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Conclave - News and Notes Turn 3
Autumn Year 1 - 63 months to Armageddon.

Bernea

The barbarian attacks intensified with twin attacks on Kalofane and Penates. In both cases, a large force of barbarian elves carried out a swift 'hit and run' attack by night, withdrawing before the defenders could take a proper stand. Kalofane suffered extensive damage with barbarians looting many shops and setting fire to other buildings. The military headquarters was one of the buildings destroyed. A new, temporary headquarters has been set up on the bank of the Taze. Penates fared somewhat better. Latest reports say the city gates were breached and some of the food stores burned but at least three hundred barbarian elves died in the attack, including their leader who was killed by the elven mariner, Earendil. Defenders in both cities managed to take some captives. They are now undergoing interrogation in the hope of finding out more about the barbarian plans.

Even stranger news is that, on the morning after the attack, somebody impersonated the Kalofane army commander and ordered the whole defence force to march on Cleon, claiming that Cleon was behind the barbarian attacks. If it wasn't for the quick actions of certain citizens including Captain Vohra the Red, in finding the real commander, the army may well have continued on to attack Cleon. A worrying notion.

More worrying is the notion that there may be widespread famine come winter. With food stores in Penates being destroyed, the north will have to rely on shipments from further south in order to get through the coming months. Refugee camps have been set up to the east of Kalofane. The mage Aris Whitewillow has been providing food at the largest one. And in Ambar, also seeing increasing numbers of refugees, the mage AiEsha Dalgroth is proving her worth to the local citizens by setting up a farm and gardens where she grows healing herbs. Her prices are among the lowest in Ambar, and there are rumours that her plants are magically enhanced. They'll have to be to protect them from the biting cold of the north Bernean winter. In north Bernea, at least, the Solist idea that mages are evil, is not catching on. 'How can they be evil?' one refugee asked. 'They could have walked away and let us starve, but they stayed to help.'

It is not all doom and gloom, however. Master Gromicron's new enterprise, the Bernean Trading Company, has done much to safeguard trade caravans over the past two months. The BTC now has offices in Kalofane, Penates, Ambar, Kessel and Veluta and new recruits to join the mercenary guards are always welcome. Traders wishing to use the caravans are asked to pay a percentage of profit in return for the safe transport of goods. The Company has also announced plans to build fortified outposts between cities, which traders and travellers may use for a modest fee. See the letters from Master Gromicron, below, for more details.

To reassure the citizens of the north, the defensive situation is this: all four Watcher Towers are occupied, there are regular patrols. All trade caravans are guarded. Citizens are advised that the refugee camps are a temporary measure and that everyone should return to their homes over the coming months. Protection will be offered. Meanwhile, anyone wishing to volunteer for the defence force should see Captain Vohra the Red, Rakim the Red Rover or Earendil the Mariner.

With the barbarian threat retreating, South Bernea appears to be relaxing a little. Plans for a joint Meridar-Squill army appear to have been dropped for the time being, much to the relief of Squill's inhabitants. Meridar has, instead, been putting its efforts into recruiting a particularly nasty unit of city guards - thugs and thieves, every one of them. And in Cleon the political situation continues to deteriorate. It appears that the Brown Friars have put their full backing behind Jad-Arden, latest pretender to the Jade throne. There are also rumours that they have the support of the Solist faction, though this is to be confirmed.

One further bright note in the north - the famed bard Caldicot has been spending the past months in the village of Amos, close to Cleon. Many of the townsfolk of Cleon have travelled to the village specially to hear him sing - good news for the local tavern which, word has it, has all but run out of ale.

More strange sightings of wizards. Citizens of Sher reported seeing a 'small, old man in robes' appearing suddenly on the outskirts of the city and disappearing immediately, and a younger woman appeared for a moment stark naked in the middle of Meridar. A number of people have offered large rewards to anyone who can make her appear again, for longer. In another incident, a traveller in mid-Bernea reported seeing floating trees and rocks, hovering above the mountains to the south-east of Kalofane.

From Master Gromicron:

Founding of the Bernean Trading Company

War is threatening our lands, our lives and our businesses. To protect and to safeguard the life bringing trade in our beloved Bernean homeland the BTC has been founded. To guarantee safe passage of your precious goods join a BTC caravan. Our skilled men at arms will give their lives to protect your valuable possessions and the lives of you and your associates. For a modest fee you can rest assured that your goods arrive safely at their destination and that your business will be as profitable as before. If interested, please contact the BTC office next to your local trader¹s guild.

A second announcement from Master Gromicron appeared in taverns and shops all over Bernea:

Skilled Soldiers Requested

The newly founded BTC is seeking skilled men at arms for immediate employment. Applicants should be well versed in the cavalry arts but need not own their own mounts. All equipment, uniforms and high quality armaments will be provided. Employment is long term and many career paths are possible. Pay will surpass that of any other armed service in Bernea or Gershan. Only serious applicants need apply. Candidates will be required to perform a series of demanding trials. Our standards are high and only the best will be accepted! If interested, please contact the BTC office next to your local trader¹s guild.

