I heard a source
The creature paused, obviously waiting for some response, perhaps an indication that it should continue, perhaps something more. Robin Wordsmith could only stare and scratch his head. He wasn't at all sure what to make of this, in fact he was fairly sure he wasn't supposed to make anything of this. That would be someone else's job - he should probably just focus on writing important things down. Having decided on that course of action, he felt it best to start at the start.
"Tha's not from t'City of Gold and Lead then?" he asked. Best to clear up that point first he figured.
"Not". The creature stopped despite the fact that this was clearly not a sentence. It seemed to think for a moment and then said "Yet".
"Right. Where's tha from then?" That was clearly not an answer, so the smart thing was just to ask again. "If they can't follow what you're saying, just say it again but slower" as his mentor had always taught him.
The creature stood in mute silence for a minute, its' simple face was hard to read, but it looked utterly baffled by the question. After a minute it seemed to finally settle on an answer "No occupant of the City of Gold and Lead is available to accept the invitation from the Autumn Archmage at this time. I have been tasked to convey this message and to underline that no insult is meant by this declination."
"Aye - tha's mentioned that already. The bit tha missed is where tha's from?" What sort of folk didn't know where they were from? The answer lies in the soil he thought to himself.
But repeating his question only seemed to cause the same confusion. Another long pause and then the thing replied with the exact same intonation as before. "The Eternal Bazaar hopes that the Archmage will be gratified on the basis of these excellent offers which I now convey to you."
Clearly this fella or whatever it was, was not much of a talker Robin thought to himself. He sharpened his quill, dipped it in the pot and prepared to write "Might as well leave that bit for t'moment. So what's these gratifying offers then?"
The Archmage of Autumn has invited the eternal Ephisis to parley, but the request was politely declined. Rather than meet with the Archmage, the City of Gold and Lead has sent heralds to the Empire to lay out three offers for the consideration by the Archmage and the wider Empire.
|Total Money Spent||Production|
|175 rings||5 Autumn vis|
|425 rings||10 Autumn vis|
|750 rings||15 Autumn vis|
|1150 rings||20 Autumn vis|
Silver is only a Superfluity
The Hidden Prince is prepared to sell Autumn vis to the archmage, provided that there is a means to support the exchange. Occupants of the City of Gold and Lead have identified a suitable site, an abandoned tower built on the street of runes in Kalpaheim by the runesmith Ogila more than a hundred years ago. The tower has been locked and sealed since Ogila's death, but the Hidden Prince claims to have the keys and the deeds to the property.
According to the Lady of the Counting House, the tower was never completed. If the Empire will agree to furnish the 16 wains of mithril required to complete the structure, then City will provide a set of mithril doors to be set into the walls of the large circular room that takes up the entire top floor of the tower. The rest of the refurbishment would cost a further 32 Crowns, paid as normal. It would require a Senate commission (or the use of an Imperial Wayleave) to approve commission.
When complete the doors would allow heralds from the City of Gold and Lead to easily travel to and from the tower, allowing them to go about their business in Kalpaheim and beyond. In return they would ensure a steady stream of merchants would bring Autumn vis for sale in the tower, which could be purchased by the Autumn archmage or emissaries acting on their behalf. Obviously, this arrangement would end if the Imperial Conclave ever declared enmity for Ephisis.
|Total Money Spent||Production|
|210 rings||5 realm vis|
|510 rings||10 realm vis|
|900 rings||15 realm vis|
|1380 rings||20 realm vis|
The Poison of Enthusiasm
The Invisible Hand wishes the Conclave to know that all things are for sale in the City of Gold and Lead. Warm ashes are not produced in the City; the primary source is the volcano-city of Shikal. But the Hand that delivers warm ashes to the Eternal Bazaar brings similar bounties from all the realms and thus Ephisis could supply similar deals to every archmage, at least in theory.
At present the Grand Plutocrat is not minded to do so. Although they hold the Empire in high regard, some members of the City of Gold and Lead are still wary following the dispatch of Reed, Reckoner of Hours to the Eternal Tower of Green Iron. It is for this reason that heralds of the city are being cautious then they meet with the Empire - few wish to share Reed's fate. More importantly however, the occupants of the city are aware of the recent Liberty Pact and they are absolutely mortified by what they have heard. They are not angry with the Empire, so much as pained and deeply disappointed by it.
As a result they require a visible sign that the Empire is still committed to the ideas of trade and commerce before they are prepared to go further. If the Imperial Senate were to create more wayleaves - then they would be prepared to extend the trade in warm ashes to the other realms - one additional realm for each additional wayleaf the Empire creates, for as long as the wayleaf persists. For example if the Senate created three additional wayleaves, then the City of Gold and Lead would support three additional ministries.
Each ministry would require the construction of a suitable facility requiring 16 wains of mithril and 32 Crowns. Ephisis' heralds claim that they have identified suitable locations in Temeschwar, Meade, Seren, Siroc, and Bastion, that could be used to provide heart's blood, golden apples, vital honey, crystal fire, and prismatic ink respectively.
The Senate can create any number of new wayleaves with a single motion, but the resultant ministries would still need to be commissioned separately. They would continue to operate as long as the wayleaves were not abrogated, and as long as Ephisis were not placed under enmity.
