Lucia - Lucy to her friends - stared at the creature, her bottom lip trembling. It was a lot bigger than anything she'd ever seen. It had short black sleek fur covering most of its body but its tail was pink and bare. The monster faced her, teeth bared, hunched up, ready to spring.

Her friends had dared her to come down her to the edge of the twisted trees. They'd told her she was too afraid of the monsters in the park to dare it. They called her lots of names she didn't care about but then they'd called her a yellow-bellied Druj and that was that. Lucy's parents died fighting the Druj. She'd fight anyone who called her that - even the Empress and all her royal guards. Nobody called Lucia von Holberg a Druj!

The creature's red eyes glimmered with obvious, malevolent intelligence. Lucia stared at it, paralysed with fear, wondering what evil wicked thoughts it were thinking. If she turned and ran it would be on her, sinking its teeth into her flesh. It was sizing her up, she was sure of it. Her friends said these monsters were the Hag's servants sent to eat the children of Holberg. Her knife was at her belt, if she could just get to it before the monster ripped her throat out...

There was a flash of movement and another creature, an even bigger beast, leapt over the side of the bank towards Lucy and the monster. Legs flailing wildly, it hurled itself at the Hag Queen's pet, great jaws open wide, saliva flying. Lucy dived to one side, but the beast came nowhere near her. Instead it seized the monster, sinking its jaws into the creature's back, shaking its head back and forth in maddened rage.

As she laid there a man appeared at the top of the bank. "Good Boy! Good Boy! Good Doggo!" He walked down and reached out to pat the hound, still mouthing the same phrase over and over in praise. "Good Doggo. Good Doggo." The great black rat, half as big as the hound itself, hung lifeless in the dog's jaws, its back broken as the hound fawned over its master. Only once he'd seen to his dog did he turn to face Lucy.

"What are you doing here girl? This is no place for a small child - be off with you!"

Holberg Great Park Redux.png
The park is a twisted mockery of its former glory.


During the Summer Solstice 383YE the Holmauer Park was cursed by agents acting on behalf of the Hag Queen. Over the course of less than a week almost every plant, flower and tree suffered under the blight becoming defiled and withered, a corruption of what they were before. Well, almost every plant, flower and tree - but that in itself may be a cause for concern. The Wunderkind Woods at the heart of the park are believed to have been the starting point for the blight - a belief reinforced by the fact there is now a strong Winter regio located in the centre surrounded by barren land.

It is not all bad news. The Imperial Menagerie is safe and untouched, as are the animals kept within. As the blight spread across the rest of the park it spared the beasts kept in their pens, though the cacophony that came from the enclosures was deafening.

Rumours abound - some few people, unconvinced by the divinations performed by the local magicians, believe that is yet another iteration of the "Holberg Curse". There are others who believe that this is the true reason for the disappearance of Empress Lisabetta - that she wept for the blight on her city, and now she has gone to hunt down the perpetrators of this crime and bring a Reckoning to them.

The residents of Holberg are known across the Empire for their aptitude for problem-solving, imagination and sheer brilliance - no other city could have kept the hated Druj at bay for thirty years. While the destruction of the park is a tragedy, it is a thing that has happened and that cannot be changed. Now is the time for new ideas, innovative approaches - and to capitalise on any opportunities presented by the disaster. Every cloud has a silver lining, after all.

The Foul Waters of Regret

  • The waters of Holmauer have been poisoned by rotting vegetation
  • If left unchecked the taint could spread to the rest of the territory

The most significant problem created by the blight that has engulfed Holmauer is the threat to the waters so vital to their people of an urban environment. While some of the trees survived the blight, the rest of the plants were not so lucky. In the immediate aftermath of the curse, there were few prepared to venture into the ruin until the area had been declared safe and even then it took several weeks to arrange the funds to begin addressing the worst of the damage. The sheer volume of rotting vegetation made it challenging to clear the area; much of it was washed into the rivers that run through the park fouling and tainting them in the process. If nothing is done there is a very real danger that this taint will spread, potentially risking an outbreak of disease - a risk exacerbated by the presence of the Druj, barbarians in the eastern forests, known as they are for their use of sickness and disease. While Spring magic could be also be used to help mitigate some of the effect, even Rivers of Life will simply delay the potential problem rather than solve it entirely.

