"In Spiral, carpets would seem to be a necessity rather than a luxury." The Grendel was smiling as she clapped her hands together, but she hadn't taken her eyes off Clelia since she'd come into the courtyard.

Two younger orcs stepped forward with a rolled-up bundle, and deftly cut the twine holding it together. It unrolled to reveal a gorgeous carpet emblazoned with an intricate design in purple and gold picking out the constellation of the Great Wyrm.

"I would hope it is the right size," continued the Grendel merchant smoothly. "Last time I was here I was taken with how cold the stone floor of the waiting chamber was. I didn't have time to measure it except by eye, but I am told I have a very good eye."

"How much?" asked Theodota, a little rudely. The Grendel turned her attention to the sentinel. She looked surprised he had spoken, Perhaps even a little affronted although it wasn't clear if she was more annoyed by his flat tone or by the fact someone she had dismissed as a servant was talking to her at all.

"Oh, this is not for sale," she said. "This is a gift."

"And why would a Grendel merchant want to give us a gift?" Theodota eyes flashed, his anger barely in thrall to his poise as he addressed the orc. She stared at him for a moment, weighing him up, and then dismissed him. She turned brusquely away, matching his rudeness by ignoring him completely, as if daring him to address her again.

"I'm not sure how things are done in the Empire," she said, her attention fully focused on Cleila again. "But a small gift is an entirely reasonable way to start a negotiation. Especially between people who don't like each other. It's a helpful social nicety. Nothing more. Also an acknowledgement of how cold your waiting chamber was and how little I appreciated being kept waiting in it."

She had abandoned her previous slightly deferential approach and was speaking to Cleila candidly, almost as to an equal. The arbiter found it refreshing.

"Take the carpet, or not, as you see fit. I'm not here about carpets. I'm here because you have something I need. I cannot face a year of nightmares for myself or my staff, it's exhausting. Worse, that feeling of insignificance in the face of the... the place in Screed? It's just unacceptable. I need someone to ward my estate and I understand that you are the people to talk to."

Theodota bristled at the Grendel's words, especially her reference to her estate, but Celila made a subtle gesture with her finger that quieted the big sentinel's ire.

"Very well, let us talk. Perhaps in my offices which you will be pleased to hear already have quite a thick carpet and are not at all chilly. I must warn you though, you aren't the first Grendel to speak to us and your predecessors have been quite persuasive."

"I too can be persuasive," said the merchant, mounting the stairs towards Cleila. "And by persuasive I of course mean 'I am very rich and will pay whatever it damn well takes for a good night's sleep'. I may not the first Grendel to speak with you, but by Salt and Sand I intend to be the last Grendel you speak to. At least until your people have finished warding my estate."
Urizen General
The Citadel Guard are once again receiving sufficient support, and are no longer risking deterioration. For now.

Overview

The Grendel peace treaty ceded the remaining Imperial regions of Spiral to the orcs. They now control the entire territory. Unlike in Feroz, however, the governor of Spiral - Salt Lord Kaliact - appears to be taking a more hands-off approach to the conquered populace. During the WInter Solstice, she offered several concessions to the Urizen, with her primary concern being that access to the mithril of the Legacy continue uninterrupted by the Empire or by the malign forces of the Black Plateau. In return, among other things, she was happy for the people of Spiral to continue supporting the Citadel Guard - reversing its current decline.

Safety from the Storm

  • The Urizen have reached a compromise with the Grendel regarding the protection of orc settlements
  • Urizen personal resources in Spiral are considered to be in a foreign territory, not a conquered territory, as long as the détente continues
  • The ability of Urizen to support an army has been temporarily restored; the Citadel Guard will not deteriorate this season or the next
  • The army will be to begin to deteriorate again after the Summer Solstice

The Urizen National Assembly upheld a mandate encouraging the people of Spiral to cooperate and trade with the Grendel. It was enacted by Alcuin of Urizen. Furthermore, it was supported by Cardinal Veikko Bondforger, and the Assembly of Loyalty, who urged the people of Spiral to cleave to the loyalty of their hearts, enhancing the impact the mandate has had.

It would lack Vigilance to surrender the secrets of the mithril block, knowing that it is the sole reason for the Grendel to guarantee the safety of Imperial citizens in their lands. It would lack Wisdom to refuse the protection of the mithril block, knowing that doing so would encourage the Grendel to destroy it. Therefore, Urizen citizens should work to expand the protection of the block to Grendel settlements without explaining its inner workings. Look to protect one settlement of the governor's choice at no cost, but seek payment as a fair price for any additional protections.

Tarquinius, Winter Solstice 383YE, Upheld (102-28)

There were two also additional statements that have influenced the outcome. The first came from the Imperial Conclave, where a declaration of concord from Palaphon Ankarien established the position that sharing magical secrets with the Grendel would be viewed as a potential act of sorcery. The second was a statement of principle raised by Tarquinius in the Urizen assembly. While it did not receive a greater majority, it presented a way for the citizens of Spiral to both cooperate with the Grendel but avoid accusations of sorcery.

