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John raised the lantern up above his head trying to work out what the source of the noise was. What he saw in the wan light made him wish he hadn't.

The moans were coming from a young woman, surely not more than twenty years old at most. She was dressed in a friar's robes or what was left of them. Her garments were slashed open at the stomach, as if they'd be torn apart by a thresher's scythe.

She was swaying back and forth, like she was drunk, or about to faint, her face white as a sheet and her eyes wide and wild like those of a mad dog. She had a woodcutters axe in one hand, waving it back and forth like it was a poppet she was using to ward something off. Her other arm was clutching her torn garments to her belly, trying to hold something in.

John felt a trace of sick in his mouth as he stared at the grisly sight. People have told him not to come here, he should have bloody listened.

The woman locked eyes with him as if seeing him for the first time even though he was the only one here. He tried to say something, but his mouth was so dry nothing would come out. For a split second he thought the apparition would speak, but at that moment the wind blew fierce and whipped his lantern back and forth like a terrier with a rat in its mouth. When the light returned the woman was gone.

John looked around but there was no sign of her anywhere. Just the looming houses. On either side of the street, a row of empty black tombstones stared back at him impassively.

"Fuck this," he hissed and started to back away. Green iron there may be, but he was gonna need a different plan to get it.
The Prosperous Bunny.jpg
Nothing lasts forever, but this is getting good now!
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As Empress Lisabetta noted three years ago "The town of Sarcombe in Southmoor has a long history as a centre of rich commerce." Located in Southmoor, a rich mining region in the south of Mournwold, since receiving their charter the prosperity of the town and the Mournwold as a whole has gone from strength to strength.

The boom benefits everyone, farmers can be assured of getting the best possible prices for livestock and grain that are sold in Sarcombe, while merchants who buy here can pick and choose from the best victuals produced in the Mournwold, or find hungry markets for the fine goods produced by the cities of the League or imported from far-off lands.

Thus, Sarcombe's good fortune is a rising tide that lifts all ships. People are beginning to speak of Sarcombe as a rival for Meade and the Mournwold as the equal in prosperity and importance to Mitwold. Perhaps the time has come to realise some of that potential? There may be Jotun in Liathaven again, but for many there's a quiet certainty in the Sarcombe that they will not have as easy a time conquering the Mournwold a second time. Not with Farstrider's Watch and Landskeeper's Bulwark waiting for them.

The Black Canal

  • Funds have been donated to begin building a canal between Meade and Sarcombe
  • Work cannot begin in earnest until supplies of white granite and weirwood are found

Money has been flooded in from far and wide to support one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken in the Marches - the construction of the Black Canal. A number of Imperial citizens have donated money in support of the project, and not all of them are Marchers. There's also been support from the orcs of the Mournwold. Despite recent strangeness, some of them are clearly fascinated by the scale of the project, and the more prosperous have thrown their full support behind it. They've donated money and food, and there are also young orcs turning up to labour alongside the human workers to do the actual work of digging the canal out.

The Sarcombe Town Charter

On this day in 381YE, The Throne awards the Status of a Charter Town to Sarcombe, a Marcher Town in the Mourn.

This Charter grants the Town of Sarcombe to the right to become a Market Town, recognised as such across the Empire.

This Charter requires the Citizens of Sarcombe to form a Town Council, made up from Aldermen of the Town who will act to make decisions on behalf of the town. The Council shall hold an annual election to select a Mayoress who will supervise the Council and ensure Fair Debate.

The Elected Mayoress of Sarcombe shall speak on behalf of the Council and Citizens of Sarcombe and shall ensure the Senator for the Mourn is informed of important matters pertinent to the Town. In turn the Senator for the Mourn agrees to give fair hearing to the Mayoress of Sarcombe.

The Town Council shall be responsible for the Town Budget. Allocating funds to the benefit of the Citizens of Sarcombe. The Council shall further be responsible for appointing a Town Clerk who will oversee the Accounts and Works commissioned by the Council. Reporting regularly to the Imperial Civil Service.