Fortunately, there is a way to clean the waters, and to halt the spread before it begins though.

Lina Ennera von Holberg, a bishop, believes that it is up the the residents of Holberg to mend this problem. As citizens of the foremost city of the League, this would also give them an opportunity to demonstrate the great civic Pride many of them feel for their home - and who better than the merchant-princes, the leaders of the city, and the Holberg Chamber of Commerce to enact, support and supplement the plan? Alternatively Ethan of the Gilded Sceptre, a benefactor from Sybela who read the recent address by General Barossa believes that the Highborn could, and should, do something to clean up the mess that their people helped to create. Ethan suggests that it should instead be the benefactors of Highguard who fund and assist the plan. Consequently, not one but two mandates have been proposed.

We the League National Assembly will not allow this stain to mar the beauty of Holberg, as such we send named priest with 25 doses of liao to convince business owners of Holberg to support the efforts to clean the waters of Holmauer

Synod Mandate, League National Assembly

We the Highborn National Assembly believe in paying the reckoning of the actions of our siblings, as such we send named priest with 25 doses of liao to convince the business owners of Highguard to support the efforts to clean the waters of Holmauer

Synod Mandate, Highborn National Assembly

Both mandates would have the same effect; the waterways would be cleared of the rotting vegetation and the waters purified. If the League mandate were to be enacted then all business owners in Holberg would see a penalty equivalent to one rank of production in the following season. If the mandate in the Highborn assembly were to be enacted then every business in each territory of Highguard would likewise see a penalty equivalent to one rank in the following season. The mandates are not considered to be competing - if both were enacted significantly more money than is needed to clear the waterways of Holberg would be raised which might lead to additional benefits.

If nothing is done, the waters will remain fouled for some time and may cause further difficulties for the people of Holberg.

A Tide of Rats

  • There has been a noted increase in the number of rats in Holfried
  • The Custodian of the Kennels has seen an increase in income

It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. Just as the animals kept within the Imperial Menagerie are safe, so are the rats and other vermin that made their home in Holmauer. Unlike the menagerie animals, however, the curse seems to have driven the rats out of Holmauer and into Holfried, in numbers unseen since the liberation in 379YE. As a result, the demand for dogs trained to hunt rats has increased precipitously - which is fortuitous for the Custodian of the Kennels. As a consequence, the houndmaster of Georgie's House has been able to increase the number of young apprentices working for them, and expand the premises somewhat allowing them to house even more dogs, resulting in a marked increase in profits for the foreseeable future. After the salaries for the new hires are taken into account, the Custodian of the sinecure will receive an additional 72 rings a season.

The rats so no sign of abating - indeed there is some speculation that the cursed nature of the park is somehow encouraging the vermin to breed - but there are no complaints from the staff of Georgie's House.

Total Money SpentProduction
105 rings3 Winter vis
255 rings6 Winter vis
450 rings9 Winter vis
690 rings12 Winter vis

An Orchard of Blood

  • The trees of the Wunderkind Woods have been corrupted by the curse
  • A troupe magician is happy to support the creation of a ministry
  • The Imperial Senate could create title a responsible for harvesting the sap with a senate motion and 32 crowns

The Wunderkind Woods in the centre of the park have been warped beyond recognition by the curse. Where before the trees were beautiful - a variety of different species that worked together to create a harmonious whole - now they are twisted unholy things, their naked branches grasping toward the sky like grasping claws. Those few brave enough to venture into the woods have reported sightings of half eaten small animals in the roots of many of the trees, but no sign of any predators. And each tree has a single hollow from which oozes a sweet smelling, sticky, bright red sap...

