No country can act wisely simultaneously in every part of the globe at every moment of time.

Henry Kissinger

Whatever must happen ultimately should happen immediately.

Henry Kissinger

A Crack in the Ice

  • Sumaah remains at war with the Empire; the port of Zemeh remains closed.

The changes to Doctrine authored by Bonewall Rek and Bonewall Cole have been successfully communicated to the pilgrims of the Way around the known world. During the Summer Solstice, an inquisition by priests from the Sumaah Republic visited Anvil. With the aid of the Highborn of Felix's Watch, the inquisition took place without any obvious problems. The Sumaah priests then returned to city of Timoj to present their findings to the präster of the Republic.

A month ago, the Sumaah republic formally recognised the virtue of Bonewall Rek and Bonewall Cole. The Sumaah have not as of yet embraced the new doctrines. The Sumaah Council of Eight has however extended a formal invitation to the two Imperial Orcs to come to Timoj and speak before the assemblies of the Way, and the House of the People

Bonewall Rek - the priest responsible for overseeing the dissemination of the Doctrine of the Ancestors and the Doctrine of the Howling Abyss - has accepted the invitation and set sail for the port-city of Zemeh on the first leg of a journey that few Imperial citizens have ever been permitted to undertake.

Gossip around the Sumaah embassy in Necropolis suggests that both House of the People and the Sumaah Synod have already begun discussing the implications of the two doctrines. The scuttlebutt suggests that Tipoa the Insightful, Präst of the Way, Utredare of the House of Wisdom, has given an extremely positive evaluation of the orc priests, and challenged centuries of Sumaah prejudice.

The civil service is preparing a briefing on the situation in Sumaah for the ambassador. The Republic still holds the Imperial Crown, and the port of Zemeh remains closed, but it is possible that a resolution of the "orc question" might finally clear the way for a détente between the two nations and an end to the (admittedly unreciprocated) state of war.

Accept everything about yourself - I mean everything, You are you and that is the beginning and the end - no apologies, no regrets.

Henry Kissinger

Asavean Archipelago

Relations with Asavea continue broadly positive. The Temple of Balo and the Black Bull continues to provide "spiritual" (albeit idolatrous) support to Asavean citizens in the Empire. Things are looking good. Work on the Temple of the Way in Nemoria is complete - the first priests have taken residency there and begun providing spiritual support to Imperial mariners and emigrants alike. The unfortunate affair of the Cavabianca Dock has been resolved, and the first shipments of white granite have arrived at the docks in Sarvos. It certainly seems as if the deténte between the Empire and the Archipelago has gone from strength to strength.

With the temple complete, the appointment of a liaison becomes relevant. The method of appointment was not specified in the original Senate motion so the necessary details are left to the senator who raised the motion - Maher i Zaydan i Riqueza to decide. The obvious methods for appointing the title would be appointment by Senate motion (if the title is seen as primarily diplomatic) or appointment by judgement of the General Assembly, or the Assembly of Nine (if the title is seen as primarily about matters of religion). A case could also be made for making it an Imperial title auctioned through the Imperial Bourse (if the title were seen as primarily economic in nature).

To be absolutely certain about something, one must know everything or nothing about it.

Henry Kissinger

Citadels of Axos

Word from traders visiting the Towers of Kantor is that the Axou attitude towards the Empire continues friendly. The competence of the Imperial Ambassador to Axos, Tarquinius of Ankarien, is widely praised in mercantile and diplomatic circles.

With the completion of the Black Sails Quay in Necropolis, Axou merchants now have reliable access to shipments of liao. Now that they are confident of being able to purchase liao at good prices, the artificially high demand for the valuable spiritual substance has finally abated. The price for liao has returned to normal - 12 rings each dose when sold through a congregation.

During the Summer Solstice, Agnetha de Rondell, Cardinal of Wisdom, extended an invitation on behalf of the Assembly of Nine to Axou scholars prepared to visit Imperial institutions of higher learning and share their peculiar faith. Over the last six weeks, several priests and students of spirituality have visited the Empire to lecture and occasionally engage in mannered debate with their opposite numbers within the Empire.

Most of the priests visiting the Empire appear to belong to a sect called the Order of the Ivory Cup who do not attempt to hide the fact that alongside powers the Empire recognise as Courage and Wisdom they practice a spiritual power that they call Understanding - a power that several scholars find unsettlingly familiar.

