"The question is, is it Prosperous?" Maria asked thoughtfully.

Prince Luija popped a cherry into her mouth, chewed it, and delicately spat the stone out over the balcony into the river before answering.

"Who determines what is a fair price?" She asked, rhetorically. "The Bishops? I have every respect for our Bishops as you know Maria-"

"- Except for Bishop Jago who is an arse -" interrupted Maria.

"Except for Bishop Jago who is an arse, yes," she acknowledged. "But they are people of faith, and so their first priority is to ensure their congregations are full and that their cup runnuth over. That means saying what is popular. And what is more popular than carping on about the fair price?"

"True," said Maria. She topped up her wine glass. Prince Luija indicated she would also appreciate a little more of the white and Maria dutifully refilled her glass as well.

"It's always the same people who talk about the fair price - it's the people who can't afford the actual price. As if lowering the price of white granite would somehow, magically, mean there was then enough granite for everyone to have as much as they wanted! If you want a fair price for your bourse materials there are just two options - you can let the Synod decide who gets the white granite, or you can let the market decide who gets the white granite."

"Or the Senators," said Maria archly, sipping her wine.

"Right!" said Prince Luija. "Just three options. We could let the Senate decide. Imagine what a disaster that would be. A just price indeed - do you know what that really means? It means just the people the Synod like should be able to have any white granite. Good news if you're a bishop and want to expand your congregation."

Maria smiled gently into her wine. They were both a little the worse for wear, this discussion had been going on for at least an hour since the dinner things had been cleared away.

"So I take it you're not interested in attending the meeting tomorrow then? To talk about setting up a Bourse market where things can be bought for fair prices and such...?"

Luija raised her eyebrows.

"Of course we're going to be attending!" she said in a surprised tone. "I wouldn't miss it for the world! There is a potential here for a sensible guild to make a large amount of money depending on which way the coin falls. Either the proposal will be to offer low prices, in which case we can offer slightly more than that and still make a profit; or it will be to offer high prices in which case we can sell to them directly and make a profit. Regardless of how it goes, it means profit for us, Maria! And at the end of the day, the best price is the price that brings me - by which I mean us - the largest profit possible while leaving Bishop Jago and his friends convinced of our virtue!"

Overview

It has been an interesting year for the Bourse. With the Grendel invasion of Feroz, both the Scorrero Nets and the Broken Shore Bounty have been lost. The Legacy remains in the hands of the Druj, while the Pride of Ikka's Tears serves the Jotun now - or at least it will once they have repaired the damage done to it by Imperial heroes. At the same time, it's been a year of opportunity - the Crawling Depths are slowly being brought up to the standards expected of an Imperial mithril mine, and a new weirwood grove has been discovered in Liathaven.

It's also been a rocky year for the public auction. Following the disruption around the Cinderpath Exchange - now finally built in Highguard - the Varushkans have just completed construction of their Iron Roundtower, and while no progress has been made the Invisible Cord Brokerage has been commissioned in Navarr. This disruption has largely been sponsored by the Prosperity Assembly, who have resolutely encouraged Imperial citizens to focus on the virtuous understanding that there is a "fair price" for everything including mithril, weirwood, white granite, and ilium.

As Bartimaeus has already vouchsafed, virtuous people set prices for things which are fair, and buy and sell them accordingly. The Senate disagrees; it denies the virtue of engaging in trade in a virtuous manner. We send Raziel of the Shattered Tower with 25 doses of liao to urge those Highborn citizens in possession of white granite to refuse to deal with the greed embodied by the Bourse Auction at Anvil until such time as the Cinderpath Exchange is completed.

Raziel of the Shattered Tower, Mandate, Highguard National, Winter 382YE, Upheld 436-14

White Granite

  • The Cinderpath Exchange has been built
  • The white granite held back by virtuous citizens is now available on the public auction and to the Cinderpath Custodian

When the Cinderpath Exchange was proposed, it was clear that it would have a significant impact on the amount of white granite offered on the public auction. Highguard is one of the foremost producers of the valuable building material in the Empire, and there are virtuous citizens in many nations who have taken the Synod judgements about Prosperity to heart and now choose to offer their white granite to the Exchange rather than send it to Anvil to be auctioned. At the urging of the Synod, virtuous citizens across the Empire withheld their white granite in a protest against what was seen as the Senate's refusal to commission the Cinderpath Exchange. The construction has now been completed, however, and the white granite that was withheld is now being offered for sale - but the long-term effects of the Exchange will still see a significant reduction in the amount of white granite available at Anvil.

