The first thing Kybele will notice when she wakes up is almost certainly the enormous pain in her chest. It's not that there's a shortage of things to notice, in the middle of a busy market square mid festival, but that's the kind of thing that really tends to grab the attention. Wherever she fell asleep, she certainly isn't there now.
Ky shakes out a roll of paper that wasn't there a minute ago and sets about dyeing the sheet different colors to copy the map. Does it have the whereabouts of any demon fortresses?
There are confirmed fortresses at Threshold, Iz, and Drezen, as well as a handful along Lastwall and Chelish lines, but most of the rest of the map is bare of them and instead has names of probably-still-active demon generals and a vague sense of their areas of control. One gets the sense that scouting the wound in detail is hazardous, particularly outside the area that forces at the wardstone line can support.
Unsurprising. She copies it all very meticulously. "How in-date is this map?"
"The Chelish, Lastwall, and Mendevian areas are up to date as of a month ago, and Numeria's bubble never changes. Information on Irrisen's line is anywhere between a year and a decade and a half old, but we would know if there was a breakthrough reasonably promptly. As for the disposition of the demonic forces, much of it is information garnered from the fourth crusade, but we've been supplementing it with news from captured demons and occasional scouting raids, so it's of limited reliability but judged sufficiently better than nothing to be worth including."
Ky takes notes on this, looks around at her staff to take their temperature on the subject. "What kinds of intel-gathering magic have we got at our disposal?"
Jhoran Vhane will field this one!
"At second circle, there's augury and lay of the land. The former is a somewhat unreliable source of information on the result of actions in the immediate future, whereas the latter gives you knowledge of the geography of your surroundings. When I cast it, I get everything in a six mile radius; I believe Ramien would get slightly less than that, and most other clerics with us significantly less. At third circle, there is locate object to find a specific known item, but it only functions within a few hundred feet so you need to have a general idea of where to look. At 5th circle, there is scrying and commune. The former is a lengthy process that allows you to spy on a known individual and see their immediate surroundings, while the latter allows me to ask a handful or yes or no questions of Torag in exchange for a moderately expensive amount of incense. Ramien again should have the same at that circle, but of Desna instead. Aside from that, there are a number of spells that can gather information on a target in front of you such as arcane sight to identify kinds of magic or true seeing which cuts through all illusions, and some spells not available to anyone in our force like greater scrying, discern location, and arcane eye that we might nevertheless be able to purchase scrolls of in limited numbers if there is a great enough need."
"So there are improvements to be had over wading into demon territory and looking around but not really overwhelming ones considering expenses."
"Some wizards have avian familiars that are smart enough to report back to their master, but the fourth crusade was in perennially short supply of them and if they were ever slain it noticeably weakened their master. As far as I am aware there are none in the forces I brought with me, but if you prove successful enough to attract skilled adventurers that will eventually become available to you. You can do a more expensive version of this with called outsiders, but this also has the issue that if they are slain they perish for good, so many are reluctant to scout the wound in any real depth. Otherwise, I did not manage to find any solutions superior to scouting detachments despite working to keep abreast of any developments in the field."
If Daeran gets that ballad sung all over the world, maybe she can just wade into the worldwound in a hurricane of confetti all by herself -
Best not to get ahead of herself. Anyone else in the room have comments?
"I have one. Knight Commander, what's our policy on criminal and otherwise potentially politically awkward recruits? There are a lot of people that come to Mendev to fight demons in exchange for sheltering under the worldwound treaty, but taking them in can sometimes sour relations with the countries they're wanted by. I can push the line that this is perfectly legal and that if they don't want it to happen they should contribute more to taking back the wound, or we can arrange for them all to go to the wardstone lines and I'll be very apologetic about it to try and keep support coming in, but it would be diplomatically awkward to have to switch between them."
"The wardstone lines as opposed to what other position?"
"In our crusading army. Lots of them tend to have useful skills we might want, like wizardry, but there's the question of if getting them in our forces is worth the added hassle as opposed to hoping they free up some ordinary soldiers for us."
"Can you explain why it would be provocative to have them in the army by comparison to having them in the garrison? Naively I'd have guessed the opposite, I'd assume that vindictive sorts would want their outlaws in the less pleasant position but perhaps I'm just wrong about what that is."
"It's mostly a question of who they'd be annoyed at. The treaty legalizing it is old enough that anyone inclined to get upset at Mendev for it already is, while the crusade has a chance to be seen as a separate entity. I didn't make that distinction since as queen it was rather futile and felt I needed all the adventurers I could get, but you're not Mendevian and aren't already at loggerheads with House Thrune so you might get somewhere with it."
"Ah, thanks for explaining - I think it isn't very likely I'll be able to avoid being provocative to House Thrune for long, so we may as well field their refugees if it's legal to do so."
“Got it. Annoying Cheliax always plays well with Andoran and Galt, so hopefully I can offset any annoyance they feel somewhat with that.”
“I also have a question about what we want in terms of prioritization, but a somewhat more material one. I’ve got a relatively good offer on some extra warhorses lined up so we can beef up our cavalry scouting arm, but it’ll be expensive to move the extra grain in and I’d be less confident we could afford it if our Knight Commander couldn’t generate paper. Knight Commander, Captain Harmattan, Baroness Gaunther, Lady Irabeth; do you have any thoughts?”
“I’m disinclined to go for it. If we have extra weight allowances on the transports, it should go to food for the men to help keep up morale and extra arrows and gear to keep the forces we have in fighting shape. Having better mobility and intelligence is important, but less so than being better able to win the fights.”
“While I don’t disagree with those points, our forces are already a little lighter on cavalry than I’d like for the amount of travel this campaign calls for; I think it would be worth paying some hard to measure costs to firm up our status there, since every ambush spotted and path located directly saves lives and time.”
"Do we have trained riders currently between horses?"
"Not incorporated into units. But there are plenty of people currently serving in the infantry with most of the prerequisite skills, and there are underhorsed noble retinues we can most likely tempt to the front with the promise of keeping the steeds after the campaign. Our cavalry numbers are more often held back by the number of trained warhorses available and the expense of maintaining them than the riders skilled enough to make use of them."
"Could the horses be brought in themselves carrying enough supplies to get us a head start on things less bulky than grain? I'm not sure how different the training process for pack horses is, maybe they can't pull a cart, but if the issue is mostly about the expense of shipping rather than the cost of the grain itself would that close the gap a little?"
"Warhorses and draft horses are very different animals. Even aside the risks of them injuring themselves pulling significant amounts cargo, a warhorse needs more food for itself than it can carry on trips longer than a short distance, so you have to either be able to supplement it with stores along the way or get them a logistics train. This and the price of training them are why we only have as much cavalry as we do, since while having cavalry can be a priceless advantage it's one that's rather pricy to purchase."
"Got it. I'm leaning no warhorses right now unless this is a stunningly good deal that you wouldn't see the like of in the next year."