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Palt felt his blood surge and he fought the instinct to duck as he felt the boatman's eyes pass over his position. Training and experience had taught him that any sudden movement would be sure to give his position away. Better to hold still and trust to cover and camouflage to keep him hidden. In the back of his head he could hear Karp, one of his oldest ancestors urging him to stay still, wrapping him in a fervour that ensured every muscle stayed frozen. As swiftly as it had come the tiny boat, barely more than a dugout moved on. He relaxed, breathing out, and feeling his ancestor leave his mind to retreat back over the Howling Abyss.

He'd been here nearly a week now, slowly moving through the dank marshes looking for signs of potential rebellion among the mouldering settlements that were scattered across these fens. Hoping to find some spark that the Empire might fan into a flame. He smiled wryly to himself as he mused, the idea of trying to set the marsh on fire seemed like an apt analogy for the difficulty he faced. There were hundreds of orcs living in the marshes, but watching the way they acted round the Druj, the best word to describe them would be craven.

They bowed low, they never talked back no matter what was said - they suffered indignities in silence. Maybe it was the soul-crushing miasma that suffused everything here. Palt had felt it as soon as he'd slipped over the border into the Sarangrave. A twisted pallor clawing at his spirit, playing on his fears, only held at bay the aura that drove him to seek out the source of the threat. Without the anointing urging him to work with his fellow scouts, he was certain he would have found a reason to put this dangerous expedition off. What would it be like to face the miasma with the Way of Virtue to armour his soul? He shuddered to think on it - it was no surprise that the boat people of the flats had no will to resist the Druj when they were born into the miasma.

There was no enthusiasm for a fight here, not yet, but he was eager to report it was not for lack of wanting it. They never raised their voices to the Druj, but he'd seen for himself the way they tensed when the Druj were around, a sure sign that their ancestors were urging them to attack. He'd observed the cold intensity in their eyes, when the Druj turned their backs on them, a seething hate that bubbled to the surface when the Druj were present but not observing them. If these people had the weapons to fight the Druj, if they had the will... well then the marsh would soon catch fire...

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To commission Graciana i Lopez i Guerra to appraise an opportunity for Imperial Citizens to use the spy network in Sarangrave to incite, coordinate & support slave uprising and raids in that territory, for the purpose of causing economic and military damage to the Druj.

Proposed by Temeschwar, Seconded by Redoubt
The Druj are absolutely merciless to those who attempt to escape their tyrannical rule.


At the recent summit, the Imperial Senate passed a motion instructing Graciana i Lòpez i Guerra of the Prognosticators Office to carry out an appraisal to identify an opportunity to inspire an uprising in Sarangrave. The Senate instructed Graciana to confine her research to only those solutions which employed the existing spy network in the territory.

Sarangrave is the south-western territory of the Mallum, the empire ruled by the tyrannical Druj. The land is mixture of fecund marsh and rich forests with both crops and herd animals in great profusion. There are three clans of Druj in Sarangrave; the south is dominated by the Thornwasp clan, the northern regions are controlled by the Banded Snake, and the eastern regions are under control of the Marshlizard. These three powerful clans rule over a number of smaller clans, septs of subject orcs, and a few handfuls of humans. The Druj are secure in their domination of the Sarangrave.

In addition to instructing Graciana to carry out a full appraisal, as the Senate asked, Gerard La Salle asked the other senior prognosticators to provide a few thoughts of their own in the hope that the Senate will find this information useful either in assessing how to proceed in Sarangrave or in determining the course of future appraisals.

Graciana's Assessment

The brilliant Freeborn prognosticator is delighted to have received such a worthy assignment from the Senate. She is able to quickly confirm that the desire is there to overthrow the rulers of the Sarangrave. These people loathe the Druj with every fibre of their being and would like nothing more than to see them destroyed.

The problem is convincing them that they have any chance of success if they rise up. The Druj control of the Sarangrave is absolute - they have faced no threats to their rule here in living memory. The idea of life without the Druj seems like little more than a fever-dream to most of the people who live here. To raise a weapon against the Druj is death - a swiftly summary execution if you are fortunate, a horrific, drawn out murder if you are not.

To have any chance of success, the Empire would need to achieve two things - they would need to covertly funnel weapons and armour into the territory. And they would have to find a way to convince the inhabitants they would have any chance of success.

Arming the Septs

  • There are three potential septs - distinct groups - that the Empire could provide with weapons and armour
  • The Empire could pass a single Senate motion to arm one of the Sarangrave Septs
  • The Empire could pass a single Senate motion to arm all the Sarangrave Septs
  • It would take six months to complete and cost 100 wains of mithril and 50 thrones for each sept

There are three septs in the Sarangrave who have the numbers and the organization to fight the Druj. The Empire could approach one, two or all three of them with a view to arming them for an uprising. To have any chance of success they would need to be supplied with weapons and armour. In Graciana's plan these could be smuggled into the territory to the existing spy network, and distributed from there to the septs.

