The waters were already lapping against the rim of the platform and rising swiftly. Time was running out. Had already run out. Abal was surprised at how detached he felt.

He'd been there during the last flood, the flood of 362YE. Twenty-two years ago now. He'd been barely a boy, working his third shift, tired and aching. The bells had started to peal and he'd not really registered what they meant and just stood looking stupidly at his father while all around him miners had dropped their tools, turned, and run. When he realised what was happening, fear paralysed him. He couldn't move. He remembered his father grabbing his shoulder, slapping him across the face, and bellowing that he had to move. It was the fear in his father's voice as much as the slap that broke through the stupor, as he thrust Abal ahead of him. As they raced for the ramp to the upper gallery.

What he didn't remember was the moment when his father stumbled, fell. He knew he'd been aware of him at the start of their panicked flight, and cresting the ramp into the gallery at the base of the lift, and that somewhere along the way his father had fallen. The old man hadn't made a sound. Abal had thought about it a lot through the years and had realised early on that he hadn't cried out because if he had Abal would have stopped running to help him up and the water would have claimed both of them.

"We've got to go." Chaya had to shout to be heard over the sound of the flood. Abal felt water against his boots. The listlessness near overwhelmed him. A terrible sadness that brought him to the edge of madness welled in his breast, threatened to overwhelm him.

"We've got to go," said Chaya again, more urgently, grabbing his shoulder this time. It was that contact that broke him out of his daze, the echo of his father's words. He snapped into action, half turning to Saul at the back of the elevator.

"Pull it!" he shouted. Saul's eyes were full of tears and for a moment it looked like he might refuse, might doom all eight of them, but then he pulled the lever. High above them a bell tolled once. Twice. The elevator began to move. Jerky at first and then more smoothly. Below them, the supports holding up the ceiling on the eastern spur surrendered to the flood, and the roof began to fall. The roaring of the stone overwhelmed the roaring of the water as they rose up towards the surface.

Abal knew he wasn't a virtuous man. He closed his eyes, and in the privacy of his head he prayed, begging for someone, anyone who would listen that Japhet, his son, his boy, his pride and his joy, had somehow managed to make it out as well.

But there was no answer.
Lady Isabella.jpg
Samson of Windergard's beautiful painting Lady Isabella depicts the main pump that keeps the lower levels of Syrene's Wisdom free of water. It hangs in the main hall of the chapterhouse at Syrene.
Click for audio version


While the Empire is baking in the heat of a drought, there is one place that is experiencing quite the opposite problem. Shortly before the Summer Solstice, a devastating flood strikes Syrene's Wisdom in Casinea. The silver and ilium mine is prone to terrible, sporadic floods, and long overdue for an incident. Still, nothing prepared the people of the town and the mine for the sheer volume of water that pounded through the passages and galleries - nor for the way it spewed out, down the mountain, and washed through the town of Syrene.

The flood caught everyone by surprise - even the normally vigilant miners had let their guard down a little after so many years without an incident. Many of the miners are still missing, and most of the lower mineworkings are still flooded. Worse, the water appears to be infused with Winter magic, and has unpleasant effects on anything exposed to it.

Drowned Wisdom

  • Production of ilium at Syrene's Wisdom might be permanently impeded

Floods are nothing new for the workers at Syrene's Wisdom, but these recent ones have been especially bad - possible because they are so long "overdue". Normally the waters recede in a few days but this time sections of the silver mines remain underwater a month later. Rather than being disrupted for a few days as is usually the case, it looks as if the production of ilium may be permanently impeded.

At least thirty miners are believed to have lost their lives, and easily half the bodies of those unaccounted for have yet to be found. Another forty have sustained serious injuries, but at least their wounds can be tended to. Indeed, the Winter magic infusing the waters means that those who are hurt but not killed outright linger on the edge of death for much longer than they have any right to do. This is a mixed blessing of course; there are few things a miner fears more than being trapped underground and condemned to a slow death from starvation and thirst. With their traditional jet-black gallows humour one of the miners comments that while his missing friends may starve to death "at least they will not die thirsty." This humour is little comfort to the families of the drowned and the missing. There is a general feeling that the cost of bringing silver and star metal out of the mines has simply risen too high to be sustainable.

Under normal circumstances, Syrene's Wisdom produces 7 rings of ilium for the seat holder every season and fortunately thanks to a lucky find the mine had already provided that bounty before the floods hit. As a result the new holder of the Bourse seat Fennir of Brackenbeak Hall will receive their ilium as normal at the Summer Solstice. However, thanks to the flooding and the unhappiness among the miners and their families, there is every chance the mine will produce nothing after the Summer Solstice - perhaps nothing ever again.

