The Chronicle

of the month of Pipetal in the year 144

The Great Fire which destroyed most of the Wards of Cripplegate, Avigon and Faringdon has now died down. The smouldering ruins of top of Faringdon hill still dominate the skyline and much of the City's thoughts. A vast funeral pyre lies outside Cripplegate and hundreds of citizens are believed to have perished. The exact cause of the fire remains unknown; it is understood to have started near the top of Faringdon hill, although rumours of the fire starting in a number of places have led some people to suggest it was deliberately set. Throughout the night of the fire many acts of bravery were performed. The Witanmoot Guard led the fight to contain the fire, and without their heroic efforts a far greater area of the city would have been destroyed. Within the area of the fire Cllr Firethorn led the evacuation through Dowgate, returning many time to rescue stricken families. Martial Law was declared during the night and the Witanmoot bell tolled for the first time since the Civil war to summon all citizens to the Marching Watch.

Lady Cox in a speech form the Mootstone the day after the fire made the following announcements:

"First of all I would like to thank everyone for the strenuous efforts they have made on behalf of the City since the fire. My thanks especially go to Sheriff Dixon for collating the suggestions that have come forth since the great fire and to Alderman Shefford for producing a revised budget.

I have a number of announcements:

His Majesty the King has most graciously made a gift of £5,000 to the city to assist us in our moment of need. I am sure all of the City will join me in thanking His Majesty for this most valuable assistance.

Three cheers for the King.....

I have decided to make the following appointments to a crisis committee: Law and Order (Midnight to Midday), Dixon; Law and Order (Midday to Midnight), Perignon; Shelter for the Homeless, Avery; Food provision for the city and feeding of the refugees, Derwent; Planning, title deeds and building priorities, Truestaff; Orphans and Pensioners, Drumm; Drinking supplies for refugees, Firethorn; Assistant to the committee, Monterey.

I will take direct responsibility for Guild issues and the provision of the Kings taxation. All other responsibilities remain as determined in the committee elections. Committee Chairs and members of the Crisis Committee will produce budget proposals this month. In the interim Alderman Shefford will administer spending directly.

It is my intent to lift rule by decree at Midsummer. There will be no Sheriff's election. Sheriffs Dixon and Perignon will hold office until Midsummer 145. All Guild prices are fixed at their pre fire rates. Construction guilds will provide me with proposals for how they intend to manage the increased workload which I will be placing upon them.

I announce a general amnesty. All prisoners are hereby released. The Dow entrance to the city is opened.

The standing watch is disbanded. The Wharf guard and Witanmoot guard are merged. The complement of the new Witanmoot guard will be extended by a further 50 men."

The Chronicle would like to add its congratulations to the people who worked to save the City and to echo the thanks of the people to His Majesty for his most generous gift. Citizens are warned that the Sheriffs are pursuing a very vigorous line against looting. The Witanmoot Guard have already slain a number of suspected looters. The Chroniclers have been told to remind the city's councillors that sedition carries the death penalty and that, with the Witanmoot suspended, they have no right of open speech.

The most immediate problem facing the city is the homeless. The bitter winter which has been gripping the city thankfully broke the day after the fire, but the spring is still tentative and many people still risk death sleeping outside. The guilds are housing their own but this still leaves hundreds homeless, without possessions, or the means to feed themselves. The crisis committee must deal with this problem if another disaster is not to occur.

Tension with the floating market remains high. The closing of the Dow entrance has led to a number of incidents and prior to the fire full conflict between the Ward of Dowgate guard and the Solistel seemed inevitable. Lady Cox's decree reopening the Dow Gate has done much to relieve the pressure, but with the City in such a serious situation many fear that the criminal elements within the market will take this opportunity to strike against the city. Opinions in Dowgate are also running high, with the heavy hand of the Witanmoot Guard very much in evidence. Shortly before her arrest, Cllr Jocelyn Barns of Dowgate told the Chronicle, "Lady Cox has betrayed the ward of Dowgate, first she opposed Alderman Fytton's motion which would once and for all rid us of these creatures, and now she uses the excuse of the fire to overrule democratic decision of the Witanmoot and for us to admit these scum into our ward".

At the last council meeting before the fire the Witanmoot passed a motion revising the budgeting as follows: "In the month of Jasmarill the Chairman of each committee will produce proposals for expenditure in the year from Midsummer. In the month of Heliora, the Chairman of Treasury will propose and the full Council will determine the division of money between committees and levels of taxation. In the month of Menderal the chairman of each committee will propose and full council will determine each committee's spending plans. Each committee shall be responsible for the spending of its budget. Any spending beyond that approved in Heliora must be approved by the full council, the members of the Committee being held responsible for any unauthorised overspending."

This important motion will have major repercussions on future budgets; Lady Cox has declared her intention to lift Martial Law at Midsummer, and many Committee Chairs have been seen desperately negotiation for votes to defend their budgets from the cuts which must inevitably follow the fire. The revised budget produced by Alderman Shefford is rumoured to show £8,000, mainly resulting from the loss of income from the wards of Cripplegate, Avigon and Faringdon. and the reduced payments from the guilds some of whom have been devastated by the fire.