Nothing remains of the Spires of Solokha save haunted, cursed ruins that even the Axou are loathe to approach.


During the Spring Equinox 385YE, the Minister of Historical Research, Vaclav Mladenovich Kosti, instructed the Department to "research the origins, purpose and history of the Tower of Solokha and the reasons for its destruction by Emperor Nicovar." They suggested that Guillame Summerset di Temeschwar, currently on sabbatical at the Halls of Maykop in Axos following his investigation of the artist Andretti there, could provide some assistance. The League scholar took a little time out from his sabbatical to provide some information, but refused point blank to visit Solokha himself, and Eilian Sweetwater (former member of the Department) said that he had nothing to add about his own visit beyond what he had already recorded.

Citadel of Solokha

While the Minister refers to the Tower of Solokha, it would more properly be termed a citadel – one of the six cities that hold the majority of the Axou people. Named the Spires of Solokha, the Axou say that it was founded at the same time as the others – the Tunnels of Kaban, the Chambers of Issyk, the Halls of Maykop, the Gates of Ipotavo, and the Towers of Kantor.

As with the other citadels, it was apparently founded by a mighty sorcerer-king, and shares their name. Solokha is recorded as being the youngest of the six, a consummate master of Autumn lore. She was said to have a transcendent understanding of how the bonds between people are formed, and how societies can be influenced by the gentlest touch. Wise and even-handed, she served as a moderating influence over the disagreements and rivalries of her peers.

Envoys from Solokha were respected for this sworn neutrality, mediating disputes, acting as representatives and advocates, and generally doing their best to foster unity among their often fractious people. They were also the people most likely to reach beyond the borders of Axos. The Axou have always been an introspective people, but it was diplomats from Solokha who reached out to the Skourans and established trade ties with them in the years prior to their defeat by the orcs of the Broken Shore.

Each of the Grand Ilarchs of the city was named after her, and followed in her footsteps as an arbiter, peacekeeper, and judge, providing much-needed balance to the politics of the rival citadels. Since the destruction of Solokha, the other five citadels seem to have found it increasingly difficult to achieve any sort of consensus. The survivors from the Tunnels of Kaban, for example, are adamant that if Solokha had still been extant the Druj would never have been allowed to conquer them; the other citadels would have been shamed by Solokha into offering their aid.

The citadel itself was the westernmost of the Axou cities, in Kabanja, the foothills of the mountains between Tsark and Skoura. It was one of the least populous, apparently, although indications are that at the time of its destruction there would still have been as many people as currently reside in Meade, Kalpaheim, or Siroc. It was also apparently the most beautiful of the Axou cities, and some of the paintings kept at the Halls of Maykop support this fact, but given the ramshackle state of the towered cities, that isn't apparently saying much.

The Fall of Solokha

Axos had never particularly sought congress with the Empire. A few ships would trade through the docks beneath Kantor, but otherwise the nation minded it's own business and expected the Empire to do the same. Solokha was the exception. They apparently welcomed visitors from the Empire who travelled through the mountain passes from Mahal – the old name for the territory of Mareave when it was still in Skouran hands.

Most of the visitors to Solokha from the west were Urizeni, although the occasional Navarr apparently took the long wending route through the mountains. There is some confusion about precise dates, but it seems that at the time that Solokha was destroyed, the ancestors of the Grendel had already begun to make inroads into Mareave, and that there may actually have been several Urizeni spires in the north of the territory either as guests of the Skourans, living on land ceded to the Empire specifically, or quite possibly simply old Urizeni spires from pre-Imperial times. Urizen civilisation, after all, began in Morrow and Spiral. Just as they had spires in Zenith and Redoubt before the territories were conquered it's likely they had some presence in other neighbouring regions.

This welcome to the Urizeni, as representatives of the Empire, is seen by the Axou historians as the root of their undoing. The official line in Axos is that the Urizen in general, and Emperor Nicovar in particular, were jealous of their mastery of the arts of necromantia, of their great citadels, and of their long and victorious history. They pretended to be friends while actually plotting the destruction of the citadels, starting with Solokha.

The Axou don't seem to know exactly how Solokha was destroyed. Contemporary accounts speak of a “night of madness and terror,” that overwhelmed the people and caused them to slaughter each other in a wave of unspeakable acts. Their historians believe that this was the result of a curse, and that the plan was that once Solokha had destroyed itself the Empire would move in, occupy the citadel, and use it as a base of operations from which to invade first Kabanja and then the rest of their nation, plundering their secrets and enslaving their people as they went. How they expected the Empire to move an army into Kabanja is not clear; magic, the aid of an eternal, treachery by the Skourans.

In the event, however, even the Empire was horrified by what it had unleashed (or so Axou scholars claim). They had intended to spread chaos but instead unleashed a force too terrible for them to control. Opinion is divided among the Axou historians as to what went awry. Some blame a conjunction of the Wanderer, the Claw, and the Phoenix which their records show was moving into alignment when the assault took place. A small number suggest that the curse was intended to unleash the worst elements of the human soul, and the people of Solokha had spent so long suppressing those elements that when they were unleashed it was with the force of a tidal wave that swept everything away.

