Honey and vinegar
"Who told you that, Mary?" Shem asked, keeping his tone neutral. His neighbour was named for her sharp tongue, but under the circumstances it seemed better not to refer to her as Bitter Mary.
"Got it from my cousin - Oliver Ashill. And he got it from one of the Bounders, Little Jamie, who got it from a striding that were on that trod south of Overton." She folded her arms across her chest defying Shem to either accept what she said or call her cousin a liar.
"Jamie's a good lad but he's got cloth ears. He's got it wrong - the ban stands. I spoke with Jenny Scribe this morning and she's confirmed it. She's a civil servant so she knows what she's about. Apparently they talked about it and then voted it down."
Shem had half-hoped that Bitter Mary would let it go at that but the crowd was hanging on her every word as she rounded him on and triumphantly pronounced. "So - they talked about it! That means they're gonna do it." There was an angry murmur from those who had gathered outside the tavern. Not many folk liked Bitter Mary all that much - but they liked this news even less.
"Aye - they talked about it, sure enough. How long have you been talking about dredging the old pond on the edge of Rutters Wood, Mary?" Mary's face turned puce with rage, as the group burst into laughter. She'd been talking about dredging that pond since before some of them were born, but every winter the weather was against her and it didn't happen.
"So what are you suggesting, Shem? We just wait until they stop talking?"
Shem smiled. "Not so much. But as you ask, I do have an idea. I reckon we'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Lets go and sit down inside where it's warm and I'll tell you about it."
In response to the news that the long standing bequests to the font have run dry, a group of enterprising League merchants have come up with some novel ideas for how the power of the Conclave might be preserved. Coincidentally the hylje who dwell in the Rikkivesi have offered a somewhat similar proposal to improve cooperation with the people of Wintermark.
At the same time the landskeepers of the Marches have responded relatively positively to the decision of the Imperial Conclave to keep Rivers Run Red and similar rituals interdicted, at least for the time being,. They have several proposals, including one that would allow Marcher yeomen to produce mana from their farms if they chose.
- League motions propose supporting the Grandmasters with a convenient source of additional crystal mana
- If the Senate completed the project, each grandmaster's ministry would be updated to provide more mana for the same price
The grandmaster of each Conclave order has access to a supply of mana purchased on their behalf by the civil service. Much of this is bought from mana sites from old estates scattered across the Empire. Although these options allow the grandmasters to acquire significant quantities of mana, the reality is that the returns are relatively poor - in many cases they are dependent on investments made decades ago. The truth is that Imperial command of magic has come on in leaps and bounds since those days, so there is capacity for a significant improvement in the returns given the prices paid.
|Total Money Spent||Production|
|15 Crowns||16 crystal mana|
|35 Crowns||30 crystal mana|
|60 Crowns||42 crystal mana|
|90 Crowns||54 crystal mana|
|125 Crowns||72 crystal mana|
Nowhere is this more true than the cities of the League which have bustling markets where mana is bought and sold. All four of the great cities benefit from one of Lorenzo's legacies but Tassato, Sarvos, and Temeschwar also boast impressive exchanges, built to ensure a steady trade in crystals between inhabitants and visitors of those cities. Ambitious merchants in Tassato have demonstrated that with only a relatively modest expansion to the three exchanges they could be well placed to support the Conclave. It would require an investment of mithril to enhance the production, but in return they would guarantee to provide the Civil Service with first refusal on the purchase of the excess mana. That would enable the grandmasters to purchase mana at significantly improved rates.
The proposal from the League merchants requires a single Senate motion to authorize the expansion of all three exchanges. The merchants are keen to tap into the lucrative trade supporting the Conclave so they are prepared to provide a number of skilled architects and builders from their own ranks to support the civil service. As a result, the expansion would require only a single commission, 60 wains of mithril, and 120 crowns to build. Once construction was complete the network would allow the civil service to purchase more mana for the same amount of money. The production of every existing grandmaster's ministry would improve to the rate shown in the table.
- A mana exchange in Holberg could be built specifically to support the warmage or bursar of the Conclave.
- A grand mana exchange could be built to support both titles.
The city of Holberg, proud home of Empress Lisabetta, is the only city in the League that is not currently home to a mana exchange. There seems to be no particular reason for this; the city is every bit as affluent as its rivals, but seems to have been overlooked. There is still mana to be had here; the brazenly idolatrous Legacy of Loyalty sees to that. If a suitably large exchange were constructed here, then it would provide a valuable additional source of mana to the civil servants carrying out the Conclave's wishes.
The burghers of the city suggest that these could be provided to support the warmage or the bursar of the Conclave - whichever the Senate preferred. This would allow whoever the Conclave appointed to the chosen title to purchase mana as the grandmasters do now. This would either help the bursar with their current responsibilities to raise resources to support the Conclave or would directly benefit the Military Council by allowing the warmage to acquire mana directly for use in important military rituals.
The mana exchange would need a Senate motion and a commission and would require a total of 25 wains of mithril and 50 crowns to build - but would provide returns identical to those listed above for the grandmasters. As part of the Senate motion, the Senate would need to name either the warmage or the bursar to specify which title will be responsible for the ministry.