Enterprising mountebank Oskar di Holberg originally claimed this unpleasant goo was the blood of the Empress Lisabetta, and began selling small vials of it off to visiting tourists. Following a swift investigation by the militia it was revealed that the sap, nicknamed blood red blood by the imaginative folk of Holberg's streets, is poisonous if consumed but when prepared appropriately is actually a form of Winter vis.

The renowned Sofia Rebeshi van Holmauer, whose troupe made extensive use of both Hunger of the Draughir and Fallow Fields and Dried Meat during the thirty year siege of Holberg, has taken over temporary custodianship of the orchard in order to prevent any more "foolish street pretenders" hurting themselves or their innocent customers. Sofia arranged for a small patrol to keep the public safe, and has come up with a plan to make the most of a bad situation. She is confident that with a little investment a small number of tenders could be hired to harvest small amounts of the blood from the trees in relative safely. The resultant vis could then be sold to sensible practitioners of Winter magic at a reasonable price.

Sofia suggests that the Senate create an Imperial title, Tender of the Blood Orchard perhaps, who would be responsible for overseeing the burgeoning market, in return for having access to preferential rates. This would require a senate motion and a one-time investment of 32 crowns and would not count against the Senate's limited number of commissions. The civil service have suggested that the most appropriate election path for the title would be through either the Imperial Bourse or the Imperial Senate, as a national position of the League. Alternatively, it could theoretically be appointed with a declaration of candidacy in the Imperial Conclave, but that would mean that candidates of any nation would vie for the title which might not sit well with the magicians of Holberg.

The disgruntled Oskar has publicly bemoaned his removal from the ruined Park, lamenting his lost opportunity for profit. Given the Conclave has recently declared the eternal Skathe to be an enemy of the Empire, the ritual Tribute to the Thrice-Cursed Court (the main source of heart's blood for Imperial magicians) is once again prohibited. There will surely be plenty of magicians prepared to pay a pretty penny to secure a new supply.

The Rickety Stall

  • The Sculpture Garden has seen a shift in the nature of its statues
  • An enterprising individual has created a souvenir stall
  • The Imperial Senate could create a title overseeing the business using a senate motion and 5 thrones

The Sculpture Garden in the north-east corner of the park was previously a place to showcase beautiful works of art, demonstrating the beauty of form, the artist's skill, and the smooth wonders trapped within every block of marble or granite. Now it has turned dark and grim. All the beauty of the place has been sullied, turning it into a mockery of art. The statues are twisted, broken things that unnerve the eye and dampen the spirits of those who visit them. Far from uplifting the spirit, they serve only to disgust, disquiet, and frighten. Reports have already begun to spread that some of the twisted statues changing and moving when not observed.

Most of the statues are still reminiscent of their original form, albeit twisted into hunched monsters with inhuman features. There are also a few sculptures that nobody can remember being there before - a Merchant-Prince bound in chains, and a sneering bravo in rune-carved plate. Almost every person who goes in tells of seeing some horrific statue that sparks a memory of innocence lost, or a moment of weakness. But in fear and distaste there is also opportunity. Several of the nearby bands of bravos have begun venturing into the garden as a test of mettle - only the bravest are said to be able to make it all the way through without fleeing in tears.

Claude of Holberg has set up a rickety stall on the outskirts of the garden which offers stiff drinks for those entering (or to steady the nerves of those on their way out), and sells small, badly recreated souvenir statues that prove surprisingly popular with those coming to gawp at the sculptures from a safe distance. Claude has said that they would be more than willing to share the profits from what has the potential to be quite a lucrative venture. All it would require would be for the Senate to legitimise Claude's enterprise, by creating an Imperial title to oversee the concerns and invest funds in expanding the business. Claude would then be able to approach some better artists to carve souvenirs, and hire some guards to ensure that nobody is endangered by venturing into the garden.

