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Prelude: The Sign of Fire As far as canalside inns went, the Sign of Fire was among the oldest, and the most reputable. The foundation stones had been laid, or so the legends went, in the days of the Deepness, the deep dark days before the Lord Ruler himself had slain the evil and ascended to divinity. Prelans and nobles alike tarried at the Sign of Fire, partaking of the house fare and the wine before their journey led them ever onwards, down the winding waterways towards Tathingdwen proper. Everywhere you looked, Kais said, was water, taking you where the proper flow of things were, whether it was to Tathingdwen, or the water eagerly seeking out the Channerel, and from the Channerel to Luthadel, the beating heart of the Final Empire. (Kais wasn’t much of a poet. But the house wine at the Sign of Fire did that to a man.) The water took you past majestic Torinost, where on a quiet day, the ash didn’t fall, and you could almost believe you lived in one of the days of legend, with skies a crisp, pale grey, and the air fresh and clear. Stories, mostly. And the follies of bards, some of whom wore bright copper bracelets that gleamed as they played the lute and the harp. Count Olaf, the newly-minted head of House Ffnord, set down his wine glass. Anticipation warred with caution; caution won out. He had not been acclaimed as lord of House Ffnord by utter recklessness. Yet, even accepting the invitation had been some form of risk. The promise of House Ffnord entering into a business contract with House Jerzy had been subtle, but it was the sort of promise that you had to respond to, because of the sheer opportunity it offered. Could House Ffnord afford to pass up this opportunity? And then there was the caution there: why meet in the Terris Dominance? House Jerzy was a Western House, famous for its fine wines, answering to the Herons of Tremredare. What business did any Jerzy—or their representative—have, meeting at an admittedly celebrated inn with admittedly fine wine in a Dominance so far from their own? So far, Kais had seemed painfully exacting. He’d wanted to know about the funds House Ffnord was prepared to offer, the state of House Ffnord’s previous ventures, figures, accounts, and schedules. A minor insult, really, that the head of House Ffnord had been met by a glorified secretary, but Olaf smiled tightly and swallowed it. A newly-minted House Lord could afford only so much assertiveness. And the letter had the secret marks, etched into the edge of the paper, indicating authenticity and urgency. Which meant that the Synod, too, was keeping a close eye on things. The thought brought him back to his wine glass. It was good wine, and Olaf felt his mood ease a little. Tathingdwen was a city of secrets, and the Synod was the best-kept secret of all. It was very much like the Synod to proceed with this level of skulduggery. Wheels within wheels. Generation after generation of Keepers, preserving the collective knowledge of the world within their copperminds, against some distant future where it might be needed. Always hoarding, in some desperate, blind faith. Risk endangered not just one member of the Synod, but the painstakingly-gathered treasure trove of human knowledge. “I presume,” Kais said, “That we can trust to your discretion.” He sketched it; slowly, with his index finger, the sign for authenticity again. And there it was, and Olaf wondered if it had been just that: some lie to wrangle him north, to the Terris Dominance, when really, any true representative of House Jerzy should have been satisfied with a meeting in the West. He made the recognition sign, slowly, deliberately, aggravatedly. “Do you represent House Jerzy, then?” Olaf wanted to know. He did not like the feeling of having been used. He did not much like being led on a merry chase under false pretences, either. Kais nodded. “This much is true. House Jerzy has been looking for new distributors with access to more lucrative markets. It was suggested that House Ffnord has those capabilities. The question of course is whether we have common interests, and the contract is suitable.” “I believe we’ve spent the past hours establishing that House Ffnord has the connections that House Jerzy seeks,” Olaf said, tightly. Two layers at once. Always deception, always another secret. “Have you,” Kais said, a seeming non-sequitur, “Heard about that business in Frebarind? A nasty affair, that.” “No,” Olaf said, tersely. “I can’t say I have.” “I think you’ll find it—interesting,” Kais said. The fire crackled with warmth and light, but Hazen still felt cold. He unfolded the letter again, and read it, but the words never changed. They know, he read. They’re coming for you. Get out as fast as you can. It was tempting to dismiss it. The Synod was too well-hidden; generation after generation holding fast to the secrecy that was their chief tool of survival in the Lord Ruler’s harsh world. But there were the deaths. Ias had drowned; a simple boating accident, they said. Canal boats were well-known to tip over, if the boatman wasn’t careful, and the boatman had been drunk. It didn’t matter that Ias knew how to swim. He’d gone under the boat, and hadn’t been able to get to the surface. Hadn’t stored pewter either, though Hazen wasn’t certain if tapping pewter would have helped. Perhaps it would only have meant that he would have drowned faster. Ancestors’ mercy, Hazen thought. A terrible way to die, drowning. And Ias had always that bright smile, the one that lit up an entire keep with its warmth. The boatman responsible was dead soon after: an attempted mugging gone bad fast. They’d found the murderer, and had strung him up without mercy. But it didn’t matter. The boatman was slain, and Ias was gone; another source of brightness faded from the world. Perhaps he had simply burned too brightly. But then there was Pashan, who had been run over by a wagon, and seriously injured. The wagon-driver had been distraught, and had sworn again and again that something had spooked the horse. Hazen did not think the man had it in him to lie, and yet the horse, a solid raw-boned draft-horse that was getting on in years, was placid, and Hazen would sooner swear that he was Mistborn than believe that the horse had spooked. Pashan had died in her sleep, days after. Radur had been knifed in an alley while on the way home. There were only so many unexplained deaths you could accept, before you had to start to ask questions. Before you had to wonder if there was something more sinister at work there. The Synod had sent them all to Frebarind. Hazen had been