Luca ducked under the heavy wooden beam the stevedore was carrying his shoulder. The woman spat a curse at him as he did so, so he threw two back, one for the morning and one for the night as Valentina always put it. She shook her fist at him as he danced away backwards, keeping his eyes on her as did so. She'd never catch him with that baulk of weirwood on her back, but if she cared enough to put it down, he'd have to hightail it out of here.

The sun was just rising on the dockfront. He liked to get up at Dawn. Enough light to see, not enough light for anyone to see what you were doing. Nothing illegal about it... but if he wanted to eat well this week, it was better if nobody saw him coming and going. The less people who knew where the pots were... the less chance one of them might suddenly go "missing".

Having reached the waterfront, he looked left and right to check no-one was looking then reached down to grab the rope he tied to the wharf. Hauling hard, he pulled up his home-made trap, hoping for a big lobster or a crab, but it was empty. These traps were his Pride and joy - he'd spent hours making them from flotsam and jetsam, after he'd watcher the professionals at work out in the harbour. One day he'd save enough to have a boat and be able to put his pots out in the bay, like they did. After that he'd have enough to buy a proper ship and be a captain. And after that...

His thoughts trailed off as he'd reached the pier. A year ago this had been his best spot for one of his pots. He could climb down under the pier and then get right out over the water. It was dangerous down there - which was great, meant thieves stayed well away from his pots.

Only problem was... the water just kept rising. When he'd first chosen this spot, the water was way down at low-tide, plenty of room for him to clamber across the piers support timbers without fear or getting wet. Recently it seemed like it was always high-tide. Whenever he got down here the dark water would be lapping at the pier side, the timbers all fully underwater. Nothing for it... he was gonna have to get wet. Again.

It was a nuisance, but this was his best pot. There was bound to be a fat lobster in there and Ma'Bella would pay 5 rings for a good one. Getting wet was a price well worth paying for that kind of money! So long as the water didn't keep rising... everything would be fine.


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At the Summer Solstice 383YE, the the Hag Queen found a way to inflict a terrible curse on Sarvos - shattering every mirror in the Jewelled City. The curse destroyed every shard of silvered glass to be found anywhere. It was not just the countless elegant wall and vanity mirrors found in every wealthy Sarvosan home that were attacked.

Folk legend has long held that if the mirrors were shattered then the city would surely fall. A sense of impending doom hung over the city, with fears of flooding, fires and worse. Imperial magicians confirmed that Skathe's curse had run its course, but a powerful hearth magic threatened peril if the city's shattered identity could not be restored.

In response the city came together, not in restoration, but in renewal, resurgence and reinvention. The mirrors are gone, but Sarvosans do not mourn what is lost but instead celebrate what is gained. Once the Bourné School of Couture is recognised, Sarvos will be reborn as the City of Masks.

First though there is just the small matter of a little doom...

A Little Doom

  • A number of fires turn out to be the work of criminal arsonists
  • A major conflagration damages the waterfront of Caricomare

The fears of the Doom of Sarvos soon proved to be nothing more than the over-wrought imagination of a few playwrights. Worries of the rising sea levels in Caricomare turned out to be nothing more than a few high tides caused by a full moon and a conjunction of the Drowned Man and they pass without incident. Concerns about the tide of rising corpses beneath the city were emphatically dealt with by the brave actions of the city's defenders as bravos and the like battled the creatures in the tight confines of the city sewers. And as for the overblown warnings that the entire city could go up in flames at any moment. Well, it turned out the City just needed a little help with that... and a little help is exactly what it got.

In the months following the Autumn Equinox, the city is plagued by a series of fires, apparently beginning almost at random through the city. Several important buildings are badly damaged, but the efforts of the city's firefighters are enough to keep the blazes under control. A few weeks later, just as the final work is being completed on the new school of couture, the source of these terrible fires is revealed. Three bravos working for the Carta du Incendio are apprehended attempting to set fire to the College of the Liberated in Trivento. Caught in the act, the college suffers only minor damage and on questioning it soon transpires that the Carta du Incendio has been deliberately setting fires in Sarvos in the hopes of ensuring that contracts for their firefighting skills would be forthcoming. All the criminals involved are quickly apprehended and tried by magistrates, both the bravos and the Carta's leaders who put them up to it.

