"I'm sure you will all join me in raising your glasses to Piet, and wishing him well with his future ambitions!" The dean raised her own glass high, and tapped it against that of the man next to her. There was an answering thunder of chinks and chunks, several shouts of "Good fortune!", and a faux-horrified cry of "paragons preserve our poor city!" that started a ripple of laughter, because there is one in every crowd.

"Who do you think the new Chair will be?" asked Maria as they sat back down. Prince Luija rolled her eyes.

"The man's still in the room!" she said in mock outrage. "His seat's still warm!"

Maria waved it away as if it was of no consequence. "Still, it's a prestigious Chair. There must be half a dozen or more architectural types pushing and shoving in the wings."

"Von Carstein will eat them all as a light picnic," said the Prince confidently. "Especially as I understand a certain influential southern Prince has dropped a few honeyed words in the ear of the Dean about the matter at around the same time she was dropping a quite shocking number of crowns into the College coffers."

Maria snorted and pretended to study the trays of canapes that were appearing along the table. "What I wouldn't give for some actual food at one of these things," she muttered in an undertone. "Something substantial. A roast fish. Some actual sausages instead of... whatever those things on the sticks were. A nice bowl of pilf. I spend three hours eating and still end up hungry at the end."

Prince Luija chuckled. "Anyway, I'm much more interested in the other thing the Dean was talking about. The plans for the new faculties, the extra wing on the library..."

"And the new Chair of course." Maria spoke round a mouthful of pastry, snow-crab, and spiced ollypolg, indelicately spraying a few crumbs as she did so.

"Indeed," said Prince Luija. "It was glossed over a little, but I spotted d'Bauser's ears pricking up, and one of the Butchers practically choked on an olive. It's fascinating that they're proposing Tally of the Votes rather than decision of the Senators don't you think?"

It was Maria's turn to chuckle. "You think so? You think it's surprising that they favour the people who keep giving them money over the people who broadly... don't?"

"A good point well made, I suppose. If you look at it from that angle."

There was more speech making and clinking. Prince Luija met the gaze of Katarzyna Von Carstein across the banquet hall, and the pair raised their glasses at each other.

"Cities need buildings, indeed." she said quietly, and smiled a wry smile to herself.

Cities Need Buildings

UrizenMagician.jpg
Click for audio version
  • The Holberg University College of Engineering wishes to expand
  • They have offered to make their services available to The League - provided their challenge can be met

The College of Engineering is part of the University of Holberg and regarded as the finest place to study the practical arts of actually building things anywhere in the Empire and arguably anywhere in the world. Oh, there are rivals - the newest and certainly the flashiest being that unique structure built to house the koboldi of Adamant, but the faculty at Holberg University are not unduly concerned. The novelty of koboldi-built structures will wear off eventually and they will still be there. And of course the engineers of Holberg can work equally well with all kinds of materials, not just stone.

Last year, troublesomely egotistical architect Frederick di Sarvos proposed grandiose plans to expand the University of Holberg in line with his artistic vision. In the year since, some of the faculty of the University have watched their (currently) most famous alumni struggle with the Ambition assembly and ultimately declare in his over-dramatic fashion that he plans to quit the Empire forever. In the meantime, the professors and students of Holberg have undertaken a project of their own - taking Frederick's original half-finished sketches and improving them. Frederick is undoubtedly a gifted architect, but at Holberg there is an entire campus of engineers and architects of all levels of experience. In the words of the ageing Piet von Holberg, retired professor at the school of Architecture, "Who do you think taught Frederick everything he knows?"

Their detailed plans now complete, during the Early Winter Ball at the College the Dean has made it known that they would like to expand the College of Engineering. During her opening speech she called for backers and patrons to provide the materials needed to realise the project, in return for any number of ego-massaging concessions around naming wings and libraries and the like. There is no lack of people prepared to put their hands in their pockets - including many who have clearly been moved by the recent statement of principle in the Assembly of the Nine memorialising Empress Lisabetta (herself a patron of Holberg). All that is required for them to begin their renovation is permission from the Senate - requiring a Senate motion be raised and passed. No materials, no money, and no commission by the Senate. Just permission.

However, this being the League, their plan is slightly more ambitious - as it so often is.

The Chair of the Wolf

  • A Senate motion can be used to give the College of Engineering permission to expand their premises
  • The Senate motion would also create the title Chair of the Wolf which will require the power of announcement
  • To gain the benefit of the Chair, the League must begin work on one significant structure in each city before the beginning of the Winter solstice 384YE
  • The Chair will gain the power to commit the guild to construction work
  • The position must be appointed by Tally of the Votes

The campus expansion is not the only matter they under discussion. The College of Engineering not only trains architects, but also the people with the practical skills to make their drawings a reality. Almost since the College was formed there has been grumbling about the challenges of getting practical experience for the students. One way they could get this valuable experience would be working on projects commissioned by the Imperial Senate. However, nothing of true value is given away for free. The faculty are Proud citizens of the League after all, with Ambitions of their own. They wish to see those qualities reflected in the nation they love, and as such have issued a challenge with a valuable reward at the end of it .

