Between the lines of ages
Imagine it, surrounded by darkness. Imagine a bridge, such a narrow bridge with no railings. The bridge is wide enough to walk single file only. Look closer; there is a figure moving along it. Figures.
One is hunched over, wrapped in tattered cloth, garlanded with chains. Its face is hidden beneath a mask of iron. In one hand it holds a length of chain. The other hangs low, dragging its metal claws along the metal of the bridge with a terrible grinding noise that raises sparks.
The chain it holds is wrapped around the wrists of a weeping man. He cries silently, stumbling along behind his captor. He looks longingly into the abyss beneath the bridge but knows that, even if he had the courage to jump, his captor would not release him. The creature would not even break stride - it would keep dragging him toward the prison that will be his home until the stars flicker and grow dim. Or until his jailers decide he has served his sentence and free him - but that has never happened in all the long ages of the world.
Slip away, then, from the captive and his captor. Dive into the green iron citadel itself. Fly fast as the wind down a dozen identical cramped passageways past uncountable barred doors. The sound is almost deafening; of chains and locks and the gentle weeping of those who still have tears. There are burning lamps, each with a single dancing flame the colour of dying embers and the loss of hope, that do little more than outline the darkness.
Someone - something - walks quickly down the corridor ahead. As your vision reaches them, they turn a corner in a direction no mortal could perceive much less travel. Another corridor. Another. And then, suddenly, a great hall. A hall so great you could stand Capodomus Cathedral on its spires and still reach only halfway from the floor to the ceiling. Metal gantries cross their arrangement hinting at a certain mathematical precision that nonetheless makes no sense.
Fires float in the darkness between them. Some green, some red, some deep amber. A very few are deepest blue. One flickers purple and amythest. They drift, come together, separate apart again and continue drifting. There is a pattern here, if you could just watch it for long enough you might be able to see it.
The figure walks patiently forward, toward the centre of the immense hall, crossing it in far-too-quick a time. Two other figures turn their hooded faces to greet it. They stand in silence, simply staring at each other. There is no need to speak.
From somewhere high above, a leaden toll sounds. Once.
A moment later, a piece of parchment flutters down between the three figures and lands gently on the floor. None of the three kneel to pick it up; they don't need to see it to read it. They simply stare at it, again in silence, for several minutes more.
Then one of them - it is impossible to tell if it is the one you were following - simply turns and walks away, heading toward another place. One of the two that remains behind produces a piece of metal from within their robe, and begins to score a message into it with one razor-sharp iron claw.The third watches both of them, without turning its head, just as it watches a dozen other figures in other parts of the green iron citadel. It nods its head once, with grim satisfaction, and then glides away through the ramrod-straight corridors that nonetheless twist and turn around each other like knotted ropes.
- Irra Harah, the Lictors, Rhianos, Sinokenon, Skathe, and Sadogua, have all responded to plenipotentiary messages from the Imperial archmages.
- All have agreed to meetings of one kind of another, either in person or via their emissaries.
Each season, the six archmages may each send a single plenipotentiary message to an eternal of their realm. The eternals are bound to respond, although not always in the way that the archmage wishes. Following the Spring Equinox, six eternals have responded to messages from the archmages.
Some have agreed to a formal parley, others have proposed different arrangements.
Those eternals who have agreed to meetings have specified the topics that will be discussed, and will most likely refuse to talk about other topics.
- Irra Harah has agreed to a parley at eight o'clock on Friday evening
- The Archmage of Spring is currently Ser Fabienne De Miel of Dawn
The Prince of a Thousand Foes is one of the few Spring eternals not to be considered an enemy of the Empire; indeed it is the only Spring eternal to enjoy amity. That said, the nature of that amity appears quite conditional. Regardless, it cannot be denied that the friends of Papa Otec have helped the Empire in recent months. It was Irra Harah who helped free the prisoners of the Druj in the Barrens, as well as helping to find the lost orcs liberated from Dubhtraig and bring them to new homes in Skarsind.
The last time the Spring Archmage parleyed with the Breaker of Chains was as recent as the Winter Solstice. As such it is perhaps a surprise that the eternal agrees to a second parley. This time, Irra Harah will send a herald to the Hall of Worlds to speak to the Archmage at eight o'clock in the evening on the first day of the Summer Solstice. If Ser Fabienne is sincere in their desire to discuss the future relationship between Irra Harah and the Empire, the least the Enemy of the Cruel can do is listen to what they have to say.
- Sinokenon has agreed to a parley in the Hall of Worlds at ten o'clock on Friday during the coming summit.
- The current Archmage of Day is Skywise Gralka of the Imperial Orcs.
Precisely halfway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice, a glowing ball of light appeared from the Imperial regio as the sun was setting. The light drifted through Anvil, arriving eventually at the Hub. Once there, it spoke with cultured, polite tones and confirmed that the the Turning Mirror had received an invitation from the Archmage of Day to attend a parley.
To be clear, says the ball of light, nothing has materially changed since last time the archmage sought a parley from Sinokenon. The Wheel of Light sees no way that they are prepared to assist the Empire to deal with its external problems, and sees little evidence the Empire has resolved the many, many internal problems that besiege it. The Throne of the Sun does not believe anything will be achieved by speaking to the Empire again. On the other hand, the archmage says that they have gone to the effort of gathering some of the cardinals of the Imperial Synod to speak to Sinokenon and it would be impolite to refuse.
As such, Sinokenon will send one of its favoured mandarins to the Hall of Worlds at ten o clock on Friday night during the coming summit. There the mandarin will listen to what the archmage and their ecclesiastical guests have to say, and perhaps offer the insight of the Day realm.
- The Lictors will send an emissary to the Hall of Worlds at eleven o'clock on Friday night.
