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.