Mariana di Tassato, Merchant-Prince of the Jade Promise Carta, smiled encouragement at her guest as she nodded to her cicisbeo to refill his glass. "We are of a similar mind, Rafael, the potential for profit is clearly there, but I fear you under-estimate the difficulties. I am not convinced the Synod will be so easily persuaded."

Her guest frowned at this unwelcome insight. "How so?" he protested. "This is a simple matter of the Prosperity of the Empire. And of the Axos for that matter! The Synod have been urging us to trade with them for years now. This exchange is exactly what they have been asking for."

The Prince leaned back in her chair and steepled her fingers. "It is one thing to sell them weirwood and buy their white granite. To buy their mana crystals and sell them Dragonbone. But I worry that this trade in liao you propose might be different."

Rafael seemed unconvinced, "I don't understand what the problem is. They have almost no liao of their own, if we can keep the Sumaah out, we could have a captive market!"

Mariana lifted her glass and took a sip. She wasn't thirsty, but it always helped to have a moment to collect your thoughts and pick your words at times like this. "Have you ever met an Axiou priest? They're not at all like our cardinals... I don't just mean that some follow the false virtues, though that is true. It is more than that; their view of the world is very different to ours."

Rafael only shrugged. Few members of the Purple Sails were all that concerned with matters of virtue and he was no different. Work hard and be prosperous and you would get through the Labyrinth. What else did a person need to know?

The Prince continued, happy to hold forth. "It is not so long ago that the Empire toyed with outlawing the sale of liao altogether. The point is that an increase in the price of liao across the Empire might please the Synod less than you think. And if that happens then the strange beliefs of the Axiou might provide a convenient reason to condemn those who had encouraged the trade..." She let the threat trail off, her guest's face fell as his imagination filled in the rest.

"Fear not" she said, "a potential solution is at hand." Having shaken his confidence, now was the time to reel him in. "We simply need to ask for the Synod's blessing. Once we have that, nobody will be able to condemn us later if they suddenly change their mind."

The Freeborn captain's face crinkled with worry. He clearly didn't like the idea of having to ask for anyone's blessing when arranging his trades. Still the threat of the Imperial Synod was not to be taken lightly. He rubbed his chin with his hand as he pondered, a clear tell that he was troubled by what Mariana had suggested. Still not quite convinced, he slowly started nodding in agreement anyway.

"If you think it's best, Mariana, then that's what we'll do."
Tarquinius Ankarien.jpg
As Ambassador, Tarquinius Ankarien (left) has tirelessly campaigned to strengthen ties between the Empire and Axos.

The Axou have turned their back on slavery. The General Assembly urges every Imperial citizen to support the change we wish to see in the world by looking for new trading possibilities with the Axos. We send Tarquinius Ankarien with 150 doses of liao to urge Imperial citizens to engage with the Axou traders and look for new opportunities to enrich us both by enhancing trade between us.

Maximillian Ankarien, General Assembly, Summer Solstice, Upheld (1333-10)


The Empire has been working to bring change to the nation of Axos for years. First Tanwyn Ankarien, then General of the Citadel Guard led Imperial mercenaries to help the people of Ipotavo fight off an invasion of the Druj, and liberate the Tunnels of Kaban from the yoke of the Mallum orcs - earning her the epithet of the Siegebreaker among the people of Axos. Then Tarquinius Ankarien, long-term Ambassador to Axos, developed the plan to convince the Axou to give up the practice of slavery and embrace trade with the Empire in its place.

The Empire is significantly larger and more powerful than Axos, but the people of the citadels are proud and ambitious. They owe some of their renewed prosperity to the Imperial initiative to form the Liberty Pact - earning them a seat at the table as partners with the giants of the Empire, Sumaah, and the Commonwealth.

As such it is perhaps appropriate that it is their spiremate, Maximillian Ankarien, who raised the mandate during the Summer Solstice to encourage the citizens of the Empire to grasp the opportunity for trade with the eastern nation.

Following the Synod's urging of people across the Empire to reach out to the Axou and seek ways to ensure mutual prosperity, a number of opportunities have become available including access a new port, access to a market hungry for liao, the chance to purchase white granite from one of the largest quarries in the known world, and even a proposal to exchange students between the two nations for the betterment of both.

