The Crawling Depths are located beneath the town of Lomaa in Ossium. Custodianship of the Crawling Depths grants an Imperial title; a seat on the Imperial Bourse; and a seasonal bounty of valuable mithril.
The Crawling Caves were seized during the joint Dawn and Varushka conquest of the Druj territory of Ossium in Autumn 382YE. It is a vast mithril mine that lies below the crudely defended town of Lomaa, a testament to Druj cruelty and their embrace of fear and misery. At first commanders assumed the name was just typical Druj melodramatics, but they soon discovered that the name was very literal. This was not a mine in the sense that any Imperial citizen would understand, and no Imperial miner would deign to work it.
Rather than take the time to cut out wide shafts, supported by thick timbers, the Druj had cut hundreds of twisting passages deep underground that stretch for miles in some cases, but are rarely tall enough for a person to rise from their hands and knees. There are long stretches where the passages are so narrow that it is impossible to turn around. Only where the mithril deposits are found was any serious excavation attempted - and then only enough to get the precious metal. There was little attempt to shore up workings, and safety was clearly not a consideration for anyone. The skilled minres of Moresvah who examined the mines were deeply unimpressed with the crude Druj approach. "You can only carry out mining like this if you have absolutely no concern of any kind for the well being of those who work here," as Vitalia Camorovic Pravin put it.
Tragically the mines were not just a way to work mithril, but also served as a prison for those forced to toil here. The earliest galleries - long since played out - had been been converted into rough living quarters. Behind the thick iron bars placed over the passageways that lead to them the Empire discovered some five hundred slaves permanently penned there. The Druj forced them to work with a crude system of incentives - any slave could leave the pens at any time - to be allowed to crawl into the depths. They could remain there as long as they chose; when they returned they would be returned to the pens with the others but given food dependent on the amount of mithril they handed over. Incredibly none of these slaves had ever seen the light of day - they were born in the mines - and none ever possessed the slightest hope that they would ever leave.
With the occupants of the mine freed, the skilled engineers of Moresvah were able to take a proper look at the Crawling Depths and it was clear that it had huge potential. They estimated that it could produce 28 wains of mithril a season - but only if it was completely overhauled. Representatives of the the Malinov, the Sloev and the Pravin families of Moresvah accompanying the Golden Axe are keen to offer their assistance in working the newly captured mithril mine, so it can begin producing immediately, albeit at the lower rate. The enthusiastic Varushkan miners are engaged in negotiations with many of the former slaves, dealing with those few prepared to work the mine in return for Imperial wages, as well as recruiting workers from back home prepared to endure the dreadful conditions in return for premium pay. At the very least, the Moresvah miners are slowly shoring up the tunnels to reduce the chances of a costly collapse.
Overhauling the Mine
It would need a Senate commission, requiring a truly massive investment to bring the mine into a fit state to be used by free people. In all it would cost 300 thrones and take two seasons to complete (although mining could continue while the work was underway). Until those improvements are complete, the mine will produce only half the normal output. The only alternative would be to continue using the mine on the current basis, but nobody has the stomach to even suggest that; the Empire are not the Druj.
The Bourse Seat
The Seat has no particular responsibilities; they simply receive a bounty of mithril which is theirs to do with as they will. If the Crawling Depths were to be threatened in any way, it would be the responsibility of the Seat to deal with those threats. Likewise, if any particular opportunity were to arise related to the Crawling Depths, the Seat would expect to be consulted as to how that opportunity might be resolved.
Seat on the Bourse
Custodianship of the Crawling Depths comes with a seat on the Imperial Bourse. For the most part, this Seat comes with no additional responsibilities. It is an Imperial title that grants the right to participate on the rare occasion when the Imperial Bourse as a body is required to make a decision.
Bounty of mithril
The Seat has control of a source of mithril and receives Bourse certificates to represent that control. They can dispense this resource as they choose. Production is 14 Imperial wains of mithril every season.
As with all mithril Bourse seats, the holder of the title is determined during the Autumn Equinox. As an Imperial seat, any Imperial citizen may participate in the auction and hold the title.
|Autumn Equinox 383YE||Varushka||Vasiliy Krenyenkov Valeskai Strascovich||257 thrones|
|Winter Solstice 382YE||Wintermark||Bron Mordssen||164 thrones|
This title is currently held by Vasiliy Krenyenkov Valeskai Strascovich; it will be reelected at Autumn Equinox 384YE. The table to the right shows the citizens who have been elected to hold this title in the years since Empress Britta died.