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"You know that it is my intention to retire at the very end of the year, Master Le Salle?" Mladen Escovitch picked his words with as much care as he guarded his purse. He stroked his beard without looking at the Auditor of the Imperial Treasury who walked beside him. They were strolling through one of the arbours - although at this time of year it was much more like a maze of thorn bushes than a rose garden. Escovitch wore his coat open and smiled inwardly at the way the Auditor had bundled himself up against the Winter chill.

"I know that," said the Dawnishman. "And I appreciate all the work you've done making sure Lutomysla Niegoslava feels at home here."

"I only mention this because Urizen is very far away, and very much in the opposite direction from here than Varushka is. Also half of it is occupied by orcs. And some of those orcs are very bad orcs indeed. I am not superstitious, but to put myself within arms' reach of the Druj when i am this close to retirement..." He made it sound like a joke, but in all honesty it was preying on his mind.

"I know that as well," said Le Salle. "If there was anyone else...."

"There are two other civil servants with my seniority you could send." Mladen kept his tone mild but his frustration leaked through. Gerard sighed gustily.

"How can I put this," he said slowly. "The Senate did not specify, so the decision is mine. I could send Graciana but then she would come up with something novel and novelty is often just another word for very expensive. I could send Naomi but then she would come up with something diplomatic and another word for diplomatic is complicated and another word for complicated is very expensive."

"I see..." said the Varushkan, cottoning on at last.

"And I see the Senate budgets," said Gerard darkly, glowering at nothing in particular. "And how much they spend on fortifications each year... So I want to send a civil servant to Urizen who who understands that not everything we do has to end up meaning very expensive."
Fortifications are a vital part of the Empire's strategy for protecting its borders from barbarians.


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At the previous summit, the Senators instructed the civil service to carry out an appraisal of the options for fortifying Urizen, at the request of the Architects of Stone at Delving. The senators did not request a specific member of the Prognosticaters Office to carry out the appraisal and so Gerard La Salle has instructed the parsimonious Mladen Escovitch to do the work. He has conducted an analysis of each territory in Urizen, including the former territories of Zenith and Spiral with a view to finding the most efficient way each territory might be fortified.


  • A fortification could be built at Willstone to protect the eastern end of the Crow Road pass
  • The fortification would require 70 wains of white granite and 140 crowns and take a year to complete
  • When complete it would prove a deterrent for bandits in the area as well as generating a revenue stream that reduced the fortification's upkeep to 5 Thrones each season

There are two fortifications already in Redoubt, the Walls of Cargo and the Court of the White Fountain, ensuring it is already one of the better-defended territories on the Empire's borders. The Court of the White Fountain in particular stands near the border with Spiral guarding the Onyx Path, one of the two major passes through the mountains to lands claimed by the Grendel.

However, the other path, the Crow Road that links Willstone in Redoubt to Cinion in Spiral is currently undefended. Grendel armies could use this path to quickly invade Urizen, and create a beachhead at Willstone. Fortifying the region would make an attack much more difficult, forcing any invading Grendel army to mount a direct assault against a protected region if they wanted to attack Redoubt by land.

No fortification is ever cheap, but the prognosticator has assessed the existing citadel at Willstone and confirmed that it could be expanded and fortified to provide an effective defence to protect the Crow Road. Expanding the citadel into a basic fortification would require 70 wains of white granite and 140 crowns, and take a year to complete, but it would also help in other ways. The area is known to be plagued by orc bandits, which make the area dangerous for small groups of travellers, especially those visiting the nearby Grand Conservatory of Music. The new fortification would serve as a powerful deterrent to these bandits as well as being the ideal location for passing caravans to rest. Escovitch's design features an unusually large open courtyard allowing merchants to pay to store their wagons inside the fortification. Charging the merchants (and pilgrims visiting the Conservatory) for this benefit would provide a valuable revenue stream, which would serve to reduce the upkeep cost of the fortification from 10 thrones a season to 5 thrones a season.

In addition to this opportunity, Escovitch notes that last season the eternal Adamant has offered to help improve the strength of the Court of the White Fountain.


  • Four potent citadels could be built around the Three Watchers in southern Morrow
  • The commission would require a total of 140 wains of white granite, 280 crowns, take two years, and produce a rank two fortification
  • With an attendant mandate, work could be completed in one year
  • It may be possible to encourage Phaleron to allow a ritual to fortify the Great Library of Canterspire to be codified

By comparison with the well-defended Redoubt, Morrow is much more vulnerable. It lacks any fortifications and has been attacked in recent times by the Druj. While those barbarians were driven off, they will continue to present a serious threat until Zenith can be liberated and Therunin secured.

