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It is the Year of the Prophet 701, and the world is largely at peace. But the Western Empire grows larger and larger every year under the heel of its immortal self-proclaimed God-Empress, labeled by the Herald of Menora an arch-heretic and wicked sorceress. In the East, blessed Belad remains as peaceable and impregnable as ever, its snaking rivers and foggy wetlands thwarting even the thought of invasion. The tribes of the North are as much of a cipher as ever, showing little interest in the games of the civilized nations. Some of the Shan grumble wistfully that their glory days are past, and dream of blood and conquest to the West, but Vau Shan's military days are long gone, and the wise among them have come to relish their role as the East's great financial power. The Talli nations exist in a state of respectful and fruitful mutual loathing, but aside from the annual Pelting of the Queen on her diplomatic visit to Caledri, they keep their hands to themselves.

This is not to say nothing divides the countries of Anve. Sects heretical and benign vie for dominance of the High Church, and the Herald's sleep is troubled by the doctrinal conflicts that have festered for centuries and seem to at last be waking to feast on the discord of her people. The elven population dwindles each passing year, as the rapacious appetite of Shan slavers takes its toll. Tensions between Vau Shan and its once-colony of Tallaco are on the rise, and no wonder - every month, a few enterprising slavers think to double their profits by taking a shortcut thru Tallacan territory on their journey to the Barrier Forest, flourishing with crops of elves ripe for the picking, and find themselves burning at the stake at the resolute hand of the Queen's justice. A land of former Shan slaves hardly relishes the intrusion of Shan slavers.

In Caledri, sylvanist bigotry is on the rise, as the elven immigrant population swells - where else to flee from the predations of Vau Shan but a land in the West that trumpets the cause of freedom from every rooftop? But as the immigrants have learned the hard way, the Caledrians are practiced experts at democracy, and most newcomers can barely keep up with local politics. And the rise of the Choberra, the elven mob, has stirred unrest as far afield as Vau Shan itself, where any sign of slave rebellions is now met with a fast and brutal reprisal.

There is a lot that could go wrong.