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Elin Quiet Words examined the shadowed face that stared out at her from beneath the black cowl. The herald's face was stony, inscrutable, it held no indication of the enormity of what it had said. The demands it made were outrageous... unthinkable... But that was the problem when you dealt with the eternals of the Winter Wastelands. There was no room for compromise, no room for negotiation. You either took their aid and paid the price they demanded for it... or you left empty-handed and hungry.

"It's too much" she said, as much to herself as to the Sorrowful One's minion. "There must be some other way?"

"There is no other way" the creature responded, its flat lifeless tones scraping at her nerves. "If you would have the Dark Between the Stars come to your aid - then you must meet the price."

"I can't... I can't take this offer to the steadings, the stridings." she protested, feeling the bile rise in her throat. "It can't end like this. It just can't".

For a long time the creature said nothing. Just stood, lifeless as stone, staring at her. There was no hate in its eyes... there was nothing there at all. The gaze was cold and lifeless, its eyes as flat and dead and the voice it used. She remembered a Highborn magister claiming once that all eternals were evil - but the Winter realm was the only one that never pretended otherwise. Finally it spoke - one more sentence - just three more words.

"All things end."

And then it was gone and the audience was over.


At the recent Summer Solstice, the Navarr performed the potent curse Wither the Seed on the territory of Brocéliande. The magic was used to hinder the vallorn, allowing the Empire to exploit a crucial weakness and try to claim more territory from the Navarr's ancient enemy. While the Winter ritual has succeeded in inhibiting and sapping the energy of the Vallorn, it has taken a deadly toll on those Navarr eking out an existence in the territory. With every passing year, fewer and fewer children will be born in the territory, and it will get worse over the three decades that the curse endures.

Faced with this grim future, the people of Brocéliande appealed to the nation to find some way to lift the terrible curse. They can endure its baneful energies for long enough to allow the Navarr to press the advantage against the Vallorn, but if the curse cannot then be lifted, they will be faced with a grim future. The idea of giving up on Brocéliande is deeply unpalatable - but so is the idea of seeing one's line wither and die. The thought of enduring that for thirty years is simply more than many of them can bear.

In response the Navarr assembly called for the vates to seek out ways that the curse might be lifted. Corey Wayfarer raised the judgement and with the backing of the greater majority of the Assembly he agreed to spread word throughout the land, urging the people of the nation to seek out ways this hideous curse might be broken.

The people of Brocéliande stand guard against the vallorn, but they should not sacrifice their future to do so. The curse can be removed, but it will require a great working of magic to do so. We send Corey Wayfarer with 50 liao to urge all the people of the nation to identify ways that we might raise the magical might we need.

Corey Wayfarer, Navarr Assembly, Autumn Equinox 383YE, Upheld (Greater Majority 190-0)


  • Commissions could be built to provide the vates with potions to help power their magic

There are two obvious ways the curse might be broken, using either powerful Spring magic to try and directly counter the effects, or perversely using powerful Winter magic to try and weaken the magic enough to end it. Either is likely to require the Navarr to perform a powerful ritual, using a regio that will potentially need to be defended from the Vallorn and perhaps other threats as well. It's not possible to perform the ritual at Anvil, since Brocéliande is not part of the Empire.

Getting enough vates to be able to cast a powerful ritual is not easy task, but it is harder still if those magicians have to leave Anvil to do so. What would make it easier, potentially much easier, is if the Navarr have a good cache of powerful potions that boost a ritualists ability to draw on the power of the appropriate realm. Such potions are not cheap but they last until they are used so if the Navarr can start acquiring them now, then they could stockpile them in readiness.