Everyone breathes a sigh of relief that the Doom of Sarvos has been averted. People are finally able to relax and celebrate. The school of couture is complete and will open soon, and Sarvos has an exciting future ahead. For a month all is good and then, two weeks before the Winter Solstice... a stevedore accidentally knocks a bucket of burning coals over while unloading timber on the Caricomare docks. The coals are scattered into a pile of broken packing crates that the dockworkers were planning to burn to keep warm. The fire catches hold, spreads, and burns for five hours before it can be brought under control. By the time that happens, half the waterfront is gone.

Rebuilding will take time, but in the cool morning light it becomes clear that the damage is not as bad as it could have been. The docks still function - albeit under a pall of heavy smoke and a patina of ash. It could have been so much worse. There are a few jokes about Caricomare being the cursed district but they fall flat. This time the waterfront was damaged, but if the wind had been blowing in a different direction there's no doubt the fire would have swept inland, potentially turning Caricomare - and perhaps parts of the city proper - into a burnt wasteland.

The School of Couture

  • The House Bourné School of Couture has been completed in Sarvos
  • The Mirrored Maschieri will be appointed once the Senator for Sarvos decides how that is to be done
  • The merchant-prince of House Bourné has prepared a letter to be delivered to whomsoever is appointed to the title

The new House Bourné School of Couture is not the largest building in Sarvos, but without doubt it is one of the most elegant. An extraordinary piece of architecture, no expense has been spared to ensure it reflects the very latest artistic styles. With its completion, the new Imperial title of the Mirrored Maschieri becomes available to be appointed. If Merchant Prince Genia Bourné di Sarvos was disappointed not to head up the new School, they show no sign of it. Quite the opposite in fact, the Prince seems to view the new position as a potential ally in her quest to ensure that Sarvos secures its position as the most dramatic, elegant and electrifying city in the world.

To that end the prince has written a letter addressed to whoever takes on the new title, outlining a proposal for the League's benefits. She has passed the letter to the League egregore who should have it on her person at the forthcoming summit. Once someone is appointed to the position, they can collect the letter from the Contessa.

Of course that leaves the question of who is going to be appointed to the position. And how - the Senate motion to commission the School of Couture provides no details on how the title will be elected. That question will have to be settled before anyone can benefit from the schemas. Since the details were not included in the original Senate motion, the authority to do that falls solely on the shoulders of the senator who raised the motion, the Senator for Sarvos, Nessetta Constanta.

The Masks of Sarvos

  • The League can embrace Sarvos as the City of Masks

Now that the school is complete, there is an opportunity for the city and the League to embrace a powerful new identity. The City of Mirrors is no more, but Sarvos could become the City of Masks. All the ingredients are there, but to complete the transformation requires the people of the League to embrace this new personae for the city. It is not just a matter of the people of Sarvos, how the city is seen by the other inhabitants of the League is almost as important as how Sarvos sees itself.

To achieve this metamorphosis requires the League Assembly to pass a suitably worded mandate with a greater majority. Genia Bourné has suggested the following wording, but she has made it plain that she is a designer not a writer and she encourages the priests of the League to word the sentiments better than she has been able to.

We proclaim our Pride by how we conduct every part of our life. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to urge the League to embrace the City of Masks.

Synod Mandate, League Assembly

If this mandate is passed then Sarvos will become the City of Masks and the ominous doom that threatens the city's future will be averted. There may be additional unlooked for effects, hopefully benefits, but the civil service advise that matters of faith are hard for the civil service to predict, because they are complex, nuanced, and can be heavily influenced by changing conditions.

