NATION

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Once Upon a Time in Noctur [Closed, Noctur Only]

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]

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Radiatia
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Founded: Oct 25, 2011
Free-Market Paradise

In with Autenberg

Postby Radiatia » Sun Oct 09, 2016 11:01 pm

The Executive Tower had been Angela Pavlovic's home for eight years, first Level 99 and now Level 101.

As she looked over the city of Xerconia, seeing all the way out to the desert that surrounded it, she realised this would probably be the last time she ever beheld this vista again.

She returned to her desk to finish writing a note to her successor - this was a tradition, although she'd never had one from her own predecessor who was carted off to jail virtually the moment she was done swearing her oath.

Could this Autenberg guy even read? Was there any point writing anything too complex for him?

She sighed, dreading what the President-elect was going to do to this office. Would there be livestock roaming around? Regular hoe-downs? Would pictures of national heroes like Traiyan Silviu be torn down and replaced by pictures of country music stars, or "The World's Muddiest Pig"?

She glanced over at what she'd written so far.

"Dear Jaagen,

It's not my place to tell you what you should and shouldn't do in office. That's your prerogative.

Instead I urge you never to lose sight of the great privilege it is to lead our people. And remember that just as world peace hinges on Radiatia, Radiatia hinges on you.

It's therefore...
"

She threw it out. It was far too complex. The President-elect probably didn't even know what the word "prerogative" meant.

Finally she shrugged her shoulders and wrote, in big bold print,

"Good luck, Jaagen. From Angela Pavlovic.", signed off with a large smiley face drawing.

That's probably more his level, She thought with a mix of sadness and humour, leaving the note on what would soon be his desk.

The last few days had been a sense of grief mixed with relief, mixed with bitter disappointment - afterall, she was the first sitting President who had been defeated in an election. Everyone, even the disastrous Keldon Silviu, had managed a second term. She was a one-term wonder, and it hadn't even been a full one-term.

So much for being an inspiration for young girls to look up to.

"Yeah, you can be President... if you become the running mate of a crook and are willing to be a placeholder President until some redneck takes over from you."

"Madam President, ELITE ONE is waiting for you."

Angela nodded, noticing the crowd gathering below in Federation Square.

"Just give me two minutes," She said.

Her final act as President was to sign a few pardons.

She flicked through them. There was a banker in Exegrad who had accidentally found himself prosecuted for the fact that the bank wasn't paying its taxes, despite him being unaware. Not his fault, she signed his pardon.

A man in Miitlania had decided to appeal to the federal government to commute his death sentence for running over someone's son. Angela signed the pardon.

A woman in Diifgrao was being prosecuted for failing to pay her debts after a messy divorce saw her sued for breaching a marriage contract. Angela shook her head in disbelief, and signed the pardon.

Finally she saw the one she'd been looking for.

Gregori Maynard Fyoderov.

Her pen hovered over the dotted line. She had the power to see her predecessor released from prison immediately, to be forgiven for using state apparatus to kill his ex-wife, to go from criminal to elder statesman.

She took a deep breath, inking the first part of her signature, then stopped.

She looked out at the crowd below, at the city beyond and the desert beyond that. She saw a flutter of black and gold.

And finally she tore the form in half.

"Go fuck yourself, Gregori. Rot in hell." She murmured as she left Level 101 for the last time ever.




The crowds were roaring, behind the bullet proof glass, as President Pavlovic sat next to President-elect Jaagen Autenberg, who tipped his hat warmly at her.

He pulled a hip flask out of his pocket.

"Fancy a swig?" He asked her.

"Premier," This was the last time he'd ever be called 'Premier'. "It's not even midday."

"Ayup, that's why I'm drinkin' whiskey not vodka," Said Autenberg as if this settled the matter.

Angela's smile became awfully fixed as she glanced awkwardly towards Vice President Vladimir Perry who was deep in conversation with Vice President-elect Steven McCarthy.

The two were smiling here, but it was well known they were polar opposites politically - Vice President Perry a notorious right-libertarian, Senator McCarthy a notorious socialist. And yet they were chatting away like old friends, making Angela realise that Radiatia truly was a special country.

Chief Justice Tobias Kneib took the stage and Angela was reminded of when she took the Vice Presidential oath eight years previously. She'd never expected she'd ascend to the Presidency, and she suspected that Steven McCarthy had better be prepared - especially given Autenberg's age and, well, inability to take care of his health.

Chief Justice Kneib faced Steven McCarthy.

"Senator Steven McCarthy, please repeat after me: I, Steven McCarthy affirm my allegiance to the Radiatian people and the Radiatian constitution."

"I, Steven McCarthy swear my allegiance to the Radiatian people and the Radiatian constitution."

"I swear I will do all in my power to defend the constitution, to defend freedom and to defend our democracy."

"I swear I will do all in my power to defend the constitution, to defend freedom and to defend our democracy."

"And I will execute to the best of my ability the duties of the office that I have been appointed to."

"And I will execute to the best of my ability the duties of the office that I have been appointed to."

"Steven McCarthy, by the power invested in my by the Radiatian Constitution, I hereby declare you to be the Vice President of the Radiatian Federation."

There was a cheer amongst the crowd - who Angela noticed were a lot more, well, redneck than usual - and the new Vice President smiled, waved, and shook hands with everyone else on stage.

Jaagen Autenberg took one last sip of whiskey and muttered, "Well this is me. Wish me luck Miss President."

Angela smiled politely. Silently she was terrified the future of the Radiatian Federation.

The Chief Justice, not a tall man, towered over the diminutive old man from Diatara.

"Premier Jaagen Autenberg, please repeat after me.

"I, Jaagen Autenberg swear my allegiance to the Radiatian people and the Radiatian constitution."

"I, Jaagen Autenberg, do be swearin' me allegiance to the Radiatian people an' that there Radiatian constitution."

"I swear I will do all in my power to defend the constitution,"

"I swear I'll do I dang well can to defend the constitution,"

"...to defend and protect our democracy,"

"...ter defend an' protect our democracy, ayup,"

"...and to defend, promote and protect our national values of individualism and efficiency during my time in office as President of the Radiatian Federation."

"...an' to defend, promote, protect... dang it what was the next bit? Somethin' about protecting individuals efficiently... while I'm in office as President of the Radiatian Federation. Yee-haa!"

Tobias Kneib paused for a moment, shrugged and smiled. "Congratulations... I hereby declare you... President Jaagen Autenberg!"

There was a 21 gun salute, although it was clear that far more than 21 guns were being fired into the air. Several northerners had clearly come and brought their shotguns with them, and were firing them into the air too. There was a tremendous cheer from the crowd. Hundreds of cowboy hats flew into the air, and Angela Pavlovic swore she also saw someone throw a pig into the air too.

Jaagen Autenberg turned to her and shook her first by the hand (with his disturbingly strong grip) and then embraced her, kissing her on the cheek.

"Congratulations, President Autenberg." Said Angela.

"Thank you, Miss," Said the new President. "And thank ye for yer service to our country."

Finally it was time for President Autenberg's inauguration address. He walked up to the lectern and faced the crowds, the cameras, the millions of people here and across the world and began to speak:

"Howdy. I ain't no good at givin' speeches.

"Ugh....

"Any questions?
"
Last edited by Radiatia on Sun Oct 09, 2016 11:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Radiatia
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Founded: Oct 25, 2011
Free-Market Paradise

Postby Radiatia » Wed Nov 16, 2016 8:31 am

State of the Federation LET 60
Jaagen Autenberg

"Jaagenomics"



Howdy Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of the Federal Parliament 'n Senate, an' mah fellow Radiatians,

"That there constitution says I gots ter give y'all a speech once a year to talk about the state of our federation, an' maybe even give y'all a few thoughts of me own about the budget an' what we should be doin' together as a country.

"As a lot o' you folk know, Radiatia is currently in a recession. That means folk all over the country are losing their jobs, they're losing money an' businesses are goin' bankrupt.

"It ain't for me to talk about what caused this recession an' what we gots ter do ter reverse it. As y'all know, I'm just a hick from up north an' apart from running a pub back home in Solitude, Diatara, I ain't got no knowledge o' businesses an that. That's for smarter folk than me ter work out.

"But here's what I do care about: I care about people. I care about the folk who ain't able to pay the rent or the mortgage because they ain't got a job no more. I care about the folk who ain't able to afford a house or food because they ain't got no money. I care about the folk who are sick an' are being tossed out on the street because there ain't no doctor to look after them if they're poor.

"I know y'all are clever people which is why I'm gonna leave the drafting of that there legi-ma-slation to you. But here's what I am gonna do: If yer legislation helps poor people to not be poor, I'm gonna sign it. If yer legislation creates more jobs, an' brings back any jobs from overseas, I'm gonna sign it.

"If it helps the sick, the homeless, the unfortunate, I'm gonna sign it. If it helps people, I'll help you to pass it into law.

"But if yer bill gives tax breaks to the rich while cutting help to the poor, I'll be vetoin' that shit. Don't look at me like that, I'm the President, I can say 'shit' in Parliament if I wants to!

"If yer bill kicks people outta their homes, I'm vetoin' it. If it sends jobs overseas, I'm vetoin' it. And if it rewards the folk who got us in this nasty mess while punishing the innocent, well dang it, I'll veto it with yer blood!

"Folks, I done gave a lot o' thinkin' about this an' I done talked to some smart people about this. An' here's what I think y'all need to be doin': We need ter create a National Insurance scheme, that will protect all Radiatians, no matter how poor, or in what state, from illness and unemployment, a little something that we all pay into to help each other get back on our feet in the tough times.

"That's what I think of when people talk about 'efficiency' - if we gonna help ourselves then we gotta help each other. This is Radiatia an' we're all in this together, yessery.

"I think we should be creatin' some kinda government owned National Insurance Corporation, able ter operate in every state, an' make everyone pay into it. O' course if ya insist on private insurance, that's fine, but I wanna make sure there ain't no one who don't have unemployment insurance an' health insurance.

"An' here's something else - it's time that the rich pay more tax. I know a lot of y'all have got rich riding that there gravy train in Xerconia, but when the richest country in Noctur has all its wealth in the hands of a few, well, it shouldn't be a surprise when we gots ourselves a recession - how can folk spend money if they ain't got no money?

"This ain't socialism, this is 'Applied Efficiency' or at least that's what me Chief of Staff called it an' he's a damn clever man, knows lots o' them there big words he does.

"Now there's two places our tax money's gotta go: The first is edu-ma-cation. The federal government has gotta start sortin' it out so that every youngan from here to Polaris has got themselves an equal start in life.

"The other thing is defence. Now I know y'all ain't happy at me for closin' foreign military bases, but that don't mean I'm closing down the army. In fact I wanna make sure we're well defended not just from evil foreigners but from criminals an' gangs here in the Radiatian Federation.

"If you've ever been to Yamman or Dhasa y'all know what I'm talkin' about - poor people ain't got nothin' so they steal an' kill to try an get something.

"However I ain't all about raisin' taxes because I pay taxes an' ain't a fan of it. No one is. That's why I'm gonna be lowerin' federal company tax ter 20%, because, well our businesses need the help an' with the minimum wage it'll help 'em to pay people more money without firing no one.

"In times o' recession we Radiatians are at our most creative. I know we gots us the brains in this country ter get ourselves out o' this mess. But I wanna make sure we do it right, that means makin' sure all Radiatians benefit and that no one is hurt with no one ter help them.

"An' that way I'm sure that we will create a more efficient federation. Thank y'all for listenin'!"

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The Arthurian Isles
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Founded: Feb 26, 2016
Ex-Nation

Postby The Arthurian Isles » Mon Feb 20, 2017 3:16 pm

Image



On Bureaucracy



Rikarður breathed heavily. Rocks littered the landscape. The largest were a series seams which burst upwards from the ground like black waves by the coast. These were the most daunting; they crested to just over the height of a person and ended with jagged edges. All through them were splits and cracks. Others were just piles of boulders, made smooth by the winds of the ages. Between these formations were deep drifts of snow, undisturbed by any living thing and so as soft as the day it had fallen. Undisturbed, that is, but for a line of tracks which began at the base of the hill and moved upwards in a progression of wide arcs. The tracks were remarkably consistent: two deep parallel lines with regular holes on either side. They led almost to the summit. Just below the top of the hill were eight men – for they were all men – pushing forward on skis at a steady pace. It looked hard work, for they were fighting gravity itself, though whether it was through technique or strength they made it look easy. Amongst them was Rikarður. He was the seventh man to see the peak.

His view, which had been nothing but the path ahead of him for the past hour, was suddenly illuminated him. To his right, looking east, the sky which was everywhere else an impenetrable black had picked up the first hints of the day. A halo of blue radiated from beyond the hills there, shedding what little light it could. To the west of Rikarður were more hills and to the north the beginnings of mountains. All of them were covered in a thick layer of winter snow and pockmarked by the same rocks which scarred the hill which he had just climbed. The slopes were dotted here and there with the tiny wandering forms of sheep. All of their slopes tapered down into the one unmissable feature. The crater – Stokseyri, as it was known – was an almost perfectly circular depression in the midst of all of these hills. It was, geologically speaking, an impact crater from an ancient meteorite and was the only flat land on the peninsular. Its snowfall was unbroken by the same gashes of stone as on the hills, but a few isolated boulders poked above the rest of the ground. It was a serene blanket of white. Nearly exactly in its centre stood a single wooden building. It was modern, defined by a few floor-to-ceiling windows and a bank of solar panels on the front of its roof. Immediately next to it was a dead-straight road; it came into Stokkseyri from the north, twisting through the mountain valleys, and exited at the southernmost surrounding hill where it was presently blocked by a small avalanche. A single beam of light emanated from the house, coming out from one of its large windows at the rear of the building.

Rikarður pushed himself the last few metres to fit onto the small area of flat atop the hill. He joined the rest of his team. Most took on water from their canteens, sitting low and silently behind a small lip that shielded the summit from Stokseyri. Unfortunately, this put them into the wind. They would not be there for long, though, and they bore the discomfort without complaint.

One of the group was slouched up against the lip, to the side of the rest. He was looking through some optical device, staring intently towards the western hills.

“Ja, intervention stick has made primary checkpoint. Waiting on orders.” The man then turned to the others. “Don’t get too comfortable. The Jægers are beginning their descent now.”

On the western hills, invisible in the dark but clear enough in the mens’ optics, was another group of eight. This one included three women. They were hard to spot at first; they wore ghillie suits of white, green and brown, and their faces were covered in white balaclavas. Even their weapons – an assortment of rifles and crossbows – were daubed in a fractured winter camouflage. They were moving quickly too, skiing down into the crater as quickly as they could without making any noise. It was a vision of excellent technique, for they were wrestling against untested snow while dodging the rocks. And they did so with beauty. Their bodies rocked in motion with their turns, not so exaggerated as to present a caricature but just enough to take them where they needed to go. The movements could hardly even be called turns; they were closer to waves, slow and deliberate slaloms. They were moving ever closer to the rear of the house.

Before the men could follow their journey any further, they were called into action.

“Ready to move in fifteen seconds.” The man who had been sitting against the lip to one side of the rest pushed himself back to his feet. “Same formation.” The rest did as they were bid. It took them only eight seconds to rise up and form into a single-file line. They spaced themselves irregularly and stayed hunched down, remaining for as long as they could behind the cover of the lip. The last seven seconds of waiting were spent in total stillness. Not a sound could be heard but for the breeze blowing in from the south-west, nor was there any movement. As the sky grew lighter in the east it struck Rikarður that this was a particularly beautiful part of the world. All of nature’s hostility could be seen all around, brazen and proud. Stone cut through the soil and mountains rose above the hills. Even the wind, though not harsh today, had made its presence known through centuries of carving against the rock. And there in the middle of it all was an oasis of quiet calm, sheltered by the very features which isolated it from the comforts of elsewhere. Stokseyri was indeed a very pretty place.

“Alright, move.”

The first man pushed forward, bobbing up over a dip in the lip and then disappearing entirely as he sped downhill. He was followed quickly by the rest of the team. In seconds they were gone, and the hilltop was empty once more.

The descent was harder than the climb. That was what Rikarður thought, at least. On the path up they had the luxury of time, assessing for as long as they needed the best route and having control enough to skirt far around the patches of dark rock. Now, though, they were travelling at speed, and it was only keen eyes, quick instincts and the residual memory of the maps which would see them down without incident. What had looked so harmonious far away on the western hills was feeling far more precarious here. Rikarður had to dig his blades in deep at least twice to avoid careening into a rocky outcrop which he had not seen from the summit, and which hadn’t been on the latest routes they had prepared the day before. Pressuring him even more was his team, for he had to keep pace with them, though they were struggling as much as he. It was soon clear to him and to the others that the snow on this side of the hills was melting. Such conditions were not uncommon for them though. They were trained for worse, and most of them had encountered far harsher descents than this. It was no coincidence that four of the top five competition skiers in the Arthurian Championships were in Stokseyri at that moment.

They reached the base of the hill without incident. No doubt it had looked far more elegant than it felt. What would be less elegant was the final slog, the two kilometres from the edge of the crater to the farmhouse at its centre. There was something inherently less beautiful about the mechanical thrusting of the arms and legs required for this task than there had been in the smooth twisting down the slope of the hill. It was not uphill, at least, and so the team pushed onwards.

About halfway into their trek, the man who appeared to be their leader spoke through their radios. It was the first anyone had spoken since they left the summit.

“Jægers are in position. They wait on us now.”

No response came. None was needed. They continued their journey, the house looming larger. Though it was dark out, the only light being that ever-growing halo above the eastern hilltops, the features of the building were becoming more obvious. The front door opened out onto the road, separated from it by only a short driveway. It was onto a narrow wooden terrace. The large feature windows, which stretched from the floor of the house to its roof, were on the two sides of the south-western corner. On the other sides of the house were smaller windows, all closed and covered by blinds. All that could be seen of the inside was what was visible through the larger ones. They looked out from a wood-clad room filled with modern furniture centred around a log-burning stove. Two men in ragged jeans and jumpers were pacing around, apparently in conversation. On a coffee table lay a loaded rifle, and another leant against the side of one of the sofas.

At one hundred metres from the house Rikarður and his team stopped. They unclipped their skis and poles, leaving them behind a low, crumbling wall which once marked out the house’s garden. The end of their trek, however short, would be made on foot, swiftly but surely and, above all, quietly. As they made their last motion, Rikarður looked to his left. A man and a woman, both in their winter ghillie suits, sat against a snowdrift. They were bent down so that their seats rested on the back of their skis. Their poles they had crossed over in front of them to form bipods. The man rested a rifle upon his, the woman was holding a crossbow and supporting her elbow against her knee. They were focused on the house.

Rikarður’s team reached the building at its south-eastern corner. They split seamlessly into two smaller sections, one skirting around the front of the house, past the front door and around a corner to its northern side. The other pressed itself up against the southern wall and edged closer to the large window at the corner. Rikarður was the third man from the window. He had unslung his rifle from his back and was clutching it loosely.

“Ready?” Though the boss was only a few centimetres away from Rikarður, he could only hear him through the radio. Around the house, eight men lowered the optics from their helmets over their faces. The dark was dispelled. Ahead of him Rikarður saw the rest of the Jægers, camped out around the building, a deadly cordon. From directly ahead, out of the house’s window, was a blare of white light. Through his optic it was blinding, though he knew it was nothing more than the shining beam from a house lamp. Once more, they were all of them still.

“Proceed.”

The light went out. The house went dark.

The first two men ahead of Rikarður stepped out of the shadows and into full view of the window. One, the boss, was carrying only his rifle. It was pointing into the room. His job was to fire the moment he had to, but he was experienced enough not to want to do so unless he was forced. He was not a natural killer, after all, but a guard for the second man. This man stepped forward with a great sledgehammer. He held it for a moment in front of him as though he were praying before battle. And then he heaved it up, the muscles in his back bulging and his face straining in grimace. The blow was powerful. The hammer punched a hole straight through the glass and kept moving. It seemed as though that was all it had done, until a thousand minuscule cracks splintered across the window. One by one in the space of a second, they broke away from one another and fell to the floor. It was like some unnatural cascade. The sound of that much glass being broken was immense, but it was suppressed by a crack which echoed all around Stokseyri and developed into a low rumble. It was an explosion, coming from the other side of the house and forceful enough to make the very building creak under its shockwave.

