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Foreign Powers

Story Emits

It is a beautiful spring afternoon; the sun glints off the river, and the docks are as busy and full of trade as ever. With such crowds along the waterfront, word spreads quickly of the strange ship that makes its way up the river. It bears no resemblance to the Eurusi and Cardian vessels that occasionally ply their trade in the Compact; this one clearly hails from a far different land, and flies a sail seemingly made of metal -- yet metal that flexes in the wind just as cloth would.

As it comes alongside the docks, before anyone can even emplace a ramp or ladder, a woman with jet-black hair comes to the railing; she looks down at the crowds below, and then suddenly climbs up onto the railing. Springing up on one foot, she leaps /impossibly/ high, soaring up into the sky as though she might simply fly away. But instead, she soon plummets downwards. The crowd below scatters, giving space for her inevitable grisly landing.

Yet it's not grisly; she lands in a perfect crouch, unharmed, one leg and both arms outstretched. She quickly rises, surveying the crowd assembled. Then she begins to speak, making a proclamation about the Words of the Undying Emperor; though she does not shout, her voice carries clearly across the docks, and all can hear every word over the surprised murmuring.

When she finishes, she does not await a reaction. She simply turns once more, taking hold of a rope that's been lowered from the deck of the ship, and quickly scales back aboard.

Though the crew continue to move about on deck, no one else makes any sign of disembarking; the rope is pulled up after the woman boards. And then ship merely sits there, as though it, too, awaits word.

Eurusi and Cardian caravels are very large ships, somewhat larger than the huge dromond warships favored by the Compact. The monstrous ship that sails from the Bay of Thrax towards Arx is something else all together, easily three or four times the size of a caravel, though the flag of the Black Spire of Cardia flies proudly and can be seen from the walls of Arx. The warship, far too large to approach the docks of Arx, stops near the mouth of the Gray River and a small party clad in cardian steelsilk approach the docks on rowboat. An imposing, powerfully built man dressed in elaborate, militaristically cut steelsilk steps from the boat to unravel a scroll of a prepared statement. He speaks to the assembled citizens at the dock, hands the parchment to the senior Iron Guardsman, and then departs with his party back to the gigantic warship.
Arx is astir, with two foreign powers suddenly landing dignitaries here in the capital of the Compact. Rumors as to why they suddenly have taken such an interest in the Compact are widespread. Some claim that a great treasure has been found -- an enormous vein of alaricite far to the North, which both foreign powers wish to claim. Others say that the two great powers stand on the brink of war, their forces evenly matched, and so both turn to the Compact to gain more troops -- and greater advantage -- over their rival. Still others claim this is the consequence of the passing of some semi-mythical figure known as "Copper", who has long protected Arvum... a claim that would once have seemed more ridiculous than it does now.

Whatever the cause, the morning after the proclamation by Cardia, the city awakens to find yet /another/ proclamation posted throughout Arx. This one is strangely unsigned, making no claims to foreign allegiance or anything similar, though some people claim they saw figures in red cloaks posting the proclamation during the night. Rumors spread about the source of this latest proclamation: some claim that it's all a fraud, while some claim that it is a message from an apprentice or successor to this "Copper" figure... and some even claim that it was a final message from Copper herself, one last message of hope from the woman so few actually knew but whose passing is rumored to have had such an impact on the world.

A strange figure on a pale horse slowly approaches the entrance to the Assembly of Peers. The figure catches attention of onlookers in the street of Arx, because at a distance while some might mistake the robed, hooded figure for a mirrormask, that's not quite right upon closer scrutiny. The mirrormask looks somewhat different, as if it completely surrounds the head, and it isn't clear how the figure breathes or sees out of it. The eurusi style fireweave robes cover the figure from head to toe, without a trace of skin being visible, giving the rider an uncertain gender. As he (?) dismounts, the hulking figure walks with a shambling gait, as if they are lame in one leg, sliding up towards the Assembly of Peers to place a formal proclamation upon the doors from yet another foreign visitor. As the odd figure leaves, their shambling steps leave a trace of black sand on the ground.