Those who have traveled Rues lately have felt it. Streets are quiet, and folk scurry from one cover to the next like mice on the forest floor. Shops close early, and shepherds try to keep their herds close to home. In all but the largest cities, despair has gripped the nations and their people.
Just in the last month as bards and traders have made their way through the cities and back out to outskirts of civilizations, a spark of hope has followed in their wake. A message from the Miracle Town of Fortune’s Bend proclaiming a great victory, a handle to grasp for whole settlements that were drowning in fear. You are not alone, say the voices from Fortune’s Bend. Stay strong, keep your faith, and know that we stand with you.
Near its end, one line reads “Remember the teachings of the Genesori; remember that even when the night is darkest there is a light to guide you.” For many, their prayers go to the genesori, but their eyes turn toward Fortune’s Bend, and hope of aid from those who have managed to not only survive, but to turn back the tide of destruction. The document is signed simply by the Heralds of Hope.
In Fort Firetol, an unannounced meeting of the full imperial council was called, and ended with news that shocked the regencies and the churches alike. The Guardians of Virtue, the council of priests that was formed at the empire’s inception to inform the emperor on matters of faith, has been called into question. Those in the know say that the influential speaker was a member of the clergy, and most seem sure that it was someone high-ranking in the church of Garioch. Whatever was said, it is clear that for the first time in imperial history, the entrenched Guardians are on the very edge of losing their power.
The already troubled churches were once again struck when Father Edward Giovanizzi, previously best known for his assignment to Fortune’s Bend, stood in front of the holiday mass in Fort Firetol and informed the most politically connected congregation in all of Rues that the tests of Ravvin had been investigated, and that the initial analysis was wrong. He named Ravvin as a threat to every nation. He called for every faithful of the empire, the federation, and beyond to set their lives against Ravvin, for he has betrayed the heavens. He seemed to have the support of the Church of Severrin as his announcement was backed up by Charlene Greenwall, one of the advisors to High Patriarch Aaron Hawthorne of the church of Severrin.
Beneath this buzz in the political world, those with their ears trained for more occult news are whispering about something else. From every corner of Rues, but localized particularly in Shiara and Braeus, private homes and churches have been raided in the night. The target of these raids has become clear, as from each locale the only things to go missing have been bones of the ancestors entombed within the crypts and mausoleums.
In addition, an unusual figure has been spotted in taverns and on street corners, one day in Anbara, the next in Inlyrico, and a scant few hours later in a Vascoll dock. He calls himself the Trickster, and as he travels he offers games of chance to any who will play. The prizes and prices have both drawn comment, but the curious searchers have so far been left unsatisfied, as it seems impossible to predict where the Trickster will next appear.
The invasion of Drakkenspar continues, with the invader using guerrilla tactics and magics unknown to the populace of Rues. Savage Aquians raid Vascoll boats in the night leaving adrift flotillas covered in gore and viscera with few survivors to tell the tale. Spellswords, long thought eradicated, cut down the forces of Rues with their ancient magics and forgotten powers. Eyes turn to Fortune’s Bend as the populace wonders if perhaps the answer to this invasion lies within the ranks of the valiant heroes oh so often called upon to face the impossible.