The two heralds - one bat-furred, the other with the aspect of a serpent about them - looked gloomily at the letter.

"It's not going to make him any happier," said one, twitching its long ears.

"It's a very nice letter..." The other trailed off. They both looked instinctively toward the window, then back at the missive.

"Yes, but... it was the whole Whistling Strand, you know?" The bat-herald shrugged. "You can see why he's pissed off."

They looked out of the window again. The forest beyond was lashed by rain. Curtains and curtains of heavy, steady, unremitting, gloom-inducing rain. It was probably an improvement over the roaring gales, the prismatic lightning, and the thunderous swearing. Or possibly not. Their boss was much more unpredictable when he went quiet like this after an outburst.

"But one of us has to give it to him! It's the rules!" A sly expression came over the face of the scaled herald. "Maybe we should decide with a game of lizard-" they began.

"Basgynotit!" interrupted the other herald quickly.

"Oh, blow you," muttered the first herald. "Fine! I'l do it! But if he eats me it's your fault, and I hope you feel bad!"
Begins where it ends.jpg
The creatures of the realms come in an unimaginable range of sizes, shapes, and temperaments, and the archmages must be ready to deal with all of their myriad strangeness.
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  • Six eternals responded to plenipotentiary messages from the Imperial archmages.
  • Three have offered parley; one has responded with a series of offers to Imperial citizens; two others have declined a meeting; and a seventh has asked for a parley without a plenipotentiary

The six Imperial archmages are each empowered to send a plenipotentiary message to a single eternal of their realm each season. The eternals are bound to respond to their communication, although very rarely another entity from that realm will speak on their behalf. Their response might involve a formal parley or a private meeting with the Archmage; they might respond directly to the message; or they might decline to meet for some reason.

During the Autumn Equinox, each archmage dispatched a plenipotentiary and as the Winter Solstice approaches, six eternals send messengers to deliver their replies, and a seventh requests a parley of their own.

Cathan Canae

  • Cathan Canae will send one of her castellans to the Hall of Worlds on Saturday at 14:00
  • The meeting will be a formal parley

Volstann, Eater of Boars, is no stranger to Anvil. A boisterous, bellowing herald of the Queen of Ice and Darkness, he arrives at the Imperial Regio in a flurry of early snow midway between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice, with a message for the Empire. His mistress offers parley to the Archmage of Summer, but will not attend herself. Rather she sends one of her trusted Castellans in her place; a lieutenant who commands one of the great citadels that guard her frozen realm. They will attend the Hall of Worlds at XX on Saturday afternoon.

There may be some discussion about the Barrens, and the question of giving up territory to conquered orcs, but Volstann is of the opinion the matter is reasonably settled especially given recent developments. The matter of the Eaves of Peytaht and the Great Forest Orcs is not one that needs further debate. The Spears of the Pines conquered their homeland with the aid of the Navarr. Not recognising their claim to the land in this case, especially given the words of the Senate, is more likely to anger the Lady of Snow and Steel. The Lady of the Iron Glacier is frustrated that the Empire cedes its territory to enemies, who she feels they ought to be fighting tooth-and-nail to prevent claiming even an inch of their lands. The Immovable One approves of the Empire giving land as rewards to vassals and others who fight for them, what she cannot abide is giving up land to placate your enemies.

OOC Note
The presentation by the generals will be an explicitly PvP scenario. Only one general will receive Cathan Canae's boon and it may be difficult to use that boon in a way that benefits others. The criteria for "winning" the contest may not be clear, and it is possible nobody will receive the boon.

The castellan will also meet with the generals the Archmage wishes to commend, who will speak of their strategies and experiences in the conquests of Ossium, Sermersuaq, and Zenith. Specifically, Asenath of Felix's Watch, Nicassia of Phoenix Reach, and Iron Osric. Depending on how they (or their proxies) acquit themselves, the castellan is empowered to grant one of the three a boon from the Unbreakable One - the power to call the Fist of the Black Glacier into the mortal realm. Given the archmage is inquiring about the bastion of ice that seems to be a suitable recognition of the Empire's recent triumphs. Volstann mentions that the Empire's Thule allies have already received a similar boon for their part in the wars against the Jotun and the hated Druj.

