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Conclave News and Notes Turn 8
Winter Year 2 - 48 months to Armageddon.

Bernea

The renowned bard, Caldicot, has left Penates, much to the disappointment of the people there. But one man's loss is another man's gain, and he has been performing at villages along the south of the great forest, travelling, it appears in the direction of Ambar. A rumour that he had already arrived in Ambar resulted in guard having to disperse crowds of screaming women - elven and human, even a few dwarves among them.

A major breakthrough in the cause of peace in northern Bernea has happened with the opening of peace talks between the barbarian tribes, the forest elves and the northern defence force. Among those meeting in a secret, protected location were the Empress of Kalevi, representatives from Kalofane, Penates and Ambar, leaders of the defence force, including Vohra the Red, Rakim the Raucous Red Ravager, barbarian leaders and The Hooded Man, who was instrumental in bringing the warring parties together.

Talks are still continuing, but it is thought that provisional agreements have been made for the following:

  1. An elven council, to include a representative from each barbarian tribe and each elven city. This council would be responsible for the reintegration of the barbarian elves and would discuss matters of culture as well as politics.
  2. An elven magical conclave, with representative from each magical element.
  3. Agreements to be made for the setting aside of land for the sole use of the barbarian tribes.
  4. A ceasefire agreement to come into force immediately.
  5. Barbarian elves to be included in the northern defence force.

A strange plague appears to be affecting the mages of Bernea. Many of them are reporting feeling weak and ill, and many are hallucinating flowers, butterflies and other brightly coloured objects in their latrines. We always knew that magic affected the brain, and now we have proof. Maybe now mages will realise the dangers inherent in their craft and will stop their vile practices before it's too late.

Rumours of humanoid tigers roaming the forest around Cleon are completely unfounded say local residents. The story was dreamed up by village children in an attempt to scare travellers. Tigers are large, striped cats that live in hot climes. They would not survive a winter in north Bernea.

There has been no news yet from Earendil and his intrepid band of explorers who left Bernean shores to seek out a new continent. If there is a lost continent out there, they must surely have reached it by now. Either that or they have sailed so far that they have gone right over the edge of the world.

Cleon

The emerald throne has been stolen! Palace guards entered the Cleon throne room to find the throne missing and a tunnel coming up into the middle of the room. The theft is obviously the work of a mage, and the earth mage Rakim the Raucous Red Ravager, well known for his skill at constructing tunnels, had been residing in Cleon for some time before the theft. The emperor has issued a warrant for his arrest, offering a reward of 400 gold crowns. The mage has so far evaded capture.

The War in the South

"Valiant Soldiers, we see now the task before us. The forces of Squill are using magic against us, bring us ever closer to the end of the world. The fires we have suffered and the stolen food is the work of Mages. We shall unite against this and prove the stronger force."

Thus spake the Taskmaster, making one of his rare public appearances. The hooded and cloaked figure was greeted with loud cheering from all sides.

And what of Squill? After a series of lengthy council meetings, Mayor Jan Nanson issued the following statement.

"Citizens of Squill, the Taskmaster is a liar and a thief. In these past months he has invaded Sher, which was under our protection. He now claims to have made Sher independent and he claims we are hastening this world's destruction by using magic against him. I am fully aware of the dangers of magic, but the Taskmaster seeks to replace magic with force of arms and thus become the sole ruler of all Bernea. At least the Solist prophet has the best interests of the world at heart. The Taskmaster has only his own interests at heart and he doesn't care if he destroys everything if he gets what he wants. Yes, if we do not stand firm against Meridar, the end of the world is nigh, and we will only have ourselves to blame."

Laine Forrester, former mayor of Squill, was executed for the attempted assassination of Phila Naal, Bailiff of Sher (who was successfully assassinated, you'll remember, by Vohra the Red six months ago.) The Squill Council cited new evidence that Forrester had been working as an agent of Meridar for some time. No one seemed to care much whether he was guilty or not. Standing in front of the public gallows, he made a speech protesting his innocence but only a handful of people turned up to listen.

While Squill mustered its forces, the Taskmaster prepared for the defence of Sher and the two sides finally met in battle south of Kaden Wood. The outcome is still uncertain, however it is thought that Squill is prepared to enter into peace negotiations. Bernean Trading Company soldiers have kept out of the dispute so far, on the orders of Master Gromicron. Veluta and Kessel, however, have stated their readiness to defend Squill should the Taskmaster attempt to take the city.

