Hoepel huddled on the raft and regretted his choices. Why had he ever thought swapping the Bay of Catazar for the Sea of Snow was a good idea? There were fewer sharks, but the whales were just as terrible and if the stories of the Winterfolk first mate, Keweg, were to be believed they could turn into people as well. He missed Keweg. The two of them had gotten along really well. He glanced over to where the captain lay, still insensible, wrapped in makeshift bloody bandages. Keweg had died saving her. Just suddenly rose up out of the water, pushing her onto the makeshift raft with a herculean effort and then... disappeared below the water and never came back up again.

Hoepel couldn't stop shivering, although whether from the cold or the horror, he couldn't say for sure. When the raft suddenly shuddered and bucked, the panic overwhelmed him.

"What is it! What is it!" he shrieked, covering his face as best he could, "Is it back? Is it back!"

"It's land you daft apeth," sneered Flask Kingspost. The burly Marcher third mate had been paddling with a piece of flat wood for the better part of an hour, the freezing water doing little to sap his boundless briar energies. A couple of the other surviving sailors jumped off the raft, and dragged it up the rocky beach where it had come to rest. Hoepel helped as best he could, but with his arm in a sling what he mostly did was get in the way. There were scrubby trees nearby, enough to get a small fire started. Nothing to eat, but the warmth was enough. They dragged the captain as close to the meagre blaze as they dared; she still hadn't regained consciousness.

"I reckon we're somewhere near Talamas," said Flask. "If we're lucky we're in Memendram, and if not then we're across the border in Ankashun and that's liable to be a problem."

Degata i Erigo, the ship's navigator, concurred. "Either way we want to head south," she said quietly. "If we stick to the coast we should be safe. The Jotun don't like the sea here any more than the Faraden do."

"They may have a point," said Hoepel before he could stop himself. The other sailors ignored him. It has been the same on the Osprey. As the newest member of the crew, he'd pulled all the dirty duties and was the butt of most of the jokes. He had half expected it - the Osprey had a reputation as a rough ship but it was the only one that would take him. Even in Fisk, there were enough who knew of his history, of the loss of the Narwhal. People said he'd been cursed by the Mother of Wrecks.

"To lose one ship to sea monsters might be seen as unfortunate," he mumbled to himself under his breath. "To lose two ships to sea monsters..."

He laughed out loud in spite of himself, on the edge of succumbing fully to the hysteria bubbling up inside him. The other survivors stared at him, as if seeing him for the first time. Degata i Erigo narrowed her eyes, and looked as if she was about to say something unkind, but at that exact moment the captain woke up.

She sat bolt upright, staring out to sea.

"Captain?" there was cautious relief in Flask's voice, but the captain paid him no heed. She blinked at the fire for a few moments, then stood all the way up. She stumbled a few steps towards the shore. The other survivors rose, consternation running through their ranks.

"Captain?" It was Degata's turn to speak. She put one hand on the captain's shoulder, but it was quickly shrugged off.

The captain put a hand up to the side of her head, to the place where her antler had snapped off, a jagged shard of bone sticking out of her temple. it lingered there for a moment, and then her face contorted with fury.

"You absolute bastard!" she bellowed, pointing out to sea. "You think you're going to get away with this? You think I'm going to let you get away with smashing up my Osprey? You think that?"

"Captain, there may be Jotun about and..." The captain completely ignored Degata, and Hoepel felt a little stab of schadenfreude.

"Well think again sonny! Think again! You count the days you have left because I swear by my name that I am coming back for you! And I'm going to mount your horns on my prow as a warning to any other Cambion-whales that think they can just smash up my ship and get away with it!"

Flask was looking up towards the cliff, face a mask of worry. He thought he'd heard someone moving on the rocks, and was increasingly convinced they were on the wrong side of the border. Degata was still trying to calm the captain, but she was too far gone in whatever rage had consumed her.

