A force to be reckoned with
Annike spoke quietly. The early evening wind whipped at her vestments, sent her long white hair streaming out to the side, but she showed little sign of feeling the cold. She was leaning on the parapet staring out northwards, her amber eyes barely blinking, her brows furrowed. Like many draughir she had excellent night vision. Apart from the wind, her only movement was the slow tap-tap-tap of one bone-white claw on the stone.
She was clearly deep in thought, and Van Basten knew better to interrupt her. He stood quietly, his hands clasped behind his back. The music and chatter of the banquet on the floor below drifted through the open door onto the balcony. Downstairs, the other Bedelaar Huisbaas and their guests continued the robust and complex business of Sarcophan politics. The younger draughir privately wished he was back inside, supporting his grandmother at the table. These were volatile times, and who knew where a chance word overheard at the banquet might reveal an opportunity for wealth for the family?
Nonetheless he was an ambitious young man. Annike was known to be extremely generous to those who could be trusted to deliver results. What was good for Johan was good for all the Van Basten, after all, and while Annike was mistress of the Tower of Crows it did no harm to remain in her good graces. After all, it had been her decision to give him the diplomatic posting that might well be the making of his career.
Annike turned towards him, still frowning slightly. She pulled her long alabaster shawl closer around her shoulders - more to stop it escaping than from any lack of warmth, he suspected. She considered her companion carefully. His bone jacket was rich enough as might be expected from a Van Basten but there were spots of food on his white shirt and on his cuffs. Still, he was young. Precision is a skill best learned with age, she mused. His enthusiasm and ambition would be more valuable in the Empire than the caution of some of her older agents. The most recent report from Matthijs de Ligt was clear that the Senate continued to approve of the international summit at the Winter Solstice.
"You've been to the Empire before" she said then, prodding the Van Basten in his chest with one long bone-white finger. "How would you describe them?"
Johan considered for a moment, but not too long.
"It's hard to put together a stereotype because they are so variable," he said slowly. "So diverse."
Annike nodded impatiently. "Yes, yes. Ten nations, one of them not even human. I understand that. Continue."
"Then I'd say they are... arrogant. Not arrogant so much as unable to compromise. It's as if they don't even think about it. That's what I mean by arrogant - they struggle with the idea that they need to cede ground to make a deal. They are convinced they are the centre of the world, worse even than the Asaveans I think."
Annike pursed her lips.
"They have more reason than the Asaveans to be proud," she said coolly. "Their star is on the ascendant and that of the Republic very much in decline. Go on."
"They're unpredictable too, especially in matters of religion and politics. With the Sumaah you know where you stand but with the Empire? In the same breath they berate you for your lack of virtue they'll try to argue that you should give them your goods cheaply because of Prosperity. It can be exasperating."
Annike laughed mirthlessly.
"Instead of telling me who they are not like, tell me who they are like."
"I think they are closest in character to the Commonwealth or perhaps the Principalities - there is a wilfulness about them. An unquenchable ambition. They love politics, for all that they might pretend not to. They are not shy about wielding power. I think that we are lucky, in a way, that they are so unfocused."
"Lucky? How so? How could their lack of focus be a good thing?"
Van Basten sucked his teeth for a moment, his eyes narrowed in the gloom as he considered how best to respond.
"The Commonwealth and Jarm keep each other occupied; the same with Sumaah and Asavea. The Empire... it has virtually nobody to keep it busy. The only people even close to them in power are the Confederacy - and they're idiots. It's true that the Empire is less cunning than Asavea, less zealous than Sumaah, less committed than the Commonwealth, and less powerful than Jarm. But ... at the same time ... it is more cunning than everyone except Asavea, more zealous than everyone except Sumaah... you take my point?"
"And your conclusion?" The old woman was watching him closely now, reading his face and his stance, looking for any sign of deception.
"If they focused, if they stopped being so fractious, if they truly spoke with one voice... then they would truly be a force to be reckoned with like no other."
Annike was pleased. She had made the right decision in here choice of delegate. She allowed an apparently warm smile to break across her pinched features.