- The Autumn archmage is currently Edmundo of Damakan's Forge of Urizen
The Autumn archmage has requested parley with the Lictors. The Lictors remain an unknown quantity to the Empire. Precisely seven days, seven hours, and seven minutes after the end of the Spring Equinox a single paper-thin square of green iron was delivered to the civil service by a heavily cloaked and masked figure with brazen claws. Engraved on the square was a straightforward message: "We accept the invitation of the Archmage. Formal parley will take place at eleven on the first night of the Summer Solstice. There will be three questions asked, and three answers given."
The Keepers of the Green Iron Prison rarely meet directly with mortals - a formal request of plenipotentiary from an Archmage is one of the few reliable ways of getting their undivided attention. There is some speculation about what the three questions the Archmage has arranged to ask will be.
As with other formal parleys, anyone may attend but it is at the discretion of the Autumn archmage who may speak. During the last such parley in the time of Maurice De Gauvain a single out-of-turn statement brought the parley to an immediate end.
- The Regent of the Eternal Sea will send heralds to the Hall of Worlds at two o'clock on Saturday afternoon to hear tales of adventure.
- The current Archmage of Summer is Brother Luke of the Shattered Tower, of Highguard.
Queen Rhianos, Regent of the Eternal Sea, has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Empire in recent years. She has helped to nudge Imperial citizens onto courses of action she believes will lead them to wild adventures - culminating most recently in assisting the Empire in securing the opportunity to attack the Grendel stronghold of Beoraidh. Not long before the Summer Solstice, a towering blue creature dressed in the manner of a Freeborn corsair appears at Anvil. Flamboyant and boisterous, the herald announces in the busy marketplace that the Door to Adventure has received an invitation to parley with the Summer Archmage.
Brother Luke has apparently promised tales of adventure, risk, reckless heroism, and excitement related to - but not restricted to - the Empire's recent ventures against the Grendel. The Regent of the Eternal Sea is keen to hear such stories, and will dispatch their heralds to the Hall of Worlds at two o'clock on Saturday during the Summit to hear them. They presume that Brother Luke can ensure that anyone with a tale of derring do and adventure to relate will be able to make it to the meeting, and that the rules of parley will mean that each storyteller will be uninterrupted as they tell their tales.
There'll no doubt be time after the tale telling to talk about whatever it is the Empire wants, and the herald will take that information back to the Regent to consider.
- The Brother of Wizards will be attending the Hall of Worlds at half past eight on Saturday evening.
- A secondary invitation has gone out to certain individuals for a special meeting at nine o'clock.
- The current Archmage of Night is Elyssiathain of Urizen.
Sadogua is by all accounts not in the best of moods. One of his heralds - a grinning lunatic with a wide smile and empty white eyes - turns up shortly after the Spring Equinox and lets the civil service know that despite this the Black Sloth has heard the invitation to parley from the Archmage of Night and intends to drag his bloated carcass down to the Hall of Worlds on Saturday evening at half past eight, hopefully just after Conclave has concluded. It's just possible, the herald cheerfully admits, that he will end up turning up in the middle of Conclave. If this happens, he'll lurk on the edges as quietly as possible until the magicians are done. Or he'll just go away again. Whichever.
The source of the Globbersnotch's gloomy mood is apparently the recent death of his long-term friend Richard of Holberg, the magical architect. The herald suggests that the big lump may need careful handling - he is unlikely to be his usual jolly self and anyone wanting to approach him about boons will need to do so with additional care.
The Father of Bats is however extremely keen to collect together a specific group of people for a certain task. He requests that the Night archmage assist him in gathering them together. The specific people he is looking to meet with are:
- Brat Umbral Path
- Eliza of the Guild of Ash and Embers
- Sovica of Varushka (or someone appointed by her in the event she is asleep)
- A member of the Sussivari Frost Coven.
- A representative of the Circle of Zulgan Tash
- The most glorious witch-adept of Night lore in Dawn
These people should gather in the Hall of Worlds for (at the latest) nine o'clock on Saturday evening. The herald advises they bring all their cunning as the Brother of Wizards plans to send them somewhere. He'll explain more when they arrive.
- Skathe has agreed to a meeting at eleven in the evening on the Saturday of the coming summit
- The current archmage of Winter is Syn Truth-Walker Returned of Navarr
A little over a week ago, a message is delivered to the Hub at Anvil. The messenger is a dapper young man dressed as a Highborn magister's novice, his face entirely concealed behind a fox-like mask that appears to have been sutured to his skin. He does not speak - indeed he gives no indication that he can speak - and his message takes the form of a foot-wide circular mirror.
Written somehow on the inside of the mirror is an invitation from Skathe of the Thrice-cursed Court to the Archmage of Winter and the Wisest Senator to discuss the problems besetting Zephaniah's Lament - but the meeting comes with a stringent condition. Skathe will consent to the meeting only if she has been granted amity by the Imperial Conclave prior to the meeting. It is not right that the the Bound King has amity while the Queen of that same Court does not.
If amity is secured, the archmage and the senator may meet with her at eleven in the evening on the Saturday of the coming summit. A guide will be sent to the Hall of Worlds at that time to bring them to her presence.
If amity has not been secured, then no such guide will be sent and no meeting will take place.
Having delivered the message the silent herald returns the way he came. Almost as soon as it is handed over, the mirror begins to melt; it is apparently carved entirely from some form of ice. By the next morning, it has dissolved completely leaving behind only a puddle of brackish water.
(OOC Note: The meeting will take place in an encounter tent, so there will be some walking involved. There will be no combat, but there may be poor lighting and smoke)
|Friday||11pm||The Lictors||Autumn||Formal Parley|
|Saturday||11pm||Skathe||Winter||Parley; Contingent on Conclave decision|