“But that isn’t true.”

There was a finality in the yeofolk’s voice that made the implied accusation in her broad-accented words all the more upsetting to Zaĥario. Taking a moment, he reached deep to a place of stillness that was his Pride and drank deep, calming himself just as he had at Maragladia. He recalled the sight of all which Nemoria had arrayed against his people: all they had laid on his path to freedom. Seemingly unconcerned with his contemplation, Dana heaved another forkful of grass from the cart onto the heap below with a casual flick of her wrists. The silence stretched between them.

“How is it…” Zaĥario began, wetting his lips as he sought the words for ‘Kion vi celas?’, giving up, he tried a different approach: “In what way?”

“Well…” Dana huffed as another tangle of grass was sent tumbling to the ground. One of the heifers at the growing pile lowed and Dana considered it briefly. “I’ve never heard of such a Paragon - neither at the Academy, nor from Troubadours - seems like such a tale would make a fair song.”

Zaĥario relaxed slightly - Dana didn’t think him a liar, she just didn’t believe him. But she at least was not dismissing all he had said. He frowned, sending sweat down his old scar and into his eye. As he mopped the stinging salt from his face with the hem of his old, tattered tunic, he didn’t notice the approach of Alys. The foreman returned his squinting, reddened gaze with a dour look that reminded him she did not find Zaĥario’s ‘oddities’ as endearing as Dana.

“No time for dithering, there’s two more wagons and two more fields before sundown.” Alys remarked, keeping her suspicious gaze on Zaĥario as he skewered as large a bushel of cattle feed as he could and sent it to the crowd of bovine onlookers.

“Zahhk was just telling me a story-” Dana drawled, planting her pitchfork’s tines and cocking her head at Zaĥario.

“Another tale about Richilde riding a wolf, was it?” Alys snorted, eyes roving disinterestedly across the other yeofolk laying out feed across the rocky, unyielding field.

“It was a lion.” Zaĥario corrected, with a smile strained by what he hoped could best be attributed to his toil.

“It could have been a pig for all I care, I’ve never heard such foolish fancy.” Alys shot back, grunting to help Dana dislodge a particularly reluctant heap of grass.

“This time it was about someone who couldn’t lie - and when they were to be killed for it - they vanished! Like Zemress.” Dana’s eyes danced as she recounted the tale - Zaĥario couldn’t tell if her light-heartedness was earnest, or intended to agitate the curmudgeonly foreman.

“Sounds like our foreigner friend should learn the sort of stories we like here in Dawn.” Alys’ eyes narrowed just a fraction as she uttered the word ‘foreigner’.

He could weather this, Zaĥario told himself, as he had weathered war, as he had weathered being chained.

“If he wants to be seen as a real yeoman of Dawn, he should stick to real Paragons - And. Not. Dither.” With that, Alys departed, seeking out others that weren’t properly earning their Prosperity.

The well within him dry, Zaĥario turned his face away from Dana and the pondering, placid attention of the cows. To give up what had kept him free during a lifetime in chains in exchange for a place to call home? Was that really freedom - or imprisonment of another kind? Bottling the thought away, he reassembled himself and continued working in silence.

“Oi, wonder what’s gotten under her cap, eh, Zahhk?” Dana chimed, looking at him vaguely concerned - the first expression of anything except bemusement she’d afforded him since they had met. There was another long pause of grass being heaved and scattered. “I figure you should keep telling your stories - the world always needs more.” She paused, squinting along the line of others labouring, “Plus it sure helps make field work more tolerable.”

Zaĥario smiled, it was an earnest smile, even if he felt bruised inside. Returning to work he thought for a while, and then began:

“A long time ago, Wise Taylor was born in the House of Chains…”

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Table of Plenty.jpg
Representatives of both groups of Asavean exiles are coming to Anvil during the Summer Solstice to discuss their future.


  • Two groups of Asavean refugees seek to establish new lives in the Empire
  • The Freefolk are former slaves whose peculiar approach to the Way raises eyebrows among more conservative priests
  • The Marracossans are defeated Asavean rebels who want to establish their own enclave in the Brass Coast

Since the evacuation of Arracossa during the short-lived Asavean civil war, there have been two groups of refugees in the Empire. The first group, who call themselves the Freefolk, now dwell in Astolat as guests of the House of the Proffered Hand. Invited to live among the yeofolk of Dawn, they seem to be hard working, driven people keen to build new lives for themselves. Unfortunately, the spiritual beliefs that play a large part in their lives have attracted criticism from some priests, leading to a growing sense of unease among the former Asavean slaves.

