"According to the book, the hour of the golden oryx is between half-past-ten in the evening and midnight."

"That isn't even an hour! That's an hour-and-a-half!"

Elreon put the thin volume down on the desk and tapped its cover with one broad finger.

"Aye, but, that's what Capranius said the hour of the golden oryx was. He made up a whole sequence of them after a dream he had, so it says here. Tried to get the Empire to adopt them. Without much luck, obviously."

The loremaster could barely contain a smirk at the civil servant's obvious irritation.

"Would it make you any happier to hear they're all different lengths?"

"No it would not," said Jorgen. "Damn these creatures. They make things complicated just for the sake of it!"

"Most likely," said Elreon cheerfully. "But that said, we now know all about an obscure and stupid way of reckoning hours that we didn't know before so we're probably richer for it."

Jorgen scowled at the older man. The civil servant looked back at the letter in his hands, reading the spidery scrawl for the umpteenth time.

"Well now we know when they want to start the parley. And we know that they want bloody Ancel bloody Steward involved."

Elreon shrugged philsophically. This was not his problem.

"Well at least the little bugger isn't a sorcerer any more so that's alright then."

"Maybe. But it's this last bit that worries me, this bit where they say outwith this time and space the war continues." The civil servant effected mad, swooping accents as he quoted the end of the letter. Elreon guffawed, shook his head, and swept up the old book again as he prepared to leave.

"It sounds like a threat to me, like they're in a smiting mood. Still, not our problem Jorgen. Archmage's problem now, right?"

"I suppose. And peculiar as they are they're not likely to break the actual parley. But I don't like it. I have to say I was relived when the Conclave enmitied them, but it seems they find a way to be smug and weird and annoying even so. With their masks and their circular words, and their stupid expressions, and..."

He tailed off and let out a deep sigh.

"You're right. It's Elyssiathain's problem now. I'll send the messages first thing in the morning. Hopefully this is all just baroque posturing and nothing will come of it."

"Hopefully." agreed Elreon, but in a tone that made it clear that he did not hold out much hope at all.

Plenipotentiaries

  • Meraud, the Whisper Gallery, Callidus, Sinokenon, Llofir, and Skathe have publicly responded to plenipotentiary messages from archmages.

Each archmage has the ability to send a plenipotentiary message to an eternal once during each summit. Following the Autumn Equinox, six eternals have responded to these messages and either confirmed that they accept a formal parley, or declined to attend a meeting with the archmage.

In each case, the eternals have specified the topics about which they or their representatives will discuss. Within the bounds of the parley, they are likely to refuse to discuss matters that fall outside the potentially rigid list of things they have agreed will fall under the purview of the parley. It is still possible to try and bring up topics outside of the matters agreed on in advance, but there is absolutely no guarantee the representative of the realms will want to discuss them - and some of the more formal entities might well be annoyed enough to end the parley early if they are badgered by (for example) a crowd of magicians all wanting their opportunity to explain why the eternal should pay attention to them.

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Meraud

  • Meraud will attend a formal parley in the Hall of Worls at eight-o-clock Friay evening

The Summer Enchanter, Meraud, the Golden Magician, has let it be known that he has received a plenipotentiary from Archmage Solomon. He has been invited to discuss a certain ritual, and is more than happy to talk about that and perhaps even a few other things related to it, but cautions that this is not a general free-or-all chance to demand favours from the Lord of the Lake - he is not some desperate buffoon eager to trade trinkets for the approval of the Conclave after all!

The herald who delivers the message - a slim creature marked with eerie magical sigils that seemed to move freely across their emerald green skin - mentions also that after more serious matters have been discussed, Meraud also wishes to speak with certain individuals and requests that the Archmage arrange for them to be there. He would like to talk with' Enchantress Vandale, of House Vandale, on the matter of a gift. He would also like to speak to Carlos Guerra and to the leaders of the Eternal Family, and the Concordium of Pallas, who made the hakima's rituals a reality. The herald gives no further details as to what this might be concerning.

All things being equal, Meraud expects the parley to commence at around eight-o-clock on Friday evening.

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Whisper Gallery

  • The Whisper Gallery will send emissaries to a formal parley in the Hall of Worlds at half-past-ten on Friday
  • They have placed a condition on the parley which, if not fulfilled, will mean the meeting is cancelled.

