Scarlet Sky Conspiracy

RY 767 Descending Air - Nellens Ryo #2

The Third Day of Descending Air, RY 767
Imperial City, Blessed Isle

Dear Friends,

The end of winter is a cheerless time for our family. In preparation of the spring plantings, my wife has returned to her family’s vineyard in the Pahua Basin. While ours is a political marriage, both Saveria and I have come to an understanding over the years and I find our home empty without her here. The children always miss her while she is gone, yet the educational opportunities in the Imperial City are better suit for the girls than what is available in the rural areas of the Blessed Isle.

Ryo gives his opinions on the various education institutions of the Blessed Isle. The rest of the conspiracy will see the following: 

Aisa and Akashan, I cannot express how grateful I am for your assistant with the slave issue. I have spent many sleepless nights worrying I sentence those poor people to death. I do not know how I could have lived with myself if the worse had occurred.

I believe I owe you an explanation for Titus. I have known Cathak Titus since we met in the Spiral years ago. I was a senior when he was a freshman. We both were working on a mind numbing project to reorganize the filing of the Legion Rolls. He stood out to me because, unlike most unexalted Dynasts, Titus didn’t seem disappointed he didn’t exalt. He seemed to have an understanding of the responsibility of being Dragonblooded and was glad it passed him over. Titus considered following his cousins into the Legions, but decided he could do more in the Thousand Scales. As a member of House Nellens, Exaltation was a slim possibility for me. We kept in correspondence over the years and I consider him my closest friend. Not long after our Empress’ disappearance, I lost touch with Titus. After I moved to the Imperial City, Titus showed up on my doorstep. I was delighted to have my old friend back. Perhaps it is because he knows me so well both professionally and personally, he is the only person who discovered my Exaltation. While he may be tactless and brash, I vouch for Cathak Titus.

While Titus may be my closest friend, we do not agree on all subjects. I, like Aisa, hope to avoid war. War will do nothing but divide us and weaken us. The Realm needs to be strong to defend Creation from its enemies. While Titus believes war is impossible to avoid, I hope the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy achieve do the impossible and enable a peaceful transition of power. I admit Mnemon is a roadblock to this goal, but we will cross that bridge when we get there.

This month, I have the dubious pleasure of sitting in on a session of the Deliberate. I managed to get a seat next to Nellens Pala, a great aunt of mine and one of the few Dragonblooded in House Nellens. Pala was gracious enough to explain to me all the complex procedural details. She seemed to be pleased I am taking an interest in politics. She offered to recommend me for a seat in the Lower House. I turned her down, pleading I wanted to observer the goings on before deciding if I wanted to join this mad house. She laughed and said all of the sane family members always turn her down.

Carmela, news of your Magistrate’s attack has made it to the Imperial City and the Deliberate. All the Deliberate seems to agree “something must be done” with the bandit problem, yet no one agrees on what that “something” is. It seems to me each member of the House is jockeying to get something out of the situation instead of actually fixing the situation. It’s all very frustrating and I mentioned this to Aunt Pala. Unfortunately, a member of house Ledaal overheard me and prompted me to speak in front of the whole upper house of the Deliberate. Pala tried to save me by saying I was not a member of the Deliberate. The woman from House Ledaal wanted to see what a mortal from House Nellens could do. There is protocol for nonmembers to speak, so I had no choice but to defend the honor of my House.

I stand up and take the stage. All the Dragonblooded members of the Upper House of the Deliberate stare at me. I have never been the strongest public speaker and I am doubly terrified at speaking due to my Anathema status. I clear my throat and my mouth is dry. I reach for the glass of water in front of me, but pull back my hand when I remember that is the Speaker’s glass. I do not think he’d appreciate me drinking from it.

I take a deep breath and I speak. As satisfying as it would be, I realize chastising the Deliberate will win me no friends ( Instead I suggest the Magistrate hire mercenaries to take care of the situation. The Deliberate can authorize a budget for this purpose. It would bring funds into the area and increase general employment, which in my opinion is the root cause of banditry. I do not say a budget bill will allow Deliberate members to fund their own pet projects. I’m sure they could figure that out on their own.

As I sit down, I laugh. Pala thinks it is from relief, but actually I realized that I am no better than the rest of the rabble. I turned the situation to my own ends. Carmela, you may want to start recruiting some mercenaries. The demand for mercenaries will soon increase.

