Rabbits and snares
"The Mourn, they did what in the Mourn?" She jumped up, and pulled a small doll of sticks and brown rags from her bag, covered in mud rich red mud. She hung it on one of the large brambles that arched over their heads, alongside a dozen other similar little woven dolls.
"Poison and curses, like that time..." The baby snuffled, and she rocked it more gently, cooing softly.
"And the warmage said..?"
A gust of wind caused a branch to lash out, snagging the herald's skirt. She looked sober for a moment, disentangling herself with deft fingers. The briars above their heads whispered and twisted one way and another despite the lack of wind.
"He said he couldn't promise that they wouldn't do it again." The baby chuckled, closed its eyes.
The standing herald touched her companion on the shoulder, showed her where the doll of mud and stick hung. They shared a smile. With clever fingers, the heralds wove another little rag doll together, sharing the task, as the baby slipped into a deep slumber. The standing one hung this doll beside the others - small and red, seeming to dance on the thorny branch in the dim moonlight.
"And Dourfell keep...?"
"Fallen." the smiles turned sad. "But the people ..."
"Some, yes. With the orcs" The sadness drained away. Then the sitting herald frowned, stroking the child's head with one long splintery finger. "But the Imperial chieftans chose another to talk with the Dusk Tyrants ... "
The brambles twisted and shook again, and a noise came from the undergrowth - the growling hiss a rabbit might make when distressed. The two heralds paused, listening, as the noise faded. Somewhere nearby there was a fluttering of wings, as of a small bird, and then silence apart from the gentle creak of wooded, growing things. They nodded.
"We shall send word. to Volfe of Ashenhall."
Another growl and a grunting muttering sound, amid the rustling of the briars. The little dolls danced on the branches. The standing herald studied their movement, looked quizzically at her companion.
"They are new. I'm sure their heart's are in the right place..." said the seated herald.
"... he can help if they let him." finished her companion. She frowned. "Will they let him help?"
"Perhaps." The two shared a significant look. "Perhaps not."The standing herald helped the other up, careful not to wake the child, and they moved out of the little cave among the brambles, setting the dolls twisting and dancing in their wake.
- Irra Harah, the Lictors, and Zakalwe have publicly responded to plenipotentiary messages.
Each archmage has the ability to send a plenipotentiary message to an eternal once during each summit. Following the Summer Solstice, three eternals have delivered formal messages to the Empire in response to these messages. This does not mean that only three plenipotentiary messages were sent - simply that only three eternals have responded publicly.
Irra Harah, the Prince with a Thousand Foes, has sent a response to a plenipotentiary from Volfe of Ashenhall, Archmage of Spring. The eternal has had little time for the Empire recently, and there is rumour that the execution of his Varushkan allies has soured him on Imperial magicians.
A month before the Autumn Equinox a young briar, dressed in Marcher garb, comes to speak to the civil service. They bring a message that Irra Harah will attend a parley with the Empire to "discuss the Mournwold, the state of the Barrens and the tyrants of Asavea." The youth further explains that the eternal wishes to discuss matters with those who have not passed their citizenship test to find out their views; to meet with Raewynn Farkas of the Navarr and with the Highborn Hazelelponi of the Shattered Tower; and that after his business with them is complete, he will be available briefly to speak to the Spring Archmage.
The Golden Hare has not given a specific time for the parley, but the child estimates that it is likely to be "some time around two on Saturday."
Any Imperial magician may attend a formal parley, but it is at the discretion of the Spring Archmage who may speak. However, as a parting comment, the messenger says that although Irra Harah will abide by the rules of parley, the Guard of the Young does not have any wish to speak to the Imperial Warmage, and that if they are in attendance the Thorn of the Ancestors will withdraw immediately.
The Lictors are something of an unknown quantity to the Empire. Precisely seven days, seven hours, and seven minutes after the plenipotentiary was dispatched a single paper-thin square of green iron was delivered to the civil service by a heavily cloaked and masked figure with brazen claws. Engraved on the square was a straightforward message: "We accept the invitation of the Archmage. Formal parley will take place at the eleventh hour on the first night of the Autumn Equinox."
It is rare for the Brass Magistrates to a request for a meeting - a formal request of plenipotentiary from an Archmage is one of the few reliable ways of getting their undivided attention. With that in mind, the civil service advise caution for anyone wishing to attend the parley. As with other formal parleys, anyone may attend but it is at the discretion of the Autumn archmage who may speak.
Three days after the Summer Solstice, a polite letter, written with beautiful brush strokes, is received by the civil service. It explains that Zakalwe has received the message of Gancius della Notte di Sarvos, the Archmage of Day. Zakalwe will be happy to send representatives to the Hall of Worlds at the fifth hour on the second day of the Summit. The General of Day himself will not be attending, and furthermore he does not consider that discussion of a general issue merits a formal parley.
As a consequence, the meeting should remain as an informal discussion rather than a full parley. Consequently, he has instructed his representatives that, should the Archmage of Day wish, the discussion may begin in the Hall of Worlds and then move to the Imperial Military Council on the field at Anvil, the better to allow those who will struggle to enter the Hall to participate.
The letter also includes a specific request that Vaan of the Auric Horizon, a citizen of Urizen, be invited to the discussion; Zakalwe wishes to fulfil an obligation due to that individual. There are no further details in the letter as to what this obligation may be, or how the eternal intends to fulfil it.