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Conclave - News and Notes Turn 4
Winter Year 1 - 60 months to Armageddon.

Bernea

For once, the news from the north is good. The barbarians are retreating, harried by raiding parties from Vohra the Red and Rakim the Raucous Red Ravager. Villagers are returning to their homes, rebuilding and repairing, while earth mages help undo some of the damage to their fields. The Bernean Trading Company provided armed escort to all refugees wishing to return home and has set up fortified outposts in the most vulnerable area. Food stores are low but enough to see people through the winter. Rakim reports that the Watch Towers are now completely repaired with a working system of signals, and a mage and a squad of soldiers at each one. He continues to occupy Lord Scale's tower - a worthy successor to the fire lord. Vohra the Red has stationed army units in each village along the trade routes and is maintaining a series of scouting patrols. For the moment at least, North Bernea is safe.

While the Solist movement is officially outlawed in three of the four River Cities on Gershan, the philosophy is enjoying a surge of popularity on Bernea. The Prophet Amphion is being hailed as a hero in many places and tales of his liberation of the Emerald Mines from the evil of the Lyvan Cities are spreading everywhere. The cities are generally seen as wrong to outlaw the faith. The message is coming loud and clear from the ordinary people: You can't make it illegal to believe things.

It is the opinion of many that the magicians are behind the attacks on Solism. This has led to a number of attacks against mages themselves, particularly those that live in isolation. This has led to people being injured and even killed as the mages have defended themselves, and this has led to further bad feeling against mages, further attacks and more injury and death. Most of these attacks have taken place in mid-Bernea, although Lorthian's tower near Kalofane has also come under attack, and there are more groups of vigilantes making their way to Pock'H's mountain retreat, Magnus Thorne's tower near Squill and the Delve of Andas.

"If flying trees weren't enough, they're hurling ships and whole mountains about," one of the group said. "We've had enough and if the Solists aren't going to do anything about magicians we'll sort them out ourselves."

Lorthian, apparently, vanished into a 'glowing blue hole in the wall' dragging his two members of staff and one of his attackers with him. None of them have been seen in Bernea since.

Also suffering from this increased violence against magicians are the Magick Shops of Master Gromicron. His newly-established Squill store was burned to the ground by unknown assailants, while the stores at Veluta and Kessel have been the subjects of ongoing vandalism and anti-magic demonstrations. (Across the sea in Gershan, we're pleased to note, the situation is more stable. Cimis continues to welcome mages, and in Shu at least armed guards are making sure there are no senseless attacks against innocent shopkeepers. Why can't it be like that everywhere?)

The Bernean Trading Company (BTC) continues to expand with new offices in Squill, Sher and, surprisingly, Meridar. The Taskmaster is said to be giving preferential treatment to all traders affiliated with the BTC and, indeed, his guards and tax collectors do seem to have turned their unwelcome attentions to non-affiliated traders. The result is that many of Meridar's traders are deciding that it's worth paying the extra 10% tax levied on the BTC by the Taskmaster. The city guard are, meanwhile, paying visits to would-be protestors in the interests of keeping the peace.

A spokesman for the Taskmaster has issued a statement denying rumours that emeralds are being traded illegally in Meridar. How Amphion is getting emeralds from the mines in Gershan to the Bernean cities is a matter for speculation, but they do appear to be turning up just about everywhere and, as usual, Meridar, the city of thieves is the prime suspect.

Meridar is building an army. A public notice in Squill 'politely' informed residents of the fact. The Taskmaster's intention is to create a well-trained and equipped army of 500. Weapons production in the city has already increased, with the creation of three new forges, and at least 100 longbowmen have been recruited. Apparently, this is nothing to do with the Taskmaster's ambitions to conquer Sher, but because of the war in the north. Other cities in South Bernea are also increasing their armed forces, even the relatively peaceful Kessel. There are regular patrols on the streets of Sher and Bailiff Phila Naal's home is under permanent, heavy guard.

A Council member was behind the failed assassination attempt on Squill Mayor Laine Forrester. Lady Aspasia admitted no motive other than 'the usual one' as she was led to the gallows. Her place on the council is now open to free election, which in Squill will probably come down to a matter of bribery and flattering the right people. Laine Forrester has remained in seclusion for much of the time following the attack. On his rare public appearances, he is accompanied by three bodyguards.

