With a catastrophic groan, another part of the roof collapsed sending a great swirling tempest of burning embers and black smoke into the night air. Behind him, Barnaby de Tassato heard Captain Flack shouting about the need to damp down the roofs of the adjacent buildings. If they wanted to keep Mestra from being a charred heap come morning, they needed to stop the fire spreading. He'd have gone to help her, but he was currently too busy stopping the curator from running back into the building. For a frail, stick-thin old man he was surprisingly difficult to keep hold of.

"You don't understand!" shouted the old academic. "Avigliana is still in there! She hasn't come out! She's still in the building!"

Barnaby felt his blood go cold, despite the blast-furnace heat. He glanced at the conflagration, and then back to the curator, tears cutting two lines through the ash and dust that covered his face.

"She went back for the Andretti," he wept. "I told her not to but she wouldn't listen and..."

At that moment, a ragged cheer went up from the exhausted bucket line. Two smoking figures exploded out of the main doors, sheltering beneath a burning cloak. Barnaby let go of the curator who stumbled up the stairs towards them, sobbing with relief. The two women were coughing - clothes scorched, hair smouldering - and the brightly coloured coat one of them was wearing was literally on fire.

Barnaby did the only sensible thing he could think of, grabbing a bucket, and hurling a great gout of riverwater over the two survivors. It didn't quite have the effect he was expecting - it put out the fires but then one of the women turned to the other and thumped her square in the face. She went sprawling, and her attacker immediately jumped on her. They rolled down the stairs into the startled bucket chain, wrestling and punching.

The curator and the bravo were forced to pull the brawling women apart. One of them clouted Barnaby in the side of the head in the process, but he managed to keep hold of her.

"What are you doing, Avi?" asked the startled curator, his arms wrapped around the other woman, holding her back. Her eyes were blazed with a fury fit to put the inferno behind them to shame. Before she could answer, the old man did a surprised double-take as he glanced across at Barnaby's prisoner. "Wait, who is this person? They aren't staff!"

"She's one of them!" snarled Avi, "One of the people who did this. Don't... don't let her get away."

Without warning the woman smacked her head back into Barnaby's face. He struggled to keep hold of her, they tussled, and suddenly she was free. She ran toward the river. Barnaby took two steps after her and then suddenly stopped, frowning. He sat down suddenly on the bottom stair. Avigliana tried to shout for help but was overcome by a bout of coughing.

The curator however pointed one pencil-thin finger after the fleeing woman and bellowed "STOP HER!" in a voice that would have done a Mestran street trader credit. She went down under a mass of bodies, still desperately struggling to get away and shouting something about justice being served.

Sitting on the bottom stair, Barnaby touched his side and then stared stupidly at his fingers.

"I think I've been stabbed." He said to nobody in particular. "She stabbed me. Why did she stab me?"

As he slumped sideways, as one of the attending physics ran over and knelt beside him, his ears filled up with the roar and crack of the flames as they consumed the museum. Yet no matter how thunderous that roar, he could also hear the old curator, alternating between berating Avigliana for being so stupid, praising her for capturing one of the fire starters, and enquiring as to whether in all the excitement she'd managed to save the Andretti or not.
Erasmo di Tassato.png
The current Ambassador to Faraden is Erasmo di Tassato.


Click for audio version

Over the last few years relations with the Faraden, whose nation lies to the west of the Empire, have been fraught with complication and misunderstanding. A mercantile people, the Faraden have always been keen on trading with their Imperial neighbours but repeated incidents around their peculiar religion have stymied closer ties at every turn.

While many of the powerful families that control the nation respect the aid Imperial citizens have given them - such as when they helped to fight the Jotun, or to remove the effects of a terrible blight destroying their iridescent gloaming crops - there are others who harbour a terrible grudge against the Empire. The Ogudai warriors have never forgiven the Imperial Synod for damage sustained by one of their beloved scions when he experienced a true liao vision. The Tsagaan family priests swore to exact revenge against those responsible for the execution of the Honradez sisters of the Brass Coast after they converted to the blasphemous practices of vengeance. And of course the Modnos have been waging a vendetta against those they hold responsible for defaming the name of one of their great heroes, Genghis Modnos.

