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Beatrice von Holberg stepped out onto the deck of the ship, stumbling slightly as it the wooden floor rolled beneath her feet. She wasn't quite sure how she'd got here, but that wasn't important now. Voices were shouting to her from below deck, the ship was holed, it was taking on water, they were going to sink!

She ran to the side of the ship, hands desperately gripping the taffrail as the ship lurched through the storm. The winds buffeted her, the rain lashing at her face. Frantic, she searched the horizon for any sign of land that they might steer towards but there was none. If only she knew where her ship was, she might be able to plot a course, but there was no land anywhere to be seen.

With an eerie and terrifying creak, the wind tore the central mast from the main deck, tossing it contemptuously overboard. Robbed of its sail, the boat lurched drunkenly through the waters, the waves pouring over the foredeck as the ship sank lower and lower into the sea. Surely some of her crew could mend the damage, but she had no idea how many of them there were.

She called for the crew, shouting for them, but none came. Instead, a lone women appeared, quite suddenly and without warning. She was, tall, elegant, refined, her eyes calm pools of thought and contemplation. She was dressed like a merchant prince, two gold rings on the fingers of her right hand, a silver one on her left. Her clothing was untouched by the driving rain, her long red hair unmoved by the wind. She was saying something, something terribly important, something relevant. Beatrice strained to hear the words, but the wind was stealing them away.

With a gasp and a shudder, Beatrice sat up suddenly. The ship was gone, not that it had ever been there of course. She was in her bed, she'd been dreaming again. The same dream she'd had for three nights running now. It meant something, she was sure of it, if only she could work out what it was. Perhaps if she could make sense of it, the dream would leave her alone. She certainly needed her sleep, the meeting with the Merchant Prince Astin was now just three days away...

She put her head back down on the pillow. As she did so, a sudden thought came to her... a moment of pure inspiration...
Severin Teyhard.jpg
Bishop Severin Teyhard von Holberg, confidant of Imperatrix Lisabetta, and one of the most influential priests of the Empire, has come to Holberg to place a true consecration on the Holmauer Gate.


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Holberg is one of the four great cities of the Empire, and arguably one of the great cities of the world. It is renowned for its ingenuity and for its education, for its scholars and its doctors. The first Imperial university, the one that laid the template for all the others, was built here. It lacks a great library to rival those of Urizen or Highguard, but it still leads the Empire for the number and reputation of its lecturers and tutors, particularly in practical skills like engineering and surgery.

But with the recent disappearance of one of its great scions, and the curses levelled against the city by the Hag Queen, some residents have begun to doubt if the city is somehow losing its way. Before such fears can spread, Severin Teyhard von Holberg, a close associate of the Imperatrix, announces his intention to provide the antidote with a bold plan to remind everyone of the things that make Holberg a city of wonders.

A Mandate For Consecration

Severin von Holberg intends to consecrate the walls of Holberg to Wisdom. To this end, and for the benefit of Holberg, I ask the support of the assembly in his consecration of the gallery above Holmauer gate using true liao. Let the spiritual power of this consecration restore Holberg and make it anew as a beacon of learning, innovation, truth, and beauty.

Estella von Holberg, Winter Solstice 383YE, Upheld (Greater Majority 312-0)

I intend to permanently consecrate the Walls of Holberg to Wisdom. To this end, and for the benefit of Holberg, I ask the support of the Wisdom assembly in my consecration of the Gallery above the Holmauer Gate, using True Liao. Let the spiritual power of this consecration restore Holberg and make it anew as a beacon of learning, innovation, truth, and beauty.

Severin Teyhard von Holberg, Winter Solstice 383YE, Upheld (Greater Majority 338-0)

Severin presented his plans to consecrate the famous Walls of Holberg with true liao in the Wisdom Assembly, inviting them to sit in judgement of his actions. The Assembly chose to overwhelmingly back the choice, with the greater majority of priests voting in favour.

At the same time, Estella von Holberg raised a complimentary judgement in the League Assembly, courteously asking for their support for this endeavour. Like the Wisdom Assembly, the priests of the League also backed the judgement with a greater majority. Not a single vote was cast in opposition, in either assembly.

With the overwhelming support of two assemblies, Severin leads a stately procession through the streets of Holberg to the Holmauer Gate. A large crowd gathers to watch the ceremony, as the priest, accompanied by some of his closest friends and allies from the House of Seven Mirrors ascends the 77 steps to the gallery over the gate. The long stone gallery is mostly enclosed, a key part of the defensive fortifications that protect the city, but the crowd gives a cheer as Severin appears at one of the small openings set into the inside wall.

