"Vassa" mopped his brow with a handkerchief. Two brawny soldiers stood at the bottom of the gangplank. They wore orichalcum breastplates, gauntlets, and greaves over cotton tunics. Their hair was braided with red and yellow feathers, and each held a heavy orichalcum pole-axe easily in one hand. They watched the old man impassively.

"How much longer?" he asked, exasperated.

One of the soldiers shrugged. Neither spoke.

Looking back along the quay, Vassa could make out a small knot of people. Four soldiers, a präst of the assembly of Courage. And what looked suspiciously like a ... surely not.

His heart fell. This was bad, very bad indeed. Even for Zemeh.

Vassa could see that the soldiers formed a tight square around a woman he recognised. She looked bruised, and her hands were shackled. Olivia Burano di Sarvos, barely off the boat six months.

As the group approached, Vassa's initial suspicion was confirmed. The figure in emerald and green robes was a Representative - effectively a Senator, one of the representative body that ruled Sumaah in the name of the people. The reality of course was more complex - the House of the People did little without the support an approval of the präster. Yet they maintained the division between their two houses fiercely. Religiously, almost. As always, when in a tight spot, Vassa found it hard to avoid making little jokes in his head.

He discarded his early assessment of very bad, and replaced it with exceptionally bad.

The knot of figures stopped at the bottom of the gangplank. The soldiers stepped aside, forming a semicircle around Olivia, and two of them persuaded her to climb the gangplank with their spears. She had little difficulty making the climb with her wrists manacled - she had a dancer's grace - and when she reached the top she turned called back demanding fluently that the manacles be removed. The courageous präst snapped back that the manacles would not be removed until they were out of sight of land and if she tried to swim back then she would be food for the mososari and it would serve her right. Vassa noted with interest that the präst had a black eye, and a recent one at that. She did not look happy.

"Go below." he snapped to Olivia, who looked set to start shouting back. She turned to Vassa and opened her mouth to argue but he met her gaze and growled low in his throat "I am not in the mood, di Sarvos. Go. Below."

The younger woman shut her mouth, and stalked across the deck. He ignored her.

He turned his attention back to the Sumaah on the quayside. The soldiers had stepped back, allowing Representative Puala to stand at the very bottom of the gangplank, gazing up at him. At her side coiled a vicious looking lizard the size of a dog, its brightly coloured scales polished to almost mirror sheen. He had encountered such nasty little brutes before - they were capable of delivering a painful bite, and while their venom was not lethal it could cause nasty hallucinations. That Puala favoured one as a companion did not surprise him. She was a savvy, dangerous woman who knew the value of making a powerful impression. She could smile while delivering the most egregious insults, and Vassa respected that.

She was not smiling now.

She spoke quickly, fluidly. Her voice was steady but her words were full of suppressed anger.

"You are all hereby exiled from Zemeh, and from Sumaah. If you attempt to return, you will be tried as the agents of a hostile power, a criminal offense for which you can be hanged. The assembly of Vigilance as permitted you to remain so long only because there was nothing that you could learn that would harm our people. Do not believe that courtesy will be extended to you again."

He nodded his understanding. He was a little surprised at how thorough the Censors had been. Every Regario agent he know of in Zemeh had been rounded up and put on this ship. He had known that they had recognised him years ago - had enjoyed the lazy tolerance with which he was treated by the Vigilant präster. He would miss the heated debates about the nature of virtue, and the threat of Asavea. He had not realised the entire network - such as it was - had been compromised and wondered idly if there was a traitor among them.

"Furthermore, you are to tell your Imperial masters that as of sunset today a state of war exists between the Republic of Sumaah and the Empire. Any attempt by Imperial ships to enter our territorial waters will be treated as an act of piracy and dealt with appropriately under the law. Likewise, any of your vessels encountered in the waters of the Archipelago by our warships will be treated as Asavean vessels."

"You have treated us with contempt. Our requests of fair conduct have been ignored. You have insulted us again and again, and even in the face of our final warning you still refused to give us the same respect you show to the tyrants of Asavea. You have refused to acknowledge that we seek the same virtuous life that you claim to seek. You have sought to trample our pride, and that will not stand."

"Furthermore, you have made an inhuman creature an exemplar of the faith, demeaning the Way, placing one who does not possess a soul in the company of the exalted. You have befouled all those who should be treated with respect, and you have ignored our pleas to engage in discourse regarding this decision."

"We - who should have been united by faith - are now at war."

"We are not the allies of your enemies, nor the enemies of your allies. We will not come to your benighted lands as conquerors because that is not our Way. Yet whatever friendship might have existed between us is over."

"We cannot overlook the crimes you have committed against out shared faith. Our assemblies are in agreement. They denounce your entire Synod as heretical. We do not doubt that your people will ignore our judgement for they are led in their faith by hyenas. Yet we issue this warning. We will not keep our judgement quiet. Within the month, every other nation will know that you mock the faith you claim to hold. We shall ensure that all those who look to the seven virtues for guidance are aware that you are insincere in your beliefs. You may consider this a little thing, but believe me when I say that it is not. Our faith is without question. Yours is without substance."

"Go now, and return to your Empire. When your actions demonstrate that you have repented your unvirtuous deeds, and finally deign to speak to us as equals, we will send an ambassador. Until such time no Sumaah citizen will come to your Empire. These are the words of the House of the People."

"You may go now."

Before Vassa could do anything more than open his mouth, Representative Puala had turned on her heel and was already striding back up the quayside towards Zemeh. Her companions hung back for a few moments, talking in quiet voices; then the präst raised her voice and called to the captain, telling him to cast off and not return until his cargo had been delivered.

