We need another election!

This is the call from Ninth Councillor Edgar Bebb and other prominent (and now former) Councillors and academics.

Unhappy with the new Executive, numerous former Councillors, academics, and members of old-money families – led by Bebb – are demanding another round of elections, with the hope – no doubt – of ousting First Councillor Rigel Sayce, the Heads of Division, and the unelected influences that surround him.

I doubt this will work.

The main reason being, unfortunately, that the election that put Sayce into power was entirely legal.

Indeed, there was a sense of relief last year that we finally had a bona fide First Councillor and a full Council again after all that Koselleck hoo-hah. Ha – remember when we though that the height of political scandal was having the leader of death-cult running for the highest office in the county? Good times.

I’m mostly kidding. That whole business was sinister and awful. But what is happening now – what Sayce and his cronies are doing, and the ramifications it could have for Rookpot and Farynshire in general, is as insidious.

But unfortunately not yet overtly illegal. We know this because the prestigious law firm, Whittaker and Piper, have reassured us this is so. And they, of course, are legal experts – the foremost experts, in fact, in Farynshire law. They have an illustrious history of defending our county’s laws. They also have an illustrious history in defending the Sayce family too – just throwing that out there.

I agree with everyone condemning the Disemployment. It is utterly reprehensible and immoral. But I doubt that it is illegal. I support all of Ninth Councillor Bebb’s efforts. He and others are preparing challenges that will be taken to the County Court. But the prosecutors will be up against Whit and Pips. When was the last time they lost a case?

So I sympathise with those calling for another election. I wholeheartedly agree with those lambasting the Disemployment and the formation of the new Executive. But I don’t think legal challenges will change anything. Sayce is untouchable there because of who he has defending him.

So if the legal routes aren’t going to be effective, what can we do? Don’t stop challenging this Councillor and his cabal, that’s for sure. Definitely tie up at least some of their time and resources in courts and legal challenges – and we’ll report on everything that goes on there, keep you all informed. But I believe this Council will be taken down by a more populist movement.

If you think the Disemployment is wrong, immoral and incomprehensible, if you feel the new Rookpot Executive has no democratic basis, get on social media and let everyone know it. Let us know it. Do it anonymously if you want to – but get your voice out there and heard.

If you’re not happy about the direction the treatment and relations of the Peoples is going in, let everyone know. It is crucial that the wolvern know Sayce’s bigoted views are in the minority. He does not speak for all of us. We do not support or condone his views or actions. We want to be friends with all the Peoples.

We do need another election! But it won’t came from legal challenges and the courts. It will come from us and our demands.

 

Stay safe, vigilant and always ask questions.   Ammaceadda.

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Travels through Farynshire: Ale and sausages

These travelblogs were written by Mabel Govitt before all the changes in Rookpot.  I’m going to continue to publish them as a reminder of what joy Farynshire once was, and the hope it can  be again.
                                                                                                               Ammaceadda

It’s called Mother Aloth, and I am going to generously call it a restaurant solely on the quality of its sausages.

The setting itself is quite modest: a room in one of the squat rock buildings in an alleyway just above the station. The windows were small and filled with thick, pearled glass. The many cream and melting candles cast flickering shadows on the rough grey walls. The small tables crowded together, each draped in a red and white checked cloth. We showed up without a booking and were seated by the cave-sized empty fireplace.

A red-faced young man who cheerfully introduced himself as Col handed us each a piece of card. On one side was a list of local beers and ales, and on the other was a list of local sausages.

“Were we supposed to bring our own veg?” I asked.

“I think you get thrown out if they see any green,” said Felix. “On the plus side: not just pigs.”

“What do they have? Horse, chicken, deer?”

“You’re in luck: they do have sausages made from local venison.”

We decided to order beers first to help facilitate the more perplexing extensive sausage choice. To be honest, I wasn’t aware Farynshire had quite so many ales. Of course I had heard of Sylnmouth Sailor’s Froth, though I was surprised it was served in the mountains, the pubs in Rookpot usually had it on tap. The lager-like Canny Tongue was also popular amongst students. Dark Golden looked quite appealing: it was from a brewery in The Crundles, a hamlet just outside Rookpot. But I thought I should try something more exotic. The Jolly Jouster looked like a possibility; the Last Green less so – though Felix was tempted.

“You have to try a green one here at least.”

Green ales were a Farynshire speciality, and Felix was forever trying to get me to try one on our pub crawls around the city. But not even at my most inebriated would I try something that looked and smelled like industrial-strength toilet cleaner. Most of them were produced in the many micro-breweries nearly every Farynshire town seemed to have – usually a shed in someone’s back garden. Tropsog boasted that it had one brewery for every thirty people.

“Look,” Felix scrutinised the list of ales. “This one is called Skinny’s Own – it’s brewed right here! You have to try that one.”

I decided I might as well get it over and done with. But I was resolved not to finish it if I didn’t like it – I heard learned that lesson one fated night leading up to Christmas when one of our friends decided that brandy rum shots were the ideal way to keep warm. I had not liked the taste, but the idea had been appealing. According to other people, I was quite ill for quite a while. It’s probably best I have no recollection of the subsequent couple of days.

