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The room was full of smoke and the chinking of glasses. Renzio felt a little woozy, a little too warm, and entirely too damp. It didn't help that the taproom was shin-deep in filthy water - practically black from the dirty Tassatan streets. He lost his train of thought, staring at a duck that was brazenly swimming between the tables, being ignored by the other drinkers. A long day hefting sandbags around, and carrying furniture and occasionally elderly people or invalids up stairs, and people had better things to do than worry about sharing their tavern with ducks.

"I just don't get it," he said at last. The others stared at him.

"Moeraskriden, that I can see the point of," he mangled the name horribly, slurring it slightly, but he neither knew nor cared. "Everyone likes healing herbs and potions, and they're good at both of them. Same with Betovering. With Jarm pretty much shut down, pretty much, a nearby market for crystal mana has an appeal, never mind some goods with high resale. But why would anyone want to go to Shed... Shedalvn... to the other one? I mean really? What could they think any Imperial would want to buy from a place like that?"

The others were staring at him as if he had grown an extra head.

"I mean it sounds like a wretched hive of, you know, villains. Scum, thieves and bandits. They say it's a bit rough and tumble and this is the Sarcophan we're talking about. It sounds like the only reason you'd want to go there would be if you wanted to bring back a load of drugs and narcotics and yes, now I say it out loud I hear it. I'm an idiot aren't I?"

The rest of the table exploded in friendly laughter, and Lisia clapped him companionably on the shoulder.

"Now you see it," she said, and gestured for the potboy to bring over another tray of frothy Marcher beer.
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News from across the Known World pools at Anvil and provides fodder for any number of complicated conversations.
Click for audio version

Free Trade and Embargo

  • The Empire has entered into a reciprocal free trade arrangement with its allies in the Liberty Pact
  • The Imperial Senate has declared an embargo against the Principalities of Jarm
  • For the next year any fleet that trades with a Sumaah, Commonwealth, or Axos port receives a +1 rank bonus to production

During the Summer Solstice, the Imperial Senate chose to enter into a reciprocal free trade agreement with its partners in the Liberty Pact - the Sumaah Republic, the Commonwealth, and Axos. There are still some restrictions on trade; any number of items may be illegal or prescribed by the laws of the individual nation. But any tariffs are gone and the bureaucrats will seek to expedite any necessary paperwork to help merchants from fellow nations in the Pact. This means a significant reduction in costs, no need for things like docking and unloading permits and similar that all grease the wheels of commerce. This has already lead to a rise in the level of trade coming from the other three nations to Imperial ports, but this free trade has also harmed some Imperial businesses. The net effect overall is a noticeable loss of taxation by the treasury - but at least the reciprocal nature of the agreement means the loss is mitigated by an increased flow of trade to the allied nations.

While free trade has some implications for the Imperial Treasury, it provides significant benefits for the captains of merchant ships engaging in foreign trade. For the next year (until the start of the Autumn Equinox 385YE) every Imperial fleet that trades with the Sumaah Republic, Axos, or one of the two Commonwealth ports will receive a +1 rank bonus to its production. After that time, trade will have settled down a little as the markets respond to the new conditions.

At the same time, the Empire has joined the rest of the Liberty Pact in imposing a trade embargo on the Principalities of Jarm. This will result in further losses to the treasury, and has significantly impacted Imperial relations with Jarm - after all an embargo is one of the most hostile gestures that the Empire can make towards another state short of a declaration of war - and is treated accordingly.

Sanctions, Embargo, and the Liberty Pact
The Liberty Pact contains a number of principles, including that the member nations will "place economic or trade sanctions of their own choosing on nations defined as slaving nations above." Individual member nations can place or remove sanctions as they see fit - there's no requirement for an amendment to the pact if the Empire wishes to change the economic relationship with any of its neighbours. In theory, all that would be required would be for the Voice of Liberty to answer questions about the decision if it was brought up by one of the other signatories. In the same way the Empire has no direct say in how the Sumaah or the Commonwealth deal with the nations bordering them, as long as they adhere to the principles of the Liberty Pact it is unlikely the other signatories will be concerned about the specifics of Imperial trade relations.