The Quayside of Issyk

  • The Chambers of Issyk has opened the port to the Imperial fleets
  • The Grand Ilarch Andronicus has invited investment in reconstruction of the docks in the port
  • Constructing the docks would cost 30 wains of weirwood, and 60 crowns labour

Until very recently, the Grand Ilarch of the Chambers of Issyk sought alliance with the orcs of the Broken Shore. Following the ratification of the Liberty Pact, the Grand Ilarch was overthrown in a violent coup. The new Grand Ilarch Andronicus has proved to be much more moderate in his politics, being critical of Issyk's involvement with the Grendel, and interested in mending fences not only with the other citadels but with the Empire as well. Past misunderstandings and grievances have been put to one side, and The Ilarchs of the Chambers of Issyk have begun sending out ships to the Empire - to Sarvos, Crown's Quay, and Cargo - with news that the quayside of Issyk is as welcoming of Imperial trade as the docks at the Towers of Kantor.

Welcoming they might be - but realistically Issyk cannot compare to the docks at Kantor. Over the last few years the quayside has been expanded - specifically to deal with increased trade from the Grendel - but it is still nowhere near as developed as Imperial captains are used to dealing with when they visit Kantor. While the amount of trade with the Jarmish has tailed off significantly since the Axou became signatories to the Liberty pact, there are still ship captains that make the journey from the Principality and along with enthusiastic traders from Sarcophan, the two nations have secured extensive docking rights in the citadel. An advisor to the Grand Ilarch has presented a plan for improving imperial trade.

The people of Issyk offer an opportunity for the Empire to build warehouses and residences on the seafront, and to take custody of several piers which would be specifically set aside for Imperial fleet captains. The construction would require 30 wains of weirwood, cost 60 crowns, and take three months to complete. It would require a Senate motion to authorise, but as the work would be largely overseen by the Chambers of Issyk, and the actual construction undertaken by Axou labourers, it would not require one of the Senate's limited supply of commissions. While the economic advantage to Imperial captains would be clear, the construction would also generate notable goodwill with the citizens of Issyk and help them gloss over past difficulties.

The Grand Ilarch has made this opportunity open to the Empire until the start of the Spring Equinox 384YE - if construction has not been completed by this time then the real estate will instead be snapped up by traders from the Delves. The port would still stay open - but the opportunity for Imperial fleets to secure a prime place on the docks would be lost for the time being.

Trading with Issyk

While the docks themselves leave a little to be desired, Issyk is nothing if not a wealthy citadel. Luxuries are commonplace, and alone of the Axou citadels the Chambers have some access to good quality woodland where they harvest fine red-tinged Ambergelt which is very much in demand across Axos. They also have access to both Tempest Jade and Green Iron thanks to extensive mine workings in the hills above Issyk. Unlike Kantor, they are less keen to trade crystal mana to Imperial captains - Issyk does not have the resources that Kantor does and the merchants here guard their supplies of vital magical fuel jealously.

The table here represents the production of the port if it were fully upgraded; without the additional work to create a dedicated dock for Imperial captains, anyone trading with Issyk effectively does so with a -2 rank penalty.

Chambers of Issyk-10123456789101112
Luxuries (rings)1824304854727896102120126144150168
Cerulean Mazzarine11223344556677
Tempest Jade22333444555666
Green Iron12223334445556

Traders from Issyk

  • Traders from the Issyk and Maykop offer new opportunities to the Quaymaster of the Black Sails and the Eastern Broker

With the Chambers of Issyk now looking for closer ties with the Empire, and the Halls of Maykop at worst neutral, existing arrangements with the Axou are also benefiting from the drive to improve trade relations.The Chambers of Issyk need liao after all, and as a consequence the demand for the precious material through the Black Sails Quay has increased. The merchants of Issyk and Maykop are considerably more direct than those from Kantor and Ipotavo however; they want to buy liao directly. As a consequence, the Quaymaster of the Black Sails now has a second stream to their ministry which allows them to sell bulk amounts of liao directly to Axou traders in return for coin.

The offices of the Eastern Broker are under threat from the vallorn but if they survive, the traders of Issyk would be equally interested in dealing with the Navarr in that easternmost territory. As such, the Eastern Broker would receive a third stream to their ministry allowing them to purchase cerulean mazzarine, ambergelt, and green iron from Issyk.

Neither of these opportunities require any additional outlay from the Senate; the structures already built are more than adequate for the needs of the merchants of Issyk of Maykop.

The Liao Trade

  • Axos traders are keen to purchase liao from Imperial citizens
  • There is still some concern about the purposes that liao might be put to

The Empire has seen the impact of the Axou thirst for liao before - indeed Axos interest in purchasing liao is one of the reasons the price has remained high for the last couple of years. This benefits citizens who oversee congregations in particular allowing them to dispose of any surplus liao they may receive in return for money that can be used to pursue their ambitions. There is even a healthy trade in liao to Axos via the Black Sails Quay that is directly overseen by the Loyalty assembly.