Ever the statesman, Severin acknowledges the crowd's applause, before launching into a short speech extolling the virtue of Wisdom, and urging everyone to be inspired to find new solutions to the problems of the world. A skilled orator, it is just long enough to be inspiring, just short enough to keep the crowd's attention. At the culmination of the grand ceremony, he is passed two tiny purple vials, barely large enough for the onlookers below to see. Handling the priceless liao with infinite care, he gracefully upends both bottles simultaneously, allowing a few scant drops to fall onto the hungry stone.

The crowd hold their breath in anticipation, expecting something truly miraculous to happen. For a few heartbeats, nothing happens, but before the shock can register, there is a sudden woosh, then an explosion followed by a riot of golden sparks filling the sky. The crowd gasps as a dozen more beautiful fireworks are launched from the nearby park. If Severin was unaware that the Guild of Spectacular Illuminations had planned this last-minute addition denoting the end of the ceremony, he is careful not to let the surprise register on his face.

With the ceremony complete, and the show over, the crowd slowly disperses. Everyone agrees it was a most remarkable day and though nobody was quite sure what to expect, most people feel the fireworks at the end were a lovely touch. And that, as far as most of Holberg is concerned, is that.

The Gallery and the Gate

The Holmauer Gallery is visited by numerous priests and curious onlookers the next day. The aura of Wisdom that has settled over the passage is palpable as soon as you reach the top of the gate. Everyone who enters can feel it, a profound, uplifting sense that nothing is impossible, that you can overcome any obstacle when you find the right approach. The aura is very slightly different to the Dagger of the Mind, but such things are not unknown with true liao auras. It is indisputably an aura of Wisdom and the use of insight quickly confirms its enduring power and impact.

The Gallery soon becomes a regular destination for residents of the city keen to take advantage of the inspiring aura within. People come from all over the city and the lands beyond to walk the gallery, scholars and students, artists and actors, politicians and priests, merchants and mendicants. There is a slight situation when five Sand Fishers, newly enrolled students who are attending lessons in the city, are discovered sleeping in the gallery at night. They are apparently operating under the mistaken belief that the aura might "rub off" on them in some way. It doesn't take too long to find them alternative accommodation.

The one drawback is that the gallery is rather dark and gloomy. A suggestion to open up the windows to let the light stream in and the visitors see out are quickly scotched. Inspiring as the Holmauer Gate is, it is a key part of the newly completed defences of the city, intended to let troops move around the walls without being exposed to attack. Huge, open bay windows are nobody's idea of a secure fortification, no matter how innovative you're looking to be. The solution is to install a series of bright light stones and to commission some of Holberg's greatest artists to produce paintings to hang on the walls. Jantien von Holberg, famed for her exquisite paintings produced by painstakingly applying droplets of paint with a pin rather than a brush, calls on Severin to see if the priest is prepared to sit for a portrait to hang in the new gallery.

In the excitement at the wonders inspired by the new Gallery, another change goes unnoticed at first. A visiting boyar from Miekarova is the first to comment on it, but it is a few more days before anyone thinks to check. When they do, they are amazed to discover that a second true aura has settled over the gate itself, fifty feet below Holmauer Gallery. Anyone who enters the city through the gate finds it impossible to avoid the aura, which inspires an overwhelming sense of wonder and excitement as they enter Holberg, a sense that they have arrived in a place of infinite possibilities where anything is possible if they find the right approach.

Priests and scholars express their joy at the development of this second aura of Wisdom. The true liao used by Severin is clearly responsible for the aura on the gallery, but no one is certain how the second aura has arisen. The obvious implication is that it must be a miracle of some kind.


  • The people of Holberg are experiencing odd visionary dreams, and spontaneous dedications to Wisdom

Over the coming season, most folk who dwell in Holberg make the effort to visit the gallery and almost everyone who visits Holmauer park chooses to access it via the gate. The beneficial effects of the auras help to inspire people, giving them confidence and certainty as they seek to find solutions for the problems they face. Perhaps as a result, countless residents report experiencing strange and vivid dreams, lucid visions in which they see themselves surrounded by problems, but filled with the certainty that they will find a way to overcome them if they are imaginative enough. Each person's dream is different, some experience a sea of problems, some see only one. Many report encountering problems they have never even thought about in their life, worldly matters, such as might trouble senators or generals. In each case, they awake with the certainty that they could solve this problem and change the world if they pursue a novel approach.

