Disease and Plague abounds
There has been little heard from the Miracle town of Fortune’s Bend since the early winter, and the area seems gripped in a strange, sad silence. Amidst the oddness, news has come from Inlyrico that the High Patriarch of Severrin, Aaron Hawthorne, will be arriving with his entourage in the little town on the first night of the new month. The High Patriarchs do not often have time to travel, and many are wondering what new honor the citizens of the little town have earned to receive a personal visit from the most holy of Severrin’s faithful. Despite the rarity of the High Patriarch’s public appearances, it has been made known that he will accept no pilgrims, supplicants or parishioners for the duration nor brook any interruption or delay to his travel.
All over Rues the land is in the grip of the harshest winter in recent record. Even the hardiest crops that would normally defy the cold have been succumbing to frost and starved earth. The cold is unrelenting and the farmers have commented that this years frosts seem somehow malicious, and the winds angry. Many of the smaller villages are experiencing food shortages, and those with no outside resources are near to starvation. Frostbitten refugees from these tiny towns have been found shivering their way down the hard-packed roads, seeking help for their hometowns.
It was rumored in the summer that the emperor had blessed the union of a young noble couple, the first blessing given by the new emperor. Not much was known at the time, but now the announcement has spread like wildfire from Pyredown. The union of Godrick Dwyre and Nassra Dwyre, an imperial blessing on their union, will take place in May when the world wakes up from the long winter. Invitations have gone out far and wide, welcoming people to the Banrion Summer Home in Pyredown to see the two families join as one. Spring is the time of new beginnings, and the political world is buzzing with rumors and theories, wondering if the marriage will even take place or if the intended will end up as star-crossed lovers in warring regencies.
A more quiet announcement was made as well, and many are watching to see how the churches will react. The emperor has created a new Advisory position, that of Arcane Advisor to His Imperial Majety, to be the guide on all matters arcane. The honor of this new position falls first on the shoulders of Katarina Musaphi, who hails from a respected family in Braeus. This marks a new level of acceptance for the arcane within Rues, a prospect that is met with eagerness by some and trepidation by others. No matter how their opinion falls on the arcane, many believe it to be a risky move for a relatively young and unestablished emperor.
Despite being in the waning months of Spring you wouldn’t quite know it. Rain has been falling steadily for the past week now. Like the weather, the news around Rues is of mostly a dreary hue with but scant bright spots shining through the grey haze cast across the heavens.
Plague has come suddenly to the land showing no regard for mortal boundaries. It has no known cure, cares not for age or gender, and strikes with no discernible pattern. The common folk have taken to calling it the Emerald Pox on account of the sickly green pustules which can be found on the corpses of its victims. The Church’s response has been to send in well-armed troops to investigate.
What news comes out of the Wild Nation is particularly dire. With each passing month the death toll rises as the Undead which have amassed within the Imba’nire Forest gain more ground. While no single Tribe has been wiped out Crow Tribe has suffered some staggering losses. No one has been able to uncover where they are coming from or what motivates them to slaughter the people of the forest. Some scholars have started to hypothesize that at the current estimated rated of death the Wild Nation will not survive the coming Winter without some sort of aid.
The bright, sunny ray of hope at this time is the upcoming wedding of Godrick and Nassra Dwyre, of the Inlyrican and Shiaran Dwyre’s respectively. The wedding will take place at 3 PM on Saturday at the Pyredown Estate of Lord Alomaine Banrion of Shiara. All residents of Fortune’s Bend are welcome to attend. Feel free, but not obligated, to bring a gift.
One last note…word has spread around Fortune’s Bend that all mages, and those aspiring to learn magic, are welcome to attend a gathering upon the uppermost floor of the Tavern directly after breakfast on Saturday morning.
Heat and harvest provide the backdrop for the news from the churches that has shocked the whole of Rues. Stemming from the church of Severrin, all of the faiths have given warning that Ravvin, an angel of Severrin, has been sent to test the people of Rues. Many forces, most notably the Chappelarie, have stepped forth with statements on what has caused this test, and how pious individuals might pass it. Rumors have filtered in that the ripples have hit the emperor as well, who is under pressure to end the Age of Piety and announce the beginning of a new age.
Other whispers heard across Rues have come whispers of a another problem. The arcane community is shrinking and many of the more vocal members have claimed that they are under attack. Other voices have chimed in with suspicion, citing that the last time this many arcanists disappeared, it was followed by unprecedented destruction.
Distraught missionaries report that situation in the Wild Nation remains bleak, though all imperial offers of aid have been turned down. With no other recourse, many are looking to the neutral people of Fortune’s Bend whose offer of assistance has been accepted.
On the political scene, there is some cause for celebration as in the wake of a political wedding, Shiara and Inlyrico have arranged for several of their ranking members to meet and discuss the problems that threaten both of their regencies, most particularly the tests of Ravvin. There has been no talk of addressing the Proposal for Decency or other factors contributing to their original fracture, but most people in the know are happy that they are speaking at all.
Rising in the wake of the successful ceremony are a rash of wedding announcements including the recent marriage of Lord Mason Atasir to Lady Elizabeth Rojeur, the betrothal of Lady Faeda Garvin to Lord Daschel Rojeur, and most prominently, the Lady Regent Mira Onnathea of Inlyrico and Brother Parvell Keane of the Council of Regents have set the date of their wedding for the first day of fall
In addition, Isou University has made a deal with the miracle town of Fortune’s Bend to open a university annex a few miles outside the town. Denizens of the town will be able to reap the benefits of the university’s resources and attend special classes offered at the annex. It also ensures that the archaeological finds in and around the town are given the expert care and analysis that they deserve. All those interested are invited to attend the grand opening of the university annex at four o’ clock in the afternoon on Saturday.