There are still those, however, who are concerned that trading liao to Axos merchants may in some way be unvirtuous. The priests of Axos - likely the main beneficiaries of the substance - are diametrically opposed to the priests of the Way. They teach that the Imperial Synod is a den of "traitors to humanity", and wilfully employ the power of false virtues alongside the familiar Seven. Furthermore, whatever liao is not used by the priests is likely to be used in Winter magic designed to deal with the spirits of the dead - rituals such as Whispers through the Black Gate that make many Imperial merchants uneasy.

It is hard to ignore such a hungry market though. The reality is the Empire is one of the two major sources of liao in the world - and - not only is it considerably closer to Axos than the Sumaah Republic, its citizens are less likely to simply execute Axos merchants who let slip the details of their religion. Still, Imperial businesses remain uncertain whether it would be prosperous to take advantage of this opportunity.

As such, a delegation composed of the Fellowship of Purple Sails, and representatives of the Chambers of Commerce of Sarvos and Tassato have put the question to the Imperial Synod; is it acceptable to sell liao to Axou merchants?

What an individual priest does with the liao they have been allocated is their own business. We send {named priest} with 25 liao to reassure the citizens of the Empire that selling or trading liao with the people of Axos is as virtuous and Prosperous as any other trade.

Synod Mandate, Assembly of Nine or General Assembly

Following on from the previous mandate that inspired the interest in trade with Axos, either the General Assembly or the Assembly of Nine may pass this mandate to reassure Imperial priests, business owners, and traders of all stripes that it is entirely acceptable to sell liao to the Axou regardless of what they may do with it. If it is enacted - and thanks to the intervention of the Wisdom assembly and the sword scholars this will require a greater majority - then it will remove lingering doubts that the Axou should not acquire liao from the Empire.

The first effect will be that the amount of money received for selling liao via congregation will increase from 18 rings a dose to a full crown, and remain stable at that price for the foreseeable future.

The second effect will be a marked increase in the number of Axos ships visiting Imperial ports where the Empire's business-folk will sell them all the liao they might desire. The increase in trade and the additional tariffs will see an additional 10 Thrones each season added to the Imperial Treasury.

The Ambassador to Axos, Tarquinius Ankarien has suggested an alternative to this mandate.

In Wisdom the Synod judges liao trade with the Axos to be an acceptable activity that is neither virtuous nor unvirtuous. We send {named priest} with 25 liao to reassure the citizens of the Empire that selling or trading liao with the people of Axos is as virtuous and Prosperous as any other trade.

Synod Mandate, Assembly of Nine or General Assembly

The change in wording is subtle, but significant, and builds on an earlier statement by the general assembly that stated "In Wisdom the Synod judges Liao trade with the Axos to be an acceptable activity that is neither virtuous nor unvirtuous." The earlier mandate says it is acceptable to trade liao to anyone whereas Tarquinis' alternative makes it clear this applies only to trade with Axos and not to questionable groups such as the Hand of Dumon. As such it is in competition with the earlier mandate.

The Elosian Docks

  • Dragonbone could be traded for white granite with the citadel of Kantor
  • An Urizen architect has drawn up plans, and offered the use of their spire in Redoubt
Total dragonbone providedWains of white granite received
44 dragonbone2 wains of white granite
89 dragonbone4 wains of white granite
138 dragonbone6 wains of white granite
187 dragonbone8 wains of white granite
240 dragonbone12 wains of white granite
293 dragonbone14 wains of white granite

Once upon a time, the settlement of Elos boasted a fine mercantile docks but it has been many years since it has been at its height. Hesychia of Elos is actually a former citizen of Axos, who moved to the Empire with her husband fifteen years ago and became a citizen of Urizen. In the years since she has maintained ties with her family in the east, welcoming the enlightenment of her former nation and its rejection of slavery. In the light of the recent mandate, and in conjunction with her relatives still in Axos, she has developed a proposal to outfit the docks at Elos to welcome Axou traders to Urizen. Using their influence in Kantor and Maykop, Hesychia's family believe they can provide fine quality white granite for Imperial construction - a material that is always in demand in Axos particularly at the moment given the need to rebuild the Tunnels of Kaban.

Preparing the docks will require a Senate motion, and require a commission. 30 wains of weirwood would need to be sourced, and labour costs would be 60 crowns. It would take three months to complete. Once constructed it would create an Imperial title - Quaymaster of the Elosian Docks perhaps - who would oversee the quayside. The title would be appointed through the Imperial Bourse. While Hesychia has suggested that the docks could be an Urizen national position, she is a realist and understands that the Empire is keen to improve trade with Axos in part to mitigate the effects of the Liberty Pact on the Imperial treasury. As such, and in line with the advice of the civil service, the title could also be an Imperial position auctioned each Summer alongside the other white granite seats.