A common motif to the dreams is that many culminate with an encounter with a renowned figure. People who met Empress Lisabetta often report her appearing in their dreams, offering them advice. Others report long discussions with Aldones, or someone who claims to be him. Several report repeated meetings with Avigliana, although most of them refuse to be drawn on what the exemplar said to them. Two Highborn visitors to the city claim they dreamed of being onboard a ship, together with Atun. Most people however seem to have met someone they know, a learned friend, a respected colleague, who was able to offer them sound advice to help them with something that was troubling them.

Perhaps even more extraordinary, a number of people are the beneficiaries of spontaneous dedications to Wisdom. Priests with insight are able to confirm that the individuals in question are now devoted to Wisdom, but they all swear blind that they have not been dedicated to the Virtue. A few are quite alarmed by this development and find a priest of their preferred virtue to help them, but most seem to accept the new calling with enthusiasm, perhaps an indication that destiny has marked them out in some way.

The Focus of Wisdom

  • The Cardinal of Wisdom can use a special mandate until the end of the Winter solstice 384YE

The cumulative effects of the powerful auras and the ensuing dreams and revelations produces a profound burst of enthusiasm among followers of Wisdom in the territory. People are inspired to look for new solutions to old problems, to discard failed thinking and try new ideas. Holberg is a city known for its innovation, not just in matters of engineering and construction, but in mathematics, philosophy and medicine. Now, inspired by the powerful auras that uplift the whole city they are keen to see if they can't apply new approaches beyond the walls of Holberg.

To achieve that, they will need guidance - what problems should people look at? They want to demonstrate the brilliance of Holberg's most creative thinkers, but they don't just want to help Holberg and the League, they're interested in where they might best apply their efforts in the interests of the Empire. After some discussion, most agree that the person best positioned to offer guidance and leadership is the Cardinal of Wisdom. Who better to know where the most intricate and obdurate problems are to be found?

As a result, for the coming year, the Cardinal of Wisdom can submit a mandate to the Wisdom Assembly calling on the people of Holberg and followers of Wisdom throughout the Empire to seek new solutions for old problems. They can employ the potent aura "The Focus of Wisdom" to empower key individuals to find practical solutions that could be enacted that would mitigate, meliorate or solve problems that are challenging the Empire. The Cardinal would need to clearly indicate a specific problem that they wanted followers of Wisdom to tackle in the wording of the mandate as well as authorising a named priest to use 25 doses of liao to "urge the faithful to find a practical solution to {named problem}".

If that judgement passes, and the mandate is enacted, then followers of Wisdom in Holberg and elsewhere will apply themselves to the named problem to see if they can't find some way it might be addressed or resolved. If they were able to identify a new approach or idea that could be implemented then they would work with the civil service to present details of this opportunity in time for the next summit, so that the ideas might be assessed by those with the power to make decisions.

An Impregnable Fortress

  • Reducing the rank of the Holberg Walls fortification will destroy the consecrated auras

The gallery over the Holmauer Gate is rapidly becoming a favoured meeting place for students of the university, scholars, doctors, philosophers and others. It is a stimulating place to be, with people debating new ideas and sharing new wisdom. There is a thriving community developing of independent-minded thinkers who want to use the space to challenge each other's thinking. Regular salons are soon being arranged by some of the cities' scholastic and philosophical societies.

That is a little difficult because the gallery is an absolutely integral part of Holberg's defences. It's not a problem at the moment, since Holberg isn't under attack. There is some discussion of if some minor changes could be made to make it possible for people to use the gallery even when the city was besieged, but it's very difficult to find a way to do that. Perhaps inadvertently Severin has chosen one of the most important parts of the city's defences to consecrate. Any attempt to remove the gallery from the city's system of defences would weaken the protection they provided to Holberg, likewise any attempt to scale back the defences that Holberg's walls provide would almost certainly mean removing the gallery (and the attendant aura). If the people of Holberg want the aura to stay, then it seems they are stuck with it as part of the defences.

But! This is exactly the kind of problem people are now excited to attempt to solve. Holberg is world-renowned for its brilliant architecture and engineering. There are no problems without solutions, only answers that have not yet been discovered. With considerable Pride therefore a group of seven students from the University present their plans for a further expansion of the city's defences.