This Charter entitles the Citizens of Sarcombe Town to hold a Monthly Market. Any and all traders who wish to pay the levee are encouraged to attend. The Levee will go be collected by the Town Clerk on behalf of the Council and Citizens of Sarcombe.

The Charter recognises the expertise of many Sarcombe Citizens in the field of Mining. It entitles the Town of Sarcombe to create a permanent Trading Post for Mined Goods, with a reasonable fee charged for the use of this Trading Post that shall be collected by the Town Clerk on behalf of the Council and Citizens of Sarcombe.

This Charter encourages Imperial Citizens to consider other Opportunities within Sarcombe Market Town, to increase their Prosperity and that of the Town.

The Charter requires the Citizens of Sarcombe to create an outpost of the Imperial Militia, providing support to the Militia as they go about their duties on behalf of the Empire.

Sarcombe Town Charter

Their presence has raised a few eyebrows in southern Mitland and Upwold, especially given the situation in Bregasland. Yet even the most traditional Marcher can't deny that not only do they work hard but they also know how to relax. Humans and orcs both encounter new proverbs, and new ways of swearing at a recalcitrant ditch. There's nothing like sharing punishing physical labour while up to your waist in mud and freezing water to break down barriers between people, apparently. Once the work starts in earnest, it should do wonders to cement relations between the two groups.

However thus far, no real construction has been possible, due to the shortage of materials. The canal needs a lot of white granite and weirwood, and apart from a little preliminary work, there is little that can be done without them. Sadly therefore, no significant progress has yet been made in linking Meade and Sarcombe but there is certainly a will is there if the materials can be found.

The New Town

  • Any ministry commissioned in Sarcombe before the end of the Autumn Equinox 385YE will cost 2 wains and 4 crowns less than normal
  • The existing town hall could be expanded and become the seat of Alder of Sarcombe
  • It would require a commission and cost 20 wains of white granite, 5 thrones, and take three seasons to complete
  • The Alder of Sarcombe would receive a seasonal income of 18 crowns
  • The Chestnut Cartel of Sarcombe would provide a regalia for the Alder of Sarcombe

Sarcombe's rise to prominence has been slow but sure. It is three years now since the Empress granted the residents a charter, and each year has seen the town grow. There is a shortage of houses, but no shortage of work to be done; signs in many shop windows offer opportunities for those prepared to work hard. Merchants from Tassato and the Brass Coast are common visitors, and occasionally a trader from as far afield as Varushka or Highguard may be spotted in the markets haggling for fine metals.

This confluence of enthusiasm and ambition has produced a number of opportunities, but perhaps more importantly what it really creates is potential. Sarcombe has become fertile ground for trade and investment. The right citizen with the right idea, could take advantage of these circumstances if they had the wherewithal.

For the next year, any Imperial Senate commission which creates a ministry in Sarcombe will need two wains of bourse material less than normal, and 4 crowns less than normal to construct.

As trade grows the office of town clerk is beginning to struggle, especially as an increasing number of folks from outside the Marches come to the town to trade. The Chestnut Cartel, a wealthy group of merchants specialising in lumber and street food, suggest that the Senate could create the title of Alder of Sarcombe who would be responsible for organising trade with foreigners in order to fund Marcher projects. Such an esteemed position, with a weighty responsibility, would need to be recognisable in Anvil and so the Chestnut Cartel have offered to provide regalia in the form of a chain of office.

Office of the Alder
Commission Type: Sinecure
Location: Southmoor, Mournwold
Cost: 20 white granite, 5 thrones, three months to complete
Effect: Creates the position of Alder of Sarcombe who would be responsible for organising trade with foreigners

Of course such a respected position would need to have an equally respected set of offices. The current town hall is decidedly lacking, the civic building did not receive the care and upkeep it deserved during the occupation of the Jotun. Folks are not after anything fancy, but the existing structure needs to be significantly enlarged if it's to manage the many demands now being placed upon it.