"And you're all with me right!" she shouted, spinning to face her remaining crew. "You'll help me track down this..."

It took Hopel's brain a moment to catch up with what his fist had just done. For a brief moment he wondered why his knuckles hurt, and then he realised it was because he'd punched the captain right on the chin. She crumpled into a pile at his feet. Flash, Degata, and the other surviving sailors looked at him. He opened his mouth to apologise, but there wasn't time. Flask was kicking dirt over the campfire, and getting everyone ready to move out.

Degata clapped him on the shoulder, and he fancied there was a glimmering of respect and recognition in her eyes for the first time.

"Well done, new boy," she said, "She probably won't remember this so don't worry. But we have a rule on the Osprey. Whoever knocks the captain out, has to carry her."
Click for audio version
Monsters lurk beneath the frigid, lightless waters of the Sea of Snow, and any vessel that dares to hunt them risks becoming prey.


Following the Autumn Equinox 384YE more than seventy fleets from across the Empire set off on an expedition in order to map the Sea of Snow. Although the flotilla was unable to fully explore the Sea of Snow, they did reach the Faraden coastline and identify a number of possible destinations for Imperial shipping. There are some diplomatic challenges still to be resolved, the only sizeable Faraden harbour is not open to Imperial shipping. However the bay at Caitun could support Imperial shipping if the sprawling docks were significantly expanded and the harbourmaster there is open to the prospect of burgeoning trade with Wintermark and the Marches, provided that the Empire is prepared to share the burden of the investment needed.

A Port in a Storm

  • The Faraden have asked the Empire to contribute to the expansion of the port of Caitun
  • The Empire would need a Senate motion, 15 wains of weirwood and 45 crowns for the transport
  • The Faraden would need 2 seasons to finish the work, once complete Imperial fleets could trade with Caitun
  • The expansion would allow any fleets to trade with the Caitun and some fleets to hunt monsters in the Sea of Snows

The Faraden don't appear to engage in much naval trade, if any. They have a number of small fishing vessels but they don't appear to have any vessels capable of surviving the open seas. They do have an existing port in Jargalan in Ondersant, where merchants vessels of other nations dock, but authorities who rule there have refused to make berths available to the Empire. The only viable alternative is the coastal town of Caitun in Pelabuhan in Menedram. The waters here are deep and the surrounding promontories provide valuable protection from storms, so it would make an excellent port. Unfortunately the existing sprawling docks are all designed to support the town's fleet of small fishing vessels, none of them are remotely suitable for a large merchant ship.

To enable trade with Faraden would require substantial work to build new docking facilities at Caitun. The High Lord of Menedram, Mukhali Tchemetzi, has offered to pay the lions share of the costs, providing all the white granite and workforce required. However they are only prepared to do so if the Empire also puts up a stake, to show good faith in the project. To ensure that everyone has confidence in the arrangements, the High Lord proposes to personally arrange for the 60 wains of white granite required if the Empire agrees to supply the 15 wains of weirwood also needed. It not a simple matter of raising the wains either, the weirwood is useless in the Empire, it will need to be shipped to Faraden to be of any use. The only practical way to do that would be for the Imperial Senate to use a Senate motion instructing the Civil Service to arrange for the transport of the weirwood to Faraden.

No commission slot would be required, the High Lord will arrange for all the work to be carried out by Faraden builders, but it would only happen if the Empire provides the Faraden with 15 wains of weirwood and 45 crowns to cover transport costs. The work would take two seasons to complete, but once done, the port of Caitun would be available for Imperial ships to dock.