The costs for this would not be cheap. In effect the Empire would be paying to help raise one or more armies. That is notoriously costly, requiring huge amounts of mithril, and that is when carried out in safety in the Empire. To arm a sept would require 100 wains of mithril and cost 50 thrones. It would take six months to complete, assuming that mithril and money were provided without delay. Once complete, the Sept would have control of a single army with a maximum army strength of 5,000 and a starting strength of 3,000. The army would have the quality green, representing its lack of experience. A green army can only use balanced attack and solid defence orders. They lose the green quality after they complete three seasons of active campaigning.

There are three septs the Empire could approach, either individually or collectively. They are:

The Bloodwater Spears

  • The Bloodwater Spears are led by Halyx Fireeyes

The Bloodwater Spears are the largest of the three septs, living all along the banks of the Feverwater. They are skilled spear-fishers, and could make a formidable fighting force, if they were provided with armour and enough weapons to replace their wooden fishing spears. The leader of the Bloodwater Spears is a young matriarch called Halyx Fireeyes who is said to have a notoriously short temper - something very unusual for any subject of the Druj. The Bloodwater Spears live in Bloodwater Marsh and the Whisperwood.

The Water Walkers

  • The Water Walkers are led by Agoska

The Water Walkers are the most dispersed of three septs, with members spread out all across the marshes of the Sarangrave. They serve the Druj by operating rafts, coracles, and small boats which they use to ferry materials and people across the treacherous waters. The leader of the Water Walkers is an older orc called Agoska who is apparently blind, having put out his eyes in exchange for a boon for his people from a creature the Water Walkers call Black Feathers. The Water Walkers travel round the Sarangrave on their small boats but maintain a number of small settlements across Kroll and the Turan Flats.

The Grynbor

  • The Gyrnbor are led by "Queen" Olwenna

The Grynbor are a human sept living on the edges of the ruins of Béantal Dol, the site of a vallorn heart. The Grynbor send small expeditions into the infested forest, looking for relics and peculiar plants for their Druj overlords. The Grynbor are ruled by a monarch, they apparently appoint a new king or queen every nine years on the death of the previous ruler. Their current leader is Queen Olwenna, who is said to be a shrewd, canny woman. The Grynbor live in Nesustak Forest, but make regular forays into Bendol.

Inciting the Septs

It is not enough to arm the septs, they would also have to believe they could win against the Druj before they would consider rising up against their overlords. That is not going to be easy, they hate the Druj but they fear them more than they hate them. The septs are not completely broken like the Sand Fishers of Ossium were, but they are still a long way from being ready to rise up to fight the Druj.

Graciana rates their current morale as craven. To be ready to rebel, the Empire would have to raise the morale of the septs from craven through to cowed, then to fearful, then discouraged and finally to resolved. At that point, they would have the nerve to attack the Druj. It wouldn't be necessary to incite a revolt, but it would be possible to lift their morale beyond resolved to reach confident and potentially assured.

Graciana has identified several potential actions that the Empire could take, each of which would serve to improve the morale of the septs by one place. With the exception of inflicting a visible defeat on the Druj, each sept can only benefit from each action once.

Graciana is not an expert on diplomacy, so her insight into what might be sufficient to persuade the septs to rebel is not definitive. While neither of her peers at the prognosticator's office has been in a position to explore other options, they have provided some ideas for potential alternatives that the Empire could look into, were they so minded.

Contact with the Winter Sun

  • The Winter Sun can take the Break the Chains order while in neighbouring Therunin to incite a sept to rise up

The first Imperial Orc army contains many orcs who are fiercely committed to bringing freedom to the enemies of the Empire. If the Winter Sun were stationed in a neighbouring territory under Imperial control (currently just Therunin) then they could issue an order to break the chains, allowing them to defend Therunin from attack while targeting a single sept in the Sarangrave. Each sept that spent a season working with the Winter Sun would have their confidence boosted. The Winter Sun could only boost the morale of a sept once in this way. The Winter Sun could also gain the same benefits while attacking the Druj in the Sarangrave using the break the chains order.

Overwhelming support

  • If all three septs are armed, then the confidence of each will be boosted

Funnelling mithril to a sept will give them the ability to arm themselves ready for a fight, but they won't be enough to convince them to rise up. What would boost their confidence is if the Empire chose to arm all three of the independent-minded septs in the Sarangrave. If each sept knew that the other two had completed preparations for an armed uprising, then the morale of every sept would be boosted.

A Signed Treaty of Support

  • The Empire could sign a treaty with one or more of the septs, offering to send Imperial armies to support an uprising

The Empire could attempt to make contact with Halyx Fireeyes, Agoska, or Queen Olwenna with a view to creating a treaty promising military support. If the Empire promised to commit three or more Imperial armies to the Sarangrave in support of an uprising. Any sept that has a signed treaty approved by the Imperial Senate promising military support will have their morale boosted.