This season, however, amounts of white granite available at Anvil are expected to be somewhat higher than in previous months - the civil service is estimating that an additional dozen wains of white granite have been brought to Casinea to be auctioned. This is perhaps not as dramatic as might have been expected, given that the Cinderpath Exchange is also reducing the amount provided each season by 6 wains, and it likely represents the last time the amount of white granite available will reach so high.

Highborn citizens who withheld their white granite have instead offered it to the Cinderpath Custodian for sale. As a consequence, there will be an additional white granite available to the Custodian following the Autumn Equinox. The prices and volume available to the the Cinderpath Custodian have been updated to reflect this new availability.

The virtuous build up their fellows, and take pride in their people. Rather than looking to line their own pockets, Imperial citizens should seek ways to strengthen their own nations - and by doing so strengthen the Empire as a whole. We send Bartimaeus with 75 liao to urge Imperial citizens to consider how best the bounty of their nations might be used for the benefit of their people.

Bartimaeus, Mandate, General Assembly, Winter 382YE, Upheld 879-276

Ilium

  • The ilium that would have gone to the Broken Shore Bounty has been redirected to the public auction, and to Esteban I Del Rio Blanco I Guerra.

When the Grendel invaded Feroz during the Spring, they took the offices of the Broken Shore Bounty. The ilium that would have been provided to the Freeborn holder of the seat cannot be delivered. During the Summer Solstice, a proposal was made that the Imperial Senate could re-establish the offices to Siroc. While there are obvious benefits - the Salt Guard protects Siroc and would make it significantly less likely that the Grendel would be able to threaten the Bounty in the future - it was not without downsides - it would suggest the Senate does not think it will recapture Feroz in the immediate future.

Regardless, the fisherfolk and mariners of the Bay of Catazar continue to come into possession of ilium and it has been six months since they have been able to deliver it. This has lead to two somewhat different outcomes.

Master of Fleets.jpg
Esteban I Del Rio Blanco I Guerra, the Imperial Fleet Master.

There are those in possession of rings of ilium who need the money more than they need the precious star metal. They are grateful to the efforts made to keep them safe from pirates - Grendel and otherwise - but there are practicalities. Boats must be repaired, nets fixed, wages paid, and food put on their tables. These people are sending the ilium they have gathered to Anvil for the public auction. The civil service predict that there will be an additional 10 rings of ilium available to purchase this season on the public auction, and until the Broken Shore Bounty is re-established, around four rings a season going forward.

The others, however, feel that they owe the corsairs of the Brass Coast - and the Imperial Fleet Master in particular - a great debt. Esteban I Del Rio Blanco I Guerra has achieved much in his time in office, including the devastating blow to the Grendel domination of the Bay after the Spring Equinox. They tend to be the wealthier ship captains, or those for whom virtue is more important than money. With the assistance of the Fellowship of the Purple Sails - who have their own reasons to be grateful to the i Del Rio Blanco - they have collected their rings of ilium and sent them to the Imperial Fleet master; six rings in total. Furthermore, they are encouraging their fellows to follow suit. Until the Broken Shore Bounty is re-established, or until Esteban i Del Rio Blanco I Guerra no longer holds the title, they will provide four rings a season for him to use as he sees fit.

Once the Broken Shore Bounty is reestablished, there will need to be some discussion as to whether this arrangement continues. There may be Constitutional issues around a title appointed by the Imperial Military Council formally being in receipt of Bourse materials - but for now this is clearly a gift from private citizens and causes no immediate legal complications.

Mithril and Weirwood

  • The Iron Roundtower has been built in Varushka resulting in fewer wains of mithril on the public auction
  • The Iron Roundtower is available for appointment during the Autumn equinox.
  • The Invisible Cord Brokerage has been commissioned but not constructed

At the moment, the amount of Weirwood on the public auction remains steady but already there are people across the Empire wondering if they ought not to consider following the lead of the Highborn and finding more virtuous ways to sell their weirwood than by auctioning it to the highest bidder. The General assembly has urged Imperial citizens to strengthen their nations rather than line their own pockets. Following the example of the Iron Roundtower and the Invisible Cord Brokerage, the Freeborn are discussing the creation of the Parador of Dust in response to a proposal from their assembly.

