"I'm afraid it's not going very well for Tassato, you appear to be losing." Harlequin looked almost apologetic, two percent of the profits was hardly enough to make him a prince, but it was not to be sniffed at. He felt almost guilty about the way things were shaping up.

"Maybe we're all winning!" Fransesca's smile refused to acknowledge the hard truths she was hearing. "Would you believe me if I said that my true loyalty was to the League?"

"No. Sorry Fransesca, but I'm afraid your love of Tassato is well known. You can put a brave face on this, but I know you hoped to win." It gave Harlequin no pleasure to say it, but it was true. The prince was famous for her disdain of Sarvos in particular.

"Perhaps" she shrugged "And perhaps we're not out of this contest yet. Have you heard about the memorial that Alosious proposed?"

"Barell astride the river?" Harlequin's tone betrayed more than a hint of scepticism. "Big sculpture, arms outstretched to show the unity between the two sides of Regario and Mestra? That one..."

"That's the one! What better way to celebrate our Pride in our great city? A symbol of our unity. It's the perfect way to celebrate Tassato's history!"

She beamed at Harlequin, daring him to disagree with him. He decided to accept the challenge. "Is Alosious still proposing to include a beautiful stone bridge to cross the Vassa? Because if I were a gambling man I think that would sink this proposal faster than a stone hitting the water."

The Merchant Prince's laughter was only slightly forced. "Dear old Alosious, you can't fault his Ambition. I believe that some of the other princes have prevailed on him to adopt a more pragmatic approach."

Harlequin inclined his head and smiled. "Well in that case I think I'll take another drink Fransesca... "
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In the run up the Winter Solstice, Merchant Prince, Fransesca di Matos worked with the League egregores to propose a grand competition. A challenge to the Ambition, Pride, and Prosperity of the League to see which of the four is in fact the greatest. The competition runs for a single year, starting at the Winter Solstice 384YE and ending in time for the start of the Winter Solstice 385YE. The winner will be the city that spends the most Bourse resources to "improve" their territory.

To keep things simple, Fransesca wanted everything to count, not just the wains spent on any commission other than armies, but the resources spent by individual citizens to upgrade their own businesses and other personal resources. It has taken the civil service a little time to catch up with Fransesca's plans, but they are now able to provide some information on how the contest is going.

The Scores So Far

CityWeirwoodWhite GraniteMithrilPersonal ResourceTotal
Leaguer Eagle.jpg
Life is a competition, and everything costs.

After two seasons, Temeschwar has opened up a clear lead, in no small part thanks to the huge effort required to build the new Department of Architecture at the University. Holberg is a close second thanks to massive contributions from citizens upgrading their personal resources couple with the funding for Kleists Winter Gardens. Both Sarvos and Tassato are trailing far behind, with Sarvos in particular completely dependent on the efforts of individual citizens without whose efforts the City would have been reduced to an also-ran.

Still there is everything to play for - and still two seasons to go! With that thought in mind, individual citizens in a few cities are keen to see what more they can co.


  • Temeschwar is well ahead overall, but investment in personal resources has been low
  • There are two opportunities for great works in Temeschwar, both of which would increase taxation for the Imperial treasury

The city of Temeschwar has opened up a commanding lead in the contest, more than 30 wains ahead of its nearest rival. However with the construction of the new department at the university now complete, there are concerns that the supply of building projects could dry up. Now is not the time for the city to rest on its laurels, particularly given how low investment in businesses and other personal assets based in Temeschwar has been this year.

One way to ensure victory in the contest might be to build on Ratibor's legacy and the success of the campaign against the Vyig. Ridley von Temeschwar, merchant-prince of the Descent Guild of Ore Extraction, has been inspired to pursue their dream of making the mines of Temeschwar the most prosperous in the entire Empire and is proposing to drive a series of brand new roads into the mountains. They would enable the city to excavate the metal deposits much faster, generating record profits for everyone involved. It would require 50 wains of white granite, 50 wains of weirwood, cost 200 crowns, and take six months to complete but at the end of that time the Mines of Temeschwar would be some of the finest in the Empire and every mine in the territory would share in a bounty of 1080 rings every season; every business in the territory would get a share of 50 random ingots of metal and the Custodian of the Assayer's Guild would gain an additional two ranks to their ministry.

Alternatively, Temeschwar could log the Vardstein Vale. Marina Pretensa di Temeschwar of the Vardstein Timber guild operates out of the Vardstein Vale, a forested wilderness on the edge of Temeschwar. The area is rich in resources that could be exploited. Marina wants to build the Vardstein Timber mill and Sorting Yard on the edge of the Vale, a massive sawmill with mithril blades, along with road connecting the wild forest to the safety of the city. Her proposals require 40 wains of white granite, 20 wains of mithril, and 120 crowns and take six months to complete, but once finished, it would function as a great work, distributing a share of 40 measures of forest materials among the businesses of Temeschwar and creating an Imperial Title to oversee the operation that would benefit from a ministry allowing it to buy forest materials.