As I leave the Deliberate house, I am approached by my old Spiral professor and current father-in-law, Ragara Amado. He was impressed by my performance in the Deliberate and was overjoyed by my suggestion. I could see the gears turning in his head – he owns much property in the Pahua basin and could use this budget request to add some line items for his benefit. I suggest he look into some infrastructure improvements for the area ( Better roads would help the defense of the area. He nods and agrees absentmindedly. I’m sure he already thought of the same idea. On an impulse, I invite him over for dinner (ttp:// Amado hasn’t seen his grandchildren since Shu was a toddler. Amado agrees and tonight my father-in-law will be dining with us. I will give you details about the dinner in my next letter.

Wish me luck.

Nellens Ryo

PS. Aisa- Zara is delighted that you wish to correspond with her. You should be receiving her first letter shortly. I am also reassured that you have taken an interest in her. I am glad Zara will have someone to trust, if my situation falls apart here.

Carmela – Should you encounter my wife in your goings, please know that she is unaware of my status as a Solar. I would prefer she not know.

RY 767 Descending Air - Nellens Ryo #1

The First Day of Descending Air, RY 767
Imperial City, Blessed Isle


This letter discusses the latest Gateway rankings and how Titus is an idiot if he believes Ledaal Kes will lose the Semifinals. Members of the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following:

Have you lost your mind!? Do you remember Mnemon Aisa is a powerful sorceress? Why would you aggravate her? Do you want her to turn your blood into acid or whatever sorcerers do for fun? I assumed you didn’t need a reminder, but here it is: You are mortal, Titus. You probably should think twice before advising a Dragonblooded to murder her own grandmother. 


PS Also, please don’t call our future Empress “Breadroll Girl”. It’s disrespectful.

RY 767 Resplendent Air - Mnemon Aisa #2

Dear Cathak Titus,

I wonder now if you are truly a Cathak. While noted for its military accomplishments rather than its subtlety, a scion of such a worthy house would surely not make the elementary mistake of confusing soft words for weakness. I've killed, and will do so again if necessary. I prefer to speak kindly, and I prefer to trust and and to be trustworthy – but I have claws. I smiled and shook a Lunar's hand while someone she trusted drove a knife in her back.

Who are your friends, Titus? Which of them carry knives?

I prefer to believe the best in people – a fatal weakness in a Dynast, my mother always told me.

I trust Nelens Ryu – he has put himself in danger, revealing his nature to all of us. His wife and children are the stake should we fail.
I trust Carmela Contarini – Iselsi may have been the Empress' whipping boy, but there are many who would love to finish the job. Her family is her surity. If we die, they will be dragged down with us.
I trust Ferem Quelaana and Whispering Twilight – while they are not on the Blessed Isle, it would be all to easy for the hand of the Realm to reach out and snuff them, should their nature come to light.

What type of Exalt are you, Titus? What do you wish to gain from our little plot? Who stole my book, and why did they do it?

To Carmela and all others who have expressed concern in your latest letters,

I find it difficult to commit certain things to paper. I find them difficult to say aloud even inside my own mind. Forgive me if I say less than I should. It is my fault, I am sure, for assuming we were on the same page merely by the act of calling ourselves a conspiracy rather than an alliance.

The analogy of yeddim circling seems a good one. On one side, my grandmother. On the other side, everyone who would rather see her die than take the throne. There is no figurehead for the second side yet – some brandy about the idea of the Roseblack, but I believe I can step into that role smoothly enough, and more gracefully than she. That is the first step – to build a network of reputation, alliances and favors so that there is no other possible candidate for the opposition than myself.

After that, we will have to kill Mnemon. Immensely powerful, resourceful and wise as she is, she remains human. A knife will work just fine if we can catch her off guard. If Mnemon is gone, there is no second yeddim against which we need butt our heads. Therein lies the key to the puzzle – Mnemon is the only one worthy of the throne, but she is at the same time too hated to claim it.

1. Become worthy.
2. Bring things to the point of confrontation.
3. Matricide.

If step three cannot be done with a knife, it will fall to the sword, and we will have our civil war.

I truly believe that Mnemon is worthy to be Empress, but supporting her leads to the certainty of war, while opposing her gives a chance to avoid it. And thus I do my duty to the Dragons and to Creation. You need not fear my resolve on that front, but please do not ask me to speak so bluntly again. It hurts to bare my breast so.