Their proposals involve the construction of additional barbicans outside each city gate, with walled roads linking them back to the city itself. The aim is to further solidify the city's defences, while also ensuring that people would be free to visit Holmauer Gallery even while the city was under attack. It would only become unsafe to visit the gallery if the outer defences had been penetrated. It would still be impossible to lower the city's defences without destroying the aura on the gallery, but it would mean that any damage to the city if it were attacked, would be much less likely to affect the aura.

Of course it would be expensive. Nobody is pretending that it would be cheap, but Holberg has been a relentless target for Druj attacks for decades, so it would surely pay off quickly. Crucially the new designs are intended to spread the city's defences, taking advantage of the existing work force to push the fighting further from Holberg's walls, which makes them highly efficient, both to build and to maintain.

The proposals put forward by the excited students would require 100 wains of white granite and 200 crowns and need an appropriate use of the commission power to upgrade the fortification of Holberg. Once complete they would increase the effective strength of Holberg's defences to 15,000, but without any further increase in the costs to maintain and operate those defences. They would also ensure that no damage affected the Holmauer Gallery or the gate beneath it unless at least fifty percent of the city's defensive strength were breached.

Best of all, it would cement Holberg's position as the greatest fortification in the known world. Holberg is already the most powerful defensive structure anywhere in the Empire, it rivals some of the truly extraordinary castles built elsewhere, the Star-fort in the Commonwealth and the Palace of the Electrum Prince in Jarm. With this expansion Holberg would surpass even these mighty defences - towering over them it would become the greatest stronghold ever built, utterly peerless and without any rival.

Test What You Know

  • The Imperial Senate could choose to reduce the Empire's ability to commission historical research and gain an additional appraisal each season

One thing that has always surprised many people who visit Holberg is that the city does not possess a great library. There are books aplenty of course, and countless small private libraries. And there are whole streets devoted to the bookbinders arts with people hawking everything from rare tomes to penny dreadful. Still, it seems strange that the city where the Empire's first university was founded would not have a great library of commensurate size and reputation.

However, the view of many residents of Holberg is that frankly Nicovar did the Empire a favour when he ordered the destruction of the libraries. The fires consumed decades, centuries of history, but they ushered in a golden age of Prosperity and growth for the Empire. All those mouldy old books were, to put it bluntly, very out-of-date. Full of outmoded ideas and defunct learning. Who cares what the Terunael people were doing? The people of the past are, by definition, just the latest in a line of failures. The Empire has utterly eclipsed every civilisation that went before it. There is not one thing that the Terunael could possibly teach the modern Empire about magic, medicine, mathematics, engineering, or any field of academic study.

The Prosperity of the Empire is gained by dealing with the problems it faces now, not poring through old tomes to discover what challenges people faced a century ago. Crucially, the answers are not to be found in ideas that have repeatedly failed, but in new thinking, new insights, new approaches. Holberg doesn't have some vast library of history books, because the people of Holberg are not chained to the past, they're looking to the future.

Inspired by the uplifting benefits of the aura and the resulting enthusiasm that has spread through the City, the University of Holberg creates a proposal for the Imperial Senate. Scale back the department of historical research, assign the funding that pays for their expeditions to the City and post the civil servants to Holberg. Stop assigning people to dig up old records of deeply questionable value - instead let them work with the scholars of the city to come up with ways to tackle the Empire's problems.

If the Senate chooses to take Holberg up on their proposal, it would permanently reduce the number of historical research requests the Empire could carry out concurrently by one - but it would also increase the number of appraisals they could instruct the civil service to conduct by one.

Apply What You Have Learned

  • An opportunity exists to change the quality of the Towerjacks army

The Towerjacks are one of the League's only two armies. Once they were tied to the defence of Holberg, unable to leave the city while it was invested by the Druj. Now that the orcs invasions of the city is a fading memory they have been reformed as an effective Imperial force, able to travel the Empire and bring their unique knowledge of siege warfare with them.

Although the Towerjacks are unquestionably skilled, their learning is a pale reflection of the experience and understanding that the engineers of Holberg. That is hardly a surprise, you don't expect soldiers to have the kind of skills and capabilities possessed by professional architects and builders. But what if they did? What if they were able to tap into the latest knowledge?

