Marcela could hear the crowd in the distance shouting and cheering, but it was difficult to make out what was being said and keep the interest of the guard at the same time. He clearly wasn't going to let her get any closer, but the longer she could keep him haggling, the longer she could linger her without arousing suspicion.

"Now young man - that is clearly a valuable piece of jewellery you have there - it's well made and with that moving aura on it, it is worth a pretty ring or two. But it's only made from common materials and that does limit the price... So I can't go higher than 2 crowns, but I am willing to throw in this plump, juicy chicken. I guarantee you will not taste anything finer."

She smiled at the young man's obvious hunger, but fortunately her tagelmust hid the grin as she waved Erica - the plumpest chicken to be found in Segura - in his face. The chicken squawked at the treatment, but she wasn't really listening to either of them.

"... will you join me in this righteous crusade?" the priest's words echoed over the crowd by were drowned out but were immediately drowned out by the cheers and shouts of assent.

The guard was losing interest again, so Marcela switched her focus back. She popped the chicken back in the cage and instructed the young man to pay close attention to her. Flamboyantly she began to pat down her robes making an outlandish show of searching for something.

"... has risen again... " the damn crowd were quiet now - but the priest had a good sense of drama and he had also dropped his voice "... returned from the Labyrinth to lead us..."

"Ta da" she said producing the jar that had been in her sleeve all along with a triumphant gesture - "I present to you the finest chicken sauce you have ever tasted. My own husbands personal recipe - add a little of this to your oil when you fry the meat and it will taste divine."

She uncorked the bottle and waved it under the young man's nose, letting him inhale the mix of potent spices. His hand moved to the medallion around his neck as if to keep it safe, but it was a clear tell. The sale was as good as made...

Overview

A month after the Autumn equinox, a group of roughly two hundred men and women cross the southern border of Feroz from the Iron Confederacy territory of Kalino. They come down out of the hills that were once the domain of the Lasambrian orcs. Initially they are pursued by a significant force of Iron Confederacy soldiers, but the soldiers give up the chase once it is clear that they will have to push deep into Imperial territory to catch their prey.

The people they were pursuing represent the remnants of the same faction that approached the Synod for aid last Winter - rebellious slaves fighting the Iron Confederacy in Kalino. Their priorities have evolved since then, however. Where once they were interested in learning more about the Way, now they seem to have found their own source of spiritual strength. Freeborn traders who visit the escaped slaves camp report encountering unusual auras, specifically a consecration that is not one of those associated with the known virtues.

They seem disinterested in taking refuge in nearby Bramar, and instead establish makeshift camps near the southern borders of Feroz. From here they continue their campaign of armed resistance against Duke Guiscard of the Iron Confederacy, making sporadic raids over the border. A month later representatives of Duke Guiscard make a formal presentation to the Empire, asking for assistance to help them resolve the problem. The civil service do their best to receive the representatives and ensure that their wishes are made known to those attending the summit, while preparing additional information for the Ambassador to the Iron Confederacy, Zadkiel de Coeurdefer of Dawn.

The Request

According to the representative of Duke Guiscard, the rebels are the remnants of an armed resistance to the Iron Confederacy that is attempting to overthrow the legal ruler of those lands. The Duke recently completed a powerful fortification that makes it impossible for these people to pose a credible threat. Rather than face him openly on the field of battle, they have fled over the border into the Empire to avoid any chance of a direct confrontation. Had they been content to flee his lands and never return he claims he would have been only to happy to let these malcontents go, but they show no signs of ceasing their resistance. Instead they are using their camps near the southern border to launch regular raids across into his lands - a situation he deplores and worries will damage existing good relations.

Rather than risk a pitched battle, the insurgents have adapted their tactics and are are now conducting an ongoing campaign of hit-and-run attacks against the legitimate ruler of Kalino, attacking any caravans or settlements that they can overpower. According to the Duke, they are attacking Suranni merchants as well as isolated mines and farms. Dozens of Suranni have been murdered by the group, merely for trying to defend themselves. They have also engaged in widespread acts of sabotage and vandalism, firing farm buildings and collapsing mines as well as stealing large amounts of valuable property which they are bringing back to Feroz to swell their own numbers.

The representatives of the Duke explain that the whole matter has put him in a very difficult position. He would dearly like to send his army over the border to crush his enemies, but he absolutely understands that such an action is completely unthinkable without the Empire's explicit approval. The Duke is very keen to maintain Imperial goodwill, he is clearly desperate to resolve this problem, but not so desperate to countenance an action that would jeopardise good relations with the Empire.

His envoy expresses the hope that the Empire can find a way to help the Duke resolve the problem - if the matter can be dealt with discreetly and expediently then he will be indebted to the Empire. Apparently the Duke controls the output of the Arav's Delve an important supply of white granite - a material believed to be in short supply within the Iron Confederacy. Now that his fortification is complete, if this current problem could be resolved, the Duke would be interested in formalizing a relationship with the Empire to allow any spare white granite to be sold to the Empire at an agreed price.

Assisting the Iron Confederacy

There are various options that the Empire could take to support the Duke of Kalino to help him defeat his enemies. All of these are likely to improve diplomatic relations, but the more effective the assistance, the greater the benefit.

Declare the Rebels to be Barbarians

At present the rebels are largely supporting themselves by buying essential supplies from local merchants using wealth they have taken during their attacks over the border. This isn't much, but it is enough to enable them to make effective raids on their former Suranni masters. Their numbers are slowly growing as a result - and in time they could become an effective fighting force if left unchecked.

If the Imperial Senate chose to declare the rebels to be barbarians, it wouldn't cost the Empire anything, but it would significantly hamper the rebels efforts. It would no longer be legal for Imperial citizens to trade with them - and while some black market trade would still happen - the rebels would have to pay vastly higher prices for far less. Provided they weren't getting fresh supplies from anywhere else this would make it impossible for them to grow.