Yours in honesty and in duty,
Mnemon Aisa

RY 767 Resplendent Air - Carmela Contarini

Resplendent Air 14, RY 767

Village of Elia, Pahua Basin, Blessed Isle


Oh man. So, I was at a beach party with this amazing wine, and Ledaal Arishi brought a Gateway board that played itself. Only it didn't, because inside the attached table was a midget servant of his that moved the pieces with a bunch of cleverly-hidden levers and switches. It was pretty great to see the Dynasty's own fooled by a trick that's been running the Nexus circuit for decades…

The rest of the letter describes the adventures of the not-magic gateway-playing board-and-table. The members of the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following…

So! State policy. Yes. As one-eighth of a secret Solar-led conspiracy to place a Solar-friendly Empress on the throne of the Dragon Astride the World, I feel pretty strongly that we should be honest with ourselves about what we are, and aren't, going to get out of this little arrangement.

The factions fomenting this civil war are two yeddim circling each other for the world's mightiest headbutt. We could try and get in the middle, and for our trouble we'd get smashed to paste. Since Aisa is the closest of any of us to Little Red, let me ask her. Right now, Little Red is the most powerful woman in the Realm; is she preparing for peace, or is she preparing to make everyone who ever slighted her eat their hair? What would it take to get her to bend the knee to someone else? Would she do it for anybody besides Big Red? Would she even do it for Big Red, now that she's tasted freedom and real independence?

I will say I spoke to an awful lot of people on my latest journey, and basically no one who uses scrip actually wants this war. You're doing the right thing for your people, Aisa, but unless you've got one hell of a plan, I don't think peace is even on the table.

I'll leave the financial shenanigans in Ryo's hands (although a timetable for “does the Imperial Treasury run out” would actually be really helpful for our long-term planning), but we're looking at a pretty total collapse of central authority. As an illustration of this, I present my latest adventure.

Imperial Magistrate Geno Husumori is a child of Danaa'd and an old friend of my mother's who took the Coin. I don't know exactly the circumstances of his becoming one of the Empress' hands but I'm pretty sure he killed the shit out of some dynastic scumbag for some dispute of honor or justice back in the day, and apparently impressed Big Red. I have decided to not mention the whole “blood sacrifices” thing to him, since you all seem to be interested in using the carrot instead of the stick where V'Neef Bijar is concerned.

I was at a pretty nice little soiree in the foothills when I first heard about him. The name interested me immediately, but there was also this fatality, like everyone was talking around someone's inevitable demise. As a determined believer in the evitable, I hired on some mercenaries for protection against the hill bandits (by the way, hill bandits? Those are a thing around here) and saddled up to go say hello.

Naturally, I find him right in the thick of it with a band called… weird, I don't quite remember. The only thing that comes to mind is Pen's Ants? Anyway! Much more significant is that they weren't a band of simple robbers. I don't know if any of you have fought a Jade Lion, but they're probably the most nails demons you can find without actually having their own name. These chucklefucks had three. They also had some wussier demons, sorcerously-imbued gear, and their leader had a fancy magical collar that I have since relieved him of and determined to be a Collar of Dawn's Cleansing Light. If I didn't know better I'd say they were somebody's trial run at a private army.

Anyway, if I hadn't descended upon the enemy like an angry elemental dragon, Husumori would have been pretty thoroughly dead (although admittedly, he did a lot of the work). As it was, it was a nice and exciting, pulse-pounding experience. Aisa's elemental was particularly helpful – not as a bodyguard, but to finish off the demons that got shoved into the other side. No bad guys reporting back about this any time soon.

Kind of telling, though: Husumori isn't even mad. A band of robbers with demonic and magical support designed specifically to make sure he never comes back from his battle is a just a really bad Marsday for him. And, to hear him tell it, it's not just confined to him. Some sorcerer (probably a good one; the more powerful the demon the harder to bind, right? Jade Lions are tough) is scrubbing the Empress' Hands in a way that they wouldn't have dared if they thought she was coming back. Or even if there was a real chance of reprisal. The Imperial City might be fine, but out here the Regent's grasp is one bad Marsday away from disappearing entirely.

I'm tagging along with Husumori and his Archons right now, we cut a pretty imposing figure. He's a Found Egg Turned Lawman with a burning love of justice! She's a Contarini mercenary with blazing fists of passion! Together, they fight crime! Now, I seem to remember someone having contacts with the Magistracy, and someone else staying at the Heptagram, and someone else else having some kind of super-spy on retainer, so I figure a sorcerer busily knocking off magistrates would be something our little collaboration could possibly provide support on.