Volstann suggests that his mistress has already aided the Empire against Oblivion, both by sending her warriors to fight in Dawn, and through provision of her citadels. "Either the Empire will weather the storm it has called down on itself, or it will be blown away." Cathan Canae is however impressed with the victories of the Winterfolk in Kallavesa and Hahnmark, using the beacons they built there. As such she intends to offer another boon, the power to call on her aid to support the beacons. She asks that the Archmage locate two warriors from Wintermark, one who led their warband to fight Cold Sun at the beacons in each territory. They will receive her gift from the castellan.

When it comes to the Forest of Arden and the Unicorn Prince, Volstann confesses to be nonplussed as to why the Archmage is asking Cathan Canae about the matter. Things are as they always are. Jaheris continues to rule his shadowy and unicorn-haunted demesne from atop his silver tower; he continues to bedevil and oppose his rival Eleonaris at every turn; and as he ever does, he seeks to entangle both the rulers of the Summer realm and magicians of the mortal realm in his many schemes to bring low his enemies and secure his own majesty. Cathan Canae welcomes a rival to her own rival, but keeps him at arms' length because he is "a slippery little shit" - or so the voluble herald claims.

There are a few other topics the Archmage mentions that are of no interest to the castellan, and which Cathan Canae declines to address at this time. There will be no talk of building castles faster or stronger - the Empire has more than demonstrated its ability to do so without eternal aid. There will be no discussion of calling icebergs to fight the Grendel - the Empire is either strong enough to face their tide of steel or it is not.


  • Zakalwe declines a parley with the Archmage of Day

The familiar figure of Agon, herald of Zakalwe, emerges from the Imperial Regio shortly after the Autumn Equinox. Normally, Agon comes alone, but this time the messenger is accompanied by a pair of myrmidons - the insect-like soldiers in crystal armour serving as protectors and honour-guard. As always Agon is polite and friendly, if a little distant, and bears a response from the General of Day to the Archmage of Day. The Tidehunter declines parley this coming Winter. His emissaries will continue to assist Imperial heroes to protect the citizens from the terrible power of Cold Sun where he can. He will also continue to observe the Empire's strategy in dealing with the threat, and if an opportunity arises to offer appropriate aid then he will take it.

For example, he has listened to the Archmage's request and encouraged his Polemarch in Skallahn, who marches with the Bloodcloaks in helping provide an opportunity to head off a future threat. The Master of Weapons hopes the Archmage will be able to facilitate a meeting during the Spring Equinox between Agon and the Imperial Seer to discuss the challenges presented by this opportunity, by fighting the Jotun generally, and perhaps even touch on the strategic decisions that lead to the invasion of Skallahn at this particular time.



The emissary who emerges from the Imperial Regio a few weeks before the Winter Solstice is a minotaur in brazen armour beneath a finely tailored robe the colour of old lead. At her hip are delicately balanced hatchets, and a serrated battle-axe. An agent of the Braided Rope Coster, she proceeds with confidence to the Hub, and delivers a message from the City of Gold and Lead in response to the Archmage of Autumn.

The city has no interest in damaging the economy of the Grendel. If the Archmage wished to keep trade links open with the Grendel they could have maintained the peace. The City of Gold and Lead will not favour one side over the other either in the war, or in future trade. The bluff minotaur smirks a little as she suggests that the two are not actually all that dissimilar; the only real difference is how many people die.

