The orc group observed with interest as Fallanvel tried again.

"Yes, they are orcs. Yes, they are out the Barrens. But your Senate has just declared them to be foreigners rather than barbarians, which means that they are protected by the law and able to come and go as they please. Even if they weren't, then they would still be protected under the protection of delegation laws ..."

The herald waved the piece of paper in his left hand again. It was covered in miniscule scrawl, too small for a human eye to make out.

"And even if that were not true, they would still have this invitation from the Wintermark fellow, Jorma Steelhail, who is-or-was an actual senator."

He waved the piece of paper in his right hand - a slightly tattered piece of parchment that had clearly been folded and unfolded many times and handled more than was good for it.

"And on top of all that, my Lord Guardian of the Southern Skies, Keeper of the Gates of Wisdom, Eater-of-Silence, Speaker in Dreams and Conscience-of-Kings was specifically asked to arrange a delegation from the independent orcs of the lands you call the Barrens to come to Anvil and negotiate with the Imperial Senate. It's all very straightforward!"

Fallanvel cocked his head. The Navarr women continued to stare at him impassively. The little feathers on the herald's neck and shoulder continued to stand on end - he knew there were more Navarr in the woods but had no idea how many. He fervently hoped this was not all about to turn into arrows and spears.

Both women were unreadable - the armoured brand had barely acknowledged his presence and had said not one word to him. He found silent people deeply, deeply unnerving.

As her companion - a vate if the herald was any judge - finally opened her mouth to say something, one of the orcs behind Fallanvel suddenly raised their voice.

"What is the delay, herald? Are we to pass through this forest or are we not?"

The orc delegation was - perhaps unconsciously - split into two groups, for all that they were stood quite close together. The armoured orc that spoke was the younger of the two leaders - brash and prone to outbursts. The other leader, an older orc with the marks of a shaman, spoke softly.

"Patience, child of the Black Wind. We are travelling in their territory, it is right that they are suspicious. I would be suspicious too if they came to the Great Forest and demanded to speak with the elders of my clan. The human senate will still be there even if we are delayed an hour or so, and we achieve nothing if we cannot prove good intent."

There was muttering from both factions. Their human companion spoke in an undertone, and the two leaders turned to converse privately with the briar.

The Navarr vate shut her mouth. The brand raised an eyebrow. Fallavel began patiently explaining the situation again.

"These orcs are from the barrens ... they wish your assistance to travel to Anvil. They are invited ..."

Overview

In distant Brocéliande, in the Boar's Dell, a band of orcs has emerged without warning from the Barrens. They have come under a flag of truce, and claim to represent the two great clans of the independent orc nation to the east of the Empire. A combination of factors have encouraged them to send envoys to Anvil - the main one apparently being the decision taken by the Imperial Senate at the Spring Equinox to recognise their tribes as having the status of foreigners, rather than barbarians.

They are not a united force - the delegation is lead by a shaman of the Great Forest clan, and a warrior of the Black Wind clan and there appear to be some internal tensions. They are accompanied also by a human with strong briar lineage who appears to be either a Navarr or one of the mysterious denizens of Dourfell Keep.

This is believed to be the first time the people of the Empire have had any peaceful contact with the orcs of the Barrens. Reports claim that they threw off the oppressive chains of the Druj over Winter 377YE. Information about what they want - if anything - is in short supply.

Significance

Initially led into Greenstead by a herald of Lashonar, they have been entrusted to the guidance of the Navarr. After much discussion, several members of the Splitroot Striding have agreed to escort them to Anvil. Using the trods, it is expected that they will arrive some time on Saturday afternoon. As they are escorted by Navarr, it is likely the Navarr will be the first people to hear when the delegation gets close.

It is worth noticing that they are not here under the auspices of the law of delegation protection - the Imperial senate has formally recognised them as foreigners rather than barbarians. They are protected by the law and expected to abide by it in the same way as any Asavean, Faraden, or indeed any Imperial citizens.

Resolution

The delegation from the Barrens came to Anvil and negotiated a treaty which was discussed in the Senate. The independent orcs returned safely to the Barrens.