"Quite. You see the problem, or at least the outline of one part of it. Tomorrow morning I want you to come to my offices and we shall begin preparations to send you north. You will need to explain again the dangers of blindly swinging a stick in a room full of delicate china and nervous cats, and you will need to get them to listen to us this time."
Her face darkened then, and again she turned to stare out across the waters."And if you cannot get them to listen then we are all going to tumble off the edge of the knife, and there is going to be a great deal of blood in the water."
- 1 Overview
- 2 The Imperial Slavery Summit
- 3 Sumaah Republic
- 4 Asavea
- 5 Principalities of Jarm
- 6 Commonwealth
- 7 Sarcophan Delves
- 8 Citadels of Axos
- 9 Faraden
- 10 Iron Confederacy
- 11 Tsark
- 12 Echoes of the Labyrinth
- 13 Resolution
There are six great powers in the known world; the Empire; the Asavean Republic; the Sumaah Republic; the Commonwealth; the Principalities of Jarm; and the Sarcophan Delves. There are also countless smaller nations, four of whom are close enough to the Empire to have an impact on its politics - Faraden, Axos, the Iron Confederacy, and Otkodov. Each nation has their own agendas, sometimes in sync with the Empire but more often in opposition.
International politics are mercurial at the best of times, and in times of uncertainty and flux can change dramatically over the course of a single day. As such, the broad overviews discussed here represent only the state-of-play as it is generally understood at the start of the Winter Equinox.
The Imperial Slavery Summit
Over the last year or more, a faction within the Empire has been working towards an international summit to discuss the possibility of forming an alliance of nations opposed to slavery. There are few details in the public domain, but during the Autumn Equinox the Imperial Senate announced the summit would take place during the Winter Solstice, and appointed Ianthe Ravenswatch to be one of two Imperial delegates. The other delegate will be Eska Crowspeaker, chosen by the Assembly of the Nine to represent the Imperial Synod.
The attendees are also a matter of public record, at least in the Empire. During the Summer Solstice, the Senate issued an invitation to the Commonwealth, the Sarcophan Delves, the Sumaah Republic, and the Axou to send their own delegates to the summit, which is expected to take place on Saturday evening during the coming summit. Conspicuously absent are representatives of either the Asavean Archipelago or Principalities of Jarm, and there is no indication that representatives of Faraden, Otkodov, or the Iron Confederacy - all neighbours of the Empire known to engage in the practice of slavery in some form or another.
The summit will face a number of diplomatic challenges, but if is successful, then Eska and Ianthe have effectively been given the authorisation to present a treaty for ratification by the Senate.
You can read more about the Imperial Slavery Summit here.
- The Sumaah are inviting followers of the Way to make pilgrimage to Timoj, the holy city at the heart of the Republic.
- Religious conflict between the Sumaah Houses of Virtue and the Imperial Synod continues to escalate. You can learn more here
- The Sumaah Republic still has possession of the Imperial Crown
- The port of Zemeh has been reopened to Imperial fleets
- The Ambassador to the Sumaah Republic is the Highborn Accalon of Felix's Watch
During the Summer Solstice 382YE, the low-key war with the Sumaah Republic came to an end. However, though a state of peace may now exist between the two nations, the Sumaah Houses of Virtue still consider the Empire to have lost its way. As such, they have formally declared that they no longer recognise the White City of Bastion as the heart of the Way; nor do they consider the Imperial Synod fit to lead the faithful. Instead, they urge all pilgrims to look to the holy city of Timoj in Sumaah for guidance. The Imperial Synod itself has finally responded to this challenge; you can learn more about the religious conflict between the Sumaah Republic and the Empire here.
Also, in spite of a cessation of hostilities, the Sumaah House of the People have so far rebuffed Imperial overtures regarding the Imperial Crown. Stolen from the Imperial Vault and delivered to the Sumaah shortly before the coronation of Imperatrix Lisabetta, allegedly by League citizen Guillamo de Tassato of the Printer's Guild, this prominent symbol of Imperial Pride and Ambition remains in the hands of the Präster of the Republic.
Zemeh and the Pilgrimage
Following an extensive building project, the port of Zemeh has been reopened to Imperial captains to visit once again. Any fleet captain will be able to trade with the Sumaah Republic here. Agents of the Regario Dossier have been dispatched to resume their observation in the port, and are expected to deliver a preliminary assessment of the Republic at the Spring Equinox as part of the usual annual report.