On the night of the new moon, a month after the Spring Equinox, a message appeared without fanfare on one of the civil service desks at the hub in Anvil. A response from the eternals known as the Whisper Gallery, by all accounts in response to a request for parley from the archmage of Night, Elyssiathain of Endsmeet.

The message is somewhat baroque in nature:

Their mellifluous majesties, the Ministers in Sable, the Court of Scandal, the Arbiters of the Empty Thrones, the Manifold Regression of the Thrice-fold Quiddity, attend and listen! They bang their bell-clad staff on the ground and they say "Speak to us, oh sweet witch of Dawn, of how the Empire wishes peace with us while still continuing to butcher secrets for their amusement! Speak to us, oh you clever archmage, of how we should stop opposing the harsh light of the truth-spillers! Let us whisper together and take joy in the flouting of laws, in rumour, and in murmured conspiracy."

Yet the Dancers on the Edge of Silence respond poorly to your arrogant demands, oh you clever archmage. They will speak with you and your court in the Hall of the Worlds, and will respect all the complexities of the formal parely, but under a condition. That pretty witch Ancel Steward must meet alone with the Cardinals of the Sanguine Icon in private at the same time as you treat with the Troubadours of the Invisible Choir in public. This is their condition. Let Ancel be present in the Hall of the Worlds during the hour of the golden oryx on the first night; let the wise witch pass from that place; and the Mandarins of the Somnolent Labyrinth will speak to you and hear what you would say of compromise and change.

But know with certainty that while they may listen to your words, the Knights of the Concupiscent Order offer no ceasefire beyond this parley; outwith this time and this space the war continues.

Translated with reference to a very old book about timekeeping, it appears that the Whisper Gallery agree to a formal parley at around half-past-ten on Friday evening. However, they will only attend if the former-sorcerer Ancel Watcher is allowed a private meeting of his own at the same time. The parley in the hall of worlds will begin shortly after Ancel's meeting with the Whisper Gallery which will take place... elsewhere.

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Callidus

  • A representative of Callidus will host the Autumn Archmage and three guests in an audience chamber at half-past-one on Saturday afternoon

The Prince of the Argent Tontine, known as the Sovereign Lord of the CIty of Chains, has dispatched a messenger to Anvil. The messenger - a curving-horned woman every inch of whose skin is covered in tiny writing - apparently bears a formal response to a request for a parley from the Autumn Archmage. She demands a crown in payment for delivering the message, and seems entirely prepared to return to the Autumn realm with the message undelivered if payment is not forthcoming. After some negotiation, the metallic scroll she carries is handed over for a payment of fiteen rings.

Callidus agrees to a formal parley but sets certain requirements - and goes further. After the parley, Callidus wishes to meet with a specific citizen of the Empire in private.

The first meeting will commence at half-past-one on Saturday afternoon. The Autumn Archmage, currently Marcus of Endsmeet, may bring up to three secretaries to the meeting, which will take place in a chamber provided by Callidus. Callidus' representative will be his secretary Lanster. Formal parley rules shall apply to both sides, and Lanster will commence negotiations by invoking the Lictors to further ensure all parties adhere to the rules.

During this meeting the topics for discussion will be:

  • Smoothing trade relations between the Empire and a foreign power, and using Autumn magic to empower the Imperial trading fleet
  • Improving the general prosperity of the Empire
  • Consultation regarding the codification of Autumn magic
  • An opportunity for the Archmage to increase his own wealth
  • An opportunity for a secretary who has information about recent visits to the Tomb of Badir i Durr i Riqueza to purchase Callidus's knowledge of that place; such a person should be aware that the information will not be cheap and consequently may wish to bring a sizable purse.

Other topics may be discussed at the discretion of Lanster, but there is likely to be a sizable consultation fee. If the Archmage intends to introduce any additional topics there will be a fee of one Throne for so doing, nonrefundable should Lanster decline to discuss the topic.

Once the preliminary meeting is concluded, Callidus personally wishes to speak to the prosperous Estana i Mestiere i Guerra, former general of the Red Wind Corsairs. This will be a private meeting; nobody else is invited. It is intended that the heralds returning the Autumn Archmage to the Hall of Worlds will convey Estana to Callidus' chamber, and bring him back safely.