In the wake of the Spring Equinox, it seems that things have come to a head, and the Imperial Ambassador to Faraden (who is currently Erasmo di Tassato of the League) may have their work cut out for them.

Moonwater Hall

  • Moonwater Hall in Upwold has been abrogated by the Imperial Senate
  • The great work no longer provides benefits to the farms and businesses of Upwold
  • The Court of Five Winds requests recompense for the losses suffered by the families who helped build Moonwater Hall

During the Spring Equinox the Imperial Senate chose to abrogate Moonwater Hall in Upwold. Constructed in Summer 381YE, the hall served as a trade nexus for Faraden merchants keen to purchase Marcher food and drink, and provided a home base for them to explore trade links with the western Imperial nations. Allegedly without any word of warning, the trade hub was closed by the Empire. The Faraden merchants were very much taken by surprise - there was a great deal of unhappiness but little they could do in the face of the magistrates and Marcher militia. They requested a week to put their affairs in order, which was duly granted by the magistrate as a show of good faith. A small number of Faraden have remained in the vicinity to ensure that the returning merchants already busy in the western Empire are informed what has happened and that they are effectively no longer welcome in the Empire.

In keeping with the abrogation, most of the buildings that made up Moonwater Hall have now been torn down, leaving nowhere for the Faraden to congregate. The merchants who had been living in and trading from the Hall are not shy about expressing their unhappiness with the way they have been treated. Their Pride has been affronted. Dealing with them so summarily, rather than making any effort to discuss whatever problems it was they had with Moonwater Hall, reinforces their perception that the Empire treats the western nation with contempt.

"If the Empire was truly concerned about the fact Faraden merchants continued to follow their religion while in the Empire," opined Arban Tuvalk, the newly appointed head of the Faraden embassy in Segura, "then perhaps they should have raised these concerns at the time, or made their concerns apparent to us through diplomatic channels. That is after all what diplomatic channels are for."

Arban also brings a request from the Court of Five Winds. When Moonwater Hall was constructed, several Faraden families pooled their funds to provide 20 wains of white granite and 20 crowns toward the project. By summarily dismantling the trade hub the Empire has ruined their investment. Regardless of what the Modnos family may have done, the Imperial Senate owes the Faraden families recompense for the loss of their investment; they have asked the Ambassador to Faraden to arrange repayment in short order.

Fire in the Night

  • Spider's Vantage Spire and the Blood Red River Museum have been the target of arson attacks
  • The arsonists have been captured but are refusing to cooperate with Imperial law

Six weeks after the demolition of Moonwater Hall, there are two major incidents that are quickly traced to Faraden arsonists. In the League city of Tassato the Blood Red River Museum is badly damaged, while on the opposite side of the Empire in Redoubt, the Spider's Vantage Spire is nearly gutted by a conflagration that destroys their printing press and warehouses. There is, fortunately, no loss of life. The museum was fired during the night, and the only injuries were smoke inhalation and some burns among the patrolling guards. Likewise the attack on Spider's Vantage took place while the spiremates were sharing a large communal meal with the Faraden merchants visiting their spire. While they initially appear unrelated, it quickly becomes clear that the fires were set by members of the Modnos family as part of their ongoing vendetta against certain Imperial citizens.