Voice of the Dragons

  • The Dragons have issued an edict freeing all Thule slaves
  • The Thule anticipate that the Imperial Senate will remove sanctions on trade with Otkodov
  • The current Ambassador to Otkodov is Yevgeni Katsev of Varushka

Shortly before the start of the summit, a flurry of communication between the embassies in Otkodov and Varushka brought unprecedented news from the Thule orcs. It appears they are aware of the protests organized against them and have responded accordingly - thus the Dragons have issued a decree outlawing the practice of slavery throughout Thule lands! All slaves have been released, including any remaining Wintermark artisans. Those with even a tenuous tie to the Empire are being herded back over the border and will arrive within weeks. The letters of the Thule ambassador, Rak-Who-Speaks-For-The-Dragons-Undivided make it clear that having made such a magnanimous gesture, the Thule expect the Empire to respond appropriately.

Part of their concern relates to the safety of Thule warlocks threatened by the Jotun, but Rak claims that the Thule are also eager to see the Imperial Senate remove the trade sanctions it had placed against them after the Empire joined the Liberty Pact. As the Thule are no longer a slave-owning people, they expect the Senate to recognise that. They expect sanctions be removed, at which point the orcs of Otkodov will follow suit, welcoming Imperial merchants crossing the border into their lands.

For all the changes the Dragons have announced, some things have changed little in Thule lands. They maintain their rigid caste-based society, with the Dragons ruling over their subjects like living gods. While the former slaves are no longer chained, their freedom has wrought only minor improvements in their circumstances. They are still on the lowest rung of the ladder, and if they want to eat and have somewhere to live, they will still need to labour as their betters wish, and risk punishment if they transgress the Thule's draconian laws. It's questionable how much their freedom really means to the former-slaves of the Thule in any practical sense.

Stormy Weather

  • The magical storms have apparently harmed Thule mining and they are expecting some kind of recompense

There is a fly in the ointment however. During the Summer Solstice Imperial magicians unleashed a devastating tempest across the Empire. These same storms ravaged the Thule regions of Silver Peaks, Crow's Ridge, Miecharnya, Krevsaty, Bonewood, and Webwood. While they have experienced minimal flooding, the storms have not been any kinder to the orc settlements there than they have been to Imperial towns and villages. A note from Rak-Who-Speaks-For-The-Dragons acknowledges the timely warning offered by the Ambassador, and recognises that this was a reasonable use of magic in the circumstances, but stresses that the rains have significantly impacted Thule farms and mines. While their seers anticipate a crop of magical healing herbs as the magic works itself out, they are concerned about the damage done to their mines and Rak looks forward to seeing what kind of recompense the Senate is preparing to offer them.

Eldfell and Winter Markets

  • Thule settlers in Miechernya are interested in trading with their Varushkan neighbours

Finally, it appears that thanks to their Autumn magic enchantment the Thule have completed the construction of a fortification in Miechernya, in Miekarova. Eldfell is positioned to overlook the passes through to Otkodov, and also secures the eastern end of Ustyma's Gate (what the people of Wintermark called Wulfric's Fall). It appears the orcs were very keen to complete construction before the first snows; Miekarova has notoriously harsh Winters and it is not uncommon for the vales of Miechernya to be cut off for weeks on end.

In a somewhat surprising move, some of the Thule of the newly established orc settlements here have expressed an interest in participating in the traditional Winter Markets in Miechernya - offering precious metal ore, crystal mana, and the furs of Otkodovian beasts in return for food. This has done little to endear them to some of their neighbours - the Varushkans who have chosen to remain in their vales find themselves forced to pay significant taxes to their new orc overlords - anyone caught avoiding or refusing to pay these taxes risks summary punishment. Still a few - especially those in the more temperate lowlands - are cautiously interested in seeing what the orcs have to offer. After all, if the Imperial Synod accepts bargains with dark powers and eternals, it can hardly complain if hungry Varushkans bargain with flesh-and-blood orcs.

A New Order

  • The new Faraden regime has announced sweeping changes to their society
  • The current Ambassador to Faraden is Erasmo di Tassato of the League

During the Summer Solstice, news reached the Empire that the Faraden government had been replaced in a broadly bloodless coup, The new Liege of Five Winds - Tchinua Ganbatar - has the support of a significant majority of families apparently angered by repeated failures of the Court of the Five Winds to resolve the diplomatic situation with the Empire. In the weeks leading up to the Autumn Equinox, news reaches the Empire that one of the first acts of the new Faraden government has been to issue an edict outlawing the practice of enslaving foreign criminals and orcs.