8 crowns3 Vernal Balms
17 crowns6 Vernal Balms
1 ilium, 6 crowns1 Talonvine Infusion
1 ilium, 14 crowns1 Talonvine Infusion, 3 Vernal Balms
2 ilium, 12 crowns2 Talonvine Infusions
2 ilium, 18 crowns2 Talonvine Infusions, 3 Vernal Balms

A number of vates make suggestions for commissions that might provide one or more useful resources, but the biggest problem is that nobody is quite certain at this stage whether they need Spring or Winter magic (indeed one vate even suggests that they might use a powerful Night ritual to try and disrupt or mutate the shape of the curse into something else). The argument continues for some time, until Niamh Swan's Rest a broker who specialises in the purchase of potions suggests that what is really needed here is some flexibility. The resources the Navarr need already exist, they just need someone to connect them up.

She proposes to commission the Brokers Chain, a set of three small offices, one in Peakedge Stead in Therunin, one in Treji in Hercynia, and one in the city of Seren. Normally something like this would need three different commissions and three different citizens to run the offices, but the Navarr are masters of linking people up across the Empire. The civil service confirm that the Navarr could construct the Brokers Chain with a single commission and have it overseen by a single Navarr citizen.

Niamh's idea is elegantly simple, the Navarr Assembly can use a statement of principle to spread the word of whatever potions the nation needs throughout the Empire. Navarr stridings can purchase the potions wherever they become available... and then just drop them in at the next Broker's Chain office they pass, or else pass them on to another striding who can. It will need money to make it work of course... but it's a simple, elegant solution that would leverage the one thing the Navarr do better than anyone else - going everywhere and talking to everyone.

The Brokers Chain would require a Senate motion or a wayleave to authorize and would require a single commission slot to build. It would need 16 wains of weirwood and cost 32 crowns but could be built in a single season. Once complete it would create a new Imperial title, the Factor of the Broker's Chain. This would need to be a Navarr appointment, preferably a broker for obvious reasons, but Niamh suggests that it would work best if it were a Navarr National Assembly appointment, since the position would have to work closely with the Navarr in the Synod.

Initially the Brokers Chain would allow the Factor to invest money each season to purchase one or more Vernal Balm potions or even a Talonvine Infusion if the ilium could be found to pay for it. However if needed, the Navarr Assembly could use a Statement of Principle to encourage all the brokers connected to the Chain to look out for any chance to buy the equivalent potions that exist for the other realms. That is they could change to the equivalent potions from the Decoctions of Hoarfrost, the Unguents of Falling Leaves, the Tinctures of True Eminence, the Lambent Essences or the Magnum Opus.

The one flaw in the Brokers Chain is that it would only work if all three offices were up and running. If the region one of them was in were captured or overrun, then the entire network would become inoperable until it was regained or replaced.


  • There is rumour of a ritual text possessed by the Princes of Jarm that might remove Wither the Seed

Drustan Brocs Guard is a middle-aged vate who travelled widely in his youth, including long periods spent travelling and studying in Jarm. According to Drustan, he once stayed in Vezak where he "encountered" a young Jarmish prince by the name of Raina Telep whose family ruled the Principality of Hordoba. Hordoba was engaged in a furious struggle with the neighbouring Principality of Garjina with each side accusing the other of cursing their territory.

Magician Prince Raina Telep, Principality of Hordoba.

Drustan was arrested by the Hordoba authorities on suspicion of spying for Garjina and endured months of imprisonment and painful questioning. The relevance of this sorry story is that during his interrogation, Raina Telep visited him in his cell to gloat over "his defeat". Drustan recalls that the young prince seemed convinced that he was part of Garjina's schemes and that he had helped to create the powerful Winter curse that was afflicting Hordoba, causing misery and infertility. Raina had come to boast having secured possession of a powerful Spring ritual text that she claimed was more that powerful enough to shatter Garjina's curse.

Drustan was eventually released and swiftly returned to the Empire, vowing never to return to Jarm again, and hoping to forget the unpleasant memories. Now of course, the entire event suddenly seems like it could be relevant. If this Prince Raina is still alive, if she still has access to the ritual text, then her family might be persuaded to allow the Navarr to use it?

