Three Hands stared intently at the human. It was one of the new ones - the ones with the eagle banners who had taken over from the sun worshippers. The followers of the sun were far away to the east - killing Druj. He doubted they would come back. People who went east never came back.

"Four" he said and then repeated it again "Four". He jabbed an open hand forward, four fingers upright but the thumb curved in, to emphasize he definitely wanted four.

On the table in front of him were two large clay pots half filled with water and lobsters. Their writhed over each other their pincers snapping menacingly at each other. It had taken him the best part of half a moon to gather them all. Days and days of long hours spent checking his traps.

"Four" he said again. "Or I go elsewhere".

The human just yawned, as if the whole thing was a waste of his time. "There is nowhere else, orc. You take three or you'll get nothing."

Three Hands could sense the human's contempt for him. He wanted to spit in the creature's face but he choked the emotion down. Thoughts like that could get you killed faster than blinking. Raise a hand against the masters... you lose the arm. That was the rule. The masters might change... but the rules never did.

"Fine!" He spat the word out, trying to choke down his anger. "Three - but I pick them."

The human nodded and gestured to another human who came to take the pots away. He reached to his belt and draw out a rough piece of leather cloth bound with thonging. He unrolled it and spread it across the table.

Three Hands stared down at the treasure laid out before him. They glistened in the midday sun, scattering rays of light in all directions. Each the length of a finger, but tapered to a point sharper than a bone needle. He stared at them intently, trying to decide which three to choose.

Carefully, almost reverently, he reached out a finger to touch one. He kept his eyes on the human, alert for any sign of treachery, but the man just yawned again and made an effort to looked bored. Cautiously, keeping his elation hidden, he slid the deadly metal arrow head over to his side of the table.

"One."

Overview

The Imperial Senate has assigned the territory of Ossium, the first new territory to be conquered by the Empire in living memory to the nation of Varushka. Already the Varushkan egregore has begun to travel this new land, looking for people who are ready to become Varushkan citizens. Their work is hampered, as much by the lack of any usable map of the territory as by the fact that the territory is still contested by the Druj. None-the-less they have made steady progress most notably in the town of Ketsov whose inhabitants may well once have been Varushkan in the dim and distant past.

Elsewhere progress is... slower. There is little idea yet as to what is to become of the Sand Fishers. For now they continue to fish the banks of the Semmerlak as they have done for generations, trading food for supplies with the Imperial forces stationed here. Another complicating factor is the statement of principle from the Dawnish National Assembly urging troubadours to travel to Ossium and bring tales of glory to the people who dwell there. Varushka is not a nation normally known for its appreciation of glory, but on this occasion the Varushkan Assembly has issued their own statement in support of the Dawnish efforts.

As a result of these actions a number of significant opportunities present themselves.

The Ketsov

Of all the inhabitants of the Ossium, the Ketsov are the most eager to embrace the Varushkan egregore. The inhabitants of the town and the surrounding settlements clearly have Varushkan heritage and many seem eager to adopt Varushkan ways. Symbols of the Bone Scorpion, that once adorned the town have been carefully and meticulously erased. In their place people are now putting new banners and paintings, most are variants of the stylised double-headed eagle clutching axes that is a traditional symbol of Varushka.

The people of Ketsov have two pressing concerns. The first is that the Druj will surely attempt to return one day. The Empire has them on the backfoot at the moment, in full retreat in fact. But given a year or two the Druj are likely to rebuild their armies and attempt to retake Ossium. If they are successful, then everyone who has embraced and supported the Empire... well the lucky ones will receive enslavement or a quick death. The unlucky ones will doubtless be used as an example to everyone not to support the Empire.

Their second concern is for the economic well-being of the people of Ossium. Formerly their town produced significant numbers of artisan weapons, all of which were purchased by the Druj, providing valuable essential employment to the people who lived here. With the Druj gone, a number of Ketsov artisans are concerned at how they will manage to prosper without the goods traded with their former rulers.

Fortunately, the Ketsov are full of ambitious ideas on how to tackle these problems.

