Tax Collectors

Martin,

Yield from your province was low this season.  I await your explanation. Do not disappoint.

Mikel

***

-For the Quartermaster

His Lordship, Martin, informs that the wagon delivered unto the Revián Highlord was lacking in supplies.  His Lordship reminds you that this is an unacceptable outcome and demands you produce collection records for the most recent three seasons thus past.  His Lordship reminds you as well that failure, either to comply with the demand mentioned or in the adequate performance of your duties, portends grave consequences for your future.

Kindest regards,

Luc, Favored Scribe to Lord Martin

***

-For His Lordship’s Snivelling, Frog-Buggering Shadow-

Feck off.  Per your bloody demands, I’ve included three seasons of collection records, and I added some big feckin’ circles so your blind arse can see the problem I wrote you about three feckin’ months ago.  It’s salt fish. There ain’t none of it. And there ain’t none of it ‘cause all the salt fish in the territory comes from Mudhull. As it so feckin’ happens, the last two tax collectors we sent there never reported back.  I’ll go ahead and repeat what I feckin’ wrote you before: Sounds like you and His Lordship ought to get an explanation from Ka, but that ain’t my problem.

Feck your kindness,

“The Quartermaster”

***

Lord Martin,

Our scouting parties have encountered armed resistance near the bayou.  While my shame is great in admitting this so late, it seems the Mudfish has declared himself in silent rebellion.  I have engaged a small group of mercenaries to infiltrate his fortress and determine the scale and specifics of his military operation.  Afterwards, we will ride for Mudhull and put these traitors down.

Your Obedient,

Rein-Captain Jean Paul

***

The date at the top of the page is smudged, and the scrawl is messy.  Numerous lines have been rendered illegible by water damage.

It’s //// four days since we reached the bayou /////////////////////////////////// near Mudhull.  What we have seen so far already //////////////////////////////////////// ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
 I am making this record now, that our observations may return to Lord Martin by way of a messenger, as the possibility of no return has grown real.  The walls of Mudhull are //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// with a crawfish smuggler who claims he can grant us safe entry.  I will continue to write what we find as we uncover it.

/////////////////////////////// Day 6

Those within Mudhull have been pressed into the worship of Ka as a sort of deity, ///////////////////////////////////////////////////// usually teeth, arms, or legs.  There are few men in the walls, and we have yet to encounter a woman or child who is not, in some way maimed.  Determining how this came to be ////////////////////////////////////////////// not speak a word against Ka for fear of their life, and even some who seem to believe truly that Ka has //////////////////////////  We have engaged ////////////////////////// “palace”.  She is afraid and seems sympathetic to our aims.

According to her, this began after the the one-eyed man and an ///////// arrived and met with Ka.  Soon after, Ka began–she says–to ///////////////////////////////////////////////// men of the town, perhaps by fear, to enlist as his enforcers.  Those enforcers are few, but we are able to see they are very zealous.  There is otherwise talk of a purpose for /////////////////////////////// as they are taken into the lower levels of the palace each day.  The slave has agreed to escort us there after nightfall that we may observe.

The rest of the document is written in a different hand, without smudges.

Fuck this.  Fuck all of this.  I show up here half-dead, no doubt raving about horrors and dire emergencies, and Martin can’t bother to see me for three fucking days?  Well good fucking luck. He gets this note instead. Go ahead and ignore the unreadable garbage up top, I’ll make it very simple: Mudhull is an abomination, corpses are sewn together and up, walking, mauling people in the streets.  Ka has declared himself god of this hell he’s brought to earth. You need to get every fucking soldier you have and wipe that place out of existence.

I’m getting the fuck out of here.  If you fail, I’m not sticking around.

***

Great Highlord Mikel of the Revián,

My sincerest apologies for the lack of explanation included with my diminished lot of tribute.  Alas, a village lord within my province, Ka of Mudhull, has rebelled, amassing an army in defiance of your just rule.  My forces are mobilizing to destroy him now, but lest his impertinence disturb the peace you have so carefully constructed in this fair land, I humbly request your troops and assistance in making an example of him.

Deepest apologies, with great loyalty,

Martin, Governing Lord of the Southern Reaches

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