Delver of the Depths
The Delver of the Deep is an Imperial title created by the Imperial Senate in as a response to the great sinkhole that opened up in the north-western Empire in 381YE. The hole swallowed parts of Miaren, Temeschwar, Upwold, and Hahnmark, and while it presented an opportunity to claim a significant amount of weltsilver it did so alongside a significant threat of trogoni attacks.
The title is similar to those that grant custodianship of a sinecure, in that it provides a regular income of valuable materials. Unlike a sinecure, however, the Delver of the Depths did not need to be commissioned, and has an upkeep for the Senate of 5 Thrones each season.
The Delver of the Depths has few responsibilities regarding Lorenzo's Deep Pockets as the sinkhole has been officially named. They are responsible for protecting the sinkhole and its bounty - but also for protecting the lands around it from the creatures that lair in its depths. If any opportunity relating to the sinkhole were to arise, the Delver of the Depths would likely be responsible for determining how those opportunities might be exploited - for example granting permission to an adventurous scholar to explore the depths of the hole.
Bounty of the Deep Earth
The Delver of the Depths gains custodianship of the northern sinkhole dubbed Lorenzo's Deep Pockets. The Delver receives an income of 50 ingots of weltsilver, 20 ingots of tempest jade, and 12 crystal mana each season.
The title of Delver of the Depths is appointed during the Autumn Equinox, auctioned through the Imperial Bourse to the highest bidder.
Lorenzo's Deep Pockets
A little over a month after the Spring Equinox 381YE, a large section of north-western Goldglades in Miaren disappeared with an almighty roar. Goldglades is one of the richest part of Miaren, and the loss of life could have been very high indeed. Several vates apparently foresaw the danger in the Pool of Silver Clouds, however, and were able to deliver warnings to those in the effected area. Not everyone listened of course - but the Navarr are by nature a people prepared to move when the need arises.
After the initial collapse, the hole began to spread, consuming parts of Birchland in Upwold, the Vardstein Vales in Temeschwar, and Wood Heath in Hahnmark. Disruption was severe. The prominent Woodhall was swallowed overnight leaving the influential Dunnings temporarily homeless; the castle of Eastern Guard was evacuated of all save a bare bones garrison too stubborn to abandon their post, and for several weeks there was real concern that this old fortress might go the way of Woodhall.
Where the four territories once met, there is now a massive sinkhole. It is estimated to be seven hundred feet deep, with a lake at the bottom that may well be bottomless. The cliff walls are nearly vertical, and still prone to collapse in some places, but there are also signs of caves and tunnels opening out in several places. Initial explorers have excitedly reported what look to be ancient mine workings - some reaching back to the time of the Terunael, and some reaching back even further. The full extent of the network of caverns here has yet to be determined.
More worryingly, a number of the daredevils who made a preliminary investigation of some of the more accessible caves and tunnels failed to return - and all those who did return in one piece have described encounters with particularly angry trogoni - creatures rarely encountered outside of the mountains of Urizen, and the northern peaks of Wintermark and Varushka. They also reported massive stockpiles of weltsilver stored in the exposed tunnels - it seems likely that this was gathered here from the ancient mine workings for some reason. Now that they have been exposed they are literally just lying there for the taking. Significant risks surrounded the task of acquiring the weltsilver, however.
During the Summer Solstice, the Imperial Senate passed three motions to do with the sinkhole. First, to help the Dunnings build New Dunhall on the northernmost edge of the great pit. Second, to auction the rights to name the Sinkhole. Finally, to create the title of "Delver in the Depths", to make ownership of the sinkhole - and its valuable bounty - a matter for the Imperial Bourse.
The auction to name the sinkhole took place during the Autumn Equinox and was won by Lorenzo Macelliao von Temeschwar for five Thrones. He formally named the great pit "Lorenzo's Deep Pockets". The hole is also referred to by a few other epithets of course - in Temeschwar for example a few wits have dubbed it "the Foxhole" (referencing Lorenzo's nickname of "La Volpe").