Rikarður did not stop to marvel at the oddness of the events unfurling around him. The moment there was a hole big enough to climb through, he was on the move. He ran forward from the wall, swinging his rifle up to his face and turning to look into the room. Dust was falling from its rafters and two men were clambering around within. He stepped forward, the first to enter the house. Glass crunched under his boots. His fourth teammate came in behind him, rushing to the corner of the room where a man was curled up on the floor, head in hands and eyes wide in shock. Rikarður turned to face the other corner. There was no one there. He turned back into the centre of the room. There, supporting himself on the back of a sofa, a second man stood up. He was not like his friend, sobbing in the corner. He was quickly coming to his senses and held Rikarður firmly in his gaze. His eyes were narrow in concentration and it took him only an instant to realise what was happening. He glanced over to the rifle which was still leaning against the side of the sofa.

“Stop!” Rikarður shouted. He knew what the man was thinking, and had only one chance to turn him from that course. “Environmental Ops!”

Rikarður did not shout those words as an identifier. He was not interested in asserting the authority with which he entered this man’s home. No, he spoke in warning. For to hear those words was to know that the speaker was far more likely to dispatch their prey than their opponent was to defeat them. It was a last plea to see reason, in the hope that it could save the man’s life. But the man had forged his path. He had stubbornly chosen to fight, subsuming reason beneath some more unconditional calling. By the time Rikarður had finished his warning, the man had launched himself towards the rifle, jumping to reach it. His fingers, stretched as far as they could, brushed the handguard. Before they could grip it they had clenched into a claw, the muscles unconsciously contracting in response to the pain. He was forced backwards, rolling over the sofa again and landing with a dull thump on the floor.

Rikarður maintained his aim, not moving from his spot by the window and holding a gaze over to the spot where the man had been. He was out of view now, hidden by the furniture. Around Rikarður, a haze of smoke drifted with the breeze which blew in through the broken window. It smelled like something foul was burning.

The two who had waited outside rushed in, heading straight for the door opposite the window. It was the only other way into the room. They moved through it in well-practised motions, disappearing behind the walls. Shouts were echoing around the entire building, though no more shots were heard.

“Building is clear. Ambulances are being let through, Jægers are standing down and the Logreglan are coming to seal the place off. To your places, people.” The boss’s voice crackling over the radio was an anti-climax to the whole affair. He sounded so normal that the raid came across as more routine than anything else. Of course, that was not the case for Rikarður, who was still rooted to his position by the window. His teammate, still looking after the sobbing man in the corner, dragged him upright by the armpit and walked him out of the room. As he exited, the boss entered.

He stopped just through the threshold, looking to his left, to where the body was lying.

“He’s not dead.” He said. Rikarður looked confused. “You shot him in the neck. Come, see for yourself.” He beckoned Rikarður over.

Rikarður moved for the first time since he had fired the shot. He proceeded slowly, not sure whether he wanted to see the results of his actions. All that pushed him on was a guilty feeling swelling up in his stomach which seemed to say to him that the consequences were his to bear, however grim they might be.

The man was mostly still. He lay flat on his back, his legs and body motionless. His arms were bent at the elbow and his hands were twitching or shaking – it was hard to tell, though they were definitely moving and were covered in blood. His head was facing upwards and his eyes looked to the ceiling. His mouth was opening and closing incessantly, like a fish, and every time it did so a faint gurgling sound came from a hole in his neck, accompanied by a bubble of blood which then burst and poured onto the floor. Quite a puddle was forming.

“Well.” Said the boss, seemingly uninterested by the entire incident. “I suppose we should end his anguish.” He unbuttoned a small holster strapped to his thigh and reached for the pistol inside.

“Boss…” Rikarður hesitated for a moment. “Is it right to do that?”

The boss’s forehead creased and his eyebrows curved as though he were trying to remember something. After a few seconds, though, his expression reverted back to its normal state of rest. “I don’t know.” And then he grinned. “Let’s check the constitution.” He said this with some excitement, as though it was suddenly an interesting puzzle for him to solve.

From out of his breast pocket he withdrew a small booklet. It was grey-blue and appeared to be well-worn; its corners were curled and there were pencil-marks all over it. On its cover, in a darker blue, was the Federal Raven and beneath that in clean typeface the words ‘Basic Law of the Arthurian Federation’. He opened up to the first page.

“Let’s see.” He scanned the pages, eyes darting from left to right pretty rapidly, or so thought Rikarður. His finger rested on his lips until he found what he was searching for.

“Ja, here.” He pointed to one of the articles. “Article one: human dignity shall be inviolable, and to protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.” He read out loud. “And then article two: every person shall have the right to life and physical integrity. It’s clear. He has to suffer.”

“But boss?” Rikarður nodded towards the book. The boss hesitated for a moment, and then passed it over. Rikarður found the articles which the boss had just explained and pointed to the last line. “Look: it says that these rights can only be interfered with pursuant to a law. We have a law. Or at least we have an arrest warrant and the authorisation to use force, which implies that the right to life is here forfeited.” The boss looked sceptical, so Rikarður continued, turning two pages on and finding a particularly large paragraph. “Article eighteen says so too. Whoever abuses the basic rights in order to combat the free democratic order shall forfeit them.” He gestured towards the man, still gurgling on the floor between them. “This man is a terr. He’s violated this constitution’s order, and so he’s forfeited his rights.”

The boss sighed and then smirked. He had the look of one who knew more than their opponent. He held out his hand and Rikarður passed the little book back on over. “Article eighteen also says that the Federal Constitutional Court shall be the one to determine the forfeiture and its extent. That extent can never be death, because,” he flicked far into the book until he was nearly three quarters of the way through, “article one hundred and ten explicitly and unequivocally bans capital punishment.”

“But this isn’t capital punishment, boss.” Rikarður reached into his pocket for his phone, taking it out excitedly and tapping the keyboard. He spent a few moments scrolling through search results, stopping only when he found that thing which brought a smile to his face. “We’re not executing this man in punishment for a crime, we’re ending his life to avoid further unbearable pain. And that is perfectly legal according to Decision 1056.102A of the Court, which legalised voluntary euthanasia half a century ago.”

He held the phone out towards his boss, who took it tentatively. He scrolled through the text and after another few moments of silence looked back up with that same expression of smug knowledge that he had had before. “You missed section twelve, which says that voluntary euthanasia requires the authorisation of a qualified doctor, a witness and the consent of the subject. We have none of those.”

“I count two. And the third shouldn’t be too hard to get.” Rikarður retorted. The boss looked confused, so he elaborated. “You’re a witness. I completed medical school. We can simply ask him for his consent.”

“You went to medical school?” The boss was visibly shocked. “What are you doing here?”

Rikarður grinned. It was an odd change of career, moving from medical college to the special forces. “I went to medical school for my parents. I barely motivated myself to get through it all, and when I came out I decided I couldn’t bear a life of medicine. So I cast off the shackles and did what I had always aspired towards.”

The two looked one another in the eyes. The boss’s face softened. He suddenly saw in Rikarður a depth which he had not noticed before. He was not just a colleague, but an individual capable of more than a face-value judgement had given credit for. He had done what many people only dreamed of, simply to please his parents. He had succeeded while lacking any motivation, as others fell around him despite pouring their life’s content into their efforts. And he had given it all up – given up a world of help and compassion – in order to become nature’s sword of vengeance, striking down its foes without regard to his own safety. The boss felt a respect welling up inside of him. Though he had not felt it before, he suspected that it had always been there, lying latent for a revelation such as this one. He was humbled.

A gurgle from the dying man on the floor snapped him out of his epiphany. “How do you propose we get his consent then?” He nodded down to the space between them.

Rikarður grinned again. He pulled a notepad from one of his pockets and flicked to the first blank page. He scribbled down a few lines and then tore it whole from its bindings. He returned the pad and looked towards the boss. “What’s his name?”

“He looks like Kristian Hansen. His file picture didn’t show this much blood though. Or a round through the neck.”

Rikarður looked the dying man in the eyes. “Kristian. You’re suffering.” He was direct, and oddly calm considering the absurdity of the situation. “We want to end your anguish, but we need your consent. Are you willing to let us shoot you through the head?”

The man’s eyes flicked from the ceiling to Rikarður, meeting his gaze. As his mouth rhythmically opened and closed, another bubble emerged from the wound in his neck but was accompanied this time by a long, dry rasping sound. It was all he could do, though it was sadly unintelligible.

“Well,” said Rikarður, dropping the paper to his side, “if he can’t answer clearly, we can’t assume consent.”

There was another rasp from the dying man. The two soldiers ignored him. The boss’s brow was creased as if in thought again. He held his hand out once more, motioning for the paper. Rikarður handed it over. The boss knelt down just over the man on the floor, careful not to rest anywhere where the puddle of blood had by now reached.

“I want you to blink once to indicate ‘no’, and twice to indicate ‘yes’. Do you understand?”

The man stretched to see the boss out of the corner of his eyes. He couldn’t move his head far enough, and so settled for two blinks.

“Good.” The boss smiled. “Alright. Do you want us to shoot you?”

The room was still. Both Rikarður and the boss were waiting in anticipation, careful not to blink themselves in case they missed those of the dying man. In his eyes they noticed tears starting to gather.

The boss sighed. “I know this is a distressing time for you, Kristian. But I’m afraid we need a decision now.”

Kristian blinked once. A single tear rolled down his cheek and into the pool of blood on the floor. He blinked again.

“You’re a brave man, Kristian.” The boss said. He held the paper in front of him, and placed a pen in his shaking right hand. “Before we proceed, we’ll need you to sign here, and then again just below.”

Kristian’s hands were still jerking about uncontrollably. Rikarður was forced to take the paper from the boss and hold it directly over the dying man’s hand. The result was two scribbles, indistinguishable as a signature but similar enough to one another to be accepted in a court of law.

“Excellent.” Said the boss. He took his pistol out of his holster and held it towards Rikarður, smiling at the fact that the bureaucracy had been completed without too much fuss.

“What are you handing this to me for?” Rikarður asked, galled.

“You’re the doctor here. You need to oversee it.” The boss replied.

“It’s not a medicinal overdose, it’s a shot to the head. It doesn’t need overseeing. Besides, you got his consent.”

“It doesn’t matter who got him to consent.” The boss seemed perturbed. “It matters who’s qualified to do it, and you’re the licensed doctor. Besides, you shot him.”

“Exactly. I’ve already shot him once. I shouldn’t be the one to do it again.”

“If anything, that’s precisely why you should be the one to do it.”

“What happened the last time there was a police shooting? Surely that must have set a precedent.”

“There isn’t a precedent. There has never been a police shooting in the history of Arthuria.”

Silence. Rikarður closed his eyes and bowed his head. There is a reason why people bow their heads at moments like this, or when they are in prayer, or when they are in any form of deep thought. It is because it is a sign of introspection – they are looking deep within themselves in search for an answer that cannot necessarily be discovered by the rational mind, but must be realised by the unconscious. Such an answer was precisely what Rikarður was searching for at this moment.

After minutes of quiet thought, he opened his eyes and looked back up to the boss. Rikarður held out his hand. The boss placed the pistol in his palm. He turned to Kristian, lying in a pool of his own blood, and pointed the pistol towards the centre of his forehead.

Then he lowered it again.

“He’s dead.”

The boss snapped his gaze to Kristian. The dying man on the floor had indeed become the dead man on the floor. “Must have died while we were arguing. Well, that saves us a lot of hassle.”

“I might just throw this away, considering the new circumstances.” Rikarður held up the piece of paper on which Kristian had drawn two indecipherable lines consenting to being shot in the head.

“Yes. A good idea.” The boss nodded. “Right. I’ll get the body bag.”
Last edited by The Arthurian Isles on Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:09 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Radiatia
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Founded: Oct 25, 2011
Free-Market Paradise

The Summer of LET 14

Postby Radiatia » Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:06 pm

The following is a series of transcripts of broadcasts by the state-run broadcaster, Radiatian People's News Network, throughout the summer and early autumn of LET 14.





July 31, LET 14
Supreme Chancellor Trast Xinhua and Grand Chancellor Traiyan Silviu have today released a joint statement claiming that they will be looking towards centralising the structure of the government and abolishing the federal system.

"Comrades, it has become clear upon witnessing the disasters of the last election that the current system is horribly inefficient," Said the Supreme Chancellor. "Therefore I will be making sure we complete the work begun by former Supreme Chancellor Soden Perstesht, for it was his desire at one point to streamline the current system.

Why should a man be banned from drinking in New Vashura, and yet be given free beer the next day in Drachensgard? The system is unfair, inequitable and unequal."

Traiyan Silviu has given his concordance to the plan, however has reportedly asked the Board to hold back in order to give democratically elected Chancellors time to enact promises to their comrades.

"I would certainly like to see power centralised, however we must not be too hasty lest we accidentally damage democracy. The Politburo in its current form is made up of some fantastic people, and rather than destroy it we should build upon it. However it is also clear that centralising power will be a step forward towards an equal and democratic socialist paradise."

In other news, a state of emergency was declared in Xerconia, after temperatures threatened to exceed 50 degrees centigrade, melting tarmac on the roads. Citizens have been advised to stay indoors with air conditioning.


August 1, LET 14
News: Supreme Chancellor Trast Xinhua will be making his first official appearance in Exegrad tomorrow, and will be making an "important announcement regarding Exegrad's future."

August 2, LET 14
With almost 20,000 people packed into Komrad Square in Central Exegrad to meet the new Supreme Chancellor, it seems Trast Xinhua may have finally gained the support of the Radiatian People.

Cheering him on - not as fervently as they did with Perstesht - but supportive nonetheless, they listen to his speech with passionate silence.

"Exegrad is a wonderful city. While the head of our union is Xerconia, surely Exegrad is the engine that beats its heart."

Interrupted by thunderous applause, he continues.

"However I have seen things here that sadden me. Things I never hoped to see in the RPSU. People struggling to survive. Drug addicts. Tales of crime. And OUR comrades on the streets.

Therefore comrades, let me assure you that as your Supreme Chancellor, THIS WILL GO ON NO MORE.

The age of Exegrad's status as a Special Economic Zone has come to and end. That concept cannot be continued any further."

The Head Mayor of Exegrad later confirmed that tomorrow morning would see a full symbolic communist takeover of the city, marking an absolute end to the failed "Socialist Market Economy" experiment and a return to full communism, thereby ending the "two systems" approach toward Exegrad and other SEZs.

In other news, police are wanting to speak to mentally ill student protester Draco Zerra, who reportedly threw a can of baked beans at the Supreme Chancellor.

"He's not in any trouble, we just want to help him." Said a spokesperson for the Party Disciplinary Committee.


August 2, LET 14
Tensions are rising to fever pitch in the RPSU after a terrorist group destroyed every bridge into Exegrad City, temporarily halting the Liberation Army who were arriving for a symbolic communist takeover.

Similar demonstrations have been seen across the union, in Radii, Das Engel and Nepschu as well. However at present Exegrad's streets are full of protesters, some of whom seem to be increasingly violent.

The terrorists are believed to have links to "RADEM", a recently outlawed subversive group who claim to support multi-party democracy, while masking their true counter-revolutionary and reactionary intentions.

While the Radiatian People's Liberation Army are beginning to fly into the city, thus far there is no sign of the Police, with some fearing that city law enforcement may have become compromised by reactionary elements.

Trast Xinhua today issued a death warrant for the man behind the bombings of the bridges: Draco Zerra is now the most wanted man in the RPSU.


August 5, LET 14
The Supreme Chancellor has refuted and denied "enemy propaganda" which falsely claimed that RPLA troops opened fire on protesters in Komrad Square, Exegrad.

Troops stationed in the city were reportedly attacked by a violent mob of RADEM-influenced youngsters, but were careful to ensure they did not injure their fellow comrades while attempting to peacefully diffuse the situation.

Hospitals in Exegrad are currently full, but this is said to be due to an outbreak of food poisoning - any rumours of violence on the streets of Exegrad are said to be false and it is business as usual in our largest city.

Meanwhile, riots in other cities persist but have nothing to do with dissatisfaction with the Party of the government but instead reflect dissatisfaction with the local sports teams recent results. Comrades are warned not to pay heed to those seeking to twist routine events according to a subversive political narrative.


August 27, LET 14
Supreme Chancellor Trast Xinhua has confirmed rumours that RPLA troops have deserted their posts and refused to obey orders in Alayenia and Numongolis.

Grand Chancellor Traiyan Silviu is believed to be the mastermind behind this attempted coup d'etat, with Silviu having recently been exposed for his corrupt business dealings with foreign entities and secret anti-Radiatian views.

The Board of the Communist Party have stripped Silviu of his title and are warning that his coup attempt is doomed to fail, and urge him to hand himself in to authorities.


September 1, LET 14
Trast Xinhua has put an arrest warrant out for Traiyan Silviu, who has been tried in absence and found guilty of high treason.

The Supreme Chancellor is urging comrades still loyal to the Party to execute Silviu upon sight.

Although we, as the media of our nation, are bound to regurgitate the crap coming out of the Board of the Communist Party, this reporter would like to make known his support of Traiyan Silviu.

On behalf of the RPNN - may democracy prevail.

And this just in - Trast Xinhua is a madman who wets the bed!

Wait, where are you taking me? Don't point that gun at me! I can say whatever I --"


September 10, LET 14
Troops loyal to RADEM and Traiyan "Traitor" Silviu have reportedly succeeded in occupying Exegrad, unlawfully overthrowing the people's government in the city.

It is estimated that RADEM have killed thousands of innocent civilians. Comrades are warned not to go near the city of Exegrad until Silviu is apprehended and executed for his crimes against the people.

Comrades in other parts of the RPSU are urged to continue with business as usual and to ignore any wild rumours they may be hearing.

Remember - only the RPLA have legitimate authority, and those opposed to the Communist Party and the workers should be reported, or else immediately executed, if possible.

Order will be restored soon.


September 25, LET 14
Traiyan Silviu's forces have now descended upon Xerconia. Comrades loyal to the party are urged to take up arms and not hesitate to defend the revolution from these vile, reactionary scum.

September 30, LET 14
Reports have emerged that Supreme Chancelor Trast Xinhua has surrendered to RADEM. Traiyan Silviu has enterred Xerconia Castle and is to begin negotiations with the Board of the Communist Party to negotiate an end to hostilities and the recent civil war.

October 1, LET 14
Traiyan Silviu and Trast Xinhua have both emerged from negotiations.

Trast Xinhua has ratified Traiyan Silviu's special constitutional amendment, "the multi-party unity void clause" and announced that he will step down as Supreme Chancellor in accordance with its provisions.

Traiyan Silviu today appeared in Union Square before the world's media and succinctly summarised the terms of the document with the following announcement:

"The Radiatian People's Socialist Union has from this point onward officially ceased to exist."

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Nui-ta
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Founded: Feb 11, 2012
Moralistic Democracy

The Diary of Kalmara Volva

Postby Nui-ta » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:05 am

Selected entries from the diary of Kalmara Volva, nee Raajun.




January 18th, A.N 104
Dear Diary,

Daddy is back home from the war. I don't think he came back right. He's been really upset since he got home. All he does is drink. Faisal says this is what men do when they are "tra-ma-sized". Mom says the Doctor said that Daddy has shell-shock. Mom also says it was the "damned Hadinians" that tramasized Dad.

But the war is over now. They're going to be re-building the suburbs south of Alin soon, I hope.

Kalmara Raajun




January 23rd, A.N 104

We moved to a new part of town today. Mom wants us away from the Hadinian quarter. I don't really understand why she's so mean to them. A couple of years ago during the war two girls showed up at the doorstep begging for food and she turned them away. I think they were from one of the suburbs that was all bombed out.

She says they bring nothing but trouble. A while later I caught one of them stealing from our garbage can. I didn't have the heart to say anything to Mom. The girl looked so frightened and alone. If the Hadinians did that, why would they do that to another Hadinian like her?

It doesn't make any sense.

Anyway we moved away from the Hadinian quarter --- as far away as Mom and Dad could afford. All Mom ever does is talk bad about them. All Dad ever does is drink --- but Dad's only been home a few days and hopefully that'll stop soon.