White Walls

  • The town of Ketsov could be fortified using 150 wains of white granite and 300 crowns
  • It would take eighteen months to complete, from then on it would function as a level two fortification

Their first idea is that the Empire could fortify the town of Ketsov. It would take 150 wains of white granite and 300 crowns, and need eighteen months to complete, but it would be possible to raise a great curtain wall around the entire town. A few buildings would need to be demolished, to ensure an efficient use of resources, but the results would be impressive, allowing the town to act as a powerful defensive fortification, providing essential support to any attempt to defend the territory against attack by the Druj (or the Thule should the Empire's allies turn on them at some point in the future).

Sharp Swords

  • A barracks could be built to protect the town of Ketsov that would permanently boost the military nature of the territory.

In tandem with the idea of creating walls, the inhabitants of Ketsov suggest that the town is the natural place to build a set of substantial barracks. These would allow the town to recruit and train guards to protect the town and the outlying settlements. At present Ossium simply does not have enough people ready to be recruited into the Imperial armies, but building the barracks would help to change that. It would provide a place where soldiers could be billeted while they were trained and equipped.

At present the Varushkan nation is not able to support a fourth army. Assigning Ossium to Varushka has improved the situation, but not by enough to allow them to raise another army. The civil service estimate that if 30 wains of weirwood, 30 wains of mithril and 120 crowns were spent building a barracks then this would be a significant benefit. In technical terms the barracks would be a folly, its primary benefit would be to help protect and secure the town of Ketsov, but it would be also provide a permanent boost to the military nature of the territory, bringing it closer to being able to support a fourth army.

Money SpentProduction
180 rings1 Triumphant Blade
400 rings2 Triumphant Blades
640 rings3 Triumphant Blades
Money SpentProduction
200 rings1 Knightly Redoubt
450 rings2 Knightly Redoubts
700 rings3 Knightly Redoubts

Deep Pockets

  • A Trading Exchange could be built at Ketsov that would allow for the purchase of magic weapons.
  • The Thule orcs have also offered to build the exchange if the Empire is not interested.

The Ketsov are keen to procure new trading partners to buy their weapons and armour now that the Druj are not around. After discussion with the civil service they propose the commission of the Ketsov Trading Exchange in the town. The plan would require 8 wains of white granite, 8 wains of weirwood, and 32 crowns to create a suitable hall capable of supporting Varushkan merchants visiting the town. Inhabitants of the town could bring their wares to sell to the visiting merchants ensuring these valuable goods go to the Empire and ensuring the Prosperity of the town.

If the commission were complete, then someone could be appointed as the Burgher of Ketsov. This Imperial title would be responsible for ensuring the Prosperity of the town by overseeing the trade. It would be their responsibility to resolve disputes between merchants and ensure that contracts were paid in full. The position would function as a ministry with valuable opportunities to purchase some of the items produced by the skilled inhabitants of the town. The Exchange could be commissioned using a Senate motion or a wayleave.

The Ketsov are concerned for the prosperity of the town if the Trading Exchange is not constructed, whoever there is an alternative that would ensure the flow of money to the settlement continues if that is the case. The Thule have offered to build the Exchange if the Empire does not wish to. They are keen to purchase fine weapons and armour from Ketsov - and would be happy to pay for the commission if it were allowed. Since this is Imperial land, it would need a Senate motion to permit the construction to take place, but would not need any resources or a commission slot, since the Thule would provide all the materials and labour. Obviously in that case, the Thule would appoint one of their own to oversee the exchange - but the steady flow of Thule merchants coming to Ketsov would ensure the town remained viable.

The Sand Fishers

  • If the Sand Fishers were moved from the banks of the Semmerlak and a barracks is built at Ketsov then Ossium could support a fourth army

It is not possible for the Sand Fishers to join Varushka even if they wanted to, so the question arises of what is to be done with them. Obviously they could just be left to their own devices - the Senate has declared them foreigners so they have a right to remain in Ossium if they choose. However the Ketsov are quick to point out that the other crucial factor that is currently preventing Ossium from supporting a fourth Varushkan army is the lack of productive land to support Varushkan settlers.