From Xanthe of the Brown Friars, Cleon

The Bernean Trading Company is an aberration, set up by an opportunist who has no real interest in the safety of north Bernea. Master Gromicron is interested in one thing only: profit and, if any parts of his trading empire become unprofitable, he will cut them off. The Brown Friars have been supervising the free trade of the north for decades. Our fees are lower than the BTC's and our guards have been working with us for many years, unlike the mercenaries Gromicron has seen fit to hire.

In the past months we have seen more attacks on our caravans than ever before. Some at the hands of barbarian elves, others by common thieves and bandits. In every case we have fought them off and we will continue to do so. We will not allow the BTC to put us out of business. If Master Gromicron thinks he can set up a trade monopoly across the whole of Bernea, as is no doubt his aim, he is in for an unpleasant surprise.

Gershan

People of Gershan, do not think you are safe because the barbarian elves cannot reach your shores. The Solist army, under the command of the Prophet Amphion and his disciple Sheik Omar of the nomad tribes, have moved on the Emerald Mines and, to use the Prophet's own words, has 'liberated' them. The mine slaves are now under the direct command of the Solists. Whether their lives are any better remains to be seen, but the mines are still operational. It is rumoured that Amphion has allies among the Gershan traders who are establishing new buyers for the emeralds and returning much of the profit to the Solist faction.

In response to this, the Lyvan cities have issued a joint proclamation outlawing Solism in any form. In Niu and Ottah, general warrants have been issued for the arrest of any Solist supporters. Following the removal of Mayor Padriac Takeri in Shu, that city has yet to follow the lead of the others, but defence forces are gathering at Masud. These include an army composed of nomads and others, lead by the nomad elf, Loren, and, so it is rumoured, a group of special troops under the guidance of the mysterious Saran Rist and Kep Hail.

Amphion, now camped with his army at the Emerald Mines, has offered a real amnesty on magical items, as opposed to the fake amnesty that was set up by certain thieves in the summer. Needless to say, no one has yet taken the Prophet up on his offer. The Gershan church, too, is still asking people to hand over any magical artefacts they possess, however unimportant. It doesn't appear that their appeal has been any more successful than the Solists', however.

The emerald mines are operating as normal, so our reports say, presided over by a new company which calls itself the 'Gershan Business Organisation.' Nothing is known about this organisation except that it has grown from nothing to a sizeable company seemingly overnight.

From a shopkeeper in Shu - These magical amnesties are becoming a joke. Last night my Magick Shop was broken into and several items stolen, but because of the amnesty the city guard did nothing. The Captain of the Guard even suggested that I should have handed in all my stock to the Gershan church months ago and switched to trading in food or clothes. No doubt we all need food and clothes. But we also need magic. It is part of our world and it will not go away. Neither will it destroy the world as some say. Why do the authorities want to collect magical artefacts anyway? Is it really so they can dispose of them. Or do they want to use them for themselves? I appeal to the new Mayor, Cantius, to revoke this amnesty immediately and allow mages to turn their full efforts to the defence of the city.

Masud. The city leaders conference passed by relatively peacefully, with the exception of the arrival of Crazy Matti the dwarf, accompanied by an equally deranged elf. Stark naked except for a dead mouse hung around her neck, covered in white ash with mystic symbols drawn all over her body, the mad prophetess stood on a box in the middle of the city and spoke while her elf servant alternately banged a drum and blew a ram's horn. "The godless one in silvery sandy sandals, speaketh of spurning the staff yet seeks its protection still. Seek him not staff bearers through the paths of your wisdom, lest you face your treacherous brother." Pointing at the palace she shouted, "Black emeralds shall be your downfall."

The cult of Mad Matti, it must be said, is gaining some popularity. A couple of copycat prophets have appeared in various cities, all dressed in rags and ashes, all proclaiming doom. Copies of 'Sayings of Mad Matti' are being offered for sale, though as no two of these copies are alike, would be prophets are advised to save their money and forge their own copy.

News from Cimis is that the new GROSS library and research centre is attracting mages from all over the continent, some of them fleeing from the south and the Solist-controlled Tredl. The Magick Shop is lending its full support as is, reportedly, the city leader, Karagis, himself. A board of directors has been duly appointed, representing all three races - two humans, two dwarves and an elf. Any mages interested in furthering magical research are encouraged to get in touch with Kinnon, Chief Administrative Dictator for Life of GROSS.

In addition to the establishment of GROSS, Cimis is pleased to announce not one but two new trade routes to the city. Gromicron's trade route will handle general supplies while Vormil of the Silver Desert Traders are said to have an exclusive contract for distributing the city's wine, including the famous Cimian Red.

Lorn - Two large bags of gold were left in the main Gershan church, fuelling rumours that the Lorn thief has returned and is now giving to the poor what he has stolen from the rich merchants of the city. The Empress has increased her reward to 200 gold pieces for any information leading to his capture. A further reward of 20 gold pieces is offered by the merchant's guild for information on the whereabouts of one of its members who disappeared last month. Information is available from the Guild headquarters.

The Forbidden Mountains - No cause for the mysterious disturbances has yet been found. Master Tormir Sureforge, Taos' top metal smith is conducting an investigation of the area on the orders of the Taos governor. No doubt he will be reporting his findings shortly. Meanwhile, the Governor of Taos warns that anyone injured in the mountains, by whatever means, has only themselves to blame for going there in the first place.


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