Now the people of the Marches have thrown their hat into the ring, metaphorically, with a proposal of their own.

Prosperous people sell at prosperous prices as proven by the Cinderpath exchange. The Marcher assembly encourages Marchers with Bourse resources to come together to form an exchange where a nominated Marcher may purchase these at a prosperous price.

Landon of Longridge, The Marches National, Summer Solstice 383YE, Upheld (114-0)

Blackfield Market

  • A market could be built in Mitwold allowing the purchase of wains of white granite.
  • It would require a senate motion or Imperial wayleave, 12 wains of weirwood, 24 crowns in labour, and take three months to construct.

The Marcher assembly has proposed an exchange where a nominated Marcher may purchase Bourse resources at a prosperous price. After a good deal of discussion, the aldermen of several of the richer market towns across the nation have come together with a proposal. Meeting in Meade, they have presented plans for a set of warehouses and a monthly market. Dubbed the Blackfield Market, the warehouses would be built on the road between Meade and Wayford at the village of the same name. Blackfield is mostly known as a place one passes through on the way to somewhere else, but it has plenty of flat open ground, a good inn, and it's own militia with plenty of experience working with the Bailiff of the Grand Market and patrolling the roads to keep them clear of bandits and brigands.

Total Money SpentProduction
100 crowns5 wains white granite
196 crowns9 wains white granite
277 crowns12 wains white granite

Constructing the market would require 12 wains of weirwood, 24 crowns in labour costs, and the use of a Senate motion or Imperial Wayleave. It would take three months, and once complete would also create an Imperial title - Blackfield Bailiff - that would oversee the market and take advantage of the opportunity to purchase Bourse materials at a reasonable price. They propose that the Bailiff be appointed annually through the Imperial Bourse by vote of the farm owners of the Marches.

As with other commissions of this kind, if the Blackfield Market is constructed it will permanently reduce the number of wains available through the public auction at Anvil.

Supply and Demand

  • Opportunities exist to build further national Bourse ministries but the number is severely limited
  • Once two such ministries have been built that provide a given resource, no more will be available
  • Proposals have been put forward by other nations but the Synod would need to confirm there is interest in them before they would be finalised.

The Cinderpath Exchange and the Iron Roundtower have already had a significant impact on the amount of white granite and mithril available through the public auction. If the Invisible Cord Brokerage is completed, it will likewise effect the weirwood. The civil service predict that should a second such commission be constructed that provides a Bourse resource, then that material would no longer be regularly available through the auction and it would be very difficult to build a third commission specifically dealing in that material.

That is, if the Parador of Dust is constructed, then with the Iron Roundtower also having been built there will not only be minimal amounts of mithril available in the public auction but there would be no opportunity to build a third national ministry that produced mithril.

Interest in strengthening the nation, and putting virtue ahead of money, is still high but interest is likely to have faded by the start of the Winter Solstice 383YE. Following the completion of two of the proposed "Bourse Ministries" merchants and Chambers of Commerce in the five nations for whom no proposal has been put forward - Dawn, the Imperial Orcs, the League, Wintermark, and Urizen - have made suggestions of their own. However, presenting such opportunities takes time, effort, and money and nobody wants to waste them if there is no interest in commissioning such structures. if the priests of a nation believe there is support for building a Bourse ministry, then they will need to pass a suitably worded Statement of Principle during the Autumn Equinox supporting one of these proposals.

Applefell and Lacre

In Dawn, there are two suggestions both made by groups of yeofolk with long experience in dealing with money. There is the potential to build a market-faire at Applefell in Weirwater that would encourage the yeofolk who work in the extensive forests to bring their weirwood for sale to a Fairemaster chosen by the military unit owners of the nation. One of the Seneschals of Spiral Castle has apparently indicated that they would also provide small amounts of their own surplus material to the market, and would help others wishing to do so to transport their goods to Applefell. They would expect that title to be given to a yeofolk, of course, given that dealing with money is hardly a glorious enterprise for a noble.

An alternative pitch has come from the yeofolk of Lacre in Semmerholm. Small amounts of precious ilium are regularly drawn from the Semmerlak in fishing nets, not only along the shores of Semmerholm and Weirwater but in the Varushkan territores as well. A quarterly Star Metal Market could be established in Lacre, drawing ilium not only from prosperous Dawnish yeofolk but also potentially from farther afield. Again, they would expect a yeofolk to take the title of Starmetal Seneschal and as with all Dawnish Bourse positions it would be appointed by the captains of military units.