In Cleon, Jad-Arden's claim to the Jade Throne suffered a set-back when the Solist movement withdrew their support. No one knows what has caused the split but it's clear that the support of the Brown Friars alone will not be enough to secure the throne for the young pretender.

No news from Kalevi yet, although at least two guards from autumn's trade caravan - The Hooded Man and Justin Trevalion - have failed to return. The guards who did return to Kalofane bring stories of marvellous buildings and streets lined with precious gems. They say they were all made welcome as visitors to the city and treated most courteously so it is unlikely the men who have chosen to remain are in any danger.

Strange howlings were heard on the night of the full moon last month. Wolves and dogs right across Bernea responded, and there were some terrifying sounds of growls and howls from the woods around Squill. Local residents are more determined than ever to rid the area of the nuisance posed by mages.

Gershan

The whole continent holds its breath, waiting for war. Amphion's forces, stationed at the Emerald mines have, so rumour goes, all but run out of food, and many are deserting him. How optimistic that report is remains to be seen, but one thing is sure: we shall see a final result to all this very soon. The joint army of the River Cities, aided by the renegade Nomad Leader, Loren, and his forces, have left on their long march to free the Emerald Mines. Suffering attacks on the way, they have so far handled themselves well. There is some loss of morale, true, and some men have turned back, but the Cities' army is at this very moment surrounding the mine, preparing to launch a final, deadly assault against the heretic Amphion and his followers. The hearts of all true Gershanites go with them.

Rumour has it that the Gershan Trading Company are offering emeralds for food in Niu. Niu is the only River City not to have officially outlawed Solism, though officially it is 'discouraged.' The merchants, however, do not appear to be much discouraged. It is well known that Niu is heavily dependent on the Emerald Mines so it's no surprise that this trade should be continuing unchecked.

Shu

Ex-Mayor found murdered. Solists suspected.

Padriac Takeri, the ex-mayor of Shu was found dead in his home minutes after receiving a visit from a man who claimed to be a merchant. The man fled when guards entered the room, and has not yet been caught, but he is believed to have been a Solist agent.

The Gershan church has responded by issuing a statement banning Solism and calling for volunteers to support Akenhaten's army. Following a series of demonstrations and calls for strong leadership, Cantius has been officially elected as mayor. His first act was to hand control of the city's defence over to the Gershan church. In a speech he announced the city was facing a religious threat that was best countered by the church and he was giving them full authority to deal with the matter as they saw fit. Ubel Thais, Bishop of Shu responded, surprisingly, by rescinding the bounty offered for magical artefacts. Putting in a brief appearance at a church service, he explained that the armistice had caused more problems than it had solved, prompting people to steal and lie in their zeal for the church. 'All pious citizens will already have rid themselves of magical items,' he said, 'and those who have not have only themselves to blame.'

Masud

Residents were delighted to receive another visit from Crazy Mathilda's assistant, though there was no sight of the great lady herself. Zerg gave the following message, whilst marching around the city, banging a drum and blowing a ram's horn. "The godless and the feckless and the wormless and those who sought to tempt her with baubles... the mistress seeks no accommodation with those who heed not the Voices and purifies her spirit far from your corruptions. Seek solace in the worms."

Lorn

The Thief of Lorn continues his work. Going by the name of 'The Dagger' because of the small logo of a mask and dagger on the bags of gold he leaves in Gershan churches, no one knows his true identity. Some people say he is a prince, returned to Lorn to overthrow the Empress and reclaim the throne. Others believe he is a magician, and still others say he must be a ghost. As long as he continues leaving gold for the poor, though, everyone agrees that he is welcome in the city.

A mystery thief tried to break into the Lorn Palace itself not long ago. Nothing was stolen so official sources say they do not believe the Dagger was to blame. The Empress has, however, increased the reward for The Dagger's capture to 300 gold pieces. More guards have been assigned to the palace as a precautionary measure.