On Thievery
That said, the City of Gold and Lead despises the use of force to take wealth from others - a point of contention with their allies among the Grendel. Yet the Grendel are not alone in the use of force to take wealth from their enemies - the Empire is just as willing to do so when it suits it. Why, then, should the City take a side? The Red Wind Corsairs have never been shy about seizing wealth on campaign, and neither have the Wolves of War, and neither have the heroes of the Empire when it suits their purpose. If the Empire is prepared to forswear the practice of looting and destroying the wealth of the Grendel, at least for the duration of the conflict, then the City of Gold and Lead will use all their influence with the Grendel to ensure they do likewise after the Winter Solstice. Such an agreement wouldn't be enough to halt raids already underway, but it would ensure that there were no more in the future.

To achieve this would require the Senate to pass a law making it illegal to rob or destroy the property of the Grendel. This would make it illegal for an army to take the Daring Raid or Plunder orders, it would ban privateering in the Bay of Catazar, and it would mean there would be no opportunities to steal Grendel resources, or destroy elements of their economic infrastructure such as mithril mines. If that happens, Ephisis will convince the Grendel to do the same. Both sides would be free to benefit from captured lands and resources - it would be perfectly fine to extract mithril from a captured mithril mine - but not in a way that damaged the future potential of the resource.

Ephisis' suggestion would not prevent anyone conquering things. That is after all the point of warfare, from some perspectives. The Grendel could invade Sarvos, or the Empire could drive them out of Oran. What they would be prevented from doing is burning the city down or carrying away its art treasures. The Grendel could still launch a daring attack, like the recent conquest of Siroc, but they could not loot the city nor raze it as they have just done. It wouldn't prevent the Grendel from enslaving people in regions they had conquered but more importantly, it also wouldn't prevent the Empire from freeing slaves in regions they had conquered.

There would be no feasible way to prevent battlefield looting, but taking the boots of a fallen foe - while distasteful - is not what concerns the City of Gold and Lead. Although, there is no reason the Senate could not make such behaviour a crime if they wished - and the City of Gold and Lead would appreciate it if they did.

Regardless, anyone interested in pursuing this possibility and drafting a law should probably seek the advice of the magistrates at Anvil.

If the Autumn Archmage is interested in the business of war, the herald proposes that during the Winter Solstice they use their plenipotentiary power to request that the City of Fire and Stone make tools of war available to them. If they specifically mention in their missive that they have asked the City of Gold and Lead to serve as intermediaries, then the herald is confident that between them the two cities could provide access to significant amounts of enchanted weapons and armour for those directly fighting the Empire's enemies, boons to aid their warriors on the battlefield, and potentially valuable adjuncts to their war machine. She refuses to be drawn as to whether the Grendel Wind Lords have already made such a request of the Autumn Realm.

Ogila's Tower
Finally there is the matter of Ogila's Tower. Built by the Runesmith Ogila more than a century ago, the tower stands on the Street of Runes in Kalpaheim. It has been locked and sealed since Ogila's death, but the City of Gold and Lead holds both the keys and the deeds to the property. Indeed, they offered them to the Empire two years ago - and were clear that that offer would be available only for a year. The tower itself is incomplete; it requires a set of mithril doors built to exacting specifications by the artisans of the City of Gold and Lead. Without them, it is just a tower, albeit one that stands on the site of a minor regio. If Kingfisher merely wishes to occupy the tower, then they may have the keys and the legal documents involved for a single payment of 5 thrones. The regio would however remain closed but its ideal position on the Street of Runes would be a boon to any runesmith wishing to sell their services to the people of Kalpaheim. (OOC Note: It would represent a business with two upgrades and two diversifications. Each season the owner would receive 9 crowns and 4 ingots of random mine materials. It would follow all the rules for a personal resource, including the ability to be exchanged with someone else. There would be no additional particular opportunities although it would be a suitable location for a fane should the owner consent to giving the resource up).