A Source of Celebration

  • There is talk of a new festival, a Masquerade, during the Summer Solstice

The hope of many is that if the League chooses to enact the mandate allowing Sarvos to become the City of Masks, then it will present an opportunity for celebration and festivities. The cities of the League has been buffeted by many headwinds in recent years, and Sarvos has suffered more than most, first with the piracy of the Grendel and now with the spite of the Hag Queen. What better way to show Skathe she has failed than by celebrating the triumph with a masquerade? A party where the dress code absolutely insists that everyone present wear a mask.

Masquerades and masked balls have always been a popular part of League culture. Masks are such an important part of League life, that most citizens need little excuse to don one. Some masquerades have complex rules on what masks can be worn and what each signifies - others simply invite people to don their finest clothes, put on their finest manners and enjoy the revelries. A well thought-out masquerade is regarded as an artform in itself. Genia and some of the merchant princes of Sarvos and Tassato are already making plans to host their own masquerade, each looking to capitalize on the flowering or Pride that will follow if the mandate is enacted, each hoping to outdo the other.

Both of the League egregores, the Contessa and the Harlequin suggest that now could be a perfect opportunity for those League citizens who attend Anvil to plan a masquerade of their own. The magical mirrors that his Grace, The Duke of Joy and Sorrow, used to bring to Anvil once a year were shattered along with the others when Skathe's curse struck Sarvos. It is not clear if the mirrors were in the city at the time, or whether their destruction is simply a reflection of the Jewelled City's fate. Either way they are gone... but could a masquerade not replace them?

Of course to do it well, such a thing would need a lot of planning, a lot of preparation. But the timing would seem apposite, if the mandate were passed at the Winter Solstice. That would mean the well-to-citizens of the League who attend Anvil would have a season to prepare if they wanted to hold the masquerade at the Spring Equinox and that would allow the new celebration to capitalise on the effects of the mandate and revel in the moment of League's triumph over the Hag Queen.

Songs and Spices

  • Opportunities to build the Palace of Glass and the Greatest Taste still exist

On the run up to the Autumn Equinox Bethany Gustava von Sarvos and Martina di Sarvos presented alternative ideas for Sarvos, as the City of Songs and the City of Spices respectively. While passion for the City of Masks is already rising, it is not a fait accompli until the mandate is enacted. Either Bethany's plan to renovate the Glass Palace or Martina's dream to open a fabulous open-air restaurant could still provide a way to avert Sarvos' doom. Time is pressing, but the city could still decide to commission and build one of them and then the mandate could be attempted the season after. In fact, both of the two buildings could be commissioned were the League so inclined to support the advancement of the arts in the city.

The Lion's Academy Tournament

  • The Lion's Academy plans to present a bridge-duelling tourney in honour of the House of Couture

The Lion's Academy is a school of swordfighting based in Holberg, inspired by the legacy of Adelmar the Lion. The founder, Brann von Holberg, has praised the creation of the School of Couture less for what it says about Sarvos, and more for the recognition that the virtuous should strive for excellence in every endeavour - something close to the heart of their beloved exemplar. As a consequence, Brann wishes to sponsor a bridge-duelling tournament at the upcoming summit.

Eight Free Companies of the League have been specifically invited to submit a participant. In addition, the tournament will begin with an open melee - open to any bravo who wishes to participate - with the last competitors left standing also earning a place in the tournament. Promotions for the tournament emphasise that the grand prize will not be determined solely by victories, but how fighters embody the ideal of the virtuous bravo and echo the inspiration of Adelmar. Ambition, style, verve, and wit, as well as fighting spirit, are the traits that will win the day. Judges will be recruited to preside over the competition, and Brann hopes that the Mirrored Maschieri will be one of them.

Brann von Holberg will visit Anvil on Friday evening to finalise the particulars of the tourney, and will welcomes assistance with organisation and promotion. The tournament itself taking place at 3pm on Saturday.


Following the Winter Solstice, Aureliana di Sarvos enacted a mandate to formally renew Sarvos as the City of Masks.

Further Reading