Scarlet Sky Conspiracy

Ry 767 Descending Water - Carmela Contarini

So I'm in a lot of trouble. Some of it is good trouble; I've started helping out a group of monks with their work (before you shake your heads and sigh, no I haven't found religion and yes, Saturnday wine tasting is still on and I wouldn't miss it for anything). Some of it is bad trouble; dragons, people are depending on me to do things! Me! I figured it would be another century before anybody would trust me with anything more complicated than fist->face. So, I really need your advice…

What follows is a seemingly-earnest request for advice on small administrative problems, the likes of which one would give to someone incredibly new to being in charge of anything. Members of the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following…

So! A lot of my affairs of late are setting the Pahua Basin in order before I go North to help out Quelaana. It's important to have it in a place where I can leave without the whole thing being on fire upon my return. Which means that Ryo isn't going to like a whole lot of this. For starters, I made a deal with his wife for refugee labor. She's a good enough negotiator but she's not a Contarini, so nobody's going to be a slave, her workers will be getting housed, fed, and paid, and she's promised that if the refugees show acumen that she'll consider recommending funding small private enterprises. I consider that Pretty Good All Things Considered. Between the Ragara and the Immaculate Order, the refugees should be if not in a great place, then at least in a manageable one.

Speaking of, I've made a number of inroads among the local Immaculate Order, and one of their Dragon monks took the liberty of teaching me how to punch spirits in the face so we could roll disease gods for their lunch money. 'Lunch money' in this case being epidemics among a closely-packed and widely-diversified population the likes of which is crazy vulnerable to plagues SO it's nice now and might come in handy later. Certainly swaying them over to our side on our righteous quest is super important for that whole "Imperial Legitimacy" thing that Aisa is so worried about, even if it's not so good for the whole "We All Walk Free Under Scarlet Skies" thing. I guess she's right to worry, since she's started coming out to third parties. On the same subject, apparently the Central God of War is tooling around on the Isle looking for something, and he might be nearby, so next on the agenda is arranging to have a chat. That could wind up being good news for our cause. Or bad news. We'll see! Mainly I want to pick his brains on what the Sidereals are up to, and if there's any chance I can punch the one (ones?) that's making trouble for me right in the goddamn face.

Oh! I saw Titus. Did you know Titus is super short? I know Aisa and Ryo have seen him but for Akashan and Quelaana's sakes, let me tell you, four foot three in shoes. I know, right? From the way he talks you'd think he was seven feet tall and breathed lightning.

Anyway he was his usual self but he brought a warning about Mnemon's fleet that has wound its way through the wind-carried grape-vine well in advance of this letter and has been pretty thoroughly covered in other letters besides. I suggested he get together with his grandfather and get some Peleps to raid Mnemon's holdings somewhere where she'll need the fleet to relieve them – Little Red is fucking cocky if she thinks she can wipe out the Roseblack that easily, and even cockier if she thinks taking the throne will be as easy as that. I know it's violence that (some of) you don't want, but teaching the Pink Princess that yes, she needs to cover her ass… it should buy us time to prepare a more decisive response, at least.

Daylight's Burning and So Am I,
Carmela Contarini

Ry 767 Descending Water - Ledaal Catala Akashan

Being the Twelfth Day of Water, Descending, Seven-Hundred and Sixty-Seventh Year of Our Realm
Some Dragon's-Forsaken Ruin in some Dragon's-Forsaken Jungle

Friends, please join me in mourning my cousin Chemalma, cruelly murdered and impersonated by one of the moon-mad. I confess I suspected nothing of this until "she" attacked me upon uncovering her sabotage.

The letter continues to describe the various things the "impersonator" did as well as praising the qualities of the "real" Chemalma. Conspirators see the following

I apologize for the rhetoric in the cover letter, letters from the East are heavily censored so I was proactive in making sure nothing was altered for the sake of the cypher.

Well, Chemalma is dead, but it was no Lunar's doing. She was trying to gain exclusive access to the artifacts of the fallen Dragon Kings and to use their strange magic for wealth and power, though it seems she had little insight in their true nature or use. Worse, she tricked me into funding this scheme for months! It is thankful that my brother accompanied me as it was only his actions that saved me. All things considered, he seems to have enjoyed himself immensely on this trip. Perhaps he has found his calling as an adventure-archeologist when his time with the legions is done.

There is some good news. I have made contact with an actual Dragon King, and one who is amenable to cooperation with me. I hope to explore this relationship further when possible.