Enlarging the existing Town Hall would mean that the Alder of Sarcombe would receive a substantial income of 18 crowns from fees and licenses granted to foreign traders looking to ply their wares in Sarcombe in addition to a cut from the payments made by visitors looking to use the expansive town hall as a meeting place. The Alder of Sarcombe would be a national title of the Marches, appointed by Tally of the Votes each year. The only issue is that the title holder would need to be an alder - if the title was held by someone who wasn't widely recognised as an alder then the income the sinecure generated would be halved and the Chestnut Cartel would withdraw any offer of regalia.

The Old Forest

  • The Forest of Alderly offers a source of wealth to the Mournwold
  • If the job of clearing the forest were begun, then after a year the resulting pasture would support a fifth Marcher army
  • The Marches can support its armies at the moment but the loss of any more territory would cause all four to begin deteriorating
  • Clearing the forest would need a lumber yard and sawmill that cost 20 wains of weirwood, 5 wains of mithril, 50 crowns in labour, and take three months to complete

The forests of Alderly are old; sycamore and oak reach almost a hundred feet into the sky and the ground is almost entirely covered by dense foliage. The forest paths often seemingly lead in circles and the trails are only known to those who spend much of their life in under the canopy. There is a wealth in the forest though, a plethora of herbs that can be harvested. With the Feni having been cleared out by the Drakes there is now a chance for the Marches to make full use of the bounty available.

Insufficient supply
If this happens then all four armies will suffer automatic losses of 500 force (or 750 force for a Large army) each season. In addition, they will be unable to gain natural resupply (nor could they take advantage of any benefits that rely on natural supply such as the ritual Brotherhood of Tian). This is similar to the situation the Citadel Guard experienced recently. The Marcher breadbasket would reduce the losses but could not stop them entirely.

When the Senate commissioned an appraisal of the Mournwold orcs last Summer, Naomi of Virtue's Rest identified that if the woods were cleared, then it would grant the Marches the ability to recruit and support a fifth Imperial army. As the trees were felled, Marcher folk would quickly move in and begin farming. The land would be ideal for raising herds of cattle, sheep, or goats. It would take many years to clear the entire forest, but while it was being actively cut it would produce potentially prodigious amounts of fine and hard woods along with boosting the supply of the entire territory.

That could be timely, as right now, the Jotun control Bregasland. The Strong Reeds are by all accounts running rings round the invaders - both the orcs and the would-be tyrant Mathilda Fisher. There's talk of imminent rough music like the Creator themselves has never seen, loud enough to drive the Fishers and all their ilk back west forever. But in the meantime there are orc armies on the threshold not only of the Mournwold, but also Mitwold. The only thing between the Jotun and Meade is the marshes of Oddmire. There's Jotun massing in Liathaven as well, and the last time that happened the Mournwold fell. Nobody thinks it will happen again... but then nobody really thought the Jotun would ever conquer Bregasland. All this raises a problem that nobody seems to want to talk about but which needs to be addressed. The matter of supporting the Marcher armies.

Bregasland is not especially wealthy as a territory, but no part of the Marches is poor. The eel farms, fisheries, and wetland acres of the Dour Fens help support the four Marcher armies, and now they are in enemy hands. There's enough support for the armies to keep them functioning at full strength right now, but the nation is ploughing a risky furrow. If the Marches loses control of one region of either Upwold or Mitwold, or two regions of Mournwold, then they will not be able to support their armies. If this happens then all four will begin to deteriorate due to lack of supplies, and soldiers more worried about protecting their homes than fighting in an army. The Breadbasket will certainly help - and presumably the Keeper would have the good sense to ensure it goes to supporting the Marcher armies first and foremost. But even then all that can do is slow the decline of the armies, not stem it altogether. It probably won't come to that - but it might.