Should the Dawnish assembly believe there is interest in one or both of these proposals, they can confirm this with a suitably worded statement of principle in the national assembly. Provided it receives a greater majority the yeofolk of Dawn would have concrete proposals for the Faire and/or the Market at the Winter Solstice.

Krysse

Before the Thule invasion, back when Skarsind was part of Wintermark, two prosperous settlements in Estermark drew their wealth from the mountains. Today, Gulhule has more than regained the prosperity it lost when it was conquered by the Thule - thanks to the Foreman of the Mines of Gulhule and the hard work of the well-paid human miners, the town is booming. Krysse, to the south, has not been so fortune. Still, with the Synod encouraging people to look to the possibilities of strengthening their nation, the residents of the small town have come up with a possibility. A lot of the mithril going to the public Bourse comes from the northern territories. The Varushkans have already constructed their Iron Roundtower, and it is likely that over time more and more of the mithril brought out of the mines of Skarsind will end up going east to Delev.

Alternatively, a Miner's Market could be established at Krysse. There would need to be some work done on the roads in the vicinity, but once the construction was completed it would allow a bonesetter to be appointed by the military unit owners of the nation to purchase wains of mithril at reasonable prices not only from Imperial orcs but also potentially from merchants as far afield as Hahnmark and Temeschwar.

All the Imperial Orc Assembly would need to do would be to pass a statement of principle with a greater majority indicating that there is indeed interest in such an endeavour.

Gulnar's Deeps and Valashal

Like the Dawnish, the merchants, traders, and miners of Hahnmark have two proposals for the consideration of the Assembly. Hahnmark is the wealthiest of the Wintermark territories, and like Skarsind much of its wealth comes from the mountains. Both white granite and mithril are regularly found in the mines and quarries, and for the most part end up in Anvil. If the Synod thinks there is a chance for the commissions to be taken up, however, they suggest that there might be two opportunities to create national Bourse ministries in Hahnmark.

The first, Gulnar's Deephall, would consist of a sturdy hall and warehouses at the base of the peaks below Gulnar's Deeps. The deep caverns there have long been a source of mithril, and even the occasional ring of ilium. If the hall were built, the Winterfolk traders suggest, a national position appointed by the military unit captains of the nation would be able to purchase large amounts of mithril, for virtuous prices from honest miners and quarry owners.

Alternatively - or in addition - a second such trading hall could be constructed in Valashal in the south-east. The hills there have always been a rich source of white granite, but the hall would also potentially attract merchants from Skarsind, Temeschwar, and even the Marches. The hall would need a title to oversee it, again appointed through the national Bourse, and would be able to purchase white granite.

In addition to the white granite and/or mithril, if either or both trade halls were established, the positions appointed to oversee them would also be able to purchase small amounts of ilium. If one were appointed all the people with rings of ilium to sell would congregate there; if both were established they would split their sales between the two.

As with the other proposals, if the Wintermark Assembly wishes one or both of these to be firmed up and presented as opportunities at the Winter Solstice they will need a suitably worded statement of principle that passes with a greater majority during the Autumn Equinox.

Siluri

The Brilliant Star and the Legacy both lie in Urizen, and the mountains across the territory are known to be rich in the precious metal. They are also a good source of ilium; stars often fall on the high peaks of Morrow and a spire can make a small fortune sending that ilium to Anvil to be auctioned. In recent times, however, Urizen prosperity has been seriously impacted by the loss of Zenith, the invasion of Morrow, and the constant back-and-forth of Spiral. The fourth territory - redoubt - has remained much more stable however, having had no serious military problems for some time.

Inspired by recent Synod judgements, the architects of Urizen have put forward an adaptable proposal of their own that could be explored and used to establish national Bourse ministries in the relatively safe territory of Redoubt. The first would be to establish a market in the foothills of northern Siluri. Miners from across Redoubt and Morrow could come here to sell wains of mithril and rings of ilium. Establishing the market would require the creation of additional roads, and a bridge, but once they were in place would be reasonably easy to reach not only from across Urizen but also from Highguard to the west. The architects are looking for guidance from the Assembly as to what will be most useful for the nation as a whole - mithril, ilium, or a combination of the two (on the understanding that the latter will be more expensive).