Taos

Could there be dragons in the Forbidden Mountains? Aodhagen of Taos hotly denies the rumour. Dragons do not live in the mountains for the simple reason that no such things exist, he says. But why has he ordered twenty barrow loads of fish and cheese, and what is the master craftsman Tormir working on day and night? And, come to think of it, Potus the pompous recently arrived in the city in the company of Tormir, had a meeting with the governor and has mysteriously vanished again. There might not be any dragons, but something is most definitely afoot.

To discourage would-be explorers, Aodhagen has issued a statement that the mountains have been professionally booby-trapped and anyone who survives the traps will be arrested and dealt with severely.

Aodhagen is offering a reward for the recovery of certain books stolen from the Taos library during the winter. The thief somehow managed to enter and leave without disturbing a single trap or opening a single door. The stolen books are part of the general collection of Taos, Aodhagen said. Some of them are magical and may cause illness or even blindness if opened by the wrong person. A reward of 100 gold crowns is offered for their safe return.

Cimis

Wanted: magic books for the new GROSS library. Anything considered, but particularly interested in old tomes and anything relating to the end of the world. Contact Kinnon, administrator for GROSS, Cimis.

The Silver Desert Traders, sole supplies of Cimian Red wine to the rest of Gershan, are willing to transport any goods, anywhere. Armed guards travel with every caravan. Reasonable rates. Contact Vormil Stortanis at the offices of the Desert Traders.

A Joint Proclamation from the River Cities

Solism is an evil belief, as can clearly be seen from the actions of its followers. Gershanites and Berneans have never raised an army to attack their fellow countrymen. The Prophet Amphion is clearly not interested in matters of faith, but wants political power. He will not stop until he has taken over all Gershan, and maybe not even then. We are at war with Amphion and therefore all his followers are to be regarded as spies and traitors. We will not tolerate them in our midst.

From Lord Fale of Tredl

Solism is true. I wish it were not, but that doesn't change the fact that this world is dying and the murderers are those that practise magic. If the only way to save the world is to rid it of mages then we will do so. And if the only way to rid it of mages is to seize control of those places that harbour them, then we will do that as well. The River Cities have outlawed Solism. Let it be known that in Tredl they are welcome. If Cimis can offer a haven to the evil of magic, we can certainly offer a safe haven to all true believers. Whatever the world says, you are welcome here.

(Note: this proclamation from Lord Fale came at the same time that his armour and weapons makers began working day and night. There are rumours of terrifying new siege engines, the city walls are added to daily, and soldiers patrol the streets. As Solist believers flock to Tredl, others are leaving the city and seeking refuge in Niu and Shu.)

Subsidiary News - Turn 4

North Bernea is still deeply in the debt of the Bernean Trading Company. Rumour has it that Master Gromicron is dipping into his own personal wealth to fund the defence project, no expense spared. Commander of the northern forces, Captain Vohra the Red promises a competitive salary with bonuses, free armour and weapons and ongoing training in all aspects of defence and attack to anyone who signs up.

On a related note, Vohra the Red has issued a series of public statements about the place of magicians in society. "They are potentially our most powerful allies," she says. "And their role was instrumental in the defeat of the barbarian forces and the resettling of Berneans in their homes following the crisis. To attack them would be short-sighted at best, foolish at worst."

The BTC forces have already dispersed mobs that were threatening mages in the mountains south of Kalofane. It is too late for some mages, however, who have decided to leave their homes rather than risk further trouble. Among others, the wind mage, Andas and the theoretician Lorthian have both disappeared. No one knows where they are now. Further south, Magnus Thorne has apparently headed off a riot at his tower. The full details of what happened there are not yet known, except that the rioters are now dispersing peacefully.

From a Solist in Squill

Why are we still putting up with mages? Our noble captain, Vohra the Red tells us these people are all that stand between us and destruction. Has she bothered to mention to anyone that she herself is a mage, and that many of her companions are also magic users? She says we are short-sighted attacking our allies. Let me tell you something: these 'allies' are draining the life-force out of the world and if they are not stopped they will kill everyone and everything within a matter of years. Who is short-sighted and foolish now, Captain Vohra? We implore the ordinary people of Bernea and Gershan to rise up against the mages now, before it is too late. If necessary, we will move against them one by one and kill them one by one. Vohra the Red wants to destroy the world. We will save it despite her.


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