Open Ogila's Tower
Commission Type: Ministry
Location: Ogila's Tower, Street of Runes, Kalpaheim
Cost: 24 wains of mithril, 72 crowns, three months
Effect: Creates the position of Merchant of the Street of Runes who is able to purchase magic items from the City of Gold and Lead
Time Limit: If the opening of Ogila's Tower is not commissioned by the end of the Winter Solstice 385YE the opportunity is lost
Opportunity: This commission has required elements; if any are not all fulfilled the commission does nothing
Merchant of the Street of Runes
Title: Either Imperial position or Wintermark national position
Appointment: Either by Imperial Auction or Tally of the Votes
Powers: Control of multiple connected ministries allowing purchase of magic items that support heroes and champions; a parchment allowing limited communication with the Braided Rope Coster
Responsibilities: Oversee Ogila's Tower, liase with the Braided Rope Coster
Restriction: If the Conclave declared enmity against Ephisis, the title loses access to the ministries
Opportunity: This title has required elements; if any are not all fulfilled the title does not gain some or all of its powers

Alternatively, the Braided Rope Coster offers to arrange the mithril doors in return for 24 wains of mithril, paid as part of the commission required to transform the tower. This would require a commission from the Imperial Senate, or an Imperial title with the ability to create a ministry, take three months to complete, and require 72 crowns in additional labour costs. Once complete it would create a new Imperial title; Merchant of the Street of Runes. The Coster require that the title be appointed not by the Imperial Conclave, but by the Imperial Bourse. It could be auctioned as an Imperial title, or declared a National title in Wintermark (the Coster presumes that whoever wins the approval of the captains of Wintermark will be able to turn a profit by doing so).

The title would have possession of the tower, and serve as a liaison with the Braided Rope Coster should such be required. They would also host merchants from the City of Gold and Lead who would bring fine quality tools of war for sale each season, crafted in the various cities of the Autumn realm. The nature of the initial trades would be agreed once the Merchant is appointed. The Braided Rope Coster would provide the Merchant with a piece of parchment each season that might be used to request specific kinds of magic items be made available; the Coster would scour the Autumn Realm and the mortal realm to find suitable items to offer for sale.

Time is pressing; the Empire has until the end of the Winter Solstice to consider these offers.


  • Surut has agreed to a parley with the Winter Archmage
  • The parley will take place at 23.30 on Friday evening

Prince Surut, Raging Fire of Winter, whose spear cleaves through stone, metal and flesh without pause, sends a messenger to Anvil less than a week before the Winter Solstice. Clad in rusted and ruined chain, wherever the lone knight treads their boots char and sear the ground. They waste no time visiting the Hub to deliver the Ashen Knight's response to the Archmage of Winter's plenipotentiary.

Now that they seem to have gained a measure of humility, Surut is minded to engage in parley with the Archmage. Their Unending Onslaught is a thing of beauty in the eyes of the Broken One, worthy of recognition. Let the Archmage come with three of their entourage to the Hall of Worlds at 23:30 on Friday evening, and from there travel to meet with Surut in his encampment in the hinterlands between the Wasteland and the mortal realm. The Ashen Knight gives his word that none will be harmed, save that they ask it of him.

There are two matters, however, on which the Archmage is likely to be disappointed. Surut has no interest in removing his aid from the Druj. Even if the Archmage is correct, and their nation is on the verge of collapse, what does it matter to the Ashen Knight? When people are desperate, they grasp for any help they can find, and Surut finds that desperation pleasing. If the Druj are destroyed, then Surut will be there to feast on their fall, as it should be. If the Conclave chooses to place Surut under enmity as a consequence then so be it - the Prince has more than enough fury to go around. Would the Empire expect Tharim to stop aiding the Empire just because the Druj asked him to?

Likewise, what are the Grendel to Surut? Let the Archmage build a pyre of bodies and ships if they can, and then the Ashen Knight may be interested. But be warned that it will have to be a grand conflagration indeed to outmatch that inferno of bitterness which the orcs of the Broken Shore and their allies have created in Madruga.