Creating the title would require a Senate motion and an initial investment of 40 crowns but would not count as one of the Senate's limited number of commissions. As a sinecure the Overseer of the Rickety Stall would expect to receive 2 thrones of income each season. The entrepreneur would be happy to work with any citizen of the League appointed by unanimous decision of the nation's Senators (the title would almost certainly possess tenure).

The defiant editors of the Empire's premiere fashion magazine can be found at Looking Glass Studios, Needle Street, Holberg.
The Looking Glass, their spirits undiminished.

Pavilion on the Lake

  • The pavilion that overlooks the Looking Glass Lake has become the site of a powerful aura encouraging people to look to their future
  • The Imperial Senate could create a title to oversee the pavilion with a senate motion and 60 crowns

Before the curse settled over Holmauer Park, the Looking Glass Lake was a place of great natural beauty. Sculpted to perfection, the natural lay of the land made the surrounding gardens and the cool, fresh water a popular destination for courting couples, and those wishing to take a break from the constant busy bustle of life in the foremost city of the League. The pavilion constructed next to the lake was placed in a prime spot to both oversee the lake and the walkways that pass it, and appears in many beautiful paintings created by the artists of Holberg.

When the creators of the popular Looking Glass publication were cursed during the Winter Solstice 382YE, the popularity of the pavilion on the lake increased dramatically. It became a haven for those wishing to engage in strident debate, especially about the nature of the eternals and the use of magic in the Empire. Over the last season, with the natural beauty that surrounds the lake replaced with a sad, withering fragility, numbers of visitors to the lake have swelled again - and not just as a consequence of those who wish to see the gloomy state of the Lake.

Following the curse, it appears that the pavilion has become the centre of an inspirational aura that encourages visitors to "think of the actions that made them who they are, and to consider the actions necessary to become the person they want to be". There is no obvious source for the aura - which appears to be spiritual in nature. It appears to have simply manifested in the wake of the curse meaning that even were the people of Holberg so inclined it would be a crime to remove it.

Assuming the numbers visiting the pavilion hold steady, Bishop Temeraire von Holberg has suggested that the Senate create an Imperial title - a position for a proud or ambitious individual prepared to encourage visitors to meditate on the virtues. This would require a Senate motion and the investment of 60 crowns, but would not count as one of the Senate's limited opportunities to commission new construction.

If the title were created, it would oversee a sinecure, representing the crowds drawn to the pavilion, that would provide a whopping 10 liao and 20 votes in the Synod and likely become a major site of pilgrimage not only for citizens of the League but for ambitious and proud people across the Empire. The title - perhaps Patron of the Pavilion - should be appointed by a Synod assembly. The civil service suggests that the League Assembly would be most suitable, but there are certainly arguments for other assemblies.

Stones on the Duelling Fields

  • The trees that dotted the Holberg University Duelling Society fields of honour have wilted to nothing
  • A landskeeper and a gardener have suggested a means by which the Imperial Senate can take advantage of the situation
  • Constructing the garden would require 15 wains of white granite, 15 wains of weirwood, 30 crowns and either a senate motion or the use of an Imperial wayleave

The attack on Holmauer devastated the park, including the Holberg University Duelling Society Field of Honour. The trees that once dotted the area have sloughed away into nothingness, leaving an open area of bare soil littered with rotting stumps - a stark contrast to the pleasant meadow and shady trees that once lay here. Still... there is opportunity in disaster. A visiting Marcher landskeeper - here to check on the continued good health of the Marcher graveyard in the upper city - has expressed the belief that the Duelling Fields represent an opportunity to exploit the Winter magic that has settled over the area.

Abigail Ashill of Ashill, Ashbrook suggests a ring of protective menhirs, drawing inspiration in the plans the late Richard of Holberg drew up to protect the Mourn. Abigail believes that the menhirs would work by forming a circle of protection around the Duelling Field, containing the winter magic within and partially redirecting the magic of the curse to a more constructive end.