Kalmara Raajun




February 5th, A.N 104

I missed going to school! They had to close for a while because of the war! Luckily I could study at home and the teacher said I was almost all caught up! I don't even have to go back a grade like some of the other kids --- I just have to take extra classes after school and she says I should be fine. Yay!

Kalmara Raajun




June 18th, A.N 107

Oh no.

I'm starting High School and Mom is livid because the new school I'm going to go to has lots of Hadinian kids in it. She wants to move us, or send me to another school --- but I passed a ton of tests to get here, and Dad's finally normal again. He's got a steady job and doesn't drink as much...if we move, we might mess all that up for him again.

There aren't a lot of other factories in Nui-ta that let Dad file paperwork in a quiet room where he can't hear loud noises. There are tons of schools without Hadinians going to them; but not in Alin.

I don't wanna move anyway. It's finally nice here again. Can't I stay?

Kalmara Raajun




October 16th, A.N 107

I've got it down to a science now; I just sit in the front of the class and avoid the Hadinian students. I walk home alone. As long as Mom doesn't see me with them, she'll met me stay.

It feels weird...but they're kinda weird too. A lot of them aren't even citizens yet; they're colonists that were allowed to stay in Nui-ta because Alin used to be Hadinian territory and they were already here before the Treaty...

Kalmara Raajun




March 18th, A.N 109

A new boy today: Frederico Volva. He's in half the same classes as me and he lives in the same building, two floors down. Mom got pissed and went to the landlady about the Volva's. How could they let those people stay here, after what they did to her husband?

...as long as they don't bother me.

Kalmara Raajun




March 30th, A.N 110

Dad's drinking again. Shit.




June 17th, A.N 110

OMG. OMG. OMG.

DAD DRINKS AT THE VOLVA HOUSE. MR. VOLVA GIVES HIM ALCOHOL. FOR FREE. FUCKING WHY?! MOM WAS RIGHT. THESE PEOPLE ARE NOTHING BUT GOOD FOR NOTHING DRUNKS.

I FUCKING HATE THEM. I WISH THEY WOULD LEAVE.




June 20th, A.N 110

Frederico tried to talk to me today but I kicked him when he got too close.

He should stay away from me.

Kalmara Raajun




June 28th, A.N 110

OMG FREDERICO. TAKE A HINT. LEAVE ME ALONE.

Every fucking day he tries to talk to me. It started off as him pulling me aside after class but since I won't speak to him, now he tries to catch me before I hit the apartment. Mom chased him off the other day.

If I see him again, I'm gonna throw a bottle at his head.

Kalmara Raajun




August 10th, A.N 110

....I feel bad.

I saw Dad leaving the Volva apartment today, again. He was all messed up emotionally and crying again...

I was so angry about that this afternoon that when Frederico tried, AGAIN, to talk to me, I punched him right in the eye. I'm getting way stronger; his right eye's all swollen shut.

Next thing I know, he pins me up against the wall and has my hands behind my back and I think...I thought he was gonna do something to me.

He didn't. He just held me there so I couldn't hit him and then he told me the truth.

The bottles Mr. Volva gives my dad are non-alcoholic. They don't tell Dad. They knew after the first week he was a drunk so they switched out their stuff.

Mr. Volva served in the war too. They sit and talk about all the horrible things that happened while they get Dad to drink, so that he opens up. All this time, I thought the alcohol was what was making Dad stop having nightmares at night --- it was Mr. Volva counselling him.

They called a psychiatrist the other day. I wouldn't have believed them, but Frederico took me to see Dad's doctor. He says Dad's on the verge of a complete breakdown and Mr. Volva might be the only thing keeping him from losing his mind.

All this talk about how Hadinians were horrible. All this talk about how they were good for nothing.....if that's true, why did they notice my father was hurting so bad and help him while Mom, Faisal, and I just thought he was being a drunk again?

....I'm a really terrible person....




August 15th, A.N 110

Frederico's eye is starting to look normal again. I snuck him some ice from the freezer the other day. Mom was at the store.

I still avoid him. I don't want to get in trouble with Mom. She doesn't believe any of it.

....I should avoid him anyway. I really hurt him. I feel embarrassed.




September 30th, A.N 110

Evening classes were canceled today. I would have gone home, but Frederico stopped me. Handed me a bottle of non-alcoholic ale from the corner store. Said it looked like I needed to talk to someone.

We must have chatted for hours. I guess Frederico's had it pretty bad as well. Things were getting bad in Hadin. The Radiatians and Nui-tans are chasing down the HLF there now. Frederico's family saw it all coming on pretty early and left Kopurauth as soon as they could. If they had stayed, the HLF probably would have forced Mr. Volva to fight.

The more I learn about Mr. Volva, the more I think I like him. He seems like a nice guy. He keeps my dad from drinking real alcohol and lets him vent his troubles. Nowadays, Dad smiles again around the Volva family. I don't think I would like if Mr. Volva had to fight in the war against us.

I don't think I would want Frederico to fight either.

Kalmara Raajun




November 15th, A.N 110

Frederico is graduating soon and going off to complete his conscription. The Hadinian War shows signs of ending soon so I think he'll get lucky and miss it. I graduate next year.

Mom doesn't like that we hang out a bit now. Too bad. I'm not ignoring someone based on their race anymore. Surely there are some good Hadinians out there; I know this for certain.

Kalmara




March 20th, A.N 112

It's over! School's over! Military here I come!

Kalmara Raajun




May 13th, A.N 113

I love what I do. I think I'm gonna stay on as a career. Mom wants me to get married when I get back though. Says there's this nice boy I need to meet.

Kalmara Raajun




December 16th, A.N 114

I'm home for a bit on leave. I met Ulras. I didn't like him much. Dad doesn't like him much either. Mom is insistent we get along. When we were alone, I asked Dad about the Volva family. Frederico is stationed all the way out at San Gajin. Mr. Volva is sick with something.




April 8th, A.N 115

I'm home again. I'm gonna start a new term soon; I just thought I'd enjoy a small vacation at home.

Frederico is back in town. His conscription is over and he isn't going back.

His dad is really sick though. Mom and Dad are fighting about it. I just figure I'll go see him after this.




April 9th, A.N 115

Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.

Frederico looks so different! He's all big and strong now! Not anything like the lanky kid from before...




August 14th, A.N 115

It was pancreatic cancer. Mr. Volva died a few days ago. I got into a big fight with Mom when I told her I was going to the funeral with Dad.

You know what, in a weird way, the man saved my Dad. I'm going. That's all there is to it.




August 15th, A.N 115

Maybe it was the sadness. Maybe our heads are all messed up.

Frederico kissed me after the funeral and Dad saw. He told Mom. She's absolutely livid. She's sure that Ulras won't agree to the marriage anymore --- not that I ever agreed to start. She even called up Mrs. Volva and was screaming at her ---

--- but you know something? Mrs. Volva doesn't care. Dad doesn't care. Dad only thought Mom should know because ...omg...he thinks Frederico might be better than Ulras.

Maybe I think so too.

I'm starting another term in October. I'm staying at another place until then, so I don't have to hear it from Mom.




January 19th, A.N 121

....looking back at all these entries, man, it has been a long road.

We need to pick a date for the wedding. Mom can change her mind about coming any time she wants. She's still invited.

The only way she'll learn anything is if she lets people into her life as much as Dad and I did ours. The future can be as bright as the stone on my hand.

I haven't had time to write much lately. I won't for some time.

So I guess this is goodbye, Dear Diary.

Kalmara Volva
Someone cares? Okay then. Economic Left/Right: -2.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -1.85

INFP-T personality, quite heavy on the I,P, and T.

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Corinis
Political Columnist
 
Posts: 5
Founded: Apr 22, 2018
Ex-Nation

Revelations Pt 1

Postby Corinis » Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:01 pm

Image

Grand Duke Johan VIII



The Grand Duke of Corinis-Ostland was sleeping not in a palace, but in a messy hotel room. Johan VIII was covered in thick blankets to keep the early spring weather out - and around him were piles of Nui-tan food boxes, as well as abandoned clothes strewn about. It befit a junkie more than the heir to one of the wealthiest nations in Noctur. He'd been 'vacationing' in Bauruch, but in reality the Grand Duke was more despondent than someone on vacation should have been - the southern city on the lake had still not fully escaped winter and snow still lingered on the ground.

The phone rang.

Johan rolled over - who could be calling at three fucking AM in the morning? If it were one of those royal stalkers he'd-

"Halle, mein Kainer."1 It was Johan's grandfather Opi, although most called him Serene Prince Karol VII.

"Gud morin, gruesch-vater." Johan said. 2

"How are you Johan? I've been told you're on vacation. Bauruch is it?"

"Yes sir," Johan said. "I've been..."

"Depressed. I was there in Bauruch too, you must realize. When my wife died, I frequently went there. A little sun is good for the soul."

"Bauruch is cold sir."

"I suppose - it'd been snowing up here. I doubt Bauruch is much warmer. So much for spring, I reckon?"

"Opi." Johan said, "I know you have something to tell me. Something bad, or else you would never call at this hour."

"Very well." There was a long, audible sigh at the other end of the line. "The doctor told me that I have clumpy blood."

"What does that mean?"

"I could have a heart attack at any time. I only found out this week - I had complained to the doctor about a headache of mine, and they ran some blood tests. They told me I have a genetic clotting factor, and at my age my heart could stop all of a sudden. I might not even know until it's too late. Amazing isn't it? I walk regularly, eat well, and yet I might still drop dead from a heart attack out of the blue."

"Don't say that!" Johan snapped.

"Oh, but it's true. You have to be prepared, Hanni3."

Johan reeled back onto his bed. "It's three in the morning."

"I know, dear one. Get some sleep - I just thought it best that you weren't surprised."

"I am, Opi."

"I meant when..." Karol trailed off. Nobody wanted to finish the sentence. They both knew what this truly meant for the two of them - for Karol who could die at any moment in his advanced age, and for Johan, who had already suffered his father's death and his brother being paralyzed in the same brutal car accident. On top of this, when Karol died, Johan would be Prince. Just five years before, Johan had thought there would be two more decades to prepare, but not anymore.



1: Hello, my child[dear one]. (Affectionate)
2: Good morning, grandfather. (Formal) | After this, the two characters speak in English, because translating V2 languages like Corinan gives me headaches.
3: Hanni is an affectionate contraction of Johan.

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Corinis
Political Columnist
 
Posts: 5
Founded: Apr 22, 2018
Ex-Nation

Revelations Pt 2

Postby Corinis » Tue Apr 24, 2018 6:37 am

Image

Federik IV, Grand Duke of Corinis-Ostland

Serene Principality of Corinis
July 12,
PY 2058


Johan was fuming - he'd been waiting outside in the hot July sun and yet his father - Federik IV - had not come to his graduation. The janitors were already folding up the chairs on the football pitch, and soon there would be nobody left except for Johan and his family. Even the paparazzo had grown bored and moved on - perhaps they had felt pity for him. His father was supposed to take Kal for a quick ride up to the mountains, and then back in time for the ceremony. This didn't seem to be happening.

The sky was a clear navy hue. The shadows were getting long, and everyone was languishing in the heat. Johan's grandmother Adele - he called her Ada - was fanning herself with the program book, while his Opi - Karol VII - muttered under his breath, knowing he had more important business to attend to, and that his son's tardiness was impeding him. A solitary cloud came into the sky, that seemed either like a pair of shears or a gray X. Johan fixated on this one cloud, that blotted out the sun for the slightest instant before evaporating.

Johan had spent five years in college, preparing a thesis to defend, working late nights and early mornings, and giving up sleep to make time for his friends - all those sacrifices now seemed like nothing. At least Johan had a fancy piece of paper, he thought. He'd someday be the first Serene Prince with a degree.

"Solen weir noch Haus gan?"1 Ada finally said, bunching up the program book in her arthritic fist.

"Foazischet, das it ein Andenken."2 Karol VII scolded.

"Aur Masjei!"3 A man from the Security service barged in.

"Was it es jet?"4 Karol shouted. His face had gone from a wilting gray to a deep beet color.

"It's your son."

"It's about time! Bring him in!" Karol waved to the man.

"Your Majesty. I am very sorry to tell you, but your son has died. Kal is in the hospital, they say he is critical."

"My son? My son!" Karol had burst. His eyes were bloodshot, and he kicked one of the few remaining chairs over in a feat of surprising athleticism. "My son is dead? The dimwit!"

"Opi." Johan said. "My father is also dead. Please..."

"Forgive me." Karol suddenly regained his composure, straightening his suit and tie. "Send the janitor my apology for knocking these chairs over. Get us to the hospital before the press gets there, and tell Getrud to cancel all my engagements for the week."

"Yes sir," the security service agent pressed his earwig, spoke something into it, and ushered the entire family into a set of limos waiting outside. Johan found himself shoved into the same car as his grandfather and Adi. Suddenly, Johan found himself crying - less like a college graduate and more like a child - all the anger he had held against his father was now draining out of him. Adi held Johan's head in her lap, stroking his hair.

"Ich lai du."5 Aga said.


1: Shall we go home?
2: Careful, that (the program book) is a souvenir!
3: Your majesty!
4: What is it now?
5: I love you.

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South Oriens
Political Columnist
 
Posts: 2
Founded: Apr 22, 2018
Ex-Nation

Postby South Oriens » Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:09 pm

Image




"They say only two types of Arthurians come to South Oriens. Arseholes and hippies. And the arseholes end up killing the hippies. So which one are you?"

"Neither."

Thomas grunted. "That's what they all say." He did not bother to hide a scowl and a shake of the head. He just drunk long and deep from his stein, wiping the resultant froth from his moustache with a sweep of his forearm.

They were in a bar, crowded with whites and equatorians1 alike. The walls were covered with framed posters of rock singers from all around the world, and old-school music pumped through some tinny speakers in the corner. It was only lunchtime, but tables were almost full with glasses, some empty, some half full. People were jovial, and the noise was enough for them to have to shout to be heard.

In such an atmosphere, Thomas and Zander were noticeable by their furtiveness. They sat in a corner off to the side of the main bar, on a small table made only for two. Thomas filled the space around him. He was a giant of a man, and muscular too, but he was trying hard not to be seen. He was leaning on his elbows, his back bent over so that he sat low to the tabletop. He wore a cap on whose peak rested a pair of aviators, and his t-shirt covered most of a dark tattoo on his right arm. Opposite him, Zander was almost indifferent. He was reclined on his chair, staring uninterestedly at his stein. The beer was untouched. Unlike most of the whites in the bar, he was pale and his hair, though as blond as most of the locals, was lighter and tinted with a silvery shine. He did not smile as much as them, he did not gesticulate as much as them and he did not talk as much as them. He was a stranger.

"So why are you here then?" Thomas asked.

"To run away."

"From the police? From conscription?" The questions came out in one long sigh. He was not getting much out of Zander, and did not think it was worth his time to keep questioning him. The decision was already half-formed in his mind. Thomas glanced at his watch, and then looked over to the exit.

"From myself."

That was different. His eyes flicked back to Zander. The kid - he was no more than nineteen - was still staring at the table, as detached as he had seemed when Thomas first met him.

Perhaps he had underestimated him. Thomas had seen a lot in his life so far, but one thing that stuck out was the ability of people to confound expectations. More than once had he found himself confronted with a side to someone which threw his pre-judgements into sharp relief. Often it was the ones whose strengths he could not understand, the ones who lacked the physical prowess that he boasted, but displayed a willpower and a discipline which he had not expected from such small frames.

"What do you mean?" Thomas's tone had changed. The question seemed less procedural than the ones before, and more thoughtful.

"I'm not an arsehole. I'm not a hippie. I'm not an Arthurian. I'm a nobody."

"But you have an Arthurian passport, ja?"

Zander reached into his pocket and pulled out a tattered, dark blue book. He placed it just in front of Thomas. The ubiquitous Arthurian raven was clearly visible.

"Good." Thomas nodded. "I think you know how important that is for us. So why do you say you aren't an Arthurian?"

"Because I'm not an Arthurian; I'm a person. Just a person. I don't want the history that being Arthurian involves."

"You can't escape history, boy. You might leave behind the people from your past, but the ghosts will still haunt you. Your mistakes will still live on in your conscience." Thomas's brow furrowed. This was not something he had experienced before. He was concerned.

"And I can confront those ghosts here, in a way that was never possible in Arthuria."

"So you want a new life? A new you?" Thomas tried desperately to relate this to his past experiences. He was clutching at any clues he could get. It was amazing how quickly people could leave you feeling like a fool. He had gone from an interviewer to one seeking answers in a matter of minutes.

"Maybe."

Thomas sighed. He sat up straight and took off his cap to show his golden-blond hair, short on top and cropped on the sides. He ran a hand through it and replaced the cap. Soon enough, he was back leaning in towards Zander. "I can't take you on risk if you tell me you're running away. I'm not putting my neck out there for someone who might abandon his buddies in the middle of the night."

"You don't need to worry about that. I've already run away. This is my destination. There's nowhere else for me to go."

"OK boy, enough of your cryptic shit." Thomas looked up in despair, but he kept his voice low. "I get that you've got some stuff in your past, and in Arthuria, that you want to get away from. I need to know that you can fight. I need to know that you will fight. And I need to know that you're not going to go batshit on me or any of the boys out there when we least expect it. Do you understand me, son?"

For the first time since the two had met, Zander looked at Thomas with more than indifference. His face was the same, his body language did not change, but those eyes. Their blue suddenly turned electric, and they seemed to burn with a deep intensity. When they met Thomas's eyes, they did more than stare, they pierced through to them. It is no cliché that eyes are the windows to the soul. They contain the nerve projections that lead to the orbito-frontal area of the pre-frontal cortex, a part of the brain which is especially sensitive to face-to-face cues. It connects the cortex, the amygdala and the stem, co-ordinating our thought, feeling and action and so assigning value to all we experience and shaping our understanding of the world around us. As emotional reactions to a situation reach the orbito-frontal area, the cortex monitors the social mood in order to understand the best reaction. In essence, the orbito-frontal cortex inhibits our raw impulse by determining the most appropriate action. When Zander glared at Thomas, he allowed their minds to synchronise their understanding. It was the first time that Thomas really understood the boy.

"Don't call me 'son'." Zander leaned in, slowly, so that his and Thomas's faces were no more than centimetres apart. "I can fight and I will fight because I have been through so much worse. I have seen people die and been involved in their death. I want to confront this fact. But I am no murderer, and I am in control of my mind. So I won't be going 'batshit' on you, because I don't kill for my own ends. I will fight for you, and you will not call me 'son'."

Zander leant back again. His eyes fizzled back to their prior state. Thomas stared down at his stein. The mood was still, but not awkward. It was time for thinking, and that is exactly what Thomas did. He thought. And then he picked up his stein and drank all that was left. Another wipe of his forearm removed the dregs from his moustache.

"Welcome to Two-Nine Brigade. I'll be keeping an eye on you." He smirked. Though he wouldn't admit it, this boy was right. He was no arsehole, and he was no hippie.




1 Equatorians are the native people of South Oriens.
Last edited by South Oriens on Fri May 18, 2018 6:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Xylonia
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Founded: Dec 07, 2013
Ex-Nation

Birthday Preparations

Postby Xylonia » Wed May 02, 2018 10:49 am

The Suyin port district, once a wretched hive of criminality in the Union era, had improved since the Civil War. The Battle for Suyin resulted in the entire neighborhood being levelled, and each building rendered as nothing more than cinder blocks and broken rebar. Ten years later, the port district had developed again, with new glass buildings dominating the waterfront. Some of the nation's most important exporting firms had their headquarters here, all the better to ship abroad.

The streets here were clean and well patrolled—cruise ships looking for budget destinations often docked here, and the city of Suyin didn’t want to leave a bad impression on travellers, even though the rest of the nation was facing an issue with criminality.

The port district had become the face of a multiethnic new Xylonia, with Jaheman cafes next to bars serving traditional Xylosian drinks such as slua, a potent barley liquor aged inside a goat’s stomach In addition, there were Nui-tan restaurants, Greasy Joes’, and even the odd Arthurian microbrewery.

A woman was alone walking against the stream of tourists, clutching her purse close. She had the folded eyes typical to Xylosians, but with a Berian jaw, which she had inherited from her father. She was Emeline Nars, daughter of Baikal Nars. Emeline made her way to an unmarked glass building, waked past the reception desk, and went up to the top, where a man was waiting for her.