The lands are not fertile - but the Semmerlak teems with life. If the Sand Fishers moved on, then Varushkan settlers could start to create settlements along the coast of the Semmerlak that could produce food in abundance by fishing. Within a few years, there could be more than enough loyal Varushkan people living in Ossium for a fourth army to be an option.

The civil service confirm that Varushkans would settle the coast in numbers if that were possible. If the barracks proposed by the Ketsov were also constructed then within one year of completion, Ossium would be able to support a fourth Varushkan army. Those civil servants looking into the matter report that although the Sand Fishers have lived here for generations, they feel no deep spiritual attachment to the land, in fact they appear to feel no deep spiritual attachment to anything for whatever reason. Cheerfully that means they might well be encouraged to travel elsewhere, freeing up the important coastal region of the territory for settlement. Provided somewhere could be found for them to go.

Dank Forests

After a lot of consideration, one option that is proposed is Misericorde in Holberg. The Sand Fishers are not particularly keen to move anywhere, but if the land were ceded to them, that would be very appealing. A chance to put more distance between themselves and the Druj and also enjoy some of the protection provided by the vast fortress built to protect the city and the surrounding lands.

The idea of ceding Misericorde seems questionable on first consideration, but there are a number of advantages, not just for Ossium. There are very few legitimate Imperial citizens living in Misericorde, the forests have long been the haunts of bandits and brigands. The place has a natural draw for criminals fleeing Holberg, it naturally attracts the worst kind of people. The Sand Fishers are not about to start hunting fugitives down, but once they had established themselves along the coast they could be an invaluable aid to any magistrates pursuing law-breakers hiding here.

More importantly, the Sand Fishers would be able to thrive in the marshy land along the Semmerlak and the river that flows out of it, something no citizen of the League has ever managed. Once they established themselves, they would be able to fish the Semmerlak as they do know, as well as hunt and gather from the forests. That would bring significant benefits to the city of Holberg, as merchants could trade salted fish, hides, timber, and other valuable goods produced by the Sand Fishers for metal tools and similar. It would be highly profitable, spawning new businesses quickly and increasing taxation for the territory by 8 thrones by the end of the year.

Obviously the down side would be that a region of Holberg was no longer under Imperial control - it would no longer be part of the League.

Broken Spirits

  • The Sand Fishers could conceivably be persuaded to move to Skarsind but it is unlikely to be easy.

In theory it might be possible to persuade the Sand Fishers to move to Skarsind. These people have literally nothing in common with the Imperial Orcs on any level. The martial spirit that characterises the Imperial Orc nation, the defining history of a fight against oppression and slavery, these things are completely non-existent among the Sand Fisher tribe. The tribe could contribute nothing to the martial strength of the Imperial Orcs, they fear battle and prefer to hide from enemies where they can. They would not contribute to the taxation of the territory - they are fishers and marsh-gatherers - they would be completely lost in the harsh mountain terrain of Skarsind.

But... they would be living alongside the Imperial Orcs. Provided their craven and servile demeanour did not cause them to be ostracised by the inhabitants of Skarsind then it's possible that might be inspired by the example set by the Imperial Orcs. There might be some way to lift them from their impoverished state, particularly once they were free from the Druj miasma.

The Sand Fishers would only want to go if some part of Skarsind were given to them as their own land, but there are no regions in the territory where that approach would be beneficial. Ceding any region would mean major disruption for the Imperial Orcs living there, and since the Sand Fishers would barely survive in such a hostile environment there would be no resulting gains in trade. It must be pointed out that there is also a clear military risk, if the region were adjacent to Crows Ridge, since it would no longer be covered by the pacts signed with the Thule.

Cold Words

  • The Thule are prepared to offer the Sand Fishers and other native tribes sanctuary in Otkodov.

There is another option that could be considered, though it comes from a strange and dubious source. The Thule make a formal approach to the ambassador's office to inform the Empire that they would be happy to send representatives of the Thule Dragons to speak to the Sand Fishers and the other subject tribes that live in Ossium. They would be happy to move these tribes to Skuld, where a home could be found for them on the banks of the Luhguren. They could make new lives for themselves there, as part of the Thule nation.