While the costs are not cheap, there are a variety of potential benefits of supporting an expansion of the docking facilities at Caitun:

This map is not suitable for use with magic, and contains only details visible from a ship while avoiding confrontation with hostile powers.
The Sea of Snow

Trade with the Faraden

  • Caitun would supply orichalcum, weltsilver, green iron and blood whelks
  • Wintermark and Marcher fleets would make the most profit, receiving a bonus of one rank to their production

The most obvious benefit to the new trade route would be a valuable new port that Imperial fleets could trade with. A number of ports have closed their berths to Imperial ships in recent times, there have been many benefits to the Liberty Pact, but it has resulted in the loss of access to Nemoria, Vezak and Kavor. Enabling Imperial fleets to dock at Caitun would reverse that trend. While ships of any nation can dock at Caitun, Wintermark and Marcher vessels coming via the Gullet will make the most profit, receiving a bonus of one rank to their production.

Caitun sees a significant trade in metals, so any fleet docking here is bound to turn a profit buying orichalcum, weltsilver, and green iron. It would also allow the ships captain access to the prized Blood Whelk market. The Faraden fishing vessels catch these delicious sea snails with pots that they put in the shallow waters all along the Pelabuhan coast. Most of the Blood Whelks are tiny but they are used in Faraden's thriving dye industry producing a brilliant purple-red colour in cloth that never fades. However occasionally the fisherfolk recover a single over-sized Blood Whelk that has gorged itself on something on the sea bed causing it to grow to giant size (the size of a human thumb).

Giant Blood Whelk

If a single Giant Blood Whelk is added to a soup or broth (the Faraden usually use a bisque or chowder flavoured with wild garlic), then the resulting broth is a powerful restorative. Provided they spend fifteen minutes resting and relaxing, after eating the broth, then anyone who consumed it will find that any venom or weakness they are suffering from are cured, as are any lost hits or cleaved or impaled limbs, Care must be taken not to eat the actual whelk itself however; that must be removed form the broth and disposed of, otherwise it brings on wild hallucinations and terrible nightmares.

Hunting the Hunters

  • Wintermark, Marcher and Freeborn fleets could hunt monsters in the Sea of Snow
  • The returns would be very poor, unless the vessel was large and strong enough to catch a seahemoth or bigger

The ability to put to port in Faraden would open up another opportunity in addition to trade with the Faraden. The Sea of Snow is infamous for the monsters that lurk in its dark, cold waters. Only a fool would dismiss these tales, several ships that went north in the Sea of Snow never returned, and more than one crew found themselves fighting for their lives when their ship came under attack from a monstrous sea beast. Seahemoths more than twice the size of a full grown oxen have been know to attack ships, looking to smash the hulls and consume anyone who falls into the water. Cambion-whales with great curling horns have been spotted, and there are reports of kraken, the most feared of all the inhabitants of the Sea of Snow.

The Faraden avoid these monsters, their limited fleet of fishing vessels stay close to the shore and immediately flee if a sea-monster is spotted, using a system of flares to warn other vessels in the area to do likewise. They would never contemplate hunting one of these creatures, not least because they've never possessed the kind of ships needed to take on such deadly beasts. They have no experience fighting them, and can offer no advice on how to go about it.

To be fair, the Empire doesn't have any experience fighting the kraken of the Sea of Snow either, but it does have the ships! An upgraded fleet, or one with a powerful enchantment such as Blood and Salt, would be a match for a seahemoth or a cambion whale. The biggest most powerful Imperial vessels might even be able to take on a small kraken. They would need to spend the season at the new docks at Caitun to have any chance of catching a creature which is something only a Marcher, Winterfolk or swift Freeborn vessel can do. There simply wouldn't be enough time for an Imperial ship coming from another port to carry out an effective hunt.

A starting fleet that chose to spend the season hunting the area would receive an ingot of weltsilver and other luxuries worth 3 crowns from the grateful Faraden fishing community. It would be a poor return and not worth the effort. Only if the vessel were large and powerful enough to defeat a seahemoth, would the returns be worthwhile. A fleet with a military strength of two hundred or more, would return with a bounty of precious seahemoth oil, while a ship with three hundred or more military strength could recover pieces of whale horn. There are only a tiny number of fleets in the Empire capable of hunting a kraken, but a fleet with a military strength of four hundred or more - whether from upgrades or rituals, would return with kraken's ink as their reward.