There are three potential ways to respond to the crisis.


Syrene's Wisdom is prone to flooding. Under normal circumstances, the Lady Isabella - the local name for the pumping tower that keeps the lower parts of the mine workable - can deal with the flood waters. This time, the situation is much worse and the pump has been overwhelmed and the peculiar Winter magic in the water is distinctly more powerful than normal. Pipes corrode, and machinery rusts and grinds to a halt. Worst of all, supports throughout the mine are beginning to rot and fail. The place is dangerous at the best of times, but now it is a death trap.

A cadre of engineers from Holberg en route to visit the Silent Sentinel have diverted to Syrene to see if they can offer their assistance. Their report is grim. The water is still flowing, the pump will need a complete refit, and normal metal or ceramic pipes will not be able to withstand the concentrated magical effects of the water. They have a proposal, but it will not be cheap. Refitting Lady Isabelle and replacing the pipes and the damaged supports with new, rune forged construction will require a commission, 10 wains of mithril, 10 wains of weirwood. Labour costs will be 40 crowns, and the work will take a full three months to complete during which time the mine will only produce 4 rings of ilium. It will require a Senate motion, as it involves amending an existing commission.

The good news is that modernising the Lady Isabelle - using many of the techniques developed while improving the Great Pits of Ennerlund following the threat of flooding from the Morass - will make the mine more efficient. The amount of ilium that can be extracted from Syrene's Wisdom will increase by 2 rings each season going forward. The additional access to silver and other precious metals will also provide a new source of prosperity to the nearby town. Even better, the engineers are confident that their new, robust system will be better able to deal with future flooding, greatly reducing the chance of loss of life in the mines.

This opportunity to invest in Syrene's Wisdom will remain available until the situation changes significantly.


Alternatively, the Imperial Senate can provide funds to clear the mine and get it working again. This will require a Senate Motion and an investment of 10 Thrones. The waters will be pumped from most of the mine, and the worst of the damage dealt with, but the main priority will be getting Syrene's Wisdom functioning again. This will take three months during which the mine will produce only 4 rings of ilium. At the end of that time, the mine will be operational again, and it should be some time before another flood strikes.

Unfortunately, this particularly severe flooding means that nobody is especially keen to go into the mine in this state. There will be miners prepared to work there - but they will demand higher wages. The upkeep for Syrene's Wisdom will increase to 10 Thrones going forward.

As with the opportunity to invest in Syrene's Wisdom, this option remains available until the situation again changes significantly.


Finally, the Imperial Senate can choose to do nothing. It is still possible to get ilium out of Syrene's Wisdom. This is not the first time the mine has flooded - and while there may be sporadic disasters such as this it is still overall a safer place to work that the old Scorrero Nets ever were. Indeed, with the 'Nets in Grendel hands there are plenty of people with experience dealing with dangerous waters who are available to work Syrene's Wisdom if the local miners aren't prepared to do it.

In this case, however, they will need to offer significant wages. The upkeep cost for Syrene's Wisdom will increase to 15 Thrones for the foreseeable future. The advantage is that the mine will resume producing ilium after the Summer Solstice, without notable interruption.

Always Options

  • None of these options preclude the previous ones being employed at a later date

These three options are presented in descending order of safety, but there is no reason the Senate could not leave it a season or two before implementing one of the earlier ones. It would also be possible to create a "stop gap" where the mines are reopened with a quick investment of cash, and then later reduce the upkeep to normal levels by revitalizing the Lady Isabelle.

Unfair Danger

  • Some of the miners are looking to the Synod for guidance

Prosperity teaches that one should receive fair recompense for hard work. There is some question among the surviving miners as to whether working in Syrene's Wisdom is worth any amount of money. Right now, practicality will mean that when the mine reopens they will have to return to work no matter how safe the mine might prove to be. This being Highguard, the families of the dead and injured miners look to the Synod for guidance. A suitably worded statement of principle from the Highborn assembly, the Prosperity assembly, or the General Assembly might offer some insight to the miners and their families.

The Flood at Syrene

It's not uncommon for Syrene's Wisdom to suffer dangerous flooding, but this time the waters pour out of the mine and through the hills. This triggers an avalanche of mud and debris that makes the situation even worse. Many homes are washed away, fields are ruined, and the roads passing through Syrene to Anvil are washed out. There is some loss of life, but more dangerous are the after-effects that accompany any major flood - especially disease and hunger.

Worse, the waters that have poured down from Syrene's Wisdom are tainted with Winter magic. Some who are exposed to the waters for too long becomes listless and enervated, while others become suspicious and ill-tempered. While those caught in the waters are less likely to die, many are still left weak and listless. The effect on living creatures is unsettling enough, but as observed in the mines, the water has a much more destructive effect on the fruits of human labour - crafted objects and structures alike are rusted, corroded, rotted, and eroded if they are exposed to the waters for too long.

