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SulNES: Intemperate Grandiosity [Orders due March 29th]

Discussion in 'Never Ending Stories' started by TheMeanestGuest, Jan 27, 2019.

  1. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

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    Acceptance address to Parliament

    It is the greatest honor to serve this city from which my family has sprung. I am a Sulan first, and a Napharneschi second, in the blood of my blessed ancestors, Silani, Taigah, and Atten.

    As Magistrate of Sul, my first request to Parliament is that Iroen Arvind Irvanat del Tellem be elevated to the position of Captain-Marshal, to command the military of Sul and hold the position for two years, or upon his resignation or the request of the Judiciary. I will note that Judge Drakun and Intendant Lipets have already lent their support. My second request is that each of the city's Judges supply 10 gradi to supplement the militia muster, and such additional forces as their capabilities might permit. My wish is to return these armsmen to you before the end of the harvest.

    Lord Judges Karpyr, Zohar, Drakun, dal Tellem. Intendant Lipets. This city's fate now lies in our hands.

    ---

    A letter, to the captain of the forces of Magister Keros commanding the Cheridine Gate

    You have refused surrender once, so I will not demand it of you again. But I speak to you now for the sake of your men. Young men, who look to you with trust. And so, I offer your men these terms of surrender, under my authority as city lord of Sul. As freemen of Sul, you are duty bound to read my proclamation, and allow them the dignity of a free choice.

    To the armsmen who defend the Cheridine Gate:

    Some of you may fight for Keros because you serve Sul, and he is Sul's guardian. I am Sul's new elected guardian, chosen by the people. So if you serve this city, your service is now transferred to me.

    Some of you may fight for Keros because you swore an oath to protect the magister's person. I swear to make peace with the Magister Keros, one that reserves him his dignity, not to take his life or deliver him unto the mob. If you fight to save the magister's life, know that I will treat Magister Keros fairly.

    Some of you may fight for Keros because you fear him. You fear his retribution. I offer you my protection. You may enter my household as retainers without censure or punishment, and I will supply you homes on the grounds of my estate.

    Some of you may fight for Keros because you fear the city itself. Your homes have been taken, your sisters accosted, your brothers slain. And you fear that if you return to live among the people, they will hate you, and they will come for you. If the protection of my city estate is insufficient, I and my brother iroen will find homes for you among our lands as tenant farmers. You have the promise of a safe exile outside of Sul.

    I am Lord Zathander Napharneschi, son of Lord Alezhis Napharneschi, elected magistrate of the city of Sul. I shall stand, myself, outside the Cheridine Gate for three days. Any of your number may walk, freely, to the place where I stand below the banner of the Tor Inflammant, and accept this offer of protection.

    Finally, know that after the end of that time, any soldier that remains within the Cheridine Gate will die.

    May your lives be guided by the holy saints,

    Lord Judge Zathander Napharneschi, Magistrate of Sul
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2019
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  2. Angst

    Angst Rambling and inconsistent

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    The inn was lit cozily by its hearth, tables abound with savory pies and warm chatter. It was after the day's work, merchants and guards next to those that had saved days for a well-made meal. A bowsinger merrily played a song from the westerlands. And the door swung upon, two robed men entered.

    Most barely noticed. A few raised their heads. As their heavy steps passed by the bar, the barkeep greeted them.
    "Brothers! A beer?"
    One of the men frowned. "Drink is sinless. Yet it is vicious."
    The barkeep looked at him blankly.
    "Don't worry," the robed one said, "We're not here for you."
    "What?"
    "There should be a man somewhere in here. Blonde, bowl cut, brown eyes, twin beard, bottom rung clothes."
    "Uh, what is your business with this person?"
    "It's a matter of the faith. We're not going to hurt anyone."
    "Well. All right. I don't know who you're searching for, but you can take a look around. But no violence. And don't just take it from me. There are guards around."
    "Don't worry. We're men of peace." The robed one turned to his companion, "Let's take a look around."

    It didn't take long for the two to find the man. And it didn't take long before the man yelled at them, drunkedly.
    "Go away, filth! Sheep!"
    "We want no offence, stranger. Yet, we saw you throw eggs at the preacher. We will take you back - to repent -"
    "I know what you do in repentance, you mindwashed, foul-tongued --"
    "Calm down - we can take you to prayer in repentance - for your soul --"
    "You are going to cut off my hand, aren't you? For throwing a piece of food?"
    "The poor could -"
    "The poor could have eaten the egg, yes, and you keep them barely fed, so you can live from their tongues down your throats!"
    The inn was dead silent. The first words were hissed by one of the monks.
    "I'll call the guards."
    "And have them cut off my snake, like you did with that man --"
    "We have never --"
    "... That man that dogged a prostitute?"
    "What are you --? Love is sacred - we have never cut off... And he was laying her in violence, it is of the darkest arts --"
    "You are demons, you are no better than thieves, you are vengeful, bitter --"
    "You aberrant lunati--" - and the monk's words were cut off in gurgling, blood splattering over the table. The monk collapsed, a knife falling to the floor. The next few seconds were outright chaos. Guards surrounded the raving blonde, dragging him out as he screamed.
    "They're cutting people! They're cutting snakes off people --!"

    The people gathered around the corpse. The robed one left standing looked in silence as a guard kneeled down. The guard's hands moved around in the guts.
    "No reason to do so," the robed one said, "The chest is without heave, the breath without wind."
    The guard looked up. "Are you cutting off limbs?"
    "We are a order of compassion. We never do anything that needs repentance. It is not our way."
     
  3. Lord_Iggy

    Lord_Iggy Tsesk'ihe

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    I, Arvind son of Irvan, of the Manor of Tellem, am prepared to accept this post of service to the City, People and Parliament of Sul.
     
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  4. TheMeanestGuest

    TheMeanestGuest Chieftain

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    And just so did the knight respond when the final proposal was put to the floor. Many parliamentarians express relief that a man of solid military experience should assemble and command the city's militia as Captain-Marshal. Some surmise that it is better for the Judge dal Tellem to occupy such a posting - a layer of separation between the elected Stratti and Sul's forces is no doubt the proper course; it affords the city's Lords greater opportunity for focus upon the duty of office, as well as mitigating the well-documented temptations of tyranny. The optimistic even dare to suggest that Sul's military capacities might be strengthened by this move.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019
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  5. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

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    Spoiler Spring 1884 Orders, Zathander Napharneschi :


    SulNES Orders – Spring 1884 (Turn 1)

    Zathander Napharneschi
    Income: 9 (2/5/1/1)
    Enterprises: 1 Gunsmithy (+1 Winter, +1 Spring), 1 Storehouse [spices and reagents] (+1 Spring, +1 Summer, +1 Autumn), 1 Apothecary: (+2 Summer), 1 Horse Pasture (+1 Summer), 1 Hemp Field (+1 Summer)
    Savings: 3 WP (including a bonus +1 in loot)
    Assets: the Manor Napharneschi [2S/1O], 20 loyal gradi, 15 hardened soldiers trained in riding and firearms

    Spending:

    1 to hire a local grammatarch from the University. (Contracted for 2 seasons)
    1 to hire an additional 20 retainers

    1 from city finances to raise 50 halberdiers
    1 from city finances to supply a military expedition to Cherid Mount

    1 WP in treasury -> 6 WP by end of turn

    Military Assets (Personal)

    Lord Zathander Napharneschi (himself)
    20 gradi, 35 retainers trained in firearms, 50 halberdiers (ostensibly on city payroll but under Zathander's portfolio)

    Order the First: Confirm Van’s Promises

    Ride with Van dal Esier in person to Abbal Tor and the Kesarnes, to ensure that the gates are opened as the lordly lord has promised. Zathander trusts the word of dal Esier, but in the event he is unable to deliver on his promise, or dal Esier retainers trouble the city any further, the contingency will be to raid the manse dal Esier after the iroen and his retainers have left.

    Order the Second: Grammatarchical Gambles

    The grammatarch Zathander has hired, Siadre dal Ivvia, is a young magisterial student at the University who shows exceptional promise, even whispered to become a nictoros in a decade or two. Zathander, however, has sought him out because of his heretical leanings, and his willingness to get dirty in potential battlefield magic. If he proves himself in the field, Zathander will renew his contract further, and perhaps an alliance may be in store.

    The grammatarch will be consulted on the following projects this season:

    1. Zathander’s secret, personal project
    2. Digging a tunnel beneath the Cheridine Gate to surprise its garrison
    3. Undermining defenses Keros may possess at Cherid Mount
    4. Drawing up a geas transferring sovereignty from the College to the Judiciary of Sul for Keros to sign*

    *The specific wording of the contract will transfer the sovereignty of the right to govern Sul from Magister Keros of Sul to Iroen Zathander Napharneschi, Lord Magistrate of Sul, in the name of the Judiciary, Parliament and People of Sul.

    Order the Third: The Battle of Cheridine Gate

    Zathander has made his appeal to the gate garrison to surrender. If all goes well, the gate garrison will be intimidated by the Lord Judge’s personal prestige and accept his offer of service or exile. He will, as promised, stand before the gate (out of bowshot) with his banner for 3 days, and will accept the service of any who ask for it. Of those who seek exile, they may have the option of: 1) Going to Arvind’s northern fort, 2) Going to Raka Naphran, or 3) Going to any of Arvind or Zathander’s properties in the countryside outside Sul. Due to his labor shortage, Lord dal Tellem may have the first pick of any exiles.

    In the event Zathander’s offer fails to clear the garrison:

    1) Siadre dal Ivvia and Zathander’s gradi will painstakingly dig a tunnel underneath the Cheridine Gate (try not to collapse the gate itself).
    2) I will request the Captain-Marshal to muster the militia outside the gate, with ladders to make them think an attack is coming.
    3) The militia will charge the gatehouse from the city side, attempting to climb with their ladders and/or ram open the gate, but this is only a feint.
    4) While the garrison responds to this, Zathander and 50 picked men will pop up in the courtyard and open the gate from within while the garrison is surprised and distracted by the militia.
    5) No quarter. Secure personal effects of the dead armsmen and sell them off.

    Order the Fourth: The Expedition to Cherid Mount

    ~800-900 Sulan militia (Captain-Marshal dal Tellem)
    50 halberdiers, 30 retainers, 20 gradi (Iroen Zathander Napharneschi)
    50 mounted knights (Kaltas dal Venner)
    And such additional armsmen and gradi as the esteemed Judges of the City provide.

    Estimated total host size: 950-1,200 men

    The strategy shall be further elaborated upon after discussion with the good Captain-Marshal, as this is his overall command. However, there are two contingencies. Either Keros is convinced by Zathander to negotiate, or he refuses. If he negotiates, Zathander will make the following offer: Keros is returned the Collegial Palace (with the exception of the portion occupied by the Orebhans), pays a fee of 5-10 WP, and is restored to all proper dignity as overseer of collegial affairs in Sul, while officially ceding secular affairs to the Lord Judge.

    If he refuses, we will siege Cherid Mount for approximately 2 months before assaulting it. That time will be spent using Siadre to strategically undermine points in the curtain wall and tor with his grammatarchy. I will, however, leave the military details up to the Captain-Marshal. Cherid Mount will be sacked, and the loot from the property will be sent back and divided between the commanders, soldiers, and state treasury. Keros himself will be hauled back in chains after being forced to sign the geas ceding all privileges and reserving none to himself.

    Regardless of the option the magister chooses, easy or difficult, we will allow Keros to be questioned by the Brothers of Orebhas upon his return to Sul, as promised. One final contingency is that if possible, ask Siadre to use his grammatarchy to confirm the contents of Kaltas’ letter as possessing no signs of betrayal.