“Hey Sutbol.” She said.

Sutbol sat up. He had folded eyelids, tan skin, and coppery brown hair. “Hey there, Emeline.”

“I wanted to sort out some last things for my father’s birthday. I was thinking of moving the reception from the lobby to the plaza on the second floor—”

“We can talk about your father’s birthday later.”

“It’s next week! The hotel needs to know where—”

“We’ll get there in a bit. Let me tell you about Anders.”

“What does Anders have to do with it? He’s too busy with the agriculture bill to show up—”

“Do you feel that he’s qualified enough to lead this party?”

Emeline straightened her back. “He’s my father’s friend, for goodness’ sake! You can’t just casually criticize the leader of our party like that.”

“You have feelings. But is he qualified? Objectively, factually qualified?”

“It doesn’t matter what I think—”

“You’re a Nars. What you think means everything.” Sutbol said.

“Fine. I think Anders is too old to be leading the party as he is. He was sleeping halfway through his own filibuster just two weeks ago. I think he’s atrociously underqualified and utterly clueless.”

“Who would be qualified?”

“My father. But nobody wants him, not after his austerity program.” Emeline said.

“I think you would be phenomenal.”

“Me?” Emeline scoffed, “That’s a funny thought, but I have no experience.”

“You can be Prime Minister. Katares is vulnerable right now, trapped in the middle and his flanks to the left and to the right are both wide open. If we win Parliament, we could seriously hobble his agenda and hurt his re-election chances—Prime Minister Makara wouldn't survive in her own seat, and Katares needs her to get anything done.”

“In five years, he will be vulnerable, you mean.”

“You never know. He needs our party to get things done, and we could withdraw our support to his government and run things on our own.”

Emeline chuckled, “We’ve never had an early election.”

“Doesn’t mean it can’t be done.”

“Why choose me?”

“You’re a Nars. You have a well-known name. Your grandfather led this country as the best damned Commissar-Chairman we’d ever had, and your father was our founding President. We need more Nars right now.”

“Why not Anna?” Emeline asked, “She’s my older sister.”

“You know why. She has a record—”

“It’s not like this country likes my father.”

Sutbol shook his head. “It’s not whether or not they like your father. It’s whether or not they like you.”

Emeline looked at Sutbol. “Why would they like me?”

Sutbol shrugged. “Tell me about Xylonia. Really sell it.”

“Xylonia? We have trees.”

Sutbol chuckled, “Take this seriously.”

“Alright, fine. I love my homeland. It is a land of great diversity, a trilingual nation with so much human potential. Her fifty-some million people are some of the most intelligent and inventive in Noctur. We could be doing so much more, but we settle with ourselves for less. We settle for chaos and criminality, instead of embracing law and order, as well as allowing our defense forces to dwindle when it should be growing to keep up with our international commitment. We can turn Xylonia around, but to do this I’ll need your vote.”

Sutbol clapped his hands. “That’s impressive. Not bad. A bit more polishing, and you could become a master orator.”

Emeline shook her head, “Thank you, but I think Anders should stay.”

Sutbol sighed, slamming a fat folder on the table. “You want to know something about Anders?”

Emeline shook her head.

“I’ll tell you anyway. Two years ago, he had an ischemic stroke during a campaign rally." Sutbol pulled out an MRI image, showing a white mass in Anders' brain. "We said the whole event was due to him getting up too fast out of his chair, but that wasn’t true at all. If Anders already had a stroke, he could get another one. If he dies on us while we campaign, that’s pretty much it for our party.”

Emeline looked at Sutbol. “I cannot believe you keep files on this.”

“Do you want to change this country? The first step is getting rid of Anders. Don’t worry about being dirty, that’s my job.”

Emeline nodded. “Fine, I'll challenge Anders if it means the party will be better off. Now, can we talk about Dad’s birthday?”
Last edited by Xylonia on Wed May 02, 2018 10:57 am, edited 2 times in total.
Xylonia
President: Jacques Katares (The Liberals)
Prime Minister: Giang Makara
Capital: Suyin
Population: 53 million
GDPPC (PPP): 22,121
Foreign Relations: See here

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Higgins and Brown
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Founded: Sep 02, 2013
Ex-Nation

Grey Afternoon in October

Postby Higgins and Brown » Thu May 03, 2018 11:27 am

Lexi Spencer turned and slumped into his chair just as the flushing sound of the toilet was muted by the door swinging shut. He allowed the chair to swivel with his weight and move from one end of his desk to the other. There a memo momentarily caught his gaze, before he made the decision not to look at it.

The office of the Prime Minister of Higgins & Brown is an almost-square room, of decent but not overbearing proportions, located on the 7th floor of the Prime Minister’s Building, Ministerial House (though often referred to itself as Ministerial House). Overlooking Temple Park in the city of Tithatribali, the office’s northern wall is glass, and double-doors here open out onto a triangular terrace. Presently the glazing was getting a steady and heavy hammering from the spring rains of October.

There were 5 other doors off the room – 2 to his left (private toilet and outer office), 2 to his right (dressing room and private study), and 1 opposite (to private corridor, private lift, steps up to the Executive room, steps down all the way to ground level, and to the ‘Gathering Room’ beyond the study). Spencer eyeballed the only one that someone might come through, the door to his outer office; but after 30 seconds of sullen gazing, he came to the realisation that he was being left alone.

He untied his black necktie and turned to look at the rain, and caught his father looking back at him in his own reflection. Standing at the glass, he inspected himself, chucking the tie onto the tidy, ornate desk. His hairline was where it had always been (high), but the folicles thinning, white, and only untamed whisps of the stuff dared to reach much higher than a crew cut might achieve. He had been leader of his party for 7 and a half years, and for 5 of those years he had been Deputy Prime Minister. For the last 2 and a half years, he had occupied the top job. That was the time and journey that he had taken become this old man, at the age of 57. His skin was loose around his chin and neck, and his hands he noticed were wrinkled. It was his eyes though that depressed him, because he looked depressed, staring into them, the white bits all red, and the skin around them raw from the regular use of tissues that morning.

He had buried his father that morning. Not the pale imitation that stared back at him from the glass, but the flesh and blood parent who had pushed him along since childhood. He regreted the last 7 and a half year bitterly now. Not for all the trials and setbacks that the cause of civilisation had seen in his country, not the war, not the assault on basic liberty that the Attorney-to-the-Ministry’s memo on his desk was referring to. Not any of these things, because he couldn’t have done more really to stop them. But he could have spent more time with the old man. He could have spent every moment with him.

Oh, how he now envied now those who could, for whatever reason, live a life of leisure and choice. He imagined spending the last 7 years visiting his dad more regularly, at first at home, and then in the hospital. He re-imagined a conversation they had had when he was but a teenager, about boats. He didn’t know why, but this conversation kept coming back to them. They had never even owned a boat between them. He wanted now, nothing more than to renew that conversation, just to see where it would go. Would they do something about their vague fondness for the boats that occupied the marina in Litovi, that tiny town on the M323 Road south-west of Vklarrbeg.
But of course he was mistaken. Everyone has commitments and no one spends an eternity talking about boats, or any other interest. No one has an eternity in which to do anything.

A thought reared its head like a nervous pet looking for food, and he went back to the memo to avoid thinking it. From the Attorney-to-the-Ministry: a list of all of the cases currently being taken in the Constitutional Court, by the Ministry, against the President. Beside each one, a page number, and on each subsequent page, a short summary of the current status of the case, and the next steps required of the various government departments. Most of it was for the Legal Office itself to do, but the Prime Minister and his Executive would have to sign off on the arguments to be used.

He had served in the wartime Ministry as Deputy Prime Minister, and watched President Henrietta J.W. smash her way through the constitution, oftening ignoring her best counsel, and often seeming to do quite well in the circumstances. President Locke was something new – no war, no war Ministry, but a State of Emergency and rampant, radical measures to assert military authority in the east of the country. Since the launch of various domestic intelligence agencies, reports of summary arrests and interrogations had been filtering in from the places under marshal law.

Meanwhile, the police force were battling to keep their own supremacy against domestic intelligence agents seconded into their ranks. Spencer had no natural love for the police, and nor they for him, but he had determined himself that the Ministry of Justice and Internal Affairs should take a case.

It was all appearing to be a bit futile, however. The Constitutional Court where the very body signing off on the emergency measures, declaring them to be reasonable. Against that, he was hitting a wall. The domestic government of Higgins & Brown had simply been castrated, in many ways, by the President, and the fanatics around him.

And tonight, the Codenal elections would thrust more power into the hands of that man, who had no understanding of (or belief in) the importance of democracy, the rule of law, etc. (as Spencer saw it, at least).

And after that, he knew, Judicial elections would hand him more power too, with a decisive pro-emergency, conservative majority expected to be elected.

He thought of his father, and his children, and the nervous pet reared its head again. Resign, it said. Retire. Go away, and enjoy your life. You don’t owe these people a damned thing.

He looked out to the window, where the rain continued to beat down, and his father’s sad eyes stared back at him. He had been popular, for a Liberal, and that meant not popular at all. He had been energetic and enthusiastic, for a politician, and who knows what that meant.

He had lost the latter, all in one go, and couldn’t really tell about the former. Did people even remember who the Prime Minister was, or its function? He got more publicity out of taking the President to court in unwinnable protest cases, than he did getting on with the day-to-day of government.

Doors opened somewhere to his left, probably the Chief of Staff’s office, and he heard a woman ask “Is he in there?”. Whitaker’s voice, Rachel Evans Whitaker.

For 7 and a half years, she had been his deputy, and a major personality in the government. He had always assumed she would want to succeed him as head of the party, but the woman who now meekly knocked on his office, before quietly arranging herself on the chair in front of his desk, was older now, and tired, like him.

Well not quite like him. She was tired of bullshit, but she wasn’t bereaved.

She was, now, the Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs. A job she had relished getting only a year prior, though he knew she was even less fond of the police as an institution than him. She was younger than him by about 5 years, but he knew the auburn hair was regularly treated, and the powerful attire just less than comfortable enough for a middle-aged woman.

He turned to face her and tears fell down his cheeks; she pretended to have been looking away as he sat down.

“Are you ok to talk, Prime Minister? We can do it another time?” she said.

“No, no, go on,” he responded. Though of course, he wanted her to go away.

“I’m sorry Lexi, but the meeting was booked. We haven’t been able to talk one-to-one in weeks.” Lexi of course knew that he had been filling up his calendar to avoid this meeting, and had only really failed to do that on this occasion because his dad had died. “How was the service?” she continued.

“Nice. Crap. Couldn’t have gone any better… what were we going to talk about?”

A glimmer of something beneath her thoughtful eyes. Rachel was in the mood for work, not emotions. He thought he saw annoyance.

“I said party affairs to your secretary. It’s the only thing that man won’t ask questions about. Look, Lexi, I have to go.”

“Go? Yes by all means, if you have to.” He said, slightly unfocused on what she was saying anyway. He didn’t notice either her embarrassment at blurting out something that she had meant to carefully lead into.

“No, Lexi, I mean, I’m going to have to leave the job, both jobs – all of my jobs.”

Ah. He thought. Damn you. How long had she been trying to arrange this meeting? And why was she so intent on telling him this face-to-face. He supposed it was his office, not his person, that she was intent to see react to her news. Politicians, after all, are narcissists by habit if not nature.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” was his response, flat and listless. He could say later that he had been distracted, but actually he was just annoyed, and had momentarily forgotten the black tie, and the service, and the reflection – “Why?”

And he listened to a whole host of nonsense. The type of nonsense someone in a position of responsibility and power makes up to explain to those around them why they must go. The nonsense that comes to mind when the words, “I just don’t want to do this anymore” don’t feel valid. He knew it too. He listened to the excuses this person was giving to get her life back, and he wished he’d had them to hand, 2, or 5, or 7 years ago. She told him she would go early in the new year.

“…but of course, it will cause a deputy leadership election. I wanted to tell you first, so you could prepare for that.”

He was grateful at least for that, though he momentarily failed to understand it, before the reality of his unstable government, and party, becoming even more unstable, hit him. Frankly, he was surprised she hadn’t suggested that he consider his position as well. He wished she had suggested that.

“Don’t worry about me, Rachel. You go and do your thing, but I want a list of names you think would be suitable to succeed you in Justice.

She nearly launched into such a conversation, and it was one that Lexi would’ve enjoyed. The two of them always consulted on the liberal appointments in government. Lexi had been generous in that way, but he valued her input. Besides, there was no better gossiping to be had than the open and frank conversations about the abilities, personalities and weaknesses of the long list of eminent liberals. Now though, he wanted to go and look back at the reflection, and see some life behind his dad’s eyes again.

“I’m sorry Rachel, but we’ll have to do that another time.” She understood, and with few words passing between them she was gone. Lexi turned back to the reflection, but the light had changed outside, and he couldn’t see it so clearly.

He stepped out onto the triangular terrace instead, and felt the wind and rain batter against his expensive black suit. Going to the edge, he looked north over Temple Park. The clouds were low, and visibility poor, and he could only see the trees at the front. Even below, in the main avenue leading into the Minsiterial complex, there were few people to be found. His world seemed to be empyting; everyone was leaving it but him.

Above and behind him, the multitude of flags that formed a perimeter around the roof on the floor above were waving furiously in the wind, which presently sped up. He heard the clanging from the rings on the poles , and nothing else.

He stood in the glory of the national flag, huge and multifold and in full unfurled magnificence. He stood wet, and over-awed, and afraid, in front of this technicolour beast that beat itself in front of him, and it so large and proud, and he so small, and meek, and alone.

He heard it, of course, not as a flag waving in the wind, but as his father, chastising him for his self-pity.

In its symbols he saw a stern and angry face. Oh, what way to lay a father to rest! To neglect and resent so the proudest achievement he had reached in the man’s old eyes! To contemplate leaving to the dogs, the flag that presented itself so finely to him in this moment. To think, however fleetingly, that his service was an indulgence, that he had any real choice.

But his father wouldn’t really care about that, he decided. He could continue, or leave, or do anything really, as long as he didn’t sit in his office wishing to be somewhere else, and never acting on it.

“What is there I can do?”, he cried.

Plenty more, was the answer. Don’t think you have done enough to give up. If you leave, it is not because of an abundance of actions.

“But there is nothing I can do”, he thought.

He imagined immediately his father’s realistic response: [i]Sh!t or get off the can. The winds picked up, and he saw the banner reach its zenith of resplendancy, before the sheet ripped, and he watched the flag fly off to the west.

It felt dangerous now, to be out here. Thunder from far off confirmed it.

He went running inside, through the office to the far door, to his private lift, and through a security door, bypassing the watchful eyes of his secretary and Chief of Staff in the outer office. He guessed where Rachel Evans Whitaker would be, and he ran there, to tell her she was sacked.

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Xylonia
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Founded: Dec 07, 2013
Ex-Nation

Open for All

Postby Xylonia » Fri May 04, 2018 8:21 am

Image
Katares, during his XyVt interview


"This is sheer, utter madness! The Democrats will have our hind ends if we go out saying things like that!" It was Katares' foreign secretary, Fong Baikang. He was large-framed, with tawny skin and brown eyes.

"It's right and you know it." Came a voice from behind the partition. Katares peeped up for a few seconds, a man of 56 with deep wrinkles that cut into his face. He was rosy-skinned, and had piercing ice-blue eyes.

"The Xylonian people don't care. Hadinans aren't all good, you know. One of them... misbehaves, and we're in deep - "

"Let me take the flack for it." Katares said.

"Now? With Emeline Nars about to take on leadership of The Democrats? You just came back from Nui-ta as the first president to go abroad, don't give her something to attack." Baikang said.

"She's a young soul. We'll be able to work out an immigration deal with her. I'd rather than than Tuhonh - Tuhonh wouldn't support a quota at all."

"Are you sure Nars is so easily manipulated?"

Katares chuckled. "She's 26, and a lamb among wolves. We give her our full support, and she'll be following our party line."

"That's a gamble. We could be facing an early election."

"What? She'd look like a fool if she tried to hold our feet to the fire like that, especially if it happens so soon after the leadership election starts. She'd look like an uppity newcomer, ready to coup out anyone that stands in her way - and the people wouldn't support that."

"Jackie, politics is full of fools."

Katares chuckled at the mention of Jackie. Only two people were allowed to call him Jackie - his wife and Baikang. Anyone else received a prompt ear-chewing from the president. It'd been the name Baikang had called him since they graduated from college together. He stepped out from the partition, wearing a shiny new suit. "What do you think?"

"The suit's a good idea, but your speech still isn't."

"They elected me to open up Xylonia," Katares said.

"Open it up, but not to flood it!"

A man came in, wearing a plain black suit. He was swarthy, with curly hair and green eyes, likely Jaheman. "You're up in five, Mister President."

"Thank you. I'm sorry to cut this short Fong, but duty calls."

Katares exited the green room, his thoughts racing in his head. He couldn't help but admit Baikang had many valid points. Katares took a deep breath - he was still going to do it. To turn back now would imply a lack of conviction, a lack of principle. This, Katares could not stand. He would rather be voted out than be seen as some sort of political jellyfish, or the slippery eel so many of his opponents accused him of being.

His interviewer stood opposite, Tuong Anh. She had tan skin, and deep umber eyes, alongside glossy black curls. Her face was covered in a pleasant smile, but Katares could see in her eyes that she was a journalist that could very easily shred him.

"A worthy challenge" Katares mused to himself.

"Hello Mister President."

"Hello, Ms. Anh. I hope you are well?"

"I am, thank you very much. Is there any particular topic you would like me to ask you about today?"

Katares nodded, looking to Baikang, who was currently sitting in the front row alongside the rest of the audience. "It would be nice if we could discuss immigration policy."

"Lovely! I have a few questions about that myself." She flashed Katares a primal grin.

"This is good." Katares mused again. "I need something challenging."

The Jaheman appeared again, this time behind the camera. "We're on a ten second countdown. Do your final adjustments now. Ten..."

"Best of luck." Anh said.

"Nine... eight...."

"You too."

"Seven... six... five..."

Katares looked out to Baikang. Beads of sweat were rising on his face, despite the rest of the room being like a meat locker.

"Four... three..."

Katares sat up, giving a confident grin to Anh.

"Two... one..."

"Hello Xylonia! We are XyVt at six, and we have a very special guest with us today. Please welcome your President, Jacques Katares!"

"I am pleased to be here with Ms. Anh today, as well as our wonderful audience."

The room clapped.

"Now, before we move on to the rest of the segment, how would you feel about working with Emeline Nars?"

Katares chuckled. Inside his mind he was shocked - he hadn't been briefed on how to answer this question. "She hasn't been confirmed yet. There's still a leadership race, which Tuhonh also has enough signatures to enter."

Anh nodded. "I meant hypothetically."

"Same as I work with Anders. We would have some lunch together, discuss policy issues. The relationship between me and Anders is very informal, and I think that is what enabled us to pass so many bills - the fact that we don't feel a need to engage in brinkmanship."

"So, you're going to take her out for lunch?"

"Are you insinuating something?"

"Why would I be?"

"Damn, she trapped me." Katares thought. He said "I don't take Anders out to lunch. We have a meeting during lunch. The difference in terminology is critical, we don't go just to be friends, we go to enhance our working relationship." Katares hoped that was enough to maneuver him out of the trap Anh had set.

"So you wouldn't say your friendship with Anders is genuine?"

"It is genuine, but we both focus on our professional interaction during these lunches, and I would do the same for Tuhonh and Nars."

"That's good to know. We wish you the best of luck in your dialogues with whomever becomes the next leader. You did want to talk about immigration."

"Yes." Katares said.

"What is your party's current immigration policy?"

Katares grinned. "We ran on a platform of opening up Xylonia to the world, turning it into a hub for innovation. That's why we are announcing a new policy on letting in more refugees, and streamlining our process to let them in. Currently, the process only applies to Xylonians that fled the civil war, but we were thinking of expanding the procedure to people from Hadin or Algrabad."

The room burst out in boos and catcalls.

"We'd still have a vetting process for them. Our former policy was to block nearly all immigration from UNCA nations, but we have to change this. These people are desperate for homes, and we want to give them one."

Boos only intensified.