Naomi's original assessment of the Alderly clearance was that it would allow the Marches to support a fifth army. With that much support, they could afford to temporarily lose a little land to the Jotun if they had to and in the time it took to get it back the Marcher armies would be fine... so long as they didn't actually lose another territory. Or they could just get to work raising another army and damn the Jotun to their faces - either works. But while the clearance of Alderly would eventually allow the support of a fifth army, there is a problem. Namely, the time involved to turn enough of the forest into pasture.

After the commission were completed, it would be a further year before the Marches would be in a position to support a fifth army. A year that might be too long, with Jotun armies massing on the borders. There might be other ways to clear Alderly faster however. As long as the soil isn't ruined in the process, it might be possible to reduce the amount of time before the Marches can support another army, but such things would probably require significant magic. Most likely the aid of an eternal would be required and finding a suitable eternal - most likely of the Autumn or Winter realms - and negotiating an acceptable bargain will be a challenge. Success could mean that enough of Alderly were turned into farmland in time for the support it would grant to be helpful in the current situation.

New Longstwick Market

New Longstwick Market
Commission Type: Ministry
Location: Alderly, Mournwold
Cost: 12 weirwood, 3 thrones, three months to complete
Effect: Creates the position of Bailiff of New Longstwick who could purchase herbs
  • With the Feni having been driven out of Alderly there is a chance to organise herbalists in nearby villages
  • The village of New Longstwick have offered to help organise a monthly market for the trade of foraged herbs
  • Constructing the market would require a commission, 12 wains of weirwood, 3 thrones in labour costs, and take three months
  • The Bailiff of New Longstwick would be able to purchase herbs at the market at set rates
  • New Longstwick Market would decrease in efficacy if the Alderly woods were chopped down
New Longstwick Market
7 Crowns15 random herbs, 1 realmsroot
17 Crowns32 random herbs, 2 realmsroot
35 Crowns50 random herbs, 3 realmsroot

The village of New Longstwick is only an hour away from the border of the forest. Its inhabitants are a sight more welcoming than their neighbours, who it was often said had more than a little trace of Feni blood. The village steward suggests that if the Senate were to construct a market for the purchase and trade of goods from the forest then it would encourage foragers and gatherers to venture in and return with goods to trade. Such a market would need to be based in a suitable location, such as the village green of New Longstwick, and would cost 12 wains of weirwood, 3 thrones and take three months to finish building.

The farmers of the Marches would need to appoint someone to oversee the market, Bailiff of New Longstwick perhaps, through Tally of the Votes and they would be able to purchase a variety of herbs from the market at set prices. What's more, in some of the deepest parts of the forests, herbalists have come across a tiny amount of rare realmsroot. Why it would grow there is a mystery, but there's enough of it to ensure a regular supply, so a few doses might find their way to the Bailiff's office.

If the woods of Alderly were ever destroyed or cut down completely, then the ministry available to the Bailiff would continue to function but less herbs would be available to purchase.

The Deep Mine

  • Rich new veins of ore has been identified deep beneath the Singing Caves
  • Exploiting the new veins requires construction of a deep lift, costing 10 wains of weirwood, 20 crowns, and three months of work
  • Once complete the holder of the Singing Caves would have access to a ministry allowing them to purchase additional wains of mithril
Deep Lift
Commission Type: Folly
Location: Greenward, Mournwold
Cost: 10 wains Weirwood, 20 Crowns, three months to complete
Effect:Establishes a ministry allowing the holder of the Singing Caves to purchase additional mithril

Nobody involved entirely agrees on exactly how Jonah Gold led a handful of miners to a hidden bounty deep beneath the Singing Caves. Many of them disagree as to whether it was actually Jonah Gold himself, or some other poor lost miner looking to discharge some unfinished business so they could move on. All agree that the necromantic enchantment that has lain over the Mournwold for the last three months is almost certainly the cause of the ghostly visitation. Regardless of how exactly it happened, the fact remains that rich new veins of ore have been discovered beneath the Singing Caves. The problem is that they are very far down - further than any similar shafts in the Marches. Accessing them represents a significant problem, but so does finding miners prepared to risk the inky depths and stifling air down at the bottom of the world.

