Thursday, May 21st, 2020

We are the empire’s subtle hand
Trimming weeds across the land
A single cut, the hand that wields
Makes gardens from neglected fields

If the Grassblades are the Verdant Empire’s elite troops, the Sickles are its secret police. Operating in secret, small units of Sickles serve as spies, scouts, and assassins. Access to their networks and resources is one of the major benefits of being the Verdant Emperor. In fact, of the past five emperors, three have been elevated to power by the Sickles and the two that were not reigned for less than eighteen months each. Of course, two of the three were later deserted by the Sickles as well, since there is often a price to their loyalty.

As a consequence of the frequent civil wars wracking the empire, the Sickles have become more militarily focused and inward-facing, prioritizing internal threats in the heartland over external ones. Sickle offices in the remote Inland Sea provinces tend to be understaffed, underfunded, and operating on outdated information gathered by unreliable informants.

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Like blades of grass we stand
And blades of grass we fall
No matter what our orders
We give each task our all

While certainly not the majority, or even the plurality, of troops in the Verdant Empire, the Grassblades are by far the most disciplined and respected. Dressed in distinctive green with leaf-bladed swords, they stand as the physical fulfillment of the Green Emperor’s promise. One unit of Grassblades is raised from every province, thousands strong.

“A blade may die, but never the grass.” In times past, the Grassblades were the uniting force of the empire, expanding its territory and guarding against invaders. However, the latter days have seen most of them dispatched to fight in endless heartland wars over the throne, leaving just a few elderly reservists and raw recruits for the further provinces, often in nominal command of unreliable militia, fickle mercenaries, and the other unreliable troops often derided as “Cuttings.”

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