"You know, let it out. Boo me until your voices grow hoarse." Katares said, standing up. "My belief still stands - Xylonia is a nation of immigrants. Xylosians came from Tuthnia, Jahemans from Al-Djezer, and Berians like me from Poldania. None of us are native to this place, and it is cold and selfish to keep it to ourselves. Immigrants are inventive - that has been proven, and they contribute much more than they could take away. Most of them do jobs that we wouldn't even think of doing ourselves, and they want to flee their troubled nations to a better country. Who are we to deny them the dream that we took on for ourselves?"

The room was silent.

"So you would invite more immigrants from UNCA nations?"

"Yes, unless they have been directly involved in fomenting communism or fascism. Our law still bans these sort of people from this nation. The refugees we get aren't bad people, they're desperate for homes, for places where they can do business, for places free from strife."

A loud thud was heard offstage.

"Now if you'll forgive me Ms. Anh, I must cut this interview short. It appears that my foreign minister has fainted off-camera."
Xylonia
President: Jacques Katares (The Liberals)
Prime Minister: Giang Makara
Capital: Suyin
Population: 53 million
GDPPC (PPP): 22,121
Foreign Relations: See here

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The Arthurian Isles
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Founded: Feb 26, 2016
Ex-Nation

Postby The Arthurian Isles » Sun May 06, 2018 12:13 pm

Image



On Caustic Love



"This is shit."

"The only shit is what you're chatting. Just because it isn't generic catchy pop, doesn't mean it's bad music."

It was a brighter day than normal for this time of year. As close as it was to the Arthurian winter, the sun beat down heavy on Hølen, bouncing off the white-stone buildings and giving the grass that extra depth of green which made the whole city come to life. No one was staying long in the sun - it was too cold for that - but they had left their coats at home and enjoyed the weather while they could. For some, that meant sitting outside cafés with cups of tea, watching the world go by. For others, it meant leisurely strolls in Elisen Park, the vast swathe of trees and ponds which offered respite from the streets and buildings and people beyond. All over the city, there was an untroubled feeling. The sunshine was accentuating a sort of confident contentedness that was always around in Hølen. Perhaps that was why it was known as Lofborg - the City of Love. It had that slower pace of life that was able to accommodate the feelings and emotions often subdued by the daily grind. And it was a truly beautiful place. It made one feel as though anything really was possible. It was serene.

That was also one of the reasons for Hølen's reputation as a counter-cultural hotspot. Mingled amongst the couples were students, empowered with the knowledge of their education and encouraged to see change as eminently possible by the sheer atmosphere of this city. Most of the time, this led to nothing more than discussions in cheap bars, but the sentiment filled the streets with fervent energy. Unlike Kopmaðurhavn just to the north, this energy did not translate into a thriving industry. Hølen was more of a philosopher's city. Creativity, stirred up by those students who were so eager to talk about change, was it's most significant output, but it was as intangible and ephemeral as the love for which the place was otherwise known. DJs tested their mixes in underground clubs, singers did unpaid sets in their local bars and buskers played riffs on the streets as couples walked on by and tossed a few aurars into their hats. Of course, from these lowly beginnings emerged some of Arthuria's most famous musicians. But beyond a few cases of fame, the level of creativity also meant that there was a strong musical following amongst the local residents. Music was talked about here more than many places and, invariably, it became another means of change.

Aksel and Pietur looked like typical students. Aksel wore a sweatshirt printed with his own design, announcing that 'speech is sacred'. His cap was a battered and faded old pink thing, worn so that the peak sat at the back of his head. ("You're trying to look ironic", Pietur had told him. "No, it's just to keep the sun off the back of my neck", Aksel had responded. He was being only half-true; he enjoyed the feeling of breaking the fashion rules, even if he did need to do so for his sunburn-prone skin.) Pietur was wearing ripped black jeans and a baggy woollen jumper. He didn't bother with a cap. He had thick blond hair which went almost silvery in the sun, and he enjoyed showing it off. They were both victims of youthful arrogance, or perhaps it was just that they hadn't been completely stifled by society at that point. Whatever the reason, they stood out (just the same as every other student in that city), and they were glad that they did. It reaffirmed their individuality and made them feel as though they truly were the vanguard of all that change which they spoke about.

Pietur took off the headphones and passed them back to Aksel. "What? I like other stuff too, but that's just not it. It's some guy who thinks that he's edgy because he's stripped away the beat and the melody and the rhythm and pretty much anything else that makes music music."

"Yeah, but that's the point." Aksel laughed. He slung the headphones around his neck and then started to shake his head. "It's all about the message. He's saying that we need to strip back all this pretence and ceremony and ritual, all of this stuff that permeates society but which we haven't noticed. All of that stuff is imposed on us either by tradition or by social elites, and the more we lap it up the more we conform to what they expect of us. It's like we're their enforcers, but we're also the victims. We need to go back to a simpler sort of living."

"Let me guess, you've been studying Gramsci?"

"Well, yeah. What's wrong with that?"

Pietur put on a mock attitude of nonchalance, shrugging his shoulders but grinning all the while. "Nothing. You're like a cushion though aren't you."

"Huh?"

"The last person to sit on you leaves an impression."

"Oh, har har har. You're so funny." Aksel shook his head again, in that way which implied that Pietur was only teasing him because he didn't understand. "At least I have a reason for liking the music I listen to. Why do you even enjoy that cheesy pop?"

Pietur shrugged again, this time genuinely. "I guess because it makes me feel better. I haven't thought about it that much, but it's pretty good at picking out the things in life which we've gotten so used to that we take them for granted, and then making such a big deal about them. To pick out beauty in the everyday is something that I can get behind. And if it's catchy then that's just a bonus."

"Aww, listen to you. You're so hipster that you've gone full-circle. You're back in the mainstream now."

"Oh damn! You're right!" He put on that exaggerated expression again. "I need to grow a beard. And here, help me tie this into a top knot." He grabbed a bunch of his hair and tried to jokingly pull it to the back of his head. When he let go, it just fell flat again, as silky smooth as it had been before. Aksel laughed along.

"Anyway," Pietur continued, "I like other stuff too. I found some cool stuff a few days ago. It's more EDM or electro than the rest of it."

"Oh? Well put it on then, let's hear." Aksel handed the headphones back to Pietur. He fumbled with his phone for a few seconds and passed them back to Aksel.

All was quiet in the little bubble around them. Although the sounds of a city were everywhere, they did not affect the two men. Aksel was intently listening to a slow-burning beat and emerging bass line. Pietur was watching him, looking out for any reaction. He was disappointed; Aksel was expressionless. He walked onwards, almost mechanically, in deep, unblinking concentration. For Aksel, the music was almost hypnotic. Without realising it, those mellow drums with the subtle bass, something which had been almost soulful, had risen into a full-bodied rock beat overlaid with melodic trumpets. Above it all, more distinctive than anyone he had heard before, was a slightly coarse voice which projected itself with such strength without having to strain in any way. There was a power behind what he said, but it did not have to be shouted. It was sung with passion, as though he were crying, but it was clear and well-formed. The voice was almost bluesy, a perfect mid-ground between the soulful beginnings of the song and its rocky heights. Unlike so much music, it made Aksel stop and think and take in all that had to be said. The words themselves resonated with him, and the tone made them beautiful, even more so when the notes of a solitary female backing singer permeated the low background rumble like birdsong on a cloudy day.

And then it stopped. The music came to an end for one brief moment. It seemed premature. Aksel wanted more; he was willing for more. In that single beat, he was disappointed that the music was gone, as though it had been pulled from under his feet. He realised soon enough that the pause was there for a reason, to mark a break, clean and crisp, between the sheer emotion of the singing and what then came. Instead of a resonating bass, a discrete guitar plucked a basic tune. The trumpets were no more. The drums were no more. The singing was no more. But a voice spoke - yes, spoke - with the precision of an orator and the beauty of a rhetorician. It sounded old, as though it had been lifted from the early films, at a time when doing the right thing seemed to come more naturally, to be easier.

"For those who can hear me," came the voice, "I say do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You - the people - have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Let us use that power. Let us all unite."

And as if the energy of that speech imbued the band itself, the music rose up again. The drums returned, the bass came back to the fore, the trumpets blared once more. And that voice - that voice which was at once despairing, hopeful and calm - it cut through the rest of the noise. For Aksel, it stirred something within him. He was at once brought down to earth and reminded of the highest ideals for which he had always argued. It was aspirational. And it was emotional. It was a middle finger to this undefined establishment which he railed against. It was a reminder of the bonds of commonality which made living so worthwhile for him. It was a slap on the face that brought him tumbling from his ivory tower and returned all to a simple state. It was brilliant.

And then it was over. That voice gave one last rasping call and then expired. It was like the singer had died, had given his all and then passed away. But the band continued. They carried on the same defiant beat, without a leader but animated with such energy that it did not matter. The ideas that had given rise to their music sustained them. Sustained them, that is, until time cut its fatal path. At the end they just fizzled out, all of the fervour of their song transformed into a poignant silence, a moment for thought, or for action.

Aksel removed the headphones and placed them back around his neck. He turned to Pietur, his mouth very slightly agape.

"Well?" Said Pietur.

"Well..." Aksel said. "You've done it."

Pietur raised an eyebrow. Was his friend about to mock him? Was he about to come up with a sarcastic comment about how he'd ruined music for him and sunk even lower in musical taste? No. He was not.

"You've found something I like." Aksel smiled at Pietur. "And you've gone the whole mile, too. That was amazing."

Pietur broke into a grin. "It's the sound of the next fight. When they start sending us to Karas to fight some imperialist war, that's what we'll be listening to."

"When they send you to Karas, maybe. I'm not going there."

"What do you mean?" Pietur was confused. He had expected to stay with Aksel even after they finished university. "It's not like you can avoid conscription. That's why it's con-scrip-tion."

Aksel laughed. When he looked at Pietur he wore a mask of surprise. "You expect me to be in the army? Nah. I'm going to conscientiously object."

"They'll still send you to the logreglan1, or to some civil defence force, or into the bureaucracy. You need to do your national service."

"Listen to you, Pietur. You sound like everyone else. 'You need to do your national service'. I don't need to do anything. Isn't that what this song is on about?"

"Yeah, of course...or, no. I don't know." Pietur frowned and looked down at his feet. He always did that when he was upset. "It's not about all of this social stuff that you like to talk about all the time. It's about you, and me. I thought we'd stick together, you know."

Aksel stopped. Pietur took a few more steps before he realised that he was continuing alone. He turned back to Aksel, who was looking at him with something that could only be described as affection. "We're going to stick together." Aksel said. "You know why?" Pietur shook his head. "Because I know you. However much you take the piss out of me for all of my crazy arguments, you're the same. Sure, you don't care about neo-imperialism or postcolonialism or anything like that, but you do care about other people, and you're not going do anything that could hurt them."

Aksel held out his hands and smiled. Pietur, slowly, tentatively, placed his hands into Aksel's. "So you're not going to conscript, because you're too good for that." He pulled Pietur into a hug.

"You didn't know, though. You talk about it with me." Pietur said. They let go their embrace and Aksel looked into his eyes.

"I didn't need to talk to you. I told you, I know you. That's why we're so good together. And that's why we're going to stick together."

Pietur couldn't help it. The edge of his mouth curled into a smile. "I still think your music is really pretentious."

"That's fine." Aksel shrugged. "I still think that jumper makes you look ridiculous."

The two of them strolled through the park. They were just another couple in this City of Love.




1 The logreglan (literally, the 'Law Order') is the Arthurian police.

2 The song which Aksel and Pietur listen to is Iron Sky by Paolo Nutini.
Last edited by The Arthurian Isles on Sun May 06, 2018 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Higgins and Brown
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Ex-Nation

State Address by President Locke to Parliament of Hralia

Postby Higgins and Brown » Tue May 08, 2018 9:11 am

State Address by President Locke of Higgins & Brown to the Joint Sitting of the Parliament of Hralia
As recorded in the Hansard of the Joint Sitting of the 71st Confederal Parliament of Hralia, at which the House of Peers-Confederal assembled in the presence of the House of Burgesses-Confederal, with other honoured guests domestic and foreign, and among them the honoured guest was the President of Higgins & Brown, meeting in the 1st week of October, 179IE


Text of the Speech given by the President of the Independent Republic of Higgins & Brown, Mr. Ívor Locke, on the occasion of his state visit to Hralia in the autumn of 179IE


President of Higgins & Brown, Mr. Ívor Locke
Lord Speaker, Speaker of the House of Burgesses-Confederal, Your Majesties, President, Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Leaders of the Houses, Members of the Privy Council, Party Leaders, Peers-Confederal and Burgesses-Confederal, and to the Royal Families and other families present here today, and watching at home, the people of the Confederacy of Hralia and its member nations:

Thank you for doing me the honour of an opportunity to address and be heard in your Houses of Parliament.

It is with the feeling of a great weight resting upon my shoulders, that I address you here today. We stand in the footsteps of our forefathers – yes our forefathers – who settled and built this nation over 2 centuries ago. We stand in this magnificent chamber, so steeped in history and tradition, that it can reasonably be called one of the great parliaments of Noctur. It is older than either of the Higgins-Brownite parliaments, and without Hralia’s help in those dark days, 180 years ago, it is perhaps true that neither of those parliaments would exist.

But further back than that, and ever since, this place has been host to some of the great ingenuities of statecraft, which ensure that it still remains one of the great parliaments, providing government to one of the finest nations in Noctur, and the finest friend to Higgins & Brown.

In your Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Mr Malcolm Daivid BC, I know there is a man who treasures this relationship. Speaking to many of you since arriving yesterday, and speaking with many ordinary Hralians – at least, here in the city of Newmilns – I get the impression that the relationship is warmly valued by the vast majority in the Confederacy.

It is in that context, that I come here today to pay tribute to that relationship.

It is over 2 centuries since this Confederacy was founded, and 180 years since Higgins & Brown gained independence. Even after the struggle against Colonial Zanzes was won, the peace was kept only with difficulty. And in those times, it was Hralian trade, and loans, that helped the nascient Kingdom of Higgins & Brown. This culminated in 10
IE in the state visit of the Lord Protector, His Gracious Majesty Barnabus of Mralia, to my country, and 5 years later, King Michael of Higgins & Brown returned the favour. He stood in this chamber to pay his thanks to the Confederacy that had been so willing to risk its own security to help a friend.

In those times, of course, religion played even larger a part in our friendship than it does today. In the archives of the Union Palace in Michaelstown, we have some of the correspondence between King Michael and a series of Lord Protectors. We have also copies of private letters between the Pro-Archspeaker of the Orthodox Church, and many of the Readers and Speakers of Hralia at the time – and I do not mean the Archspeakers and Archreaders of the nations or church protectorates. I mean the frontier pastors, the evangelicals, the travelling speakers and the precariously installed readers. The Pro-Archspeaker at this time, the 20s in the Higgins-Brownite calendar, was a man named Philip Everess. He is well known, even perhaps better known, in your country than in mine, and was born here. He was the first Pro-Archspeaker to be openly inaugurated in the true home of the church in Erez, and finally installed in its modern base of Rathraflon in Michaelstown, since before the invasion of the Zanzeanic Empire.

He took an intimate interest in the advance of the cause in the Hralian nations, as much as he did the revival of its public practice in Higgins & Brown. He also ensured that the new regime of King Noel would not forget the debt it owed to the church and the Hralian people. His life story is an example of how intimately intertwined the fortunes of our nations are. He even began the tradition of the annual Hralian Dinner in the Altcollege. Today, this is the annual Breanna Brí dinner, and one of the highlights of the social calendar for anyone in Michaelstown lucky enough to catch an invite.

In more recent times, the exchange of religious missions, and the joint missions ventured into by members of the church from both states, show the commitment we have to our faith together, as one faithful people.

In the recent war, which I shall discuss in more detail later on, we were aware always of the presence of Hralian members of the Red Hexagon, who ran into danger habitually to save the lives of Higgins-Brownite soldiers and civilians. The atrocious bombing of the Central Metropolitan Hospital in Athboi was mitigated against, by an active and quick-responding unit of such volunteers, who saved those they could reach in the worst imaginable conditions.

Though faith is possibly the deepest bond peoples can know, it is not the only facet of our bond. We are of course, related.

This is not simply a historical fact, it is a living reality. Intermigration between our countries has long occurred, in a spirit of partnership and shared responsibility. Families have made their lives on foreign soil, but always we have the nagging feel that the soil is not so foreign at all. My uncle, a great man named Sirius Locke, was born in Montrose and lived there for 15 years, before emigrating to Eros in the county of Pitzjorol. There he met and married my auntie Viola, and they lived in that county until their deaths.

I imagine many of you in this room have similar tales of family members, either who left or arrived on the waves of hope and promise. Let us be truthful, at different times in our histories, this has been the pressure valve to alleviate the national economic condition – both nations have availed of it. It is a mark of true friendship and familial belonging, that we can invite each other into our homes without complaint.

Deeds, as well, link us to one another. We have both fought, and on more occasions come close to fighting, wars against frightening threats. And in many cases, the partnership between our states has been utilised as one of common defence. This is not a formal alliance, nor an unconditional understanding. We knew that in Higgins & Brown before the last war, and we knew it at the time that war started. I want to express today a great appreciation for the many times in our history that Hralia has felt itself able to come to the aid of a threatened Higgins & Brown.

I also want to recognise its legitimate reasons for not doing 5 years ago, at the beginning of our third regrettable war with Algrabad. Though we cannot, and will not, accept any narrative that paints us as the aggressors in that conflict, and though we cannot accept that any of Algrabad’s goals in that war were legitimate or forgivable, we can see the difficulty that honest and decent peoples, like the people of Hralia, were faced with, with the prospect of a combined UNCA force attacking at will its enemies across the globe. First us, and then Zanzes and Nui-ta.

It is telling that the war was eventually ended after the assistance from the major powers, Radiatia and Nui-ta. It is telling also that the war was ended by way of a transaction, between the then-government, and the nation of Segland. The matrix of alliances and interests was always more complex than Nui-Ra and UNCA, or Blue and Red Noctur.

I would like to recognise, however, the forceful opinions of Prime Minister Daivid, that all help be sent our way.

Despite this, I wish to be clear about this matter. Higgins & Brown does not seek to build a common defence alliance at this time. That conversation is one that our people’s and nations may need to have, but it is not a conversation for today.

Today, we are rebuilding our nation, in the shadow of a peace that looks like it will hold, but will remain a harsh tundra upon which our country will need to feed itself. It is bread and work we need the most.

I therefore have had constructive preliminary talks with the Prime Minister this morning. We will have more talks later today, and in the coming days. These are trade discussions that I am sure the whole of Higgins & Brown, and the whole of Hralia, can find benefit in. These are not defence talks.

They are also not talks about subsidies, loans, or anything else.

Higgins & Brown is not a basket case. By all measures, we are booming. We will be a great customer for your industries, and a great producer in return. There is much that our two states can gain from one another, in the resumption of entirely tariff free trade, and the suspension of lengthy customs processes between our two states.

Higgins & Brown is not in need of aid; we are in need of solid trading partners. Partners in prosperity, as well as peace.

It is my hope that my government can agree these arrangements with the Confederal government on this trip, that we can present a proposal to our respective parliaments, and that support may be found there for a new dawn in our bilateral relations.

Once again I extend my thanks for the honour of having been called to address you here today. This visit will take me to all of the nations of the Hralian confederacy, and I am thoroughly looking forward to seeing this great land over the coming days. If the reception in the rest of the country is as good as it has been here since yesterday, and the people as friendly, and welcoming, and understanding, as the people I have met so far, I will have nothing but the highest praise for you and yours, to report upon my return.

I will end now with an invocation that it is unusual to hear a Higgins-Brownite President make in an official capacity. I believe however, that in this instance, it is not only justified – for it always is justified – but also so appropriate, as both a signal of our intent, and as a symbol of our shared history. I ask only that you share with me in the traditional response, which you will all know.

I finish then with a commitment. It goes as follows:

I wish and work for diminished demise in my works.

Whereupon the assembled responded: We will wish and work with you.

Later in the Day, the Joint Sitting debated a Motion in reply to the State Address. A Motion in Reply was passed without a vote.