Lectures have taken place at the Citadel of Phoenix Reach, Bronwen's Rest Wayhouse in Therunin, the Icy Crag of the Eternal Sun in Miekarova, the Chantry of the SIlver Skull in Necropolis, and the Printer's Guild Museum of Wonders in Tassato. An invitation to speak to the Legion's Rookery in Skarsind was politely declined; the visiting Axou cited the great distances involved. After the initial invitations from the Synod, less formal invitations have been issued by the University of Holberg, the School of Epistemology in Tassato, the Diora University in Sarvos, and several other Imperial places of learning.

The odd philosophies of the Axou priests - a religion based around reverence of their ancestors as well as a vision of a world where the Creator is the enemy of humankind and the Labyrinth of Ages a cruel trick - turns Imperial doctrine on its head at every turn. Despite the almost preternaturally courteous nature of the Axou, there are some angry scenes in which offended priests openly seek to challenge their eastern visitors. While visiting Tassato, two of the priests are pelted with rotten vegetables and eggs by students from the School of Epistemology, and after a lecture at Bronwen's Rest a third priest is subjected to a curse of swarming insects. In each case, the priests cooperate fully with the magistrates - and are not shy about pressing charges where appropriate.

OOC Outcome: A new page, Axos religion, has been added to the main wiki summarizing the philosophy expressed by the Axou priests.

Each success only buys an admission ticket to a more difficult problem.

Henry Kissinger

Principalities of Jarm

  • The southern port of Vezak will supply an additional crystal mana to each visiting ship.
  • The northern port of Kavor, and the eastern port of Rigia, provide no additional materials.

Relations with Jarm remain positive. Imperial captains continue to receive warm welcomes and secure good deals with merchants in Vezak. Sadly, the port of Kavor has become a little less welcoming in comparison. There is a little muttering among the northern princes that the Empire clearly favours their traditional rivals in the southern alliance, as demonstrated by their preference for Vezak over Kavor. Still, Imperial captains are still welcome - it is simply that they are not seen as especially favoured trading partners.

The presence of the Sumaah temple continues to make Rigia a little chilly for Imperial captains. There is also talk of in-fighting between the Princes of the eastern faction - while their alliance has largely been recognised as a peer by the Princes of the north and south, this is a double-edged sword. The "upstart" faction is now being forced to compete with the much better established factions on an equal footing, and this is proving to be something of a challenge. The continuing decline of Imperial fleets visiting Rigia - especially in comparison to the more prosperous ports in the north and south - only exacerbates the situation.

If you don't know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.

Henry Kissinger

Faraden

  • There is no opportunity to trade with Faraden directly during downtime.

Relations with Faraden remain uncertain. The decision of the Senate to approve a trade hub in the Upwold settlement of King's Stoke has been met with widespread approval, and seen as a sign that a long-planned expansion of Faraden presence in the Empire is finally beginning to see some progress. Sadly, work has yet to begin - but the Faraden have already moved wagonloads of white granite into warehouses in Anduz in anticipation of their contribution to the project. The Court of the Five Winds is said to be very enthusiastic about securing easy access to Marcher grain, fruit, and alcohol.

Rumour says that Lady Saretta - the Faraden advisor to the Court of the Winds - favours similar enclaves in Dawn and Varushka. There is even talk of establishing "mercenary markets" in Tassato and Temeschwar when the enclaves are complete, dedicated to helping Faraden traders secure guards and guides for their trade with the Empire. Furthermore, Faraden merchants visiting the Empire have waxed lyrical about the grand construction project currently underway intending to link the four League cities together - the Blood Red Roads. The merchant families of the west are very keen to see that network extended to Anduz, in Segura, and have apparently been negotiating an offer to provide cheap white granite to help with such a project.

The positivity of the Faraden merchant families is not universally reflected in the nation as a whole, however. While many of their wizard families remain neutral or broadly pro-Imperial, most the warrior class, and much of the priestly class, remain suspicious of the Empire. So far this anti-Imperial faction has not taken any direct action against the Empire, however.

Finally, reports continue to reach Imperial traders of a virulent blight that has all but wiped out iridescent gloaming production in Faraden. The Gloaming Road - an arrangement overseen by Antonio i Carno i Guerra whereby the Freeborn export the valuable pigments in return for precious mithril - appears much in demand.

In crises the most daring course is often safest.

