If at First You Don't Succeed


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"Able-handed men and women needed to assist in the restoration of the fabled city of Summerdawn. Report to the garrison commander at five bells."


Fabled city. Yeah, right.

Perhaps it wasn't the historical episode of which your kingdom of Bauritor was most proud, but everyone knew the real story of the failed colony of Summerdawn. After all, even as humans measured time, it was less than two generations in the past.

It started as what seemed like a good idea--build a keep in the the lightly explored region to the north of Bauritor at the head of the Urrgar River, dominating the surrounding Arthan Forests and opening them up to commerce and trade. From there, so went the plan, the military could move in, securing an outpost on a new frontier and increasing the territory of the kingdom by more than 1/3. All against no real opposition. The Arthan Forest wasn't really claimed by anyone other than a few rag-tag bands of humanoid raiders and the occasional Druid; certainly no match for the Bauritan miltary, backed by the newly-built keep.

The problem, if you remember correctly, wasn't barbarian hordes, angry Druids, the wrath of the gods, or even raiding humanoids. It was simply lack of a good reason for the colony to exist.

The land around the keep was good enough, but no better than other, more settled lands, more conveniently located. Few men and women were willing to move their entire families out into the wilderness for such a small benefit.

Those who were naturally of a pioneering mindset balked at the idea of living in the shadow of a large military garrison.

The river flowed in the wrong direction for commerce--upstream from Summerdawn was nothing but additional unexplored wasteland, and few merchants were willing to take their caravans more than a week UPstream to the town for no reason other than to get a good price on chickens. The garrison itself was supplied directly from Bauritor's treasury, so there was no profit for the merchants there, either.

So, a state-of-the art keep--really, closer to a full-fledged castle--built at a cost of tens of thousands of gold pieces and designed to supply over a hundred and fifty soldiers throughout a protracted siege, sat overlooking an empty river and a town which never had more than a couple hundred residents.

When war came (and war always comes), on a frontier far from Summerdale, it became impractical to maintain the outpost so far from where it was needed. As the garrison's soldiers were slowly redeployed elsewhere, the raiding humanoids of the forest, never fully conquered, became a genuine threat to the settlers. Less than twenty years after the town had been founded, the last of the pioneers straggled back to civilization, defeated and broken. The castle was left vacant for whomever wanted to take it.

That war continues to this day, a bloody stalemate draining the treasuries and manpower of both kingdoms.

And now, so early in the spring that the snows of the previous winter have not yet fully melted, posted on the doors of every temple in the frontier city of Oulu, a notice has gone up:

"Able-handed men and women needed to assist in the restoration of the fabled city of Summerdawn. Report to the garrison commander at five bells."

Wonder what's behind that, you think. Politicians--they never learn.

But there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of other work to be had now, your funds are low, and skilled young men and women without obvious sources of income always had to be concerned about being compelled to join the military and thrown into the meat grinder to the south. Maybe it's not such a bad idea to go somewhere far away from the front lines, where the long arm of the military is unlikely to reach.

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