If the assembly thinks this project is worth pursuing, the can indicate as such with a suitably worded statement of principle that receives a greater majority (which would also need to establish which resources will be of most use to the nation).

Holberg, Tassato, Temeschwar, and Sarvos

The Chambers of Commerce of the League have been watching recent developments with interest. On the whole, there is a feeling that they are already in a position to do well in the Bourse. Instead of proposing large-scale markets to deal in mithril, white granite, weirwood, or ilium the League merchants have a different idea. They will establish a single market in one of the four cities that will offer good prices for all four Bourse resources and allow the invisible hand of the market to supply them. Which city is almost immaterial - thanks to the Blood Red Roads it is reasonably easy for large numbers of Imperial citizens to reach any one of them.

Unlike the other proposals, the idea the merchant-princes are proposing would not count against the limitation of two such Bourse ministries for each resource - even if a second mithril ministry was built the market would still provide mithril. But more mithril would be available while only the Iron Roundtower existed - if a second ministry were later built the amount of mithril would drop significantly. The same is true of white granite, weirwood, and ilium. The creation of the market would also impact the public auction, again depending on how many other ministries for a given material were built. it is all a little complex, but the Merchant-princes and Bishops of Prosperity and Ambition who have discussed the proposals are confident it will all work out.

As with the other proposals here, the League assembly would need to reassure the merchant-princes that there is sufficient interest to go ahead with developing this idea further using a statement of principle - and would also need to establish which of the four cities should host the market. It would be appointed via the Bourse - but there is heated discussion about exactly how it would be appointed (given recent discussions about the future of League Bourse appointments).

Accounts and Accountability

  • The Prosperity assembly is concerned about the virtue of the Imperial Bourse
  • Citizens are encouraged to report unvirtuous behaviour by the Bourse to the Prosperity assembly.
  • A new title could be commissioned to help the Bourse operate more virtuously.

During the Summer Solstice, a Highborn priest named Onan of the Chantry called out the enormous power the Imperial Bourse holds within the Empire, and that while many used their position for virtuous purposes others did not. The Prosperity assembly agreed with the wily Onan, and there has been a great deal of discussion about how best to proceed. Much of the work has already been done of course; the statement calls for people to simply report any examples of unvirtuous behaviour to the Prosperity assembly. Presumably priests of the assembly, or the Virtue Inquisitor could then investigate further.

But there is an alternative, as suggested by Imago Monta di Tassato Regario, a young bishop devoted to the pursuit of Prosperity. The Empire has an Auditor of Senatorial Accountability responsible for ensuring the funds allocated to Senators are used wisely and in accordance with the will of the Senate. There is an Imperial Chaplain Consular who advises ambassadors and ensures they do not become seduced by foreign nations. There have been proposals for a long time for chaplains to help the Military Council to act in a virtuous manner. And of course an entire Conclave order - the Sevenfold Path - is responsible for helping the Imperial Conclave to act in accordance with virtue wherever possible. Why not a similar position whose responsibilities are to advise the Bourse seats?

Obviously, the Imperial Constitution says that the Bourse "shall be free of all interference of the Senate, or from the Synod" but Bourse seats can still be called to Inquisition, and can even be Excommunicated if their virtue is considered compromised enough. After all, says Imago Monta, were some of those members of the Pledge who were excommunicated all those years ago not also Bourse seats?

As such Imago proposes that the Prosperity assembly petition the Imperial Senate to create a new Imperial title - perhaps an Ombudsman of the Bourse - with responsibilities to help the Bourse seats act with virtue. The title could be given the power to call Bourse seats to inquisition in the same manner as the Auditor of Senatorial Accountability. Perhaps they could even be given the power to once each summit raise a writ of excommunication in the general assembly without it counting against their one judgement each season - only to expose individuals who are deeply unvirtuous of course.

Resolution

During the Autumn Equinox, the Wintermark National Assembly indicated that the Valshal would benefit the nation. The Dawnish Assembly attempted to raise support for the Applefel Market-faire, but were unfortunately unable to achieve a Greater Majority.

Interest in these opportunities has faded by the start of the Winter Solstice 383YE, and they are no longer available in their current form. You can learn more in the Apples from a tree Wind of Fortune.

Further Reading