There is another problem, and this one far greater. Ledaal Kes means to take the throne. He does not want it, but feels he has no choice if the Realm is to survive. Worse, it is not political concerns that motivate him. The Underworld is stirring. It seems the charnal lords share my opinions about infrastructure. They are building up "cathedral" workshops and arming themselves for war. Were I not already sworn to Aisa his arguments and sincerity would have moved me.

I cannot recommend enough that we bring him to our side. Not only will his efforts pull resources from my own, but what he is doing is necessary.


One more spot of good news, I have assembled a core of nascent magitechnicians, sorcerer engineers who can begin to equip our forces when we have them and far more rapidly than anyone else would suspect possible.

Ryo, how go efforts to reclaim that manse? That pieces of the puzzle are falling into place and that is the last of them.

Aisa, have you given any thoughts to the status of the pre-humans in your Realm? With the proper concessions integrating them will be a source of strength for all of us. Moreover, their assistance in the arms buildup could be immensely helpful but I do not wish to make promises I cannot keep.

In Faith, Fire, and Blood,
Ledaal Catala Akashan

RY 767 Descending Water - Ferem Quelaana

Fear not friends,
I managed to get out of the city before the fighting started by joining a guild caravan that had the same idea.

The rest of the letter talks about how a lot of the non-natives got together to leave and have a mini social gathering. Conspirators will read the following.

This letter will be comparatively short as most of the month was me helping lead a revolt/invasion on Amber River. Roseblack and I debated for a good long time about if we should invade at all. We eventually agreed on something middle of the ground only to be surprised with Cynis doing an unconditional surrender and saying they need a few weeks to clear out of. You guys wouldn’t happen to know why they’re giving up so easily suddenly?

The only real losses we had been to the rioting civilians but we managed to keep them from being too bad. Our Art Dealer friend showed me the house where the majority of the opium was, I still don’t trust him but he seems helpful for now. Darkest Dawn was most helpful in van guarding the army and I had Carmela’s contingent she sent over to help the wounded and pick off stragglers. I can’t seem to find Helkar or his ship worryingly; I’ll have to look for him in the oncoming month.

A very Fancy signature of “Ferem Quelaana” is here

p.s. How does the Realm feeling about this going on? I fear a bigger house will do something more drastic now that attention is away from them.

RY 767 Descending Water - Mnemon Aisa

Cynis Chand et al,

By the authority of the Scarlet Empress, and her powers delegated in this matter to the Dynasty in person of House Tepet, I have been charged to take control of these lands and end all dispute. The writ of ownership is attached. My proxies shall arrive within the month.

(The letter is addressed to the previous owners of one of the plantations in Amber River, a Cynis patrician couple, with copies sent to several others including house Ferem. The style is correct, but a bit old fashioned, the sort of thing you'd expect to see from 80 years ago rather than the modern day. Aisa may have copied it from a book with only minimal alteration. Members of the conspiracy will see the following.)

Ledal Catala Akashan, whatever you paid for that information about Mnemon's forces, it was worth it. I do not exaggerate when I say you have saved my reputation and advanced our cause considerably. I am in your debt. While I am of course interested in powerful sorcerous artifacts, it is unlikely Mnemon would take kindly to me asking questions about the Thurible.

Cathak Titus, I need not feign piety to satisfy your grandfather. Though the temple is without a monk, I have been attending weekly ever since I arrived six months ago – initially alone to read from the Texts myself, but recently several students have taken to showing up, and I have been reading aloud for their benefits. I will do as you suggest and ask your grandfather. The temple is in need of a good deal of cleaning, and I am no monk.

Nellens Ryo, please delay your reworking of the appointment laws. While I am not opposed in principle, I used the possibility (and the fact that I could prevent it from occurring) to help capture Mnemon's good graces. Perhaps in a few months when I break with her openly. Also, I will have to be more careful when asking your assistance in the future. Cynis Belar was entirely too accurate with her suspicions that I was behind the Cynis legion's slow deployment.

Zara has been a life saver. It has only been a few months, but already I cannot imagine now I got by without her presence. I almost suspect she is learning to read my mind – I have but to think of a desire and she is already knocking politely to deliver. She has not been present in any of my important meetings however, not because I lack faith in her discretion, but because too much knowledge can put her in danger. One who seems to know my secrets may become a target.