    Dispositions:

    Zathander, Siadre, 30 retainers, 20 gradi:

    1. Escorting dal Esier
    2. Attack on the Cheridine Gate
    3. Expedition to Cherid Mount

    5 retainers – Guarding Napharneschi Manor

     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2019
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  6. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

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    A great stuffed eel, jaws posed wide with woodblocks and string, hangs precariously above the rostrum in the University of Sul's modest audencia. On the plinth, a corpse, fascia and muscles laid open, bowels sprawling, liver dissected on a side table. Not much fat to speak of, as could be said of most of the vagrants picked for dissection these days. Motes drift lazily through slanted pillars of illumination as students try and fail to pay attention; just another day in Laws of Flesh.

    The aged, jowly practor huffs, having chalked out the last of his explanations. "Thereby the peristalsic movement expels the faecal matter, identically to that of the oesophageal intake." He pauses. "Squeezed in, and squeezed out." The practor pans his eyes over the bored students. Then he slams his hand on the gore-covered table, jolting several students out of their reverie. "In a not dissimilar fashion to the means by which you will exit this University, if you fail to satisfy my next marking!" He growls with disappointment. "We are finished. Tomorrow at ninebell, we begin the thoracia."

    The students gather their precious writing materials and begin to file out, chattering amongst themselves. As the practor slices off the viscera and tosses them into a bucket to feed the groundskeeper's hounds later, he starts, remembering something. "Siadre, tarry."

    One of the students turns. As required by University stricture, he wears his jet black hair long and loose, cut at the jaw in the clerical style. Prescient, blue eyes and a small nose center a not unpleasant face, for those who prefer the look of 'courtly' men. And yet, there was something in his face that looked a bit wry, like it was all a joke to him. He strides back down the steps to the dissection table. "My service, Practor Jule?" The practor doesn't look up, continuing his work. "There is a man in the galleria who wishes to meet you." Siadre pauses, half turning before he stops. "A patron?" "It may go that way," says Jule. "But be careful, Siadre. I know, I know you are. But this is different."

    Siadre climbs up the spiral stone staircase to the galleria, to start with surprise at seeing Lord Zathander Napharneschi examining a stone carving. Armed, even here, bearing a breastplate, pistol, and a dagger. In these times, who can blame him, Siadre thought. Siadre knew him, had seen him receive his laurel in his first year. Knew he was untouchable, his father practically owned the University. And yet, the cloud of sycophants that usually followed any man of true noble blood failed to gain traction. At least it seemed to Siadre's eyes. So why has he...

    "You calculate," says Zathander, smiling, "Before you know the sums. Sit, Siadre dal Ivvia."

    He found himself in a chair faster than he had imagined possible. His heart was pounding. This was so unlike him. Was it merely his imagination that this man had already taken his measure, that he knew all his flaws? It must be.

    "So," says Zathander Napharneschi. "Do you speak?"

    "I...to what do I owe the-"

    "Dispense with it, Siadre." The smile twinges to a smirk. "You were censured in your first year. Intemperate cayanics, if I am not wrong."

    "You may not believe it, lord, but I merely made his fingernails grow ten feet in a night."

    "Following which you were banned from the study. I would have loved to see how you did it."

    "I was forced to sign a geas -"

    "I know your story. A man with the temper of a cayanos, forced into grammatarchy. And in your third year, you accomplish what takes most men ten, and pass the grammatarchical magisterium. So I am led to wonder, dal Ivvia, what exactly is your hurry?"

    "dal Ivvia," says Siadre, with a little laugh and a sad smile. "Eighteen grandchildren share that name. Each of them angling for a court position somewhere, anywhere. I cannot wait ten years, my lord. I'll starve before then."

    Zathander drums his fingers on the armrest. "So if I endowed you a practicum here, you would take it?" Zathander watches Siadre's face pale as he considers a life of academia, and laughs heartily. "Siadre, I like you." Napharneschi stops laughing, turning serious. "But that is the last time you dissemble in front of me."

    The innocent expression of the earnest boy-scholar changes, his eyes hardening as he gains an expression of intensity. "Alright then, Zathander," he says as Zathander tilts his head up, amused to be addressed so rudely. "So I've been a pet my whole life. Born into a family of pets. Why do you think I came to Sul? This ancient, rotten husk. In Carathir I would have been nothing."

    "Rather less than nothing, I suspect," says Zathander.

    "So maybe I don't want to be a pet anymore. Maybe I want to have my own emissariat."

    "Well everyone is someone's pet, Siadre. Even emissaries."

    "Even you?"

    Lord Zathander looks for a long time at the young grammatarch. "Very well then. I think you may be of use to me."

    "You understand my terms then?"

    "Better than most, you can be assured."

    "I accept."

    Zathander laughs again, holding the bridge of his nose as he closes his eyes. "You don't even know what I want yet."

    "Do you think Atten's emissaries asked him what he wanted? They knew. They just knew."

    "So you'd compare me to Atten? That's treason, my young accomplice."

    "You did already. I heard your speech. We all did. We cheered for it, and got drunk after."

    "Then you can answer to the most important question. What granted Atten his right to rule?"

    Siadre pulls a strip of parchment from the specialized bandolier that field-grammatarchs wear, pre-printed with their own calligraphy in the event a sudden sigil need be applied. He holds the square of parchment upright, on his palm, the anomic letter glowing bright blue, facing Zathander.

    'ART'
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2019
  7. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

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    Spoiler Father's sign :



    Spoiler A Fine House :
     
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  8. Lord_Iggy

    Lord_Iggy Tsesk'ihe

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    Spoiler Arvind's To-Dos :
    Get in contact with the squatters on my family's fields. Have a lawyer on retainer so that I can seek legal advice to guide me through this matter. I wish to reassert my right of ownership to these plots of land, but I am willing to make concessions to the realities of the revolution. Perhaps I can co-opt these peasants, allowing them increased share of the output of this land in exchange for their cooperation.

    See to it that my steward provides a report on Semmerul's finances, damage, income and holdings, and continues to manage them to the best of his ability, and to approach me if he encounters a decision that he wishes to defer to me.

    With regard to my newly elected position in the new parliament of Sul, I will organize the city's guard and formalize the revolutionary militias, which may be brought up as temporary forces of defense and offense against the remnants of the old order. This, I can do myself- I have experience organizing peasant militias on the frontier, I believe that many of the basic principles will hold true for an urban militia.

    I am inclined to support the plans of Zathander Napharneschi, and will begin working to tunnel and undermine the fortified holdout. I will organize marches and drills, both to provide proper training to the civil guard and to disguise the vibrations that will inevitably be caused by the work of our sappers.
     
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  9. Angst

    Angst Rambling and inconsistent

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    Karpyr orders
    Spoiler :
    I have no income this turn, so no direct orders in regards to spending.

    Provide the requested gradi for Zathander's mission.

    Have my street priests whip up some real hatred towards Keros. Blame all of the city's issues on his moral delinquency. The prists both point out his actual abuses of power and claim that the problems the city is facing often are some sort of divine response to his viciousness.

    There is a rumor flying around that a few rapists and similar sexual detractors have had their genitals cut off by the brotherhood, but it's uncertain whether this is a thing or not. (I haven't decided yet, but like the tension the rumor provides.)
     
  10. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

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    Spoiler Drakun's Orders :

    Drakun invests in a tenement building at the heart of Eeler’s Run, a building providing cheap housing for those who otherwise cannot afford it. Drakun remembers his early childhood, and remembers what it is like to live on the streets, and, from the goodness of his heart provides cheap, affordable, housing for those who need it. (6 WP)


    Similarly, Drakun Abndrakun is pained to see that some young men and women are driven to a life of crime, harassing the good men and women of the city, by the hateful words of the leaders of the Redjack gang. As such, Drakun seeks to provide honest employment opportunities to members of that gang. Drakun knows, however, that their leaders will not simply let them slip away. As such, he will send some of his good friends, along with a good number of good strong bakery employees to ensure that those who wish to leave are allowed. (Read, of course, crack heads.)
    (10 Gradi and 100 Upstanding Associates.)
    (Invest 2 WP in that)


    Watch this space (maybe) for CRIMINAL JUSTICE LAWS
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2019
  11. ork75

    ork75 Chieftain

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    Spoiler Summary of Memos from the Office of Kostyl Lipets, Spring, 1884 :
    There shall be no spending this turn, since I need wealth to grow in the banks.

    Dispatch 10 gradi to support the operations of our military commander.

    I have about 50 followers, many of whom are drawn from the northern immigrant population. A party, of 10 or so (from northern backgrounds), shall be sent to the northern woods and the northern cities to invite jobless or prospectless sons and daughters to immigrate to Sul. The message to be spread is that there will soon be a great deal of well paid work available. Focus efforts especially on those who are involved in leadership positions or academic pursuits: those, in other words, who could serve as solicitors, barristers, judges, and bankers.

    Additionally, commission a number of hirelings to begin to conduct research on the other banking houses of Sul. I want reports on their size, rough incomes, and areas of specialization come summertime.

    Finally, employ children from the immigrant community in publicizing the new law code and court structure to be established. I also want transcripts of senate meetings related to this to be put up. Their parents should be willing to hire them out as such in exchange for not much more than a good word with the house of Lipets & Pont, as my services to the community stretch back a long way.


    Law code and court structure is nearly done. I will make a new post with a link to the document when it is complete.
     
  12. TheMeanestGuest

    TheMeanestGuest Chieftain

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    Summer 1884

    the Lords of the City: Zathander Napharneschi, Kostyl Lipets and Arvind Irvanat dal Tellem
    the King of the Realm: Hazzen VIII Hazzarat [Azarnian] and Rhazes II Ilkhar [Collegial]
    Sulan Ire: Boiling [4]

    News from the Colonies

    In Eppalian there is word that Isrothel, Queen and Oriarch of the Bractemenn, has declared a summer fete. Folk travel from throughout her lands to partake in the feasting and festivities presented at the beauteous capital of Seadh, its homes bedecked in garb of crimson flowers. The delights of Seadh’s half-wild gardens have been opened to the people, its bursting burden of sweet and luscious fruits said to induce euphoria and dancing, the nectar of the bulging honeyed hives of its stingless bees to impart forethought and clarity of vision. None can say for certain what obscure event the forest-dwellers could possibly have to celebrate in such grand fashion, but some suppose that it is well for Tesch’s vassals to be productive.

    A few traders out of the far port of Noiro are saying that the southern witches of Zenzin have hastily gathered new legions of devotion and put them to the march, lockstep and near tireless in cloaks of red and gold. Those who portray themselves versed in matters of conflict presume that the legions go to join their compatriots in the valleys of Sakyntes to bolster the front against Netharis - though some narrators of a more dubious reliability insist that in fact they hurry east and away from the idyllic shores of the Fugue Sea and onto the dusty and endless plain.

    News of the Country

    In the fields outside Naschai the knights of Sabhal have suffered a grievous blow. Hungry to prove themselves in battle and gain revenge upon their detested oppressors, they were lured with skillful ease to low terrain by a false retreat of the disciplined Mitterine cavalry. There the impetuous knights were beset by a barrage of bolts and a hail of shot. Though they steeled themselves under fire and managed a fearsome charge, and yet again another, they were undone by the closing weight of pikes. The Tyrant Rhazes watched the scene impassively, unmoved by the ignoble deaths of his foes. Many once-beautiful silk banners lay torn, bloody, and trampled, strewn amidst a carpet of bodies. The Lord Ghalba is said to have escaped the slaughter with a handful of his companions, but finds himself besieged in the Raka Syraka. It is a strong fortress, but it cannot hold forever, and aid seems unlikely to reach the Konte dal Kemmarn. This is a severe setback for the Azarnian cause in the north.

