The Semmerlak has always been a little more unpredictable than it should be as a lake - prone to storms and odd tides. Islands appear and disappear from time to time. Seabirds avoid crossing it from north to south or east to west. There are several stories of fat fish pulled from the depths that speak in human tongues, promising riches or hidden secrets; stories of poached salmon that when cut open are discovered to contain magical rings or odd metal coins.

The Varushkans on the northern shore do not trust it; they say that something dwells in the depths that lures sailors to their cold and choking graves. The Dawnish tend to laugh at them - there is magic in their lake, of course, but it is the magic of Summer spirits and fey spirits more likely to seduce one ot a night of passion than to drag anyone down into the deeps. Both nations claim it as part of their territory.

Then there's the Druj to consider - they claim the eastern shores and the waters thereof as part of the Mallum. If they have an opinion of the magic beneath the waters of the immense freshwater lake, they keep them to themselves. Not since the attack against Weirwater during the reign of Empress Varkula have the Druj attacked in force across the Semmerlak ... and there have been no significant raids for twenty years. Still, both Dawnish yeofolk and Varushkan fisherfolk know to avoid the rocky shores where the sun rises.

Three days past, as the sun rose above the mountains, yeofolk at work on the shores east of Lacre spotted three little boats approaching across the waves, out of the Summer mists. Crude in construction with bile-yellow sails they were with a bank of oars on either side. Banners flutter on each boat, tossed by the early wind that tears the mist apart like fragile lace. In the prow of each stands an orc.

A Druj orc.

Just outside bowshot, the sails are furled and the orcs strain against the oars to keep the little boats stationary. One after the other, the three orcs raise curving bone horns to their lips and blow a single discordant note that echoes across the water. Once, twice, a third time. Then they wait.

The yeofolk discuss the matter quickly. Perhaps a speculative arrow is fired. The swiftest are dispatched to Lacre to raise the town. In less than an hour the fist nobles arrive. As if at a signal, one of the orcs leaps from their boat and swims determinedly towards the shore. Bows are readied but ... what threat is a single orc to the people of Dawn? A spyglass trained on the little boats shows each bears no more than a dozen orcs, and that most are clearly sailors not warriors. Thirty orcs? Against the might of Dawn?

The swimmer pulls himself erect in the shallows, the water coming up to his thighs, reaches behind him slowly and pulls forth a length of wood with something wrapped around it. With exagurated gestures, he unties the thongs around it, a little unsteady in the cold, fresh water. A pale flag unfurls, marked with the rune of Lann crudely stitched in green thread. He holds it up above his head and calls to the men and women on the shore.

"We come in peace!" he croaks. He clears his throat, hoicks a gobbet of phlegm into the water.

"We come in peace, under flag of truce!" he shouts, with more confidence. "Under flag of truce, we come. We wish to speak to your Senate."

He waits a moment, wades a few steps closer to shore.

"We come in peace! We wish to speak to your Senate! We wish to discuss ... peace."

Nobody says anything. The only sound is the wind, and the calling of the gulls, and the gentle lapping of the waves against the shore.

Overview

Last year, a Druj delegation came from Reikos to talk to the Imperial Senate and it did not go well for the orcs.

This year it appears the Druj are trying again. Three little boats have crossed the Semmerlak from the Mallum. Once they have unloaded a small band of Druj "diplomats" two of them turn to the shore and one remains at anchor well outside bowshot, sails furled, waiting. it resists all efforts to communicate with it but makes no show of hosility. The yeofolk of Lacre watch it carefully, day and night.

The diplomats have invoked the law of delegation protection; they come under a flag of truce, and they are making their way towards Anvil. Their leader has expressed a desire to be treated as guests of Dawn - and has praised the "honour and reliability of the people of the rising sun." They have specifically asked that the Dawnish protect the law of the Empire and keep the Druj diplomats safe so they may discuss terms for an end to hostilities and the dawn of a new age of peace between the Mallum and the lands of the west.

Significance

The law of delegation protection (as amended by the Imperial Senate during the Winter summit of 378YE) states that "Any delegations from barbarian nations who arrive on the field of anvil under a flag of peace shall have protection under the law as if they were imperial citizens for the duration of their visit and for their direct passage out of the empire."

The Constitutional Court believes that intent of this law is clear - while the Druj are on the field at Anvil, they are protected by all the laws of the Empire. Likewise, they are expected to respect and uphold those laws. Any violence against them will be treated by the magistrates as if it were violence against an Imperial citizen.

It is likely the Druj delegation will arrive on the second day of the solstice, some time after noon. Their escort intends to send runners to alert the people of Dawn when the Druj diplomats are close to Anvil.

Resolution

The Druj delegation came to Anvil and engaged in extensive negotiations. The Senate discussed a proposed peace treaty. After the summit, the Druj returned to the Mallum safely.