On the other side of the Empire in Madruga the other large group of Asavean refugees, the Marracossans, are much less interested in integrating. They show no signs of wishing to become Imperial citizens and seem content to live on the Brass Coast as foreigners at least for the moment. Their leader Leonorada Rousseau is keen to see her people rebuild their lives on foreign shores, but is looking for assurance and recognition from the Imperial Senate. In return, they are prepared to share some of the fruits of their artisanship with the Empire.

Strangers in a Strange Land

  • The Freefolk mostly live in Dawn, but regularly travel the Empire seeking work and a chance to learn more about the Empire

The 'Free Folk' are a population of foreigners evacuated from Marracossa after its failed uprising against Asavean hegemony. Unlike the Marracossans, they are former slaves freed during the uprising when the rebels needed additional troops. They have no loyalty to Asavea itself, unsurprisingly, and leapt at the invitation to leave Trajadoz and come to Caer Faucon. While they have begun to build homes in Astolat, members of the Folk may be encountered anywhere in the Empire, travelling via roads and trods alike. They are often looking for work, keen to learn more about their new home. They are also keen to visit places of pilgrimage, to learn more about virtuous paragons and exemplars, or to celebrate places connected with those inspirations they have previously only heard stories of. Virtue seems to be a cornerstone of Freefolk life; they proudly claim that their faith "made them free" even when they were forced to toil for their Asavean masters.

This past season there have been quite a few Freefolk visiting the Marches, primarily Upwold and Mitwold. They are no strangers to working in fields and orchards, or in the care of animals, or in the kind of outdoor labour required to dig ditches, flatten roads, maintain walls and hedgerows, or help to build in wood and stone. They work hard, and they expect to be paid a fair wage in keeping with their understanding of Prosperity, but they are also keen to celebrate once their day's work is done - swapping stories of Asavea and the rebellion, of their experiences in the Empire, and of their peculiar religion (of course).

Participation: Characters with a business, farm, mine, forest or herb garden personal resource are free to roleplay that they have interacted with or employed some of the Freefolk, especially in the Marches. Their Imperial is generally quite good, and they are scrupulously respectful, polite, and honest in their dealings with Imperial citizens. Their character is marked by a strong work ethic, balanced by an apparently genuine joy at the freedoms they experience and the marvels they see as they travel the Empire. Many are very interested in the Imperial nations - they know the most about Dawn and the Brass Coast but are excited to learn more about the other Imperial nations. They seem committed to building new lives in the Empire, and most seem to assume that they will eventually become Imperial citizens. They speak freely about their faith with anyone who expresses an interest - and they are always happy to hear stories of Imperial paragons, exemplars, heroes, and champions they are unfamiliar with.

Another Way

  • The Freefolk believe that they follow the Way, but many of their practices are quite different to those of orthodox Imperials
  • Some conservative priests are concerned about the way the Freefolk practice their religion

But all is not well: the Free Folk carry with them an unorthodox interpretation of the Way that some priests see as flagrantly heretical. The Freefolk are very keen to visit places of pilgrimage that have statues and images of paragons and exemplars. They are absolutely enamoured of the chapel known as Laroc Cathedral and its beautiful sculptures of Korl, Permion, Gilda Ashwine, and Inga Tarn for example, and it genuinely seems that every Freefolk able to travel north to the shores of the Semmerlak has visited over the last six months. At the same time there is marked confusion when they discover the House of Barbs in Hercynia and mistake the statues there for images of hitherto unknown exemplars.

This enthusiasm for artistic representations of inspirations is not a problem by itself; concerns come from the fact that the Freefolk seem to worship these images. This is particularly true when dealing with images of the beings they class as "La Diecoj" - "The Divines". While they claim this is their word for what the Empire knows as a "Paragon", there is serious concern that it might be better translated as "God". The language barrier does not help - while the Freefolk are learning Imperial quickly, their own dialect is a mixture of common Asavean and a more obscure tongue that seems unique to themselves. The Folk leave offerings and perform celebrations centred around statues, tombs, and relics purported to be associated with Imperial Paragons in order to reaffirm a personal connection with the Paragons themselves, who they believe exist beyond the Labyrinth within a 'Divine Family'. Counted amongst this family are some names familiar to Imperial believers - such as Richilde - but they also include a slew of characters the Imperial Synod has never heard of such as Truthful Alexio, or Tajlora the Wise.