After initial investigations, the magistrates arrest and charge five Faraden - two in Redoubt and three in Tassato. None of them try to deny the charges, and no attempt to conceal their identity as members of the Modnos family of Faraden. In both cases the arsonists show no remorse - indeed they seem proud of their success. One expresses a regret that they were only able to damage the Blood Red River Museum, rather than burning the entire building down. As far as they are concerned these attacks were "blessed" - retribution against people who had propagated lies against the Modnos family

In both cases significant fines are assessed against the perpetrators - fines the criminals categorically refuse to pay. Under Imperial law, when a criminal refuses to pay a fine, the magistrates escalate the punishment. In this case, it is likely the five Faraden will be executed. They seem resigned to this fate - indeed they express the belief that dying in such a fashion will speed their escape from the Howling Wastes that lie beyond life, and ensure their swift reincarnation in the next generation of their family.

They also appear to believe that dying as martyrs for the Faraden faith may inspire others to hold the Empire to account for the crimes it commits against their people. Making martyrs of the Modnos cannot help but secure support for their cause, and may lead to more reprisals against the Empire - perhaps even aimed at the magistrates. Allowing the criminals to return to Faraden without paying their fines, however, will undermine faith in Imperial law and risks sending a message to any other heretics or blasphemers connected to the malign spiritual power of Vengeance that their wicked ways are in some way acceptable.

At this time it seems inevitable that the five Modnos will be executed but the magistrates of Tassato and Redoubt are aware of the sensitive nature of the situation. Chief Magistrate Stanislav Karkovich has been approached by the local magistrates for advice, and will deliver his response after the Summer Solstice after the situation has been discussed at the forthcoming summit. Anyone wishing to discuss the matter with him will usually be able to find him at the militia tent near the hub.

OOC Note
If you are interested in collecting the bounty on Lord Colwynn's heart, please secure the assistance of a referee before undertaking this kind of player-versus-player conflict. Removing the heart would require a minute or so of appropriate roleplaying with the body. The referee will be able to provide you with a ribbon for the heart, which you should attach to a suitable phys-rep and keep in an in-character area until it is placed in an Ephisis box.

The Modnos

  • The Modnos family of Faraden are behind the fires as part of their ongoing vendetta
  • The bounty on the heads of Livia of the Celestial Cascade and Astrid Fjellrevening Rezia di Tassato has been removed
  • The bounty on the head of Lord Colwynn de Rondell has been increased

In the weeks following the arson attacks, the Modnos family of Faraden let it be known that they consider their vendetta against Livia of the Spire of Celestial Cascade and Astrid Fjellrevening Rezia di Tassato to be satisfied. They have destroyed the spire that published the offending books written by the Seer of the Gateway, and they have struck against a place they believe to be close to the heart of the Cardinal of Pride. As such the price placed on the hearts of these two Imperial citizens have been rescinded. Their anger at Colwynn de Rondell however remains undiminished. Indeed, they have let it be known that if the heart of the Dawnish lord is placed in a box and then dispatched to the City of Gold and Lead with the Ephisis' Scale ritual, the return box will contain 30 Thrones.

The Rest of Faraden

  • The Modnos have been openly criticized in Faraden for these attacks

While the Modnos and their allies may be feeling vindicated, the rest of their nation appears significantly less impressed. In particular the decision to attack the Blood Red River Museum has been criticized. Attacking a place clearly dedicated to the Pride of the League people as a way of punishing someone only peripherally connected to it is seen in many quarters as being excessive - perhaps even unvirtuous. One merchant visiting Tassato, angry at having been caught up in the investigation following the attack, expressed outrage and sorrow that the actions of the Modnos "fanatics" were making it impossible for honest Faraden merchants to trade with the Empire without constant suspicion.

Further criticism comes from an unexpected source - a number of the priest families have condemned those who supported and encouraged the Modnos - especially those of the Tsagaan family. "There are five winds," begins one particularly damning statement. "and they are each important to the life of the spirit. It seems there are some who would place Justice above the other four, and it is high time we decried these zealots!"

There has been no move to directly censure the Modnos family - not yet - but their actions have clearly fed into the unhappiness of those who believe the former Court of the Five Winds has mismanaged the Faraden relationship with the Empire.