This month has been our first test. Many of you know parts of what has been happening and can provide more detail in specific areas, but allow me to sketch an outline of what has been happening on the Isle and in the North this past month.

House Tepet's position is weaker than they like to let on, and they are more desperate. When word of the northern rebellion reached them, a known and weak enemy within easy striking distance of their remaining legion, they immediately reached out to House Cynis for permission to help. Cynis declined, refusing them access. Tepet, growing more shrill, insisted, until finally Cynis shut them out entirely.

This is where I entered the picture, with my proposal to trade regions. Tepet, initially uncertain, eventually decided that they needed to look to the present rather than the future, and agreed to make me their agent. I approached house Cynis.

As it turns out, Mnemon was there ahead of me, seeking to take advantage of the situation in her own way. She has been attempting to draw the Roseblack into a vulnerable position for some time, and Tepet's intentions in the North had provided the perfect opportunity. I shall spare you a detailed account ((page 22-25 of the OOC thread)) of several sleepless nights and tense exchanges between Cynis, Mnemon and myself, but the eventual result was Mnemon's agreement to allow my plan to proceed while she took credit for it. Then word came (thank you Akashan) that Mnemon had no intention of honoring the spirit of the deal. She is preparing a fleet to sail north and crush the Roseblack while my reputation provided the bait to keep her in place.

Left with little other choice, I summoned Cynis Belar to another meeting. How times change! I remember only a season ago when attracting the attention of a single elder from anthor house required careful planning. Under a sorcerous vow to keep the news secret, I revealed myself to her.

"I intend to be Empress."

"More than one Great House has aligned itself with me. More than one legion moves as I direct. I have power bases both on the Blessed Isle and in the Threshold, inside the Dynasty and out. I have good reason to believe Cathak Cainan will back me once I ask. The Sidereals are watching me carefully, and some of them are being swayed to my side."

"I tell you all this not to boast, but merely so you understand that my claim is more than empty dreams. The Roseblack is my piece, and I will not sacrifice her just yet. While I would prefer to avoid violence, I am perfectly capable of responding to Mnemon with force of arms if I cannot resolve things here and now."

We negotiated briefly. Though house Cynis Belar bears little love for Mnemon, they will not let personal feelings rule the day. Cynis is willing to back us in exchange for economic concessions to come later. We also negotiated an immediate solution to the problem – she will keep her forces in the north, threatening Mnemon's legions if they are weakened fighting house Tepet. Ryo, please whatever magic you placed on the Cynis forces. They are needed northward immediately and in good order.

Though forced to reveal myself sooner than intended, I am willing to count this as a success entire. Mnemon's fleet is still sailing, there is ongoing violence and I may be forced to kill my future husband in his sleep (do not ask), but we have a new ally. Things are moving quickly.

Even so, I fear I must take some time away. Ai'Zul has offered me a chance to spend time in her home city, and I will be taking her up on that. Time away from things will leave me better prepared for what must be done when I return. Those possessed of Wind Carried Words should aware that I will be some 3 miles upwards and 50 miles north-east of the Heptagram. Post will continue to reach me as normal (I am a sorcerer, after all).

Yours in triumph and in fatigue,

— Mnemon Aisa

P.S. Ryo, attached is a list of what Mnemon offered House Cynis in return for their support. We will need to match her offer. I would greatly appreciate it if you could draft a proposal for me to return with. Concessions at the expense of the Guild are the order of the day, as well as tax breaks for treating satrapies as imperial subjects rather than conquered enemies.

Also, with the addition of land to my other business holdings, I have neither the aptitude nor the time to manage everything. I will need someone on-site in Amber River to oversee the plantation Tepet has promised me. Does your wife have any lieutenants in need of promotion? Or perhaps House Ferem could recommend someone?

P.P.S. The dominie of the Heptagram is being most uncooperative. Does anyone have information on Ragara Bhagwei, or suggestions on what pressure might be brought to bear? He seems in no hurry to retire gracefully.

Ry 767 Descending Water - Nellens Ryo

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

Dear friends,

Spring has come and with it the talk of marriage. As a veteran of an arranged marriage myself, let me give you advice….

