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Conclave News and Notes Turn 9
Spring Year 3 - 45 months to Armageddon.

Peace in our time?

Just when we thought war would continue until the world ended, separate negotiations on Bernea and Gershan have brought about an uneasy peace. Meridar, Squill and Sher appear to have reached an agreement, even to the point of signing a non-aggression pact, while on Gershan the Solists, responding to a new threat from Lorn - more about that later - have withdrawn to Niu and agreed a twelve month truce with the River Cities.

An immediate result of this is the establishment of two new councils. The first is a war council to deal with the threat of necromancy. The second - the so-called 'Armageddon Council' is to look specifically at the end time prophecies, to determine whether our world really is in danger and, if so, how to avert the foretold end. The Solists fully support both councils and have representatives on both. We trust that other people will put their religious differences aside and join with them. Both Councils are still accepting applications from mages, leaders and soldiers of all races and religions.

Further to this, in north Bernea, a peace agreement has been signed by the northern defence force and the barbarian elf tribes. The basic terms are as follows:

Two elven councils have been formed, one for magic, one for culture, politics and any other issues. Kalofane, Ambar, Penates and Kalevi will each allow a quota of settlers. In addition, land is set aside on the east coast, between the Great Forest and Herrick's Watch, for new settlements. Herrick's Watch will remain under the control of the BTC fleet. The northern defence force, mainly composed of the BTC will monitor the situation. Barbarian elves will be free to join the BTC or northern defence force if they wish.

Solist groups have offered to support this peace effort by providing food and supplies to the influx of settlers. We wish the tribes all the best in their new life.

Yet it may not be the new councils that eventually bring about peace between mages and non-mages. A new games is sweeping the continents. This strange activity, known as Calvin Ball involves sack racking, flags, singing, invisible and moving bases, bats, masks, running, flying, balls, players being tagged, random rule changes and the infamous hamster hop. A randomiser spell cast at the start of each game ensures that the rules are different every time. The only constant is tuna sandwiches at half-time. One variant, popular in boarding schools, has two balls and children on flying broomsticks, controlled by mages on the ground.

Mages, once ostracised, are now being disturbed by children clutching bats and balls and asking them to come out to play. There is talk of setting up a Bernea Calvin Ball league.

However, there is a serious note to all this. Magic is not a game. It is not an instrument of fun. The very chaotic nature of Calvin Ball reflects the potential for chaos in even the most harmless-seeming magic. Never forget what the worst excesses of magicians can do, and never forget that magic is the most dangerous force in our world.

Now, for Lorn. The city is under blockade. All trade caravans have stopped, travellers are warned to stay away, armed patrols are keeping watch on the borders of its land to make sure no one enters. A new trading organisation, the Free Merchant League, has come into being to supply the army patrols in the area. (The League offers a range of benefits to participating members, including the novel idea of insurance. All independent merchants are invited to join.) Strangely, since the first week of the blockade, no one has tried to leave Lorn. There are stories of grisly murders, of strange creatures roaming the city streets by night, of children disappearing from their beds, and yet Lorn's residents remain in their homes. Proof, according to the Empress Charis, that Lorn harbours no dark secret, that she herself is the innocent victim of vicious rumourmongers.

Yet, if there are no dark secrets, why has Solism been outlawed in the city? And what shall we make of Mad Matti's appearance in the city square, naked save for a belt from which human heads hung in Solist helmets, covered in ash, accompanied by her servant who walked on stilts and juggled live chickens, she proclaimed:

"The one true prophet knows. The false prophet relies on the armies of the faithless. Cities of the River Peoples shall triumph and the false one be stricken. Onwards the armies of the River Cities, onwards the elf lord and all who would dash the faithless against the walls. Rise up behind them and cull them like cattle, and the ugly duckling shall grow into a... duck. Black emeralds, black emeralds..."

Thus speaks the madwoman. And, thus, Lorn has become the enemy of the free people of Gershan. Its power must be broken before the evil it contains comes tumbling out to fill the whole land.