Dredging the Westmere

Dredge the Westmere near Meade
Commission Type: Ministry
Location: Meade March, Mitwold
Cost: 50 weirwood, 30 white granite, 20 thrones, six months
Effect: Adds the Coastal quality to Meade, creates trade opportunities in Meade and Fisk and increases taxation from Bregasland, Kallavesa, and Mitwold
Opportunity: This building opportunity, and the titles associated, have required elements; if any are not all fulfilled the commission does nothing
  • The coastal waters of the Westmere need regular dredging to further improve Imperial trade with Faraden
  • Dredging the waters would require a commission and cost 50 wains of weirwood, 30 wains of white granite, 20 thrones, and take six months to construct
  • Meade March would gain the costal quality
  • If this was combined with expanding the docks at Caitun it would create the potential for two new Imperial positions that could buy bourse materials from the Faraden
  • Dredging the Westmere would see taxation increased by 2 thrones each season in both Bregasland and Kallavesa, and 5 thrones each season in Mitwold

The market town of Meade is the largest Imperial settlement on the Gullet with easy access to the Sea of Snow. The docks are better suited than those elsewhere for handling the number of ships expected to be making the journey to trade in Menendram but they don't compare with those in Cargo, Siroc, or Atalaya. The key reason for this is the shallow waters that lead to the port. The entire area needs to be dredged, widening and deepening the channels that lead to the docks making it much easier for large ships to get in and out.

Dredging the harbour and the surrounding water-ways is no simple matter. It would require a Senate motion, 50 wains of weirwood, 30 wains of white granite, 20 thrones and take six months to complete the facilities and equipment needed to dredge the area. The dredging would need to be constantly maintained as well, but that cost to the Senate would be more than covered by an increase in taxation. New businesses and opportunities in Bregasland, Kallavesa, and Mitwold would see a seasonal increase of 9 Thrones each season to the Imperial treasury. The region of Meade March would also gain the coastal quality, potentially allowing the future construction of a shipyard at Meade.

Crucially, this would ease the passage of Imperial vessels making the difficult journey to Caitun, making it much easier for trade to flow between the Faraden and the key ports on the Westmere; Meade and Fisk.

Mead from Meade

Alder of Meade
Title: Imperial or National position
Appointment: Imperial Bourse, by Auction or Tally of the Votes depending on whether it is Imperial or National position
Powers:Control of a ministry able to purchase mithril from Faraden
Responsibilities: Protect the docks of Meade, maintain good relations with the Tseriyn
Restriction: Mithril production is guaranteed until 388YE; changing diplomatic relations with Faraden may impact the title
Opportunity: This title has required elements; if any are not all fulfilled the title does not gain some or all of its powers
  • The Tseriyn merchant family have offered a trade agreement making mithril available to purchase until the Winter Solstice 388YE
  • The Tseriyn are a powerful but cannot afford to keep this offer open indefinitely, if work on dredging the Westmere isn't completed before the Spring Equinox 386YE then it would need to be renegotiated
Tseriyn Mithril
160 crowns7 wains of mithril
380 crowns14 wains of mithril
660 crowns21 wains of mithril

Amulchi Tseriyn has approached the Imperial ambassador to Faraden with a proposal for a trade agreement. The Tseriyn are a powerful and wealthy Faraden family, with deep connections to Tchinua Ganbatar, the new Liege of the Five Winds. The family control a valuable mithril mine in Faraden, and they are keen to take advantage of the current opportunities presented by the potential expansion of the docks coupled with the high prices being offered for mithril in the Empire.