In a historically unprecedented move, however, the Sumaah House of the People (the Sumaah equivalent of the Imperial Senate) have gone further. They have announced that they are rescinding the prohibition against foreign visitors leaving the boundaries of Zemeh - up to a point. With work being completed on a great white-granite highway through the jungles connecting Zemeh to the capital of Timoj, they have invited the faithful of the Way from all over the world to come to their holy city and seek guidance in the study of the Seven Virtues and the Labyrinth.
Further details about the city of Timoj will be available after the Winter Solstice.
- Every Imperial Fleet trading with Nemoria receives an additional measure of iridescent gloaming and an additional ingot of orichalcum
- Civil war continues to develop in northern Asavea. You can learn more about this here.
- The Asavean Architect Almodin Oktístis has been accused of idolatry by the Imperial Synod.
- The Imperial Ambassador to Asavea is Jarrigk Orzel of Dawn
Relations with the Asavean Archipelago are calm, but with the potential to change entirely. Imperial fleet captains continue to benefit from the opportunities presented by the Temple of Balo and the Black Bull in Feroz and the Temple of the Way in Nemoria receiving additional profit from the reasonable relations the two religious sites provide.
Unfortunately for the Asaveans, they continue to be riven by internal conflict. The northern provinces of Emphedor and Marracoss remain in revolt. Imperial mercenaries are in high demand still, but the offer remains controversial. The Assembly of Vigilance has enacted a mandate encouraging priests to observe and report on the identities of any military captains traveling to Asavea. A report will be provided to the Imperatrix and to Irada Von Temeschwar, the Cardinal of Vigilance.
The Asavean Plenum has recognised concerns about what exactly Imperial citizens are doing in the Republic, and offered assurances that mercenaries are not this season being deployed on the front lines. Instead they are being used in defensive positions; they are unlikely to be directly engaging revolutionary soldiers. The Asaveans are confident that they can resolve this uncertainty; you can learn more about the situation with the supression of the Asavean revolution here.
Following several seasons of controversy, the Asavean Architect, Almodin Oktístis, was called to inquisition by the Imperial Synod during the Summer Solstice. In Autumn, the Senate decided to abrogate his stipend and encourage him to return home. At the same time, a judgement of Condemnation was raised by Veikko Bondforger and upheld by the Imperial Synod. Denounced as an idolator, Almodin will face trial at Anvil on Sunday morning during the Winter Solstice. The magistrates have currently set his trial for 11 in the morning, and are interested in speaking to anyone who has evidence related to the case.
Principalities of Jarm
- The Imperial Senate has ended Jarm's favoured trader status; the port of Vezak no longer supplies an additional crystal mana to each visiting ship.
- The mandate of the Imperial synod discouraging trade with Vezak or Kavor has run its course.
- The eastern port of Rigia remains closed to Imperial shipping.
- The Imperial Ambassador to the Principalities of Jarm is Izsák Blár Skipstjóri of Wintermark
To abrogate the ‘favoured nation’ trading status of the Principalities of Jarm. In Autumn 380YE, the Imperial Senate passed the following motion: ‘The Empire recognizes the importance of extant and future trade in strategic materials with our allies in Jarm, and welcomes any overtures to strengthen existing agreements or form new ones.’ With Jarm no longer pursuing it’s previous worthy efforts to rid itself of the blight of slavery, the Empire abrogates this motion.Senate Motion, Autumn Equinox 382YE,Proposed by Kallavesa, seconded by Segura
During the Autumn Equinox, the Imperial Senate chose to abrogate the favoured trader status of the Principalities of Jarm. Relations have chilled somewhat, but remain civil. Imperial captains no longer receive priority attention when visiting the port of Vezak, however. On the other hand, the impact of the mandate enacted by the Imperial Synod last Winter has finally run its course; consequently there are no actual penalties for choosing to trade with the Jarmish ports. Only northern Kavor and southern Vezak remain accessible to Imperial fleet captains however. The eastern port of Rigia is still closed, however. There is no official explanation from the Eastern princes as to why Imperial captains are not welcome.