The civil service are able to confirm that they believe Prince Raina Telep is still alive and part of the family that rules the Principality of Hordoba. They have provided details to allow the Navarr to send a winged message to her if they wish to do so. Drustan warns that the ritual text is unlikely to come cheap; he considers the Teleps to be unusually greedy, venal, and self-serving even by the standards of Jarm's corrupt magocracy - but that it is still likely to be cheaper than codifying a high level Spring ritual.


  • A potent enchantment using priceless ilium might unmake the curse

What magic has wrought, magic can undo, it is only ever a matter of cost. So says Gethin, a vate who dwells at Stars End Striding in Miaren. The problem is that the price to undo some acts can be immeasurably higher than the cost to perform the action in the first place. Gethin likes to demonstrate this principle with a simple lesson for his students, where he takes a cheap clay vase, shatters it with a single blow of his cudgel, and then challenges his pupils to use magic to put it back together. It is so much easier to change your mind than it is to change your actions.

Still - it can be done - It can always be done. Provided you are prepared to foot the bill. Gethin has spent years studying the power of ilium, the priceless star metal that provides near limitless power to magic when used in enchantments. Drawing on his long years of experience, he has created a Spring arcane projection that would directly counter the power of the curse in Brocéliande. The enchantment is surprisingly low level - it is only magnitude 30 - but it employs some simple Spring magics designed to boost fertility in an area.

Normally such a ritual would have no chance of overcoming the power of a potent Winter curse like Wither the Seed. But Gethin has designed their arcane projection to work explicitly in Brocéliande, to account for the current conditions there, and to counter them... A Spring effect that would provide a permanent boost to the fertility in the region, but using star metal to give it a power the Winter curse could not overcome. For as long as the Winter curse endured, the ilium bound enchantment would be a match for it.

And therein lies the cost. Gethin's arcane projection could easily be performed, it seems difficult to imagine that the Navarr could not find a coven able to perform a Spring ritual of magnitude 30, even unmastered. They would have to wait until an opportunity arose to perform the ritual in the territory of course, but more importantly they would need to foot the bill. Gethin's arcane projection requires a king's ransom, needing 90 rings of ilium to perform.

Of course once the Winter curse faded the permanent enchantment would have to be dealt with - but that would be three decades hence. Plenty of time to find a solution to that problem.


  • The Citadel Guard could provide the focus needed to target Brocéliande with a ritual

One of the key challenges facing the Navarr if they want to break the curse they put on Brocéliande will be identifying a suitable regio that is accessible via the Sentinel Gate and then convincing enough vates to risk their lives to travel there. The Sentinel Gate responds to the whims of fate, so it's reasonable to imagine that at some point it might provide an opportunity to travel to a powerful regio in Brocéliande, they are likely going to have to sit on their hands and simply wait for to happen. That alone is frustrating, to say nothing of the challenges faced when such an opportunity does eventually surface.

Two things would make the task facing the Navarr significantly easier. If they could determine the point at which they were ready to attempt to break the ritual, rather than waiting to see what fate provided, then they would not be left sitting on their hands. More importantly, if they could perform the ritual from Anvil, they would gain all the benefits of employing a powerful regio, and it would be vastly easier to gather enough magicians together to perform the magic.

Fortunately both of those goals could be achieved in a single stroke by one of the nations of the Empire. The Urizen army possess a unique quality, it has so many magicians that it can act as a focal point for Imperial magic, allowing the Empire to cast rituals from Anvil on any territory where it is present. If Urizen would agree to move the Citadel Guard to Brocéliande in advance of the summit where the Navarr were ready to perform their ritual, then the magic could be done at Anvil, at a time of the Navarr's choosing.

