The sky is pomegranate red. The sun hangs for a moment on the horizon.
A many-benched ship hastens across the wine dark sea out of the west, running before the gnashing teeth of a Summer storm, sails fattened by the hot breath of the God of the Lower Air.
In a cabin of smooth weirwood, a tanned figure, unused to the northern chill, pulls an indigo wool mantle over a pale tunic, edged in azure dolphins.
Across the fixed table, are strewn papers and letters and reports, some held down with lumps of bone-white coral, one with a ceramic bowl still half-full of yellow wine. At the bottom of the cup the curling arms of a golden octopus can be seen, rippled and distorted by the movement of the liquid.
There is a knock at the door. A bare chested sailor, respectful, waits for the command to enter.
“We shall call first at the embassy,” says the ambassador. “We shall see if what they have built for us is appropriate for an emissary of the Plenum. We will need to arrange passage to their Senate. The ship will remain at Sarvos. Maintain readiness. You may have to set sail quickly.”
The captain presses hand over heart; before the door is fully closed, barked orders are tautening lines and furling sails, and a thudding drumbeat begins to reverberate through the hull.
The ambassador picks up the bowl of pale wine, sips it, makes a face, puts the bowl back down again. Restless hands select first one document then another, but it is difficult to focus.
On the far side of the cabin, on a blue cloth thrown over a sea-trunk, stands a dark wood statue of the triple-faced God of emissaries, spies and gamblers. The ambassador whispers a three-fold prayer. For good fortune, for a clear voice, for a receptive audience.
Then chuckles wryly; shrugs, feels perhaps a little foolish; turns full attention to the diplomat’s work as the vessel gathers speed, entering the Bay of Catazaar for the first time.
The Asaveans are coming!
Following the completion of an embassy building in Sarvos, the government of the Asavaean Archipelago - the Plenum - has sent an ambassador (and a small staff) to the Empire.
They have requested a formal audience in the Senate at Anvil.
The civil service have dusted off books and scrolls of protocol, and stand ready to brief the trade envoy and the Senators on what a ‘‘formal audience’’ is likely to entail.
The magistrates remind the people that citizens of the Asavean Archipelago are foreigners, protected by and expected to honour all the laws of the Empire. Yet can an emissary of a nation built on slaves that worships heathen gods and spirits really be considered law abiding? Still, a formal ambassador is no trivial matter - they come with the weight of a nation behind them that, in it’s time, claimed to rule half the known world. The Asavean star may be in decline, but this ambassador represents a grand nation almost the equal of the Empire itself. The opportunity exists for decisions to be made that may shape the relations between two world powers for years to come,
The Asavean Ambassador is expected to arrive some time on Saturday, probably in the afternoon. You can learn more about the Asavean Archipelago as the Empire knows it here. It is possibly worth taking especial note of the language section.
PS: I know you’ve seen this before, but I’ve just finished copying the Winds of War updates to the main wiki here. As far as we know they are all correct now - two fortresses in Karsk, the Thule are coming from the correct place and so on. I’ve also added a quick(ish) summary at the top so you can just skim that if you’re the kind of person who wants to learn details in play … or click the link that should take you to the appropriate campaign report.
We’ve got a few more non-warfare event cards to play (I say non-war … conflict builds character as we all know).