Once the ale had been chosen, we had to select the sausages – which was even more of a gamble, as I had not heard of any of them. Mother Aloth is not a friend to the vegetarian. Felix chose grilled blood sausages. I closed my eyes and stabbed at the menu with my fork: Selsig Hog it was, then.

The tables started to fill up as we waited for our ales. Most of the diners were locals who did not need a menu and just ordered their usual.

Skinny’s Own seemed to pulse with a dark emerald glow – though it may have been the candles backlighting it. I regarded the tankard suspiciously: I didn’t want to spend my few days in the mountain ill in bed.

“They wouldn’t serve it if it made people sick,” said Felix encouragingly.

It probably didn’t make the locals sick. Their stomachs had been hardened through a remorseless sausage and ale diet. But I had only been in Farynshire for just over a year, and had spent that time in cosmopolitan Rookpot. I regretted now not preparing more thoroughly for this trip by indulging in more local cuisine.

I sipped the ale, letting as little as possible pass my lips. It was surprisingly sweet, with a definite vegetable twang – parsnip, maybe, or a young carrot. My throat burned a little as it made its way down, but it wasn’t toxic, and I could see how it could be a pleasant winter warmer. I decided, on balance, that I quite liked it.

The sausages arrived. Two plates with seven bursting, sizzling snorkels on each, accompanied by a basketful of assorted local breads, and a brick of yellow butter. We were suddenly very hungry indeed, and were already wishing we had ordered two plates each or a medley of sausages.

The room was now full of chatter, drinking, and the rich smells of many varieties of sausages. And this was in summer. I could only imagine how overbooked this place must be in the cold winter months when the absolute best thing must be a plate piled high with sausages and a tankard of ale.

It was dusk when we emerged into the cooler, fresher mountain air. The Myttens were gilded in bright gold as the sun sank behind them, and the slopes of Skinny Peak were bathed in the draining light. A train pulled out of the station below, blowing its whistle in farewell, chugging back to Rookpot.

It wasn’t particularly late, but we were full of ale and sausages, and tired from travelling, so we both had an early night.

 

By Mabel Govitt (with special permission from Ammaceadda)

 

The Rookpot Executive

Rookpot Council has been re-structured into a brand new and progressive administrative body: the Rookpot Executive.

I suppose this was the inevitable next step after the dissenting voices were “disemployed”. But it has still shocked the city. Rookpot Council has been the leading authority in Farynshire for centuries. Truth be told, it has not always been the most authoritative or effective office, but it has always been there.

Between the death of First Councillor Koselleck and the election of First Councillor Sayce we had an interim Council of Master Councillors, which was in power for less than six weeks. This seems to have set an unfortunate precedent. This was the first time, through necessity, that the make-up of the Council had changed since the other Peoples gave up their seats. And even before the last wolvern stormed out of Rookpot, there were always twelve human Councillors. The sudden vacuum of power between Koselleck and Sayce had to be filled by someone, and the Master Councillors were the only ones still around. These were long-established ceremonial positions that were appointed not elected and had no real power – but they were all we had after Jack Koselleck died. I seem to recall Adam Court in particular being very vocal in his outrage at the idea that these unelected individuals, with no political experience, were suddenly leading the county. You’ll probably not be shocked to learn that I can’t seem to find any record of this. He is now using the Master Councillors’ brief rule as an example of how Rookpot and the rest of Farynshire have recently accepted a new form of Council.

Apparently in these troubled times we need more decisive and proactive leadership. And this proactive leadership can only be achieved by reducing the number of administrators and executives making decisions for the rest of us. And so we have the Rookpot Executive, made up of four Divisions, each of which will be run by one of the existing Councillors (for continuity purposes). Anyone want to place any bets? I’ll eat my keyboard if Second Councillor Beatrice Slarrock and Third Councillor Gideon Sayce are not two of the four. Slarrock could not be wedged further up the First Councillor’s confidence, and dear Rigel is not going to dump his brother. The two remaining positions will no doubt be filled by Councillors who campaigned for Sayce during the run up to the election.

ETA: the Head of Divisions were confirmed this morning:

Head of Legal, Defence and Justice Division – Gideon Sayce
Head of Rookpot Division – Beatrice Slarrock
Head of Borders and Interior Division – Horace Smout
Head of Dedicated Public Service Division – Aster Swancott

What this means, of course, is that seven Councillors have joined the ranks of the disemployed. Ninth Councillor Edgar Bebb has already made public statements about how the re-structuring is undemocratic. The Council is a result of a democratically held election, and this essentially a coup. A representative from the prestigious law form, Whittaker and Piper, has been defending the re-structure on the Local News television and radio programmes, and in a very long and overwrought piece in the Sentry.

These new Divisions have a new focus: the Office of the First Councillor’s priorities ie. the wolvern. Why the Council could not provide this, or adapt to provide this, has not been explicitly explained. But apparently the Executive was needed to take on new duties and responsibilities.

Edgar Bebb is mounting a legal challenge – in fact, he’s mounting several, because he is taking on the Disemployment and the establishment of the Appeasers too. But he says that this one is taking priority because the “re-structuring of Rookpot Council is a blatant attack on the founding freedoms, beliefs, tolerance and democracy of our city and our county”.