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Nui-ta
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Moralistic Democracy

Howl

Postby Nui-ta » Thu May 10, 2018 1:44 am

The fabric of your flesh, pure as a wedding dress. Until I wrap myself inside your arms I cannot rest.
-Florence and the Machine, "Howl"





Snow drifted from rooftop to rooftop, carried by the wind. Amidst the soft whistling of the wind, there was distant music playing very faintly. Anonymous faces walked through the streets of this indistinct Arthurian town, each engrossed with their own journeys like individual stars in various orbits.

One such face wandered out along the street from a nondescript domicile as the evening began to fade into night. In the quiet of the night --- in the darkness and the stillness --- fewer people paid attention. Thus, this particular face lumbered shyly along the sidewalk, taking in the scenery. Many people saw the tall giant of a Hadinian man walking around --- few knew him now for what he really was.

And that was just the way he wanted it.

It was very different here than in Hadin, he mused to himself. For starters, the weather patterns were completely foreign. Many people from Hadin complained about the cold. Before Arthuria, many Hadinians had thought that a cold day was about 15 degrees Celsius. For them, Arthuria was a rude awakening. For Hans Sebastino, the cold was heaven incarnate. He'd always been a warm-natured person, and the cold was a pleasant relief for a man who found the heat difficult to tolerate.

The cool breeze was wonderful against his face. He reached the corner of the sidewalk, where a four-way intersection lay. To his left and straight ahead were cross-walks. Behind him was where he had come from, and to his right was the turn of the sidewalk and a tiny corner-store. This was only good for candy, newspapers, and the occasional trinket.

The corner-store was run by another Hadinian immigrant. This one was an older woman by the name of Sabine Nagi. Hans had come by frequently, mostly for cigarettes, and infrequently for aspirin or a new lighter. People left Hadin for all sorts of reasons: from what little Hans could read of Sabine, she was a military woman in her youth. The Theocracy's rise had not looked kindly upon women of a strong nature. Of course, this was just speculation. He'd never talked to her personally outside of anything related to his purchases.

She knew him enough by now to see him and immediately pull his brand of cigarettes from the back shelf. A blue box, of the larger size. The fact that Hadin allowed Arthuria to import the Haliti brand was a relief for Hans, who hadn't looked forward to changing brand. Changing from the red box to the blues was enough.

The music that was drifting down the street was emanating from her store. There was a speaker hooked up to a ZPod, which was the source of the music. The previous song ended. A new song began to play.

"Haliti Lights?" Sabine said, holding up the box in question. Hans smiled shyly, nodded, and produced his wallet. For this simple purpose, his pocket money was enough. He produced a 13 Aurar in various note and coin denominations. A moment later, Sabine handed him his change, the cigarette box, and a small paper receipt.

She smiled at him, and then she spoke.

"I know what it is that brought you here," she chuckled.

He blinked wordlessly, and blushed shyly. "Si, ami?"1 Hans often surprised people with his mannerisms. Despite being a large, muscular Hadinian man on the cusp of 30, he was actually incredibly shy. Bookish. Secretive, in so far as to the contents of his own heart and mind. For people like Hans, it was often safer in Hadin to be alone.

"You smoke lights openly. You must be gay".

Hans stared at Sabine for a moment in sheer disbelief before laughing. Indeed, it was a stereotype in Hadin that only hippies, wimps, and fags smoked lights. Ultra-lights were even worse, only remaining on the market in Hadin as the cigarette brand of choice for women. Despite the stereotype, Hans did prefer lights --- but only because he'd smoked full-flavored cigarettes constantly during his conscription, and gotten tired of the flavor.

It was a stupid stereotype, but Hans couldn't help the coincidence that he happened to fit it.

"You got me," he chuckled, rolling his eyes. She smiled at him.

"You ever been to the bar down the road from here?" She began writing the address on a scrap piece of paper. "Nice place. Boys like you can act a bit freer there. Who knows, you might even find someone you like?"

Hans suddenly paled a bit. Distant memories flashed in his mind. His mind went blank as the singer hit the final bridge. The saints can't help me now, the ropes have been unbound. I hunt for you with bloodied feet against the hallowed ground. Suddenly he felt himself choke up a bit.

She recognized what was happening immediately, even though she didn't know why. Promptly, she ripped up the paper.

"Forget I said anything friend. I'm sorry."

He snapped out of it. "Y-yeah. No. It's fine..."

He turned away. "If you'll excuse me," he said shyly. She couldn't object in the split-second it took for him to dart out of the corner-store, back the way he came. He progressed back towards his home, but he did not stop. Now, he was walking the other way. The music from the corner store was fading away. He noticed a passing officer of the law making his rounds as the night set in around the neighborhood.

In some regards, it was just like Hadin. In some regards, it wasn't. In Hadin the police were openly armed. The Arthurian police did not seem to be so obviously intimidating. Somehow, the law enforcement of both nations made him nervous, even though he knew he had nothing to fear in Arthuria. Perhaps it was just an old mentality that wouldn't leave him.

The wind progressed a bit in speed. Gentle whistles began to turn into sharp howls. The cold made the ring on his right hand sting against his skin: he wasn't wearing gloves.

He turned around and started to head for home, fumbling through his pockets for a lighter. He planned to have a smoke as soon as the door was closed. His hands were shaking a bit.

Two more Hadinians passed him as he got close to his home, and Hans could feel his joints stiffen a bit. He obviously had this person's attention: a generic Hadinian couple, throwing snowballs at each other as they headed home. The male among them turned and shouted something.

"Non est bon esse libera, ami?"2

Hans nodded quietly and continued along his way. The wind continued to howl. A few minutes later, he made it inside and opened the door to his home. Since his arrival here, he'd furnished the place a bit, buying a bit more furniture. He'd left his bedroom door closed during his interview with a famous Arthurian journalist, mainly because he didn't want her to see that he had been sleeping on the floor.

As soon as the door was secure, Hans popped a cigarette into his mouth and cupped one hand around the end which he was lighting. There was no wind in the apartment, no breeze, and yet this was habit. A puff of cigarette smoke was released a moment later, and so was his stress.

To a person who has never heard a sound before in their lives, the first sound is deafening. For a person who was once color-blind, or blind at all the first clear glimpse is a disorienting explosion. So to was the concept of freedom an ear-shattering howl to a person accustomed to the silence of a guarded life.

He was finally free, and he wasn't even sure how to use that freedom. There was no more covering his tracks about his homosexuality or his covert dealings in government secrets --- yet perhaps that secrecy had lessened the shock to the system. Now that he was here and free, every stimulus was an unrecognizable event. Where his body once told him to run, now there was no reason, and yet...

Order and organization helped him stay focused, so he began to search the notes pinned to his cork-board. Several new additions had been made since the reporter, Ms. Trausti, had been in. Many notes were gone. Strangely, he had not remembered to get eggs, but wasn't feeling up to making another trip outside.

His eyes fixed on one of the photos on the cork-board. Another Hadinian man. The one for whom he wore the ring. The one whose last name Hans had taken, distancing himself from the name "Yarringsen" forever. Rufus had been dead now for over three years, and how the Hass government never found out about Hans as well was mind-boggling. At least with Fiete Nikastro in power, there was a decent possibility that Rufus would have just been committed to an asylum somewhere, and as bad as that was, it wasn't this.

The possibilities flooded his mind for a bit. Maybe only a minute. Maybe several hours. Time was an illusion amidst his grief. One rational thought stood out among all the chaos: if Rufus was still alive, Hans would not have come to Arthuria. If Rufus were alive, it was doubtful that Hans would have thrown himself into the business of TrickiLeaks as much as he had.

TrickiLeaks did, by all means, fulfill his genuine desire for transparency. He would have been a whistle-blower either way, he knew....but not like this, if Rufus were alive. At least it gave him something meaningful to do. Drinking himself to death made the time go by just as fast, but it wasn't as useful to others.

He glanced over the various sticky-notes again, and then started looking through newer documents he'd acquired through his sources. There were things there about Higgins and Brown's Tadman territory. Radiatia and the remnants of R-SOD. The Hadinian Liberation Front attempting to eek out an existence under a High-Envoy who did not tolerate them like Nico Hass did...

He picked up one file out of the bunch. Time to get to work.




1 The word "ami" is a non-specific, polite term of address for someone you do not know who does not hold any particular authority. It can translate to a variety of English words depending on context.

2 Translates roughly to: "Ain't it good to be free, brother?"
Someone cares? Okay then. Economic Left/Right: -2.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -1.85

INFP-T personality, quite heavy on the I,P, and T.

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Higgins and Brown
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On the Merits of International Trade and Cooperation

Postby Higgins and Brown » Thu May 10, 2018 6:40 am

Guest Address by President Locke of Higgins & Brown to the Annual Dinner of the Perfford Stock Exchange (PSX) in Perfford, in the Republic of Perfendalia, in the Confederacy of Hrala
The Minutes of the 63rd Meeting of the Honourable Society of Traders and Brokers of the Perfford Stock Exchange, known as the PSX Annual Dinner


Text of the Speech given by the President of the Independent Republic of Higgins & Brown, Mr. Ívor Locke, on the occasion of his state visit to Hralia in the autumn of 179IE


President of Higgins & Brown, Mr. Ívor Locke, entitled, "On the Merits of International Trade and Cooperation"
Mr. Honourary President, Chancellor, Vice-Chancellors, Members of the Committee, Members, Donors and … journalists…

Thank you for that welcome.

This is the last night of my trip through Hralia, ending in the sharply independent and fiercely competitive nation of Perfendalia. I have seen the great city of Perfford today in all of its magnificence. A great trading port that has stepped back from the water and built to the sky; once a cauldron of industry, now a great server of financial services and the markets.

To a military man like myself, I must confess that I’m not all that aware of what many of you get up to in those glass towers, or what it is you shout at each other on the trading floor, of if even, I am confusing you for someone else entirely. I don’t know, maybe you are all shop stewards for the banking staff. The important thing is… I simply don’t know.

Not many leaders would admit to not knowing about something. But it would be absurd really, given my career to date. My most intense interaction with a bank to date has been my foiled attempt 20 or so years ago to get a house loan. In the end my wife got it… something about a better credit rating. Yes, there was a time when we thought Higgins & Brown wouldn’t have much need of military officers like myself, and our salaries reflected that.

But what I do know about, friends – I can call you friends, I expect – is wine…

Aha, yes, wine, and war, and military hardware. I brought some wine with me on this trip, to give to various people I would meet. The best bottles came from the best Burán orchards in Bur. The President of Perfendalia got one. The other Kings and Queens got some. His Gracious Majesty, the Lord Protector, got 5! And Sir Malcolm Daivid took 5, though I can’t remember offering them.

Indeed, it was a great mark of seniority not to be offered one of the bottles that came from my own vineyard – Locke’s Own Swill! But I brought enough for many of the dignitaries and friends I would meet.

I err… didn’t bring any weapons. And I didn’t bring war. As I stated at the Confederal Parliament at the beginning of my trip, I do not come to Hralia with war in mind. I come only with trade in mind.

Yes, trade. I know about trade. I might not know about banking, or financial services, or the millions of little trades you do in the Exchange on any given weekday, but I know about trade. I know about books, baskets, cars, computers and industrial machinery – the things that are sailed between our nations at present. I know about tariffs, which are applied to those goods. I know about specialisation, and how economies must select those things they are good and efficient at doing themselves, and those things it is cheapest and fairest to buy in from abroad.

And I know about friends. I know how Perfendalians treat their friends, and I know from the wine on offer tonight – which is imported from Higgins & Brown – that you like to be treated well yourselves.

And that is why, if I can be a little more serious for a moment, I am very happy to make some announcements on the fruits of our labours this week. The Prime Minister and his Ministers, and officials, have met with me, and my Commissioners, countless times and at all hours over the course of the trip. I can only pay tribute to my Commissioner for Trade and Economic Planning, and my Chief Commissioner, Todd Morde, who accompanied me here. I can’t say enough, either, about the commitment and work ethic of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and their cabinet colleagues and advisors.

We will be announcing the details, in the coming days, of a tariff and barrier-free customs arrangement between our two countries. We will announce a Trading Tax Union, that will allow us to harmonise any tariffs we place on outside competitors. This will be good for Higgins & Brown. It will be great for Higgins & Brown. It will be fantastic for Hralia.

In fact, let me be clear, it is something Hralia will benefit from in spades. I know, and you all know, that Higgins & Brown has already defied the odds. Our economy is booming in the postwar recovery period. This has happened on my watch, and I intend for it to continue much longer. Hralia can now be a part of the intensely efficient, hardworking and streamlining economic revolution that is going on in our country.

We are rebuilding Athboi quicker than any thought possible. The port city of Colgerugh trades once more, and people are queuing up to buy there. The gateway to Karas, Tabertra, has reinstated its trading apparatus, and launched an I.T. industrial regeneration! Unemployment is down, productivity and incomes are up!

Do not misunderstand me, we are a recovering, war-torn nation. There are physical and mental scars that will not heal any time soon. There are jobs and lives, lost forever. But we work together as a nation, to deliver for ourselves and our children.

I said when I took over: we needed a state of emergency. I can now confirm that not only was this the correct decision, it was successful beyond our wildest dreams. We remain in that emergency situation. Our troubles are not over, even if we are performing remarkably well.

We have internal refugees who need housing. We have a new border, with Tadnam, that needs to be secure and safe. We have a military that needs its might to be replenished. And we have a national pride that needs to be restored.

This is an emergency that goes to the heart of our survival, as much as any actual combat might have ever done. We need certainty in these dark times. Certainty as to our own survival. Certainty that our post-war economic miracle is not merely a flash in the pan, born out of a momentary patriotic fervour. Industry needs certainty, too. Commerce needs certainty, and reliability. Therefore, to be reliable, and to be certain about our future, is a minimum requirement for surviving as a modern, developed, and safe nation.

For you too, our economic partners. Certainty is the necessity of all business dealings. No state can expect its economy to survive if it changes the rules all the time, or if it allows vested interests to block straightforward transactions and projects.

That is why, today, I have expanded the competences of the Internal State Intelligence Agency and State Emergency Intelligence Agencies to include economic matters. That is to say, to prevent the economic terrorism, that could so coldly and suddenly quieten your market floors, your glass towers, and the engines of the ships that sail between our two great states.

Trust me, that is going to benefit all of us in this room, more than we can even conceive.

I would like now to offer a toast to your great society for hosting me today. The Host is to your Honourary President, who I am told has served in that capacity for the same length of time that 5 different Presidents have held office in my nation. He is a bedrock of certainty for your society. I seek only the same for my country.

To Mr Caymun Carthur, Honourary President of the Honourable Society of Traders and Brokers of the Perfford Stock Exchange! May he be one with the world

The audience responding: To Caymun Carthur! May he be one with the World!

Following which, the President was toasted by Mr. Carthur.
Last edited by Higgins and Brown on Thu May 10, 2018 9:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Of Nobs and Nobility

Postby Higgins and Brown » Tue May 15, 2018 5:41 am

”Higgins & Brown’s complex constitutional relationships extend beyond the corridors of national power, and into the regions and territories. There are 18 regions, ordinary parts of the nation. There were once 4, and now just 2, ‘incorporated territories’, which are special areas, with more autonomy to do their own thing, due to their ethnic makeup. Then there are the 4 ‘unincorporated territories’. Island territories that have, due to varying accidents of history, remained outside the nation of Higgins & Brown, but in need of its general protection.

One such territory is the Duchy of Keni, a small island off the southern tip of Higgins, inhabited by a few thousand Kenians, living under the rule of the last noble in these parts, the Duke of Keni.

They escaped the general destruction of the system of noble titles and privileges over 100 years ago for principally three reasons: (1) They are not accountable to the state of Higgins & Brown (2) Keni is too small for anyone to care about anyway, and (3) Even the leftist dogmatists who brought about the reorganisation of society in those years, felt a romantic fondness for the Duchy of Keni, and all of its eccentricities.

The island is almost entirely agricultural, and is colder than anywhere else in Higgins & Brown (excluding the mountains). This gives rise to a relatively gruff and hardy people – although really this is also due to their isolation and propensity for marrying the least ugly of their cousins.

What is there to do here? There are great views, some nice pubs, and endless fields into which you might accidentally wander, but which are entirely out of bounds by decision of the mad owner, who owns two shotguns and a shillelagh. You can buy your own shillelagh if you want a tourist’s souvenir. Watch out though, because the locals make their own, and they make sure the end weighs enough to crack a skull in one blow. Your one won’t have that feature.

If you come across a man walking his alpacas, he is the man in charge. Literally. The 27th Duke of Keni still picks the government around here, but by most accounts is a fairly normal bloke, if incredibly rich by local standards - and the owner of a number of alpacas. They are native to Set territory and some other areas of Higgins, but most people don't make pets out of them.”

- Lonely Guide to Higgins & Brown section on Keni.



“Papers, your grace.”

His Grace Jarlath Harram, 27th Duke of Keni, looked up from his copy of In the Long Grass of Autumn, which he was re-reading only half-heartedly, to study the brown hardwood suitcase that was now plonked on his desk by his personal secretary, Patrick, from whom he now asked for a cup of coffee. The mid-morning sun was carrying some light into the dark wood-panelled study.

He opened the case and proceeded to judge the size of the pile that awaited him; it was arranged by someone from the government in order of importance, for his attention. The first item was a professionally presented report from the island’s Codenor in Michaelstown. A yellow sticky label on the front said “No Change on Wool / Govt”, and that told him that the contents were entirely avoidable. He signed ‘DK’ on the front page and set it on the desk, on its front.

Next was a memo with a purple stamp on the front, in calligraphic font, reading URGENT. This revealed it to have been sent by the insufferable Sherriff. Below that, he saw another memo with FYI stamped, this time in sensible black ink, bold font. The crest at the top of the 2nd memo revealed it to have been sent by the island’s part-time Chief Justice – it was the headed paper from the pub he was landlord of.

He picked up the first of the memos to peruse its contents. The worst land dispute to fall upon his government in the last 2 decades had developed further. Mr. Emmet Shélds had apparently been driven to action, or so the rumours down The Staff & Shillelagh had led the sherriff to believe. This had been a most vexing problem for the authorities since Shélds had first written a personal letter to the Duke, complaining of the ‘malicious pissing’ of the sons of his neighbours, the Pitzdereks, against the stone boundary wall between their lands.

That had been 3 seasons ago, and things had ebbed and flowed since then without much end in sight, much like the alleged river of piss.

The Sherriff’s update rather officiously declared that he had become aware of a potentially hazardous situation – that Shélds had installed an electric wire, and wound it through the stone. The Sherriff’s overbearing verbiage included some concern that Shélds might be liable for damages, or even criminal offence, if anyone should be injured. The memo ended with a ‘plea’ for the Duke to immediately issue a warrant for the clearance of the wall, and the erection of a concrete structure in its place, in the interest of public safety.

The Pitzderek boys were strong and hard working farm hands to lent their labours to others regularly, but they were widely viewed with distaste due to personal hygiene failings (which, on Keni, was saying something) and their general manner. The prospect of them being the subject of a prosecution against old mad Shélds made the Duke most anxious. He would never hear the end of it in his own pub of choice, The King’s Rod. Peace in the pub was not the no.1 government priority in Keni, but it was consistently a top ten concern.


Happily, the Duke’s mild alarm was calmed somewhat by the 2nd memo. Jer, the Chief Justice, had some choice words for ‘those Pitzderek lads’, and his memo was swift assurance that no case against ‘the mad old git’ would go to trial on his watch. Jer’s own regulars at The Staff may have influenced his thinking on that.

The Duke relaxed somewhat as Patrick brought in the coffee. He signed both memos and in both cases, he added the note ‘courtesy reply’ to the top of the page, before adding them upside down to the outgoing pile.

He turned to his study window to watch the alpacas in the garden, fighting over the latest supply of leftover vegetables.

Returning to the case he gasped in fatherly despair at the fourth item on the little pile. There, in a clear plastic wallet, sealed with a white label that said MISPLACED PERSONAL, was a pink envelope that had been opened and then taped up. The address was written in green ink, and read,
Urgent
Duke of Keni (Daddy)
Government of Keni
Keni Island
Fransisca


There were three things to baulk at there alone, but the fact that the envelope was pink had told him immediately that the sender was his daughter, Eleanora.

