It's that time again, when Annora writes a long letter to you all about updates regarding the Employer! (If you're just now getting involved, I recommend finding my previous letters buried somewhere on this board to catch up on the pertinent details).
Last month, we made some serious headway on finding out more about the Employer and their motives. A small group of us followed a scavenger hunt around the Proper, starting from the exact spot on the field behind the inn where y'all kicked Alverez's shit in.
One of the last clues left for us in this puzzle hunt was one of Alverez's former crewmembers, dead via smoke inhalation, wrapped in a homemade Coast Haven Navy replica flag, with wood from the remains of the Forlorn Howl. With some quick deductions, we were able to ascertain that this was the flag of the Queen of Tides, Alverez's former ship. This vessel was destroyed several years ago, in Septefus port, when a monster they had captured and brought back to port escaped, killing most of the crew and lighting the ship on fire in the process. The crewmember left for us was one of the survivors that later came to serve on the Queen of Tides.
The prevailing theory, supported by all available evidence, is that the Employer was the captive taken by the Queen of Tides. (The Employer has also always been encountered as smelling of woodsmoke--likely due to this past trauma). We know they want Triton's power to destroy their enemy, and are full of hate. Furthermore, it is likely they were an unwilling test subject for Alverez's extraction machine--potentially why they broke into Raine's lab to destroy it shortly after it came into our possession. This would explain their primary motivation as vengeance upon Alverez and his people.
When we finished this hunt, we were sung to sleep (after being given a chance to accept or decline this invitation; the Employer cannot be blamed for this action) and brought through a Sea Gate into what appeared to be their home cave, or at least their base of operations. We were restrained in a magical cage, presumably so we couldn't start a fight or stop them, but we were restrained cordially, with seats and refreshments. We saw the Employer, even though they kept their back to us the entire meeting. (And yes, they did smell of the same smoke as on the body we found).
In the cave, the Employer was performing their January stellar ritual...the sign of Triton. Unlike the previous rituals, this one did not have a primal offering in it. Instead, the Employer offered themselves. When they completed the ritual, they displayed a new mastery of water and the ocean's creatures (including growing crabs in size and summoning water elementals with a wave of their arm).
From our conversation with them, we were able to get a better sense of their mental state and emotions. The Employer is absolutely an incredibly traumatized individual who has hit the point where they feel they have nothing left to live for, and their only motivation is vengeance. They told us directly that they "don't care about surviving. That's the last of my worries. I don't care about what you do to me after I'm done. I just need to do this. This is the only way. And you will not stop me." (They also told Ephrem "Valos doesn't give justice, you have to make your own.")
I do not believe that they are beyond redemption. I think the Employer has been deeply hurt and is lashing out at a world that failed them. Agree with me or not, I don't care if you think I'm stupid/hypocritical/whatever, and I'm not going to be lured into fights on this. But I've been there, and I'm not going to give up on the Employer, even though they've given up on themself. Our priority is of course preventing them from executing this plan of theirs, but if we can stop them without more death, if we can turn them away from this self-destructive path, I sure as hells am going to try.
On Sunday, we were able to lay down the Aashirya counter-ritual, camouflaging it in the location we anticipated the Employer would perform their ritual. Based on their post on the boards, it seems we were successful, but they will anticipate a counter-ritual next time.
When metaphysically interacting with our ritual, weird magicky shit happened, and we were able to gain a better understanding of the Sea Gates and how their magic works. So far we've been trying primal energy to keep the coral alive, but through their connection to Triton, they also require dark aligned energy (Triton is apparently aligned to both order and dark). To sustain our own coral gate, we would have to channel both energies through it. This still doesn't answer the question of how to collect a coral sample (has to be living, from an open gate), but it's a step in the right direction.
Plans for this upcoming Feast:
So where does that leave us in February? Well, the Employer isn't finished, so neither are we.
We may have tipped our hand with the Aashirya ritual, but I would still like to perform a counter ritual for their next upcoming stellar ritual--Olaindrus, the Commoner's Crown. Sadly it seems that the location of the Olaindrus plaque was not one of the locations recorded back in July, so this one will be trickier. I'm open to suggestions here!
Additionally, we still have our sympathetic magic rituals to perform, for the rituals the Employer has already completed. Based on past experiences, tapping into the residual energy in these spots will give us additional information on the Employer and their plans. As always, you need not be a ritualist or even a caster to aid in these rituals. If you are good with constellations, feel you embody one of the signs (or were born under it), or simply have ideas (brains and creativity are oft-overlooked ritual components!) and want to help, your presence will be appreciated.
The rituals we still have left to perform are as follows:
-Sign of Nurremaralias, the Heart of the Mountain. Sign of Compassion and Stalwartness.
-Sign of Archidemus, the Kraken. Sign of Competition and Aggression.
-Sign of Ilthuene, the Great Tree. Sign of Ambition and Patience.
(Te'Vash, the Harvester, was one of the Employer's previous rituals, but no one seems to know where it was found)
As for scheduling--as usual, I will endeavor to perform the Olaindrus ritual at 11 bells Sunday morning. The rest of the rituals will be performed when there are enough willing participants.
I know some of you have been doing research deep dives on various related topics. Would those of you with new information mind sharing it with me? I (or my familiar Valka, who can summon me) will endeavor to make myself available in the inn this week.
Therion, in particular, I would love to learn what you found out. I appreciate all the research you've done so far and want to see what we can puzzle together. Sorry I missed your previous meeting, you know how duty can call. Talaniel and Kestrel, I believe you have been working on the diplomatic aspects with the Kingdom Below?
Thank you all for your time and your aid,