He also claims that it can’t possibly be legal because it happened so damn fast. There should be consultation, announcements, mootings and so forth. The dismantling of one of the central pillars of our civic authority should be discussed and debated. I suspect Whit and Pips have covered their bases in this regard by explicitly using he words re-structure and re-organisation, as though things are just being shuffled around rather than having their nature fundamentally changed. The law firm have also hinted in their statements and articles that this is a temporary situation, an emergency measure to deal with these extraordinary and fast-moving times and challenges. We shall see (where is by cynical font?).

Ninth Councillor Edgar Bebb (he was elected to the position, and will not forego the title until the public have voted him out of office) has this blog’s full backing. The Office of the First Councillor needs high profile opposition. And although Edgar Bebb has his work cut out by taking on Whit and Pips (and Adam Court, and now the entire Executive as well), we will continue to publish his progress and offer him our full support.

 

Stay safe, vigilant and always ask questions.   Ammaceadda.

Travels through Farynshire: Hen Ffydd

These travelblogs were written by Mabel Govitt before all the changes in Rookpot.  I’m going to continue to publish them as a reminder of what joy Farynshire once was, and the hope it can  be again.
                                                                                                               Ammaceadda

 

Hen Ffydd is the last station on the line, and the only station in the mountains. It sits at the base of Skinny Peak.

The hills become steeper and more forbidding the closer you get to the Daggerrock Range. First you pass through the gentle ambling Wessen Downs, and these lead to the Bloon Peaks, which just about prepare you for the inhospitable Daggerrock Mountains themselves.

There are five Peaks, all different from each other. Skinny is the most heavily populated because of Hen Ffydd, and tapers to a point that is usually shrouded in cloud. Next to it is short velveted Gwyrddlas, whose slopes are covered in forests. Just behind Gwyrddlas are Mytten (Musril for mountain) Fach and Mytten Fawr, both imposing dark jagged heaps. Mytten Fach looks as though the very top was snapped off by an impossible giant. The last Peak is Tlws, known for its waterfalls, deep still lakes and rushing mountain streams.

Summer is a good time to see them for their individual beauty, with the added bonus that the weather is at its most reliable. In winter, of course, they are covered in snow and those crazy people who enjoy hurling themselves down cold, icy precipices on small bits of wood. In July only Mytten Fawr was capped in snow. Tlws’ waterfalls were sparkling ribbons in the bright sunshine.

Despite being the main urban area in the mountains Hen Ffydd is tiny. Maybe it was just the shock of coming straight from Rookpot, but I think both of us were expecting … more.

The station only has one line, one platform, and one wooden hut with a low roof, shutters, hanging baskets overrun with dead geraniums, and no visible opening hours. This is where the track ends; this is as far as you can go into the mountains by train. From here you hike or chance what pass for roads in the jagged peaks, either by car or on one of the occasional death buses that make the trip during the summer months. On the other side of the mountains is the rest of England, but this was not the way to get to it. There were always proposals put in front of Rookpot Council on the feasibility of building a viable, reliable and safe transport system through the mountains, but the expense, planning permissions, logistics, and actual reality of attempting such a mammoth project meant that nothing had happened so far.

You can see all four of the other Bloon Peaks from a Here Marks the Spot on the platform, and get a good sense of their individual characters. Turn around and you face the gently rising green flanks of Skinny Peak, the Peak with the most villages on it. Hen Ffydd itself is all uphill from the station: no flat bits to be seen. The main street, for want of a better word, is wide enough for two cars to scrape by, and it is laid with almost-black cobbles that glitter when hit by direct sunlight. The buildings are square, squat and stolid; a lot of them look as though they have been hewn from massive boulders. The different coloured roof tiles, shutters and doors must be a welcome warmth in the winter when everything is cold and grey. In summer they complement the splashes of colour of the flowers and butterflies in the meadows between the Peaks. The shutters are thrown open and geraniums and posies shine brightly in the window boxes. Old signs hang over the door of any building offering any kind of trade: the village shop has one with a painted basket, the butcher’s next door has ominous looking cleaver, the souvenir shop a jester’s head, the baker’s a loaf etc etc.

At the crossroads at the end of the street was the oldest-looking building: a heap of rockery and aged crooked timbers, with a faded dark shape on its creaking sign that could once have been a four-legged winged dragon – and the only reason I could even guess at that was because the red writing over the door announced that the building was called The Dragon.

“That’s the pub,” announced Felix, from the guide book. “The only pub in the village,” he added, in a poor attempt at a Welsh accent.

“And where’s our B&B?”

“It’s called The Last Rest, and it’s down – up – Cheesepig Run.”

“You are making that up!”

“Nope. It was named after a pig escaped from the abattoir’s van with a large amount of cheese.”

“The pig stole some cheese?”

“Sounds like it. Do pigs eat cheese?”

“Let’s find the place first, then we can ask.”

Finding places in Hen Ffydd is not difficult. There are about five streets a car could get down before they became narrow alleyways which then lead to open mountainside. Cheesepig Run was one of the wider avenues, and it seemed to mainly consist of B&B s.