If both the docks at Caitun enlarged and the waters near Meade dredged then the Tseriyn would arrange to make mithril available for purchase. They are keen to buy grain, apples, salted meat, cider and mead from farms across the Marches. The Empire would need to appoint someone to handle the trade, the Alder of Meade perhaps, which would need to be appointed as a position in the Imperial Bourse either through Auction of the Seats if Imperial or Tally of the Votes if a national title in the Marches. In return the Tseriyn merchant family are prepared to commit to a two year trade agreement as a minimum, allowing the Alder of Meade the chance to purchase mithril at an agreed rate.

It's not clear why the Tseriyn are prepared to sell so much mithril to the Empire, nor what purpose they intend to put their profits to. They are known to be keen adherents of Prosperity, and there is some suggestion that this trade agreement will influence Faraden politics, affecting the internecine squabbling between the various high families who support or oppose the current Liege of the Five Winds. The Empire is largely blind to the details of this factionalism, but the arrangement appears to come with the blessing of Tchinua Ganbatar, so it is reasonable to assume there won't be any negative ramifications. Rather, bolstering a key ally of the current ruler could well help the Empire's diplomatic relations with Faraden.

Fiskal Expansion

Mediator of Fisk
Title: Imperial or National position
Appointment: Imperial Bourse, by Auction or Tally of the Votes depending on whether it is Imperial or National position
Powers:Control of a ministry able to purchase ilium from Faraden
Responsibilities: Protect the docks of Fisk, maintain good relations with the the Salagiin
Restriction: Ilium production is guaranteed for at least three years; changing diplomatic relations with Faraden may impact the title
Opportunity: This title has required elements; if any are not all fulfilled the title does not gain some or all of its powers
  • The Salagiin merchant family have offered a trade agreement making ilium available to purchase until the Winter Solstice 390YE
  • The Salagiin are wealthy but cannot afford to keep this offer open indefinitely, if work on dredging the Westmere isn't completed before the Spring Equinox 386YE then it would need to be renegotiated
Salagiin Ilium
35 crowns
20 beggar's lye
2 rings of ilium
70 crowns
45 beggar's lye
4 rings of ilium
110 crowns
75 beggar's lye
6 rings of ilium
155 crowns
110 beggar's lye
8 rings of ilium
205 crowns
150 beggar's lye
10 rings of ilium

The town of Fisk is smaller than Meade, but as the only real Wintermark trading port, it is a crucial market for many halls across the nation. Dredging the Westmere would benefit Fisk every bit as much as Meade, making it much easier for heavily laden trading vessels to enter and leave the port. Another Faraden family, led by Serana Salagiin are interested in the possibilities this creates.

Faraden politics are notoriously opaque but by all accounts, the Salagiin are apparently implacable rivals of the Tseriyn, and are keen to ensure that the benefits of trade do not all go to the supporters of Tchinua Ganbatar. They have ilium for sale and are keen to buy beggar's lye, salted fish, and finished goods marked with runes made by Wintermark artisans. This means the ministry will require both coin, and measures of beggar's lye, to operate.

The Empire would need to appoint someone to handle the trade, the Mediator of Fisk perhaps, which would need to be appointed as a position in the Bourse either through Auction of the Seats if Imperial or Tally of the Votes if a national title in the Wintermark. In return the Salagiin merchant family are prepared to commit to a three year trade agreement as a minimum, allowing the Mediator of Fisk the chance to purchase ilium at an agreed rate.

Given the goods the Salagiin are looking to purchase, it makes sense that they would want to agree an arrangement with a position based in Kallavesa, but there are suggestions that they are also keen to keep as much distance as possible between themselves and their rivals. They appear to be keen to ensure Tseriyn have as few opportunities to know what they are buying and selling as possible. As always, the rivalries between the Faraden families remain opaque to Imperial observers.


The Imperial Senate voted to support the expansion of Caitun during the Spring Equinox 385YE and work was completed shortly before the Autumn Equinox of the same year. Imperial fleets will be able to trade with Caitun, and Wintermarker, Marcher, and Freeborn fleets will be able to hunt monsters in the Sea of Snow following the Autumn Equinox 385YE.

Further Reading