Abigail's spouse, Theodora Ashill von Holberg, suggests that with the soil positively thrumming with winter magic, and knowing that the curse of the wasteland can be used to bolster the growth of herbs, that the Imperial Senate could make full use of the land by commissioning the creation of a garden for herbs alongside the menhirs. The construction would not be cheap - unlike several of the other opportunities presented by the curse, actual construction would be needed. It would require a Senate motion (or the use of an Imperial Wayleave), require 15 wains of white granite, 15 wains of weirwood, and 60 crowns in labour costs, and it would count against the Senate's limited number of commissions. The project would take three months to complete, but at the end of that time there would be a healthy herb garden in the ruined park that could provide valuable healing herbs. "Good crops grow in shit," as Abigail says with traditional Marcher bluntness.

General Flowers.jpg
Alusair Farstrider, General of Flowers.

The stones and the garden between them would create an Imperial title - perhaps Marshal of the Duelling Fields - who would oversee the resulting sinecure. The title could be appointed by the senators of the League, or perhaps assigned by the business owners of the League via the Imperial Bourse. Between them, Theodora and Abigail are of the opinion that the Winter-marked soil would prove particularly effective at growing Bladeroot, Marrowort, and True Vervain and predict that a total of 45 drams of herbs could be expected every season.

Trees and Flowers

  • The apple orchard and the Memorial Garden dedicated to General Flowers has not been touched
  • The Marcher graveyard at the base of the southern wall of Holfried was not targeted by the curse

Not all of Holmauer Park was of purely League design; one section was devoted to the solid aesthetics of the Marches. The Marcher apple grove that takes up the south-eastern corner of the Park, along with the adjacent Memorial Garden dedicated to General Flowers, are both pristine and untouched. Whatever the nature of the fell magic has fallen on the park, it has completely passed over these two features.

Very few places in the park survived the curse untouched, which makes the state of the Memorial Garden all the more impressive. Not a flower that lies in the shade of the shrine seems to be any worse off. Indeed it is positively fertile in comparison to the rest of the park. Some visiting Marchers have claimed that it is the loyalty and courage of Alusair Farstrider - as General Flowers was more properly known when she was alive - that has protected this corner of the park and that surely this should be recognised as the miracle that it so obviously is.

No less a citizen than the Empress of Flowers herself recently put out a judgement calling on citizens to undertake a pilgrimage that was endorsed by the Assembly of Nine. The Marcher Synod could take advantage of this to endorse a mandate encouraging their citizens to travel to Holberg to gaze upon the wonder of the Memorial Garden and the apple orchard.

The miraculous preservation of the Memorial Garden and the Apple Grove are a testament to the {virtue} of General Flowers. We send {named priest} with 25 doses of liao to encourage Marchers to undertake a pilgrimage to Holberg to view this wonder for themselves.

Synod Mandate, Marcher Assembly

If this mandate were passed it would lead to a trickle of Marcher wayfarers coming to Holberg to view the Garden. As a result, the Memorial Garden would be effectively transformed into a small shrine to the memory of General Flowers. If this happened then the Imperial Senate could authorise the creation of a title to oversee the Garden, the Yeoman of Holberg perhaps. The title would provide 14 votes and 7 doses of liao to whichever citizen was appointed to tend to the Garden and the visiting pilgrims.

As part of the mandate, the Marcher Assembly could choose to refer to the all encompassing Virtue of General Flowers - or they could choose to cite a specific virtue. While that would not affect the pilgrims, it would influence any future attempt to declare the General to be a paragon or exemplar.

Alternatively, the general assembly might highlight General Flowers' achievements and take the opportunity to urge citizens to undertake the Journey of the Body to Holberg. Of course that would compete with any other mandate that gave direction for a physical pilgrimage in the name of the missing Empress.

The Imperatrix called on all her subjects to consider undertaking a pilgrimage - either physical, mental, or spiritual. We send {named priest} with 50 liao to urge every citizen who contemplate a pilgrimage to the Memorial Garden of General Flowers, one of her most Loyal generals who gave her life fighting for the Empire.