The Last Rest had green-blue tiles, shutters and front door, all newly painted, and fragrant bluebells in the window boxes. It was, appropriately I suppose, the last B&B on the street that ended abruptly in a large heap of loose scree.

“The Last Rest sounds like a funeral home,” sad Felix.

“I assume that’s not what they were going for.” I knocked on the door.

An old woman who was smaller than me answered. Her snowy hair was arranged in a tight, neat topknot on the crown of her head. Dark grey eyes were sunken in folds of deep wrinkles. She beamed up at us and grabbed at Felix’s backpack, hoisting it over her shoulders as though it was full of feathers. If she did run a funeral home, it was a very cheerful one.

“You’re from Rookpot, yes? Just got in? Found us OK?”

“Yes, thank you,” said Felix, clearly not sure whether he should try and reclaim his backpack.

“Trains OK? They should be OK at this time of year. Winter really messes with ‘em. They can’t cope with our snows. My name’s Bea, Bea Proke. We spoke on the phone, didn’t we? You’re Felix. So you must be Mabel. I had an Aunt Mabel.”

I get that a lot.

We signed in, paid our deposit, and Bea Proke insisted on showing us to our rooms up a flight of stairs that turned sharply at ninety degrees halfway up. Felix insisted on taking his backpack back. Bea continued chattering throughout all of this, and it was a bit of a relief when she closed the door and left me alone in my room.

It was nice enough: small, floral, clean, with a wash basin but no ensuite. The window overlooked the lower slopes of Hen Ffydd and the countryside beyond. I could see the railway line, and wished a steam train would puff into view to complete the scene.

Felix and I met in the lounge on the ground floor that was next to the cramped dining room, and had doors out to the small back garden. The lounge was crowded with threadbare armchairs and small sofas. Watercolours depicting various mountain scenes covered the faded pink wallpaper. A bookcase was crammed with guides, maps and books other travellers had left here over the years.

“Did you ask about the pig?”

Felix was studying his Walking and Wine in the Bloon Peaks, and did not look up. “You have to work up to these things.”

I sat next to him on a sofa. “Found something for tomorrow?”

“There’s a trek across the valley to Gwyrddlas – that’s where the vineyards are. We can get wine and honey, have lunch, see what’s there. Shouldn’t be too taxing.”

“Sounds good. Are there any gourmet delights in Hen Ffydd we can try tonight?”

“No Michelin stars that they boast about, but there is a place that claims it has the best beer and sausages in the whole of Farynshire.”

“More pigs.”

 

By Mabel Govitt (with special permission from Ammaceadda)

The expulsion of Botolf ken Geirolf os okto from Rookpot

I think we all saw this coming.  But it’s still a sad day.

 

Remember when Rookpot used to pride itself on being friendly and welcoming? Cosmopolitan? The gateway to Farynshire? We’re done with that now.

Indiscriminately ousting any and all opposition from positions of authority and power? I’m sure this has been done elsewhere in history, and never with good results!

And opposition to what, in this case? The other Peoples?

I don’t think it’s controversial to say that Geirolf and the Bloon Peaks Clan initially extended a hand (paw?) of friendship. Instead of seizing it, Sayce and his Council responded with suspicion and ultimately hostility. And it has culminated in this:

Geirolf’s own son, Botolf, acting as an ambassador for the wolvern, was expelled from Rookpot just weeks after the Disemployment. He was escorted down the tor by no less than six Appeasers and ordered not to return to the city. It wasn’t stated what would happen if he did return.

The reason for this? The official statement from the Office of the First Councillor is that with wolvern relation worsening in the mountains it was “unsafe” (my sarcastic quote marks) to continue to allow Blaeze’s brother free reign in Rookpot.

How will this be received by Geirolf and, in particular, Blaeze? Sayce et al are focussed on Rookpot – but the decisions they make in the city will have massive ramifications across the whole county.

Before Geirolf and his sons came to Rookpot, there had been no contact between the Peoples (or at least, between humans and the other Peoples) for over a hundred years. We’ve always known that there were wolvern in the mountains, seafolk in the ocean, and that Oes and Gnivil were home to foresteens. Probably most of us thought these were folk tales, kept alive by the tourist board and old village folk. Or at least that’s what we wanted to think. Because there was always enough evidence to prove the existence of the Peoples. But they were just part of Farynshire in the same way that Musril and the mountains are.

But now that the Bloon Peaks Clan want a relationship with the humans of Rookpot – well, that changes everything. Everyone has seen the wolvern on television, meeting the Council, wandering around the city streets. Botolf himself was a familiar sight in the centre of Rookpot, as he got to know our city and acted as his father’s representative. He answered questions, posed for photographs, and was genuinely curious about human life. It was endearing to see this gentle giant (when standing on his hind legs Botolf reaches an impressive six foot eight inches in height, and wolvern can look quite fierce to those that don’t know them) surrounded by initially wary – but later fearless – groups of children who all wanted to touch him and speak with him. I wonder what those children will be thinking when they hear that their wolvern friend has been thrown out of the city.

We will endeavour to find out what is happening in the mountains.

In the meantime, Botolf will be missed. And I, for one, fear the consequences of his expulsion.