The chapters of Casinea ally to help the people of Syrene, but the disaster is unprecedented. Fortunately, it is quickly discovered that those with draughir or briar lineage seem unaffected by the taint in the waters. The worst that seems to happen to the draughir who turn up to help is that they become a little more grumpy, while it seems the natural vitality of the briar-born inures them to the enervating waters. The guardians of the Wintergard chapter welcome the aid of their neighbours, but they still enforce the restriction that no draughir can stay in the town for more than three days at a time. They do so regretfully - it gives them no pleasure - but rules are rules and this rule is as much for the protection of the draughir as for any other reason.

Some of the people of Syrene point to the sinister pool of Syrene as perhaps being responsible for the tainted water. It's always been a common belief that the floods of Syrene's Wisdom are related in some way to the unnatural pool. Others wonder if one of the three eternals known to have an interest in the area - Sorin, Wise Rangara, and Kaela - might have some relationship to the catastrophe. Interestingly, none of the three have sent any heralds to the area despite each controlling one of the three strong Winter regio found near the town.

The Succour of the Chalice

  • The SIlver Chalice has been asked to help the people of Syrene

The manifesto of the Silver Chalice Conclave order recognises that Life flows through each of us; our magic allows us to reach out to our fellows and nurture that life, mend what is broken, and bring what is torn apart back together. As such several of the magisters of Syrene have reached out to the order to ask for help. While most people exposed to the tainted water recover after a few days, others seem to have a more severe reaction. Colour leaches from their skin, hair, and eyes, and they become utterly exhausted barely able to summon the energy to speak. Worse, the water has seeped into tree roots, drunk by animals, and spread across the fields. Volunteers from the other Casinean chapters can offer spiritual and material aid, but dealing with the effects of the water will require more specialist knowledge. They need the assistance of magical healers and skilled physics alike. More importantly, they need resources - crystal mana - and the people to wield it.

A Declaration of Concord in the Imperial Conclave can be used to direct members of the Silver Chalice travel to Syrene to offer their aid to the people there. They will need resources however; 50 crystal mana should be sufficient to supplement what can be supplied by the Casinean chapters and the Silver Chalice members themselves. If this is done, then the human cost of the disaster will be mitigated. People will recover from the tainted water quickly, and the worst of the damage to animals and crops will be undone.

OOC Note: If the Declaration of Concord passes, the Grandmaster of the Silver Chalice will need to ensure the 50 crystal mana are in their inventory, and e-mail,uk to instruct us to remove the mana. Assuming they are able and willing to help of course.


If you belong to a chapter in Casinea you are welcome to roleplay that you have been helping the people of Syrene to deal with the aftermath of the disaster. The water is still dangerous - as noted above it has unsettling effects on anyone exposed to it - but you are free to create stories around offering aid. The mine itself however is mostly off limits - it is still far too dangerous to push into the flooded galleries, which is particularly hampering rescue efforts.

Resonance and Renewal

  • Regrow the Land's Heart cannot help in Syrene during the Summer Solstice
  • Other rituals may have unexpected results if they effect Syrene

The disaster at Syrene has not only harmed people, but also crops and buildings. The ritual Regrow the Land's Heart is specifically intended to help deal with the results of disasters such as this. Unfortunately, thanks to the powerful conjunction of the Wanderer, the Stallion, the Lock, and the Fountain, the ritual cannot be employed to help the people of Syrene. if it is cast on the territory, its effects will be distorted and spread across the Empire. If the situation has not improved by the Autumn Equinox, there should be a chance to use the ritual then.

There is a chance that Syrene will be affected by one or more of the rituals enhanced by the conjunction. One specific ritual will have additional effects if it is cast on Casinea through the Imperial regio. If Thunderous Deluge is cast, it will make it impossible to employ any of the opportunities listed above to repair the mine until the Autumn Equinox. However, the tumultuous waters that pour down the mountainside are almost certain to wash unprecedented amounts of ilium down into the mine. A seer studying the phenomenon predicts that the ilium production of Syrene's Wisdom will permanently increase by 1 ring each season following the Autumn Equinox - once the mine is operational again of course.

And Finally

  • Miners are worried about the potential for the 'strange figures' to appear

One final issue concerns the people of Syrene. Traditionally, after the mines flood, peculiar figures are reported in the depths of the mine. There has been no sign of these spirits so far, but more importantly there has never been a flood of such a magnitude before. Perhaps it won't matter... or perhaps it will mean that the eerie strangers will do more than simply lurk in the depths of the mine when they do appear...

Further Reading