If, within a year - by the beginning of the Winter Solstice 384YE - the Senators of the League have begun work on at least one impressive commission in each of the League cities - in Sarvos, Tassato, Temeschwar, and Holberg - they will put the engineers of the College to work in the service of the nation.

Cities need buildings, as the motto of the college goes, so these structures need to be built in the cities themselves not just in the territories. To meet the criteria of the college, they need to be impressive - which generally means structures that would require at least 30 wains to complete. There are a few exceptions - there are always opportunities that do not meet the dogmatic criteria of size but certainly meet the aesthetic criteria of "impressive" - but the College can call those out easily enough when they come up.

If the League can meet this challenge, and secure permission from the Senate to expand the campus, they will institute the "Chair of the Wolf". This would need to be an Imperial title, appointed each year by Tally of the Votes (the vote of the business owners of the League). The Chair will be empowered to commission the Guild of Engineers to undertake the practical work of construction on a project approved by the Senate (or through the use of an Imperial Wayleave) that takes place entirely within a League territory. If they do so, this project will not count against the limited number of commissions the Empire can undertake each season. The only requirement is that the Chair of the Wolf would need to be given permission by the senate to announce which project they are to support each season.

The Senate motion can be raised at any time - beginning the expansion of the College campus - but the Chair of the Wolf does nothing until work is begun on the four required commissions. They need not be finished by the end of the next Winter Solstice, but the Dean and her faculty are unlikely to be amused by any effort to try and "mountebank the enterprise" as one professor who wishes to remain anonymous has put it.

Impressive Constructions

  • There are existing opportunities that meet the criteria for the College of Engineering's challenge

Several existing opportunities meet the criteria of the College of Engineering. In Tassato these include Imperial Consulate. Sadly the Tagliano market and the Mestran Hills Mutual Association are built outside the walls of Tassato and so not applicable.

In Temeschwar there are two opportunities to built an inspirational tomb for Ratibor of Temeschwar. While technically neither meets the strict criteria set by the challenge, the faculty have confirmed however that if either Ratibor's Gate or the Red Tower were transformed into a shrine blessed with true liao they would certainly judge them to be impressive structures especially given Ratibor's status and influence over the northernmost League city.

In Holberg itself, the Duelling Field Menhirs proposed to contain the magical energy of the corrupted park area would count, requiring as they do a significant amount of white granite and expertise. Holmauer may be part of the suburbs of Holberg, but it is still part of the city as far as the College is concerned

In Sarvos, refurbishing Capodomus Cathedral would be an impressive act (and in the opinion of some members of the faculty, long overdue).

These opportunities are just suggestions however - any other commission that meets the requirements (a structure built in the city itself, costing at least thirty wains, and work begun by the end of the Winter Solstice 384YE) would be sufficient.

The Mellfort should be a place of pilgrimage for those who are burdened by sorrow and prevented from virtuous action by that sorrow. The aura there is neither virtuous nor unvirtuous but can aid those who need it by helping them put their sorrow aside.

Irada von Temeschwar, League Nationall, Autumn Equinox 383YE, Upheld (with a greater majority 202-22)

The Cursèd Gardens

During the Summer Solstice 383YE, as detailed in In the garden of defiance, Holmauer Park was cursed by agents acting on behalf of the Hag Queen. The plants, the waters, and even the art installations, were twisted and warped by the power of the curse. Following the Autumn Equinox, there has been some improvement in the park. The Pavilion on Looking Glass Lake has become the centre point for attempts to reclaim the park, its powerful aura proving quite inspirational to the citizens of the city. The Imperial Senate has seen fit to create the title of Patron of the Pavilion, responsible for looking after the potent aura. The title will be appointed for the first time during the Winter Solstice, by judgement of the League National Assembly. Overseeing a powerful place of pilgrimage as it does, it represents significant influence in the Synod as whole, so it is likely the position will be hotly contested.

Perhaps just as importantly - given the Pavilion is almost entirely surrounded by a lake - the cleansing of the befouled waters is well underway. A mandate, proposed by Lina of Felix's Watch and upheld by the Highborn National Assembly encouraged business owners of the nation to shoulder the burden for cleansing the waters of Holmauer. it is anticipated that the waters will be even cleaner than they were before - no mean feat for open waterways in a city the size of Holberg.

Despite these positive steps, much of the garden remains blighted. There are still some opportunities here; to harness the Blood Orchard, to capitalize on the peculiar imagery of the Sculpture Garden, and to contain the warped magic of the Duelling Fields but only for a short time. Once the Winter Solstice ends, the chance to take advantage of these opportunities will be lost.