What might interest the Senate and permit them to support these projects is the potential for the long term benefits for the Empire and the treasury. Ridley's mines would increase the revenue for the Imperial treasury by 5 thrones a season, while Marina's timber yard would increase it by 10 thrones. Arguably these two commissions are the ones most in line with the original Statement of Principle submitted by Aureliana di Sarvos - that the cities compete to see who could increase Imperial taxation the most.


The Just Rewards
Commission Type: Sinecure.
Location: Misericorde and Utterlund, Holberg
Cost: 15 mithril, 15 weirwood, six months
Effect: 15 crowns income. Handle the sale of timber from the new woodmills
Time Limit: The opportunity to commission the Just Rewards is only available until the end of the Spring Equinox 386YE, and if work is not begun before the start of the Spring Equinox 386YE the opportunity will lapse
  • Holberg is running second, but would need a major project to overtake Temeschwar
  • There is an opportunity to help the Sand Fishers begin work on their sawmills

No city of the League is better known for its expertise in architecture and engineering than Holberg, so it is no surprise that its running second in the contest. Nearly a third of all the resources committed have gone to building Kleist's Winter Gardens however, and that commission is now complete. To overtake Temeschwar and claim the prize, they would likely need a major construction project to begin this season or at the very latest the next one...

That's when some bright spark remembers the Sand Fishers and their "grand" plan to build sawmills in Misericorde and Utterlund. They needed 15 wains of mithril and 15 wains of weirwood for the work, but they said they didn't want any help at all. They were quite determined to pay for it themselves - even if it took them years. If they start work now... well it wouldn't hurt. There's a few raised eyebrows at the suggestion, after-all they're not technically League citizens. But they live in Holberg - well in the marshes that nobody wants to be fair - but still! They're in Holberg... so by the terms of Fransesca's contest, they count.

A few quick conversations with the orcs visiting the Misericorde Market confirms that after a year the orcs have accumulated an impressive 16 wains. 8 wains of mithril, and 8 wains of weirwood. It's an impressive feat, even if most of the achievement can probably be laid at the door of the Merchant Princes of the Market who have kept it well stocked with resources ever since it opened. They're nearly half way to being ready to start their great work - barely another a year to go!

The Sand Fishers are excited about the prospect of helping with the contest, but they remain adamant that they won't accept any aid. Their Pride and their dedication to Prosperity has made them determined to achieve their goal without aid. But what if it wasn't aid... what if they paid for the materials? They haven't got any money at the moment, but once someone explains the idea of a loan to them, they are all in.

If an enterprising League citizen were to lend the Sand Fishers the remaining funds they need... say 50 thrones, they could pay them back at the rate of 351 rings a season for the next ten years. That would enable the Sand Fishers to begin work on their new sawmills immediately - and that would contribute another 30 wains to Holberg's totals! It's a flawless plan with one slight drawback - the Sand Fishers are a little suspicious of the idea of a loan. They don't entirely trust the League not to just give them the money. So they'd like a mandate from the League Assembly to endorse a nominated citizen to provide the loan who can then receive the repayments, so they know it is all above board.

Strive, toil, and claim the just rewards of your labours. We send {named citizen} with 50 thrones to lend to the Sand Fishers with which to buy the resources they need. No one knows what the morrow holds, but in this case it's a little under 8%

Synod Mandate, League National Assembly

If this mandate is enacted, the citizen will need to have 50 thrones in their inventory after the event ends. That will be removed, and they will receive loan repayments from the Sand Fishers of 351 rings a season for the next ten years. It's also worth noting that if the Sand Fishers were to finally complete their sawmills, they'd be in an excellent position to aid the League with building a port on the Semmerlak - something the League assembly are clearly in favour of.


Chain Against Chains
Commission Type: Fortification
Location: Cigno, Sarvos
Cost: 130 white granite, 32 thrones 4 crowns, one year to construct
Opportunity: Merchants of Sarvos will match the white granite contributed, wain for wain, for the next two seasons
Effect: Fortify Sarvos, particularly against coastal assault.
  • Sarvos is running way behind Temeschwar and Holberg
  • The Senate has commissioned the construction of an innovative new fortification designed to protect the city from the threat of the Grendel
  • Merchant Prince Genia Bourné has extended her offer to build the Brokers Office until the end of the 385YE

It has to be said, Sarvos are not currently set to win the contest, they're beating Tassato but only just. As one cynic points out, if the Sand Fishers put the thirteen wains they've bought into the contest themselves then they'd be just ahead of the collected luminaries of Sarvos. The personal aspirations of individual citizens have kept Sarvos in the race, but only just.

