrumental in the King Aodhan’s recent judgment to acknowledge gearman personhood and civil rights. His celebrity affords us some inroads to a minority populace that otherwise distrusts the status quo.
Talus was recruited into the our Flint branch of the RHC soon after he came to the city. Notwithstanding those old-fashioned few whose prejudices might make investigative work difficult for Leocamp Assurgent, the gearman is a formidable asset to our organization. Talus was constructed from a tough adamantine-tungsten alloy that is not easily damaged. He is fairly strong, and is trained to wield a variety of arms. His experience as a soldier with a command rank gives one the idea he is a capable leader on and off the battlefield. But even more importantly, Talus is blessed with the intuition one associates with those rare champions of good—a mystical awareness of the presence of malevolence—and an obligation to challenge it. Somewhere in Talus’s boiler a pure heart burns; and something above, amongst the inscrutable heavens, has taken notice.
Until I met Utsusemi—Leocamp Assurgent’s resident infiltration expert and technologist—I knew very little about the strange race to which he belongs. From what I have researched, the dromites are insectoid beings, naturally proficient in willpower-based mind magic, that might not be native to our world. Any that this government have come across have been solitary wanderers, tinkers, and adventurers. With few exceptions, dromites abroad have not meant or done harm to those they’ve encountered. Less scrupulous parties have attempted to wrest from the dromites the secret of their portals, or the alleged “flying cities” that their kind claims to hail from; but every scholar of the arcane knows that flight magic on that scale is impossible. I am happy to say that Utsusemi is a splendid ambassador of his species—good natured, charming, and curious about our civilization.
Utsusemi has been traveling alongside Talus for quite some time, it would probably be fair to say the two have a sort of symbiosis. I am led to believe that the two crossed paths quite by chance in the aftermath of the Crimson Fleet’s raid upon Seaton, where the heavily damaged Talus was involved in restoring damaged homes and ministering to the wounded. Utsusemi, a gifted engineer and smith, had never encountered a gearman before and was quite taken with the mechanisms involved in Talus’s locomotion and sentience. Utsusemi was able to repair the gearman in short order and became his partner. He has since served as Talus’s eyes and ears whenever the gearman’s own considerable faculties weren’t up to the task, or wherever prudence has necessitated reconnoiter.
Utsusemi has a knack for technology and magical artifice that might be far in advance of what is employed by our Danoran neighbors. This understanding of complex devices and glyphs prove most traps to be little obstacle to him. His unusual insectoid physiognomy is small, slight, and stealthy, he is deceptively strong, and his antennae render him preternaturally intuitive—all these qualities make Utsusemi a great scout and tracker. His deadliness with a short blade, wielded with the surgical delicacy of a skilled cutthroat, somewhat belies Utsusemi’s cheerful temperament. However, I am loath to give any credence to the rumors floating about the department that Utsusemi is an assassin or spy working for some massive invading dromite force. It is unfortunate that the dromite’s alienness will work against him where his charm would otherwise make Utsusemi a wonderful spokesman for the team.
The young human known as Nex is something of a mystery to us. He bears the mien of an outlaw, rough and off-putting. It probably would not be off the mark to guess that Nex grew up like so many unfortunates since our King declared his industrial revolution—orphaned, and forced to survive on crowded and filthy streets. He keeps his own council about his background, but it is clear the young man has some experience aboard ships, probably from his youth.
Like Talus, Nex has traveled the highways and byways of our nation, waging war against pirates and bandits brazen enough to prey on our more secluded coastal settlements. I daresay his hatred of these scofflaws is deeply personal, and one might guess that it is pirates who took from Nex his parents at a young age. The basis of this grudge might even be the Crimson Fleet itself.
It was in fact in the village of Seaton where Nex and Talus briefly allied to fend off ruthless Crimson Fleet raiders allegedly led by the infamous Dread Pirate Harliss Javell. It was there that Nex displayed an uncanny talent with firearms, where his accuracy and daring helped turn the tide against the pirates. The victory, however, was not without heavy losses and casualties—which might have been prevented by an official, seasoned representative of Risuri law or armed forces. The Seaton affair reminds us of the price paid when independent mercenaries or vigilantes take it upon themselves to do the government’s job.
Which is why we in the RHC immediately attempted to recruit Nex, to hone his skills and to give him some direction so as not to create a conflict with the crown. Nex agreed to work with us only after we assured him no small amount of leeway to pursue his enemies, though it is unknown at this time what the Constabulary’s strategy is as it regards the ever-growing threat of the Crimson Fleet.