Meanwhile in Sher, the garrison has been replaced by a contingent of the Taskmaster's men and a nightly curfew is in place. Hardly the actions of a free, independent town.

Veluta

Countess Grimsby has announced that the mage Magnus Thorne has been traced and will be brought to trial soon. In the meantime, she has been questioning diverse groups of people about the recent assassinations of town leaders. She's even questioned one or two Solists. She has refused to confirm or deny the rumour that the attacks were the result of a collusion between the Taskmaster and the Brown Friars. Xanthe of the Brown Friars has denied any such collusion, yet a small fleet of ships was seen leaving Cleon and heading southwards at the beginning of winter, allegedly carrying reinforcements for the Taskmaster's army.

Meridar

While the Taskmaster wages war, a group of villagers have arrived at the gates of Meridar seeking help. They claim they come from a village close to the borders of the Burnt Lands and that one night the border shifted suddenly so that half their village was consumed. Their claim has yet to be verified, but since their arrival in Meridar, other refugees have followed them. Their homes are unaffected, but they are unwilling to remain in them under the threat of the Burnt Lands expanding.

Gershan

Taos

The Forbidden Mountains are still off limits, although Aodhagen has relaxed restrictions somewhat, and removed some of the magical traps. It is understood that mages, including Potus the Pompous, Kareena and Tormir Sureforge are protecting the mountains against unwanted intrusion.

Lorn

Was the Empress responsible for the ritual killing that took place on our streets some months ago? Some people are saying yes, and that she is also involved in many other murders. The Empress has denied all rumours and has threatened to arrest agitators. With a Solist army threatening south Gershan, all people must work together, said a palace spokesman. It is true that the Solists pose a serious threat, but what of the palace? There are tales of hidden rooms and dark goings-on. Some of the palace servants have left, others have vanished without trace. Is the Empress in league with mages and other dark powers? Is Crazy Matti really living in the palace, and if so why? There are far too many rumours in the city. Some of them must be true.

News from GROSS

The magic organisation has been thankfully quiet these past months. Maybe the violent storm that nearly sank their ships frightened them a little. Maybe, with a bit of luck, they'll disappear altogether soon. We can but hope.

The south

Shu is at war. The Solist army, led by the Prophet Amphion and Lord Fale reached the city four days ago. Waiting for them was the massed forces of the Cities' army, led by the elf nomad, Loren. So far, the battle could go either way. There have been heavy losses on either side, and one direct attack on Amphion himself. An illusion appeared over the battlefield of Amphion's dead body and, when the Prophet rode forward to confront it, a bolt of light shot from the city walls. The attacker should know that nothing magical can harm the Prophet. The bolt killed one of his men but faded away before it could touch Amphion himself.

Shu is relying on its Gershan priests for protection. In that, it is sadly mistaken. There is no god coming to save them and they have already learned they cannot use the forces of magic against the prophet. All spells lose their power in his presence. Bishop Ubel Thais would be well advised to surrender now.

Our thoughts are with the Prophet. We wish him a speedy victory.

The mines are one of the few safe places in South Gershan at the moment. This may explain the sudden influx of workers, although the GBO's reforms must also play a part, having vastly improved conditions there. Anyone seeking work at the mines is asked to report to the GBO office for details of vacancies. All kinds of workers may apply - manual labourers, skilled miners, guards, cooks, blacksmiths, sales and support staff.

Reports from the Silver Desert Traders state that their exploratory team has located and mapped two of the three lost cities in the desert and is now exploring the third. King Akenhaten cites their achievement as a great triumph for Masud, which sponsored the journey.

In the face of Solist and Gershan fanaticism, there has been a surprising increase in the worship of the goddess Tadewi across Bernea and Gershan. Many villagers have been seen visiting roadside shrines, leaving offerings of feathers and praying for guidance and protection. Some people are even praying for her to return to the world in person. We hope they won't be too disappointed when she doesn't answer their prayers.

Conclave Turn 8 Subsidiary News

Magnus Thorne cleared of murder

A Veluta Court formally cleared Magnus Thorne of murder today, declaring he had nothing to do with the recent assassination attacks on prominent personages in the area. As part of the same trial, four Solist agents confessed to being part of a cell network who organised the attacks. After refusing to give the name of their leader, they were sentenced to immediate execution. Sentence has already been carried out.


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