Jarmish merchants are not an uncommon sight in the Empire at the moment however. The established enclave of foreign magicians continues to live in Tassato, working through the Tassato Mana Exchange and importing Beloye zerno for sale to any Imperial citizen with a mana site prepared to meet their prices. The Pallas Docks continue to import weirwood from Pӓrnau Principality. Cionek Rangalla continues to reside at the Jarmish Embassy in Cargo, supporting the garrison there with her magic and that of her staff. Indeed, the Senate has commissioned the construction of House Kobarid's enchanted jewelers in Seren. While work has not yet begun on the construction, once it is completed it will allow Imperial magicians to acquire the exotic star jewels unknown in the Empire.
Another trade with Jarm that has run its course involves the loan of a ritual text detailing the powerful Bound by Common Cause ritual. The Jarmish Princes have already confirmed that they consider the temporary loan of their own ritual - the Immaculate Architect - to be a permanent gift and encourage the Imperial Conclave to consider adding it to Imperial Lore. There was some uncertainty about what would become of the Empire's own ritual but following some careful inquiries by the Ambassador, the Civil Service confirm the ritual has been returned. The text of Bound by Common Cause is now available to the Conclave to endow on an Imperial citizen should they wish
After several years of service, former Ambassador to the Principalities of Jarm Oswi Twiceburned was replaced by the Imperial Senate during the Autumn Equinox. The former Ambassador has been named as the recipient of a rare honour from the House of Princes. In a formal declaration from the House, via Cionek Rangalla, Oswi has been named as the recipient of the Silver Star of Cerebyany. This medal is awarded by the Princes to diplomats and ministers who have worked to smooth relations between the Principalities and foreign nations - it is uncommon for it to be given to anyone who is not a Jarmish citizen but it is not unknown.
The Lantir Problem
It is no secret that the Jarmish and the people of the Commonwealth are rivals. The two great nations occupy the same landmass, although in practice direct contact between the two is rare due to the existence of hostile terrain and a number of independent smaller nations between them. Recent news from captains visiting Vezak, however, is that this situation may be about to change - thanks to developments involving the much smaller nation of Lantir.
- Trade with Leerdam and Volkavaar remains stable.
- The Commonwealth Ambassador to the Empire has asked the Imperial Senate to made it illegal to trade magical lore with the Princes of Jarm
- The growing Lantir problem appears to be threatening war between the Commonwealth and Jarm.
- The Ambassador to the Commonwealth is Lucia Sanguineo di Tassato of the League
We thank Menno van Ritsjhof for his virtuous work assisting the Empire. We have received appropriate assurances that his intended absence would not disadvantage the Empire, and encourage him to travel to the Commonwealth to exchange knowledge with his peers.Erasmo di Tassato, Statement of Principle, League National Assembly, Autumn Equinix 382YE, Upheld with Greater Majority
Relations with the Commonwealth remain steady. They have been improved slightly by the decision of Menno van Ritsjhof to visit the Commonwealth for an exchange of engineering theories and designs. The renowned architect-cum-engineer was responsible for the designs of both the Salt Guard and the grand fortifications proposed to protect Sarvos from invasion by the sea (among others) and has apparently already settled in happily as a guest of one of the Commonwealth universities.
The nation is also said to be cautiously enthusiastic about the upcoming slavery summit following their formal acceptance of an invitation during the Autumn Equinox. They are particularly likely to be interested in sanctions against the Principalities of Jarm; all indications are that diplomatic relations between the two rival nations are deteriorating by the week.
A little over a week ago, the Commonwealth Ambassador to the Empire, Mila Eisenfalkee, has delivered a formal request on behalf of her government to the Empire. In it, she requests that the Imperial Senate make it illegal for Imperial citizens to trade magical knowledge - specifically ritual lore and ritual texts - with representatives of the Principalities of Jarm. It is certainly possible for the Senate to do so, but impossible to do so without the Jarmish finding out.
This escalation in hostilities between the two nations appears to be tied to the growing problem of the nation of Lantir.