Any Faraden criminal might be sentenced to a period of servitude based on the severity of their crime, the value of any goods stolen or damaged, or the degree of upset their crime has caused. A significant monetary value is placed on their misdeeds, and they are freed once they have notionally paid off the debt through hard labour. If they have family members who are prepared to take their errant relative back, they can pay to have the period of servitude ended. Repeat offenders invariably accrue much more significant debts - and in theory a recidivist thief may end up with a debt so large that they can never pay it off through labour. Yet the real problem comes with foreigners - penal servitude has previously only been an option for Faraden citizens. Foreign visitors, or enemies captured in war, are simply enslaved.

Now, the Court of Five Winds has decreed that everyone - Faraden and foreigner, human and orc - will be subject to the same laws. There will be no more indefinite slavery - all criminals will be treated the same. In principle the Faraden have done away with slavery. According to merchants travelling between Faraden and the Empire, the magistrates, priests, and lawkeepers of the western nation are working day and night to assess every foreigner condemned to slavery. Those who have might reasonably be considered to have paid off their debt are being freed and encouraged to return home. Those who have not are being given permission to contact their families and inform them of the "outstanding balance" on their sentence in case they wish to pay to have them released. While the new laws have caused controversy in Faraden society, the actual impact has been relatively minimal, and opposition to the changes is subdued. Part of the reason is believed to be that a majority of the priestly families are in full support - especially those who place particular stock in the virtues of Prosperity, Pride, or Justice.

Those orcs who have been enslaved by the Faraden have met a slightly different fate. Apparently every single one of them has been rounded up and marched north to the border, where they have been handed over to the Jotun. The Court of Five Winds has made no secret of what is happening; the Jotun agreed to pay the remaining debt of any orc held by the Faraden. What has happened to them now they are in Jotun hands, the Faraden do not seem to care. Obviously, any Imperial Orc prisoner of the Faraden will be treated just like any other foreign citizen - either released or allowed to contact their relatives to ask for their aid.

The Faraden ambassador to the Empire, Arban Tuvalk, has formally requested that in the light of this change the Imperial Senate remove trade sanctions against Faraden merchants. While it may take some time to complete this change, the Liege of Five Winds believes that their commitment to the task should be sufficient for the Empire and trust that the Empire will respond graciously.


  • The Modnos arsonists have been repatriated to Faraden
  • Recompense has been paid to those merchants unhappy about the abrogation of Moonwater Hall

Following the burning down of the Red River Museum, and the attack on Spider's Vantage, a number of criminals associated with the Modnos family of Faraden were arrested by the magistrates. During the Summer Solstice, it appears that their fines were paid by an anonymous benefactor (or benefactors), and the Faraden have since been released. Chief Magistrate Stanislav Karkovich is at pains to stress that had someone not paid the fines the criminals would have been executed. Anyone who wishes to know more should speak to the Magistrate. it is believed that the arsonists have left the Empire, bound for Faraden.

While there has been no news of any official censure of the Modnos family for their behaviour, news has reached the Empire that the price placed on the heart of Lord Colwynn de Rondell of Dawn has been rescinded. It is no longer possible to gain a reward for placing his heart in an Ephisis' Scale box.

At the same time, the Ambassador to Faraden Erasmo di Tassato of the League has apparently arranged for restitution to be paid to the Faraden merchants angered by the Senate decision to abrogate the trading enclave of Moonwater Hall. Details are not common knowledge, and anyone wishing to know more wlll need to talk to the Ambassador.


  • The Gloaming Road could become an Imperial title if the Senate wishes

One matter that has been raised by the Faraden embassy is the Gloaming Road. Iridescent gloaming is shipped along this important trade route, exported to Faraden, in return for mithril. The Faraden have an almost unquenchable thirst for Imperial gloaming - their love of brightly dyed fabrics coupled with comparatively few opportunities to produce it themselves - means they are always keen to buy it from Imperial citizens. The Gloaming Road was set up during the Gloaming Blight of 380YE that devastated the Iridescent Butterfly population in Faraden. The Blight was ultimately cured with the assistance of the Imperial Conclave and the eternal Sadogua, but the structures supporting the Road remain. It is something of a peculiar beast, however, being a non-Imperial title appointed by the Ambassador to Faraden.