The Thule stress that nobody would be forced to leave - their intention would be to send warlocks to speak to the orcs and make the offer directly to them. They would point out that the territory has been granted to the Varushkans, a people with limited tolerance for orcs as a people, and that there would be no future for them in Ossium, but the Dragons would welcome them in the far north, and they would be given the means to establish new homes far from the Druj menace.

The Thule could legally make the offer now - they have the right to travel the Empire as foreigners, so little could be done to stop them if they chose to approach the Sand Fishers and the other orc tribes. However they have made clear that they will not approach the tribe unless given clear permission to do so either by the Imperial Senate, or with direct personal authorisation from the Ambassador to Otkodov.

The Crawling Depths

  • The Crawling Depths is mithril Bourse resource that produces 14 wains of mithril a season
  • The Empire can use a Senate motion to commission the mines to be upgraded; this would cost 300 thrones and take two seasons
  • Once upgraded output would double to 28 wains of mithril a season

The Crawling Depths has been allocated as an Imperial Bourse resource and successfully auctioned. The mining families from Varushka have begun to work the mines, producing limited supplies of mithril, but they remain restricted by the exceptionally poor conditions. Work is underway to improve them, but without proper financing it is slow and steady. At present rate of progress it will take decades before the mines are up to Imperial standards.

The process could be cut short at any point. A Senate motion could upgrade the mines but it would cost 300 thrones and take two seasons. The mines could still be worked during that time - and once the commission was complete the output would double.

We are the glorious heart of the Empire and the fire of our virtue is warmth to our friends and ruin to our enemies. We urge troubadours to venture forth to Ossium to bring tales of virtue and glory to burn away the lingering dread imposed by the verminous Druj. "Troubadours to Ossium go / Let tales of virtue and glory grow / And in the light of Dawn they'll know / The Way now through this land shall flow.

Ser Ancel Watcher, Dawn National Assembly, Winter Solstice 382YE, Upheld 126-0 (Greater Majority)

Ossium was conquered by the Empire. Although Varushka has been granted the role of managing the land we welcome the troubadours of Dawn led by Ancel Watcher in their glorious mission to cleanse the land of false virtue.

Amris Johan Merikovich, Varushka National Assembly, Winter Solstice 382YE, Upheld 106-0 (Greater Majority)

The Troubadour

  • Statements of principle in the Dawnish and Varushkan national assemblies lead to opportunities for mandates.

At the last summit, the Dawnish National Assembly agreed a statement of principle with a greater majority after it was submitted by Ser Ancel Watcher. The statement called on all troubadours to travel to Ossium "to bring tales of virtue and glory to burn away the lingering dread imposed by the verminous Druj." To ensure that there was no possible room for misunderstanding, the Varushkan Assembly wisely passed a reciprocal judgement explicitly welcoming the troubadours to the new territory.

The civil service look into the potential ramifications of the two statements with a degree of concern. Ossium is a delicate state, with the Varushkan egregore working to find any who might be ready to become citizens of their nation. Having a proud Dawnish priest extolling Dawnish customs and traditions risks complicating that considerably. What happens if Ancel's words catch fire across the territory and the Ketsov and everyone else who dwells there are inspired to the pursuit of glory? That might suit Ser Ancel and the other troubadours, but it doesn't seem likely that it will help people adjust to their new life as Varushkans.

Fortunately these fears ultimately prove groundless. The risk is very real - this could easily have been a disaster. What prevents that is the fact that neither of the two key groups of citizens the Empire knows about - the Sand Fishers and the Ketsov - seem very interested in glory. It's possible that a few people will be inspired by Ser Ancel, but these people are so far removed from notions of glory that it would take more than a single mandate to convince many people to abandon their interest in Varushkan ways and take up the life of a questing knight.

There are however a number of opportunities that Ser Ancel's statement provides that could benefit the Empire.

Hidden Peril

  • A mandate could be used to encourage Dawnish knights to root out the pillars that anchor the Druj miasma.

Ser Ancel has made clear his wish to remove the lingering dread inflicted by the Druj on Ossium. This dread is not a metaphor, it is a palpable miasma that suffocates every living that dwells here. A crushing blanket of fear and misery that tries to choke the spirit.