Ryo discusses the techniques he used to survive the early years of his marriage. He also gives advice on choosing a spouse. Mostly to make sure they are reasonable and you can stand to be in a conversation with them for about an hour. All the political connections are worthless if your spouse will not use them in your favor. The Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following letter:

All eyes are on the North. Cynis plans to move troops to the area to control the unrest. However, moving an entire Legion to the area is proving to be a bureaucratic nightmare. Supplies have been stalled. Leave Requests are slow to be revoked. There is talk at the Court that Cynis plans on asking Tepet for assistance. The Roseblack has a convenient legion in the area. This may be the start of an alliance between Cynis and Tepet. Aisa, you must move quickly if you wish to mediate a trade of territory. (

Quelaana, you must convince the Roseblack not to support Cynis in this slave revolt. This will be difficult as Tepet Ejava is under pressure to prove herself. If the talks between Cynis and Tepet are stalled, then Aisa can mediate the territory trade. Cynis can move out and Tepet can arrange things as they wish.

Convincing Tepet to give up rich Southern Territory for the poorer and more rebellious north will be difficult. While the Southern Provinces have not sent tribute in the past three years, they are not yet in open revolt. Aisa, I have sent in a separate package the tribute numbers for two territories you wish to exchange. The southern one is rich, but costly to run. I’ve started an audit on the local Thousand Scales. Putting some pressure on the Southern Territory may convince Tepet to give it up.

Carmela, I am distressed by the refugee situation. This is why we need a strong Empress to take control. My wife, who runs one of Ragara’s larger plantations, has offered aid in food stuffs. She also offered to put some of them to work, but I declined this offer. With the current state of affairs, it is too easy to jump from refugee to slave.

Akashan, I also find your discoveries about the Imperial Manse distressing. I wish nothing to do with the Imperial Manse. That place is death for my kind.

Peleps Hiro. That is not a name I have heard in a long time. He and my wife were acquaintances about fifteen years ago. When my wife became politically inconvenient, Hiro cut all ties off with her. It was a difficult time for her, but our partnership came out stronger. I am not surprised he is sitting on an unknown Factory Cathedral. Hiro is often at sea. With my limited knowledge of geomancy, I doubt he uses the hearthstone for more than a battery to run his ship. I’ll admit to wanting to take Peleps Hiro down a peg. Saveria has forbidden me from enacting revenge against the Water Aspect. Akashan, helping you remove Hiro from his manse would give me great pleasure. Especially since it will be you, not I, removing him from the manse. It will take time, but I believe we could engineer Hiro to have a bit of a financial disaster.

I have tracked the men who broke into my house to my dear aunt. Nellens Pala has caught on to my little behind the scenes ploys. She had my house searched to see if I had nefarious plans. Who needs enemies when you have family. I assured her of course I had only the best interests of the Realm in mind. Which is true, but my dear Aunt has no need to know about the work of our conspiracy. My Aunt wishes for me to work openly as a member of the house, instead of like a criminal. (

With my Aunt’s prompting, I have made overtures with my father-in-law about being appointed to the lower house of the Deliberative. Like most things, only the Scarlet Empress can appoint new members to the Deliberative. However, Amado believes I should keep my work behind the scenes.

To be honest, I agree with my Aunt Pala. Always working from the shadows does not sit well with me. As a “mortal”, there is little I can do, yet mortals can become members of the Lower House. There is risk here, but this seems to be the time for risks.

Aisa, I wish to ask for your permission to rework the bureaucratic process to appoint members of the Deliberative. My suggestion is the remove the need for the Empress to approve all appointments. Let the Houses appoint their own members without oversight. As this would limit your future power, Aisa, I wish to ask your opinion on the matter.

Akashan, I will need Tepet Fokuf’s stamp to approve any changes to the Bureaucratic process. While I cannot request an audience with the Regent, you, as Dragonblooded, could.

Titus, I’m curious about these Gold Faction you mentioned. Perhaps destroying the Golden Cranes would be hasty. Not I have plans on conquering the world. I doubt Lookshy and the like would be impressed by strongly worded letters. You did mention earlier that your associates were the architects of the religion. Titus, you think this Gold Faction can aid with changing the Immaculate religion?

May the storm clouds break and the sun shine on you all,

Nellens Ryo

PS Aisa, I am glad Zara is doing so well at the Heptagram. Let her know both Shu and I miss her greatly.

RY 767 Resplendent Water - Cathak Titus

Resplendent Water 7, RY 767

Dear Mnemon Aisa,

Thank you for speaking with me during your grandmother’s party. My grandfather was quite impressed with your pose, intelligence, and beauty. He would like me to ask permission to court you. While I have not received the blessings of the Immaculate Dragons, I feel like I would make a suitable husband in the following ways:

The rest of the letter goes on to list Titus’ various professional accomplishments. This reads more like he is applying for a job than a courting letter. The rest of the conspiracy will see the following:

These past two months have been absolute shit. So many things have gone ass crazy I don’t know where to begin. Let’s start from the beginning.