The Liege of the Five Winds believes that this informal arrangement is less than ideal. While they are happy for it to continue for the time being, after discussion with the families involved, the proposal has been made that it might be better suited receiving the protection of the Imperial Senate. As such the Faraden are prepared to cede the facilities to the Imperial Senate. In practice, all this means is that the position would become an Imperial title. The Senate could accept this change with a single Senate Motion - all they would have to do is determine how the title would be appointed. The Civil Service are quick to point out that as the title produces a significant amount of mithril, the well-worn path would be via the Bourse. If it were Imperial, this would mean Auction of the Seats. if they wished to make it a national position, it would be appointed by Tally of the Votes and - due to its nature as a trade route - in theory while it would make sense to have it be a Brass Coast or League position it could be assigned to any Imperial nation. The important thing is the provision of Iridescent Gloaming, not the physical road involved.

Right now the amount of mithril that can be purchased, and the amount of Gloaming required, is restricted by trade sanctions. If the sanctions were removed, the trade route would likely provide a little more mithril each season and the price charged for each wain would drop.

Of course the Senate may not wish to accept the Faraden offer - by agreeing to be responsible for maintaining roads and bridges that form the western part of the route they would incur a cost to the Imperial Treasury of 5 Thrones each season - but it would bring the title under the control of the Empire.

The Faraden embassy is quick to point out that in no way should this be seen as expressing distrust in the Ambassador to Faraden. Quite the contrary - the Court of Five Winds is very pleased with the professionalism and competence of Erasmo di Tassato.

Ports Galore

  • The Sarcophan Delves are interested in securing for themselves the free trade enjoyed by the signatories to the Liberty Pact
  • The Ambassador to the Sarcophan Delves remains Thanmir Hrafnar

The Sarcophan Delves continue to be enthusiastic trade partners, always keen to work with Imperial merchants. Their enclave in Sarvos is prospering - although it has begun to gain something of a reputation as a den of licentiousness. Drugs and services available nowhere else in the Empire are allegedly for sale at the old Alivetti Estates if one has the coin. So far, nothing has spilled over into the surrounding city but there is a little unhappiness among some of the more strait-laced priests and magistrates at reports of what goes on on what is legally Sarcophan soil.

When news that the Liberty Pact has agreed to extend free trade to its signatories, the Sarcophan Delves become very eager to secure that status as well. The Empire already technically has free trade with Sarcophan - they don't charge any particular tariffs to anyone, and while there are always docking fees and the like they are rarely onerous. The Delves, after all, wants foreign merchants to visit its ports whenever possible. Thus they have made a grand offer, in return for the Imperial Senate extending free trade to cover the Delves the bedelaar huisbaas can secure access for Imperial merchants to one of the other ports along their coastline - and ensure they receive favourable access when they do so. It would be up to the Senate as to which port they think would be most appealing to Imperial traders.

Swampy Moeraskriden lies along the coast west of the Delves themselves, and is apparently the ideal location for merchants to purchase herbs and potions, especially elixirs of a medicinal nature. The Betovering Docks by contrast are in Sarcophan proper, and primarily cater to elite clientele from the city. Imperial merchants trading here would be able to secure favoured access to luxury goods - crystal mana, ingots of polished weltsilver, and art objects (money). The Schedalhaven are the third dock the bedelaar huisbaas favour - they are found to the west of the city and have a reputation for being a little rough. By all accounts, however, Schedalhaven does a roaring trade in narcotic and medicinal substances - both those produced in Sarcophan and imported from other ports across the known world.

Extend free trade to the Sarcophan and the Beggar Landlords will arrange access to a port of the Senate's choosing from the three mentioned above. There has apparently been some negotiation on this matter with the Ambassador to the Sarcophan Delves, Thranmir Hrafnar who will presumably know more.