Our leaders have let us down, people are saying. They are corrupted and we have to turn to the gods for help. Not true, of course, yet more people are turning to the worship of the gods in these troubled times. Gershan churches, too, are reporting an increase in worshippers. Let us remind people, however, that, according to ancient prophecies, it is the gods who will bring about the destruction of the world. Do we really want to hasten our own end?

In Cleon, a failed assassination attempt on the Emperor's mother was, so reports say, a plot by the Brown Friars. The Brown Friars have strenuously denied this and blame the BTC instead. But Master Gromicron of the BTC left Cleon several months ago and is now resident in Veluta along with the BTC naval fleet and a large part of the army. Countess Grimsby of Veluta has said she is happy to welcome the Master Gromicron to the city, despite his links with the Magick Shoppe chain. She believes mages pose no threat to the ordinary people of the world. We can only hope that she is right. In the meantime, Cleon is in turmoil. A number of Brown Friars have been arrested and released again without charge. According to Tse-Kurak, leader of the Temple of the Seven Gods in Cleon, this is what happens when politics is allowed to overrule common sense. Common sense dictated that while the Jade Throne was lost there should be no emperor. But the Brown Friars built a new throne and Jad Arden gained the political support to take it. Maybe he could prove a good emperor given the chance but the fact remains that he is not the rightful emperor and therefore these sort of political manoeuvrings will continue.

The theft of the emerald throne has still not been solved. Rakim still protests his innocence (see his latest statement, printed below). Yet the fact remains that the theft of the emerald throne was evidently the work of a mage, and an earth mage at that. We know of no other man who could construct a tunnel from the outskirts of Cleon into the throne room of the palace.

The emperor has generously agreed to overlook the theft and welcome Rakim back into the city if the throne is returned to its rightful place. However, it looks as if the throne is lost forever. First, all the farmers to the west of Cleon gave up their work and bought large houses and fancy clothes. Then a farmer was arrested on suspicion of smuggling and admitted he'd found emeralds on his land. This started a rush of treasure seekers and it is unknown how many emeralds were found before the supply ran out.

Was this cache smuggled in from Gershan. Could it be the lost haul of some forgotten robbery. Or were the emeralds the pieces of the emerald throne? It must be noted that the farms in question are all within a few miles of where the tunnel from the throne room emerged. Coincidence? Or maybe Rakim would like to explain how the emeralds got there.

More to the point, has the Jade Throne been found again? There is talk that it has and that the true ruler of Cleon will soon return. If that is the case, the fate of the emerald throne is irrelevant and the present Emperor better run away while he has the chance.

An open message to the Emperor of Cleon

From the illustrious mage, the one and only, Rakim (also know as the Red Ravager.)

Though I never asked for an emperor to rule the lands I have been dwelling in and defending, I have been more than tolerant of the newly created empire and the ambitions of your, its ruler. However, the recent charges brought against me are a step too far and while I trust that you yourself who have been nothing but cordial to me are not behind them, I fear your mind is being swayed by those who hate mages. Namely, I say, it is the Brown Friars who attempt to poison the minds of all stout Northerners. They are attempting to turn the people and yourself against us, the people who have moved air and earth in your service and in defence of the people of the north.

If you have evidence that I have profited in any way from the theft of the throne, then present it. A large hole by itself is not enough to prove anything. If another season passes without evidence and without the rescindence of the warrant I will have to assume that your mind has been swayed permanently against me and will take of my person as I see fit.

Yours, as ever,

Rakim.

The mage AiEsha Dalgroth has left Ambar. Her glass tower is now occupied by a caretaker who says she's decided to travel and may be gone some time. Indeed, she has been spotted in Veluta, Squill, Meridar and Cleon as well as in the Great Forest.

There have also been sightings of a strange bird with glittering silver wings flying in circles over north Bernea. Local people are taking it as a sign that the goddess Tadewi, Lady of the Wind, has returned to the world. A nice story except that, of course, there is no goddess so it cannot possibly be true.