Carmela Contarini

RY 767 Resplendent Air - Cathak Titus #2

Resplendent Air 26, RY 767

House of Bells, Blessed Isle

Before I left the Imperial City, I played gateway with Seus Natan. It was a close game, but I beat him.

The following letter is a blow by blow account of Titus’ game with Sesus Natan. Members of the conspiracy will see the following:

After my Calibration holiday, it’s time to get back to work. I’ve spent the past weeks on a ship to Arjuf. Usually I ride by horse, but I’ve been assigned to the Trial of Sesus Patik. Whispering Twilight and his officer should recognize his name. The list of crimes Patik committed was rather… colorful. A good Immaculate boy should not be up to such activities. Thank you, Whispering Twilight, for making my job more interesting. I’ll be sure to drop by your friend’s latrines to leave a large dump in thanks.

I did run into a bit of a hassle as I arrived at the Legion camp yesterday. The guards caught Breadroll Girl’s elemental tailing me. I had an uncomfortable time explaining why I had an elemental companion. I made up a story of lovely young Air Aspect sorcerer I met during Calibration. Do not worry, Breadroll Girl, I did not name any names. No rumors of a dalliance with this unexalted lawyer will sully yours. Unfortunately, your elemental was dispelled. Do not bother sending another one. With such security, I believe I am safe from immaterial spies. 

While at the House of Bells, I found Tepet Ejava’s orders. It was a dead end; Regent Tepet Fokuf signed them. That man would sign his own death warrant if it were put in front of him. I’ll do more digging here and send an update next month.

As Akashan wrote, we will not be able to negotiate our way to the throne. Aisa, it is to your credit that you want to avoid war. It has been called the sport of royalty and we do not want an Empress who loves the thrill of bloodshed. Yet we do need an Empress that willing to pay the cost of war when necessary. Tepet Ejava may step aside for a strong contender, but Mnemon will not give up the throne without a fight. I know you idolize your grandmother, Aisa, but she is a barrier to your ascension to the throne. If you truly wish to be Empress, you will be forced to make some hard choices. 

These are harsh words, but I wish to end any illusions you or anyone else has of a peaceful outcome. While history may consider the Seven Tigers traitors, they were Shogunate officers just like the Scarlet Empress was. As the Scarlet Empress did, you will have to win the throne though blood. Breadroll Girl, if you are not prepared to do this, then this conspiracy will need to find another candidate to support. 


P.S. Aisa – In the Interest of Cooperation, I should inform you, the book you recovered for Mnemon will not arrive at its destination. I could not stop my associates from reclaiming it. I hope that doesn’t ruin your plans. If I do find the new location of the book, I will let you know.

RY 767 Resplendent Air - Ledaal Catala Akashan #2

Being the Twelfth Day of Air, Resplendent, Seven-Hundred and Sixty-Seventh Year of Our Realm
Center of the Known World and Creation's Imperial City, Scarlet Prefecture, the Blessed Isle

As you asked me to be on the lookout for any more texts that might relate to the fragment we discussed, I am compelled to relate the most singular experience which occurred some few days prior at the ruins of the Provisional School. I had entered, running my hand along gradations of warmth, and lighting candles on the left because they were on the untrue side…

The letter rambles on about the minutia of a briefly popular architectural style in the early Shogunate tried to encode religious lessons into the structure of mundane buildings. The conspiracy members see the following:

It appears my beloved cousin Aisa and I have approached the problem of V'neef in a similar fashion. I have convinced Bijar that I am supporting her efforts to enter the manse. While initially wary of me overtures, I was able make the case that my aim was not to support this or any V'neef but to oppose the similar efforts of Mnemnon. I am afraid some of my younger assistants have taken to using a few of my more colorful turns of phrase in conversation. (Cousin, if you should find yourself called a megalomaniacal, self-aggrandizing witch I apologize. You know how these things spread among students.) However, I am now poised to obstruct any actual progress to enter the manse while also gaining access to the research of one of the most obsessive experts. Expect updates if anything of interested is discovered. It cannot be stressed enough that no one outside of this sworn conspiracy can be allowed to gain control of the Imperial Manse. Such an event would be the final, and fatal, end of our efforts. The slave problem appears to have taken care of itself.