The Duke’s two regrets about sending his daughter to the boarding school in Columbanus (west Higgins) were (1) that she was so far away for so long, and (2) that she came back with a horrible personality. She had picked up the habits of the mainland elite – children of bankers and developers, industrialists and so on. ‘Daddy’ was an immaturity she would never had indulged in had she grown up at home. ‘Fransisca’ was simultaneously a confusing political point about the name ‘Higgins’, and also a sort of endorsement of colonial claim on the island of Keni. A postal worker had crossed the word out. Whether in protest at its use, or protest at the suggestion Keni was a part of either Higgins or Fransisca, or because it was factually incorrect and this would cause it to be misplaced, he couldn't be sure. Yes, even if he hadn’t been tipped off by the pink envelope and the word ‘Daddy’, the mix of protest and ignorance that had produced the word ‘Fransisca’ told him immediately that this letter came from his middle child, Eleanora – whom he loved a lot, it should be said.

Once again she had addressed the letter to the government of Keni, so that the meddling secretary to the Chief Minister couldn’t resist herself from opening it. For reasons best known to the type of family that sent their kids to the same boarding school as Eleanora,
She seemed to believe that a demand for an outrageous sum of money was best made through the biggest gossip on the island.

By this foreign reasoning, he would be embarrassed into handing out the cash as if it were of no consequence, in order to protect the family reputation and by extension the reputation of Keni. Unlikely, he thought. The islanders were not known to respect wasteful expenditures, egotistical purchases or public indications of wealth. Heck, if he were to start making obvious shows with his money, they’d probably up the price of a pint in The Rod just for him, to serve him right.

The contents of the letter only confirmed his suspicions. The rent on the apartment in Tithatribali was set to unexpectedly rise, and Eleanora would need a small loan to cover it, until she could increase ‘profits at the shop’.

The shop made no profits, he knew that. The girl’s fraction of financial independence to date had been granted unto her by an opportunistic boyfriend in the stock broking game. He had hoped for her hand and a title of his own, but even she found him distasteful, after taking his advice on stocks of course. On paper, the shop sold whimsical oddities and strange spiritually cleansing instruments. He had once heard (at the pub) about a police intervention during a loud party in the early hours.

The letter also contained some scant details about an upcoming trip around the world, and a 2nd request for money – this to be dressed up as a birthday present. Unless the cosmopolitan hipsters routinely celebrated their birthdays 4 or so months in advance, this was an entirely tenuous request.

He threw the letter into his private correspondence box, and gawped at the next item from the Chief Minister’s office. The assistant, Maura, had sent him a magazine with the letter. At first he thought it was a travel magazine, but he soon discovered the true reason for it being there.

It’s title was Superior Circulation, with the subheading, News of Noctur’s Upper Crust. A number of headings occupied the left and right of the front page, promising details of the lives and scandals of variously titled nobles and hedge-fund kids. The front cover was mostly devoted, however, to the “Most Eligible Bachelor in Noctur”, the now-crowned Serene Prince Johan VI of Corinis.

A little sticky note on the front, “Would she like him? M.”

The Duke chuckled and threw the magazine into his personal correspondence pile as well, not actually dismissing the vague possibility from his mind.
That afternoon as he prepared to leave for The Staff, he thought better of the book he’d been reading, and took the magazine instead. He might do some reading up on the ‘most eligible bachelor’.

Some time later, he sat with his brown ale in front of him, on a sticky table in “Throne Room” – that corner of the Staff’s main vault sardonically named due to his propensity for occupying it, and which was frequently left free for him at this time of day, out of a respect that went unspoken by fellow islanders

The magazine was of the shamelessly elite variety. Its indicated price was 75.75 Privileges, an absurd amount. The price in other currencies was similarly iconic: 65.65 Had, or 60.60 Tsenyens. He saw that the price in Corinis was 233.33 Teilers, and (presumably for show), it mentioned Rango Mango only to say “Not Available” beside it. Inside the front cover was an advertisement for a tiara that cost more than most houses on Keni.

He took stock of this young man who had ascended to the throne in some far-off land. All the analysis was rife with speculation as to where he would search for his wife. In keeping with the character of the publication, the speculation concerned not the personality, temperment or even relationship of the would-be Grand Duchess. More important was stock, breeding, titles, lands and holdings, that sort of thing. The piece noted that Johan VI wanted not for money, but would have an obvious need for a woman of rank. The Duke chuckled at the thought of Eleanora and this world leader.

He took a swig of the brown stuff, and when the glass parted from his lips, it left behind a thick layer of tan-coloured foam on his upper lip, which immediately infused with his grey moustache. He saw Ralph Berns ambling over.

“What’re you reading today Your Grace?” he asked, and then, seeing the magazine on the table, “Oh, looking to marry one of them off?”

Wiping his moustache clean and unable to answer in that instant, the Duke couldn’t stop the conversation before it started.

“Not a bad idea, not bad at all. What can I get you Ralph?” shouted the barmaid from across the vault.

“I reckon it would do us some good as well. Pint of plain, Barbara.” responded Ralph.

Jarlath attempted a reply, but was interrupted. “I was just reading it for amusement, to be hon-“

“Marrying that lad Johan? Great idea!” it was another patron, sitting in the opposite corner. Jarlath knew him as a Bucknall twin, but couldn’t see which one. “That Eleanora never could sit still around these parts. Better to let her spread her wings.”

“And get access to some of that Corinisian cash. If she’s feeling homesick. A bit of investment with the Harram name on it!” said Barbara.

“Is it Corinisian?” asked Ralph.

“Sorry, lads, I’m not-” but again Jarlath was interrupted.

“No need to force it on her, but I bet she’d fit the bill, for that nice fine prince” this was Bernie, the island’s longest serving doctor, on her 4th gin and tonic by the look of things.

“I think Corinian,” stated the Bucknall twin, with all the authority that he had just rudely applied to Eleanora’s character.

The Duke stood up and attempted to use his ‘Head of State voice’, usually reserved for the annual meeting of the Thing. “Excuse me, I’m trying to have a quiet-”

“Ooh, he doesn’t like it does he!” interrupted Barbara, with all the reverence for her Duke that a cat might have for its minder. “Kids growing up and marrying foreigners. No dad’d be in to that.”

And on and on it went, and he was helpless until he joined in the conversation properly. After 4 more pints, he was coming around to the idea, and his brisk if not entirely straightforward walk home was spent on the phone to Eleanora, asking her if she’d like some money to go to Corinis as part of her world trip.
Last edited by Higgins and Brown on Tue May 15, 2018 9:04 am, edited 3 times in total.

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The Arthurian Isles
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Ex-Nation

Postby The Arthurian Isles » Sat Jun 16, 2018 8:03 am

Image



On Difficult Choices



Forsvaren Makt - Arthuria's Self-Defence Forces - ensure that they are prepared for as many situations as they can predict by running regular drills. The most famous are the annual Repulse exercises, conducted by all four branches of the armed forces and based around a variety of invasion scenarios. But one exercise, which takes place monthly, is known of only within a select circle of military and political offices. It is called Exercise Telemark. Its premise is simple: if an aircraft is seized by hostile parties (or 'hijacked') and used as a weapon against Arthuria, then the country must be willing to defend itself at a moment's notice. During the exercise, military commanders contact a designated member of the Storting and, giving them as much information as they can, await the Stormaður's decision on whether and when to shoot down the hijacked aircraft. That Stormaður is known as the 'decider'. On 26 Forlit according to the Arthurian calendar, it is Andriður Jonsen's turn to take on that responsibility.

***


The Café Orientale was one of the oldest in Vestmanaeyjar. It had first opened its doors over two hundred years prior, when foreigners were setting foot in Arthuria for the first time, aping the decadent styles of far richer countries. As with so many imports to the little country, though, the café had imbibed local custom until it was no longer a bastion of internationalism so much as a fusion of global styles and staid Arthurian tradition. Nowadays, it served as a haunt for those who worked in the centre of the capital, serving up simple versions of Poldanian and Conpatrian cuisine and marketing itself as the place to go for authentic coffee - a risky strategy in a country wedded so strongly to its tea culture. The atmosphere was exciting, then. The decor was the same as it had been centuries ago, replete with ornate plaster carvings along the walls and ceiling and grand romanticist artwork gilded in gold frames. The tables were laid with fine silverware and art deco lamps which shone a deep orange, illuminating the red of the walls and generally contributing to a sense of warmth which was oh so inviting in Arthuria's cold wintery months. The dishes, despite their culinary modernity, were served on quaint little plates, and the coffee sets were more fin-de-siecle than 21st century. But it was all a welcome break from the minimalism and sterility of so many eateries in this part of the capital. And so, between the chinking of cutlery on chintz plates, hearty conversation and merry laughter filled the room. Waiting staff moved constantly but elegantly between the tables, a manifestation of their experience, and frequently threw smiles away to the regulars whom they recognised.

The whole scene could be viewed from outside through a facade of floor-to-ceiling windows, punctuated with dark iron pillars whose base and capital were both painted gold and forged into the shape of ornate feathers. At the top, those feathers fanned out into arches which framed the top of the windows and gave way to the typical dark grey stonework of Vestmanaeyjar. Along the glass was signage painted in - yet again - gold, which announced that the Café Orientale served coffee, tea, pastries, cakes, and exotic delicacies from around the world. It was a welcoming invitation for those who walked on by. At this time of the year they were trudging through the snow in their winter fashion; human frames were made bulky by thick jumpers, woollen coats and knitted scarfs. Compared to the rest of the shops along this particular street, the café exuded a warmth irresistible to some. Passers-by frequently stopped, looked in at the happy diners, and decided to head in themselves. Their coats were taken by waiters who still wore the traditional uniform of their trade: black waistcoats, trousers and aprons with a white shirt, and red ties for a splash of colour. Once inside, the smell of coffee mingled with that of fresh-baked bread. The whole experience was truly a relief from the typical Arthurian life which was, by contrast, bleakly austere.

Just off from the centre of the room, underneath one of the chandeliers whose crystals reflected light in so many beautiful ways, was Andriður - or Andri, as he was almost-universally known. He did not look like the sort of politician found across the rest of Noctur. Yes, he wore smart shoes and suit trousers, but he had eschewed a shirt-and-tie in favour of a neat Fairisle jumper whose sleeves he had rolled up to his elbows. Without a collar, the muscles in his neck and shoulders were noticeable (he had been a member of his university rowing team in his youth, and kept up an appropriate exercise regimen to this day). Around the back of his chair was a brown leather satchel. He sat in a manner seemingly both relaxed and alert - though he leant back into his chair, his hands were clasped together on the table. In front of him, a simple cup of Gyokuro green tea; just because he enjoyed the atmosphere of the Café Orientale, it did not mean that he was obliged to drink their coffee.

Opposite him was Ems Skargard, his colleague in the Storting and all-around friend. She was younger than Andri, whose dark hair was by now starting to turn grey around the ears. She was also younger than any other Stormaður. Her blond hair was cut short, curling up just above the shoulders, and she wore a subtle shade of lipstick (unlike many older Arthurian women who did not go in for the stuff at all). She too was dressed more casually than would be expected for a politician, in a cable knit jumper, black jeans and sturdy boots idea for the winter months. She also sat more casually, leaning further back in her seat than Andri and folding her arms whenever she was not taking a sip of her coffee. She was not, however, cold or closed off. Far from it, her face shone with a toothy smile and seemed to exude friendliness. It was one reason why she had risen so quickly in Arthurian politics, and made so many friends in its halls of power (the other reason had been her capability - Ems was both competent and knowledgeable, traits which were hard to beat when it came down to it).

"What do you think about Sten, then?" She said, taking the opportunity for another sip of coffee.

Andri raised his eyebrows. The corner of his mouth curled into a half-suppressed smile. "I wonder why you're asking me that."

"Because I know your party has a lot to gain from his entering politics." Ems winked at Andri, a twinkle in her eye. She was playful - mischievous, even - and liked to use her youthful self-confidence to throw her older, more collected colleagues off kilter. It worked in most cases, but Andri was a nut she could not seem to crack. As shy and respectful of social formalities as he seemed at first, hidden beneath was a man sure of himself and his convictions. With foundations as strong as those, he was hard to shake.

"I hate to disabuse you of that notion, but I fear quite the opposite." He responded, looking down at his tea as he did so.

"And why is that?"

"Sten Marsen is a strong character. He takes advantage of his position outside of politics to say precisely what he wants about the state of the country. And while he may appear to align with my party on most issues, there are some where he has come out firmly in opposition to our policies."

"So." Ems shrugged. "I'm sure you can make some deals with him, were he to run for office."

Andri chuckled to himself. "Like I said, he's a strong character and he has a big ego. That only grows as the public comes to support him more and more. I worry that he won't be able to be held by any of the parties at present. I worry that he'll make his own party, and split the votes of the centrists."

"Aha. So he's a threat." Ems smiled again, as wide as always.

"To you as well, I would imagine."

"Yes, I suppose so. He's taking a few from the more centrist side of Vinsten Bund. But in the medium-term I don't think there's much cause for concern."

Andri raised an eyebrow, soliciting an explanation from Ems. She, in turn, raised both of her eyebrows, as if accusing Andri of missing the obvious. After a couple of seconds of this silent communication, she eventually sighed and leant into the middle of the table to spell it out for him.

"The same parties have held power in the Folkting and the Storting - admittedly in different configurations - for the past century-and-a-half. We've outlasted fads and, thanks to our constitution and political system, we've outlasted individuals. Sten might be a smooth orator, but the issues he raises and the solutions he proffers aren't new. They're repeated in some form or other by each of the parties in the Folkting. That's the beauty of having a multi-party democracy: there's always an established party out there which can represent your views. So there's no need for Sten, not as an individual at least." She leant back again, picking up her coffee. "No, I reckon he'll be voted in at the next election. But he won't have a party behind him - either because he realises he'll perform best within the traditional party structure, or because the public won't vote for any Folkmaður under a new party which he might try to establish. By the election after that, he'll have been conditioned by the necessities of politics, such that he'll be a powerful leader, but a leader for a party which knows what it's doing." S

Ems sipped from her coffee and placed it back down. "Incidentally," she continued, "that's also why I think he'll be a huge boon to your party, eventually."

Andri nodded, thinking it through over a deep sip of his tea. He stared down and to the left, mulling the argument over in his head. "I suppose you have a point. I had imagined the..."

He was cut off by a ring from his pocket. He looked almost surprised, and then briefly annoyed. When he pulled out two phones, that expression changed once again to shock. One of those phones was his own, a typical smartphone as seen anywhere else in the country these days. The other was older, looking more like a walkie-talkie. It was bulky, surrounded in a rubberised case and with a dial pad rather than a touch screen. It was this phone which was ringing.

"Damn. It's Ex Telemark. Excuse me, Ems, I'll be back shortly." Andri left in a rush, heading for the toilets and leaving behind his colleague. She simply shrugged, carried on drinking her coffee, took out her own phone and began to browse the latest news.

***


The toilets of the Café Orientale were as extravagant as the rest of the establishment. Both the counter-top into which the basins were sunk and the floor were marble, the former white and the latter red. The taps were, as with so much here, gold. Framed art deco posters hung around the walls. Eight stalls were lined up along one of the walls, their doors and partitions crafted from some exotic dark wood and carved with beautiful designs. The air smelled like lavender. They might as well have served the diners in here, for it seemed as clean as the rest of the place.

By the time Andri entered, he had broken into a jog. The phone was still ringing in his hand. He rushed into one of the stalls and slammed the door shut, locking it and leaning with his back up against the partition. He accepted the call and placed the phone up to his ear.

"This is Andriður Jonsen."

A woman's voice responded down the line. It was calm and confident. Everything she said seemed to be as per some script, as was the case with the military, especially when they were briefing those outside of their unique world. In the background, the sound of frenetic activity broke through to Andri. It was to be expected; the call would be coming from one of the air force's sector commands, whose operations room would be abuzz with people taking this exercise just as seriously as Andri was. "Sael, Stormaður. This is Luft Skadronledur1 Helen Søderby."

Her composure did much to calm Andri. Even though he knew it was all a drill, the pressure to perform well and the implications his performance would have for any such situations in the future were weighty. Still, to be talking to someone who at least sounded as though they knew what they were doing was comforting. He stood a little straighter and leaned a little less on the partition. "Hello Helen. What's the situation?"

"We have a possible civilian aircraft which has turned off its transponder and is not talking to any air traffic agencies. Our radar picked up a primary plot on the airliner seven minutes ago, and it entered the National Air Defence Identification Region four minutes ago, to the north-north-west of Vestmanaeyjar, tracking towards the capital. It is not following any approved flight plans and is descending faster than expected for aircraft on that route. We have scrambled quick reaction forces to intercept and identify it. They will merge in approximately two minutes."

Andri recalled the twice-yearly briefing he and the rest of the Storting had received for Exercise Telemark. What did all of this mean again? The aircraft had turned off its transponder so that secondary radar could not receive any information on it, which meant that those in control of it did not want to identify themselves. It was not talking to air traffic agencies, which meant that in breach of aviation rules and could not be contacted to ascertain its intentions. It had entered the NADIR, which meant that if it didn't identify itself it would be perfectly legal for the military to shoot it down, and that urgency was compounded by its location and heading so close to the capital. And if it had deviated from its original flight plan - if it had an original flight plan, that is - then the chances that the pilots of the airline had malevolent motives were high, and made higher by its rapid descent. This was a lot of information for Andri to take in. He needed to frame it within a clear timeline.

"When is it expected to reach Vestmanaeyjar?"

Helen responded as robotically as before. She would have all available information in front of her, and a room full of staff working to get anymore intelligence. "The latest estimate is twelve minutes, Stormaður."

"Right." Andri took a couple of deep breaths and allowed the phone to drop slightly, enough that he could think without the noisy distraction of the operations room coming through on the other end of the line. Now that he had a timeframe, he began to calm down. He recalled his brief for these situations: remain calm, become dispassionate, think of the wider consequences and shut out external distractions. Andri closed his eyes and took another two deep breaths, centring himself in the moment. He had entered the zone, so to speak, such that he did not pay any attention to the sound of the toilet door opening and a fellow customer entering the stall next to him. Its door closed and the lock turned.

When Andri put the phone to his ear again, Helen was there. He had only been off the line for a few seconds. "We have an update, Stormaður." In the background the bustle of the operations room sounded closer, as though reams of new data were being passed to Helen as she spoke. "The quick reaction forces have intercepted the suspect aircraft. It has been confirmed as a civil airliner, a four-engined jet operated by Arthurian Antarctic Express. It appears to be a T332 model. Our fighters have come alongside and are trying to look through its windows as we speak."

"Is anyone there?" Andri asked.

From the stall next to him, the other customer shuffled about. After a couple of seconds, he tentatively called over the partition between him and Andri. He didn't sound uncertain, simply surprised that he had been accosted in the place which is usually the most private of all - the toilet. "Um...yes, I'm here. Are you in need of help"

Andri did not hear him. His full attention was being paid to Helen, who herself was listening directly to the pilots of the interceptors. Any information they gleaned was relayed via their controller, to Helen and then onto Andri. "They can't say for certain, Stormaður. The blinds have been shut along the fuselage and the cockpit windows have been blocked by paper, it seems." She paused for a second. When she continued, her voice was quieter, as though appealing to Andri on a direct level, rather than acting as a simple purveyor of information. "Stormaður, if this is a hijack then we'll need your decision on whether we can engage the airliner before it crosses overland. Do you understand?"

This was one thing for which Andri was fully prepared. He knew what his job entailed. He knew that ultimately, the business of a statesman is to make difficult decisions based not just on personal conviction but also in the interests of the nation, which were a source of moral guidance in and of themselves. If he had to give the order to kill hundreds of passengers in order to save thousands of lives on the ground, then that was something he could do. What would make that decision difficult would be the unexpected complications which arose, factors which could not be determined amid the fog of war.

"Yes." He said.

There was more shuffling from beyond the partition. "Oh, well what kind of help can I offer, friend?" Andri's fellow customer seemed un-phased by this sudden request for in-toilet assistance. Luckily for Andri (or it would be lucky if Andri actually needed his help), the man was kind and willing enough to do what he could for his compatriot.