Those who served in the Reikos campaign remember this cruel miasma well - it issues forth from pillars erected by the Druj. They can be destroyed using magic or other means - but only if they can be located. The Druj hide the pillars well, placing them in obscure locations and protecting them with soldiers and worse. If the pillars can be found and destroyed - then the miasma will slowly lift. The taint of the Druj will slowly be removed from the land.

The taint of the Druj spills forth from the pillars they have constructed with their foul magic, choking the thirst for glory with fear and dread. We send {named priest} with 25 doses of liao to urge troubadours and questing knights to seek out the source of this vile corruption

Synod Mandate, Dawnish National Assembly


Finding a miasma pillar will not be easy, but if Ser Ancel or another troubadour was given permission to spread a mandate filled with tales of the glory to be had by finding and destroying a pillar across Dawn then knights would flock here looking for the pillars. It is unlikely they would be able to destroy a pillar - they are not easy to damage - but they would certainly be able to provide information on the pillar's location to the priest who inspired them.

OOC Note
There is no need to email in with an alternative mandate to spread the Way in Ossium. The examples given are only examples - any mandate that is in a form which clearly identifies a specific virtue and one of the accepted bullet points for guidance for that virtue is valid and will be accepted by the Tribune. There is no way for the civil service to tell citizens in advance what the effect of any given mandate will be.

Paramount Virtue

  • A carefully composed mandate could begin to bring the people of Ossium to the Way.
  • The civil service suggest that a mandate explaining the key tenet of a single virtue may be the best way to introduce the people of Ossium to the faith.

The other goal stated by Ser Ancel was to bring the people of Ossium to the Way. There is no particular evidence of the false virtue that Amvis Menkovich described, unless he is referring to the miasma. But both statements seem to support the idea of encouraging the inhabitants of Ossium to embrace the true faith.

As with many matters of faith, it is difficult for the civil service to assess what the impact of such an undertaking would be. However they are able to determine that any attempt to proselytize the virtues would be significantly more effective if the priest chose a single clear virtue to preach. Of course these people will need educating in all the virtues, they need to be brought to the Imperial faith. But they have no knowledge of the Virtues or the Way and no reason to embrace it. What is needed is a clear mandate giving a priest the ability to use liao to demonstrate a virtue to the people of Ossium.

Somewhat unusually, in the estimation of the civil service, this is a situation where differently worded mandates could all be equally successful. The wording could be crucial - absolutely crucial - this will be these people's first introduction to the Way. What is said to them now is likely to have a lasting impression that permanently influences their thinking. What that effect will be will depend on the virtue chosen by the priest and on the guidance.

By example, the Civil Service, provide two different potential mandates:

No Imperial citizen should allow anything to stand in the way of their ambitions. We send {named priest} with 75 liao to preach the guidance that "Consequences are the price of Ambition; no price is too high to realise your dreams." to the people of Ossium

Synod Mandate, Ambition Virtue Assembly

The Imperial Constitution guarantees the prosperity of every citizen of the Empire. We send {named priest} with 75 liao to preach the guidance that the people of Ossim should "despise the thieving bandit, the lazy wastrel, the grasping miser, and those who take without giving."

Synod Mandate, Prosperity Virtue Assembly


To be most effective the mandate will need to identify a single virtue that is being preached, as well as one of the accepted pieces of guidance, alongside an introduction that explains the relevance or application of that preaching to these people.

Of course that does leave the issue of which virtue to choose. That decision might well be difficult - but is obviously a matter for the Imperial Synod not the civil service. The tribune clarifies that if two or more assemblies both attempt to submit mandates to proselytize their virtue to Ossium in the coming season then they will be regarded as competing mandates.

To be effective, these mandates could need to be raised in either an appropriate Virtue assembly, or in the General assembly.

Any mandates to address this issue would not compete with a mandate encouraging Dawnish knights and troubadours to seek out the miasma pillars.

Resolution

The Pride virtue assembly passed a mandate to preach in Ossium.
The Imperial Senate ceded the region of Misericorde to the Sand Fishers.