As we are in the service of Aisa's claim to the throne, I am compelled to ask how she wishes to gain it. I have been operating under the assumption that the most expedient and achievable way of accomplishing this is to present the Great Houses with a fait accompli. When the balance of strategic power is such that there can be no victory against us we can repeat the ascension of Her Most Highly Exalted Majesty. The Manse is a single factor which would decide any contest, but the accumulation of wealth and allies could do the same. I do not belief that there can be a amicable, negotiated solution.

Toward that end, I have taken steps to enlist the assistance of the Jadeborn Mountainfolk. The Scarlet Stone is the most cohesive force of martial essence users in the Imperial City. Many in the dynasty are only passing combatants, and the Stone is composed of veterans with mastery of war magic. I am not advocating a purge, but there is a reason for proverb "Better a petition in one hand and a sword in the other than only a petition." I have not gained the services of the Stone, but I have made inroads with their masters which brings me to the next bit of news.

Ejava is currently on the far side of the Inner Sea where she is of no good in the struggle for the throne. However, I may have found a means to make better use of all forces loyal to us. After negotiation with the Jadeborn they have provided information about a novel form of food preservation which can allow us to keep armies supplied far more cheaply. While that is their primary use, it may prove to be a significant boost to Ledaal shipping. (Whispering Twilight, along with an attached list of possible contacts, this new development may prove to be of some use to your rather moral employer.)

Please accept the lack of significant progress on my end, my time is much taken up with artifice work, but I expect that project to be finished soon.

In fire, faith, and blood,
Ledaal Catala Akashan

Resplendent Air - Whispering Twilight

Resplendent Air, 10, Realm year 767
Arjuf, South

The letter describes the reason for the vast amount of goods available in Arjuf`s markets.. Those in the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following letter:

This month has been filled with some interesting events, some progress and a setback thanks to the ineptitude of others.

The Arjuf dominion houses the ancestral home of house Ledaal and many other interesting institutions. I hope to have Ledaal Catala Akashan`s assistance in building my network of contacts in their home dominion. I assume the most important decisions takes place in the Palace of Vines? Some tips of who to get in touch with for building a good contact network would be awesome. 

There has been some progress already as I have impressed a scholar from the Ledaal house on the subject of history of the Salinian School and he invited me to a lunch and lecture on the history of the Siluran School of sorcery. I think he can be a useful contact in the Ledaal household.

My ally, Ledaal Darino, got an opportunity to gain the position of a Dragon Lord in the 12th legion served on a silver platter. Unfortunately for us, his utilization of this opportunity was found lacking. You would think a dynast of the house Ledaal would be able to use damning secrets of others to advance themselves… alas not this one. Therefore, he is on latrine duty the rest of the month instead of advancing in the legion. I look forward to serving him refreshments as he digs the latrine ditches, as the diligent manservant I am.

There are some interesting areas in the Arjuf dominion I have visited recently. Nishim is a small town, which had a successful quarry. After the quarry became unprofitable to run, the towns decline has been fast and certain. It’s been slowly usurped by criminals and these days there are plenty of lowlives making sure its easy to disappear in the small town. The governor, Carver Bear, is very touchy about being blamed for that decline and usually responds with violence if someone blames him for it. Its been aptly called bear baiting and quite fun to watch. If you are ever in Nishim, do check out some of the local bars and you might be lucky to enough to see bear baiting in action.

I have utilized an abandoned house with a cellar for some rituals not suitable in Arjuf city or the legion camp. Always in disguise, an old aged woman does not attract too much attention. After the initial Wyld Hunt, I have developed a habit of wandering around in some form of disguise. Old men and women are often a funny disguise to wear; people usually presume they are harmless beings. Especially the young and rash.

In the coming months, I will be gathering several potent tools that you can lend if you so desire if you need some expertise you lack. I have summoned Naburo, the Stealer of Knowledge. To serve me as my spy when I need some hard to acquire info. Given the latest letter from Quelaana I will dispatch him to discover the employer of the Stygian Cross gang for the assassination attempt on Roseblack.

And if Nellens Ryo could give me all the details he has on the plot to keep Roseblack from returning to the isle? Ill dispatch him after he finds out who ordered the assassination on her, so he can sniff out who have been working to keep her from returning. 

Aisha, I was wondering if you could assist me with gaining access to sorcerous knowledge at the Heptagram? My current access to occult knowledge, especially in terms of sorcery is limited and I would love to delve deeper in my studies. 