The proposal is a simple one - bring the Towerjacks home to Holberg for a season. Let them enter the city in triumph through the Holmauer Gate - a grand procession through the streets of the city they fought for so many years to save. And then let the University enroll the best and brightest of them for a season's tuition. It could be done while the army was resting and recuperating, thus allowing them to also recruit skilled engineers and builders into their ranks. At the same time equipment would need to be upgraded or replaced, to ensure they had everything they needed to use their new skills.

It would need 50 mithril and 100 crowns, and take the army out of action for a season, but once complete the army would upgrade their current siege quality replacing it with the Engineer quality.


  • Can use the storm the walls order when attacking
  • Can use the Dig In order when defending
  • Other Descriptors: Engineer, Sappers

A engineer army encompasses all that a siege army can achieve when attacking fortifications, however it is much more skilled in all forms of engineering, allowing the army to assist with large building projects or to just dig in, fortifying a region with ramparts, ditches, embankments and temporary camps that provide some of the benefits of a fortification.

Dig In
  • The army must be defending a region.
  • If the region does not already contain a fortification then the army can erect temporary defences to help defend the area.
  • If the region contains an ongoing commission, the army can assist with the construction, reducing the construction time by one season.
  • Casualties suffered by the army are decreased by a fifth.

An army that digs in can be ordered to construct temporary defences, raising earthworks, digging ditches and erecting palisades. After a season of effort, the resulting earthworks act as a 1000 strength fortification. This temporary fort decays at a rate of 500 force per season after the first, but is not fully removed until it's strength is reduced to zero. If there is an existing earthworks in the region, the army can prevent any decay and increases the strength by an additional 1000 force. An army cannot construct temporary fortifications in a region that has an existing or magical fortification, and temporary fortifications cannot be enchanted.

Instead of creating temporary defences, the general can order the army to assist with the construction of a specific commission. The troops will be assigned to help with the labour, digging foundations, cutting stone and timber etc - but they also include skilled engineers who can oversee the work and ensure it is done accurately. An army that digs in can reduce the total time required to complete a commission by one season just once. No commission can benefit from this specific ability more than once, no matter the source.

Holmauer Park

The one notable thing that the remarkable aura has not accomplished is to address the destruction of Holmauer Park and the resulting blight created by the Hag Queen's curse. Rumours suggest that Severin was deeply affected by the destruction of the Great Park, and restoring the fortunes of the city was one of the major reasons for undertaking this consecration. He certainly publicly expressed the hope that the consecration would restore Holberg.... but while it has inspired residents and given the city a new sense of purpose, by itself that doesn't undo the legacy left by Skathe's bitter poison.

However, as people are quick to point out, it has created the very means by which such a thing could be addressed! Surely the Cardinal of Wisdom would be eager to make the problem of what to do about Holmauer Park one of the problems they ask people to consider in the year ahead? Or if not then maybe if the Senate moves their civil servants to Holberg to carry out appraisals, they might contemplate thanking the City by making this one of their first priorities?


Any character whose resource is located in the territory of Holberg is free to roleplay that they had a profound spiritual experience during the weeks running up to the Spring Equinox. You are likely to have encountered the powerful new auras that affect Holmauer Gallery and the gate below it. These are uplifting auras that give you a profound sense of self-belief and idealistic confidence that you can change the world if you try hard enough.

You may also have experienced mysterious dreams in which you were visited by a notable figure from Imperial history such as an exemplar or paragon (most likely of Wisdom, but not exclusively so), by a dead person who was close to you in life, or by someone who is still living but is important to you in someway. In each case it would be someone for whom you feel a connection, either because you admire or respect them, or because you wish to emulate them. You will not remember what they said, only that they talked to you and offered advice and insight that seemed helpful and which seemed to bring new insights in the days that followed.

If you wish your character to have undergone a spontaneous dedication to Wisdom, then you can email - and they will update your character's virtue accordingly. These dedications are mysterious or miraculous in nature and would occur after some uplifting experience, either a visit to the Holmauer Gallery or when you solved some particularly difficult problem that was taxing you. While many residents of Holberg believe that a spontaneous dedication marks you as special in some way, Profound Decisions will not be keeping a special record of who has become dedicated in this way. If your character is going to live up to the expectations set by this extraordinary development, that is up to you!


The Imperial Senate voted to improve the Towerjacks during the Spring Equinox summit. Once the required materials are provided, the army will need to return to Holberg and the general will need to issue suitable orders to have them enter through the Holmauer Gate and form a procession through the city. With the motion passed, the opportunity to complete the improvement remains available until the start of the Spring Equinox 385YE.