Between Avarice and Profusion
The Eternal Bazaar regretfully declines the invitation to create a version of Ephisis' Scale that will always provide returns of warm ashes or crystal mana. As explained, warm ashes are not created in the City of Gold and Lead, although they are bought and sold there in great quantities. As such the City cannot commit to providing the benefits to the Empire on an unlimited basis. Crucially, they cannot guarantee to meet any demand that the Empire might levy; they certainly cannot provide returns that are better than those produced by the ritual Before the Throne of Estavus on any significant scale.
The Greatest of All Improvements
The Invisible Hand does have one final offer for the Archmage of Autumn to consider. The City of Gold and Lead takes a great interest in the Empire, and most especially in the trade of precious bourse materials. They have heard news of the changes to the Imperial Constitution to create the power of Relinquishment but they are concerned that the Empire is not taking the maximum possible advantage of this new power.
Thus they propose that the Imperial Senate passes a Senate motion to relinquish every Bourse seat in the Empire. That could then be followed by a second Senate motion to declare every seat in the Empire to be Imperial.
The heralds wax lyrical about the benefits such an approach would provide. It would be an efficient use of the Imperial Senate's time - and more importantly by changing every bourse seat simultaneously the Empire could avoid any suggestion that a single nation was being singled out for unfair treatment. It would be clear everyone was being treated equally. They have complicated charts and figures which they claim forecast that this change would lower the price of Bourse materials in the Empire yet increase the money accrued by the treasury from Bourse sales, thus they argue every Imperial citizen would benefit. They don't guarantee that will happen... but they seem very happy with their forecasts.
If the Empire were able to make such a change, it would be a huge positive step in the view of the occupants of the City of Gold and Lead, more than making up for recent disappointments. As a result, the City would be in a position to guarantee to offer facilities enabling trade in Autumn vis anywhere in the Empire for as long as all Bourse resources remained Imperial. This would mean that any commission could then be designed with an option to purchase Autumn vis at rates identical to those made available to the Autumn archmage above, without needing a specific opportunity to do so.
In addition, if the Empire did this then the City of Gold and Lead would grant the Empire the formal status of a trusted trading exchange. This is an honour the City offers only to those nations they feel the greatest kinship for. After discussions with the civil service who support the Conclave it is clear that such a close political alignment between these two powers would have two effects. First it would make naturally occurring Autumn regio more common throughout the Empire - as Autumn heralds from the city moved back and forth. Second it would strengthen the Imperial regio, making it more easy to perform powerful Autumn magic there. Any Autumn ritual performed in the Imperial Regio would be able to harness its power to enhance the Autumn realm lore of each contributor by up to two ranks, subject to the normal rules for effective skill.
The status (and the beneficial effects) would continue for as long as all the Bourse seats in the Empire remain Imperial. After some discussion with representatives of Ephisis, the civil service are able to clarify that their requirement only covers the major Bourse seats that produce mithril, weirwood, white granite or ilium for sale The lesser Bourse titles and resources like Spiral Castle would not be covered by the agreement, so their status would not matter.
To Trade For the Public Good
Shortly after the heralds of the City of Gold and Lead have departed, a representative of the Sovereign Lord of the City of Bridges calls uninvited. It would appear that the Golden Prince has got wind of the formal offer made to the Empire expressing a desire to see all Bourse resources made Imperial and he is not amused. The herald is meticulously careful to avoid any unintentional threats, but they are explicit that the Reckoner of Ebony and Bone will be deeply disappointed if the Empire pursues their rival's cause.
In fact the Golden Prince would consider it an act of great favour if the Empire were to consider the exact opposite approach to the one recommended by Ephisis. Rather than making every Bourse resource Imperial, he urges the Empire to make every Bourse resource national. His representative accepts that that would cause significant turmoil for the Empire as they adjusted to the new regime but Threadweaver is prepared to match the offer from the City of Gold and Lead to sell Autumn vis to the Empire, and under those conditions he would be delighted to declare the Empire his closest mortal ally - aligning the Imperial regio with the City of of Bridges and having a similar effect as described above. In addition, the Golden Prince would look to offer additional boons in the seasons that followed, to help the Empire adjust to the new affairs.
The heralds of Ephisis and Prospero have made it clear that the opportunities discussed here remain available until the end of the Winter Solstice 383YE. After this time, the trades presented will have expired.
- The Senate could refurbish a tower in Kalpaheim to allow the archmage of Autumn to purchase warm ashes, as from a ministry. The ministry would require 16 wains of mithril, 32 Crowns and a Senate motion or Imperial Wayleave.
- For each new wayleave the Imperial Senate creates, they could commission a similar structure to provide a similar opportunity to a different archmage. These ministries would each require 16 wains of mithril, 32 Crowns, and a Senate motion or Wayleave and persist as long as the wayleaves did.
- These ministries would function as long as Ephisis were not placed under enmity by the Imperial Conclave.
- If the senate relinquishes all Bourse seats, and then allocates them as Imperial (rather than national) titles, there would be significant benefits to the practice of Autumn magic. This would require only two Senate motions.
- The eternal Prospero proposes that all Bourse seats be instead re-allocated as national resources with the same effect.
- These opportunities are available until the end of the Winter Solstice 383YE.