There have been more attacks on magic shops. Several of Master Gromicron's chain of shops have been broken into over the past months. In every case, the thieves left without taking anything. This may be the work of rogue mages, of course, but just in case the thieves are ordinary people we would remind everyone that the Prophet Amphion has called for a truce between Solists and mages for the time being, at least until Lorn is dealt with. If people wish to take action against mages, therefore, could they please do it in a more subtle fashion?

The Burnt Lands are definitely spreading. Word has come from Taran Fireblade, who has spent the past months exploring the outskirts of the Lands. More refugees continue to appear in Meridar. Rakim the Red Ravager, who surface recently in south Bernea, has offered to work together with any other mages who want to investigate the matter. No doubt the Burnt Lands were created by mages - we still remember what happened when a university of magic was allowed to experiment in Cimis - and therefore it should be the responsibility of mages to put the Lands right again. However, we would advise caution. We do not want a repeat of Cimis.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Sher has other things to think about. Expanding the port, signing trade agreements, establishing an independent peace-keeping force. And then there's the question of the lovely Rachil. Has he proposed to her yet? And, if so, what was her answer? The citizens of Sher are waiting eagerly for news.

Jan Nanson, Mayor of Squill was kidnapped this month. He was found, badly beaten, in a house close to the Mayor's residence. He cannot remember anything of his attack. Guards have searched the house thoroughly and have found no clues as to the identity or motive of the kidnappers. A 100 crown reward has been offered for any information leading to their arrest. Nanson is said to be recovering well, but all official engagements have been cancelled for the time being.

And a big embarrassment for the Taskmaster following his triumphant return to Meridar. Apparently the city chancellor has absconded, taking with him the entire city treasury and the Taskmaster's personal fortune. No one dares say a word about it in Meridar but people are having a good laugh about it in taverns all over Bernea.

The strange magical malady is continuing, but a cure may be in sight. Bernea's mages are apparently suffering from a case of food-poisoning. The culprit is a common salad vegetable and herb that is delicious raw, cooked or dried. No one knows why it should be affecting mages all of a sudden.

Rumour has it that Caldicot the Minstrel is now appearing in Ambar. The date of his next public concert has yet to be announced.

GROSS has vanished - it's official. There have been no more sightings of the mages' fleet of ships, no more magical experiments. A few rumours have reached us of strange portals opening up in the village of Amos on Bernea and in the Forbidden Mountains, here in Gershan. The portals remained for about an hour in each case and were reportedly guarded by mages and humanoid tigers. It is strange that the so-called magic college has left at a time when the Solists are calling on mages to join the Armageddon Council and do some good for a change. Nevertheless, we are sure many people will not be sorry to see the back of the mages.

Also vanished is the expedition to the Lost Continent which set off from Cleon many moons ago and has not been seen since. Relatives of the crewmen are anxiously awaiting word. The expedition, you may remember, was headed by Earendil the Mariner. Some people believe Pock'H went with him and also the other missing mage, Latcho Drom, from the Silver Desert.

Turn 9 Subsidiary News

A surprise attack was launched against Lorn, resulting in the deaths of several hundred soldiers. The commander who ordered the attack was also killed, which is a pity as the War Council would like to ask him why he disobeyed orders in launching such a suicidal strike. All other units are maintaining the blockade on the city. Reinforcements will be moving in shortly.

There are rumours that the Jade Throne has been found and is in Sher. Some are even saying that the emperor of old has returned and is preparing to unite all of Bernea under his banner. Could this have something to do with the withdrawal of BTC forces from Cleon in recent months? Is Veluta planning to put forward a new challenger to the Emperor Jad Arden? The only things we can be sure of is that when someone says they will unite the whole world in peace it usually means war.

One extra piece of news...

A group of mages have escaped from Lorn and joined the war effort against the city. They owe their thanks to the dwarf mage, Potus, who built a tunnel from Lorn's Magick Shoppe and led them on their long and harrowing journey to meet up with River City forces. They also pay tribute to the four mages who gave their lives defending the Magick Shoppe while the others made their escape. A report has leaked out of a fierce battle in the area of the Magick Shoppe, resulting in an explosion that destroyed the shop and half the street. It is unknown how many people died in the blast.


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