The Lantir Question
Open warfare has not erupted as of yet between the Commonwealth and Jarm but there is an immediate casus belli very much on the horizon in the form of the nation of Lantir. Captains visiting Leerdam in the Commonwealth and Vezak in Jarm report that this small nation lies between southern Jarm and the eastern Commonwealth. While the landlocked Lantirri have historically traded with both their larger cousins for generations, their leaders are said to be increasingly favouring the Commonwealth. This does not sit well with certain powerful interests - especially the nation's magicians, many of whom favour closer ties with Jarm. Allegedly rumours of Jarmish-sponsored unrest, and increasing concerns about a coup, have apparently lead to a situation where the Lantirri government is on the brink of asking for the aid of the Commonwealth while their rebel faction is on the verge of asking the House of Princes for help. If this happens, war between the two greater nations becomes almost unavoidable - not least because it will likely create a land border between the two rival powers.
The Empire has no direct contact with Lantir - indeed it is unlikely they ever will have as the nation is quite landlocked and inaccessible except through Commonwealth or Jarmish territory. The civil service, however, have begun compiling a short report on what little is known about the nation for Skywise Fal, the Imperial Consul.
- Trade between the two nations remains healthy
- The Kruidenkenner herbalists of Sarcophan are bringing additional herbs to trade at Anvil via the public auction
- The Imperial Ambassador to the Sarcophan Delves is Thanmir Hrafnar of Wintermark
Relations with the Sarcophan Delves as a whole remain cordial. They are expected to attend the slavery summit at Anvil. They remain unenthusiastic however - hardly surprising given that anything that impedes free trade between nations reduces the opportunities for canny traders to make their fortunes. Still, merchants and traders are a common sight along the towns and cities that border the Bay of Catazar, especially in Siroc, Sarvos, and Sanctuary Sands. With the establishment of the Kruidenkenner enclave in chill Iversgard, however, there has also been as significant rise in the number of Sarcophan merchants traveling through the eastern territories of the Empire and through the forests and hills of Varushka.
Thanks in part to the Kruidenkenner successes in the Empire, there has been a small but marked increase in the amounts of all five herbs being auctioned through the public auction at Anvil, especially Imperial Roseweald. Furthermore, the guild itself has expressed interest in establishing further warehouses in Dawn, the Marches, Wintermark, and the League.
|216 Rings||12 doses|
|408 Rings||24 doses|
|592 Rings||36 doses|
The details of the warehouses the Kruidenkenner are considering have been made public - they have no interest in keeping their plans a secret.
Each such enclave would consist of a warehouse and living quarters, as well as a place to do business. Each one would require 8 wains of weirwood, and 16 crowns to build, would require a commission, and would take a season to complete. Each would provide an opportunity to purchase a specific herb as a ministry does – but rewarding the buyer if they choose to buy in bulk (that is, the more herbs were purchased in one go the cheaper each individual herb would be). The Empire would need to assign a suitable person to oversee it, but the Sarcophan Delves have no interest in how that title would be appointed. The civil service suggest that the well worn path for a title such as this would be to assign it through the Imperial Bourse, but that it could be an Imperial or national position.
There is an additional requirement; the Kruidenkenner already have two enclaves dedicated to the sale of Cerulean Mazzarine. They would be prepared to trade one herb in bulk to the Empire for each additional enclave - but leave it up to the Empire to determine which enclave would trade predominantly in which herb. This means they would agree to trade one of True Vervain, Bladeroot, Imperial Roseweald, or Marrowort at a given enclave, but each enclave would need to be dedicated to a different herb. So if the Wintermark enclave sold True Vervain, the Marcher and Dawn enclaves would need to choose from the remaining three herbs.
While the Kruidenkenner accept that the cost of these enclaves are high, they are confident that the benefits of having them trade with the Empire will far outweigh the initial set-up costs. The opportunity to build these enclaves remains until the end of the Spring Equinox 383YE. If work has not begun on at least one of the enclaves by then the kruidenkenner will focus on their current trading posts within the Empire and look for other opportunities to expand their operations.
One reason the kruidenkenner are keen to expand their operations is that they will also be able to use these warehouses to support their own trade. On both previous occasions, when one of their ministries was built, there was an increase in the number of Sarcophan herb and apothecary-traders visiting and engaging in private deals with Imperial citizens.