First, someone told my great grandfather, Cathak Cainan about my future Exaltation. Up until this point, I have spoken to my grandfather a total of five times. So when I was called into his office, I was expecting the worse: marriage. While I do enjoy female companionship, I have no desire to set up a household with anyone. I had hoped Saturn would get off her ass and Exalt me before we reached this point. 

Instead, my grandfather congratulated me on my future Exaltation. I got a stern lecture on keeping it a secret from him, but he understood the need for secrecy. Grandfather wishes to bring me into his councils, so he could teach me as much as he can before he forgets about me. While he droned on about his views on the current state of the Realm, I was relieved. I had gotten in close to the man with great influence on who sits next on the Scarlet Throne. 

As I sat there scheming on how to turn the situation to our conspiracy’s advantage, I heard the dreaded M word: marriage. My grandfather wishes me to marry quickly and father an heir before I exalt. My bloodline is an experiment for him. He believes the Dynast lines are lacking certain qualities. Qualities that could still be found in the Lost Eggs of the Threshold. I offered a compromise. I don’t need to marry anyone to produce an heir. This suggestion lead to a long morality lecture about producing bastards. 

In my time with my grandfather, I realized the primary quality he is looking for in an Empress is Piety. All the other potential heirs show the ability to gather power and wield it to their advantage. But none have showed the strength of character needed to sit on the Scarlet Throne. Aisa, start attending Immaculate Services. They may be tedious, but my grandfather will be impressed. I know the Heptagram has a small temple without a monk. You can ask my grandfather for a recommendation on a monk to assign there. I’ll try to make sure the monk isn’t someone who would piss of the sorcerers too much. 

Sidereal politics… I had hoped to avoid a discussion on those, but the Gold Faction causing shit, I have no choice. There are two political factions: Bronze, which supports the Realm (a good thing), but also supports the genocide of Solars and Lunars (a bad thing). They are in chaos since the death of their leader. I imagine Mnemon’s spymaster is taking advantage of this. The Gold Faction works to bring down the Realm to bring back some mythical golden age where Solars ruled. Yet every Solar they “help” dies not long after in some stupid crusade to take over Creation. I’ve protected Ryo and Whispering Twilight from detection in what small ways I could. I believe these “Golden Cranes” are calling cards from Gold Faction operatives. I do not like how close the Gold Faction is getting to the conspiracy members. I do not know Golden Cranes’ purpose yet, Carmella and Quelaana but I will ask my mentor. 

Politically, my teacher and I are Independents. We do not give a fuck about the Factions’ little political games. We want Creation to be stable. Unfortunately, the Factions do give a fuck about us. Aisa, your news is a shit cherry on top of this whole situation. I do not like being used against my teacher. I will have to find time to discuss things with him. I hope I will not have to reveal this conspiracy when I do. My mentor will not be pleased with my “meddlings” here. 

Another thing, Arcane Fate manifests in many different ways. Aisa, the spy master is blotch of water here obscures this paragraph. The seasons of water are so rough on letters. in the future. 

The only bright spot this month is the Northern plan. Breadroll Girl is on a Roll! I will do my part and investigate Gold Faction’s plans. 


P.S. Aisa, please understand my rejection was of marriage, not of you. Also, feel free to ignore my courting request if you wish. It was my grandfather’s idea. I will not be offended. 

Also, your instincts are right about Nadrian. He is an ass. I watched that smug bastard bully all the other children on the plantation where I grew up. I was much older than him so I avoided his attentions. The blessings of the Dragons came early upon him. Between that and his ability to charm the adults, Nadrian got away with everything short of murder.

RY 767 Resplendent Water - Cathak Titus #2

A hastily written note.

Burn the fucking cranes. They are spies.

RY 767 Resplendent Water - Ledaal Catala Akashan

Being the 15th Day of Water, Resplendent, Year of Our Realm 767
Dragonsmouth, Scarlet Prefecture, Blessed Isle

I may have stuck my neck out too far this time. I sat down with the matchmaker of House Ledaal, a great aunt of mine, the other day to give her my opinions about some of my students and assistants. Yet no sooner had I sat down when she began to rake me over the coals about my own wedding, or rather the lack thereof. When I assured her it was merely that there was no eligible young lady I was aware of who seemed a suitable match she completely mistook my disinterest for ignorance and shyness. Now I am scheduled to attend several parties. Parties! As if I don't have enough to do.

