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The Spires

Scattered throughout the land as if by the hand of a mad god, the Spires dominate the landscape they stand upon. Rising thousands of feet into the air, they are the source of countless suppositions, tales and myths. The learned know that the Spires house entire populations, the last remnants of a civilization that once dared to span the stars.

The Exiles arrived on Eä countless millennia ago as explorers. Their craft and skill allowed them to breach the vast distances between suns and their vibrant civilization looked for new worlds to colonize. The first Spires were germinated to house a small community of scientists, explorers and surveyors, who spent centuries in isolation, studying the planet and preparing the way for a wave of settlers, who would tame the primordial land they had discovered.

They never arrived. Instead a growing stream of refugees began to arrive fleeing a calamity the Spires will not speak of to this day.[break] Last among the refugees were the nobles of the Sovereign House, who sealed the Ways behind them. This ruthless act, calculated to eliminate all nobility but his House and its Lineages, doomed countless millions they abandoned to die. The magnitude of this betrayal shattered Exile society to its core. As political opposition raged and entire castes turned against their leadership, three factions were born from the ashes of that once great civilization: the Spires, the Weavers and the Quiet. Only among the Spires are the flames of the old civilization kept alive, and even that, only through great sacrifice.

Following the loss of their population, the Sovereign House was forced to turn to the darkest of arts to recreate a pale shadow of the society they had shattered. Without the strictures of religious supervision or the ethical oversight of their own population, the scientists pooled their resources and genius into a single Directorate, and turned the holy gift of Life-Binding into the soulless art of Biomancy. True clones were only the first of the dark miracles they produced to replace the shattered population of the Spires and re-establish their economy.

In a matter of decades, the Spire society was rebuilt from the ground up, but as the clone population grew and the reliance of the economy shifted to the products of the growth vats and spawning pools, the Sovereign House began to fear the growing influence of an increasingly assertive Directorate. Cloned troops, primed from the very flesh of the nobility and bred specifically for loyalty, were deployed to place the Directorate under custody and end the threat before it ever manifested. Cold, calculating and methodical, the Directorate had learnt their lesson in betrayal long ago, along with the Quiet and the Weavers, and had spent almost a century preparing for their coup. They surrendered peacefully… and watched the economy collapse.

Without their expertise, the proper balance in the delicate internal ecosystems of the Spire could not be sustained and quickly collapsed. When the Sovereign House was forced to approach them, the Directorate agreed to a division of power along the lines of the millennia old agreements, between the scientific pioneers who had first set foot upon this world and the nobles who had funded them: the wealth of the land belongs to the nobles, but operational control rests with the Directorate. Furthermore, the Directorate must devote its biomantic products to the Reclamation of the homelands. Once reclaimed, the Sovereign House will cede all local holdings and claims on Eä to the Directorate, in recognition of their invaluable assistance.

As a result, what would normally have been an antagonistic relationship has become a fraught partnership: the Lineages in the Sovereign House seek to influence the Directorate with funding for pet projects and pure research, in return for policies and regulations that benefit them at the expense of their peers.

These delicate balances have been disrupted of late by the rise of the Merchant Princes. Members of the younger dynasties, these mavericks have taken to securing resources by trading directly with the outside world, bypassing the main tool of control and influence of the Sovereign House. The Directorate was originally keen on creating competition but is regretting their decision to endorse these newcomers, as the fragile power balances that bound the Spires for millennia unravel. Trade and contact with the outside has introduced a new and volatile element into the machinations of the Spires, which have started spilling over into the lands around them. With uncertainty and greed reigning unchecked, it is only a matter of time before an errant deed sparks the conflagration of war with the younger races.

In times of war, the Spires today remain one of the most potent powers on the planet. While the territory they control is very limited, the power they can project is vast. Their armies are spawned directly from accumulated biomass and mineral resources that their root networks have secured throughout their millennia of rule. The bitter lessons learnt in the loss of their home world have taught them to concentrate on efficiency rather than raw power when assembling their forces. This philosophy of efficiency pervades even their military thinking. With no ethical concerns to constrain their decisions (their troops are, after all, merely clones), Spire commanders routinely make decisions of breathtaking cruelty, perfectly willing to sacrifice entire armies to trap and destroy the opponent.

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