proud to accept the charge of leading the small branch of the Synod there. Frebarind was a bustling settlement, and the Steward of Tathingdwen was sparing no expense in investing in it. With the flow of funds came nobles and obligators, and various opportunities for the Synod to establish a presence in Frebarind and to listen in on the secrets and whispers of power. Not everyone had liked this move. The traditionalists had claimed this was too ambitious; that the Synod’s place was in the shadows, that this stepped too close to attempting to place a hand on the rowing pole. Their place was not to steer the boat, but to keep to the shadows beneath the water. The pragmatists had claimed that this was their chance to establish a new presence, and every available opportunity to increase the Synod’s resilience should be taken; they could not always rely on secrecy to save them from the Lord Ruler. The historians had flatly claimed this was a distraction from their sole task to preserve knowledge and ignored everyone. Did this sort of disagreement drive Keeper to kill Keeper? Hazen didn’t know. The thought was a distressing one. And now, days later, a letter had come to him, borne swiftly by water, and by the secret channels and ways that the Synod knew of, and bearing the etched markings for authenticity and urgency and secrecy, and a dire warning. Hazen bowed his head. He was the head of the Synod-in-Frebarind. Leaving was deserting his post, abandoning those under his care. And yet the letter had come, but it bore only a warning; no strict orders to leave. Decision made as swiftly as impulse; Hazen balled the letter up and tossed it into the crackling flames. “No,” he said aloud. He had a duty, and he was charged with the protection and the safeguarding of the Synod-in-Frebarind. His place was here. Even if staying here killed him. The watchman cried the hour. All was well. Few were brave enough to dare the mists, although the nobles and the Allomancers among their number might very well claim the mists as their own. In a small, unremarkable house in Frebarind, Hazen lay still on the ground, blood pooling onto the carpet. His arms were badly burned. The fire roared; the Keeper had stuffed it full of important documents, preferring destruction to having those documents used against the Synod. A desperate move, perhaps. Or a dying man’s defiance. It did not matter. Flames spread across the wood-paneled study, and across the house, and in an hour’s time, the house itself went up in a shout of fire. “Hazen,” Kais said, “Was a fool.” He looked at his wine glass, but his gaze seemed distant, recalling. “The Synod’s eyes and ears had received word that the Synod-in-Frebarind had been compromised, but we were not certain what the nature of the compromise was. I sent warning to Hazen. He chose to ignore it.” An entire branch of the Synod compromised, Olaf thought. It sounded disturbingly familiar, as though it was the same story, the same pattern, playing itself out again and again. He thought of that business in Luthadel, and the obligators. “And then he was dead soon after, and the Synod-in-Frebarind panicked. As though any reasonable person would not have been concerned after the first death!” He shook his head. “The Synod debated, of course. As always. The traditionalists screamed that this was the end, that everyone had to go back into hiding and the Synod-in-Frebarind had to be severed—” he made a sharp, cutting gesture with his free hand, “—forgotten, abandoned as lost. The historians didn’t care, but didn’t like the idea of abandoning our own. The pragmatists pointed out that cutting off the Frebarind branch meant we had no way of assessing the extent of the damage, or reasonably figuring out how much the Steel Inquisition knew, or how much trouble we were in.” The Steel Inquisition. Words to chill the heart, even now. And as the newly-minted House Lord of House Ffnord, Olaf was sternly resolved to stay on the right side of the Steel Ministry. Even the lord of a Great House gave way when the Steel Inquisition got involved. “Surely the most reasonable resolution was to assess the situation,” he temporised. “The Synod in Tathingdwen, no matter how well-informed, was too removed from the situation in Frebarind to make the necessary decisions.” Kais nodded approvingly. “That was the conclusion they reached eventually, when wiser, cooler heads prevailed. I was in Tathingdwen then, because Lord Jerzy was attempting to negotiate cultivar access with another House, and could be easily dispatched to Frebarind.” “How bad was it?” Olaf asked, curious in spite of himself. He had not heard of the Frebarind affair; he had been somewhat removed from Synod politics since his accession to the House Lord’s seat, and yet there had been something in the messages from the Synod of late. Something that suggested weight, foreboding. “The Synod-in-Frebarind was thoroughly infested with Spiked infiltrators,” Kais said, with distaste. “I don’t know what Hazen thought he was doing, but it needed to be purged, to the root...” Welcome to Long Game 86: A Stricken Match! The Terris Synod in the quiet town of Frebarind is threatened by Spiked servants of the Lord Ruler in their quest for the knowledge sought by the Keepers. Fail to root them out in this formerly sleepy town, and the last bastion of Feruchemy will be left vulnerable to his minions. This game is a rerun of LG48, but features minor edits to a few of the Ferring roles, and a slight change to the action system as well. Otherwise, it should function fairly similarly. You may access the rules here. Clarifications asked from LG48 are already in the doc, so please check there first to see if your question has already been answered. Also, please note for story and character purposes that this is a prequel, as Olaf has not reduced Tathingdwen to ashes quite yet. He's getting there, though. My co-GM for this game will be the wonderful @Kasimir. You have him to thank for the intro writeup, as well as all the writeups going forward. He will also be doing his best to fill your PMs with sarkastic commentary as he feels it is needed. The IM, to whom you may bring concerns, is @Devotary of Spontaneity. I plan to begin this game in roughly one week’s time, on Monday 30 May at 10:00 PM EDT (UTC -4). Should rollover change prove necessary, or an extension due to untenably low player counts, I will make an announcement in-thread. Thank you all and I look forward to a wonderful game! Good luck to all! Quick Links: Player List: (Note: if you do not give me a character description, I will give you a bad one. Please make one )