  • Sadogua declines parley with the Empire

For the first time in a very long time - perhaps for the first time in the history of the Empire - the Brother of Wizards declines an invitation to parley with Imperial magicians. The single messenger, a stooped creature with bat-like features covered in russet fur - is almost apologetic when they deliver their message for the Archmage of Night. Reading between the lines, Sadogua is very angry indeed about something that happened during the Autumn Equinox. Specifically, the use of ritual magic to "steal" something called the "Whistling Strand", transporting it permanently to Varushka. The bat-herald explains that the strand was a part of Sadogua's demesne before the "thieves" stole it, and that the Globberslotch is quite put out that nobody waited for him to agree. While both Elyssiathian and Brat Umbral-Path have tried to address the sheer rudeness of the Circle of Zulgan-Tash, the Globbersnotch is unmoved. "It was an impressive use of magic," the herald says. "But that doesn't prevent it being a very rude one."

Sadogua is apparently not angry - or rather not just angry - but also hurt. In the last few years alone he has aided Imperial magicians to fight the Druj, used not one but both irreplaceable magical boons to move things around in Urizen, helped evacuate magicians from all over the Iron Confederacy, tirelessly served as confidant and advisor to magicians all over the Empire, crafted magical tools to inspire and empower Imperial wizards... and apparently all of that is not enough and now the Empire has taken even more. Taken a portion of his realm because they could not be bothered to wait for permission.

It would be easy, says the herald, gulping a little, for Sadogua to over-react. He has the amity of the Imperial Conclave after all. It would be comparatively straightforward for him to just take something of equal value from the Empire to replace what has been stolen. A cloud of bats to claim a League city and the people in it, perhaps. A swirling mist to enshroud a castle or two and bear them away to the Forests of the Night. Trap the Castle of Thorns in the sands of an hourglass and use it to plug the metaphorical hole both in his realm and in his broken heart...

But he's not intending to be so precipitous - not now his temper has cooled a little at any rate. Instead, he has three suggestions as to what the Empire might do to make it up to him.

The first is to cede him the island of the Lyceum, in perpetuity. He will claim the island and it will be his to do with as he wishes. He'll wrap the island in mists, and decide whether he wants to take it wholesale to his realm or leave it as a refuge for wizards. He is aware that there is a potential issue with this as the island is claimed by the Grendel but he is also aware that there is an opportunity to reach the island and use the regio there to perform rituals. He has indicated a suitable ritual that would give him the island (this will be covered in the Winds of War).

Given that the transgression was performed by Varushkans, the second proposal is that he would accept the concedence of the Icy Crag of the Eternal Sun by the Imperial Senate. This would end the patronage of Jaheris, and Sadogua and his allies would transform the place into a school for the study of Night magic. Imperial magicians will be welcome to attend, but it will be for the Father of Bats to determine who will direct the study there.

Alternatively, the Empire could finally recognise the obvious truth that the Brother of Wizards is an exemplar of Prosperity. The judgement of recognition could be used to agree that his willingness to share his power with his friends - with those who need it - and to put himself out for his allies is as inspirational as any act performed by a mortal exemplar.

There may be other acts of similar significance that will address the injury done to the friendship between the Toad King and the Empire. To be clear, though, this will not resolve the problem of the theft only address the incredible rudeness of it, the way that Imperial wizards have taken their staunch friend for granted. Once some significant reparation has been paid, then there will be time for a negotiation as to suitable recompense for the lands that have been so "cruelly ripped away" from the Black Sloth's domain. And rest assured the price is likely to be higher than it would have been had the magicians involved asked in advance.

Until there is some obvious show of contrition, Sadogua will continue to answer his mail. But he will offer no more aid to the Empire or its magicians. All previous arrangements will be on hold until the situation is resolved; there will be no further opportunities for magicians to gain boons from him or have those boons' power extended for example. He'll continue to speak to his friends, but that's all.