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Sinokenon

  • Sinokenon invites the archmage of Day and guests to speak with one of its representatives in an audience chamber at quarter-past-five on Saturday afternoon
  • The eternal has requested that a formal representative of the Throne be present

in the evening three days after the Spring Equinox, a ball of light emerges from the Imperial regio and floats unhurriedly to the Imperial Offices which are at that time still being dismantled. Politely waiting until someone has time to address it, the ball of light indicates that it is a messenger from the court of "the Apex, who is called Sinokenon". In cultured tones, it proclaims that the Archmage of Day, Gancius della Notte di Sarvos, has dispatched a plenipotentiary. The Turning Mirror agrees to such a meeting under the normal rules for formal parley.

However, Sinokenon makes an additional requirement for the meeting. It wishes the Archmage to bring with them a formal representative of the Throne, Imperatrix Lisabette von Holberg - or the Throne herself in the unlikely event she is available. Ideally this representative would be a member of the House of Seven Mirrors, but that is not a requirement. The Archmage may bring two others to the meeting as they think best.

The meeting will take place at quarter past five in a room specially prepared by Sinokenon for the purpose. The discussion will concern the Imperial hierarchy, and the aid Sinokenon can offer for the strengthening thereof in the face of threats internal and external.

Sinokenon will be present, but the discussion will be hosted by Preceptor Dannev, who stands high in the counsels of the Throne of the Sun.

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Llofir

  • Llofir will send a representative to the Hall of Worlds at half-past-nine on Saturday evening

Three weeks before the Summer Solstice, a shambling figure in rotten robes, covered in lichen, arrives at Anvil with a message for Kaisa Vieno Maegling, who speaks for the Archmage of Spring. The creature is a herald of the eternal Llofir, and speaks in a quiet, breathy voice as it delivers its message.

Llofir agrees to formal parley during the Summer Solstice. At half past nine on Saturday night it will send its herald "Pah Rashet" to the Hall of the Worlds to speak on its behalf. Pah Rashet is a potent representative of the Lord of Rot, and Llofir cautions that if any harm befalls it then in addition to disruption of the Empire's connection to the fountainhead (presumably referring to the problems with Spring magic that happened followed the attack on Yaw'Nagrah's herald) the eternal itself will also enact retribution. The Spring archmage is duly warned to ensure that the other magicians present respect the rules of the parley.

Pah Rashet will discuss the matters the Archmage raised, but Llofir also requests that a representative of the Highborn who are seeking "a tattered remnant of a former age sealed deep underground in an impenetrable vault" are in attendance if they wish to discuss gaining access to that vault and removing the "bitter prize" contained within. Presumably these people, whoever they are, know what this is about.

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Skathe

  • Skathe invites the Winter archmage to visit her in an audience chamber at half-past-ten on Saturday night

Midway between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice, a woman in a red cloak appears in the hub at Anvil. She carries a covered basket, and her face is hidden by a deep hood - but few can fail to notice the inches-long black claws she has in place of fingernails. She affects an imperious manner, and demands to speak to someone who can talk on behalf of the conclave.

The Winter Archmage, Emilia Ankarien has requested a meeting with the eternal Skathe of the Thrice-cursed Court to discuss the matter of laying a vengeful curse on those responsible for despoiling her home - the territory of Spiral in Urizen. Skathe agrees to the parley, and her heralds will appear in the Hall of the Worlds at half-past ten on Saturday night. There will be an opportunity for the archmage at least to speak to Skathe more directly - especially if the archmage has secured a certain gift to show how much the Conclave appreciates her. The archmage will surely be able to guess what that gift is. Skathe awaits it with anticipation, given that gift has already been given to her fellows.

As a parting aside, the herald also mentions to the civil servants that if anyone from "the chilly little Highborn chapter with the red torch" is present she might deign to speak with them - if they have the support of the Archmage, of course.

Timetable

Day Time Eternal Realm Formal Parley Accessibility
Friday 20:00 Meraud Summer Yes Takes place in Hall of Worlds
Friday 22:30 Whisper Gallery Night Yes Takes place in Hall of Worlds
Saturday 13:30 Callidus Autumn Yes Takes place in an encounter tent, some walking, some smoke
Saturday 17:15 Sinokenon Day Yes Takes place in an encounter tent, some walking
Saturday 21:30 Llofir Sping Yes Takes place in Hall of Worlds
Saturday 22:30 Skathe Winter Yes Takes place in an encounter tent, some walking

Each of the eternals has agreed for a formal parley. This is intended to be a peaceful engagement - indeed there are poorly understood arcane principles at work that punish either side should they resort to violence within the context of the parley. While there is certainly a chance that a parley might turn violent, for the most part we expect them to be non-combat encounters.