The first problem can be addressed by the Imperial Senate. A suitable lift could be created - it's a reasonably straightforward piece of engineering. Such an elevator would represent a folly, requiring 10 wains of weirwood, 20 crowns in labour, and three months of work. If it were constructed, however, the amount of mithril ore that could be extracted from the caves would be greatly increased provided the Bourse seat holder was prepared to pay the price.

Attract mine workers
72 crowns3 wains of mithril
168 crowns6 wains of mithril
288 crowns9 wains of mithril
432 crowns12 wains of mithril

Exploiting the deep veins is expensive because it requires additional equipment, and skilled miners prepared to risk the various dangers of working so far underground. However, Sarcombe's swelling population offers a solution, creating the potential for the holder of the Singing Caves to hire more workers simply by paying competitive wages. With enough cash, the holder of the Singing Caves can attract miners from across Mournwold, and maybe even from Kahraman and Tassato.

There is one complication, related to the way that Bourse resources are handled by the civil service. In the season that the Seat is appointed (Autumn in the case of a mithril mine), it is the new holder of the seat rather than the incumbent who receives the mithril produced in the previous three months. This would continue to be the case with the Singing Caves' additional production. There would be nothing to stop the seat holder financing the deeper delves following the Summer solstice, but they would essentially be gambling that they would keep the title. Otherwise, the additional mithril would go to the new title holder. The Civil Service have looked into it, and say that "while it is legally odd, the law is quite clear."

The Vivid Scar

Green Iron Hill
Commission Type: Ministry
Location: Freemoor, Mournwold
Cost: 20 mithril, 5 thrones, three months to complete
Effect: Establishes a ministry allowing the purchase of metals
  • A mining outpost could be built to service the mine near the abandoned settlement of Whittle
  • The mining outpost would require a commission and cost 20 wains of mithril, 5 thrones in labour costs, and take three months to construct
  • The Ganger of Green Iron Hill would gain access to a ministry to purchase green iron

With the Whittle situation now firmly dealt with now is the time to look to the future. The abandoned village of Whittle sits at the bottom of Whittle Hill, the site of a rich green iron mine. John Miner has investigated and confirms that nobody is prepared to dwell in the accursed settlement given what a bad end they all came to. However he claims it's a shame to leave good iron in bad ground so he's drawn up plans for a new mining outpost on the other side of the hill, far away from all that bad business and proposes to change the name to Green Iron Hill. That way everyone can begin to move on.

Fund miners
8 Crowns16 ingots of green iron
20 Crowns32 ingots of green iron
40 Crowns48 ingots of green iron
60 Crowns64 ingots of green iron and one ring of ilium

The foreman of the mine, Ganger of Green Iron Hill, would have access to a ministry that would allow them to offer incentives to miners working the veins and receive ingots of green iron. It would even be possible for the Ganger to receive ilium if they paid enough. The Ganger of Green Iron Hill would need to be appointed by the farm owners of the Marches through Tally of the Votes and would serve in the position for a year.

Unlikely Guises.jpg
Prosperity comes in unlikely guises.

The Traitorous Son

  • Stephen of Sarcombe remains at large

There's one particular blight that casts a shadow over the prosperity of the Marches and the reputation of the new market town. Stephen of Sarcombe and his yegarra continue to fight for the Jotun. It rankles that a scion of the Mournwold - a former inhabitant of Sarcombe no less - leads a sizable warband of young folk who should by all rights have been Marchers in the service of the enemy. His hatred of the Empire appears entrenched - several times over the last year he's used his knowledge of how Imperial society works to strike vicious blows against it. Active in the recent Kahraman campaign, he led a major force during the conquest of Rojota, and by all accounts instigated the scheme to ruin the roads in Kahraman. Right now it seems his people are working with the Fishers in Bregasland, helping to sway the hearts and minds of the Bregas folk. The death of his partner Wallis during the Spring Equinox has done nothing to quell his hatred; he seems absolutely committed to doing whatever it takes to share his pain with the people of the western Empire.