According to Escovitch, the most effective place to build a fortification would be in the shadow of the Three Watchers. The Druj appear to fear these great statues and are clearly uncomfortable in their presence. Any defences built here would be able to benefit from this effect, fortifying the morale of the defenders even as they sap the will of the Druj.

To get the maximum benefit from the great statues, Escovitch wants to build four powerful citadels, one to protect each of the Watchers and one to coordinate the defences between the three. The designs are efficient, but they are not cheap, requiring 140 wains of white granite and 280 crowns, to create a fortification with an effective strength of six thousand in two years. Garrisoning such a large fortification would be a challenge, but Escovitch has calculated that this could be resolved if the Urizen Assembly upheld the following mandate once construction were underway.

Sentinels of Urizen, let us prepare for malice, let us thwart it before it strikes. We send {named priest} with 25 doses of liao to urge Loyal sentinels to take up residence in the Watcher's Citadels, to create a bulwark against any threats within or without.

Synod Mandate, Urizen Assembly

If this mandate were endorsed it would allow the 6000 strength fortification being constructed in Caeli to be completed in one year, provided it were passed after the first season of construction were complete. It would have no effect if passed before this point. Without this mandate, the fortification will take two years to complete.

In addition to these opportunities, Escovitch notes that the Senate could fund the creation of fortified sword scholar temples across Morrow. These temples would serve as a fortification, protecting the territory if it were attacked.

Another option is the Grand Library of Caterspire. Before Phaleron helped the Urizen develop Canterspire into a great library, he provided a powerful arcane projection that was used to sheath the site in luminescent crystal mimicking the effect of a 3,000 strength fortification in the region. Since then Phaleron has made other arrangements with the Urizeni to ensure the security of the Grand Library, but possibly the Emissary to the Celestial Library might persuade the Archives of Silence to allow the ritual to be codified?


  • It is not possible to build a fortification in Spiral without the permission of the Grendel
  • If the region of Ateri were controlled by the Empire then the ruins of Fort Mezudan could be reconstructed
  • Rebuilding Fort Mezudan would require 60 wains of white granite and 130 crowns, but the work could be completed in three seasons
  • As long as both the reconstructed Fort Mezudan, the Court of the White Fountain, and the pass joining them were in Imperial hands then the Spiral fort would be eligible for automatic repair

Spiral is completely controlled by the Grendel - the territory ceded to them by the Senate as part of the recent treaty to buy peace with the Southern barbarians for two years. As a result, it is impossible to commission any work in the territory. Assessing the area is possible however since the Urizeni Assembly urged those living in Spiral to cooperate with the Grendel, allowing Escovitch and his team to pass into Spiral with relative ease.

After assessing some of the options in the north of the territory, he concludes that Fort Mezudan remains the most effective location to build a fortification to protect the territory. Although Spiral is unlikely to be attacked from Redoubt, putting the fort at the other end of Onyx Path linking Optarion and Ateri would allow it to defend the pass and ensure that the supply lines from Redoubt could not easily be cut off.

Sadly no part of the existing ruins are still standing, so there are precious few materials here that might be employed to reduce the resources needed, but much of the time-consuming work to embed foundations and prepare the site for construction was completed long ago. As such, rebuilding Fort Mezudan would take 60 wains of white granite and 130 crowns but the work could be completed in three seasons. Crucially, as long as the Court of the White Fountain and the pass joining the two fortifications remained under Imperial control then Fort Mezudan would count as being in an Imperial held territory for automatic repair regardless of who held the rest of Spiral.

The work could only begin if the Empire controlled the region of Ateri, but it would not need the entire territory to be under Imperial control. In theory it might be possible to negotiate with Salt Lord Kaliact, the governor of Spiral, to rebuild Fort Mezudan. Doing so would require the Grendel to cede the resulting fortification to the Empire, which certainly represents a significant diplomatic challenge but is at least in theory not impossible.


  • Zenith is in the hands of the Druj
  • There is a possibility the eternal Meraud may be convinced to help create a fortification in return for a very great deal of tempest jade
  • There is a chance that an ancient tulpa may know a secret way to somehow "secure" the forests of Lustri
  • With sufficient ilium and an agreement with an eternal - most likely either Cathan Canae or Sorin - a magical fortification might be conjured permanently in Zenith

Like Spiral, Zenith is controlled by enemies of the Empire, but the Druj remain at war with the conflict between Imperial armies and Druj forces raging back and forth across the border between the two territories. As such it is not possible for Escovitch and his team to carry out a definitive appraisal of the territory, it would simply be too dangerous to attempt to do so. However, Escovitch is notorious for his abhorrence for waste - so rather than attempt a dangerous and expensive trip into Druj lands, he has had his team comb through Imperial records of past civil service reports looking for anything that might present an opportunity today and has found two reports of interest.