Aisha`s point on violence might have been for me. I am working on gaining control of legions for our cause as I dont think a lot of actors will go peacefully once its clear they wont win. I am going to be ready for that. I believe in fighting fire with fire and will be ready to handle all challengers with the necessary means to win. As I dont like loosing. If the opportunity to win peacefully arises, I am not against that. I just think that scenario is extremely unlikely. 

Stay safe and vigilant, the times are treacherous.

Resplendent Air - Ferem Quelaana

Resplendent Air, 9, Realm year 767
Cherak, North

My dear friends you should’ve seen the morning today, the dawn was actually a shade of pink and reflected off the ice and snow in a soft way that didn’t hurt your eyes.

The rest of letter goes on about how Quelaana had the perfect day, those part of the conspiracy see the following.

First off I’d like to say Titus’ suspicions were correct about the Roseblack. Assassins tried to kill her in the middle of my big speech, the gall of such an act! Fear not, for I managed to not only Save Ejava and get a stupendous first introduction, but I recognized this gang, whoever caused this hit has ties with the guild, I wouldn’t know which facetious prince of the earth has that, but I’m sure you guys could find out.

I’m sorry to say but I may have charged our candidate’s elemental five koku for sneaking in my theatre. He seemed a good sport about it and has an adorable confused face; I see why you summon him. I’ll keep him around since Pasiap’s humility requires great essence and mental concentration.

Through my magistrate connections I managed to find a group of slaves in the Amber River Satrapy called the Bloody hand. I’ve begun supplying them in the hopes they will become a foothold in my attempts for an abolitionist movement, I narrowly avoided a faux pas and almost shipped opiate tea. Hymn of Solace, my god mentor, assures me of a Cynis outcaste to where wary slave refugees can hide out. I’ve been sending Rei, my spy, to sneak supplies while I’m gaining the Roseblack’s trust.

As for this state policy thing, I don’t know about the Blessed isle but bloodshed will happen whether I do anything or not. Civilians are constantly being abused and/or murdered in the satrapies; there are two circles of Anathema rampaging up here, one of the biggest shadowlands still churns out undead, and at least two Deathlords are looming. I’m already at war.

With regards, Quelaana 

P.S. If thou’st wondering about the gang’s name it was Stygian Cross, they’re known for performing funerary rights to the slain of friend and foe and have been found to be quite honorable.

Resplendent Air - Mnemon Aisa #1

Dear Ryu and other friends,

Please do have Zara write to me. If she is truly interested, there could perhaps be something more than correspondence – ever since my return from the Threshold I have been looking for a handmaiden. While it is perhaps an unusual position for young enough to Exalt to hold, her tutors would surely agree that a few months in direct contact with the Dynasty might do her well. Obviously I would not have much time to attend to her directly (it would rather defeat the purpose of having a servant), sitting in on some of the introductory classes would not be out of the question.

The letter carries on about the possibility, dancing around the fact that she might not be chosen by the dragons – and if she is not, the position could be more permanent. Aisa could use someone trustworthy and young enough to groom into the position – she couldn't even believe another Mnemon served her, rather than being a spy for the family matron.

The conspiracy members will see the following.

Ferem Quelaana, Carmela Contarini and Cathak Titus, this letter was delivered to each of you by your new elemental companion. Since you expressed no ability to protect yourself against the immaterial in your last communication, I have taken the liberty of providing some insurance of my own. Please do not rely on them as a bodyguard should it come to a fight, but they will remain at your side dematerialize to protect you from spies. Should you not wish their presence, merely address politely – while demonstrating that you can defend yourself by looking directly at them.

Ai'Zul is delivering this to Whispering Twilight and will not stay, as I would not dare presume upon as a follow practitioner of the Art, and it would draw too much attention to Nellens Ryu to have a companion, situated as he is in the Imperial City in proximity to so many of the Chosen.

Following up on the information about V'Neef Bijar's interest in the Imperial Manse (truely the dynasty is complex, but the difference between the head of a Great House and merely one of the Chosen is quite important, Ryu!), I dropped some hints of my own research in that direction (recently begun) within the hearing of V'Neef Iphen. Since he has been paying court to me recently, he seemed a likely means of inserting myself into the affairs of his house subtly, making them think it was their own idea. He was obstinate at first, crudely attempting to hinder my efforts rather than take the bait. He feared I was acting as Mnemon's agent in the matter, but with some persuasion he came around.