    The numerous iroeni of the capital demesne have been rallied to confront the pervasive influence of Carathir in the name of His Majesty, Hazzen VIII Hazzarat. Having refused offered terms, the prepared militia of Tassar was attacked at their positions near the monastery of Nitiras. The Tassarai fought bravely over the course of two days, their emplaced long guns picking off the vulnerable mounts of Teschai iroeni, sending knights tumbling down into the mud. In the end not by valour but by sheer numbers did the royal army win out, and the Tassarai were forced to conduct a grueling fighting retreat back to the safety of their city’s walls. An impressive display of quality, if ultimately futile. They are not long comforted by their temporary reprieve.

    The Emissary Yetho watches the city from afar, a clique of loyal cayanists gathered about him, lending their power to his will. It is only a few words he need speak, an aid to draw out needed energies - true art is conducted with hidden movements of the mind. Black clouds gather and swirl in the skies above Tassar with terrible and unnatural speed. A crack, and the first bolt of lightning strikes. It is not ten, nor a hundred bolts that fall, but thousands. A continuous and rolling clap of thunder, a blinding conflagration of jagged lines of light. Tassar faces a nightmare of flame and panic, one most do not survive. In the morning the survivors surrender in ragged fashion, the storm at last dispersing. It will be the work of years to restore the city to half its former grandeur.

    A contingent of ivvars and brothers-militant yet resists Yetho’s army from the castle at Varnakh, though the Emissary doubtless intends to gain their capitulation quickly to secure Hazzen’s grasp on the capital.

    Word spreads that the Sulans have rebelled against the Emissariat and declared the rule of their own parliament over the city, citing many years of abuses. Well, we’ll see how long that lasts.

    Keros dal Esier, the ousted magister of Sul, has prevailed upon the hospitality of the Iroen Aoelios Taldren, Lord of Vistrian and the Raka Drena. In the face of a bloody expulsion from the city Keros has fled from vulnerable position at Cherid Mount to prevail upon old friendship and more secure fortification. Lord Taldren now hosts the magister and his ivvars, and his guests have convinced him of the danger the rebellious Sulans pose to his fiefdom. Aoelios reconsiders the benefits of allegiance. An armed party containing several of the Stratti of Horizan was seen travelling the northern road mere days before this declaration, and many suspect that their treacherous influence played a key role in this unwholesome turn of events.

    The magister’s brother, Van dal Esier, has declared the allegiance of his house to the rightful king, Hazzen VIII. The Sulan lord was seen to arrive at the King’s court at Azarnes in the first week of summer, a number of retainers in his company.

    Marl Lourdes Izar, Kontessa of Antiom and dowager-queen, has declared before the realm that she bears within her womb King Haran’s rightful heir, soon to be born. More swear themselves to her service at the proclamation. The balance of power may tilt on this fulcrum.

    News of the City

    Parliament has come to an arrangement with the Iroen Van dal Esier. Zathander Napharneschi, the city’s newly elected Magistrate, was observed mere days after his appointment to ride in company with the Lord’s party from the dal Esier mansion on the Lakanian Hill, winding down and through the streets to the Ezeth gate at Kesarnes. Several crowds gathered at major intersections to observe the column’s passing, and were rewarded for their perseverance with silver given by Van’s own hand as he greeted the people, speaking with them freely. The procession continued to the river, its course now thronged by folk eager to snatch a coin or two. The company rode at ease across Abbal’s Bridge to the tor island. Seeing their master and his banner, the family’s armsmen threw wide the gates in haste to meet his arrival. The Lord dal Esier admonished his captains before the Magistrate, informing them of the great friendship that has grown between himself and Sul’s rightful government, even presenting the magistrate with a gift of silver to the city treasury. Traffic is again free upon the bridge, and a thoughtful few are heard to speak highly of the Magistrate's swift and considered diplomacy - though most reserve their fondest words for Lord Van.

    A spike in violence, and without the magister’s firm hand good citizens are left to fear a rising tide of pretty crime. Brawls and fires by the docks, dozens dead in the streets. But it’s over oddly quick, almost before it started. Looks like some of the neighbours didn’t take too kindly to all that fuss the Redjacks were kicking up. What’s left of the gang has gone to ground in the eastern alleys and sewers. Hard to dig out, but unlikely to cause further trouble - at least for anyone that matters.

    There has been a series of gruesome deaths reported in the Run. Though initially assumed collateral of the violence of recent weeks, the killings have nevertheless continued as Sul’s underworld has restrained its own worst elements. A beast spotted in harried glimpses, black as coal and covered in tangled hair. They say it has the form of a wolf or dog, but cries with the voice of a man, biting only at the neck and head. A drunken group of gradi have reported an attack, managing to drive it off with torches and axes. They claim it was four feet at the shoulder and seven long, wicked and gleaming blue eyes in a head held tall and proud, strong jaws and cruel rending teeth. Normally this would be a matter for the office of the Ordinate-Inquisitor, but it numbers among many positions recently vacated by the city government. Fear spreads, and terror threatens to take hold. The people demand that parliament do something to stop the creature’s rampage!

    The Intendant Kostyl Lipets has spoken publicly and at length regarding his efforts to restore the rule of law in Sul. As far as anyone can tell these efforts have so far consisted entirely of publicizing his intentions. The people grow restive, and the absence of justice is only one of their many complaints.

    The Orebhan fellowship has been stirring unrest in the city, the preaching of the brothers now a fixture on many city corners. Karpyr himself has spoken to the people in the square before the Audiencia, his voice echoing powerfully as he laments the weaknesses of parliament, urging complete and utter destruction of the magister’s power, the repudiation of his compatriots, and a final chaining and judgment.

    Hearken and rejoice! The Cheridine gate is taken! The remainder of the magister’s garrison carried out a stubborn resistance over the opening weeks of spring, but are now defeated. Refusing surrender, they were inevitably undone by the strength of Sulan arms. At last the city is free from the imminent specter of magisterial control. Arvind Irvanat dal Tellem, Strattos of the Marshalry, has taken the militia in hand and with steady effort made a coherent fighting force of them.

    Lord dal Tellem led a bold attack to assail the gatehouse and the enfilading Galam Tor with ladders, grapples, and a covered ram - the Sulans fighting bravely to take the walls. All agree that Lord Napharneschi and his armsmen likewise played a critical role in the progress of the battle - managing some way into the ruined compound of the old royal magazine they took the defenders by surprise, undoing the resolve of the enemy and prompting a swift capitulation. The militia suffered few casualties, and the city celebrates its victory. Some disagreement was reported as to the disposition of taken captives, but for now they have been imprisoned at the Audiencia to await the measured deliberation of the Judiciary.

    As the Sulans rest and reorganize in preparation for their expedition to Cherid Mount, the clouds that have lurked overhead for weeks at last begin to disperse, and sun’s rays start the work of drying and greening. A few are warmed at this welcome return, seeing in it a confirmation of the rightness of their cause. But that open azure sky seems somehow sinister as it looms high overhead, and despite recent victory the mood of the column is subdued as it takes to the road.

    They return unexpectedly a scant few days later in lightened spirits and bearing loot. The magister has fled his seat at the monastery of Cherid Mount, taking refuge at the Raka Drena. Some argue in parliament that any friend of Keros is an enemy of Sul, that the militia must march again at once to confront Lord Taldren, and also Horizan! We’ve proven ourselves at the gate, there’s no fight we can’t win! Others are more cautious, noting that perhaps the city should navigate the treacherous waters of politics with more consideration than the single-minded destruction of Keros dal Esier.

    There yet remains the question of what should be done with the significant quantitiy of treasure the city has come to possess. A few members of parliament suggest that perhaps the large hole that currently passes for the Ortoran gate should be remodelled in a fashion more likely to provide the city with some measure of protection.

    ~~~

    Finances
    State Treasury: 10 WP (+4 in loot, Cherid Mount +3 in donations, Van dal Esier)
    State Incomes: Commercial Tolls - +1 WP in Spring, Summer and Autumn.
    State Expenditure: the Parliamentary Guard (50 halberdiers) - 1 WP per season
    State Assets and Properties: the Audiencia, the Raka Khareth, the Collegial Palace, Gallam Tor

    24 knights, 47 low gentry and roughly 100 commoners imprisoned.

    Spoiler Personal Finance and Status :
    Zathander Napharneschi | +1 Esteem, -1 Piety
    Income: 9 (2/5/1/1)
    Enterprises: 1 Gunsmithy (+1 Winter, +1 Spring), 1 Storehouse [spices and reagents] (+1 Spring, +1 Summer, +1 Autumn), 1 Apothecary [+2 Summer], 1 Horse Pasture (+1 Summer), 1 Hemp Field (+1 Summer)
    Savings: 7 WP (+1 in loot, Cherid Mount)
    Assets: the Manor Napharneschi [2S/1O], 20 loyal gradi, 35 hardened soldiers trained in firearms and riding

    Drakun Abndrakun
    Income: 6 (1/1/0/4)
    Enterprises: 1 Bakery (+2 Winter), 1 Brothel (+1 Spring, +1 Summer), 1 Tavern (+1 Winter), 1 Fire Brigade (+1 Winter)
    Savings: 2 WP (+1 in found merchandise)
    Assets: Drakun House [0S/0O], 30 loyal gradi, ~300 upstanding associates

    Arvind Irvanat dal Tellem | +1 Esteem, +1 Popularity
    Income: 7 (4/2/0/1)
    Enterprises: 1 Gunsmithy (+1 Winter, +1 Spring), 1 Dyeworks (+2 Summer), 2 Flax Fields (+2 Spring), 1 Woad Field (+1 Spring)
    Savings: 9 WP (+1 in loot, Cherid Mount)
    Assets: Semmerul [1S/1O], the Tellem estate, 20 loyal gradi, 20 grizzled frontier veterans

    Karpyr | +1 Popularity
    Income: 4 (0/2/0/2)
    Enterprises: 1 Bakery (+2 Winter), 2 Cayan Fonts (+1 Summer)
    Savings: 3 WP
    Assets: Karpyr House [0S/0O], 25 loyal gradi, ~250 devoted pupils

    Kostyl Lipets | -1 Piety
    Income: 18 (5/5/5/3)
    Enterprises: 3 Banking Houses [+1 each season], 2 Storehouses (+1 Spring, +1 Summer, +1 Autumn) [cloths and fabrics]
    Savings: 11 WP
    Assets: Lipets House [1S/1O], 20 loyal gradi, 50 suspicious northmen


    Personal Reports

    Spoiler Karpyr :
    A Study in Starting Fires

    Spring has been relatively quiet - quiet here meaning that compared to some of Sul’s other Judges your life has been relatively uneventful. You must be true to your convictions, and so you continue much as you always have, though you find it freeing to walk and work openly without the prospect of harassment and arrest by Keros’s impious thugs. The bulk of your time is devoted to prayer, instruction, severe living, and your various charitable works. Life, however, has not been quiet in the sense that you haven't been making very much noise. The brothers preach loudly in the streets, just as you advised, and the people flock to hear.

    Grave accusations are cast against the reviled magister, and many gasp with outrage to hear them, leaning forward with receptive ear. How do we injure such a loathsome creature? How do we reveal and end his disgusting masquerade as a source of divine wisdom and authority? You are more than ready to help these worthy seekers find their answers. Keros may run and hide like the coward he is, but Parliament has captured men who have taken arms against the city, who have killed good and righteous Sulans! And yet prisoners only they remain, afforded hope and comfort as Sul’s fractious and indecisive politicians debate what should be done. It is clear enough what must be done, you say. They must be punished for their crimes! If all should see that Keros is powerless when faced with true justice, that he has become unable to protect his most loyal sycophants from a reckoning long overdue, then all shall know that just like the rest of him, his power too is false and fraudulent. Leash the beast, and reveal it for its godlessness! Leash the beast, and unveil its grand deceits! Let the Sulans cast down its vile servants, and let the beast be chained! The crowds roar their approval, their numbers growing day by day.