The first is a record of something like a plenipotentiary, an offer by Meraud to help fortify the Halls of Knowledge. The Fire Mage was apparently offering to provide all the materials for the fortification - albeit this would take the form of igneous basalt, rather than white granite. According to Meraud, this basalt, drawn from the Summer Realm, is every bit as hard and durable as granite and could be used to replace it on a one-for-one basis.

There are, sadly, three problems with this offer. The first is that the Halls of Knowledge were torn down by the Druj, ransacked for everything of value and then destroyed. Given Meraud's interest was clearly in protecting the Halls, they would presumably have to be rebuilt before any help to protect them would be forthcoming. The second problem is that this offer was made over a century ago... There's no record of how the Empire responded, but it seems naive to imagine that Meraud is still waiting for an answer. Still, what is time to an eternal? If someone spoke to Meraud he might be interested in renewing the offer? The third problem is the price... Meraud was apparently looking to construct some kind of Jade Mountain in the Summer Realm... as such he wanted a thousand pieces of tempest jade in return for his help. It's not clear if that much tempest jade exists in the Empire.

The second report is even older, it describes an encounter with one of the many rogue tulpas that haunts the dark forests of Lustri. The creature called itself Phellem and it claimed to be as old as the forest itself. It was encountered by a group of Imperial heroes travelling to the region via the Sentinel Gate, so the account is particularly vague, but those who spoke with the tulpa claim that the being expressed a desire to see the forest "secured" in some way - and was prepared to offer it's assistance, in such an endeavour.

Again, to take advantage of this "opportunity" would be difficult. The Empire would have to find Phellem... assuming the being even still exists. Nobody is really sure how long tulpas endure, but this one claimed to be centuries old, so perhaps it might still be there. If the tulpa is still haunting the forests of Lustri, then the surest way to find it would be to set a scouting army to gather intelligence in the area. Once they had located Phellem, then magicians would have to be dispatched to negotiate with Phellem and see what aid it might be able to offer to ensure that the forests were protected.

Additional Notes

A note has been added to the bottom of this part of the appraisal by Graciana i Lòpez i Guerra regarding a potential alternative. In the Winter of 379YE, the Thule orcs conjured a permanent Frozen Citadel of Cathan Canae in the Silver Peaks. This would have required a significant amount of ilium - an estimated 240 rings of the precious material. More importantly, it would also require the agreement of the eternal herself. Permanently summoning one of her Citadels without her approval would be the equivalent of theft, and likely to have severe repercussions. But the benefit would be that, as long as one controlled the region where it was summoned, it would be created instantly. Clypion and Occursion both would be suitable for creating such a fortress.

A further note in a third hand points out that this strategy - magically created permanent fortifications - would also work in Proceris with the newly-added Basalt Citadel if the approval of Sorin could be secured. Creating a permanent Dripping Echoes of the Fen (in Proceris) or Wooden Fastness (in Lustri) is also feasible, but without knowing exactly which eternal provides their support to those rituals, approaching them for permission would prove challenging.

A Final Note

Mladen Escovitch mentions at the end of his report that this will be his final appraisal; he is retiring from active service to spend his remaining years with his family in Miekarova. His replacement at the Prognosticator's Office will be Lutomysla Niegoslava, a cabalist from Karov who sees magic as the most effective tool to address complex situations.

Tuhtel stared at the pile of mouldering documents and sighed theatrically. He'd been so excited when he'd heard La Salle had put their team on the appraisal - and now here he was stuck at a desk. Prodon, his colleague, ignored him focussing as they were their own work, so he sighed again, only louder this time.

"Is there a problem?" Prodon asked through gritted teeth.

"This. This is the problem" said Tuhtel gesturing at the scrolls in front of him. "We're prognosticators, not librarians. We should be out there surveying the landscape to see what opportunities exist. Not trawling through centuries-old paperwork looking for things previous senators considered and discarded. I joined the department for the action, the excitement. Not this!"

Prodon stared at his junior colleague his face a mixture of scorn and disgust. "Zenith is crawling with Druj, Spiral is full of Grendel and the Black Plateau. How exactly do you think we're going to carry out an appraisal under those conditions?"

"We could do it! We could travel light, get in, get out, one man alone..." his voice trailed off slightly as

"You're a prognosticator... barely... You're not an Imperial scout. Last time I checked you were schooled in six different forms of record keepng... none of which included training on how to sneak through enemy lines? Prodon interrupted his rant to shake his head dismissively before finishing with "The Druj would eat you for breakfast."

Tuhtel glared at his colleague but he pretended to return his attention to paperwork on his desk nonetheless.