A Scholarly Overture

  • A merchant arm of the Halls of Maykop is interested in sending students to the Empire
  • They are prepared to sell ilium to an Imperial liason

The Halls of Maykop have been largely ambivalent to the Empire to date, but with the threat of civil war averted and repeated Imperial overtures of friendship the Grand Ilarch Keloparia and her council of Iles have looked up from their dusty tomes and recognised an opportunity. As described by a Navarr scholar during a recent visit, the Halls of Maykop are the home to a grand university - the College of Necromantia from which all the citadel's power flows. The greatest magicians in a nation ruled by magic study in Maykop, mastering the mundane disciplines of leadership, history, natural philosophy, and the arts as well as the macabre magical practice of the necromantia.

It is the more mundane faculties of the College that have expressed an interest in securing closer ties with the Empire. While Maykop is a scholastic citadel, the professors and students there are keen to explore the possibilities offered by attending classes elsewhere - a year or two studying abroad is an opportunity to gain new perspectives and embrace new opportunities. Mistress Isephenia - a well respected professor in the faculty of natural philosophy - has prepared a proposal for the Empire that would work to their mutual betterment.

Total Money providedRings of ilium received
23 Crowns1 rings of ilium
48 Crowns2 rings of ilium
75 Crowns3 rings of ilium
105 Crowns4 rings of ilium
138 Crowns5 rings of ilium

If the Imperial Senate is prepared to formally invite the people of Maykop to allow select students at the College to apply for places studying at the great centres of learning in the Empire then not only would the College extend a similar invitation, but they would potentially be prepared to offer small amounts of precious ilium in return for the privilege.

The Senate motion alone would generate goodwill between the Halls of Maykop and the Empire. However it would also create an opportunity to establish a remote campus for the Halls of Maykop somewhere in the Empire. Mistress Isephenia is not concerned about anything ostentatious - a tower and a couple of residences to be employed as a base of operations for the faculty and students when they are visiting the Empire would be more than sufficient, along with an Imperial citizen to liaise with the folk of Maykop on any matters that might come up.

The kind of residence Mistress Isephenia is proposing would cost 20 wains of white granite and 10 wains of mithril, 60 crowns in labour costs, and be completed in three months. Its construction could be commissioned in the same Senate motion that opens the universities of the Empire to Axou students. The building itself could be built anywhere "civilised" - the only requirement Mistress Isephenia places is that it be built somewhere along the Blood Red Roads for the convenience of the students and professors alike (this means somewhere in Temeschwar, Sarvos, Tassato, Holberg, Casinea, Astolat, Semmerholm, Upwold, Hahnmark, Miaren, Karov, or Madruga). The liason - perhaps Bursar of the House of Spirits - would receive control of a ministry, and would be an Imperial title that the civil service suggest might most profitably be auctioned through the Imperial Bourse. Given the nature of the title, it would make most sense for it to be an Imperial title - there are places of learning in many nations after all.

Mistress Isephenia is quick to point out that the College is not looking to study at the Empire's magical colleges - and likewise is offering Imperial students a chance to study the mundane disciplines taught at the Halls of Maykop and not the arts of necromantia. While history, philosophy, the natural sciences, engineering, rhetoric and the like may not match the sheer power wielded by the application of magic they are nonetheless worthy pursuits that can help a sorcerer gain the insight needed to employ their magic effectively.

If the motion is passed, then enthusiastic Axou students would begin looking to enrol at the University of Holberg, Diora University, the School of Epistemology, the Great Library of Hacynian, the many places of learning scattered across Urizen, and of course the prestigious Litharge in Necropolis. If both the motion is passed and the House of Spirits constructed then not only would the Empire gain valuable star metal but the relationship with Maykop would be significantly improved.

Limited opportunities

Each of the opportunities detailed here are available until the end of the Winter Solstice 383YE. After this time the impact of the mandate will have faded. While it is not impossible that the Ambassador to Axos might be able to extend the opportunities, or revisit them at a later date, doing so would require shrewd negotiation and there is no guarantee that they would be available in the same form. The scholars of Maykop, for example, are likely to receive a warm welcome in the Universities of the Commonwealth, while the Sacrophan Delves would be more than happy to take as much white granite off the hands of the Axou as they could fit in their boats.

"It is as if someone has taken the city of Tassato, or perhaps a nest of vipers, and built it into the side of a mountain."

Mercadia de Sarvos, Diplomatic dispatches, 196YE