    Spoiler Arvind :
    Land and Sundries

    Your steward has been nothing but helpful, even if he insists on being referred to solely by his title. At times he seems more concerned with the wellbeing of the estate and your person than you are, frequently anticipating your needs and those of your staff. Indeed, the man was quite prepared to list the many extensive damages done to your house, as well as its current and rightful incomes. He appeared relieved that you’d finally asked.

    As you know, of course, Semmerul’s current state is not at all reflective of its past glory. Most of the windows have been broken, and the entire third floor has been gutted by fire. Numerous curtains, hangings and rugs are missing, along with several priceless works of art, one harpsichord imported at great expense from the capital by your late father, several sets of dinnerware both silver and porcelain, a ceremonial sword granted to your brother Orban for his college service, the kitchen’s store of rare southern spices - and really, it goes on for quite awhile.

    [In mechanical terms Semmerul was a 2S/3O mansion, but is currently considered 1S/1O due to its looting and associated damages. It will likely be cheaper to return your manor to its former glory than it would be to expand and enhance some other existing house.]

    As to your incomes, it appears that your brother Azver won the deed to a dyery by the docks in a game of cards several months before his death. The business is rightfully yours, and its incomes should be coming to you shortly. The family’s gunsmithy down the hill in Tespyr managed to survive the revolution more or less intact, and the smiths have returned to work. Your fields on the other hand, well, that is a different matter. A group of masterless serfs have taken up residence on your family’s lands in the absence of any custodian, and have worked the fields now for several months. Your steward, however, has already found a solution! This guy seems pretty great - though you note it somehow odd that you have no recollection of him from your youth. He has met with a leader of the serfs, a man named Xaco, and negotiated what he thinks is an agreeable arrangement. For their significant labours and hardships the serfs are to be compensated with an additional portion of the year’s harvest, constituting roughly a third of your profits, and the standard majority in years henceforth. All you need do is ride out and seal the agreement. This sounds amenable to you, and you agree that it is worth pursuing.

    You depart the next morning, your family’s farms an easy ride of two hours to the city’s west. As the fields come into view you can see by the vigorously growing stalks of flax that your crops at least have done well, even amid the somewhat swampy growing conditions. You are shortly introduced to Xaco, who is reluctant to meet your eye as you sit atop your horse. You step down, and his demeanour is immediately rendered more friendly. He shows you the ditches and channels that he and his people have dug about the fields, keeping them relatively dry in less-than-ideal growing conditions. They have additionally established smaller plots of grains for their own sustenance, and raise several pigs and a multitude of chickens. You are suitably satisfied by this turn of events, and you accept an invitation to stay for a quiet and simple lunch of bread, beer, eggs, and cheese - quiet as in peaceful and serene. You feel calmer than you have in several days.

    A marshal’s duties, and other burdens


    You have taken on far more than you’d anticipated when setting out from the vale of Tellem. Accepting the honour of Captain-Marshal as bestowed by the judiciary for your experience in military matters, you inherited a troubled conflict in addition to a troubled house.

    On your inspection the siege at the gate seemed somewhat haphazardly organized, with various knights and militia sergeants independently directing barricades and camps, some within the city and some without. You carried out a complete survey and found a muster of roughly nine-hundred Sulans armoured and equipped with halberds or crossbows, thirty-five Sulan knights and sixty of their guards, retainers and armsmen, as well as a hundred assorted gradi present on their own initiative or the behest of their masters. You readily admit you are not the most experienced commander, but this will not do.

    You reorganize the units with a central camp, establishing your headquarters in the half-buried remains of a brickwork vault roughly equidistant from the Cheridine gatehouse and the Gamal Tor. You set your gradi to pin ropes on both sides of a nearby section of the Taeghine walls, allowing quicker communication with the men stationed outside. You put the Sulans in nine regular companies ostensibly numbering one-hundred militiamen and three knights - each iroen assigned to lead assured as one willing to hear the useful advice of his sergeants. Additionally, squads of gradi are to support each group with hooks and grapples as they are able. A small number of knights you deem a danger to their subordinates, so instead you have them act as mounted messengers.

    The militia has gathered few siege weapons. There are four ballistae of varying quality, but all incapable of damaging the fortifications in front of you. The crews seem to enjoy tossing bolts at the parapets, trying to skewer a collegeman. To their credit they’ve managed to hit two. Three young knights and a handful of their flunkeys are conspicuously and lazily firing a small but definitely illegal bombard at the Gamal Tor. All insist they have no idea where it came from, but you know, since it’s here and all we may as well use it, right? The tor itself has a long gun swivel-mounted on the roof that occasionally fires back, shots smacking with perturbed-sounding thumps against the dugout earthworks. You don’t expect much will come of this, but it does give the tor’s defenders a convenient and obvious target. You decide to leave them to it.

    The magistrate, Lord Napharneschi, insists that he can take the tor from within by means of a mine sunk primarily by means of grammatarchy, turning down your offer of additional labourers. Your impression of Napharneschi is that he is capable, if somewhat haughty. You leave him to his mine, and you pray that his gambit works out as as well as he anticipates. It will be your task to carry out the main assault, distracting the garrison that the tor might be opened from within. To this end you endeavour to train the men as best you can.

    The companies are drilled in marching with mixed success, but after a few days they seem to be able to move in formation without tripping over each other. You drill the halberds to kneel and present a serried front of blades, and the crossbows to fire overhead. Most importantly, you train them in the construction, carrying and climbing of ladders.

    The day is come, and you await the magistrate’s word. Three companies are to assail the Gamal Tor and the low walls of the old magazine, three are to attack the gatehouse from the city, and three more from the country. The signal arrives, and you have the trumpets sounded. The ladders advance at a trot, quickly coming into range and under fire. The crossbowmen raise their pavises above the heads of their comrades to provide some protection, while others return fire. Two ladders are knocked down, and you swear you can hear the sickening crunch of bones even at a distance. But some stay up, and a company manages to gain the wall of the magazine, though a group of the magister’s knights hold them from the tower’s door. Where is Napharneschi? The attack on the gatehouse is going worse, the men thrown back entirely from the eastern side, and struggling on the west. You decide there is nothing else to be done for it, and you decide to intervene personally with your own armsmen, advancing as quick as you are able. Your harquebusiers provide covering fire as the militiamen raise another ladder, and you climb up behind three of your strongest fighters. Your man Farvolg leaps over the top, laying an ivvar out cold with his mace. And finally, the rapport of Sulan guns from the tor behind. Beset simultaneously by your advance and volleyed fire, the magister’s soldiers begin to lay down their arms and call for quarter. The men look at you admiringly, and you figure your victory well-won, clapping backs and heaping praise on the Sulan militia for their fortitude and courage.

    While seeing to the necessary disposition of prisoners and looted arms, you hear sounds of commotion from the courtyard of the magazine. You stride through the sparse and empty halls of the Gamal Tor, and out into a brewing confrontation. The knight Geventuri - an older man of some experience assigned as one of your captains - and a group of twenty or so militiamen are attempting to push past the magistrate’s retainers, who appear to be guarding a group of prisoners. You shoulder through the crowd, your grizzled veterans shoving men out of the way. It seems the magistrate at some point issued an order of execution, and evident disagreement has occurred as to whether this order should be carried out. You vaguely recall some mention of this, but you didn’t think the man was serious. You spot him standing nearby, looking somewhat worse-for-wear: burned, bloodied, and glassy eyed. With concern you request that some of his retainers take him home and summon a doctor, and on noticing his condition themselves they hurry off. You defuse the situation with a deferral to parliament, and a reminder that captured knights often earn substantial ransoms, a fact some seem to have forgotten in their haste and anger.

    In any case, you are thoroughly exhausted and retire to your estate, which you find quite conveniently located at this particular moment. Your work continues on the morrow.

    A Brief Expedition

    The companies are set into column - though several number below half strength - and the Sulan militia marches out the Cheridine gate. The journey to the mount is about a day and another half again. You ride in the van with Lord Napharneschi - who still seems somewhat distracted - and the Iroen Kaltas dal Venner, who has brought fifty knights to represent his master. You find dal Venner's manner amenable, if vaguely standoffish. Making his acquaintance, the two of you chat briefly on a few occasions, though the conversation always seems to come back to a discussion on the merits of various traits of personality in horses.

    Speaking of horses, the scouts return, their mounts sweating and lathered. They report the monastery lies empty, and the magister is fled. The column is put to double time, and you arrive in a few short hours. A single ivvar sits gamely at the gate, and he rides over as you approach. The monastery is surrendered, but he regrets to inform you that the conflict between yourselves and the magister must continue. You nod understandingly, and the man goes on his way. Dal Venner and some of his knights follow shortly thereafter, still intent on the delivery of Van’s message. The remainder stay behind to accompany the militia on the return to the city. The mansion is looted systemically. Your men even pull the silver nails out from a decoratively arranged wooden wall. Those panels would look nice back home, and you know just the patch of burned-out bare stonework to cover over.

    A small garrison of volunteers has been mustered to occupy the mount and control the local countryside. You saw to an orderly and customary division of spoils, a total value you estimate at roughly equivalent to [8 WP] in silver. A fourth is shared between yourself and Lord Napharneschi, a fourth goes to the militia, and the remaining fourths to the city’s treasury.


    Spoiler Zathander :
    The Lordly Lord

    You arrived ahorse with your best retainers at midmorning, the path of pavestones to the mansion’s gates flanked by two neat rows of apple trees adorned with pale and delicate pink blossoms - pleasantly aromatic when carried on a gentle breeze. The sturdy brickwork wall encircling the sprawling estate is whitewashed and gleaming on a now-rare day of scattered sunshine, the mansion’s peaked roofs of polished copper rising up behind, newly burnished. At a call from a watchman the steel-bound doors swing open, and Van approaches atop a stately grey horse, his right arm raised in a magnanimous gesture of greeting - one you would become quite familiar with throughout the course of the coming day.

    He wears a masterfully fitted brigandine sewn with the finest blue silk, nearly royal in its sumptuousness and depth. His family’s sigil is picked out expertly in thread of silver: an open palm, downwards, a pair of columns rising at its gesture - it is written in the histories that it was the fortune of the dal Esiers generously given that rebuilt much of Sul following its ancient sack. A layered cloak of pure white linen sits across his shoulders, calfskin gloves accented to match; a narrow blade in blue-lacquered sheath upon his hip. You are forced to admit in the privacy of your thoughts that he is the very image of nobility - you judge that this outfit alone likely cost more than your entire current wardrobe. In your youth you knew Van to be exacting in his presentation, but it seems this is a facet he has polished with relentless dedication in the intervening years.

    With a firm embrace of brotherly amity you set out, riding side by side. A rare note of gravity in his voice, Van assures you that the day will go exactly as you’ve discussed - before quickly returning to idle chatter about simpler days gone by. The dal Esier knights trail behind, mixing in with your own men - if slightly better dressed. Your procession through the city is met with cheering crowds, the Sulan folk buzzing excitedly, jostling to gaze upon the lordliest of lords. They cry out with joy as the knights press silver into passing hands, Van himself praising the city’s many virtues as he tosses clinking handfuls to the boisterous mob. You worry for a moment that things might get out of hand as the masses press closer, but Van’s glowing presence seems to have taken any thought of violence right out from their heads - though it certainly helps that he brought enough coin to satisfy the most raucous spectators. Not for the first time you feel a twinge of jealousy as you think on the substantial fortunes and estates your brothers stand to inherit. But it is no matter. In time you will eclipse them all.

