Silent Bell (Sodality)
The Silent Bell is an Imperial sodality made up of citizens dedicated to the cause of Vigilance. Initially set up in the early years of the reign of Emperor Nicovar, they were intended to serve as an investigative arm of the Vigilance Assembly. Unfortunately, being so closely associated with the Mad Emperor lead to their short-lived order being officially disbanded in 210YE as the dust of Nicovar's rampage started to settle.
The first (and officially, only) preceptor of the Silent Bell, Esther of Sybela, responded to the instruction to disband the order with a polite note to the then Cardinal of Vigilance that read simply "be alert to all dangers; within and without." Denied official sanction, the Silent Bell continued to operate in the background, occasionally bringing news of potential threats to the Empire to the attention of the Vigilance assembly.
During the reign of Emperor Nicovar, the Silent Bell were allegedly used by the Synod to suppress opposition to the increasingly extreme demands of the Throne. In the century and a half since, they remained largely in the background but are known to have helped to uncover a number of internal threats to the Empire. At various times they were accused of helping to discredit political and social movements that were threats to entrenched positions within the Empire, rather than existential threats to the empire as a whole. As such the order has had something of a mixed reputation over the years.
During the reign of Empress Britta, the leadership of the Silent Bell allegedly met with members of the Assembly of the Nine in secret and offered to take a more active role in the Empire. They stressed a new commitment to remain apolitical; to focus on the vigilant defence of the Empire as a whole rather than one political faction or another. At first their involvement in Imperial affairs remained limited, but throughout 380YE, they Silent Bell became significantly more active. Having undergone a clandestine period of recruitment, they began to strengthen their ties with the Imperial Synod.
A resurgence of interest in the exemplar Berechiah - never a member of the Silent Bell himself but allegedly a quiet supporter of their mission - the leadership of the order decided to cement those relations officially and emerge from the shadows. Particularly in light of the challenges faced by the Synod at the time, the leadership wished to be very clear in their relationship with the Assemblies, so that there would be no misunderstanding of the role they were to play or how they were to play it.
The current preceptor of the Silent Bell, Malachai of the Silent Bell, in Casca's Doom, suggested a way that the Imperial Synod might wield the Silent Bell effectively, but with enough transparency to allay fears of a "secret militia answering only to the cardinals." During the Winter solstice 380YE, the Imperial Synod declared their support for the Silent Bell, and the Council of the Nine issued their first instruction as to where the sodality should turn its gaze. The Highborn Esau executed a mandate in support of the Silent Bell, leading to improved attendance at congregations of priests dedicated to Vigilance across the Empire.
The sodality they represent is small, but committed. Their goal is to gather information about internal threats to the Empire. They operate a loose, but extensive, network of informants throughout the Vigilance sects in the Empire. By drawing on that network, they can potentially track down information about specific threats. They are at their most effective, however, when they operate with a clear focus from the Imperial Synod.
They are not in a position to actually deal with threats - their members are investigators and informants, not effective combatants, but they can often suggest practical ways to deal with those threats and are adept at identifying opportunities for the Synod to use the Sentinel Gate to act on the information they have provided.
Ringing the Bell
Any member of the Assembly of the Nine is empowered to issue a statement of principle instructing the Silent Bell to pursue information relating to a specific topic. Such a statement of principle must begin with the wording "The Council of Nine directs the Silent Bell to investigate...". If the statement is supported by the lesser majority of the Council, then the Silent Bell will turn their attentions towards investigating the designated topic. In the event that multiple such statements are issued in a single summit, the Silent Bell will either take instruction from the judgement that achieves the highest margin.
Sometimes a representative of the Sodality might need to speak with the cardinal (or the Throne) who raised the statement, looking for as many details as possible about the threat. Regardless, they will then direct their attentions to finding any leads they can, and make them available to the cardinal at the next summit. In the past this has often taken the form of a verbal or written report, but in past years the order's commitment to transparency, and being seen to serve the Empire as a whole, has often seen them making their findings public rather than restricted them to any one individual.
There was some concern when this method was agreed on that while it openly encourages the faithful to look into a specific topic, it might also potentially provide a warning to the enemies of the Empire. A more secretive method was also proposed, but ultimately declined, in which the Silent Bell answered directly to the Cardinal of Vigilance rather than the Council of the Nine as a whole. In the event, it became pretty clear that most of the people the Silent Bell were likely to end up investigating remained broadly oblivious to the statements of the Synod.
Malachai, the current preceptor of the Silent Bell is keen to avoid being drawn into the complex political machinations of Anvil as has sometimes happened in the past. The sodality exists to track down and investigate threats to the Empire. While they are not so foolish to imagine that none of those threats are present during the summit, this is not their area of expertise and as such they are determined to ensure that they stay out of Anvil politics. Consequently the one restriction they insist on is that they will only investigate threats whose primary source lies outside Anvil. They are happy to follow those leads wherever they go - but they will not investigate the affairs of an individual or band while they are at Anvil.