Sadly the Citadel Guard is in great demand, partly for its unique quality, but mostly to defend the Urizen homeland from the depredations of the Druj and the Grendel. Urizen has struggled to repel not one but two invasions in recent years, one from the South and one from the East. As a result it has lost territory on two fronts, first Zenith fell to the Druj, and then the Senate ceded Spiral in a peace treaty to the Grendel. As a result the very existence of the Citadel Guard remains in doubt, as the Urizen struggle to support their army having lost so much territory.

What price might the Urizeni require in return for their aid in breaking the curse on Brocéliande?


  • The eternal Kaela could end the curse - but requires a heavy price for doing so

One of the magicians of the Quiet Words Striding, a notoriously solitary vate called Elin has apparently been negotiating with a herald of the Queen of Silence to see if she can secure her help in breaking the curse on Brocéliande. While it may seem strange to some to seek to use Winter magic to break a Winter curse that withers the seed, experienced ritual magicians understand that there is solid logic underpinning Elin's actions. According to ritual theory ending things is one of the most powerful resonances of Winter magic - and no eternal more strongly embodies this idea than the Dark Between The Stars. Her name is often evoked in rituals designed to break bonds, curses and other magics. It is one thing to invoke her name - there is power in names certainly - but what if The Lady of Oblivion could be persuaded to give her aid directly?

Elin claims that she has negotiated a deal with Kaela, but she warns that the cost is terrible and may be more than the Navarr are willing to bear. The Cold-Hearted is concerned with the inevitable end of things. According to Imperial lore "She respects those who strive to hold back the end... as long as they accept that the end is inevitable, that there is no hope.". Her herald has confirmed that the Cold Hearted One honours the Navarr determination to fight for Brocéliande, but if she is to provide her aid in that quest, it must come at a price. In the end everything fails. Everything ends.

The price for her aid is the territory of Liathaven. The Queen of Silence does not want the territory; she demands only that the Navarr give it up. That they acknowledge that it is gone, that their vigil there has come to end. That it has failed.

The Navarr have struggled to defend Liathaven, having endured a bloody war with the Jotun for control of the territory. As of Spring 381YE, only a small handful of steadings and stridings remain in the territory and the ranging presence of the vallornspawn makes wide areas of the territory as dangerous as a vallorn heart. The Navarr still control West Ranging and West Wood but it is questionable what they are achieving at this point.

In return for her aid, Kaela requires the Navarr Assembly to pass the following mandate

Actions have consequences. If we are to save one territory, we must accept that another is lost. Our vigil in Liathaven is ended, we send {named priest} with 50 liao to urge every Navarr to accept that while the vallorn of Liathaven is still our responsibility, the forests themselves are not.

Synod Mandate, Navarr Assembly

If this mandate is passed then the majority of Navarr will accept that Liathaven is no longer a Navarr territory, now or in the future. Every Navarr resource in the territory would then be in a foreign territory. The Imperial treasury would receive no taxation from the territory but would no longer have to pay any costs up maintain it.

Kaela apparently does not require the Empire to formally cede any regions, however her herald warns that followers of Kaela in Liathaven would move swiftly to claim the two regions with the assistance of her grim legions. She would, of course, expect to see no resistance to this action. The Lady of the Grim Host would take a dim view if the Navarr were to break their word in this matter. The Silent Queen's herald is at pains to stress that the Navarr should only enact this mandate if they accept that their authority in Liathaven has ended and warns that the Navarr would make a powerful enemy if they took her aid and later attempted to renew their claim to the territory in any way.

In return for this terrible price Kaela would provide the Navarr with the things they need to break the curse. Elin is not specific about what form that aid might take, but she is adamant that such a thing is within Kaela's power. She is said to be able to end anything that exists - even another eternal. There is no doubt at all that Kaela could provide the means to end this mortal magic were she minded to do so.

Elin would like it noted that she and her family were born in Liathaven and that she only joined the Quiet Words Striding after she was forced to flee when her home was destroyed by the Jotun. It would break her heart to give up all hope of every reclaiming Liathaven, she says... but she is prepared to pay that price to save Brocéliande.