Like a wheel within a wheel
He looked around the chamber. Thirty similar soldiers, with different armaments and different masks, but all composed of polished porcelain and carved weirwood. Half of them wrapped in orichaclum alloyed steel, half with weltsilver alloyed steel, and all with mithril traceries weaving around their armour, weapons, and shields. They stood at attention, without moving.
"How?" he asked, marveling. "How were they made?"
The civil servant shrugged. "We aren't really sure. As near as we can tell, they were given as a gift for Emperor Nicovar and - perhaps predictably - most of the records relating to them were burnt.
Lucien shook his head. "Nicovar, Nicovar, Nicovar. Sometimes I can just about understand why he might burn the libraries down, but to destroy the records of how these wonders were built ... that defies comprehension."
"Oh no, sorry. You misunderstand. The Grendel burnt the records, when they burnt Ankarien. What we do know is that they used a small fortune of ilium, and another small fortune in mithril and weirwood, and took the artisans something like five years to complete. Their numbers appear to be set - they repair each other. According to Nicovar himself, if you give them mithril and command them, they use the metal to reinforce themselves."
"Are they aware?"
"As near as we can tell, and as near as anyone else has ever been able to tell... probably not. They are ushabti, and they need an Arbiter to function. There's a medallion, which was recovered from the ruins along with the soldiers. The Grendel collapsed a roof on them trying to destroy them - we found quite a few Grendel remains in the rubble alongside the pieces."
"So wonderful," said Lucien.
"Just another wonder of Spiral," the civil servant replied calmly. "A beautiful, terrible, deadly, mysterious wonder. Shall I continue with the list, Lucien? Theres quite a lot to get through but I'm afraid there's not many things on here to match the Ankarien Chess Set. It's mostly mana sites and mines."Lucien nodded, and the two let the courtyard where the Ankarien Chess Set stood at attention, waiting for someone to give them orders.
During the Summer Solstice, a force of Imperial heroes used the Sentinel Gate to attack a key location in northern Spiral. The raid was successful, pushing Grendel forces back from the Legacy, and allowing the Empire to capture Ossuary and with it control sufficient land to take control of the territory.
The Imperial Senate determined that Spiral should be returned to the control of the Urizen. Tanwyn Ankarien - former general of the Citadel Guard - was elected Senator for Spiral (with Edmundo of Endsmeet taking her previous position as Senator for Zenith).
While the Empire controls four regions - and thus the territory - the Grendel still control three and still have a significant armed force in Spiral. Their control is centered in Apulus and Ateri, but they are also nominal control of Screed, where squats the Black Plateau.
Spoils of War
The Civil Service has assessed Spiral, and determined the presence of certain key personal resources that have been reclaimed from the Grendel. As always with spoils of war, the military council has the final say on how these resources shall be allocated. The most common way to distribute them is to allow the General of the appropriate nation to assign them as they see fit - but there are other methods of assignment that might be used.
A citizen who receives one of the spoils of war replaces their own personal resource. There is no additional cost to do so, but the resource cannot be "saved up" or traded on after it is assigned to someone (except following the normal rules).
You can read a list of here.
The Legacy was recaptured, and during the Solstice the Imperial Senate re-allocated it as a national Bourse seat. Mining was quickly re-established with a combination of ushabti and plucky Urizen volunteers, and the first mithril since it was stolen by the Grendel will be available at the Autumn Equinox. This means that the Urizen can choose who will be appointed to this Imperial title to oversee the mine during the Equinox. The decision is made by Urizen owners of mana sites - with the number of votes being based on the size of the personal resource. With the assistance of the Bourse civil servants, any Urizen citizen can register their support for a candidate from anywhere in the nation. The candidate with the most votes takes control of the mithril, and gains a seat on the Imperial Bourse.
Like all the territories of the Urizen heartland, Spiral is mountainous, rugged, and dangerous. Many of the spires that once stood here have been destroyed by barbarians, or as final acts by the magicians who inhabited them to prevent their secrets falling into the hands of the Grendel. While Urizen are returning to the territory, and beginning to reclaim lost spires or lay the foundations for new ones, the territory will never be especially wealthy. The population of Urizen is perhaps the lowest of all the Imperial nations, and that shows little sign of changing.
From calculating the effects of these factors the Civil Service has found that the recovery of Spiral will not increase the number of armies that Urizen can support.
Opportunity: Legacy of Mezudan
While Fort Mezudan was decisively destroyed by Grendel sorcery shortly after the Autumn Equinox 379YE, some of the members of the Stonemasons of Mezudan survived the fall of the castle. They have expressed significant concerns about the safety of Spiral - and offered to lend their support to the construction of a castle in Spiral. However, they have also made it clear that they are not interested in rebuilding Fort Mezudan. Rather, they have identified two places where they consider a castle to have strategic value. The first in Apulus, on the coast, where it would be in a position to resist further naval assaults from the Grendel forces, as well as potentially controlling key passes into the Broken Shore. The second is in neighbouring Apstrus, near the old heliopticon tower on the northern slopes - in the right location a fortification here could discourage attacks from the south as well as keeping watch over the unknown lands to the east that lie between Spiral and Axos.
The Stonemasons of Mezudan would also assist in garrisoning a fortification they helped build - but they refuse to even consider starting work until all of Spiral is in Imperial hands. If Spiral were cleared of Grendel presence, the assistance of the Stonemasons would allow a basic, sturdy fortification to be built at the cost of only 64 white granite and 16 Thrones. It would still require a year to construct, and would have to be built in either Apstrus or Apulus, and the Stonemasons are prepared to assist in the construction of only one such fortification.
While there has been an uneasy peace in Spiral over the last three months, the situation in Spiral is still volatile. Preliminary assessments of the damaged Damakan's Forge and the ruined Spire of Ankarien have been made, but at the moment work is still ongoing to compile a report of any opportunities that might await in reconquered Spiral. They estimate that work should be completed by the Winter Solstice.