In addition to setting up a meeting with V'Neef Bijar and building a bridge with that house, this also presents a solution to Ryu's slave problem. I believe I have uncovered what she intends to do with them (following in the steps of one of the Shoguns who sought entrance to the manse), and can prove to her why it will not work. The details are geomanticly complex and not terribly interesting, but blood sacrifices of that sort won't disrupt the energies the way she expects due to…

(a short passage is scratched out here, written and then thought better of)

This letter is not the place for too much detail, but I expect V'Neef will find the argument compelling – only delay her requisition for another week and it will vanish entirely. If things go according to plan, I will arrange to set up a personal meeting soon – in addition to the Imperial Manse being of great interest, an alliance with V'Neef would be quite beneficial to our endeavor. A small Great House is still a Great House, and this one is small enough tha Bijar can easily be a stepping stone to her mother.

On the other end of the political spectrum, my work at stepping into Mnemon's graces also bore some success. She asked me to acquire a recently found copy of a rare tome for her before it reached the Heptagram library. One of my Hurakas spied upon the ship, and I arranged for one of the longshoreman to become quite drunk the night before. Wearing his face I stole the book in question. This would have been the end of it, were it not for a slip up on my part. His wife spied me on the way home, still wearing his face. It started with "I thought you were too sick to go to work," devolved from there into "you went to see her again, didn't you?" and ended with my being chased around the market being pelted by breadrolls. There was also a squid. And a broom.

Far more than demons, Solars and betraying Mnemon, if word of my involvement in the "breadroll incident," as the locals have started calling it, ever leaks out, I will murder you. All of you. Take this secret to your grave.

Regardless! Upon reading the book, The Girl with the Sun in her Eyes, it is easy to see why the Empress ordered all copies destroyed. It appears to be nothing more than "First Age" rhymes, but there are tantalizing hints everywhere – what is not said, what is missing, and what context would need to be known for the rhymes to make sense. I have copied some parts for further study, but lacking a trustworthy scribe, will have to rely on memory. Mnemon will have received the original by the time you get this letter.

In more lighthearted news (the breadroll incident is not lighthearted. Remember: to your grave), life at the Heptagram continues as normal. Empress or no, the work of teaching the next generation of sorcerers and savants continues.

I arranged a scavenger hunt for the students at the Heptagram. Forming not-so-sworn brotherhoods from across all ages, they searched the isle for five items. This was done with two motives. Firstly, it would help cement my position and reputation in the school, as someone both fun and approachable, in addition to knowledgeable. Gaining trust with the student body is important. The Heptagram is a far more important power center in the Realm than most give it credit for.

Secondly, it gave me a chance to see the students acting more independently than usual. Establishing a sorcerous society is another possibility to consider for gaining influence, and this was a filter for potential members. Most of the participants were too hung up on the elemental associations of the locations they had to visit, but there were a few knowing looks from those who noticed the subtler association with the Trials they had either recently gone through or were approaching. Those are the students to pay attention to, of course. Those that look beyond the obvious.

The winning team accompanied me to a weekend at one of the local beach god's sanctums, a welcome respite from the biting winds and freezing rain we get at this time of year. They quite enjoyed themselves, but apparently managed to smuggle out some Smoke of Daana'd back to their rooms, and were doing poorly in their classes.

I tried to explain matters to them. "You are the Chosen. This means you can indulge, yes – I would never deny that. I too enjoy the finer things in life. When I stayed in Nexus, the first thing I did on arrival was trade some sorcery for lodging at the penthouse suite at the finest brothel in the city. But it also gives you a duty to excel. Your indulgences cannot get in the way of your education or your work." I followed this up with a couple of choice quotes from the Immaculate texts, about how their duty to protect Creation and the fact that pleasure is not evil, especially not for the Dragon Blooded.

I am sure it would shock many of the Dynasty, but truly believe everything I said. We Dragon Blooded have a duty to protect and to rule well. The Texts have much to teach us about right behavior, even if some of the specific details have been changed to accommodate state policy.

Which brings me neatly to the final topic, state policy. Several of you have seemed certain about, or dare I say even eager to bring, bloodshed to the Realm. I hope that this is merely bluntness about your predicted future, rather than any intention on your part. Please remember, fellow conspirators, that it is explicitly to prevent such a possible civil war that I have placed my trust in you – and in myself – rather than in Mnemon. I do not expect events will occur in such a way, but I would retract my claim to the throne if doing so would prevent the Realm from being torn apart. I will do everything in my power to prevent those horrors from being visited upon the Blessed Isle. The Realm is too important to Creation to be sacrificed on the altar of ambition or any other motive.