Synod Mandate, Assembly of Nine or General Assembly

This would have a much more dramatic effect - as a flood of citizens from all over the empire came to visit the lasting memorial to General Farstrider's memory. This mandate would necessitate the creation of a permanent position to look over the site similar to the Yeoman but would gain 30 votes and 15 liao. Perhaps more importantly, the respect shown for one of the Marcher generals would boost the pride and morale of every Marcher soldier though it is hard to say exactly what effect that would have.

Sadly, not everyone is in agreement on the matter. A few doubters claim that the area was overlooked by the curse because of its strong Marcher overtones. Skathe aimed her wickedness at the great expression of League Pride in Holberg - thus the magic failed to see the shrine of a Marcher hero. To support their claim they point out that the Marcher graveyard, originally constructed following the Spring Equinox 378YE, is also unaffected by the blight. However, since the graveyard is miles away from Holberg Park, few people are wholly convinced by that idea.

However a much more sour explanation soon surfaces. Perhaps the garden has been saved because Skathe favoured the former general in some way? The twisted monster of the Winter realm has completely blighted one of the most beautiful parts of Holberg... it is hard not to be bitter about the fact that she somehow saw fit to pass over this one part of the Park. As a result, a fair few citizens are asking the League Assembly to consider the following mandate.

The citizens of Holberg will decide what memorials are raised in Holberg, not the twisted monarchs of the Thrice Cursed Court. We send {named priest} with 25 doses of liao to urge every League citizen to turn the memorial garden into a shrine to the Empress of Flowers to show the Hag Queen that Holberg is ours and ours alone.

Synod Mandate, League Assembly

If this mandate is enacted, determined citizens of Holberg will take up their tools and set about the Memorial Gardens and the adjacent orchard. The trees would be thinned and replaced with beautiful flower beds designed to evoke the memory of Holberg's beloved Empress of Flowers. One prominent horticulturist, Manfred von Holberg, has produced an exquisite design involving over five thousand blooms laid out in the likeness of Empress Lisabetta. The flower garden would invoke the Pride of every Holberg citizen who visited and demonstrate to the Thrice-cursed queen that she cannot break the spirit of the city.

If this happened then the Imperial Senate could authorise the creation of a title to oversee the Empress' Flower Garden. The title would provide 20 votes and 10 doses of liao to whichever citizen was appointed to tend to the Garden and the visiting pilgrims. Of course whoever the League Assembly appointed to the position would risk becoming a target for Skathe's wrath - but perhaps then they might also be charged with the responsibility for refuting the Hag Queen and her works wherever they were found in the Empire?

These mandates aren't directly in competition, but it would be deeply problematic for the Marcher assembly to pass the mandate encouraging the Marchers and the League to pass the mandate reclaiming the gardens for themselves. If a stream of Marcher pilgrims turned up expecting to visit the Memorial Garden to General Flowers, only to find that Holberg was in the process of remodelling it to create the Flower Gardens, that would likely lead to physical conflict. The civil service recommend the Imperial Synod avoid this outcome if possible.

On the other hand, the General Assembly mandate and the League mandate are not in competition because the people encouraged to undertake the Pilgrimage of the Body are doing so in memory of the Empress - and would quickly overcome any surprise that it was the Empress of Flowers and not the General of flowers whose memorial they were visiting.

Of course all of the mandates here would require a greater majority in their respective assemblies before they were fully enacted, thanks to the influence of the Wisdom assembly and the sword scholars.

Limited Opportunities

Each of the proposals outlined here is designed to take advantage of the situation in Holberg Park at the start of the Autumn Equinox. With the exception of the mandates (which must as usual be enacted during the Equinox or they will be lost), these opportunities will continue to be available until the end of the Winter Solstice 383YE.

Many of the opportunities outlined here only require the Senate to legitimise a title or name someone to take custody of something. Even though they effectively create ministries or sinecures, it is not possible to use an Imperial Wayleave to create these titles - there are no actual commissions involved - but neither do they count against the limited number of commissions the Senate can enact each season.