The Azoth

  • The Azoth, an eternal of the Night realm, has requested a parley with the Archmage of Night
  • The meeting will take place at Midnight on the Friday of the Winter Solstice

Two nights after the emissary from the Brother of Wizards visits Anvil, a different herald of the Night realm appears from the Imperial Regio. It has the form of a tall, lithe orc with scales and feathers across its brow. This herald introduces itself as Fulminate, and announces to the civil service that, following a call to arms issued by the Rod and Shield, its master The Azoth would like to request parley with the Archmage of Night.

Fulminate declares that the Crucible despises the scions of Cold Sun; they are enemies of all things which change and learn and adapt. The Azoth intends to offer boons to the mages and especially the battle-mages of The Empire to assist in the struggle against Oblivion.

For their first boon, the Rebis offers to support Imperial magicians prepared to move the trees themselves to resist the scions. In exchange for a declaration of Amity, the Crucible will ensure that it is possible to cast Conclave of Trees and Shadow in such a way that it will call forth shadow warriors specifically adapted to fighting heralds, rather than the general "grab bag" of spirits the ritual usually calls. For the next year anyone casting Conclave of Trees and Shadow may include as part of the casting one measure of forest material (ambergelt, dragonbone, iridescent gloaming or beggar's lye) for each forest targeted by the ritual. The performance of the ritual must involve an invocation of Azoth. As long as Azoth receives amity before the end of the summit, anyone who has been targeted by such a casting will benefit from Azoth's aid. (OOC Note: The resulting military unit will have a 5 rank bonus not to Independent action, but to support any Imperial army or fortification that is engaged against the forces of Cold Sun.)

Furthermore, the Azoth has many smaller boons to offer and as such, requests that the Archmage bring with them the Grandmaster of the Rod and Shield, the Warmage, and the Imperial Warcaster. As such, the Azoth asks for a parley to take place at midnight on the Friday of the summit. A herald will greet the attendees in the Hall of Worlds and lead them to the chamber. Whilst Fulminate is not forthcoming about the nature of these additional boons, it does say that in order to receive one such - an alchemical concoction invented by the Crucible - the collective attendees will need to provide the raw materials. Specifically, forty-five measures of ambergelt, ten measures of dragonbone and five measures of weltsilver, as well as fifteen mana crystals.

Irra Harah

  • Irra Harah accepts the offer of parley from the Spring Archmage
  • The parley will take place at 23:00 on Saturday evening

As the Winter Solstice draws closer, there is some speculation that the Spring Archmage has not submitted a plenipotentiary. The day before the summit begins in earnest, however, a short, agile herald with long rabbit-like ears visits the Hub. Nobody saw them arrive, and when their business is done, they are gone in a flash too fast to follow. They bear a message from the Prince with a Thousand Foes.

The Prince will meet with the Spring Archmage at 11pm on Saturday evening. They may bring two others with them - provided they are not folk with Imperial titles. Should anyone with an Imperial title attend, there will be no parley. Likewise, no Varushkan should be brought. Again, if the Archmage attempts to do so there will be no parley.

The only topic under discussion will be the events that took place in the Barrens while Irra Harrah was distracted helping the Freeborn at Madruga. Given what has happened to his friends at Dourfell Keep, to the Black Wind, and to the Vendarri, does the Archmage really believe there can ever be friendship between Shackle Smasher and the Empire? It seems that if the Archmage truly wishes to "save those trapped in slavery or extermination" their first targets will need to be the Senate and the Military Council.


These meetings are taking place in a number of places; in chambers reached via the Hall of Worlds. The times, and the eternals involved, are summarized here.

Day Time Eternal Realm Note
Friday 23:30 Surut Winter Parley; Chamber reached via the Hall of Worlds
Friday 00:00 Azoth Night Parley; Chamber reached via the Hall of Worlds
Saturday 14:00 Cathan Canae Summer Parley; to take place in the Hall of Worlds
Saturday 23:00 Irra Harah Spring Parley; Chamber reached via the Hall of Worlds