For many people of the Mourn he and his followers are a painful reminder of the Jotun occupation; a group of traitors who strike at the heart of what it means to be a Marcher. There are many from Sarcombe in particular who would welcome the death of the man who has become their town's most notorious resident. If his death can be proved by cutting off his head and delivering it to the Marcher egregore then she will convey word of the traitor's end back to the Mournwold. His demise will likely seriously damage the morale of his yegarra troupe, perhaps to the point that some at least of them may be brought back to the Empire. Perhaps just as importantly it will relieve some in the Mournwold of the shame they feel at his betrayal of the nation and the Empire.

While Stephen himself is not active in the Marches at the moment, his influence can still be felt.

Your obedient servant (Conjunction)

  • Little Robin is a sympathiser to Stephen of Sarcombe and is attempting to travel to Liathaven
  • If they make it to the border then they will pass on information to the Jotun
  • The Bailiff of the Downs is responsible for stopping Little Robin from reaching Liathaven

Not all the folks who live in the Mourn are worried about the Jotun having retaken Liathaven. A small number, who sympathise with Stephen of Sarcombe, would actively welcome the orcs' return. One miner from Green March, Little Robin Erskine, has gone a step further. They abruptly abandoned their home, and started making their way to the border with Liathaven. More worryingly a witness says that someone matching their description has met up with a force of Jotun orcs who appeared to be expecting them.

Little Robin is apparently quite influential amongst some of the miners of the Mourn and has maintained a network of close friends and confidantes across Green March. There's no doubt that they plan to put their knowledge of the area at the disposal of the Jotun. If the miner is able to make it across the border then the Jotun will be able to use that information to reclaim the region much easier. Green March would gain the under-threat quality.

The escorts of Little Robin are made up of a combined force of Raoljost, Ulvenwar, and Skjaldir. Given that this represents a threat to the wellbeing of the entire Mournwold, and the farmers therein, it is the responsibility of the Bailiff of the Downs: Hob Cullach to stop Little Robin from reaching Liathaven.

The riches of Sarcombe (Conjunction)

  • A raiding party led by Jarl Hyglak the Quarrelsome's has ventured into the Mournwold
  • They have attacked a merchant travelling to the Sarcombe Metal Market
  • The Jotun are likely to be accompanied by a number of heralds of Cathan Canae
  • The Master of Sarcombe Metal Market is responsible for rescuing Wise Maggie and intercepting the raiding party

In addition to Stephen himself, the human traitors who form his warband represent a threat to the Mournwold. A week or so ago a party of beaters tracked down a raiding party of Jotun led by Jarl Hyglak the Quarrelsome that slipped over the border from Liathaven. It seems that the orcs were working with a couple of yegarra, raised in southern Mournwold, and looking to secure as many ingots of metal as possible - most likely as raw materials for magic items. They have already slain two patrols that tried to intercept them. The beaters who located the force were able to kill the yegarra leading them so it's likely the orcs will head back for home shortly. Unfortunately, they're looking to take one last prize with them when they go. It seems they're close on the trail of a merchant named Wise Maggie who managed to evade capture when their guards were killed. Wise Maggie is a veteran of the Sarcombe Metal Exchange, and likely to be carrying a significant amount of metal on their person.

The orc force is primarily made up of Ulfur and supported by a number of heralds of the Lady of the Frost. Given that this directly threatens the safety of the metals stored for the market it is the responsibility of the Master of Sarcombe Metal Market, currently Millward Cowley, to rescue Wise Maggie and intercepting the raiding party.

Further Reading