A Signed Treaty of Independence

  • The Empire could sign a treaty with a sept promising to recognise their right to rule the regions of the Sarangrave they inhabit

The septs of the Sarangrave are not friends of the Empire. They loathe the Druj, but that does not mean they are ready to welcome the Empire with open arms. They are suspicious of the motives of anyone offering support or aid. The Empire could allay these fears by signing a treaty promising to support the independence of the Sarangrave. Any sept that has a signed treaty approved by the Imperial Senate promising to recognize their independent control of two or more regions of the Sarangrave will have their morale boosted.

Inflict a Visible Defeat

  • The Empire could defeat the Druj armies in neighbouring Zenith or the Barrens

The Empire has recently inflicted a crushing defeat on the Druj, taking Ossium from them - but that territory is far away from the Sarangrave. The idea that anyone could defeat the Druj is difficult for many of the inhabitants of the Sarangrave to believe. However there are two neighbouring territories controlled by the Druj next to the Sarangrave, either of which could be used to demonstrate that the Druj are not unbeatable. If the Empire drove the Druj from Zenith, or if they conquered the Barrens and took the territory from the Druj, then either would serve to boost the morale of the septs. If both conquests were fully complete, then that would improvement the morale of every septs twice.

Naomi's Comments

Naomi of Virtue's Rest is known for producing appraisals that are focused on finding the most diplomatic possible solution. As an alternative approach to arming the septs, she suggests that the Empire could have explored possible diplomatic routes. The Empire has had mixed success in working with the Axou, but it's not impossible that it might have be possible to persuade them to help support an uprising in Sarangrave - the territory borders one of their own lands and they would surely benefit from any chaos here.

An even better option for a diplomatic overture would have been the Great Forest Orcs and their allies the Dourfell Briars. She believes that the former are distant relatives of the Bloodwater Spears - any kinship would surely help. The latter are notorious anarchists - practitioners of the false Virtue of Freedom. While that would present clear legal difficulties that might need to be overcome, it would seem likely that it could provide an effective weapon in inciting the septs to rise up and claim their freedom.

If the Empire wants the slaves of the Sarangrave to be able to fight for their freedom, then Graciana's plan to equip them with mithril weapons and armour is probably the only option. However Naomi would have explored options to work with potential allies to convince the slaves to side with the Empire when Imperial armies invaded the Sarangrave.

Lutomysla's Comments

Lutomysla Niegoslava is an experienced cabalist who prefers to use magic to address complex situations like this. When asked to comment on the appraisal, she suggests that her first course of action would have been to try to make contact with Irra Harah. The being is no ally of the Druj - and might have be amenable to helping any efforts to free the inhabitants of the Sarangrave from Druj rule. If the Empire built a fane for Papa Otec on the border between Therunin and the Sarangrave, it would have allowed the Prince with a Thousand Foes to send his agents into Druj lands to spread chaos.

She points to the recent success of the Archmage of Day using an Imperial ritual to persuade the Tamazi to act. Negotiations with the right eternals might have created opportunities to cast one or more effective curses on the territory which could have weakened the Druj's hold.

In particular, she suspects that one of the winter eternals might have been persuaded to help, but provides no more details than that saying only that if you can't work it out then it wouldn't help to know.

The information presented here details the background and objectives for one or more conjunctions of the Sentinel Gate. Details relating to the day, timing, gate size, and any additional information will be summarised on the Wind of War page for the event.

Kick Against The Pricks (Conjunction)

  • Imperial Spies in the Sarangrave have observed the Druj capture one of the Bloodwater Spears
  • It may be too late to save the orc who is being tortured to death, but this is an opportunity to find out more about the Sarangrave
  • The Senator for Temeschwar was the one who raised the motion sending spies and prognosticators into the Sarangrave

The Imperial Senate authorized a Senate motion proposed by the Senator for Temeschwar instructing the prognosticators office to look at ways to use the spy network in the Sarangrave to try and foment an uprising. One of the potential targets they identified was the Bloodwater Spears, a sept of orcs that live on the banks of the Feverwater and who suffer under the tyranny of the Druj.

At the last moment, as the summit approaches, word arrives from Imperial spies that a large band of Druj have captured one of the Bloodwater Spears and are in the process of torturing the orc to death. It's not clear why, whether the orc has information they want, or whether it is simply the Druj taking their sport where they can. Whatever the reason, this is an opportunity to intervene in the Sarangrave, find out more about what is happening there, and potentially gain useful allies.

This potential is confirmed by the existence of a large conjunction to Dead Stone Woods, a large area of woodland near the banks of the Feverwater which is where the orc prisoner was being held. Given their obvious interest in this area, the civil service suggest that if the Senator for Temeschwar can arrange a group of heroes to intercept the Druj then they may be able to steal a march in the territory. The civil service suggest that the group include a skilled negotiator in case the prisoner can be rescued before the orc is killed and a magician who can cast voice for the dead in case they don't arrive in time.

Success and failure: Identifying and rescuing the Bloodwater Spear orc will provide an opportunity to gain information about the situation in Sarangrave, and potentially offer advantages to diplomacy with that sept of orcs. If the Druj succeed in torturing their prisoner to death the Empire may still be able to gain information, but the opportunity for diplomacy will be lost.

Further Reading