Fire in the Museum

  • The Blood Red River Museum will not provide any benefits to congregations in Tassato until repaired
  • Repairing the museum is a commission that costs 5 wains of weirwood, 5 wains of white granite, and 50 crowns. It will take three months to complete.
  • Alternatively the museum could be rebuilt on a much grander scale at the cost of 15 wains of weirwood, 15 wains of white granite, and 150 crowns. It will take three months to complete.
  • Expanding the museum is also an option

Commissioned by Cesare Sanguineo Rezia di Tassato, paid for by the Bloody Butchers Guild of Temeschwar, this grand art museum stands on the western bank of the Vassa. Without the proximity to the river, and the quick response of the local guilds, it's likely the entire place would have been consumed. As it is fire has gutted one of the wings, and seriously damaged the beautiful friezes in the entrance hall. Several priceless works of art have been damaged or destroyed by the flames, along with historical artefacts relevant to the history of the city, the League, and the Empire itself. The curators of the museum are absolutely livid - some of the relics and artworks were centuries old and purchased at significant expense.

Repairing the museum would require a Senate motion, 5 wains of weirwood, 5 wains of white granite, and 50 Crowns for labour and replacing or repairing damaged artwork and relics. Work will take three months to complete, and until it is finished the museum will not provide the great work benefits it had been giving to congregations whose priests preached Pride.

This being the League, there is another proposal of course. For the last couple of years there have been those who argued the museum (along with several other structures overseen by la Volpe is as much a monument to the Ambition, Loyalty, and Prosperity of the League and the people of Tassato in particular. They suggest that the attack presents an opportunity to build on the foundations laid by the late Lorenzo Macelliao von Temeschwar and create something larger and more impressive that makes clear the defiance of the people of the League against any who would attack them. This would also require a Senate motion of course, requiring at total of 15 wains of weirwood, 15 wains of white granite, 150 crowns for labour and art, take three months to complete, and create the Imperial title of Curator of the Blood Red River. At the end of this time the great work would provide 20 liao and 40 votes, either spread among the Pride congregations in Tassato or else spread between all of them, regardless of which virtue they preach. It will also and provide the Curator personally with 8 liao and 16 votes in the Synod. The new structure, incidentally, would also count as a suitable structure for the Chair of the Wolf challenge.

There is no requirement to repair the wrecked building, of course. Real estate is very much in demand in Tassato however, and if the motion has not been passed by the end of the Autumn Equinox 384YE, the building will likely have been claimed by other interests and this opportunity to repair or expand it will have been lost.

Burning Books

  • The damage to Spider's Vantage prevents widespread dissemination of the Echoes of the Labyrinth

Spider's Vantage is a spire in Redoubt concerned with writing and publishing books. The fire took place while most of the inhabitants were at a large communal meal with a group of visiting Faraden merchants - a caravan from Moonwater Hall that had endured the long journey to the south-eastern corner of the Empire in search of magical goods, fine silks, and iridescent gloaming. They were visiting Spider's Vantage with an eye towards securing "exotic" Imperial writings to sell to collectors back in Faraden. It seems that most of the merchants involved were as oblivious to the arsonist's plan as their hosts - indeed several of them sustained serious burns helping the Urizen to fight the flames. When the truth came out - that the Modnos agents had used their journey to Urizen to provide cover for their attack - most appeared genuinely horrified.

The damage to the printing press and the warehouses at Spider's Vantage Spire has brought the publication of Echoes of the Labyrinth to a grinding halt. Currently the Imperial Senate pays 10 Thrones each season to allow the torchbearers of Spider's Vantage to publish and distribute these volumes detailing the past life visions of Imperial citizens not only across the Empire but throughout the known world. Without their presses, the torchbearers are unable to keep up their obligation to do so.

Securing a new press, and repairing the damage to the spire, their work area, and their storage houses will take time and money. The torchbearers are not asking for hand-outs - their understanding of Prosperity means they intend to deal with the situation themselves. They will be able to continue printing small numbers of the books, but regretfully predict it will be some six months before they are able to start widespread production again.