Thankfully some good did come of it. She insisted I call on my cousin Ledaal Kes who apparently had similar problems finding a woman to his satisfaction. I had meant to talk to him soon anyway…

What follows is the notes Akashan took at the meeting of the women he is supposed to make the acquaintance of. Several of the entries have unusual notes such as "Has a handsome brother" and "Frequently away with her Claw Strider breeding society." Conspirators see the following:

Mockshanta may have been on to something when she said I was too secular. I convinced Bijar to allow me to to do some subtle testing on the Imperial Manse. Under the pretense of a prayer for the dragons, I had five choirs led by Terrestrials of auspicious aspect each sing a hymn to the appropriate Dragon. Each acted as a source of essence which my instruments around the court of the manse were designed to detect. As it passed through, or around, the structure the way it was changed conveyed information. Most of it was of little use, the defense of the manse is nearly impregnable. But it does radiate essence upward with similarities to fire and earth. Ryo's is the closest to it I have ever encountered, nearly an exact match. If my guess is right, and I think it is, this is a form of prayer. The term Palace of the Anathema in the oldest records and this seem to confirm that it is the work of the Solars. A pity I can't publish the results, the position that it is Shogunate work has a great deal of support among scholars.

Ledaal Catala Chemalma, our resident expert on prehuman civilizations in the East continues to vex me. She gave me samples of artifacts, true artifacts and not merely potsherds, from the region. They are, no doubt, among the least of what she has found yet they could prove useful if we could replicate them. They are, each of them, a highly cultivated variety of plant. One filters out dust, smoke, even water while fully submerged to allow clean and free breathing. The other two are a suit of armor and a weapon. The sword, though somewhat brutal in appearance, is roughly equal to a reaper daiklave yet my tests suggest it required only half of the mystical components to produce. I lack the necessary skill to reproduce them, but we may be able to use them as a tool for better relations with V'Neef and their Wood blessed gardeners.

The proof of concept of the remote essence reservoir worked flawlessly. I do not have the resources to put them into production at this moment, but that should not be a problem long if Ryo is able to help me with a certain delicate issue. Peleps Hiro, whom I am sure he needs no description of, is squatting in the shell of a First Age Atelier-Basilica. I had cause to visit as part of the Isle wide geomantic program and the fool does not understand a fraction of what he has, only enough to be obstinate. Intact Crucible-Stupas that refine metals of even spiritual impurities in the fire of zeal, an entire bank of Signature-Anthanor that could produce alchemical products so concentrated any spill risks enchanting something! But I digress.

If I can get it repaired I could equip our entire conspiracy and all its forces with such wonders as would take up half the stories of Aisa's ascension by themselves. Ryo, I need this manse.

One final anecdote that may be relevant. My elder brother, Zhan, and I have never got along well. When he visited me on leave recently he provoked me into a friendly duel. Zhan is a graduate of the House of Bells and no one expected much of a match. He received not a little disapproval for his actions, but I understand he did not act out of cruelty. What followed was ten rounds of stalemate before, in frustration, he invoked the grace of the dragon's to finally break my defense. This caused him to forfeit, as I have no such gifts their use was forbidden, but the wound to his pride was far greater. Later, when he came to apologize he asked me how I, barely trained, managed to keep pace with him I explained more fully the artifacts that kept me alive as an infant which are still part of my body. What followed was, without question, the most respectful and honest conversation we have ever had. At his insistence, he served as a test patient for some of the refinements I have been working on. On the last day of his leave, he got into a fight with three of his comrades who had insulted me in my absence. I left an important meeting to watch him on the dueling field and must say I am a little afraid of what I saw. He exhausted all three, moving like wind and striking like lightning, without exhaling even a wiff of the dragon's breath. When they surrendered all three were the heart of a storm of earth or fire yet he was the calm eye between them.

It would behoove us to begin identifying those of our allies or champions who might benefit from the same refinement.

In Faith, Fire, and Blood,
Ledaal Catala Akashan

PS: Aisa, I may have an opportunity that should interest you greatly. I could soon be in a position to produce a copy of Mnemnon's Emerald Thurible. If you wish me to pursue this, any information you can get me on the item would greatly ease the task. I doubt Mnemnon has anything like the yantra-schematics or instructional-gohonzon, but anything would help.