Treading a middle route, and inspired to examine their bonds of Loyalty, the citizens of Spiral agree to grant the mithril wards powered by the Block that protect against the Black Plateau - but only to the Salt Lord's palace in Apulian. If the Grendel want to build any other settlements in the territory, they will need to pay Urizen magicians and architects to assist them in providing the warding. Despite some initial concern that the orcs may react badly, the Grendel cheerfully accept this proposal. Indeed, as one messenger indiscreetly asserts, it comes as something of a relief to the small number of masters of Sky Lore in the Salt Lord's court because now they can continue to focus on their magic and not spend their entire time haring around Spiral warding buildings.

The Salt Lord is happy with this situation. She still requires some level of tribute from the spires of Urizen but it is by no means the crushing imposition it might have been. Furthermore, she has fulfilled her promise that the people of Spiral would be able to continue to support the Citadel Guard and she is as good as her word. The army is no longer deteriorating.

The Spiral Envoy

  • The Imperial Senate could appoint an Urizen to serve as special trade envoy to the court of Salt Lord Kaliact
  • No commission or materials are required, just an Imperial Senate motion to authorize the creation of the title
  • The Envoy would oversee two ministries - one dealing with traders the other with the exchange of white granite for mithril

With a metaphorical sigh of relief that there is going to be a peaceful transition of power in Spiral, Grendel merchants begin to visit Urizen spires. They also take the opportunity to travel through the western passes - the Onyx Path and the Crow Road - into Redoubt. The tariffs they must pay at the border are an annoyance, but they are prepared to accept them if it means they can gain access to the lucrative mana and metals of Urizen (and receive a welcome respite from the grinding atmosphere of Spiral). Urizen merchants are in turn encouraged to make the trek to Apulian, and trade with the Grendel there. At the moment everything is operating on a reasonably ad hoc basis, and the Salt Lord is keen to see a little order brought to the arrangements. Rather than deal with the Imperial Fleet Master, she would prefer for the Urizen to appoint someone to deal specifically with her - or more correctly with a representative of her court who would be responsible for ensuring trade continues to run smoothly.

Grendel TradersProduction
8 crowns 8 rings6 random ingots, 6 tempest jade
20 crowns 8 rings12 random ingots, 12 tempest jade
36 crowns18 random ingots, 18 tempest jade

Her proposal is that the Imperial Senate recognise a Spiral Envoy. This would require a Senate motion and would create an Imperial title that would be responsible for ensuring good trade relations with the Grendel in Spiral and where needed, liasing with their opposite number in Apulian. This would be an Urizen national position, and the civil service suggest the well worn path would be to appoint it annually by the Tally of the Votes (a vote by Urizen mana site owners).

While the Spiral Envoy would not receive the powers of an ambassador (those would continue to lie with the Imperial Fleetmaster), it's likely that they would be the first port-of-call for merchants from Spiral with opportunities or problems. They would receive preferential treatment from both Urizen and Grendel traders, gaining the ability to purchase materials via a ministry.

Spiral ImportsProduction
2 white granite2 mithril
4 white granite4 mithril
6 white granite6 mithril
8 white granite8 mithril
10 white granite10 mithril

In addition, the Salt Lord is prepared to trade a portion of the mithril provided by the Legacy back to the Urizeni in return for the white granite she needs for various construction projects. So keen is she for white granite she is prepared to bear the brunt of any irritating tariffs required to move the valuable material through Imperial territory, provided whoever the broker ends up being is prepared to meet her halfway. She isn't interested in anything more permanent right now - she simply intends to send caravans of mithril through the Crow Road pass. They'll be accompanied by heavily armed and armoured Grendel soldiers to protect their valuable cargo from bandits, obviously. But for the time being in additional to being able to trade weirwood for mithril via the auspices of the Spiral Envoy.

WingedMessenger.png
Trader Athok, the spokesperson for the Northern Mareave Trading Consortium, has established themselves Apulus. They are keen to secure the purchase of weirwood and white granite, and a Winged Messenger can be sent to them in Apulian, Apulus, Spiral.

North Mareave Trading Consortium

  • The Grendel are keen to purchase white granite and weirwood
This opportunity has been modified as described in the What's good for me Summer 384YE wind of fortune

Salt Lord Kaliact controls the Legacy, but the interests of the Grendel do not focus entirely on mithril. Since the Winter Solstice, and some cautious negotiations between spires and opportunistic Grendel traders, a flurry of messages sent to the owners of weirwood and mithril Bourse seats across the Empire. Most have originated with a group calling themselves the Northern Mareave Trading Consortium, which appears to be a group of entrepreneurs and investors and includes representatives of several wealthy Grendel families alongside agents of the Salt Lords.

Their terms are quite straightforward. They are offering 6 Thrones a wain for weirwood, and 5 Thrones a wain for white granite to any Imperial citizen prepared to deal with them. Anyone who wishes to take advantage of their offer need simply send a Winged Messenger to the representative of the Consortium in Apulian. They will arrange transport of the weirwood or white granite and pay any annoying tariffs that might be incurred. This offer will remain open as long as there are good relations between the Empire and Salt Lord Kaliact.