Vassa lent on the railings as the ship began to glide down the river towards the ocean. He chewed his beard for a few minutes, as he thought through the implications of what the Representative had said, the implications for the Regario Dossier - and the implications of several weeks at sea with an angry Olivia Burano di Sarvos.

"Well, bugger." he said, with some feeling.

And then he turned and went below to explain to the others that they had some bad news for the Empire.

Trade Winds

War with Sumaah

The House of the People of the Sumaah Republic has declared war on the Empire, and denounced the Imperial Synod as a den of heretics. The port of Zemeh remains closed to Imperial citizens. Indeed, over the last three months it has finished expelling all Imperial citizens from its shores.

This means that Imperial citizens can no longer send their ships to Zemeh, nor trade with the Sumaah Republic. It is important to note that the Sumaah are still foreigners; although they have declared war on the Empire, the Empire has not formally accepted that state of affairs (this would require the Senate to declare war in turn).

Work has stalled on the embassy currently under construction in Necropolis. While the Senate agreed to appoint an ambassador with authority to speak to the Sumaah on their behalf at the Empire, it was done during the final session of the Autumn Equinox and so the title has not yet been appointed.

Previously, it was likely that the Sumaah would recognise the authority of any cardinal of the Imperial Synod who contacted them, but their denunciation of the entire Synod as heretics means that this is most likely no longer the case. It is certainly possible to send a message to Heln Stianser; Censor of wood, metal and stone; The High House of Prosperity; Sumaah Republic.

It is unclear what effect the accusation of heresy will have on international relations, but it is likely to significantly impact any missionary work the Synod attempts to engage in among people who are not hostile to Sumaah.

The Commonwealth

The Commonwealth continues to be unimpressed with the Empire. The Senate passed a motion during the Summer Solstice to build an embassy, but there appears to have been no movement on building it to date. Imperial captains are still encountering increased tariffs and bureaucracy; they are encouraged to speak to Senator Atte of Sermersuaq on this matter.

In the meantime, the Senate could appoint an ambassador with authority to contact the Commonwealth on behalf of the Empire (most likely to Militärattache Ludkhannah Schöningen, die Stahlhalle, Volkavaar). However, while this might have been sufficient to show goodwill if it had been done earlier, given the parlous state of the relationship, creating an ambassador without an embassy could well damage relations even further.

One positive move by the Commonwealth that has affected the Empire is that the Fellowship of Purple Sails sodality has brought the recipe for Artisan's Oil to the Empire. The Commonwealth has also passed trade laws allowing the valuable substance to be sold to visiting traders; except Imperial captains. At this time, despite the best efforts of the Fellowship of Purple Sails, there are no plans to legalise the sale of artisan's oil to the Empire.

Jarmish Politics

Thanks to Imperial support, Rigia has benefited greatly from visits by Imperial fleets. The Eastern Alliance has offered formal thanks to the Empire, and especially to the Jarmish Trading Cartel organised by Ferrero Sanguineo Rezia di Tassato, the Master of the Imperial Mint. Of some potential concern to the Empire is that as part of an agreement with Magician-Prince Barbara Radz, ruler of Rigia and leader of the Eastern Alliance, involves trade in slaves. The details are not clear, but it appears that come the Spring Equinox an unknown number of Jarmish slaves will be arriving on the shores of the Empire. It is not apparent how many, or what arrangements have been made to accommodate them, nor what the legality of this peculiar exchange might be.

The Imperial Senate and the Imperial Conclave alike have agreed to send formal communications to the House of Princes in Jarm, offering apologies for past piracy against the Principalities. The information that the agreements has been made has partially mollified the House of Princes, but they are awaiting the actual apologies; they appear to expect formal letters. These can be dispatched to Lord-Magister Anton Trescher of the Hidden Hook, Who attends at the House of Princes, In the City of Jarm who serves as an advisor to the Jarmish government on foreign affairs.

While it is still a crime for anyone in Jarm to trade crystal mana to Imperial citizens, it is likely that once the formal apologies are received Imperial allies among the princes will be able to make a case for reducing or removing the restrictions, or at least countering the ongoing problems encountered by captains visiting northern and southern Jarm. Until they are successful, however, the ports of Kavor, Vezak and Rigia will continue not to offer mana crystals to visiting captains.

As before, anyone interested in discussing relations between the Empire and the Principalities of Jarm should speak to Oswi Twice-burned, the Ambassador to Jarm - and perhaps with the Urizeni Eriktho who is the ambassador from Jarm to the Empire.


During the Autumn Equinox, the Senate passed a motion making it a crime to trade Bourse resources with Asavean citizens. The Plenum is unimpressed, to put it mildly, but they accept that the Senate is being influenced by the zealots of the Synod. The flavour of communications has been amused - and slightly condescending.

There is one potential fly in the ointment, however. The powerful Tarquinius noble family has announced that it is "unamused by the presumption of the Imperial priesthood". It has categorically withdrawn its offer to sell white granite to the Empire. Instead, it has announced that it has already located another buyer on the Bay of Catazar who is prepared to deal pragmatically with Asavean merchants. It is unclear at this time what implications this will have for the cargo dock at Caricomare which was commissioned explicitly to offer white granite for sale to the Empire.

Otherwise, relations with the Asaveans have cooled somewhat but they are by no means frosty.

Sarcophan Delves

Relations with the Sarcophan Delves remain neutral. They appear unconcerned about their lack of an embassy, and Sarcophan merchant-captains are regular visitors to the ports of the Bay of Catazar.

Further Reading

  • You can read last event's Trade Winds here.
  • As far as anyone knows, the Fellowship of Purple Sails are still keen to hear from anyone who wants to discuss international trade with their sodality.