As stated, Nex is a veritable artiste in the realm of gunplay. He is a deadeye shot and possesses a single-minded courage and determination that often appears extraordinary. The only caveat involving Nex is his vengeance-driven nature, and though he possesses a mental steadiness rare for a young man, I can’t help but see a potential for recklessness untempered by the wisdom of age. Our work often requires compromise and devil’s bargains, a delicacy I trust that Nex’s more experienced cellmates will impart to him.
The elf woman known as Lethe Greenbark is, in my opinion, the dangerous wildcard of Leocamp Assurgent. She quite clearly spent the majority of her long life in Elfaivar. Based on the presence of her elaborate tattoo of the fallen elven goddess Srasama, one might assume Lethe has a history with the Vekeshi mystics. Along those lines, I have to hazard the guess that these earlier ties might be with the more militant branches of that philosophy, whose terrorists plague us here in Flint.
Whatever Lethe’s previous associations, she has friends in high places. Lethe has been adopted and trained by our nation’s informal priesthood, the druidic skyseers—who, it should be noted, share the Vekeshi’s affection for our fickle neighbors in The Dreaming. The skyseers don’t take on new apprentices very often these days, as their influence nationally, and particularly here in Flint, fades. But one among their number, senior Skyseer Wrethu, still has a great deal of power and authority, nearly as much as the famed centenarian Nevard Sechim who vanished from public view some time ago. Wrethu seems to have a personal interest in Lethe, and because she has campaigned so hard for the elf’s induction into the Constabulary, now has a significant stake in her success—or failure.
Lethe has been trained well by her benefactors. She has “the sight” that many in our organization rely upon to guide their investigations. She is fluent in the language of the earth, its beasts and its spirits, and these tend to respond favorably to her. She is adept in the art of medicine, and has experience abroad with first aid and midwifery. Like many of our nature priests, Lethe has demonstrated an affinity for a particular aspect of the natural world, in her case, water and the ocean. I wonder if there isn’t a sliver of sea elf in her bloodline, a race that none of us landlubbers have seen for several hundred years. This kinship with the waves, in tandem with the skills of the rest of her team and the symbol they’ve been associated with, would have us consider the Sea Lions for any maritime assignments.
Like so many of her race and background, Lethe seems to have an inner turmoil and conflict regarding our nation’s recent turn toward industry. She tends to be aloof, and keeps her three technology-oriented cellmates at arm’s length—particularly Talus, who Lethe met previously while providing medicinal service to a plague-ravaged village. I am often told that the druids will always be a part of our national identity, balancing against our increasing industrialization and reminding us of our ties to the First World. My hope is that Lethe is wise enough to overcome what I see as a suspicion of technology and bring this balance to her cell.
A good commander knows he needs to control the field of battle, and I’m afraid there are simply too many variables and mysteries surrounding Miss Greenbark for me to do so effectively. She is protected by the skyseers, which is why she’s even been admitted to our organization for training, but I suspect she may be dangerous. With your permission, Lady Inspectress, I’d like to commence another magical evaluation of Lethe’s loyalties, only this time without the presence of Skyseer Wrethu.
There are a lot of negatives in play as it concerns Leocamp Assurgent: Their dubious christening, Talus’s list of enemies, Utsusemi’s difficulty blending in, Nex’s vengefulness, and Lethe’s confliction. Discounting once again the idea that our agents are at all beholden to the superstitions of an obsolete order of backwoods mystics, I believe I have adequately outlined the checks and balances to these admittedly egregious downsides.
We are then left with an operating cell with a vast amount of potential. The classic roles of the four- or five-man action team are each filled with distinction, with the most important—such as healing and combat—covered by more than one Lion.
It is often been said that the command personnel of our august body have a job akin to herding kittens, our agents being as diverse and colorful as they are. I don’t doubt that that having Leocamp Assurgent under my onus will be an exercise in aggravation, but it is a challenge I would take willingly, and enthusiastically. Whatever might be said of them by the seers, the Sea Lions extremely capable individuals, and I see them accomplishing great things for Crown and Country.
I thereby implore my Lady Inpectress to approve Leocamp Assurgent and its members for full operating jurisdiction.
From the Office of Margaret Saxby, Lady Inspectress, RHC, Flint branch
To the Desk of Stover Delft, Asst. Chief Inspector, Royal Homeland Constabulary, Flint branch
Re: Re: Leocamp Assurgent Cell
Cell’s jurisdiction approved. Assign Leocamp to Coaltongue launch security.