Despite attempts at proselytizing and lecturing by those sympathetic to their history, the Folk have refused to renounce their paragons, nor the manner in which they practice their faith. Many have turned inward, the ebullient passion which they have previously expressed being replaced with a sombre determination to live their truth and follow the Virtues in their own way.

Believers or Blasphemers?

  • Troubadours and other faithful around Astolat - where many Free Folk can be found - seek clarity on how these outsiders should be treated.
  • There is concern that the spiritual danger that these travellers pose to those they meet on the roads.
  • Though welcomed into Dawn by a statement of principle, there is a question of what is to be done if the Free Folk continue to cling to their beliefs.

Critics of the Freefolk state that their practices are nothing less than idolatry. They believe that the Divine Family are simply Asavean gods in disguise - false idols that subvert their destiny. Although some of these "Divines" are clearly adopted or reinterpreted Paragons familiar to the Synod, others are entirely foreign - and possibly not real. In this view, the Folk are clearly blasphemers teaching and promoting false Paragons.

Those Folk with a stronger grasp of Imperial strenuously disagree. They argue that the Way recognises that the paragons personify both virtue and what it means to be human, and that the crime of idolatry involves subsuming human will to or venerating inhuman forces. How, they ask, can it be wrong to venerate a by-definition human force? They appear unwilling to accept that the Synod should have control over the people that others recognise as paragons - a view that has proved of particular interest to adherents of the Universalist and Foundationalist schools of thought. Their veneration is virtuous, they argue. Don't the Highborn build statues of the paragons? Don't priests of all nations look to emblems and symbols to inspire them?

There is fractious debate over how the Exemplars and Paragons of foreign nations such as Sumaah or National figures like Bolstering Bill who were not immediately recognized by the Synod should be treated. If these Paragons were to be investigated what should the Folk be expected to do in the meantime? And what about the General Assembly declaration - barely a year ago - that "it is acceptable to call for any virtuous human to be recognised as a paragon?". And what of the other judgements passed by the Synod recognizing and asking for tolerance and respect for the beliefs of the Empire's constituent nations? Should such tolerance be extended to the beliefs of foreigners who claim to follow the Way?

Those who are arguing that the Folk beliefs are heretical - a perversion of the doctrines - point to the Doctrines themselves for support. They say that if the Synod does not act to put down this heresy they will be breaking the Doctrine of The Paragons because the Freefolk are openly proclaiming strange Paragons with neither acceptable signs nor recognition, and freely speaking about them to Imperial citizens as if these things do not matter. They are mangling the Doctrine of the Labyrinth to tell fairy stories of some magical land of spirits where the faithful wait for their loved ones - a claim resonant of the recent Yaelian schism.

What is to be Done?

  • There is an opportunity to either suppress or embrace the Free Folk's worship through a statement of principle.
  • Any national assembly can pass a statement of principle expressing a perspective on the Free Folk's beliefs to direct their citizens as how they should be dealt with.

The Freefolk are not going to abandon their faith simply because a handful of priests tell them to do so. Their belief in their Divines gave them strength in the centuries they were enslaved by the Asaveans, and continue to help them build a strong community now that they are free. At the moment it is mostly traditionalist and orthodox priests who are concerned about the Freefolk. It seems the yeofolk among whom they live are broadly unconcerned about their peculiar beliefs, seeing them as a "little weird" rather than threatening. For some, their veneration of the paragons is only a more extreme example of the way some yeofolk look on the glorious and romantic champions in the troubadours tales - a comparison that does little to quell the concern among the Freefolk critics.

The conservative priests may not be wrong in their belief that trouble is brewing. Now that they are in the Empire, several Freefolk have been able to study the Liao ceremonies that Imperial priests take for granted. They are using some of the money they earn labouring to purchase liao so that they can create their own hallowed items and consecrated spaces. If they pursue their ambition of becoming Imperial citizens, then they are certainly going to build congregations where they preach their particular beliefs about the Paragons. Their enthusiasm for their Divines is infectious - the exuberant joy they take in sharing stories of their cultural heroes and speaking of their beliefs about the Labyrinth can be very compelling.

Amidst all this confusion there have been calls for the Imperial Synod to take action "before the situation deteriorates to the point where Caer Faucon becomes another Whittle." There are no mandates at this time; rather the priests concerned about the Freefolk, and the Freefolk themselves, have asked the Imperial Synod to make suitable statements of principle to offer guidance. The most appropriate assemblies in which to raise such statements are the Assembly of the Nine, the General Assembly, and (currently) the Dawnish national assembly given that is where the Freefolk are living. Other assemblies may wish to weigh in as well, although it is very unlikely that statements in the virtue assemblies will have much effect unless they are all united in their opinions.