Powerful Big Rats

  • There is an opportunity for the Custodian of the Kennels to improve their sinecure
  • The improvements would require a senate motion, and cost 23 crowns, take three months to complete.
  • The current Custodian is Alfredo von Holberg

There are more rats in Holberg, but the Custodian of the Kennels and Georgie's House have done an excellent job of meeting the challenge they present. So much so that there has been increased interest from other cities - and not just in the League. Rats are a fact of life in any urban setting, as the citizens of the League, Meade, Siroc, Bastion, Kalpaheim, and even Gildenheim are all too aware. It is becoming an increasing badge of pride to own a graduate of Georgie's House - and as well as private citizens several professional fraternities of vermin exterminators have expressed interest in sourcing their small but vicious dogs from the kennels of Holberg.

This presents an opportunity. At the moment, Georgie's House is stretched to capacity by the demand for trained ratters. If it is to take advantage of that demand, it will need bigger premises and yet more staff. One way to achieve this would be to purchase the buildings to either side of the kennels. Preliminary approaches has suggested that the owners of the buildings are both prepared to sell - especially as it will mean getting away from a flourishing kennels and dog-training school.

All that would be required would be a Senate motion to amend the kennels (which would count against the Senates limited number of commissions each season), and an investment of 23 crowns, and the premises could be even further expanded. The sinecure would then provide an additional 100 rings each season. More important perhaps would be the prestige - the knowledge that the humble kennels has grown to provide skilled hunters not only to Holberg, but to cities across the Empire.

The demand for trained hounds is high, but if it is not fulfilled the potential patrons will look elsewhere. The opportunity to expand the kennels will be lost if it has not been taken advantage of by the end of the Spring Equinox 384YE.

We are one Empire and should act as such, particularly in light of the provenance of the curse on Holberg. The Memorial Orchard is a symbol of the Loyalty of the Marchers and should be recognised and celebrated as such

Aureliana di Sarvos, Autumn 383YE, Upheld (255-0 (greater majority))


The Fruits of Loyalty

  • The Loyalty Assembly could recognise the Memorial Garden at Holmauer Park as a place of pilgrimage
  • If they pass a mandate, the Imperial Senate could commission a shrine in the park

The Marcher apple grove that takes up the south-eastern corner of the Park, along with the adjacent Memorial Garden dedicated to General Flowers, both remain pristine and untouched by the fell magic that has fallen on the park. During the Autumn Equinox, there was some discussion in the Imperial Synod about this situation. The Marcher National Assembly upheld a mandate that was raised by Landon of Longridge urging the people of the nation to undertake a pilgrimage to Holberg to view this wonder for themselves. Unfortunately, it is clear that this mandate was not universally popular - dissent within the Assembly itself meant it failed to secure a Greater Majority, and thanks to the influence of the sword scholars and the Wisdom assembly, it failed to be enacted.

At the same time, a statement of principle was raised by Aureliana di Sarvos in the League National assembly. Seen partly as a refutation of certain sour voices that claimed the "miracle" was a sign of something sinister, it averred that the Memorial Orchard was a symbol of the Loyalty of the Marchers, and should be recognised and celebrated as such. This statement has struck a chord with several bishops dedicated to the path of Loyalty in the League. Many have incorporated it as a lesson in their sermons, lauding the way that the soldiers of one Imperial nation are prepared to fight and die to preserve the people of a different nation. For many it is a powerful symbol of commitment to a higher ideal - although obviously there are many Loyalties that might inspire a warrior to lay down their life for a stranger.

'Bishop Calissida di Tassato Regario has proposed that the Orchard become a place of pilgrimage not for citizens of the League, nor for citizens of the Marches, but for those who wish to meditate on the bonds and costs of Loyalty. Especially the Loyalty that saw Imperial armies fight in the blighted soil of Druj-dominated Holberg to help free the city, even while their own homes lay far away. it is up to the Loyalty assembly to decide if they wish to agree with this proposal.

The Memorial Orchard at Holberg is a symbol of the Loyalty of the Marchers, and of all those who fight and die to protect the dream of a united Empire.We send {named priest} with 50 liao to urge every citizen to visit the Memorial Garden of General Flowers, and meditate upon the bonds and cost of Loyalty.

Synod Mandate, Loyalty Assembly

If this mandate were passed it would encourage a number of wayfarers plagued by questions of Loyalty to come to Holberg to view the Garden. As a result, the Memorial Garden would be effectively transformed into a small shrine dedicated to that virtue. If this happened then the Imperial Senate could authorise the creation of a title to oversee the Garden, the Guardian of Heart's Truth perhaps. The title would provide 14 votes and 7 doses of liao to whichever citizen was appointed to tend to the Garden and the visiting pilgrims, chosen by the Assembly of Loyalty each year.