Arguably, Sarvos has more important things to worry about than a competition. The Grendel peace treaty is due to expire soon, Spiral has just joined the League, and the Grendel are likely to be pretty furious about that. And they just so happen to have three massive naval armadas anchored off the coast of the Empire. The Grendel have sacked Sarvos once in recent memory - it's hard to argue that it couldn't happen again. What is needed, urgently, is a major fortification effort to secure Sarvos. Our Lady of Pride exists but by itself, it simply will not be enough to hold off a Grendel armada.

What should do just that is the coastal defences proposed by Menno Van Ritsjhof. These have now been announced by the Master of the Koboldi, but after a season there has been no meaningful progress on their construction. The commission needs 130 wains of white granite - thus far concerned citizens have provided five crowns.

The influential merchant princes of Sarvos are keen to support the new commission as much as possible. It's the perfect way to get Sarvos back in the race and to secure the City against the depredations of the Grendel. To that end they are prepared to match the white granite contributed to the project with one wain of their own for every two wains submitted, for the next two seasons. Even then the fortification would not be complete until two seasons after the peace treaty expires, but perhaps even that problem could be resolved with the right magic...

The fortification is not the only possibility. While Sarvos' destiny as the City of Masks is secured, there are still opportunities to both refurbish the Glass Palace (the grand theatre), and establish the Greatest Taste (the open air banquet) in the city. Beautiful follies both, they would greatly contribute to Sarvos' position as a centre of culture in the Empire. Perhaps a little more practically, Merchant Prince Genia Bourné argues that now is the perfect opportunity to establish the brokers office that she first proposed more than a year ago. The Prince is eager to place her network of agents and buyers at the disposal of the City, and the contest has fired her imagination, so she is prepared to wait two seasons more, until the end of 385YE, before she permanently disposes of her assets.


The Merchant Prince of Tassato
Commission Type: Folly.
Location: Between Tassato Mestra and Tassato Regario in Tassato
Cost: 75 white granite, six months
  • Tassato looks set to finish last; it has invested barely a quarter of the totals managed by the front-runner Temeschwar
  • Tassato could commission a great statue of Barell, Merchant-Prince of Tassato and one of the founders of the League

Tassato's performance thus far has been uninspiring. They're a long way behind Sarvos, who are themselves in third place. In fact, if it weren't for the efforts of Astrid Fjellrevening to repair the damage done to the Blood Red River museum in Tassato there would have been almost no wains invested in the city at all. It's a sorry state of affairs, and one made all the more bleak by the destruction of the Sapphire Stair by the Jotun. Rebuilding that would require 30 wains, which would nearly double the cities current total, but it's hard to think of that as an "investment" given that it would only replace what has just been destroyed.

While scratching around for ideas, someone suggests the statue of Il Volpe that was proposed a few years ago. But Il Volpe is dead, so it's unlikely that there are any more wains to be had from that source. It seems like a dead duck.

But... what if Tassato had a great statue of its own, not of Il Volpe, but of one of the founders of the League? At the time the Empire was being established, Aldones di Sarvos met with two co-conspirators, Barell, Merchant Prince of Tassato, and Maria Ivanova, Boyar of Temeschwar. The three agreed to support the First Empress, and in doing so they created the idea of the League, an alliance of great cities that would come together as a nation with equal power and importance to Highguard and the other nations. It was an extraordinary achievement, one for which Aldones was rightly recognised as an exemplar by the Imperial Synod. But Barell has never had the recognition he deserves - even today there are precious few statues or memorials to this hugely important figure.

There is a large portrait of Barell hanging in the apartments of the Master of the Imperial Mint. Tassato could use the painting as the basis for a great statue that would stand in the centre of the Vassa, arms outstretched in either direction - a symbol of Regario and Mestra coming together, just as the cities of the League came together. The proposal is a grand folly, taller than the mint and visible from the roof of any house in the city. It would need to be coupled with concerted efforts in the Synod, but if the Barell were made an exemplar, or if true liao were found to consecrate the statue, who knows what benefits it might offer? Perhaps the Lepidean Librarian could be engaged to look into the life of Barell - many historical accounts speak of him as a man of not only grand ambition and prosperity, but also one who took immense pride in his position as the leader of the greatest city on the Bay of Catazar.

It wouldn't be cheap - but that is the consequence of Ambition. If no price is too high to realise your dreams, then nothing can stand in your way. By itself it wouldn't be enough to get Tassato back in the running to win the contest, but with the right consecration it would lift the Pride of every Tassatan who gazed upon it, and that might just be more important.

Further Reading

  • The money goes round - Winter 384YE Wind of Fortune introducing the competition and listing some prior building opportunities for each of the cities