Any such statements that achieve a greater majority will eventually be shared with the Freefolk by their friends. There is no possibility that a statement of principle by itself will convince them to give up their deeply-held beliefs, but it will contribute to the growing impression that they are not welcome in the Empire. Whatever else happens the outcome is very unlikely to be violence - the Freefolk are much more likely to seek homes elsewhere if the Synod makes it clear there is no place for them in the Empire.


  • The Freefolk are again planning to visit Anvil on Saturday

As with previous seasons, the Freefolk will again be at Anvil during the Summer Solstice. They intend to once again perform their celebration of the Sun Queen. These odd festivities were first witnessed by Imperial citizens last year and involve building an effigy of the Paragon and placing it on the Imperial Throne for veneration. Among their number this time however will be a few of those who have received instruction in Liao ceremonies, and who fulfil a function similar to that of Imperial priests within their own community. This presents an opportunity for Synod priests interested in their beliefs to have a proper conversation with the spiritual leaders of the Freefolk. They are expected to arrive on Saturday morning at some time - it's not clear exactly when but it is likely at least some of them will be actively seeking out priests to try and get to the bottom of whether there is a place for them in the Empire or not.

They have also expressed a strong interest in getting to know the people of the Marches a little better - they're planning to visit the Anvil camp and share some of their traditional delicacies with "the distant cousins of our distant cousins" as they apparently characterise the Marchers. They're are expected to arrive at the Marches camp some time after noon on Saturday.

Ruins on a Distant Shore

  • The Marracossans have established their own settlement at Trajadoz
  • They are seeking Senate recognition of their right to the land

The Freefolk were not the only foreigners delivered upon the shores of the Brass Coast after the failed uprising. The upper classes of Asavean society - the slave-owning, Plenum-associated, refugees - form a small majority of all those refugees currently living in the Empire. Bringing as much of their wealth with them as they could carry, they were told in no uncertain terms that they are to no longer rely upon slaves for prosperity. These exiles have settled the abandoned Freeborn settlement of Trajadoz in northern Madruga. Here they have rebuilt, spending their salvaged wealth carefully with the Freeborn to construct small estates, recapture the overgrown farms from the weeds that overrun them, and establish a few workshops for the use of their artisans. They are just about able to support themselves, and can afford to pay a reasonable wage to the Freeborn labourers who work their new farms. Most of their former slaves have left Trajadoz to begin new lives as Freefolk guests of the House of the Proffered Hand. Others have quit Trajadoz to embrace the Freeborn way of life with the aid of the House of Guerra and the support of Dust, Flame and Glass. The few who have stayed behind were once more "privileged" slaves - tutors, housekeepers, factotums, and aides - they continue in their former roles, but now as free citizens.

The Marracossans (never Nemorians, and rarely accepting Asavean) are a disparate group; made up of priests and soldiers, crafters and traders who have spent the last nine months coming to terms with their new circumstances. Some have adapted better than others, of course. The older nobles apparently spend much of their time bemoaning their lost lives of privilege and influence, while the younger generation has shown a stronger pragmatic streak, taking up lives as traders, or as translators, mercenaries, and teachers for their Freeborn neighbours. One area where they apparently excel is in the crafting of magical talismans of various sorts - including several unknown to Imperial artisans. In particular, they appear very proud of the tools they make explicitly for the use of artisans. "Once upon a time, even the Nemorians respected the quality of our tools. Before they started to take us for granted, of course, and assumed that we should give of our skill out of patriotism" as one of the traders explains. Their abilities apparently go far beyond things such as the Lodestone Shears, but they require large amounts of material to create and so until they have established themselves their ability to craft them has been limited.

Though they have built no temples, shrines or edifices to their gods, the exiles still follow their particular version of the Asavean faith. There are a small number of priests among them who, while discreet, do not attempt to conceal the fact that they lead religious services venerating their gods. When they first arrived in Madruga, they requested permission to build a temple dedicated to the Three Gods of Marracoss - permission that was not forthcoming. They have not repeated their request, instead having converted an old parador near the centre of Trajadoz to a place of worship. Outsiders are not invited to their ceremonies, and they have scrupulously avoided proselytising or spread their faith to Imperial citizens. They are well aware that their beliefs are at odds with the orthodoxy of the Synod, but they also have no interest in abandoning their faith and the connection to their past it provides them.