Regarding the revolt in the North, the agricultural artifacts may be of assistance in this as well. Cynis is also an arboreal House, and the locus of prehuman activity is in the Southeast. I do not know if I would be able to convince them to exchange territories, but perhaps Ryo could furnish me with the appropriately tempting words. If we can get they to make the arrangements it might open a second channel through which I can gain access to the information and artifacts I have been looking for, and gain their gratitude and dependence since they have no one able to make proper use of the discovery. I do not like the thought of putting something so potentially potent in the hands of another, but if it is for the best of the conspiracy then it is not a great sacrifice.

Beyond this, please let me know what I can do to help.

PPS: Chemalma will be hosting an expedition into the prehuman lands next month, and I have resolved to attend. Not only will the disruption upset her marvelously, a fitting repayment for the annoyance she has caused me, but it will let me see if what I am seeking can really be found. If any of you have covert aid you could send along as well it would be greatly appreciated. They need no go as my retinue, my House will see that I am not alone, but I have several cousins who swear by secret allies when doing this sort of thing.

RY 767 Resplendent Water - Mnemon Aisa #2

Dear friends,
Marriage is something much on my mind recently, brought to the forefront by a recent ball Mnemon invited me to. I met several suitors there, eager to begin negotiations in earnest. I can hardly blame them – with the Empress missing, all is cast into doubt and confusion. There is reassurance in marital bonds, and in the alliances and friendships that come with them.

Ledaals, Cathaks, Mnemons and Sesus, oh my!

(The letter contains Aisa's polite impressions of her various suitors, all complimentary and gracious. The mentions of Cathak Nadrian seem slightly strained, however. Members of the conspiracy will read the following.)

With Ferem and Contarini's approval, I shall set the plan with Tepet and Cynis in motion immediately. It will take some doing, especially since the slave coast's rebellion seems to be gathering steam with or without us.

Ryo, your apartment was invaded by a pair of men. They performed a very thorough search, but as you say, seem to have failed to find what they were looking for. Shogun made noise and spooked them before they reached your office, and they dropped everything they had taken before fleeing.

The Heptagram seems relatively untouched by the growing troubles in the rest of the Realm – I both commend and blame the hand of its current dominie for keeping it completely aloof from politics. This will have to change soon. Mnemon Duhalva, the heir-apparent, is far more easily manipulated and friendly to our interests. But for now, at least, the Isle of Whispers remains a stable and neutral base of operations.

My alliance with V'Neef is going well – we performed one of the final steps in a truce-dance, an exchange of vulnerabilities. I revealed to her my involvement with Anathema during my travels in Nexus. While dynastic literature is full of villains who misused trust of this nature, it is the foulest of deeds. V'Neef did not betray me, and revealed a potentially damaging secret of her own. I will not repeat what she told me here. It is her secret, shared in trust, and I will take it to my grave.


Now, the ball! Truly, no event more important in a young lady's life than her marriage. But I shall be brief, so as not to bore you with the posturing and posing and betrayals and… well, you all know what goes on at this sort of event.

Cathak Nadrian is Cathak Cainan's son. He is handsome, ambitious, pious and charming – everything a dynastic woman could want. I hate his guts. I may marry him anyway, given how perfect that match is otherwise, but his smug smile will be extremely unpleasant to wake up next to.

He and V'Neef Iphen nearly challenged one another to a duel. I defused the incident, but now they see each other as rivals for my affection. Men(a blotch of ink mars the otherwise perfect calligraphy) My affection is not a prize to be skewered on the tip of blade.

The real event of interest occurred when Mnemon slipped away with Cathak Cainan and Titus. Light as a feather and silent as a shadow, I followed them. Forgive me if I spoil part of what you wished to reveal, Titus, but I hope you can shed further light on some parts of the story I remain curious about.

Titus' master and Mnemon's spy mistress were present, and they briefly discussed the northern rebellion, believing it to be the word of the Gold Faction, rather than something thought up by the locals. (Who are they? Should we allow them to continue to take the blame for the rebellion, or reach out an offer of alliance?)