 

Stay safe, vigilant and always ask questions. Ammaceadda.

Travels through Farynshire: On a train

These travelblogs were written by Mabel Govitt before all the changes in Rookpot.  I’m going to continue to publish them as a reminder of what joy Farynshire once was, and the hope it can  be again.
                                                                                                               Ammaceadda

 

As we took over an entire table in the carriage, Felix flicked through Walking and Wine in the Bloon Peaks that he had bought in the Beech.

“We have to go to a vineyard,” he said. “And they grow citrus fruits in some places, so there are lemon and orange groves.”

“I’m surprised they get enough sun for that.”

Felix shrugged. “They must do: I don’t think any of it is grown in greenhouses. And I have to get some honey. They sell honey from the mountains in Rookpot, and I’d love to talk to the beekeepers about it. A lot of the cakes in Lacey’s have mountain honey in them.”

“Does it say anything about the best place to try and see wolvern?” I asked.

Felix looked up wolvern in the index at the back of the book. “I think we need to go further in to the mountains,” he said, after glancing at the relevant pages. “Or maybe ask in one of the local pubs if anyone has seen one. I doubt we’ll see any, though – it’s not like they’re just running through the forests.”

“We’d should try, though.”

And thus the duel quests of our Tour were established. Felix’s mission was to explore the many and varied local culinary delights Farynshire had to offer, and mine was the county’s rich culture and history.

I hadn’t really thought about the Peoples themselves when planning this trip, but we were going to the mountains, the forests and the coast – we might see wolvern, foresteens and seafolk. Felix said he had never seen a seafolken – and he had grown up right by the sea.

The only individuals I had met who said they had seen any of the Peoples were guest speakers and presenters on my course. The Peoples were elusive to the point of becoming semi-mythical. Everyone knew that they were out there, or had been at some point, but few had ever seen a live one. There were academics at the university who had built their careers around studying one or more of the Peoples, and all of them had given talks on our Local History module. But, from what other Professors hinted at, these academics and their chosen areas of interest were not highly thought of in academia: they were seen as chasing myths and legends, rumours and fairytales. But I, as an outsider, found the Peoples fascinating, and was convinced we would see packs of wolvern, groves of foresteens, and … shoals (?) of seafolk.

The train bounced gently along through the lush green countryside. The sky was a clear blue dome, the thick grass rippled in waves in the soft breeze, the meadows were full of wild flowers vibrant with celebratory colour. We rushed passed a couple of fields filled with new red and violet poppies. Small woods dotted the fields, and clear slow moving streams sparkled in the distance. Occasionally we could see the distant blue wall of the  mountains when the train came to a bend. This was a direct train to Hen Ffydd so there was no stopping at the tiny villages we blared through – a good thing too, otherwise we might have been tempted to get out and wander around.

The plan was to spend a couple of days in the mountains, not going any further than the Bloon Peaks. We would stay in a B&B in Hen Fffydd, the last station on the line. The train should pull in during late afternoon.

 

By Mabel Govitt (with special permission from Ammaceadda)

Wolvern in Rookpot

If you only read the newspapers or watched Rookpot Today (and, to be fair, had only started doing both fairly recently) you’d be forgiven for thinking that Rookpot was under constant and brutal attack by packs of vicious wolvern.

I can reassure you that this is not the case.

We always said we wanted to keep our sources and reporters anonymous to protect them from the First Councillor’s Appeasers, but our source for this post explicitly asked us to name him.  The information in this post comes straight from Botolf ken Geirolf os okto.

Botolf is the son of Geirolf, Leader of the Bloon Peaks Clan, who came in peace, reconciliation and hope to visit our Council.  You’ve probably seen him on the News.

I should provide a little more context for our non-Farynshire readers.

Wolvern

Like the foresteens and seafolk, the wolvern are often regarded as Peoples of myth and legend.  They live in the Daggerrock Mountain range that borders the county of Farynshire from the rest of England.

They are quite real.  The wolvern were the last of the Peoples to break contact with Rookpot.  They retreated into the Daggerrock Mountains at the start of the twentieth century, long after the foresteens and seafolk had given up on us.  Representatives from each of the Peoples used to sit on Rookpot Council, and those seats have remained symbolically empty for over a hundred years (there are rumours Sayce has had these seats removed).  There are photos and newspaper clippings, even some very shaky black and white footage, of the last Council Meeting attended  by wolvern.  Despite what the Tourist Board have long insinuated, these artefacts are completely genuine.

This is why it was something of a shock to a lot of people when wolvern showed up in Rookpot a few months ago.  And now it’s hard to believe that we ever doubted their existence.

To look upon, wolvern resemble wolves – inasmuch as they have fur, wolfish heads, claws and a tail.  But they are not wolves.  And when you see one in the flesh they don’t really look much like wolves.

Rookpot Museum had a wonderful exhibition called The Cold Earth dedicated to wolvern just as Sayce took office.  It displayed everyday items from wolvern society brought back by the expedition teams, and artefacts gifted to the city by Geirolf.  It provided a great insight into the make up of wolvern society – or, at least, the Bloon Peaks Clan, and Geirolf assures us that other wolvern Clans are also led by a Leader and have quite a strict hierarchal society.  They are quite a spiritual people, believing in three Fates that can act as guides throughout life and ultimately control all destinies.  If they have any religion it revolves around these Fates.  They extensively mine the mountains in which they live, and the exhibition had some beautiful examples of wolvern jewellery and decoration.  Of course, when Sayce came to power the exhibition was closed down.  And I think anyone who worked on it was Disemployed.