Participation: Any Freeborn character is free to roleplay that they have interacted with the Marracossans. Those who deal with the people of the Brass Coast - generally younger or more free-thinking individuals - are working hard to master Imperial and are occasionally seen at markets and paradors across Madruga. They are notable by their dress - they still favour the long tunics and loose robes they wore when they still lived in Asavea. At first it is common for them to wear white tunics or robes, but as they have settled in at Trajadoz they have come to understand the negative connotations related to that colour and are now much more likely to wear clothes of the brighter hues common across the Brass Coast. One element that causes a little conflict is that they are used to dealing with a corrupt economy based on graft and bribery - they often try to offer inducements to gain special privilege but expect such dealings to be underhand and discreet. As can be imagined, this is very much at odds with the traditional Freeborn embace of brazen honesty, especially in business dealings.

As mentioned above, they refuse to talk about their religion with outsiders and they are not interested in the Way.

Leonorada Rousseau currently resides in Trajadoz, Torres, Madruga for anyone who wants to talk about Marracossan business via Call Winged Messenger.

Earning Their Way

  • Desiring stability and a formalization of their relationship with the Senate the Marracossans request that Trajadoz be ceded to them
  • In return for privacy and freedom to maintain their religion they will share some unique magic items with the Empire
  • A Marracossan legate will visit Anvil on Friday at around 10pm to speak with the Ambassador to Asavea

Now that the exiles have settled in, they have expressed a great deal of interest in ensuring that their homes will not be taken away from them again. While a few have chosen to become citizens of the Brass Coast or the League, the majority wish to remain Marracossans. Indeed, the uprising in Asavea was all about their desire to reclaim their identity separate from that of the Nemorians. Their most fervent wish appears to be to be left alone to practice their own customs without interference from the Empire. They're quick to point out that they are not taking about slavery - they are well aware of the realities of the situation here and anyway they don't have any slaves any more. What they want is the religious and cultural freedom to govern themselves in their traditional way.

Leonorada Rousseau, the priest of the god Aseus, is doing most of the work liaising with the Empire, thanks in part to her fluent grasp of Imperial tongue. The émigré community wishes to claim the abandoned town of Trajadoz from the Empire so that they may feel comfortable in their new home. Essentially, they are requesting that the Senate cede the town of Trajadoz and its environs to them. They are already living in the town, working the fields, and operating businesses. From their point of view it is a mere formality, but the Senate may well have different opinions.

During the Spring Equinox a Legate - a former General - Glaucia Herminia, made the journey to Anvil to explore the purchase of the Madrugan town. The proposal is that in return for ceding Trajadoz, they will provide the Empire with access to the goods produced by their adept artisans. This would create an Imperial title - the Marracossa Sendito - who would represent the Empire to the Marracossans, and vice versa. In return they would gain access to a ministry allowing them to purchase some of the magic items the émigré artisans can create - some of which are unknown in the Empire. Creating this title would not incur any costs to the Senate, and would not require any kind of commission - it is a purely diplomatic matter. It would, obviously, require a Senate motion to cede the town of Trajadoz however and to determine how the Marracossa Sendito would be appointed. The Marracossans themselves seem broadly unconcerned whether it is a National Position (appointed by the Freeborn) or an Imperial position (available to any citizen) but they have insisted that it be appointed via the Imperial Bourse to ensure that it is held by someone whose first concern is trade rather than religion or politics.

Legate Herminia intends to visit Anvil during the Summer Solstice with some examples of the things the Marracossan crafters can make so that representatives of the Empire can choose which ones they are interested in buying. Exactly which items the Marracossa Sendito can purchase would be a matter for negotiation - the more concessions the Senate is prepared to make, the more options the ministry would provide. The Legate is expected to arrive at around 10pm on Friday during the Summit, and hopes to speak with the Ambassador to Asavea. That title is due to be re-elected at the Summer Solstice but the civil service are keen to point out that the incumbent - Pakt of the Imperial Orcs - will remain in the title until it is reappointed or the end of the summit.

Game Information

It is not possible to create a character who is one of the Freefolk, or the Marracossan émigrés.

Further Reading

  • On the outside looking inside - Spring 383YE wind of fortune talking about recent events with the refugees
  • All at sea - Winter 383YE wind of fortune detailing relations between the refugees and the Empire
  • Large but far away - Autumn 383YE wind of fortune detailing the arrival of the Marracossans and Freefolk
  • Through my sails - Summer 383YE wind of fortune introducing the opportunity to evacuate Aracossa