Each person who regularly travels to Fortune’s Bend, or lives there, or is arriving there during the Late Summer Gather, will have the following dream:
You are flames surrounded by darkness, each of you distinct, but together making up the brightest point of light in a twisted landscape. Portions of it look familiar: the mountains rising; the craggy broken land to the west; the uncertain soft ground in the northeast; hot wind kicking up black sand in the south; and dark islands of calm in a swirling ocean. These and more are tickle at your senses, but you find your focus is squarely on yourself, the flickering light.
From all around spring tiny purple moths, unfolding themselves from the bark of the blackened trees, crawling out from dark puddles. They shake off the darkness and fly, flitting among you. Bouncing around between them is a voice, strong and resonant.
“You have come to this gate and claimed the land around it as your own. You have won it, and protected it. You have kept it apart from the iron grip of the Al’tiesh and the well-meaning hands of your allies. You have gathered six seals and bound them to vital places with your will.
In the tavern you have bound the Dagger of the Void, the weapon carried by my daughter and used to tear open a hole between worlds.
In the Hearth you have bound the Spiritstone of the Abandoned, the burden carried by those who grieve.
In the temple of the Keeper you have bound a thing I cannot see, but feel to be mine.
In the temple of the Omniscient you have bound the Shackles of the Sworn, for an obligation that can not be left behind.
In the temple of the Shepherd you have bound the Lost Gauntlet, the will to overcome.
Upon the river docks you have bound the Mask of Atravene, one who forsook my world for yours.
“But a seventh seal remains, one that you will earn if you are strong enough to be the warders of this place. To do this is to protect the sanctity of death, to prevent the abuse of a Shade fulcrum, to defend the purity of holy ground,.. to balance the world so that it does not sunder. No normal gathering of the Purposed Races could accomplish this, so you must be more than that. To succeed, you must become all that you are capable of and help those around you to do the same. Tonight, we will see if there is even the faintest hope.
“You will face a test of my design. Your faith and your loyalties will only be welcome here if they are truly yours. To make a place for them, you must destroy what place they had and reestablish it within the pact. I will provide you with the avenue to do this, but you must conquer the challenge. On the first night that you all gather, a guide will appear to lead you to the fight, and to know what must be done. During this challenge, my gate will close. If you should fall, you will instead approach my gate, where the Moth of the Gate will tend to your spirit.
“To pass these challenges you must identify yourselves in five groups, as even as can be, whose members represent the diverse nature of this town. Too many from one faith, one coterie, one nation, one race, will weaken them.
“If you succeed, our pact is sealed and those who stay within its boundaries will be expected to abide by it. Your place as warders will be cemented, and you will be known by all nations and faiths as such. If you succeed, you will have a chance to put things right again. If you fail, I will find those strong enough to succeed.”
The voice fades out, and the flitting moths, one by one, draw too close to your flames and are burned away.
The tests of the Genesori, administered by Ravvin, continue to appear across Rues. So far there is no discernible pattern to the appearance of the undead, and every town and city remains fearful that their home will be the next target. The effects are definitely noticeable now, especially in outlying farms whose fields lay untended, crops rotting in the ground. The Chappelarie has quelled the fear somewhat, their ministers traveling far and wide to distribute information on how Ravvin’s tests will be passed. Their early successes have been often repeated, though a few villages have also been lost. Oliver Arrawny of the Chappelarie has issued a statement that their ministers can teach, but it is upon the people themselves to learn and to to turn their knowledge into armaments against the ravages of the test.
In addition, all across Rues, those farms that have remained intact have reported smaller harvests than in years past. Crops that reached maturity without incident were lost during the harvesting process, leaving farmers confused and storehouses only half full. It was remarked upon by several farmers as being “plain weird.”
Word from Pyredown speaks of the sudden illness that has taken both the imperial Chief Inspector Camilla Giovanizzi as well as the Quartermaster Prime, Laudus Giovanizzi. The pair exhibit similar symptoms and are presumed to have encountered the same contagions. Reports from their bedside indicate the others in their family have fallen ill as well. Outpourings of sympathy have come to Pyredown in response, showing the respect and love that accumulated by the long-serving family.
The people of Fortune’s Bend were able to assist the Wild Nation in stopping the advance of the undead within the forest. Missionaries from Inlyrico report that no more ground has been lost to the creatures, nor has any been gained. The last two weeks have been marked by a curious silence from the ranks of the Bled, a welcome respite but also a worrisome herald.
Within Inlyrico itself, they celebrated the joyous occasion of the Lady Regent Miria Onnathea’s wedding to her long-time Councilor, Brother Parvell Keane. It was remarked that the wedding’s beauty outshone all those that came before, and the joy of the genesori at the union was made clear by a strong wind that came and rang the highest and heaviest bells of the cathedral. It is expected that Brother Keane will soon retire from his place on the Council of Regents to attend to his new duties within Inlyrico.
Of interest to the scholarly community is the successful opening of the Annex of Isou University in Fortune’s Bend, and the accompanying resumption of the archaeological exploration of the area. Artifacts are being tended by the Aussengaurd and will be available for study and learning by all Isou students. In addition, the people of Fortune’s Bend will be able to pursue their own education while remaining as protectors of the neutral territory. The first three classes being offered by the annex include Professor Higginbottom’s Introduction to the Shade at 1PM on Saturday, Professor Damiano’s course on Magic at 4PM, and Professor Venopoulos’ History of Fortune’s Bend class at 9PM. The university has been asked how it plans to run classes on time in the notoriously chaotic climate of Fortune’s Bend, and their response was “We’ll do our best. We hope to make things happen on time, of course, but students in this particular venue have so much else to do that is important. We trust they will not let our class schedule keep them from those things.”