OOC Note: Any character can take advantage of this offer by sending a Winged Messenger to the provided address detailing how much of which resource(s) they wish to trade, and ensuring the Bourse materials are in their inventory. We will then remove the resources from their inventory, and reimburse them with the appropriate amount of money.

WingedMessenger.png
Rahuun Amahuz, the leader of the Circle of Black Sand, has established their coven in Apulus. They are keen to hear from the Grandmaster of the Golden Pyramid or the Celestial Arch about trade in magical rituals and a Winged Messenger can be sent to them in Apulian, Apulus, Spiral.

The Circle of Black Sand

  • A group of Grendel magicians wish to negotiate an exchange of ritual lore

As well as merchants and negotiators, there are a small number of Grendel magicians beginning to establish a presence in Apulian at the court of the Salt Lord. One group in particular - the Circle of Black Sand - are keen to talk with Urizen ritualists. Practitioners of astronomancy, they appear to have a particular focus on the Lore of Sand - what the Empire calls Autumn magic. They are keen to acquire knowledge of a ritual they have heard of, that the Conclave possesses, which from their description appears to be the Gift of the Wily Broker.

Since the Conclave has been clear that trading magical secrets to the Grendel bears with it the risk of being declared a sorcerer however, none of the Spiral spires are prepared to take the risk of dealing with them. Rather they direct them to the Conclave itself - especially to the Grandmaster of the Golden Pyramid (the order associated with trade) and the Celestial Arch (the order associated with diplomacy). The Circle of Black Sand has now send an emissary to make an approach to the Conclave directly.

They desire a declaration of dissemination to provide the ritual text they seek. In return, they propose to hand over to the Grandmaster of the Golden Pyramid a ritual text of the Conclave's choice. According to their agent there are two ritual they are prepared to share. The first which they call Sigil of the White Sands enchants a fleet engaged in trade such that the captain can secure lucrative deals in whatever port their visit. The second ritual, the Eye of Ruby and Sapphire enchants a mine so that the worked can more easily locate valuable deposits of precious gems, causing it to produce a great deal of money and a small amount of additional tempest jade over the season it is enchanted. It will be up to the grandmaster what they wish to do with the ritual text - the Circle of Black Sand does not particularly care if it goes into Imperial lore, Urizen lore, or remains the property of the grandmaster and their order.

Either way the leader of the Circle of the Black Sand Rahuun Amahuz invites the Grandmaster of the Golden Pyramid or the Celestial Arch to send them a Winged Messenger - especially if there are other kinds of rituals the Empire are interested in. The Circle are masters of the Lore of Sand, but they claim to have friends and allies in covens across the Broken Shore and are prepared to serve as go-betweens in return for recognition (and payment). They understand that any agreement will need to be approved by the Conclave, but also are of the opinion it is a lot easier for two people to negotiate than for one person and a body made up of every Imperial magician to reach an agreement.

The Circle makes no bones of the fact that they expect the current détente between Grendel and Empire to be temporary, but they are keen to make the most profit - both in terms of wealth and in terms of political influence among their fellows - that they can in the time available.

Grendel Countdown Crab 2.png
The treaty ends after the Autumn Equinox 385YE, but is due to be renegotiated in Spring of that year.

Resolving a Debt

  • Last season Maistir Bradach was assaulted by Imperials whilst visiting Anvil
  • Speaker Morna will be visiting Anvil to meet with the Imperial Fleet Master
  • The Imperial Fleetmaster is Esteban I Del Rio Blanco I Guerra
  • Speaker Morna is expected to arrive in Anvil at TBC on Saturday

At the Winter Solstice, a representative of the Gainmeachdubh Merchant Adventurers named Maistir Bradach visited Anvil. Along with a couple of aides, the Grendel merchant visited the public Bourse Auction, spoke with various auction houses, and engaged in an amount of trade with Imperial citizens. Unfortunately, during their visit, they were set upon and robbed by unknown individuals. Rumour suggests that the Imperial Fleetmaster Esteban I Del Rio Blanco I Guerra was also attacked. Nobody was killed, but the merchant reportedly lost all the merchandise they had acquired as well as a great deal of wealth. Some recompense was provided, but Maistir Bradach departed the field with a very bad report of the experience.

During the Spring Equinox, one of the Grendel senior diplomats Speaker Morna will be visiting Anvil to discuss how the Empire intends to deal with this serious assault, what steps they have taken to ensure appropriate retribution is visited on the perpetrators, and how they plan to ensure it doesn't happen again. The word "reparations" has been mentioned several times. Their intention is to meet with the Imperial Fleetmaster "diplomat to diplomat" on Saturday afternoon, but it is likely they will want to hear from a representative of the militia as to the progress of the investigation into the robbery. It presumably goes without saying that if Speaker Morna encounters the same kind of reception as Maistir Bradach it is likely to prompt a serious diplomatic incident with the Grendel.

Limited Opportunities

The three opportunities - the envoy, the trade in weirwood and white granite, and the trade of ritual magic- remain available until the end of the Autumn Equinox 384YE. After this time it is likely the Grendel will lose interest and move on to other considerations.

Further Reading