    Notes of alarm sound from Abbal Tor as the Ezeth gate wrenches rustily open, but quickly go to silence, replaced by further cheers as the silver hand and column passes into view. You are introduced to several more of Van’s captains, each favouring you with a deferential if unapologetic nod. It is at this point that a small chest is brought out and opened before you, containing a number of small silver bars - as Van informs you rather loudly in front of gathered spectators that he delivers a promised donation to Sul’s parliament with love and joy held firmly in his heart. Showboat. The terms are laid out clearly: the Parliament of Sul is to have full and reasonable use of Abbal’s Bridge, and the citizenry shall again have free access of orderly traversal. You are hosted at an extravagant dinner in one of Kesarnes finest houses where the terms of the deal are sealed over a meal of aged cheeses, roast quail, fatted geese and suckling pig, followed by apple tarts and a sampling of liqueurs.

    Perhaps it wasn’t quite your day, but in the end it matters little. Ultimately you got what you wanted. The admiration of the people can be a welcome boon, but you surmise that as fickle as they are, sometimes it is best not to stand foremost in their attention. At least not yet.

    The Cheridine Gate

    “You may stand there as long as you please, Iroen Napharneschi, but I cannot abandon my oaths and duties. You may threaten us with cruelties, but this will not induce our surrender. I bid you a good afternoon, Lord,” came the reply, called down clearly for all to hear with a cayan shout but a few short hours after the delivery of your letter. You recognized the man: the Ivvar-Ordinate Daemas, a loyal lieutenant of the magister. His reputation is an uninspired one of obstinate duty, and you are now almost certain that there will be no willing surrender. Regardless, you remain beneath your banner for three days, just as you have said. Some of the militia favour you with looks of perplexity or worry at your insistence on standing out in the rain. Truthfully by the second day you are sorely tempted to abandon your vigil for somewhere a bit warmer and drier; perhaps the cut your men have already started digging - but no, you’ve always been stubborn, so you stand there favouring the gatehouse with a deepening glower of displeasure.

    The daily business of command can be an unenviable chore, particularly when your subordinates are untested, disorganized and lazy. You’ve successfully saddled the knight dal Tellem with the dual tasks of whipping Sul’s militia into shape while maintaining the siege against the magister’s positions. This has left you free to pursue your delvings, literal and otherwise.

    Siadre dal Ivvia has so far lived up to your assessment. Intelligent and driven, he has set to the work you’ve tasked with assiduous consideration. With careful calculation the grammatarch readies his sigils, the work taking several weeks - he claims that with some minor adjustments in-process it should be simple enough to carve out the needed passage without threatening the stability of the structures above. Looking over his numeracies, you consider them beyond your own and choose to believe that the tunnel will emerge as planned.

    You open the mine out of sight of the defenders amidst the tumbled brickwork littered all about the base of the Attenal Hill. Your gradi have begun the work with shovels and picks, reaching the first outcropping of bedrock after two hard days. It is time for dal Ivvia to prove his worth. With clear drawn lines and intricate parchment-work placed at key junctions, the spell begins itself with one final painted line; a soft exhalation and a small puff of black smoke the only immediate sign. Of a sudden the stone collapses neatly into itself, disintegrating, rendered down into a fine and powdered sand. Siadre’s design is clever, and the sand sluices down the angled cut into waiting shafts, filling precisely to their tops. Your men are astonished at the near-instantaneous appearance of the mine, and mutter sullenly that they aren’t going to be the first ones down. It wasn’t a perfect working, though. You quickly notice that Siadre neglected to provide any footholds, catches or stairs on this rather steep slide into darkness. Embarrassed, he immediately starts rifling through a binder of his work, promising adequate correction for the second cut. The problem is solved by your gradi, who don their climbing boots and pinion their ropes. They descend slowly, chiseling holes and placing posts, nailing in wooden steps and tying guiding lines. It takes several days longer than you’d like, but soon enough you’re a hundred feet down and just outside the low walls of the magazine.

    Lord dal Tellem reports that the militia is as ready as it can be if the attack is to happen soon. He impresses on you that he expects little chance of success if these additional methods of yours prove inadequate. Their ladders await your word.

    Ivvia makes his lines by lantern-light and places the last papered keys, giving you a nervous nod while noisily and improperly donning a light mail jack. You send a messenger to the Marshal - all you can do now to aid him and the militia is accomplish your objective and take the Gallam Tor. Ivvia marks his final line from a distance, brush tied to a spare halberd shaft. A gently rumbling hiss, and the ground cracks open before him. An avalanche of dust pours down, falling away into the pit - snuffing your lamps and sending everyone into a coughing fit, scurrying a few paces back up the other way to open air. But it worked. You clap Siadre on the back as he hacks up a lung while your men curse and relight their lanterns. Neatly placed stairs await you, a light above, and the distant sounds of battle.

    You and your picked retainers step out from the passageway amidst the roofless walls of an old barrackment, obscured from sight in the shadows cast by the tower looming on your left. There is fighting above you, and the crack of gunfire echoes down from the top of the tor. The court of the magazine is deserted and grown wild with weeds. Siadre hastily unrolls a parchment, slapping it against the heavy oak of an unguarded postern door. The characters glow briefly in luminous blue as the paper drifts to ash, and the door falls to splinters. Your men charge through, and there is a sudden commotion of yelling as they surprise a number of young initiates sar at long tables repairing crossbows and fletching bolts. One of them rises, startled, and a gun goes off. Staggered pistol shots and a brief tussle leaves a dozen bodies sprawled about as you hurry for the stairwell. Emerging on the second floor you send a handful of your best fighters for the magazine wall to help the militia gain a foothold. A man bursts aflame beside you, a tiny line of fire etched across your vision, strung to to a nearby chamber. You’re shoved unceremoniously to the ground, and your rescuer is kindled unceremoniously inside his armour above you, screaming. A militant brother steps into view, long black hair held tightly in a braid, grey jack sewn with plates, a lapis star of focus gripped tightly in his left hand. His eyes are filled with fury as they lock on you, struggling to rise. You can hear most of your men still filing up the well back down the narrow, stumbling and jostling in their commotion. Two of your gradi leap over you, rushing the brother with drawn blades, but they light like human torches still paces away. You curse and shake as you scrabble desperately for your pistol. A single shot. A harquebus at twenty paces from behind, snapped off precisely and instantaneously. The cayanist falls with a sloshing gurgle, a hole punched through his chest. You confusedly direct your gunners to the roof as a man helps you to rise, the smell of burning pork wafting through the tower’s halls. Dazed, you struggle up the stairs, passing the sprawled bodies of three collegemen and one of your own, gutshot and slumped down against the wall of a landing.

    You emerge on the roof as your retainers form a firing line, keeping up a steady barrage as they train their arms down on the gatehouse. The militia soon secures the western side with the aid of your marksmen. With their positions collapsing in combination with unexpected fire from a formerly friendly strongpoint, the morale of the gate’s last defenders quickly crumbles, and a white flag is raised.

    You must have hit your head - it’s taking you an interminably long time for you and one of your gradi to count a bag of coins you found. Why are you counting a bag of coins? There’s yelling outside, and you half-stumble out into the yard of the magazine. An argument has broken out between a group of militiamen led by the knight and parliamentarian Icharias Geventuri and your own guards, who appear to be assembling a makeshift gallows and a line of prisoners. Oh right, you do recall ordering that.

    Geventuri shoves one of your gradi bodily to the ground, yelling something about the bounds of morality. Even in your current state you can tell a fight is about to break out as the men group up. Just in time the Marshal dal Tellem arrives with his escort, pushing through the press, shouting sharp and short words of command. Duly surrendered prisoners are the rightful captives of parliament, and shall be imprisoned to await the judgement of the law. The disturbance ends, both groups slinking off sullenly. You aren’t entirely happy about this, but can’t seem to find the right words to express yourself. Some of your men finally note the glazed look in your eyes and decide it might be a good idea to take you home to rest.

    To the Mount

    The doctor reports that you suffered a severe concussion. A concussion is a condition caused by trauma where the brain suddenly expands and tries to escape from the skull to avoid further injury. You are up the next day regardless, determined to see the magister humbled before you. Over a thousand men march to the Mount, and you ride at the column’s head. Kaltas dal Venner has come with the dal Esier knights, just as Van promised. He regrets that if battle should be joined he is forbidden to participate, but should be more than pleased to have his men act as scouts and outriders. You detect a genuine distaste for the magister when dal Venner speaks of him. You present him with a fine pistol from your smithy, which he graciously accepts.

    Things are quiet as you wind your way through the countryside, and quieter as you approach the monastery - the quietude in question being that the serfs seem merely apprehensive at the passage of such a large party of armed men, when they should be fled from sight. What do they know that you don’t? You’re about to direct one of your aides to inquire when the scouts report back. They’ve ridden up to the walls of the monastery, but it seems to be deserted. The gate stands open. You, the Marshal, dal Venner, and several Sulan knights ride on ahead. You are greeted by a single Ivvar sitting mounted at the gate. He informs you brusquely that the monastery is surrendered, and you might do with it as you wish. He leaves you sitting there, and rides off to the north.

    The magister has absconded with near-all the monastery’s movable treasures and valuables, but you find several books of interest in the half-emptied library as golden filigree is prised from artful mantels and decorative glass windows are popped from their frames. There is much worth taking in a palace like this, even inlaid carpet is torn up from the floors.

    With no magister there is no geas, and there is no prisoner. The Brothers of Orebhas will no doubt be unhappy to learn this, but you don’t really care about their happiness. Some of your designs have been frustrated, but you’ve also been met with not-insignificant success. You will have to consider your next step carefully.

    [Your SECRET REPORT is forthcoming]


    Spoiler Drakun :
    Matters of Propriety

    It’s safe to say that over the years you’ve become a wealthy man - even more so recently. Dad would be proud. Business was good, and just about to get better. You’d planned your moves with care. Problems with the authorities have much simpler solutions when the authority in question just so happens to be yourself. But you know what really jams up a ship when it’s about to rise to the top of the bottle? Impulsive, unsubtle, eel-eating morons. The Redjacks are a problem, a problem you find in need of an urgent solution. Your metaphors are also problematic - you need to work on those too.

    See, as a wealthy man you’ve learned that business is better when the Run is quiet - quiet here meaning that Sul’s more respectable denizens don’t get stabbed in the gut, robbed and left for dead by jumped-up gutter rats; even and especially when those more respectable denizens are going about business that happens to be of a less-than-respectable variety. So as an upright, thoughtful, and wealthy gentleman, how should you solve this particular problem? By spending a lot of money and telling other people what to do - that being: find the captains and their gradi, beat them to death, and throw the bodies in the river. Now.

    A talent of silver goes a long way down by the docks, a real long way indeed if you know the right people. And you know all the right people down by the docks. Soon enough you’ve got names, locations, times. The boys get the drop on a meeting - the jacks aren’t so hard to follow in their ridiculous red coats - so you grab some of the bosses, and you make them talk, even when you already know the answers. Then you get rid of them. Some of the ones that are left fight back, feeling like they have to. You can respect that, but it doesn’t mean they can escape the inevitable consequences of their poorly considered actions. You’ve already convinced some of them to join you, all it took was the threat of imminent death and a few coins and they were happy enough to do half the work for you. It’s over in a few days, and it’s nothing the Run hasn’t seen before. Hell, most folk in your new territories are more than pleased to have you around instead - at the very least you’re a little less conspicuous. You even managed to seize some product, crates of liqueur and hash, petty cash, a few half-decent brigandines and eel-scale coats. Things are looking up.