The Senate has several opportunities. They could continue to support Spider's Vantage; the money assigned to disseminate the volumes will be used to provide additional security and resources for the repairs. They could further amend their previous motion to Disseminate True Liao visions, charging the civil service with negotiating with the printing houses of Tassato and Sarvos to do the work. The cost to the treasury would not change, it would be much harder for anyone to interfere with the publication, and it would mean that publication and dissemination of Echoes of the Labyrinth would continue uninterrupted.

Obviously they might also abrogate their earlier motion and stop paying for the dissemination of the Echoes of the Labyrinth. The Seer of the Gateway could continue to produce their own volumes, but they would no longer be spread through the Empire or to foreign nations.

Change Comes Suddenly

  • A month before the Summer Solstice the government of Faraden is replaced in a coup

Few can really say they saw the coup coming. Three weeks before the Summer Solstice, the Lady of the Five Winds was challenged and deposed by the Ganbatar merchant family. The head of the family - Tchinua Ganbatar - has taken the Seat of Five Winds. They have eschewed both the titles of Lord and Lady, and chosen the less commonly used title of Liege of the Five Winds. It's too soon to say exactly what this change in the Court portends for the Empire. There is some information available to the Empire. The newly appointed Faraden ambassador to the Empire - Arban Tuvalk - has arrived at the embassy in Segura with letters from the new Liege. It seems Lady Saretta of the Red Moon has been replaced as the primary diplomatic advisor to the Court of the Five Winds by Mistress Singua Karadragha. She intends to send a diplomatic envoy to the Empire during the Autumn Equinox empowered to negotiate on behalf of the Court of Five Winds to properly discuss the Liberty Pact, the cessation of sanctions against Faraden merchants, and Imperial attitudes to the religious beliefs of Faraden visiting the Empire.

By all accounts the coup was almost entirely bloodless, and backed by a significant majority of families - including the influential Tuvalk, Karadragha, and Gantulga. Repeated failures of the Court of the Five Winds to resolve the diplomatic situation with the Empire were cited by supporters of the coup, with the final straws being the loss of Moonwater Hall and the reckless actions of the Modnos. The main opposition has come from the anti-Imperial faction led by the Ogudai, the Tsagaan, and the Modnos. Through a combination of intrigue, diplomacy, and outright bribes it seems their wider support has been scythed away leaving the families with little choice but to tow the line the new Liege of the Five Winds has laid down. The Ogudai in particular have suffered considerable loss of status - skewered by Liege Ganbatar for their ill-considered vendetta against a nation that has shown willingness to support the Faraden military against the Jotun and Lasambrian orcs in the past.

It appears the Ganbatar coup has been successful in part due to the support of a number of Faraden's priestly families. While the Imperial Synod arguably focuses much of its attention on the blasphemy of Justice, or the heresy of denying Vigilance, Wisdom, and Ambition, it is easy to forget that there is a great deal more to the Faraden religion than this. It seems that some of the priestly families have taken a similar stance - chastising families such as the Tsagaan for focusing overmuch on a single aspect of the faith. While Faraden are encouraged to seek justice, they are also encouraged to be proud, courageous, loyal, and prosperous. There is apparently anger among many Faraden priests that so many Faraden missionaries have emphasised a single aspect of the faith over all others, and in doing so arguably undercut the prosperous and the proud citizens of the nation in pursuit of some ideologically motivated desire to "convert" the Empire. "We do not want their priests to come here and tell us we are wrong," the head of the Entalamanta family is reported to have said. "Why should we imagine they would welcome us going to their Empire and telling them they are wrong?"

Game Information

We've updated the "contact details" for the Ambassador to Faraden so that winged messengers can be sent to Mistress Singua. The Ambassador's briefing may contain more up-to-date information about the situation at the Court of Five Winds.

Further Reading