The Silent Bell is most effective when gathering information about threats to Imperial citizens. It is also an Imperial sodality. As such, it is only effective when it is working within the borders of the Empire. It has some ability to gather information in places that are not Imperial territories but have a significant Imperial presence - for example, they have some success operating in barbarian territories where the Imperial armies are present, especially if one of those armies contains trained scouts (the Seventh Wave and the Quiet Step are the obvious examples).
They are ineffective at gathering information outside Imperial borders. For example, they are rarely able to make contact with foreigners or barbarians, or infiltrate non-Imperial settlements. However, they can still investigate the influences such things may have closer to home. The Silent Bell will struggle to provide any useful intelligence about a Grendel Salt Lord, for example, but might still be able to identify someone who has that information within the Empire.OOC Note: The Silent Bell are also significantly less effective at investigating PvP scenarios. However, regardless of their limitations, their investigations will tend to turn up something for the next event, at least tangentially related to the matter they were instructed to investigate.
|Eater of Hope||Investigate the labyrinth spirit called the Eater-of-Hope.||379YE Summer||Jared of the Suns of Couros|
|Lady Barkheart||Investigate the heretic known as Lady Barkheart, who is known to preach of the false exemplar Mikkal of Freedom.||379YE Autumn||Silas of the Suns of Couros|
|Spear of Empress Teleri||Silas of the Suns of Couros would like the Silent Bell to investigate the theft of the Spear of Empress Teleri from her tomb in Necropolis two seasons ago||380YE Spring||Silas of the Suns of Couros|
|Hand of Glory||Investigate the activities of the Hand of Glory.||380YE Winter||Oberon Caeli Rezia di Tassato|
|Janon cults||Janon the Eternal of Night and cults associated with them - especially Freedom and people of note that have contact with him.||381YE Spring||Levitia Endsmeet|
|Grendel in Redoubt||Creation of a covert organisation in Redoubt by the Grendel||381YE Summer||Irada Von Temeschwar|
|The lost shield of Oath-Heart||Investigate the location of “Oath-Heart”, the legendary shield of Loyalty, once borne by Drumlin the Sworn of Wintermark.||381YE Autumn||Veikko Bondforger|
|Unvirtuous auras of cruelty||Evidence of unvirtuous auras caused by cruel tactics alone||381YE Winter||Irada Von Temeschwar|
|Freeborn of the Maw||Freeborn of the Maw who are idolators. They worship Rhianos and Siakha, and commit human sacrifice. We ask that you find the names of their notable persons, find out where they are, and any information that could be used to bring them to account for their idolatry. They are believed to be in Fontargenta, Feroz||382YE Spring||Irada von Temeschwar|
|Eater of Hope anchors||Investigate new anchors that the Eater-of-Hope may use to reform after its defeat in the Black Plateau||382YE Summer||Irada von Temeschwar|
|Heirs of Terunael||Investigate the Heirs of Terunael. They are in Brocéliande and state they are living in "symbiosis" with the vallorn. They appear to be idolising Yaw'nagrah and are lead by a charismatic leader. I ask you to find all you can on them, including who leads them, how they have come to be, their previous location and reach, and how we could stop them and their work||382YE Autumn||Irada von Temeschwar|
|Trade of liao to Iron Confederacy||Investigate if anyone of the Empire is trading liao with the Iron Confederacy||382YE Winter||Veikko Bondforger|
|Hatred||The practice of Hatred in the Mournwold cannot be tolerated any longer. We send Sister Meredith Stellamaris with 25 doses of liao to lead the Silent Bell in tracking down those whose heart has turned to Hate with the aid of the Grey Pilgrims.||383YE Autumn||Ser Ancél Watcher|
|Vengeance||Vengeance followers in the Empire. The Modnos family, Faraden, claim that from the time of Ahraz onwards "Genghis Modnos was committed to spreading 'Justice' in the Empire." We ask the SIlent Bell to follow the leads in Colwyn de Rondell's True Liao vision account (volume 5, Echoes of the Labyrinth) and subsequent civil service information on the topic to investigate the Modnos family's links to the Empire, to find out the truth of these claims, and if needed, root out any corruption they have planted||383YE Winter||Astrid Fjellrevening Rezia di Tassato|
- Tend to the Flame - Winter 383YE Wind of Fortune detailing the Silent Bell investigation of the Whittlefolk and their sect of Hatred
- Rise of Terunael - Autumn 383YE Wind of Fortune detailing the Silent Bell investigation of the Heirs of Terunael
- Double or nothingness - Spring 383YE Wind of Fortune detailing investigation of liao smuggling to the Iron Confederacy
- No evil shall escape our sight - the Winter 380YE Wind of Fortune that determined how the Silent Bell would interact with the Assembly of the Nine