Solokha was known for its museums, where curios and artifacts from all over the Known World were gathered and studied by the scholars of the citadel in pursuit of understanding. This leads some Axou to suggest that it was a confluence of poorly-thought-out Imperial magic and one of the many relics and curios collected in the museums of Solokha that caused the curse to rebound and resonate through the citadel gaining power as it went.

Indeed, the story of Reimos recounted by Elian Sweet-water in his lengthy “Terunael in Axos” presents one version of this tale, referencing a tomb of black stone, and Urizeni interference in a divinatory ritual whose disruption apparently spread madness through the city. This story is remarkably detailed and matches nothing Guillame Summerset di Temeschwar could find in the Halls of Maykop libraries so might merit being taken with a pinch of salt.

Regardless, Axou historians say that every single person in Solokha died between sunset on one day and sunset on the rest. Some of their own history books contradict this however; there are a few references to wild mobs of former Solokhan citizens rampaging through western Kabanja, slaughtering anyone they encountered and even trying to attack the Tunnels of Kaban and the Walls of Ipotavo. The defenders of the citadels were forced to kill them; attempts to calm them proved fruitless.

Axou Retaliation

The Grand Ilarchs reacted to the unprecedented destruction of Solokha by closing their borders. At first each of the citadels blamed the others, but through some means they came to believe the Empire was behind the attack – that Solokha were the only citadel to have much contact with them was one of the reasons given in the historical texts. They spent some time rallying an army from the Tunnels of Kaban and the Walls of Ipotavo, before marching west.

How they passed through the mountains is unknown; Axou records say only that their sorcerers found a way to take their vengeance against the Empire although it's not clear if they are talking about a ritual or an agreement with an eternal. They attacked the Urizen spires in northern Mahal and then marched through the Apulian Way and laid siege to the spires of Apulus. The Empire was taken by surprise, and took a little while to respond, with the Citadel Guard and the Wolves of War being the first armies to engage the Axou.

This initial engagement demonstrated that the Empire had underestimated the Axou, and they inflicted a stinging blow against the Imperial troops. While it had been raised in Kabanja, the Axou army was supported both by warcaptains from all five remaining citadels, and by a very large number of unliving horrors. There are reports of cadres of Tavos Ageli (unliving Axou warriors of terrible mien) as well as husks similar to those raised by Quickening Cold Meat but much more cunning and also much more biddable.

The Military Council responded by moving four additional armies into Spiral including the Fire of the South, the Eastern Sky, the Seventh Wave, and the Granite Pillar. The Axou were unable to stand against such overwhelming force, and they retreated back into Mahal and thence back into Kabanja. They did not return, but they remained hostile to the Empire for some time, eventually reopening diplomatic channels again only after the death of Empress Britta.

Imperial Records

There are no Imperial records of the Senate ever authorising an attack against the Spires of Solokha. There's nothing in the writings of Emperor Nicovar to indicate that he was even particularly aware of the nation apart from inasmuch as it impacted Imperial trade. The fact the Axou were insular, verging on the xenophobic, makes this perhaps understandable.

The first official records relevant to this research appear with the attack on Mahal and Spiral. The Throne himself declared war on Axos when their army first attacked the Urizeni (the Senate would not declare peace until three years after Nicovar had died). There's some speculation that this might go some way toward explaining the Axou certainty that Nicovar himself was their enemy, but it seems the Throne was simply reacting with outrage and fury at the attack against the Empire and his own nation.

Statements of principle in the Imperial Synod denounced the cowardly surprise attack, and the use of unvirtuous magic by the Axou sorcerers, but also criticised the Military Council for not responding with overwhelming force. They're shortly followed by statements thanking the generals of the victorious armies for their swift response, and agitating for retaliatory attacks which never came.

It does appear that this attack in Mahal saw the northern regions occupied by the Urizen lost, and never reclaimed, being annexed by the Skourans instead. There was some diplomatic too-and-fro on this matter but the Senate ultimately accepted reparations from the Skourans in the form of thirty wains of white granite to build a fortification to protect against future aggression from Axos. The fortification was never built.


The entire area around the Spires of Solokha is believed cursed by the Axou, and even when the Towers of Kaban were desperate for stone to rebuild their own shattered citadel there was apparently no question that they would salvage any of the ruins.

There is some evidence that the ruins are haunted, and the Axou seem uncharacteristically reticent to engage with the spirits of the restless dead there.

If Emperor Nicovar did engage in some kind of secret attack against the citadel of Solokha, it remains secret. It's possible that nobody will ever know for sure what actually destroyed the Spires of Solokha. That it was magical in nature appears unquestionable – assuming the stories and records of the Axou are to be trusted.

Further Reading