    But as the city never fails to remind you, you solve one problem, and two more pop up to replace it. Some of the boys are saying that the blind priest’s dead-eyed thugs have threatened to geld several of your customers, or even that they’ve gone and done it - though no one seems to be able to find any evidence (their version of evidence being a conspicuous bleeding castrati.) Either way it could be trouble for your profit margins, so it might not be a bad idea to investigate the matter. As if that wasn’t enough apparently there’s a monster that’s eating people’s faces in the back alleys. Great. The way things are going you’ll probably have to deal with that too.


    Spoiler Kostyl :
    Rivals in Usury

    You know, of course, that in Sul there is only one man known so well as you in matters of money: that donkey-faced goldsmith, Dimmian Pragg. You don’t know how the man even gets up in the morning by himself - he probably doesn’t. On more than one occasion you’ve even observed him to fall asleep in the middle of parliamentary session. Nevertheless he rivals you in the amount of capital he can provision, and is known to hold an extensive list of liens. How does his operation tick?

    The Praggs have been wealthy for several generations, having been granted a license of trade roughly a century ago for the quality of their work, which for a time was highly regarded as far away as Kassyra. Though the smithy’s master craftsmen still work their commissions, Dimmian has evidently found a superior source of revenue. With his father’s death he quickly parlayed his access to royal bullion into a lucrative business of loans, as well as an agreement of credit with a large counting house based out of Tesch, the famed Sanguivarian’s Coinings and Collaterals - the second largest independent institution of minting and merchantry in the entire realm. Pragg doesn’t seem to serve a particular clientele, providing credit to nobles, merchants and wealthy commoners alike. Well, as long as they have sufficient property to serve as assurance, of course. His banking establishment is located in a secure brickwork building of four stories in middle Tespyr, in relatively close proximity to his home and workshop.

    His reputation, notably, does not seem to have suffered from his newer ventures. Pragg is uncharacteristically diligent in making frequent appearances at local shrines and has provided several generous donations to the charitable works of college authorities in the past. Likewise on saints days he has been known to distribute flour and ale to the city’s poor. You suppose there could be something to this, though you feel quite strongly that such insincere performances should be entirely unnecessary.

    Recruitment Efforts

    Most of the agents you’ve dispatched have yet to report back to you, and of those that have the news is not particularly encouraging. One of your men was thrown bodily from the University at Antiom, banned henceforth from the institution for the infraction of ‘pestering nuisance’. Another in the vicinity of Vernasser had great difficulty locating anyone with a degree of literacy who was in fact willing to meet with him - he did however find a family of quel herders who were quite interested in relocating. They have a suspiciously Glamman look to them, and their large and extended family now squats in your yard, their loud and hissing feathered serpents wriggling and writhing in a makeshift pen. This is not exactly what you had in mind.

    In more promising news you have received a letter dispatched from a village near Suraco. While drowning his sorrows at failing you in a nearby tavern, one of your men overheard a group of four monks discussing their great dissatisfaction with the state of collegial life. Your man informs you that if the necessary bribes may be provisioned for the local ordinate, the monks can be released from their service - though as part of their conditions they have specifically requested feathered beds of goose down and a generous ration of liqueur. These costs are relatively trivial, and will only require a small expenditure on your part [1 WP].


    Announcement: The update arrives! I encourage you to read other players reports, but remember that your character will not know the vast majority of this information - only partial knowledge regarding events that are very public or involving very many people. If I’ve made any errors in accounting, please let me know. Maps on the first page have been updated. There may be some NPC letters and speeches forthcoming.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2019
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  13. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Messages:
    10,511
    Location:
    In the desert
    And so were lessons learned. That update was pretty fire.

    A Speech, to Parliament, on Victory, Clemency and Blame

    On victory:

    The credit for these great victories truly belongs to Captain-Marshal dal Tellem, and in it I played but a small and simple part. My wounds are minor and superficial, and all gladly borne for Sul. And we have met with great victories. The Cheridine Gate and Cherid Mount are ours.

    I now declare before Parliament that unless any Judge voices objection, I intend to take possession of the holding of Cherid Mount, as is within my legal purview as magistrate, for the benefit of the now-lordless serfs in the region. I also hereby declare that half of all future incomes from this land shall accrue to Parliament's treasury, and I shall work towards its fertile increase for Sul.

    Furthermore, I wish to invite all my worthy fellow parliamentarians to a grand fete, to be held at my manor, to celebrate my elevation to the magistracy and our twin victories.

    On clemency:

    Secondly, I will speak on the disposition of the prisoners. I made a public proclamation, declaring that continued loyalty to Keros would be punished with death. However, the noble lord and parliamentarian Icharias Geventuri has prevailed upon Lord Marshal Arvind and myself for clemency.

    Therefore, I am willing to commute the sentence of death for those prisoners that accept my initial offer.

    For those that may afford ransom, it shall be delivered. For those that cannot afford ransom, a geas of indenture shall be signed so that they might repay the city of Sul in bound service. Regardless of their status, noble or common, all college prisoners must pledge loyalty to the Parliament of Sul, or accept permanent disbarment from the city, on penalty of death.

    I call for the opinions of the other judges on the disposition of these prisoners.

    On blame:

    Keros still eludes our grip, and we now possess intelligence that the vile Rizny have had a hand in his continued treachery. Brother Karpyr is right, of course, to rage against the beast. But I ask you, brothers, what is the beast? Who is the beast? Did corruption in Sul begin and end with Keros dal Esier? Does corruption in our kingdom begin and end with Keros dal Esier? No. No, brothers, this is a beast with a thousand heads. All of them treacherous, all of them greedy, all of them calling for the blood of honest citizens of Sul!

    And one of those heads, my brother parliamentarians, is led by the devilish judges of Horizan! They intrigue, even now, to have our vassal lords rebel against us, and give aid and comfort to Keros dal Esier. But do not be fooled - it is not Lord Taldren of Vistrian who leads this conspiracy to aid Keros, but the Stratti of Horizan.

    Allow me to enumerate the complaints against these vile foes:

    They have degraded and obstructed our trade.
    They have spread lies of blasphemous intent toward our city's virtue.
    They have aided and abetted Keros dal Esier, now a wanted criminal and enemy of the state.
    They have plotted to overthrow our Parliament and place us once more under the dominion of the College!
    And, lastly, most egregiously, most gravely, they have declared themselves to be in open rebellion against His Majesty Hazzen the Eighth, the one true king of Tesch!

    As Lord Magistrate of Sul, I ask you now, brothers, one and all, to endorse a declaration of war against the vile and foul Stratti of Horizan and all who serve them!

    My lords, my fellow citizens, let us not simply leash the beast. Let us slay it.

    Spoiler Personal Correspondence :

    A letter from Zathander Napharneschi to his father, Alezhis Napharneschi

    My beloved lord father,

    The time is now. I have acted as you instructed, and all the powers within and without Sul are aligned against our foes. Once the Parliament approves my declaration of war, as is my right as magistrate, I shall request support from all the lords of the surround. I believe Van is with us in this matter, and it is better to act with him than to allow him to manipulate the situation to his further advantage.

    I believe that Horizan will fall. Given the news from Tesch, it is merely a question of who will do it first: The royal army, dal Esier's men, or us. Furthermore, the Mitterines are still occupied in the north, sieging out Sabhal's iroeni. If we wait until next year, events may have already moved beyond our capacity to control them.

    As such, I request that you send our family's iroeni, levy and retainers under command of one of my brothers, to join with my men at Sul. I trust and pray your health remains in good state, and please give my love to Mother. -Zath

    A letter from Zathander Napharneschi to Van dal Esier

    Dear cousin,

    All the city is abuzz with talk of your generosity. Truly, you are the most popular man in Sul, and it is a credit to the effectiveness of your rule. Furthermore, I am truly pleased to see that we are both brothers in allegiance to our true king.

    Your remarks on the most troublesome Rizny have led me to use my purview as magistrate to request a declaration of war against their stratti, in support of your plan to oppose them. I believe that if Parliament supports me, and I believe it shall, we shall be able to lend a thousand men to your cause. Furthermore, I have requested my lord father to join me in the levy. If added to your numbers and the lesser lords of the Ezeth, we shall have more than sufficient men of quality to overwhelm the troublesome Rizny and their ineffective militia, do you not agree?

    I propose we secure Horizan as a gift for the king, and let the honors accrue to our families with minimal risk. Furthermore, I believe it will take the city's attention off your brother for a season, allowing him to flee further, if he so chooses.

    Let us bring the knights of Ezeth together in this great endeavor, and I do not doubt they will sing of it in the days to come.

    -Zathander Napharneschi

     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2019
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  14. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    8,938
    Location:
    Ft. Lauderdale
    Spoiler Drakun Abndrakun :

    A safe city is a profitable city. Drakun knows this truth, and lives by it. There are a number of issues plaguing the city currently which are keeping the people from enjoying our beautiful city. As such, some of the Bakery’s more enterprising young employees, while they are out delivering bread and pastries, will keep an eye out for trouble and either report it to the local city-watch, or take care of it themselves.

    Drakun will also set up a system of couriers within his delivery territory, paying young children some money to keep an eye out for trouble, and, if needed, run to get the fire-brigade, or some of the good strong delivery boys.

    Drakun will also hire the local witch-woman Amela Blue-Hands, a young woman skilled in the arts of spell-weaving and healing and prophecy, giving her a small home at the back of the bakery, a place to live and practice her arts, and take her own customers. In exchange, she will take care of my employees, as well as lend her skills to the advantage of my organization. Her first task will be in the assistance of trapping the beast that stalks the city.

    (1 WP)

    Drakun has also instructed that the more excess bread produced at the bakery, stuff that’s older and stale and now unsellable, is to be distributed to destitute orphans and young mothers within his domain.

    Drakun will also cater Zathander Napharneschi’s ascension feast. The finest ingredients to make the finest cakes, pastries, spun sugar delicacies, honeyed almonds and fruits, and iced drinks of the finest make will be delivered to his Manse, accompanied by the most beautiful young men and women to prepare and serve the delicacies.

    (1 WP)


    Drakun will also attempt to sell the goods that were seized from the Red Jacks.

    Finally, Drakun will attempt to trap the monster stalking the city, as the atmosphere of fear and anxiety polluting it’s streets is unacceptable to him. He will do so by having small groups of vulnerable looking bakery employees wander the streets at night, carefully and deliberately shadowed by some of my strongest Stock Boys and other employees (And the agents of my dear friend, Zathander.) Should the beast fall to the bait, It will be slain.


     
  15. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    8,938
    Location:
    Ft. Lauderdale
    To Plan a Feast:

    Spoiler :








     
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  16. Nuka-sama

    Nuka-sama :)

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2006
    Messages:
    9,384
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Tokyo, JP
    Bye
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019 at 7:25 PM
  17. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Messages:
    10,511
    Location:
    In the desert
    OOC: Hi Nuke! You should probably note that ork already has those exact enterprises, so it might be more interesting for flavor purposes if you choose a different line of merchantry. There are quite a few options, so perhaps look into them a bit further.

    Gifts of the Grammatarch, Part One


    “Where’s Siadre,” Zathander says to no one in particular, feeling the fringes of his hair where the tips are burned. An empty alcove in the courtyard had held a saint-votive, but it was smashed on the ground. There is a ringing in his ears. “Don’t forget the grammatarch.” He sees the boy, really just a boy, he can’t help but think of him now as anything else, slumped down against the magazine wall, running his hands through his hair.