If the Duke is informed of the decision, then he is likely to be quietly grateful to the Empire for taking this position. He might press the Empire to do more - but in real terms the relationship between the Duke and the Empire will improve as a result of this action. This option would not bring the problem to an end, but it would contain it and prevent the situation from deteriorating. That might give the Empire the possibility exerting some leverage over the Duke in future however.

The risk of such an approach is that if they are declared barbarians then the rebels might no longer have anything to lose. At that point they may attempt to secure their position by raiding Imperial settlements, merchants or travellers.

Ejecting the Rebels

The rebels have a very low effective fighting strength - comparable with an army of barely a thousand soldiers at best. The Empire could decisively resolve the problem of the uninvited guests, by sending an army to Feroz to eject them. The army would have to engage the force - and there would be a few casualties - but the outcome would never be in question.

If an Imperial general submits any attacking order to travel to Feroz and engage the rebels then they could force them back over the border, provided they secure at least one victory point. Casualties on the Imperial side would be low. Provided the Senate supported this action by declaring the rebels to be barbarians, there would be no legal repercussion for such an order.

Once the rebels are back over the border, then the Suranni forces could engage them decisively - particularly if the Empire opted to coordinate with Duke Guiscard by letting them know of the impending action. In that latter case, the rebels would be eliminated and the Duke of Kalino has effectively stated that he would be clearly indebted to the Empire for their assistance in destroying the threat.

Permitting the Duke to Deal with Them

At the moment the Duke is unable to bring the rebels to battle because their camp is clearly well over the border in Imperial territory. To engage them, the Suranni would have to send at least one army over the border - something they are clear that they will not do without explicit permission from the Empire.

The Imperial Senate could authorise the Ambassador to the Iron Confederacy to invite the Duke to send his forces into Feroz to deal with the rebels. Obviously that would entail foreign armies entering Imperial territory and engaging with their enemies there. However provided there were no incidents, there is no reason why such an attack need cause any legal problems. It would be a clear gesture of friendship and trust towards the Iron Confederacy and would enable the Duke to eliminate his enemies.

In theory the ambassador could send such an invitation without authorisation from the Senate. That would have the same military and diplomatic effects as above, but could be of dubious legal nature and could well incur political ramifications for the ambassador if the Senate took exception to such a bold embrace of the ambassadors authority.

The Suranni are no fools - they are not going to be fooled into sending armies over the border without a signed invitation that was clearly from an ambassador in good standing: the Duke is not about to be tricked into invading the Empire on the basis of communications from any other citizen.

Ignoring the Situation

There is no requirement for the Empire to do anything at all, of course. The rebels are not engaging in illegal acts in Feroz - indeed they are happy to trade with Freeborn merchants and traders for the supplies they need. If the Empire does nothing, the rebels will continue to raid across the border into Kalino. They will rob Suranni caravans, and free slaves. Their numbers will slowly grow and they will become an increasing threat - one that may eventually come to threaten the position of the Duke himself if he is not able to take action to defeat them.

Opposing the Duke

The counterpoint to helping the Duke win his war would be to provide assistance to the people trying to over-throw him. It is highly likely that the group would welcome any credible offers of assistance. The most useful supplies would be money (with which to feed themselves) or mithril (with which to arm themselves) if either were available. Direct military assistance would be most useful but would be legally impossible without an appropriate Senate motion to change the political and diplomatic situation.

Ultimately without clear information on their position and plans, it is not possible to Imperial civil service to be sure what effects that would have on their military position. What is clear is that any direct assistance would damage diplomatic relations with the Duke and possibly with the Iron Confederacy as a whole, assuming that they found out about it.

Auras

Freeborn citizens who have visited the camp have confirmed that there are two priests there preaching to the camps and conducting ceremonies using liao that shows all the hallmarks of being Imperial in origin. There is no doubt about this last fact, as the liao is in the small purple bottles produced by the Empire to help regulate the production and use of liao. In fact there appear to be significant supplies of such liao in the camp.

The Suranni are making some effort to keep any Imperial visitors from listening to their sermons, which naturally arouses suspicion from the Vigilant! One of the Freeborn, a young hakima called Marcela i Erigo was able to acquire a hallowed item that one of the priests had created - albeit not from the priest directly but from a member of his congregation who sold it for 2 crowns and a large plump chicken.

Marcela has arranged for the item to be sent to Anvil along with a list of their concerns. The civil service have taken receipt of the item and have made arrangements for it to be given to the Imperial Inquisitor, so that they can conduct a thorough examination.

Notes

As with several other recent Winds of Fortune there are any number of things that could effect this situation. Rather than lay out a straightforward list of things that the players must do to solve the problem, we've detailed various obvious things players could do to try and address the situation of the Suranni presence in Feroz. The list is accurate but not definitive. There will be things that players might think of that we have not considered. As with a mandate - we will try to add something to the wiki if you email your idea to us in the next few days (along with an appropriate explanation of how effective it would be). Otherwise you will have to take your chances at the event!

At present there are no options for the Imperial Synod to influence the situation. The rebels did make overtures to the Synod a year ago but they were rebuffed. The revolutionaries have found their own source of spiritual strength, and consequently even less likely to respond favourably to any outreach. The Synod could still choose to involve itself in this matter using an appropriate judgement such as a statement of principle, but any mandate is likely to be more effective focusing its attentions on Imperial citizens, rather than the Suranni rebels.

Resolution

During the Winter Solstice, the Imperial Senate voted to authorise the Imperial Ambassador to invite the Duke of Kalino to send his troops over the border to suppress the rebels. Further developments are detailed here.