If the mandate is passed, the opportunity to commission the shrine remains available until the end of the Autumn Equinox 384YE. After this time, the impetus to travel to the garden will have faded.

The Road to Mellfort

  • A powerful aura at Mellfort in Temeschwar has been evaluated by the Imperial Synod
  • The aura has been found to be neither virtuous nor unvirtuous, but potentially beneficial
  • Two proposals have been put forward regarding how best to take advantage of the discovery

During the Autumn Equinox, a group of priests visited Mellfort in Temeschwar to evaluate the peculiar aura there. Centred in a hitherto-unexplored cavern beneath the mountain, it apparently provides surcease of care from sorrow and regret. While not drawing on any one of the seven Virtues particularly, it was judged to not be unvirtuous either - and potentially useful to those burdened with sadness.

The hill is already somewhat developed - a fortified wall and tower were built there in 377YE, along with a road .reaching up from Temeschwar onto the slopes of the mountain that shares its name with the old hillfort. It is still a difficult ascent for pilgrims and travellers, and if the Imperial Synod wishes to make the most of this aura they may wish to consider doing some further renovation.

Unburdened Solace

  • The Imperial Senate could repurpose Mellfort as a place of pilgrimage for those burdened by sorrow
  • This would require a commission, 8 wains of white granite, 16 crowns, and three months of work
  • It would create an Imperial Title that would receive 5 liao and 10 votes in the Imperial Synod

As a place of pilgrimage, a shine and a few surrounding buildings would be built. Much of the area would remain as it is, with parts of the tower and barracks being repurposed to support and protect pilgrims visiting the shrine. People who want to unburden themselves of their sorrow would be guided and protected by priests adept at providing comfort, and the use of the dedication ceremony. The shrine would focus on helping people move past their sadness, unburden themselves of their cares, and refresh their spirits.

As the existing buildings could be repurposed, the shrine would only require a commission, 8 wains of white granite, 16 crowns, and three months of work. It would create an Imperial title - perhaps the Guardian of Solace - who would be responsible for looking after the cave and the shrine but would also have a wider responsibility to help people deal with the grief and regrets that keep them from making the most of their life. The title would provide 5 doses of liao and 10 votes in the Synod. As the aura is not associated with any one virtue, the Civil Service recommend that the well worn path would be to have the title appointed by the Assembly of the Way.

Restful Isolation

  • The Imperial Senate could repurpose Mellfort as a place to recuperate and relax
  • This would require a commission, 5 wains of weirwood, 10 wains of white granite, and 30 crowns. Work would take three months to complete.
  • It would create an Imperial title that would receive 16 crowns and three doses of Tranquil Nostrum each event.

Another proposal has been put forward that takes a different attitude to the opportunity presented by the aura. Sovia Lahm von Temeschwar, Merchant-prince of the Emerald Magpie Guild suggests that the best use for the aura is to provide a place of comfort and recuperation to those exhausted by the day-to-day strains of pursuing their ambitions. Rather than a humble shrine, a proud palatial lodge would be built. The grounds within the sturdy palisade would be landscaped by the finest gardeners of Holberg to provide idyllic setting that best takes advantage of the oasis of calm and serenity. Open-air pools of heated water would allow those of unquiet spirit to meditate upon the cares that weighed them down in the company of their peers and a well-trained staff of advisors and physicks trained in the treatment of the mind and spirit. The Emerald Magpie Guild is prepared to take on the work of designing the facility, and operating it once work is completed - in conjunction with a suitably chosen representative of course.

Harnessing the power of Mellfort in this fashion requires a commission, and would cost 5 wains of weirwood, 10 wains of white granite, and 30 crowns. Work would take three months to complete. Once finished, the Palace of Rest would create an Imperial title - perhaps the Chatelaine of Mellfort - who would receive a stipend of 16 crowns each season and enjoy unlimited access to this restful sanctuary, including three doses of the relaxing tea Tranquil Nostrum which the Emerald Magpie Guild intends to brew extensively on the premises.

Sovia Lahm von Temeschwar suggests that the title could be appointed in any number of ways depending on how the Senate (or Bearer) envisioned the role of Chatelaine, but suggests that the League Senators, the League National Assembly, or perhaps the Ambition Assembly, are all best suited to sympathise with the kinds of troubled souls the palace will appeal to.

Time is Not Pressing

  • Neither opportunity is time sensitive

The aura at Mellfort has been there for centuries at least, and shows no sign of going anywhere. Neither the shrine nor the palace is time limited - as long as the aura remains there and the Imperial Synod remains broadly positive about its influence the opportunities remain.

It is, unfortunately, not possible to take advantage of both opportunities however. Either Mellfort can be a shrine or a place of reflection, it cannot be both.

Resolution

The Senate approved the expansion of Georgie's House during the Winter Solstice.

Further Reading