    “Siadre!” Zathander calls to him. He looks up, covered in dust, a smear of vomit he doesn’t notice still coating the corner of his mouth. Napharneschi half-laughs, rubbing the spot to notify him. “Have him to my manor, Atric,” he says to the retainer now drawing him away, one of his father’s iroen’s sons.

    Siadre finally tiptoes in several hours later, seeing Zathander lying on his divan in the solar of Napharneschi Manor with a cold washcloth over his eyes, trying to ignore the pounding in his head. Siadre has cleaned up a bit, probably changed into his only other set of collegial clothes. The heavy, brass-bound door closes and clicks with a tumbler thump.

    The grammatarch looks sickly, as Zathander waves him to a chair. He swallows. “I’ll leave the city,” Siadre says, finally.

    “And why would you do that?” says the magistrate.

    “I failed you,” he says. “I…I didn’t warn you about the cayan flame, and after I broke the door I couldn’t fight…”

    Zathander sits up at this, the washcloth falling off his face. Despite (or because of?) a certain dilating of pupils that is most likely not normal, Siadre sees with surprise an expression of fierce excitement on Zathander’s face. “You insecure little fool,” he says, “You were perfect.”

    “What?“

    “We won, Siadre. We won, and we lived, and your tunnel did it all. It gave us Gallam Tor, which gave us the battle.”

    “Well…I suppose that’s true. Heh.” He looks pleased with himself, but then the small smile bleeds back into concern. “But still, the fight…”

    “Your first fight. Siadre, you exceeded my expectations.”

    “Well…well I’m glad then. Thank you. My lord.”

    Zathander strides across the room, kneeling by the chair to look into Siadre’s eyes. “Now tell me. When we came through, and then after the battle, how did you feel?”

    “Well…there were a lot of feelings.”

    “About the fight in general, then.”

    Siadre blinks, thinking about it. Then he meets Zathander’s eyes, and grins.

    “I think I liked it.”

    “I expected you’d say that. Siadre, it’s that feeling. You can buy almost anything in this world. But doing what we just did…you can only ever seize it. Fighting to win and living. Nothing else will ever make you feel so alive.”

    “I…uh…I guess I’ll take that under advisement, my lord.”

    Zathander chuckles. “Good. Now, I have another question for you.”

    “About your…?”

    “No. Not that.”

    “Then what, my lord?”

    “Are you a virgin?”

    “I- my…” Siadre chokes on his words.

    “Well, I’ll take that for a yes, then.”

    “I entered university at fourteen! And women are not permitted in the novitiate houses!”

    “So that was enough to stop you.”

    The grammatarch finds himself becoming beet red. “Another infraction, especially for gross lewdness, would have meant expulsion.”

    “I see,” says Zathander. “Would you like to know a fascinating fact about our new city government?”

    “I...uh...sure?”

    “It just so happens that one of our city’s finest Judges has a highly profitable side business. You’re taking Laws of Flesh this season, aren’t you?”

    “Yes,” says Siadre, feeling increasingly nervous about where this is going.

    Zathander picks up a bell and rings it. “I think it’s time you learn a few lessons they don’t teach in class.”

    The door opens, and there are two quite pretty young women who enter. One has blonde hair cut short like a boy, and the other has long, bright-red wavy locks and freckles, perhaps some Glamman blood. They are both quite noticeably naked underneath their cloaks. Siadre also notices that he can’t feel his face.

    “Which one do you want?” says Zathander.

    “Are we…are we just…going to do it here?”

    “We’re comrades in arms now, Siadre. It’s quite expected to share the spoils of war.”

    Siadre dal Ivvia takes a deep breath, preparing to face one of the greatest challenges in his budding grammatarchical career.

    “I’d like the blonde one. Please.”

    ---

    Several hours later, Siadre and Zathander are eating chicken pie and drinking wine, while watching the stars from one of the manor balconies.

    “So…this is why you don’t get married,” says Siadre, breaking the silence.

    “Well, that’s part of it. And my desire to marry above my station.”

    “Above YOUR station? Who do you want to marry, Kontessa Izar?”

    Zathander muses. “Not a bad idea. But a third son of a middling great house would not darken her door for an instant. Currently, I am considering Lady Israth.”

    “Israth…dal Immen? Do you know her?”

    “Yes, our families called upon each other, and we played as children. She has some strength of thought in her, enough that she convinced her brother to share rule.”

    “So, you like her personality, and she’ll come with land and money to strengthen your heirs.”

    “Given that I am now Magistrate of Sul, the dal Immens are in a weak enough position that Israth and her brother stand to gain more than lose. I am also in a position to claim Cherid Mount for a country seat, which would be sufficient for Israth's dignity.”

    Siadre pauses. “You’ve got enough to be set up for life already. But you aren’t satisfied.”

    “Is it enough, Siadre, to simply move the chairs? To pass power and land from Keros to me, to another one day? Or dare we seek to change this realm, to restore some fraction of what was lost? Or even to create something new?”

    Siadre is quiet for a long time. “Most people don’t have the luxury of thinking like that.”

    “I am not most people, Siadre dal Ivvia.”

    “No. No you are not.”

    There is quiet as the sound of crickets from the manor gardens chirp deep below. Summer is well and truly here. Siadre leans back in his chair, relaxing, enjoying the warmth of the evening after all that has happened.

    “So, do you think it’s true that a bonhombr lives beneath the Taeghine Archives?”

    Siadre falls out of his chair with a squawk.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2019
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  18. ork75

    ork75 Chieftain

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2012
    Messages:
    508
    Spoiler Letter to Zathander Napharneschi :

    To the good Lord, my Magistrate, and my Friend,

    I believe that your forthcoming expedition against Horizan holds great promise. Too long have they starved great Sul from her rightful profits, and too long have they hindered her banks, her producers, and her people in turn! I hope that your armies shall march unhindered, and that you shall fall upon their walls like ten thousand years of storms and wind.

    Of course, I also hope that you will have ammunition to do so.

    Even at its current strength, and even with the gradi of so many lords bolstering their ranks, our military forces are both few in number and likely lack the supplies to commit to a massive campaign. It would seem that you would benefit from the support of a man with deep pockets, and deep resources. I happen to know such a fellow: I am he.

    I outline the following proposal: I will assist you on your march against the city with the golden arm of my banking establishment (tell me how much you shall require, and we will negotiate). I will also open the doors of my cloth warehouses to you -- an army cannot lack uniforms, standards, nor tents, and at my current reckoning you lack all of those -- in exchange for fair compensation from the state treasury, at rates discounted from those on the open market.

    In exchange, I ask for a cut of the spoils of war. If the city should be looted (and I hope that it should not be), I first request that you keep a tight leash on your men to minimize the damages. Second under this, I request that my own men (I shall send some attendants with the campaign) get a first gander at the goods of the warehouses of the city. Third, and most important, I request that you deliver unto my men (alive and unharmed!) any bankers, merchants, or learned men of law and letters you find. As it turns, I may have offers for them.

    May the wind be at your back, and may your steel be at the Stratti's throats.

    -- K. L.
     
  19. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Messages:
    10,511
    Location:
    In the desert
    Spoiler Letter to Kostyl Lipets :

    To the gracious and astute Lord Intendant,

    You display in your planning all the business acumen with which you earned this city's lordship. I am pleased to hear of your support for punitive measures against Horizan, and offering that support publicly in Parliament will also be of great comfort. As to the merits of your proposal, I will address it line by line.

    With regard to looting, I would naturally restrain my men and ensure an orderly sack. I will caution, however, that I expect several lords from the countryside who I do not have the right to command to join our party, and while I will convey this request, I cannot ensure their compliance. Secondly, regarding the securing of goods, any tradegoods seized will be turned over to your establishment to repay your offered loan. But, quite frankly my lord, why stop at the goods? If the owners of the warehouses flee the city, I will also secure the properties themselves to turn over to your ownership, as collateral for your loan to the state. I also see no reason why Lipets & Pont should not become the dominant banking firm in Port-of-Horizan and Horizan proper, if we are comprehensively victorious. Either the banks will be forfeit with the flight of their owners, or their sale will be non-voluntarily negotiated on behalf of the State. It would be a benefit if an agent of Sul was to control the commerce of the Ezeth headwaters henceforth. I will task a special unit to secure these properties if it pleases you.

    Thirdly, regarding your request for lettered men. Any captives of the merchant, common, or collegial classes who possess literacy will be brought to your office for negotiation. Naturally, I cannot imprison the gentry and iroeni in this way, but all others who may be of use to you will be suitably procured. I trust you will prepare sufficient inducements to guarantee their compliance with your further designs.

    And finally, regarding your loan. These assignments will of course bear considerable cost. I would request [6 WP] to the state treasury if you find it in your funds. We will purchase [1 WP] in supplies from your warehouses, thus giving your loan a net cost of [5 WP]. I also intend to purchase foodstuffs from the good Judge Drakun to supply our forces. Of course, I am certain the value of the seized goods and buildings to a man such as yourself will ultimately far exceed the ultimate cost of this loan.

    All the best for our city's future,

    Zathander


    Spoiler A messenger sent to Karpyr :

    A young page-boy in Napharneschi colors delivers the following message, as the Sunless has no eyes to read.

    Spoiler :
    Dear Brother-Judge,

    I have heard much of the good work your brothers are doing in the streets of Sul, and my heart has been moved by your vigil in the audencial square. It has put to my mind questions of how we can further address the plight of the poor. In Tesch, the King and the Emissariat have each constructed a hospice, where the sick and the dying are given rest, comfort, and the attention of any passing practori. Perhaps the good Brothers of Orebhas might perform a similar service to our city. I wish to offer you a donation of [1 WP] towards the construction or purchase of a suitable building, if this is of interest towards you. I would also be very happy to speak to my fellow lords both within and without Sul in order to collect additional donations.

    My only request is that you speak in my favor, if it please you, with the common people.

    Yours in collegial amity,

    Zathander Napharneschi
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2019
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  20. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

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    Gifts of the Grammatarch, Part Two:

    "If it doesn't have a mouth, don't speak to it." -Sulan saying, traditional

    ---

    The Taeghine Archives are generally fine, but for their cavernous emptiness. The gardens are windswept and austere, pale grassy courtyards and mossy brickwork sporting long-decayed statuary with faces worn down. Dry fountains filled with swirling dead leaves, study alcoves occupied by only dust. Long-empty rooms with long-abandoned shelves, roofless vaulted arches in which birds roost. A small portion of the vast immensity of the abandoned space still holds books for the University. A special rector and six practors oversee the library. They see to the borrowing and return of the books, as well as fees for copying materials. But most importantly, they ensure that students do not stay past dark.

    There are areas of the Archives about which…tales abound. The Supine Gallery, its long rows of stone benches cast in the shape of people crouched on hands and knees, in abject obeisance. Changed, was the students’ whisper, by Taigah’s Law. St. Jaquel’s Surplice, the rooms said to hold the ghost of a martyred page-boy. But those are simply the scary but mostly harmless.

    They do not compare to the barred segment. And the barred segment does not compare to the vast undercrofts, traditionally referred to on schematics with extreme warnings.

    The barred segment is where the books of grammatarchy and cayanics are kept, the informational manuals on heretical arts, the grimoires of untold names, the bestiaries, the alchemics of gunpowder. These are the books that hold restricted knowledge, under lock and key and only loosed under the watchful eye of the practors. Below them is the lightless vault of the Archive’s lower reaches. Old practors still occasionally refer to those cellars by their traditional name – the daemoniquary.

    These, it is periodically confirmed by popular lore, conceal demons.