Citadels of Axos
- Axos remains friendly to the Empire.
- The Grand Ilarchs of the Citadels have openly discussed criminalizing some elements of slavery.
- The Imperial Ambassador to Axos is Tarquinius Ankarien of Urizen.
Relations with the eastern nation of Axos remain positive, but have cooled noticeably over the last several months. During the Autumn Equinox, Ilarch Maxatious who advises the Grand Ilarchs of the Citadels put forward a proposal that the nation consider criminalising the trading of slaves, and make it illegal to take new slaves. This is the first step toward outlawing the practice altogether - a step which has significant economic implications for the smaller eastern nation.
Captains visiting Axos - significantly fewer than in previous months thanks almost certainly to the focus on the Dubhtraig raid - report that while the people of Kantor appear moderately enthusiastic about the move news from traders from other citadels is more subdued. Worse, the powerful Grand Ilarch Oana of the Chambers of Issyk has flat-out refused to enforce such laws on her people "regardless of Imperial promises."
Axos it seems has approached an impasse. While it is no doubt somewhat exaggerated, visitors to the Towers of Kantor say there is genuine concern that pressing the abolitionist philosophy may lead to the outbreak of a civil war - one they are not confident that Kantor will win.
- Faraden merchants continue to bring orichalcum and weltsilver to trade through the Bourse public auction.
- Due to a lack of Iridescent Gloaming in Faraden, their merchants have bought up all the spare material meaning there is none for the Bourse public auction.
- The Imperial Ambassador to Faraden is Gonzalo i Riqueza of the Brass Coast
The new roads that criss-cross the Empire continue to lure Faraden merchants, but the Lasambrian attack on Segura has created problems for caravans from the western nation. While the Lasambrian orcs are not prepared to breach the treaty between the Jotun and the Faraden, they will not allow travellers from the west to trade in the territory they have claimed. This is disrupting trade with the Empire, and is likely to get worse if the Lasambrians claim more land in the Brass Coast.
Furthermore, it seems increasingly obvious to the previously enthusiastic merchant families of Faraden that the successes of Moonwater Hall are unlikely to be replicated elsewhere in the Empire. The Faraden would like to gain access to Varushkan timber and ore, and to Dawnish luxuries, via similar enclaves in Volodmartz, and central Astolat but even the most optimistic are being forced to admit that the Empire seems to have little interest in encouraging such trade. With this fading enthusiasm goes support for expanding Imperial road networks - the merchants who had suggested further Faraden investment in Imperial infrastructure have fallen silent.
A combination of the problems with the Lasambrian Jotun and the despondency that follows their initial optimistic assessment of further trade opportunities in the Empire has lead to the merchant families cutting back on the mithril they had been bringing into the Empire (meaning that there will be none available to purchase through the Bourse public auction). Still, they are very far from giving up on the Empire altogether - they are still merchants after all. As such, the presence of so many traders in the Western Empire continues to increase the amount of orichalcum and weltsilver on the public auction.
The Iridescent Blight
The blight that has all but wiped out the production of iridescent gloaming in Faraden. Given the western nation's affection for brightly coloured dyes, this is a significant concern. According to the merchants visiting the Empire, the butterfly farmers are slowly increasing their stocks again but there is a great deal of worry that the blight may recur. Coupled with the threat of continued Lasambrian harassment, this has lead to several families buying up as much available Imperial Gloaming from the Empire as possible. As such, there will be no gloaming available to purchase on the public Bourse auction this summit.
- The port of Robec remains open to the Empire
- The Suranni are deeply concerned about Imperial smuggling
- The Suranni are unhappy about Imperial espionage
- The Imperial Ambassador to the Iron Confederacy is Lord Colwynn de Rondell of Dawn
Relations with the Iron Confederacy are tense, and appear to be slowly deteriorating. While the docks of Robec remains open to Imperial captains, they receive a chilly welcome in the southern port. They are watched constantly, and their every transaction questioned. They are required to allow Suranni templars to search their ships, and often subject to exhaustive questioning about what they are trading. Those few merchants who trade overland with the Iron Confederacy face similar delays.