Henry Kissinger

Sarcophan Delves

  • Herb production has returned to normal

Relations with the Sarcophan Delves remain cordial, but neutral. Traders from the mercantile nation are a common sight in the Empire - not just around the Bay of Catazar but often much further in land. There have even been reports of a band of Sarcophan traders braving the long roads to Skarsind and Hahnmark on a speculative jaunt to sell herbs and healing supplies to the orc bonesetters and Wintermark's grimnir.

An agreement with the Grendel to ensure their ships retain free access to the Imperial ports remains a popular topic in waterside taverns and brothels; Sarcophan merchants make no effort to deny the presence of an orc embassy in the Delves. Sarcophan captains are more cautious about accusations that they are trading equally with both the Empire and the Broken Shore - especially rumours that they are selling Imperial goods on the docks of Dubhtraig! While such behavior would not be illegal - if it were taking place - but it could damage Sarcophan merchants' ability to trade profitably in Imperial ports.

The surplus of Cerulean Mazzarine, reported last season, has ended and prices have returned to normal.

No foreign policy - no matter how ingenious - has any chance of success if it is born in the minds of a few and carried in the hearts of none..

Henry Kissinger

The Commonwealth

Relations with the Commonwealth have not deteriorated further, although they are at best described as "cooly civil". Continued favoured-trader relationship status with Jarm appears to be the main reason for the relatively poor condition of relations between Empire and Commonwealth.

During the Summer Solstice, a representative of influential Commonwealth general Bernhardt Adenauer, commander of the Wagenkorps, visited the Empire in an unofficial capacity. The Wagenkors is apparently a Commonwealth army specialised in logistics and resupply that traditionally espouse strong views around abolitionism and emancipation. Information has filtered back that the representative has delivered a relatively optimistic report of their time at Anvil, expressing the opinion that the actual people of the Empire appear broadly anti-slavery - and that many of them see cordial relations with Jarm in particular as an opportunity to attempt to convince the Princes of the advantages of an economy not founded on slave labour. The attitude is widely derided as lacking any credibility and seen as hopelessly optimistic at best - and fundamentally self-serving at worst. But it is used by a few to suggest that the Empire might eventually be persuaded to take a more enlightened view of the evils of slavery.

Blessed are the people whose leaders can look destiny in the eye without flinching but also without attempting to play God.

Henry Kissinger

The Orcs of Otkodov

  • There is no opportunity for Imperial fleets to trade with the Thule, the Druj, or the Barrens Orcs during downtime.

With the completion of the Embassy to Otkodov in Miekarova, the northern orcs have grudgingly recognised the recently appointed Ambassador to Otkodov, Juha the Cavespider. Their emissary, Rak Who-Speaks-For-The-Dragons-United, is reportedly less than pleased he has had to give up the relative comforts of Void for the freezing weather and relative isolation of Coldmere, but has done so with relative good grace.

Shortly after the Summer Solstice, a small detachment of red-cloaked Thule orcs escorted a contingent of some fifty human slaves to the foothills of the Silver Peaks in Sermersuaq. The humans - all Imperial slaves taken either during the recent invasion of Skarsind or during Thule aggression in the Silver Peaks - were equipped in crude but serviceable furs and boots, and provided with sufficient food and water to reach Atalaq. All fifty slaves belonged to the Thule Warlock Skogr the Red, and were apparently freed as a result of a ransom agreement with the people of Wintermark. The slaves are currently readjusting to life in the open air - some of them had spent years working underground in mines for one Thule master or another before becoming the property of Skogr the Red.

Skogr the Red has also expressed his intention to send representatives to the Varushkan Winter Market during the coming summit to trade on his behalf - it is not clear whether this presents another opportunity to ransom slaves; whether the warlock is interested in merely purchasing Imperial goods; or whether this is a chance to acquire interesting Thule treasures.

The Dragons continue to offer to participate in the northern trade network, and remain interested in acquiring the remnants of the Runeforge beneath Gildenheim. If they have other offers to make, it is likely they will be detailed in the briefing delivered to the ambassador at the Autumn Equinox.

OOC Note

As always, these opportunities are significantly more volatile than most. The decisions of Imperial citizens during the coming summit have the potential to significantly alter relations between nations; we will reiterate the exact state of play when Downtime opens after the event.

Resolution

With regard to the Sumaah situation, the Imperial Senate voted to accept the ceasefire offered by the Republic.