Exploration of the Sinkhole
Over Winter 382YE, Snowstorm Henk of the Department of Historical Research undertook an exploration of the sinkhole on behalf of Peter of Hintown. Paid for by Tormund of Wintermark, the Imperial Orc scholar spent several weeks in Lorenzo's Deep Pockets along with a band of mercenary soldiers and several mining experts. Despite several violent run-ins with the trogoni that infest the entire area, he was able to uncover some useful information about the mysterious tunnels that surround the sinkhole. Broadly, he reports, the tunnels and caves can be divided into four types.
The first group appear natural. There appears to be a significant amount of underground water in the area, having eaten away at the rock for thousands of years. The water is cold, and reasonably pure, but there is currently no indication of where it comes out. Snowstorm Henk speculates that it is possible the water just keeps going down and "there's a whole cold dark sea down under the north-western Empire somewhere." Some of the water-carved caverns are apparently very large, and there is speculation that it was the collapse of one or more of these caves that triggered the initial collapse.
The second group are relatively recent, and date back to the time of Terunael. A few bits of metal and stonework have been recovered, but trogoni, water, and time have meant that such relics are few and far between. It seems likely that the Terunael entered the existing caves in what is today north-west Miaren and maybe south-west Temeschwar, and expanded them. There is some speculation that these Terunael miners may have been incautious in their digging and broken through into some of the older caves, accidentally releasing the trogoni to overrun their workings.
The third group of tunnels are significantly older – at least a thousand years pre-Terunael at a cautious estimate. Most of these galleries are along the north-eastern sides of the hole, on the Wintermark and Marcher sides. They're deeper than the Terunael mineworkings as well, and it is difficult to judge their full extent as many of them are completely flooded. The tunnels are bigger than their Terunael equivalents – which is to say that the tunnels are wider and taller throughout. They are also markedly more sophisticated than the Terunael mines – everything is reinforced, buttresses everywhere, meaning there are few cave-ins or collapses which is remarkable given the presence of the trogoni in the entire underground area.
Snowstorm Henk cautiously speculates that whoever built these larger tunnels was not human. While no relics have so-far been discovered, there are several locations where explorers discovered writing on the walls. Written in runes, everything that has been encountered so far appears to be the names of specific locations such as “Hall of Echoes” or “Gallery of Silence”. The Imperial Orc scholar suggests that these are intended to help navigate underground, although they may have served some ritual purpose. The runes are apparently similar to those encountered in the underground ruins beneath Gildenheim, and lead Snowstorm Henk to speculate that these may turn out to be troll workings.
The final broad grouping of tunnels are clearly the work of the trogoni. They wander seemly at random, and the walls have a rough hewn texture that clearly suggests they were dug with massive rock-tearing claws rather than pickaxes and shovels. Some of these tunnels have collapsed, and there are signs that this had happened quite recently. Snowstorm Henk believes that it was the trogoni tunnels that actually triggered the great collapse that caused the sinkhole. Over the centuries, the burrowing beasts brought the area "to the point where there was more hole than stone and then natural philosophy took over."
The tunnels form a higgeldy-piggeldy maze, almost impossible to map, but Snowstorm Henk did discover something interesting, All the trogoni tunnels are more or less horizontal - there is no sign of where the trogoni actually came from. As the scholar says towards the end of his report "either (they) materialised out of thin air or there's a big tunnel leading down or away from the Bloody Big Hole that we haven't found yet."
Interestingly, the trogoni tunnels are a lot less common around the areas the explorers have dubbed “the troll mines”. The trogoni are still present - chewing up tempest jade and crystal mana and leaving metal behind - but while they move freely through these ancient tunnels they don't actually appear to be damaging or expanding them. Snowstorm Henk suggest that the tunnels may possess some property that discourages trogoni from tearing them up, potentially explaining how the builders were able to avoid accidentally being overrun by the subterranean horrors in the manner of the Terunael mines.
|Autumn Equinox 383YE||Wintermark||Tobrytan Dunning||52 thrones|
|Autumn Equinox 382YE||Wintermark||Tobrytan Dunning||45 thrones|
|Autumn Equinox 381YE||Wintermark||Tobrytan Dunning||47 thrones|
This title is currently held by Tobrytan Dunning; 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.