They speak a variant Musril – which got scholars and academics very excited.  Musril is Farynshire’s language, mainly spoken (by humans) in Riversouth, but now we know that the other Peoples speak it too.  It’s a communal language allowing us all to communicate.  What do the foresteen and seafolk variants sound like?

Of massacres

So, we had two.

One involved the cult of our previous First Councillor.  He and his – let’s call them associates (because, honestly, I don’t know the correct term) – were killed in their country mansion just outside Rookpot.  The papers called it the Red Room of Death.  The perpetrators were never caught.  The motives were never established beyond, well, cult.  And, truth be told, we don’t really need to discuss it much here when we’re interested in wolvern.  But it is necessary to mention because it directly affects how we dealt with the wolvern.  And, bizarrely, it happened just a few days after the other massacre.

This second massacre involved about fifteen wolvern at Rookpot Train Station, and is known as the Train Station Massacre.  These were the first wolvern to set foot in Rookpot since before the First World War.  No one knew why they were there, what they wanted, or how they had died – though it looked like a violent and bloody death from the pictures on the news.

No one knows – still – who or what carried out those twin massacres.  Although suspicion has fallen upon the creature that flew out of the Gorge just before First Councillor Sayce took office (I’ll write about that shortly).

So all of this craziness (and I’ve given you the bare bones, really) led to Rookpot having no Council, and the wolvern wanting answers for the deaths of so many of their Clan in a human city.

Enter Geirolf.

He arrived with his sons, Blaeze and Botolf , not for recrimination or blame, but for understanding and with the possibility of friendship.  He met with the interim Council (as this was just before the First Councillor elections).  They seemed to get on well.  Geirolf and his sons attended Council meetings, appeared in the local press, visited around the city, and gifts were exchanged.  Botolf stayed in Rookpot and a delegation from the Museum went to the Bloon Peaks Clan in the mountains as a sort of cultural exchange.  It really did seem like we could re-establish relations with the wolvern.

But then a couple of things happened.

I should stress again how both Geirolf and Botolf wanted nothing but peace and friendship between their Clan and Rookpot.  Botolf is learning English, and cooperating totally with the Musril academics’ research – they love him!  But Blaeze, Geirolf’s older son, was more interested in finding out who was to blame for the deaths of the wolvern at the train station.  He also brought up the very old grievance of land “stolen” by humans that should rightfully belong to the wolvern (this is the larger issue of human expansion into the mountains, into wolvern territory), and he wanted the Council to address this.  Even though he was aggressive and demanding, it seemed likely that he could have been talk down or mollified by his father, brother, the liaison staff at the Museum, and the interim Council.  Botolf is confident that his brother holds a minority view within the Clan, and that the rest of the wolvern Geirolf spoke for were more curious than aggressive toward humans.

But then Rigel Sayce was elected First Councillor.

He had campaigned on an, if not anti, then definitely suspicious of wolvern platform.  And his loud and tubthumping rhetoric fuelled Blaeze’s antagonism further.  Things came to a head during a Council Meeting.  Geirolf had already returned to the Bloon Peaks, and Botolf was unable to calm his brother down.  And there was nobody to restrain the new First Councillor either.  The row ended with Sayce insisting he would never consider any old claims for land in the mountains, let alone wolvern claims, and then he had Blaeze thrown out of Rookpot.

And that is where we are now.  There have been no wolvern attacks on Rookpot, or any other human towns or cities, despite the reports coming out from the Office of the First Councillor.

Everyone who wants to establish good relations with the wolvern (and are hopeful that this can lead on to establishing communication with the seafolk and foresteens) is hopeful Geirolf can keep Blaeze’s wilder impulses in check.  The real issue is: who is going to keep the First Councillor and his advisers in check?

 

Stay safe, vigilant and always ask questions.   Ammaceadda.

Mass expulsion of academics and Council staff

This can’t be legal, surely?

Rookpot Today and Rookpot News are reporting that First Councillor Rigel Sayce has issued a decree “disemploying” academics from the university and staff working in the Council Chambers.

According to a Council statement, read out by a representative from the reputable law form, Whittaker and Piper, the action was taken against thirty one academics and twenty five Council employees for propagating lies and mis-truths regarding the re-establishment of relations between Rookpot and the wolvern Clans (although at this stage the only Clan to have sent representatives to Rookpot is the Bloon Peaks Clan).

We have not seen the statement, but some quotes that appeared in the media include:

 

“We need a united stance to deal with this unprecedented contact with a species alien to our own … At this time we cannot afford disunity and frivolous debate …”

“Funding needs to be directed to approved research and rigorous investigation at this crucial time … Academics and researchers are encouraged to take this opportunity to apply for funds for research, and are encouraged to approach the new Council Department, the Office for Inquiry Mandate, with their proposals and ideas …”

“ … The First Councillor has taken the bold and brave decision to re-structure the Council Chambers to become a true public-serving service, representing the united front we present to outsiders …”

 

Yeah … a lot of bureaucraticspeak there, folks.