Alternatively if sufficient mithril could be found - then the Senate could commission a great exchange, using 50 wains of mithril and 100 crowns. It could have an office for the warmage at the end of the exchange and another for the bursar near the entrance. It would far outshine the exchanges in either Temeschwar, Tassato, or Sarvos but it would mean that the warmage and the bursar could then purchase mana at the rates shown above. To do so would require two Senate motions, however: one to construct the exchange and amend either the bursar or the warmage, and then a second to amend the other title to allow it to benefit from the exchange.
There's two ways to bury a hatchet.Marcher Proverb
- Marcher farm owners have a special diversification option while Rivers Run Red remains interdicted.
- The miners of the Mournwold have a proposal for the Silver Chalice order.
- Landskeeper Shem is bringing a proposal to present to the Throne.
News of the recent developments in the Conclave have reached the Marches and caused considerable concern. There is understandable alarm that barely two years since this deadly curse was used to slay thousands of helpless Imperial citizens, people are seeking to use it again. Fortunately the landskeepers are able to calm the angry sentiments. They point out that the declaration was defeated, and with the help of the Empress, no less.
In gratitude for the work done to keep the ritual interdicted, the landskeepers have offered to help create powerful new menhirs for any yeoman who is prepared to cover the costs. As long as Rivers Run Red remains interdicted by the Imperial Conclave, any Marcher character that owns a farm in a Marcher territory will be able to diversify it to produce mana. It will cost the owner one throne each time they diversify in this way, and they will lose 30 rings of income as a result, but the farm will produce one mana crystal for each level of this diversification. The landskeepers make clear that the help will be withdrawn if the Conclave remove the interdiction. The option to build new stones would disappear, although any menhirs already built - any diversification that was complete - would be unaffected.
In addition, the miners of Mournwold have an additional offer to make to the Grandmaster of the Silver Chalice. If the Conclave will pass a declaration of concord confirming that the view of the Conclave is that no Imperial magician should ever use curses to slay Imperial citizens, then they will provide a permanent bequest to the order. Half a dozen mine owners have pledged their support, so if a suitably worded declaration is passed then the order will receive four ingots of green iron, two ingots of weltsilver, and one ingot of tempest jade each season.
Among those who understand magic, there has been much discussion of the claim that Rivers Run Red is essential as a method to combat Rivers of Life. Most landskeepers have only a passing familiarity with the vallorn, so few can understand why anyone would want to cancel the effects of Rivers of Life. However, from their knowledge of magic, they seem scornful of the idea that the only way that might be achieved is using the most dreadful curse in Imperial lore. "It's a rare lock that has only one key" as the saying goes.
They have nominated Shem to head to Anvil to make their argument. According to those who have spoken with him, he intends to seek out the Imperial Offices early on the Friday night. Given the leadership the Imperatrix has shown on this issue, the landskeepers hope that she, or one of her advisors, if she is busy, will look at the proposal they have come up with.
|9 Crowns||10 crystal mana|
|21 Crowns||20 crystal mana|
|42 Crowns||30 crystal mana|
- The hylje of Sermersuaq suggest the creation of a floating hall on the Rikkivesi that will serve as a meeting place between the sealfolk and their Suaq cousins.
Since the invasion of Sermersuaq by the Jotun, hylje have been seen in greater numbers on the banks of the Rikkivesi in Kallavesa as well as the northern lakes in Bruckland in Hahnmark. The seal-shifters have no love for the Jotun and many have retreated in the face of their advance. Those who talk with them say they plan to return north to their homes once the fighting in Sermersuaq is over. The hylje have no interest in open battle with the Jotun, but they are keen to see the Mark victorious and the orcs driven back. While they will not fight, they are prepared to support their cousins in other ways - especially when they learn that the Empire has recognised them as a people in their own right (being their interpretation of the clause in the Liberty Pact that defines the nature of a person). They are in no doubt that it is the folk of Wintermark they have to thank for this odd honour.
If the Empire will construct a sizeable hall, but built on a platform of wood so that it will float, then the hylje will moor the structure on the banks of the Rikkivesi. The Winterfolk should then appoint a Suaq merchant from amongst their number to be named Mediator of the Hyljehal. The hall will provide a meeting ground between the Suaq and the hylje as well as the other people of the Mark, allowing them to trade. The hylje will bring fish, as well as crabs and eels taken from the lake's bed, looking to trade them for iron knives and similar tools that are in short supply among their people.
Such a trade is of little interest to the heroes of the Mark, but food is not the only thing that the hylje can take from the lake. Often they find mana crystals, formed amid the mud and plants in the deepest parts of the lake. They have more than enough mana for their own use but they would be prepared to sell it to the mediator for a fair price.
The hylje insist that the Hyljehal must float on the lake, not be built by the banks of the lake, not even on stilts. They also insist that the mediator must be Suaq. The civil service advise that the position of Hylje Mediator could be a Wintermark national position, meaning that only a Wintermark citizen could hold the title, but that no constitutional method exists to restrict the title so that only the Suaq may stand. However, they are quick to point out that this should pose no problem; depending on how the title is to be appointed, whoever chooses can ensure they only pick a Suaq mediator in good standing.
The Imperial Senate could commission the Hall of the Hylje with an appropriately worded senate motion. It would require 12 wains of weirwood, 24 crowns, but could be commissioned using a wayleave if required. The most common way to choose the Hylje Mediator would be appointment by the Bourse, but other constitutional methods would be possible if preferred. Given the hylje's clear interest in having a mediator take the role, they may well prefer someone with whom they can discuss issues or grievances in which case appointment by the Wintermark Assembly or by the senators might be preferable.