Cathak Cainan claimed he is waiting for a candidate who "can unite the Realm again. Who has the best interest of the people at heart. Humble enough to listen to their advisors, yet strong enough to destroy their enemies. And most importantly, they must be a shining example of what it means to follow the Immaculate Dragons. We can not win the Realm's security, only to lose its soul." I admit, the description made me smile, and angered Mnemon. I was very pleased to learn that he is throwing his weight neither behind either her or the Roseblack. I shall be reaching out to him in the coming month for certain.

Now comes the bit that our not-yet-chosen conspirator can not report to us, because he left while I, hidden behind a book case, remained. You are a hostage, Titus, held against the good behavior of your teacher. By threatening you, Mnemon – through her spy master, who I have no need to remind you is chosen of the stars – maintains her hold over your teacher.

Tread warily, Titus. I will not act on these matters, since you are better informed about heavenly politics than I, but remember that you have powerful friends who will offer you sanctuary if you need to step off the board for a time to free a more powerful piece.

Yours in devotion and in cunning,
— Mnemon Aisa

I nearly burst out laughing at your response when you asked not be forced to marry me. I last heard that tone from a child objecting to chopped liver – while I share your desire to remain unbound, I should hope that the prospect of sharing my bed is not that unappealing.

RY 767 Resplendent Water - Carmela Contarini

Resplendent Water 7, RY 767

What in the actual fuck, Realm.

What in the actual fuck.

I have been on this island for this long and nobody told me about ice cream?!

I've been tearing my hair out with worry for weeks and it takes a bunch of kids to introduce me to ice cream? WORDS will be had.

The rest of the letter goes on an entirely harmless tear about hitherto-secret frozen confections.

An awful lot of people needing funds now. Loans to Aisa, mercenaries to Quelaana (still waiting to hear back from the company I sent overtures to), now exotic material components for Akashan? I said I had money, not that I was a national economy unto myself. Still, I'll see what I can do.

So, let's see. My attempts at tracking down the source of my Magistrate's assassin have hit a dead end. But, I've got a symbol that might be something significant – a golden crane, made of paper. I found it in what was supposed to be a clandestine meeting place – an inn which turned out to have been abandoned for years (really, I checked) and devoid of anything helpful for magical communication (hearths, trees, coins, beehives, mirrors, charcoal, locusts, bird's nests). Too well abandoned for years; if it had really been so, even if the squatters had left it alone, birds and bats would've started moving in. Everything about this stinks of Titus' friends in the dark, so I guess I'm happy to have merited attention above my station.

On the other hand I'm not entirely sure what to do about an enemy that can run to Heaven when endangered, and might be directing all this from there without ever leaving.

On to things that don't relate to a slowly descending pendulum aiming for my neck: so, Fate must have a sense of humor because a metric fuckton of refugees have started to show up on my doorstep, families and all. Apparently "Magistrates won't declare you outlaw and have the Houses take all your stuff because you're in the way" and "you might actually be looked after if your father died fighting for the Realm" is a huge step up from the surrounding regions, because haha, it turns out that the ideals that Realmsters hold so dear are mostly just words once you stop being rich and peaceful. Turns out you're just as barbaric as everyone else! Honestly, it's kind of gratifying to see; outside my tents is a scene that wouldn't be out of place in the dirtiest, nastiest parts of the Threshold. So in spite of how much of a national embarrassment it probably is to the dragons next door, I'm sort of in my element! I just executed a slave trader for trying to kidnap one of the kids I'm looking after (hey, remember how that sort of thing Absolutely Did Not Happen On the Isle?) Feels like home already!

Anyway, long story short I don't have the manpower, the expertise or the resources to take care of these people, so I'm allying the Legion Magisterial with the local chapter of the Immaculate Order to handle the crisis. They're in trouble too; most of the Dragons with dynastic ties have been taking 'leaves of absence' that conveniently place them near or within their family's lands (see again: ideals being just words), and lost eggs are pursuing spiritual matters (keeping gods in line, ancient wards in place, that sort of thing). So the Order that I'm working with here is a collection of enthusiastic but underfunded mortals who have been desperate for help for some time now. They won't be easy to bring under my sway, but they seem to have their shit together.

So the relevant part of that is that I'm shaping up to acquire religious power, military power and legal power. I will leave Aisa to enumerate the things you need to be an Empress; what I seem to be developing are the things you need to be a Queen. If I avoid getting beheaded (by no means certain), I… have basically accidentally started to create a splinter kingdom?

That'll be fun, I'm sure. It's quite a fixer-upper as it stands.

Carmela Contarini