This increased scrutiny is a consequence of continuing Suranni concern around Imperial liao being smuggled over the border. The Iron Confederacy has been somewhat mollified by a Senate decision to stop circulating copies of the Echoes of the Labyrinth to Suranni ports; but this has raised the question of why they have chosen not to make it illegal to sell liao to Suranni merchants.
The Suranni remain adamant that liao is being smuggled through Feroz, and that the Empire is doing nothing about it. Possession or use of liao within the borders of the nation is a serious crime - not only because it is viewed as a dangerous narcotic but apparently because it is denounced by the gods themselves. Jeane de Hibernet, the Priest of Evra the Smith, who serves as a de facto ambassador to the Empire and adviser to the southern Dukes has apparently denounced the Empire. She is angry that the Empire has not stemmed the slow trickle of liao into the Iron Confederacy, and cites the fact that the Empire has not even taken the step of making such a trade illegal as proof of their bad intentions! In her opinion - something which carries significant weight in the Iron Confederacy - by refusing to criminalise the trade of liao to their vile narcotic, the Imperial Senate is effectively sanctioning it.
Sources suggest that the Suranni are sending a small delegation north to meet with Imperial investigators to discuss their findings; the fear is that if they are not mollified then the Iron Confederacy will take matters into their own hands before the year is out.
Accusations of Espionage
Following the work of Imperial fleet captains to map the Bay of Catazar earlier in the year, the Empire prepared detailed maps of the eastern coast of the Iron Confederacy (among other things). This does not sit well with Jeane de Hibernet. Shortly before the Autumn Equinox she denounced what she described as “a concerted effort to spy along the coast of the Iron Confederacy” and demanded copies of all maps the Empire has created showing Iron Confederacy territory. Going further, she also demanded that the Empire make "suitable recompense for their invasion of Suranni sovereignty" by providing maps of any other territory they have uncovered as part of their espionage.
Before the Winter Solstice, she releases a second statement. The tone is clipped and extremely formal. She makes the outlandish claim that the Empire is attempting to "extort" the Suranni people by demanding that they pay money to the Empire when they are clearly the aggrieved party. She refuses to be blackmailed on this matter. If the Empire refuses to provide the maps, and refuses to pay a suitable recompense for their espionage, she will have no recourse but to advise the Dukes to take appropriate action of their own.
The civil service estimates that sharing the maps with the Iron Confederacy would require a senate motion, and would cost the Imperial treasury 10 Thrones. The wording of the Senate motion could determine precisely how much information the Suranni receive.
- There have been no further developments with the people of the Mountains of the Moon
Just before the Autumn Equinox, the delayed spy network in the Mountains of the Moon to the east of Zenith and Spiral was finally completed. With the aid of the Penumbral Watcher, over twenty-five Imperial captains took members of their warbands across the mountains into the depths of this unknown territory. The information about what they found there - an entire nation of humans and orcs living in apparent harmony high amidst the mountains - has now been made public knowledge.
Since then, however, there have been no further developments; the nation of Tsark remains as enigmatic as it was when it was first discovered.
Echoes of the Labyrinth
Imperial Slavery Summit
The summit was a resounding success. One of the outcomes, however, is that the Empire has agreed to enact trade sanctions against slaving nations - explicitly Jarm, Asavea, Faraden, Thule, and the Iron Confederacy. While the Imperial Senate has instructed the Civil Service to appraise the impact and methods of mitigation of these sanctions, all that can be said at this time is that there are likely to be significant implications for international trade in the coming months. Further details can be found here.
As detailed elsewhere, the Imperial Senate passed a motion making it legal for Imperial mercenaries to support either side in the ongoing conflict in Asavea. The trial of Almodin Oktístis took place in the Hub during on the last day of the Solstice; details of the outcome are not yet common knowledge.
During the summit the Ambassador to the Iron Confederacy presented a treaty to the Imperial Senate which was duly ratified. The treaty has two elements; first it shares knowledge of Suranni and Grendel territories with the Iron Confederacy; second it criminalises the trade of liao " via ports or the Suranni-Imperial border". it remains to be seen what the Suranni make of these concessions.