Yours in secrets and in strength,
Mnemon Aisa

Resplendent Air - Ledaal Catala Akashan #1

Being the 5th Day of Air, Resplendent, Year of Our Realm 767
Dragonsmouth, Scarlet Prefecture, Blessed Isle

My most sincere apologies for the lateness of this letter. By way of explanation, though not of excuse, I can only offer an indictment of the state of travel between the Imperial Mountain and the coast in this sorrowful age of ours.

Regarding the fragmentary text recovered 19 Air, Ascending,
"Certainty is for Clockwork Logicians and Patricians of vibrant mascara who wear it on their sleeve."…

What follows is a brief statement that the phrase is nonsense. However, when the cipher is applied to the quoted text it produces a longer result. Repeated multiple times, it is revealed that the entire letter was compressed into that single sentence. Someone may be showing off.

No doubt an account of me at once less abridged and more entertaining can be found at your nearest house of salacious gossip. Being constrained by the limitations of a letter, know then that I am Ledaal Akashan. It is my honor to serve as the most junior member of the highest councils of my House, chief analyst in the archaeological investigations of the Catala family, First Artificer of Ledaal, and formerly as an adviser and sorcerer-engineer of the Realm for Her Most Highly Exalted Majesty. For what little it adds after such a litany, I also received the Dragon's Breath but 108 days older than my cousin Kes, am a certified graduate of the Heptogram, and command an earning power so great that I am individually listed on House Ledaal's condensed chart of accounts with the satrapies. You will have to forgive me if I take somewhat less pride in these than my various cousins do. (As a personal request, I would greatly appreciate if Whispering Twilight could refrain from causing overmuch trouble in the ancestral seat of my House. Whatever their failings, most dyansts and patricians there are my family and excessive reductions in their fortunes or influence could make my own position far more tenuous).

I write you from Dragonsmouth, here to meet a shipment from my sister marked as particularly aligned with my personal interests. However, I expect to soon be recalled to the Imperial City, at least temporarily, given a number of requests from House V'neef to discuss employing the savants of Ledaal for some project or another. My familiarity with such matters means I am often called to negotiate the prices of these services and must personally perform the most challenging tasks myself. Should the trip prove to be temporary I am well placed here at the gateway to the Imperial City to intercept many of the more interesting flows of goods and people from most of the Isle and the Threshold. If it become necessary, I have considerable sway with the Catala and can direct their efforts to particular sites or areas of focus. There are, after all, some things even money cannot buy.

Besides the skill, connections, and political power already alluded to, know also that I have earned my titles good and ill. Though not a graduate of the House of Well Flavored Aspect I am the only non-Elder known to have fully capped the most powerful demesne of Creation without resort to wasteful discharging of their energies. I have personally supervised the maintenance of key nodes in the Realm Defense Grid and am one of the few people able and by Her Most Exalted Majesty trusted to perform such work. Finally, I have filled the orders for newly constructed suits of dragon armor and greater works. Though notable in light of the above, I do possess the deficiency of failing to initiate into the Terrestrial Circle of Emerald while at the Heptogram, something attributed to my youth at the time, and have been unable to pursue it since.

It may appear surprising that one of my high position would join in this conspiracy that seams aimed at much of the basis of my prestige and power. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. I love the Realm and its people, and they deserve better than what we have managed to do for them. It was these sentiments that first put me at odds with Her Most Exalted Majesty, for much of the structure of Her Realm was designed and calibrated to ensure the security of Her Reign. Yet I am not content to spend the modicum of effort necessary to slay the twin troubles of ignorance and want. From investigations and my own work I know that this is an age of squalor. The luxury that my Exalted kin revel in as is the poverty of the former empires and they do not even know it. The Mandate of Heaven rests with the Terrestrial Host, and with it comes the responsibility to act as good stewards to what Dragons and Heaven have granted us, to properly cultivate and elevate Creation into the full flower of what it can be. Part of this is a change in our relationship with those who are other than we. I do not mean only the Threshold, though that situation is shameful and wasteful in equal measure, but the races with which we shared this world. Our Mandate is for all of Creation, and that includes everyone in it. We ignore or enslave those who should be our sisters and friends. All these are the true heresy against which association with Anathema is as petty as an argument over if Exaltations is of or from the Dragons.

In fire, faith, and blood,
Ledaal Catala Akashan