According to the reports, the affected “disemployed” were told at the start of the day that their services were no longer required. More than a few were forcibly escorted from their offices by the First Councillor’s new Appeasers.

The Schools most affected in the university are the School of Farynshire and its People and the School of Research, Myth and Legend. The Council Departments where most staff have been removed from are the Civic House and the Tourism Office. The Office of the Seal has been closed down completely.

As of yet none of the newly vacant positions have been filled. There is no word as to whether they ever will be.

There are demonstrations in Dameg Square against this action – and we will be joining the protestors. Numerous law suits are being filed against wrongful dismissal. But the Council’s law form is Whittaker and Piper – so I, for one, hold out no hope of any success in this area – but we will continue to report on the attempts, at least.

 

Stay safe, vigilant and always ask questions.   Ammaceadda.

Travels through Farynshire: EassenBren

reallyThese travelblogs were written by Mabel Govitt before all the changes in Rookpot.  I’m going to continue to publish them as a reminder of what joy Farynshire once was, and the hope it can  be again.

                                                                                                               Ammaceadda

 

I realise we are already three posts into our Grand Tour and we haven’t left Rookpot.  I promise we will!  But we have to quickly stop off at EassenBren first.

If Dameg Square is the administrative and cultural centre of the city (and the county), EassenBren is its artistic heart.

It sits on a slope.  The Raven Theatre overlooks the Square from its elevated position.  It has been inspired by the temples of Ancient Greece, but each classical pillar is a bright block of colour: rich purple, blood red, sky blue, sun yellow, lime green.  On either side of it down the slope are two rows of very different buildings.

On one side is a terrace of five storey, pastel coloured Georgian houses, with baskets on chains hanging outside the front doors that pedestrians have to duck to avoid.  The baskets are full of geraniums, peonies and sometimes herbs.  These face the artists’ workshops: protected by a long roof covered in slate tiles.  The smells of oils, paints and clays waft around the Square.

In the middle of the Square is EassenBren’s fountain.  Dameg’s fountain was designed by an architect who really liked black oblongs.  EassenBren’s is a perpetual work in progress.  It is an evergrowing collection of earthen artworks produced by the craftsmen in the covered workshops.  Every artist creates a small figurine, usually a grotesque caricature of themselves, which is placed in the fountain.  There are also some larger pieces loitering near or in the water.  A carpet of coins from all over the world and from different eras glint under the water.

Felix headed straight for The Lilac Beech.

This is the lavender building in the middle of the Georgian terrace.  A faded wooden sign, adorned with what looks like a peeling painting of a bunch of grapes but is more probably a peeling painting of a tree, hangs over the door.  The large cross-latticed windows display piles of pristine books, and posters advertising upcoming events.  As Felix pushed the door open the bell above us tinkled and we were hit by the smell of new books.

The ground floor of the shop is open plan with displays scattered throughout.  Every wall is lined with books, floor to ceiling, except at the far end where there is a large fireplace, occupied by a huge earthen pot filled with rose and lily petals in the summer.  It was surrounded by squashy armchairs, wingback chairs, and a few beanbags.  The children’s area is on the far side of the shop from the fireplace, strewn with cardboard books and toys on colourful fluffy rugs.  Rising up from the middle of the shop is a wrought iron staircase wound tight like a corkscrew.  The door to the courtyard at the back of the shop was open to let the warm summer sun in.

It was tempting to sit by the cool fireplace, browse a few books, and maybe have a cup of sweet tea, but we had a train to catch.

Felix bought Walking and Wine in the Bloon Peaks, The Living Forests, and Meyricks, Musril and Mermaids – all useful guides for where we were going.

There was no need for us to rush.  Our train would not depart for another twenty minutes.

I think the best way – certainly the most dramatic way – to leave Rookpot is via The Drop, which helpfully also leads down to the train station.

On maps, The Drop is Newton Hill, the steepest street in the city.  There are handrails on either pavement to help pedestrians stay upright.  There are frequent petitions to the Council to have a chairlift installed, but this is not considered a good use of public money, and would negatively impact upon the medieval aesthetics; and besides, exercise was good for people.  I do feel for anyone who has to work on The Drop, though, especially the baristas at Lacey’s, the coffee shop that sits at the top, looking straight down the hill.

We decided we had time to get an iced bun from Lacey’s.  The important thing about the buns is not the flavour – often not discernible beyond sweet and bordering on sickening – but the colour.  You can request any colour of icing.  Felix chose turquoise; I always had forest green.

Walking down The Drop with dignity takes practice.  I will strongly advise now, though no one will heed my heartfelt warning, not to attempt this whilst drunk, no matter how much money is involved in the dare. Doing it sober is challenge enough. Those of a nervous disposition use the rail; the more experienced manage to keep upright by themselves; children run and quite often do not end up in a crying heap at the bottom.  Perhaps a wiser investment than a chairlift would be crash mats at the foot of The Drop.

We landed safely enough and made our way to the grand Victorian train station, finishing off the iced buns as we boarded the train.