Free Bregas

  • Mathilda Fisher will be visiting Anvil and be accompanied by a herald of the King of Narkyst
  • The delegation expects to be received at the Senate at seven in the evening on Saturday by the Imperial Consul
  • The Imperial Consul has authority to treat with the Jotun

Mathilda Fisher and a representative of the King of Narkyst, along with an unknown number of bodyguards, are expected to arrive at Anvil at seven o'clock on Saturday evening. They expect to be received by the Imperial Consul at the Senate building, and wish to negotiate a treaty between the Empire and the "Free Nation of Bregas". During earlier discussions of the situation in Bregasland, the Fishers have made clear that if the Senate recognises the neutrality of Bregasland the Jotun will agree not to use the marshes as a base of operations from which to attack the rest of the Marches. If such a treaty is not secured, then Mathilda will need the continued support of the Jotun jarls to defend her lands. This will almost certainly mean that the only way to secure Bregasland will be to support a Jotun invasion of Mitwold and Mournwold, and thus further bloodshed in the Marches.

Some questions have been raised about what such a treaty might mean for the Empire. One concern is that by recognising Bregasland as no longer Imperial, it might incur the wrath of the eternal Cathan Canae, whose frozen citadel is a valuable tool of war. Recent clarification of her intent however has laid at least this concern to rest - the Jotun have after all conquered Bregasland and there is no shame in admitting this.

Other questions have been raised, understandably, among the Marchers themselves. Few recognise the claim of Mathilda Fisher to the western marshes - indeed the Strong Reeds and House Greywater are still actively resisting the invaders. The Marcher assembly has been clear that the "Steward of Bregasland" can "do one" (to quote a particularly passionate friar). Yet there are also households in Mitwold and the western Mourn who do not look forward to a Jotun invasion. Meade itself is within striking distance of Gravenmarch, and the orcs of Green March are no more keen to see their former masters return them to thralldom.

There are also a few - particularly in Varushka and parts of the Brass Coast and Urizen - who have expressed the unworthy sentiment that it is perhaps about time the Marchers learned what it was like to have to give up their land to secure peace. Or does the Imperial Senate for some reason consider the Bregasland marshes more important than Spiral or Feroz? Why are Marcher lands too high a price to secure the Empire's borders?

Iron and Hands

  • Ser Pippin Lavasse will be visiting Anvil at 7:30 on Saturday evening
  • The Iron Confederacy is still seeking an agreement from the Empire to help them stamp out the Hand of Dumon once and for all
  • The current Ambassador to the Iron Confederacy is Lord Colwynn de Rondell of Dawn

Last season news reached the Empire that the Iron Confederacy was waging a war against its own people - specifically a war against the cultists of the God of Lies. Baroness Katerine Levasse of Meore - counterpart to the Imperial Ambassador Lord Colwynn de Rondell requested Senate aid to stamp out the Hand of Dumon once and for all. While the Senate has criminalized membership of the organisation, they have so far not made any attempt to agree to the Baroness' request.

The Suranni embassy has announced that a representative, Ser Pippin, will be visiting Anvil at half-past-seven on Saturday evening to meet with Lord Colwynn. Apparently, the diplomat also intends to take up the offer of an Imperial coven to remove the effects of a lingering curse placed on him by the Hand of Dumon. The Suranni intend to discuss two main topics - the Hand of Dumon and the thorny question of slavery. For the time being, however, the Iron Confederacy remains under economic sanctions. and the Suranni for their part forbid Imperial merchants to visit their ports or trade with their people.

While the Senate have been reticent to embrace any cooperation with the Iron Confederacy, the Imperial Conclave has offered sanctuary to any Suranni magician who can make it to the Empire - and the Archmage of Summer has enlisted the aid of the eternal Meraud to help bring the Iron Confederacy wizards to Imperial shores. While the Conclave has mandated that only those who "willingly convert to the Way" would find a welcome in the Empire, there is no easy way to enforce that nor is it possible to require them to do so ahead of time - the Way is literally illegal in the Iron Confederacy so there are no Suranni pilgrims, much less among the magicians. At the moment, it is proving quite difficult for all save a few individuals to make it to the Empire and without some kind of practical assistance it's unlikely many more will be able to escape the attentions of the priests of Arav.

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The Grendel treaty ends after the Autumn Equinox 385YE, but is due to be renegotiated in Spring of that year.