    For the Taeghine Archives have no night watchmen to guard the books after the practors swiftly hurry home with the dusk. No stone wall encloses the crumbling arches and courts. For in the ancient days when the foundations of Art and Archive alike were laid, there was no need for mortal guards. Pacts with more infallible watchers were made. And the remnant legacies of those pacts endure. The beings which inhabit the vaults are much degraded. But even now, they honor the legacy of that ancient pact, the terms of which all parties have since forgotten. So - it has simply passed into known local lore, reinforced with the death of a treasure-hunter or two each generation – the things that live beneath the Archive have free rein of the place after dark.

    “Lord Magistrate, you were my student, once,” pleads the rector, Atas dal Cataci, as the iroen speaks to him at his small office between the shelves. “Ambition, even married to intelligence, is no substitute for prudence. And I have, in my years, seen so many promising young students seek the forbidden. To a man, they meet foul ends, Lord Zathander. The Archive has its price.”

    “Rector, you know something of the beings which are said to dwell here. So, tell me. Is it truly a bonhombr?”

    The rector’s milky, cataractous eyes twitch. “Clearly you have been reading outside the course material.”

    “Clearly.”

    “Then you will know that neither violence, nor threat, nor entreaty can move a seeming-beast. Its mind and desires are not of our world.”

    “Indeed. However, you have some sort of arrangement with the creature, do you not? It doesn’t kill you or the practors, only trespassers.”

    The rector murmurs to himself.

    “This is my city, and by imputation, my Archive. It will recognize my authority.”

    “It will take more than that, Lord Zathander.”

    “I know. Now unlock the door, Rector.”

    Rector dal Cataci pulls himself slightly out of his ancient hunch with opprobrium. “If you were simply some lordling seeking adventure, then very well. But the disappearance of the Magistrate would bring much unwelcome attention to what remains of this Archive. You may have wrestled into submission your parliament of eels, but you cannot wrestle with a bonhombr.”

    Zathander pauses. “You may not speak of what I am about to show you, Rector.”

    When he is finished, the ancient rector’s eyes glisten with surprise in a man who is rarely surprised.

    “So, you have prepared for this day more comprehensively than I suspected.”

    Lord Napharneschi merely nods.

    “But if the Emissariat ever learns what you have done…”

    “Dear Rector, I paid you a social call, and borrowed a book, as is my right as a baccalaureate of Sul. That is all that happened this night, is it not?”

    Atas dal Cataci wrestles in his robes to procure his ring of keys. “I hope so, lord Zathander.”

    “Ensure the College sees it that way as well.”

    The spiral staircase that descends from the barred-book section holds small offertories to the many sons and daughters of Sul’s ancient Queen, half of their names now forgotten or bastardized. At the base, two statues guard a locked door. The siblings on either side, Taigah crowned with her scroll of laws, Khares enthroned with seedling and sword.

    “The sun is declining, Lord Napharneschi,” says the rector as the unlocked door to the daemoniquary grumbles open with a rheumatic creak. “I hope to see you when it rises.” He makes his way back up the stairs with unusual speed for a man so old.

    The daemoniquary is still, quiet, and cold. Water sluices into a cistern, the legacy of Keros’ rains. The chamber into which he has entered is long, its brickwork vaults adorned on one side with reliefs of winged, haloed creatures, and strange, angular beasts on the other.

    Zathander walks, not carrying a torch, but rather a small, expensive cayan lantern swaying from his belt, glowing with pale, constant light. It is better, as they can take air from the unwary so swiftly, snuffing out torch-light before snuffing out life, or worse. His sword is drawn. When did he draw it? He isn’t quite sure. If he were not noble, not trained to not show fear, you pissant with half a dozen beatings spaced evenly throughout childhood, in stockyards and at jousting posts and in chambers with Father looking on ever so sternly, he would not know how

    Uh oh. Thinking about that memory was a lapse. ****, why did he do it?

    “Oh, Zathander,” says his father, standing in the cellar, the silver-haired Alezhis in his black robe, signet ring shining silver in the mage-light. “You are simply inadequate to the task at hand.”

    Alezhis’ pursed lips turn sideways, until a vertical mouth stretches down from nose to chin. “what an uninteresting backstory,” grouses the demon, as Alezhis stamps his taloned quel-feet.

    “So it’s true,” whispers Zathander, trying to maintain his composure in the face of the certain knowledge that whatever this thing is, is beyond him. Remembering at the last second, he clutches the lapis focal implement. He focuses on the grammatarchy within his body, the third art.

    “Truth is the first mistake,” says the demon, as it leaps through the air. Zathander’s sword is drawn, and he impales the seeming-beast, but its form becomes liquid and it slithers down into the pavestones. The blade is coated in a clear slime that reflects false memories in its sheen. Focus the blade into the aether, Siadre admonished him. It won’t kill it, but it might make it pay attention.

    As for the demon, shorn of his father’s form, it rises into an undulating, faceless figure.

    “d o y o u k n o w w h a t I a m” says the bonhombr.

    Space folds in ways that are unfair. A wall breaks into a smile, which folds into shapes of things, writhing, suffering and breaking, children, trees, animals, buildings, lines of flesh opening up and spitting forth sticks or birds out of the parted skin of a human thigh, as a building wall becomes flesh and bleeds and quivers because there is no body to it. And this, a thousand times over, as Zathander’s mind and stomach writhe in sickened fascination. Imaginary creatures (he hopes) shriek in unfair suffering as their worlds break apart and reform endlessly.

    It laughs in the sound of breaking glass. “d o y o u k n o w w h a t I a m” it repeats.

    Zathander performs his grammatarchy. He spreads the stolen blood of his foe in battle, the cayanos-brother, on his blade, mixing it with the slime, and then puts the resultant mixture on his eyes.

    “The soul of a man, slain by my design. An enemy of you.” His trembling hands unroll the parchment, the blood mixed with the demon-goo (it isn’t real, he keeps reminding himself) on his fingers as he draws the bloody sigil on the parchment. The parchment flares white, now containing (if Siadre’s grammatarchy was correct) the unquiet soul of an unburied man. It is beautiful.

    “I am Zathander, a son of Taigah. I offer no pact, but a sign of my regard.” He spreads his arm holding the scroll that traps the collegeman’s soul in his best Van dal Esier impression, but the bonhombr is busy being a flock of birds, transforming into a cloud of bees. The parchment produces a white column of flame, and Zathander drops it onto the ground and slashes his sword through the flame. The flame screeches and splatters onto the ground, glowing white.

    Don’t offer it a pact, Siadre said. That’s everyone’s first mistake. If you’re right…and if you’re not, you’re dead…you can convince it to honor an existing pact. But even then, you’d need to feed it.

    “In the name of Sprezychish, recall what was pacted,” Zathander intones, following Siadre’s advice. That last flourish was also from Siadre, who had broken out in a sweat even saying the name he had learned in the barred archives. The cloud of bees pulsates, differently…and engulfs the white splatter. The bees turn into a column of swirling pink cherry petals, the tips of the petals then turning into the faces of crying babies. The swirl of baby-petals engulfs Zathander, before an arm of the swirl coalesces into a woman’s face he does not recognize, encircled by a flaming crown he does.

    “m a g i s t e r i u m,” mocks the broken-glass voice of the demon, while Zathander tries to mentally restrain himself from panicking as he realizes it is drawing on his thoughts and memories. Be calm, it took your offering.

    “Take me to my mother’s study, so that I might continue her work,” Zathander finishes, formally.

    The demon’s laughs louder, and it pulls on Zathander’s body. A flash of chambers, empty vaults, dungeons, brickwork space shifting and twisting internally. Finally, it stops, leaving Zathander in some other indeterminate place in the vast depths of the daemoniquary.

    “t h e r e w i l l b e m o r e?” requests the bonhombr politely, before it swirls into nothingness on a diminishing cloud of madness.

    Zathander waits for about thirty seconds, then breaks down into a rattling exhalation of released terror. After that is finished, he looks around to determine where he is. Still in the vaulted basements, and in front of a door, apparently, with a copper drakkan-head knocker, green with patina.

    He opens it and walks into a small vaulted courtyard, the massive walls of the Archive rising around him. The grass is neatly trimmed, and water burbles in a pleasant fountain, spurting out of two zirrafim trumpets. This isn’t visible from anywhere else in the Archive, Zathander thinks. It appears to be both hidden and maintained by some great and subtle application of anomic power. So it’s real…it really is real. He had gambled everything on what he had learned years ago at Nitiras…and on the legitimacy of his own bloodline. If it had been a forgery, he would be another one of the screaming sufferers in the bonhombr’s infinite torture world.

    Zathander reflects on all of this for about a minute in the courtyard, then walks through the courtyard to the smaller door on the other side. Inside, there is a small, well-lit chamber, with a desk, a small bookshelf with several books, what appears to be a modest workshop with simple craftsman’s tools for stonework and carpentry. Fresh linen tapestries are on the wall, bearing designs Zathander has never seen. It is relatively spartan, but each of the implements are of brilliant quality, seemingly undecayed.

    Zathander had read second-hand the account of a Sulan sage who had had visions of this place. The well-kept pleasantness of it was jarring after the decayed menace of the rest of the archive. Taigah’s study.

    You know, your mouth is hanging open, says a voice in Zathander’s mind. He whirls, looking around, before his eyes are drawn to a simple tome bound in dark-blue suede on the desk, with Taigah’s crest set subtly into the cover.

    At least you’re intelligent enough to recognize your betters…eventually, says the book.

    “I came here for you.”

    I don’t associate with interloping squires. That soul’s blood may have sated old Drdonj, but I have no price for you, for I have no need of you.

    “I know what you are,” says Zathander, mentally noting the bonhombr’s name in case it comes in handy later. “You’re the second greatest nictoros Sul has ever seen.”

    I hope you’re not going to say the greatest was that fool Sadragaci. But his skin made delightful parchment.

    “Your author Taigah.”

    The only aspect of that assertion earning begrudging consideration is that she made me.

    “Can you read?”

    That’s a rather ironic question to ask a book.

    “Then read me.”

    An up-jumped pretender, like countless others. Your art is crude and callous, your intentions solely base. To associate myself with such a charlatan would only sully my name.

    “I am Taigah’s rightful heir.”

    You and a thousand other piss-pots. How long has it been? Three hundred years? Five hundred?

    “Rather longer, I’m afraid.”

    I’m sure every ragged malcontent in Sul carries her blood by now. No, that claim is entirely without merit.

    “So, you won’t help me?”

    Of course not.

    “But you don’t even know what Taigah’s plan was.”

    That’s a ridiculous assertion. Of course I know what her plan was.

    Zathander looks at the book, raising his eyebrows.

    …I’m simply waiting for you to confirm that you also know what her plan was, so that we can be on the same page, if you pardon the aphorism.

    “She left you here, and she didn’t tell you anything.”

    And you’re going to claim that you were part of her plan all along, I’m sure.

    “No. But I learned at the monastery where she was imprisoned of her plot to gain revenge on her brother and his heirs.”

    Hmm. I suppose my desire to be revenged on Khares’ whelps is greater than my desire to be revenged on you. So far.

    “Taigah also wrote that you hate the Drakkanthron.”

    You know we were made from the same tree? And yet he never mentions me.

    “That seems highly unfair.”

    It IS highly unfair!

    “And yet, Khares’ line still sits on him in Tesch.”

    Taigah’s Ledger audibly grumbles in his mind.

    Very well. I will consider assisting you, on the condition that you tell me precisely what Taigah had planned, and that I find it plausible.

    “Well, it’s quite simple. She planned to be reborn.”

    For once, the book doesn’t immediately have a snappy remark. Eventually, however, it does.

    I suppose that does sound like her, doesn’t it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
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