When Felix had said, right at the start of planning the trip, that we were going to take the long way round to his family home on the coast, he wasn’t kidding.  The first place we were going to from Rookpot was the Daggerrock Mountains – in the exact opposite direction from the coast.

 

Mabel Govitt (by kind permission of Ammaceadda)

Travels through Farynshire: Dameg Square

These travelblogs were written by Mabel Govitt before all the changes in Rookpot.  I’m going to continue to publish them as a reminder of what joy Farynshire once was, and the hope it can  be again.

                                                                                                               Ammaceadda

 

The most famous city in Farynshire, possibly the only place anyone over the mountains has heard of, is Rookpot.

It sprawls over a steep tor that is cut in two by a deep dark gorge, along the bottom of which flow the cold waters of the Darkflint River.

When people think of Rookpot it’s the gorge that cuts the tor in half that comes to mind.  Then it’s the Squares surrounded by cobbled streets and Cuts.  This medieval heart of the city is great to explore: there’s always a new boutique, gallery or bookstore to discover in the warren of narrow alleys that no car could ever get through.  That’s the other thing everyone notices: all the bikes, scooters, and lately segues and blades – because these are the only modes of transport that can go everywhere in the city.  Buses have to skirt the outside of the medieval centre in the wider modern roads built.  Trains come in at the city’s only station, at the base of the tor.  We had decided that this is how we would leave Rookpot.

If students are lucky they will get accommodation on Wessentor – which is the half the city with the Squares, history and night life.  Felix and I had been in halls at the bottom of Wessentor, in our first year, which is where we had met.  In our second year we had had to move and the only affordable place we could find was on Eassentor.  Eassentor is not a bad place to live or anything, but it’s just so ordinary compared to what’s over the gorge.  There are streets of terraced houses on Wessentor’s lower slopes, as well as some discreet luxury apartments near the centre, and the very expensive villas close to the summit of the tor.  But most Rookpotians lived in the dull suburbia on Eassentor, which was encroaching slowly and inevitably off the tor and into the countryside below.

Neither of us wanted to leave Rookpot from Eassentor.  So, with our backpacks making us look like tourists in our own city, we made our way across one of the many bridges that span the gorge, and went to Dameg Square.

Dameg Square is the centre of Rookpot in every sense.  It is halfway up the tor and the gorge cuts through its ancient cobbles and the neat rectangle of grass that is crowded in the summer and muddy in the winter.

I have spent a lot of time in this Square.  The Museum, with its wide white steps, and the Library stand next to each other, and face the ancient Cathedral (the foundations of which were laid in the thirteenth century) and the Council Chambers.  The green in the centre of the Square is home to a solitary oak tree that seemed to be dead for all of the time I had been at university; it is bent almost double, long branches dangling down into the gorge.

The Square is always busy, night or day.  We bought slushes from Rhewogydd, whose pink van chugging on the edge of the gorge is a sure sign of summer.  Rhewogydd had been providing ice slushes to the Council workers, families, tourists, and students hustling through Dameg Square for at least twenty five years.  His ever-growing menu is bound in a novel-sized tome.  I recommend the cherry and rum for pure velvet indulgence, but if you want refreshing coolness on a sweltering hot day – and you don’t fancy jumping into the fountain – you have to go with mint and cucumber.

We sat on the wide Museum steps to drink our slushes and people-watched.  It was a hot day in June so the bustle was a little fatigued, except in the fountain where children and students splashed.  The office workers, shirt sleeves rolled up to their elbows, ties untied, looked like they were having the least fun during their brief escape from their offices.

A story time event had just finished in the Library, and the parents with prams were milling about outside, the adults chattering loudly, their small children chasing each other around in the safety of the Square.  When I had first arrived in Rookpot as a fresher I had been horrified at the sight of small children – or drunk students, or Council workers staring at their phones – shrieking and playing excitedly close to a chasm plunging hundreds of feet to a fierce river below.  But I had gone completely native, and was confident that no child would fall.

There was nothing – no barrier, fence, not even cones – to stop anyone from plummeting into the gorge, yet nobody ever seemed to.  Only seven people had ever died this way in the whole history of the city.  The gorge was narrow in Dameg Square, and brazen Rookpotians casually jumped from Eassentor to Wessentor on their way to work, hardly breaking their stride.

The exhibition in the Museum was Coastal Treasures, advertised on the listless banners hanging over the steps.  I had been a week before, and it was an interesting exploration of the expeditions and research focussed on the coves and beaches along Farynshire’s coast between Tropsog and Sylnmouth, and the shipwrecks and treasures that had been discovered beneath the waves.  Felix was inspired to go scuba diving when we reached the coast.  I was less keen, and hoped he would forget this notion by the time we reached the sea.  He was also inspired to buy a few guide books, which I was much more on board with.

Sipping on our slushes, we made our way along the edge of the gorge to the Cut that linked Dameg Square with EassenBren.  Rookpot was riddled with these Cuts: long, winding, red-bricked alleys lit by old iron lanterns even on a sunny summer day.  This was the most famous and well-used Cut as it linked the two most important Squares.

By Mabel Govitt (with special permission from Ammaceadda)