News from the Grendel

  • Governor Rahab is still furious, and forced to import slaves to replace the rescued Imperials
  • Salt Lord Kaliact continues to be well disposed toward the people of Spiral
  • The current Imperial Fleet Master is Ezro i Alvera i Erigo of the Brass Coast

Relations with the Grendel are broadly unchanged from where they were last season. Governor Rahab of Feroz is still absolutely furious by all accounts, impotently raging against the loss of face suffered by the evacuation of most of the Freeborn citizens from his territory. Ships in the Bay of Catazar report a number of vessels moving significant numbers of slaves into Feroz from Fort Fuil in Tathar - with no Imperials to work for him the Governor is being forced to bring in new labourers at great personal expense.

News from the other side of the Bay is that Salt Lord Kaliact is pleased to see the creation of the Spiral Envoy by the Imperial Senate. She continues to extend the freedoms negotiated during the Winter Solstice - the people of Spiral are able to move around freely, support the Citadel Guard if they wish, avoid onerous taxes, and even work on rituals for the Doyen of the Spires. In return, they continue to trade their knowledge of how to create structures and settlements that are protected from the influence of the malign force that squats at the centre of Spiral.

Indeed, news from Spiral is that the Salt Lord has already completed work on her two new fortifications - Suilven in Ossuary protects the southern end of the Twilight Gate while stout walls now surround the fortified Palace of Apulian. Both forts have been completed in record time - six months from start to finish. The Urizen citizens paid to work mithril nets into the construction agree that the speed of the construction is due to Autumn magic enchantments - but not magic worked by the Grendel themselves. They can only speak with certainty about the Palace of Apulian, but reports from the Urizeni say that Salt Lord Kaliact is hosting a delegation of magicians who by their dress and speech are from the Principalities of Jarm, and it is these magicians who laid the enchantment on the palace. Most likely, they are responsible for the enchantments on Suilven as well, and probably the magic woven into them last season also.

Thunder from Jarm

  • The Imperial Senate has embargoed the Principalities of Jarm
  • The Principalities of Jarm have severed ties with the Empire
  • The Ambassdor to the Principlaities of Jarm is currently Gelert Ashborn

During the Summer Solstice, the Imperial Senate offered a declaration of military neutrality with the Principalities of Jarm. They declared that "in the likely upcoming conflict between Jarm and the Commonwealth the Empire will remain militarily neutral unless we are attacked or directly forced into taking action." They also, however, embargoed all trade with Jarm. The reply from Lord Anton Trescher, the diplomatic advisor to the House of Princes is both swift and to the point.

"Your declaration of neutrality is suspiciously carefully phrased, but might have been sufficient to convince the House of Princes as to your sincerity. However, rather than allow the people of Jarm any chance to respond, you accompanied it by declaring you no longer wished to trade with us. We feel that act is more than sufficient to make clear your true intentions towards us."

In the weeks following the declaration, the House of Princes have apparently made it a criminal offence for Jarmish citizens to trade with Imperials. Among other things this has shut down the Pallas Docks, removed access to white seed, reduced the amount of mana available to the Tassato Mana Exchange, seen an exodus from the Jarmish Lodge in Tassato, and with no more Jarmish merchants approaching the Ambassador, seen the loss of their ministry.

The civil service believes that this has also damaged the credibility of Gelert Ashborn with their Jarmish opposite numbers - since it was the Ambassador who had persuaded the House of Princes to extend the deadline on its ultimatum on the understanding that a compromise would be reached.

The Silence of Asavea

There has been very little news from Asavea since the Summer Solstice. It appears that almost no Imperial merchant captains chose to take their vessels to Nemoria - perhaps wisely given events taking place at Chalonsio. The silence in the wake of the attack is frankly deafening.

What has also been conspicuous by its absence is any new shipments of white granite to the Cavabianca Docks. The last stone ordered by Radik Von Temeshwar, the Overseer of the Cavabianca Dock arrived on schedule and since then... nothing. It seems likely that the predictions of the predictions of Heraclien and Ragnabe familes have proved correct and they have been forced to stop trading with the Empire. Still, it is a little disturbing that nobody from either family has been in touch to explain what is going on. Perhaps the Ambassador will know more?