Spy Briefing (Coil)
The Strand has always been a place of hidden mysteries, where you can walk by a double handful of soldiers an arm's length away and never see them behind the leaves, where you can watch an orchid bloom on the vine and then unfold its wings and take to the sky, where the inhabitants say little and listen long.
During the reign of Emperors past, it was a place that kept its secrets well, but for those willing to hazard its peril, answers could be found. In the cycles since, as it has faced the threat of the south, frequently on its own, it has grown more insular, more xenophobic, and more paranoid.
The Coil was built in the ninth Year of the Tiger after the Regency Council was formed, during the reign of the Malachite Queen. A visitor came to the Queen, an architect from the City of Light, or an earth sorceror from the City of Spires. Tales say both, but they give his name as Huan Ken, and what he offered to the Malachite Queen was a way to turn those who came in search of the secrets of the Strand, to those who would serve the Strand and brings secrets to it.
The building of the Coil took a decade to complete, starting (it is said) with the burying of three artifacts below the foundation and finishing with little fanfare as its double brass doors were finally shut. There are guards, though their numbers are difficult to determine. There are traps, and stranger perils. But none of those fully explain why the Coil is so easy to enter and so hard to leave.
Now, unwelcome and inquisitive visitors to the Strand often find themselves drawn to the Coil almost without realizing it. Those who do not venture there on their own frequently vanish in the night and are brought by agents of the Queen to the Coil.
When they emerge, later, their secrets have been co-opted and their loyalty is forever divided.