Unluckily for Andri, the information he was getting from Helen was not illuminating the situation any further. In fact, it appeared to have dried up entirely. "Stormaður, the pilots can do no more. They can't confirm that it's a hijack because they can't get in contact with the cockpit, nor can they see inside. We have managed to find the aircraft's original flight plan, and it appears that it has deviated significantly from it; it was supposed to be heading due south before turning into Fasthaldberg. Instead it's tracking south-east into Vestmanaeyjar. In my opinion, Stormaður, it is likely that the aircraft has been seized and that, judging by its heading and height, it will be used as a weapon against Vestmanaeyjar. However, the heading also correlates with an approach into Køpmanærhavn Airport. The only thing that does not, is its rate of descent, which would fall short of the runway by some kilometres. The decision is yours, Stormaður."

Andri began to breathe slightly more heavily, in through the nose and then out in long gasps through the mouth. The real decision now was not whether this aircraft had been hijacked - he was fairly certain it was - but whether it was intended as a weapon or whether it would simply try to land and ransom off the hostages. Andri was being asked to look into the minds of the hijackers. "Is it always this tough?"

There was a laugh from the stall next door. The friendly stranger had worked out what was going on, or so he thought. "Ah, you must be eating too much fibre my friend. I can't help you with that, but I'll stick this one out with you. You're going to have to keep pushing, OK? I'm with you the whole way."

Helen was far less encouraging. Rather than a well-meaning voice of encouragement from across a partition, she was the mouthpiece of the pressure which was building on Andri. Her job was the elicit a decision from him, and she did so by reminding him of the seriousness of his situation, a situation which was shutting him out from any external distractions. "I'm afraid so, Stormaður. You're going to have to make a decision in the next two minutes. If you do decide that you want us to engage that aircraft, then it could break apart on being hit. If the resultant cone of debris lands over the sea, the effects will be minimal. But if it falls overland..."

"It'll go everywhere." Andri finished her sentence for her. He was cognisant of the facts, facts which were pushing him towards one very clear conclusion.

Amid the stress of that decision and Andri's realisation of the choice he had to make, one voice broke the silence. "That's a risk you're going to have to take, friend." The man in the next stall was confident, calm and collected. He had the trustworthy tones of a man who could have known Andri for decades, and yet he was as reassuring as a mysterious stranger who could have experienced it all. "Believe in yourself. I know I did when I was in your shoes. And remember, just push."

It was nothing like the emotionless voice across the phone, which was itself becoming tinged with hints of stress. "Exactly, Stormaður. What's your decision?"

Andri stood up, no longer leaning against the partition. He turned to face the door and, as he was wont to do in crunch situations, clenched his jaw. It was an expression of resolution, a manifestation of his willpower which exuded the sort of utter faith in one's decisions which was unusual for a man as shy as him. This was what differentiated Andri from Ems, when it came down to it. For all her brash confidence, she lacked the traditional dignity of someone like him.

"Drop the bombs."

Beyond the partition, the stranger stood up, doing up his trousers in the process, and let out a cheer. "That's the spirit, friend! Let it all out!"

"They're not bombs, they're..." Helen bit her tongue. Now was not the time. "Yes, Stormaður."

"Keep going; I'll be with you the whole way." The man's excitement added to the tension. Andri held his breath. He could hear a flurry of orders being passed across the operations room. This, now, was the moment when all was out of their control. As 'the decider', Andri had fulfilled his role in this saga. Helen had relayed his order and the success of the mission rested with the pilots of the four interceptors who were vectoring into position and releasing their munitions.

"That's missiles away, Stormaður."

Andri bowed his head in silent prayer. It was odd, willing so hard for hundreds of people to be killed, but it was one of the perverse facts of a statesman's moral obligations. He preferred to think of it as praying for the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Vestmanaeyjarmaður, and for the safety of the people he had been selected to lead.

"Are you doing alright, friend?" The stranger had finished washing his hands. He turned to Andri's stall while they drip-dried all over the marble floor. He sounded concerned, almost worried. "You're awfully quiet."

"We have three confirmed hits, all on the engines." Helen, on the other hand, was allowing herself to sound excited for the first time. She was speaking faster, and in a higher pitch. "And that's the aircraft rolling into the sea. The threat is neutralised, Stormaður."

Andri did not share her excitement. He could only feel relief, and it washed over him entirely. He felt his knees wobble slightly, and sat down on the toilet to get some support. As he did so, his wallet fell from his back pocket into the bowl with a loud splash. He did not seem to notice. Instead, he simply sighed and said in contentment, "It is over."

Outside of the stall, the man clapped. "Well done, friend! I'm proud of you. You see, we got through it together." He began to leave, and as he walked through the door, he gave one final fleeting goodbye to the man who he had just seen through one of the most stressful situations imaginable. "Goodbye, friend, and remember: cut down on the fibre."




1 A Skadronledur is a middling rank in the Arthurian military, translated into English as 'Squadron Leader'. A Luft Skadronledur specifically is a member of the Air Self-Defence Force.
Last edited by The Arthurian Isles on Fri Jun 29, 2018 6:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Hadin
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The Hadinian Tea Primer

Postby Hadin » Sun Jun 17, 2018 5:15 am

Tea has often been regarded in Hadin as a cheap, easy, and effective way to alleviate symptoms of common ailments. Indeed, tea has been used so long in Hadin for medicinal purposes that there are multiple books and treatises written on the many uses and brews of medicinal tea. Even skilled doctors and nurses in Hadin swear by the usage of tea as a supplement to medicine for optimal health and welness. Of course, we must caution the reader that any medicinal tea is meant as just that: a supplement for a healthy lifestyle, regular doctor's visits, and proper usage of medication. Supplements, not substitutes, are meant to be used concurrently with proper medical advice, under the direction of a trained healthcare professional --- not in lieu of it.


You should always consult a doctor for any medical conditions you might have, and use medicinal teas merely as symptomatic relief as they direct. There are times where tea can be improper for a medical condition, or certain types of tea whose only medicinal value lies in old wives' tales. For the domestic Hadinian reader, we especially cannot stress enough the necessity of proper medical attention. Hadin is the only nation in Karas enlightened enough to have universal, taxpayer-paid healthcare in effect. You should not take this boon for granted.


This primer's opinion on tea is officially neutral. We, the writers, have done our best to discuss the good and bad of herbal teas factually. Much research is still being done on the subject and it may yield further insight not available to us at the time of this writing.





Tea is the world's second most popular beverage, after water. For thousands of years, mankind has prized tea, seeking out new trade routes and harvesting techniques to perfect tea cultivation and consumption. In nations like Arthuria and even colonial spheres like occupied Zanzes, tea is the preferred beverage, and dedicated tea culture has arisen in those cultures as to the preparation and imbibing of the beverage. Only the lesser nations do not prize tea, such as Nui-ta (which instead prizes coffee), and Radiatia (whose citizens are so deprived of tea that they often believe tea to be a kind of soup).

Here in Hadin, a rather unique tea culture has emerged: one that values tea for its medicinal properties and health benefits, over its consumption for pleasure. Studies have shown that tea can have positive benefits against diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and help promote weight loss and a healthier immune system. There is much debate as to the preparation of tea for optimal wellness benefits. This debate ranges from what blends of tea to use, to how the tea should be prepared or even how long the tea should be steeped and at what temperature it should be consumed.

However, most nutritionists and studies can all agree on one thing: any tea is usually better than no tea, especially for preventative purposes. Some exceptions exist to this rule. "Instant" tea often possesses very little tea at all, robbing it of the benefits of other kinds of tea. Tea that possesses too much sweetener or sugar can also be useless. Furthermore, certain kinds of tea can be devastating, rather than beneficial. For example, willow bark tea contains a high amount of salicylic acid, which can be hepato-toxic (damaging to the liver). While such tea may have been useful in medieval times for its anti-inflammatory properties, nowadays generic acetaminophen or aspirin can often yield the same (or even better) results. Furthermore, willow bark tea consumed in combination with such medicines can do far more harm than good, due to the toxic nature of the acids in both medicines and tea towards the liver.

Other types of tea brews that can prove to be more harmful than beneficial, according to the Hadinian National Medical Board, include brews with:

  • Comfrey
  • Germander
  • Lobelia
  • Ephedra
  • Valerian
  • Chaparral
  • Grapefruit

Outside of these restrictions, the majority of experts agree to brew away, and drink up!




Green Tea: Made from steamed tea leaves, green tea is often considered "the purist's tea". It has been proven to be high in beneficial compounds like EGCG and antioxidants. Research shows that green tea's high antioxidant level may make helpful to prevent certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, excessive weight gain, and dementia.

Black Tea: Made from fermented tea leaves, research indicates that black tea may be helpful in preventing stroke, and preventing damage to the lungs from smoking (although the best prevention, of course, is not to smoke at all!)

White Tea: Minimally processed, uncured, and unfermented tea. This type of tea may be beneficial against developing cancer.

Oolong Tea: Processed in a particular way, oolong tea is thought by researchers to help reduce bad cholesterol levels. There's also a claim that it helps with weight loss, although studies have not backed this.

Herbal Tea: Made from various combinations of roots, fruits, or herbs, herbal tea's chemical composition differs widely depending on exactly what is in it. It does not have the same antioxidant benefits as green or black tea, as the levels of antioxidants are lower. However, some research indicates that certain brews of herbal tea may have symptomatic benefits for common ailments, largely derived from what they are made from. Research is still being done to determine whether or not particular herbal teas do carry the benefits of what they are made from, or if they are just placebos. However, it is fair to say that most types of herbal tea are at least not doing any harm.




A Tea Thought To Help Clear the Airways

Made from one part fennel, one part licorice, and one part eucalyptus. Steep and serve hot.

Chamomile Tea

Made entirely from powdered chamomile flowers. Thought to assist with anxiety and digestion. An alternate recipe, thought to do the same thing, is to add lavender and lemon balm leaves. Steep hot, serve warm.

An Anti-Depressant Tea

Made from honeybrush herb and kanna herb. Thought to assist with promoting a positive mood.

Turmeric Tea

Made from turmeric boiled in water for 10 minutes and strained well. Add honey and cinnamon to taste, and a hint of black pepper for absorption. Thought to help with arthritis and inflammation.

Dandelion Tea

Made from dandelion root. Thought to assist with proper kidney function and digestion. Used to be prescribed in medieval Hadin as a cure for urinary tract infections, but with the advent of antibiotics, dandelion tea has been relegated to symptomatic relief only.

Echinacea Tea

Made from various parts of the echinacea plant (particularly the roots), echinacea is thought to be effective as an immune booster. This doesn't mean it will keep you from getting sick, but it may help strengthen your immune system.

Ginger Tea

Made just from ground ginger, it is thought to be a strong digestive aid to help with symptoms of nausea.

Raspberry Leaf Tea

Usually recommended with small amounts of dandelion, fennel, and licorice, raspberry leaf tea is thought to assist with women's health from a hormonal standpoint.

Valerian Tea

Valerian is known to help with rest and relaxation, and has been listed as a natural sleep aid. Valerian tea in particular is helpful.

WARNING: Valerian is also known to have negative interactions with many medicines. It may exaggerate the effects of anti-anxiety or sleeping medicines.
Just so you know, this nation, in character, is a highly sexist, highly theocratic, and highly authoritarian state. (Though under the new guy, it seems to be improving a little).

I disagree with a lot of what this nation stands for. It was invented for its intrigue and ample opportunities for satire, not for its ideals.

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Wildebrunn II (The Prelude)

Postby Hadin » Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:03 pm

There was something peaceful and pleasant about the town of Caersi. Located on the shores of western Hadin, the town's old-fashioned shingled roofs contrasted nicely against the blue sky, white sands, and dots of fresh greenery of the landscape. The soundscape was just as fresh and peaceful as the visage of the town: frequent gentle waves, punctuated with the caw! caw! of various seabirds. In some spots, one could hear the sound of a ukulele being lazily strummed away.

In some other parts of Hadin, and indeed in parts of other countries, the young man playing the ukelele would have been chastized as indolent and immature. Here in Caersi, it was a completely different story. When Tobias Anton Cassano needed money, he worked part-time doing various odd jobs for some of the businesses that had popped up in Caersi. When Toby was not worried about money, he spent the day playing the ukulele.

It was a simple enough life for Toby, and he couldn't dream of living such a life anywhere outside of Caersi. He enjoyed the slowness of life here. Most of the people who lived here in Caersi were just as happy with their lives as well (although many of them had different career minds than Toby, such as wanting to have full time jobs!). Certainly, no one minded him. When he worked, he worked well, and when he didn't, he still managed to stay out of trouble because he was too busy with the ukulele to be a delinquent or mafioso of any kind. As far as the rest of Caersi was concerned, Toby was at worst a slight annoyance and at best simply a young man with his head in the clouds.

For the purposes of this setting, he remained a simple example of why Caersi was such a good place to host Wildebrunn II. As far as Fiete Nikastro and his government were concerned, Caersi was the ideal place to host the Wildebrunn II Conference for the UNCA precisely because of the atmosphere of the town. Just as the town was laid back and uncaring towards anything that wasn't a direct negative influence on their lives (like Toby), so to was the town likely to be laid back and uncaring towards the UNCA conference that was being planned here.

To the people of Caersi, the Wildebrunn II Conference (also being called the Caersi Conference) was at worst a slight annoyance due to the presence of slightly more traffic on the roads and some scary looking military folks taking over law enforcement for a time, and at best a slight boost to the local economy. Many shopkeepers were actually looking forward to seeing some foreign currency. Toby himself wondered if he'd be lucky enough to have a Seglander hear his ukulele.

"That'd make me day, it would," he drunkenly told someone at the bar one night.

Indeed, to the people of Caersi, this was all that the Conference would be.

The person who found himself stressing about the Conference the most wasn't from Caersi at all, but the person overseeing the whole ordeal: Nikastro. Caersi's location had been selected because it was a very welcoming locale. The simple coastal village served as a way to cast off the shadow placed on Hadin after the Karasian War and Nico Hass: Hadin was not solely a nation full of warmongers and fanatics.

Moreover, the city saw domestic tourism enough (it was too hidden of a gem until now to carry foreign interest) to see modernization and showcase Hadin's progression as the years had gone by. Even a small town like this was doing quite well --- large cities were booming. Hadin was ripe for foreign investment interests, especially as Nikastro worked to improve the economy and boost quality of life far beyond what nations on the first-world stereotyped Hadin for.

Nikastro had put forward the controversial decision to open the UNCA conference, at least partly, to non-UNCA nations, so long as they weren't too flirtatious with the Nui-Ra bloc. Any nations like Radiatia, Nui-ta, and Poldania were avoided without question. Aazeronia and Arthuria (despite Fiete Nikastro's decent friendship with Arthuria's Thor Hammarskold), were also avoided. The former was viewed as being too close to Nui-Ra, especially with rumors of a top secret summit between Aazeronian, Radiatian, and Nui-tan delegates which couldn't be proven as actually having happened --- the latter was disqualified because Nikastro knew too well that he couldn't possibly invite a nation known for sheltering a known whistle-blower without raising questions by Segland and Algrabad. The fact that Fiete Nikastro had not outright condemned Arthuria for that was already questionable enough, but could be justified by the pragmatic interest in keeping the officially neutral state of Arthuria's door slightly ajar, even if only a little, for as long as it was not inconvenient.

Nations that were up for invitation (pending discussions with Segland and Algrabad) were nations such as Rango Mango, Corinis, South Oriens, and strangely, Higgins and Brown. Each of these nations had their own arguments as to why (or why not) they shouldn't have been invited to the conference as observers.

With Rango Mango, the impoverished nation to the north of Hadin had openly declared an interest in the UNCA. In a time where it seemed asserting UNCA's strength without violence was more vital than ever, any assured ally was better than none at all. Nikastro undoubtedly had his reservations on having such a poor, underdeveloped country possibly weigh the rest of the UNCA down. He was acutely aware that Segland, at least, shared his concerns. Still, it was necessary to bulk up the UNCA's roster, and Rango Mango was the easiest way to do it. At the very least, perhaps some industry could come out of it, though Nikastro wasn't sure if Rango Mango even had roads to allow or such a radical development.

With Corinis, the reason was simple. Corinis was a small, virtually unknown nation in Noctur. Again, there was a need to shake hands and make friends. To win over Corinis before Nui-Ra did, allowing observers seemed a natural step.

South Oriens was being discussed for an invitation due to almost the exact same reason as Corinis --- except South Oriens seemed a bit larger and a bit more valuable in the long run. It was difficult to say for sure: Nikastro felt as though he knew less about South Oriens than he did about Corinis.

And then there was the fourth one: Higgins and Brown. Algrabad wasn't going to be happy about it. Higgins and Brown, if an invitation was sent at all, would probably gawk at it. Having a democracy enter the UNCA would undoubtedly swing the balance of power towards the UNCA in the nation, which was ultimately something Nikastro wanted just as much as anyone else.

Yet Nikastro felt the need to point out that Higgins and Brown had plenty of ways to benefit too. In particular, he was sincerely hoping he could capture the attention of one Todd Morde, who seemed to be a pro-UNCA voice in that country. Even to others though, Nikastro felt the need to point out several arguments. Higgins and Brown was no doubt still upset about the war with the UNCA, brought on because of their discord with Algrabad --- for this, Nikastro felt the need to argue that maybe the best course of action for all countries would be to join Algrabad in the friendship of a larger entity, rather than continue to fear it. The UNCA had lent so far towards Algrabad (and thus ganged up on Higgins and Brown) because at the time of the Third Algrabadi War, only Algrabad was owed assistance. Higgins and Brown was seen as a hostile entity to one UNCA country, and the whole bloc had stood up to defend that country.

Such a threat could easily have been neutralized diplomatically if Higgins and Brown had lent towards the UNCA, just as they had once considered doing at the UNCA's initial creation. At that time, any application for admission would have been denied, because less reasonable voices were in power within Segland and Hadin.

That was no longer the case, however. The former leaders --- the belligerents --- were gone. Alexei Haussman and Fiete Nikastro were now in power, and the case could be made that more level-headed leaders would help keep the peace between Algrabad and Higgins and Brown. If Higgins and Brown were to join the UNCA, Algrabad couldn't just claim a grievance and have the rest of the UNCA gang up on HB again. There would be a focus on protection and peace for both nations.

Nui-Ra couldn't do that for them. Higgins and Brown couldn't possibly be stupid enough to forget that the last time this happened, the best the first world could manage were some mercenaries and equipment.

In the second world, there would be peace through unity and co-operation in the Axis. Fitting. All HB had to do was see things the same way as Nikastro did, and so this consideration was put up between Segland and (unfortunately) Algrabad. Why fight a foe when you could invite them to your cause and win them over with some sunshine and some cold Hadinian lager?
Just so you know, this nation, in character, is a highly sexist, highly theocratic, and highly authoritarian state. (Though under the new guy, it seems to be improving a little).

I disagree with a lot of what this nation stands for. It was invented for its intrigue and ample opportunities for satire, not for its ideals.

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Moralistic Democracy

Of Cigars, Beer, Liqour, and Tequila Bongs

Postby Nui-ta » Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:46 am

No one ever talks about Tarashka, Sangaur.

Anyone who understood basic Nui-tan geography knew that Sangaur was one of Nui-ta’s ten states. Located on the mainland, east of the larger state of Rahku (for which the country’s capital city was named), Sangaur was known for two things.

It was a rich state, having been the seat of the actual Emperor of Nui-ta since the rise of the -first- Nui-tan Monarchy1 Before the fall of apartheid in the nation, it had been considered a privilege to live in Sangaur —- and even before apartheid’s inception, history buffs in Nui-ta could list other socio-economic reasons as to why what became Sangaur had thrived even in the ancient days.

The other thing Sangaur was known for was its military population. Although Nui-ta has always been considered one of Noctur’s more militaristic countries, it was Sangaur that was entirely responsible for this. Since before Nui-ta’s rise to its modern-day status, Sangaur had been considered as the state in which many of the best and brightest in the military came from. Historically, the nobility could all claim lineage from some ancestor or another who had served the Monarchy —- or even something older —- with blood and steel.

To be a soldier for a couple of years was expected. To be a soldier for one’s life in Nui-ta was considered among the most honorable of professions. In Sangaur especially, that was a stereotype that seemed to persist to this day.2

In consideration of Sangaur’s status as one of Nui-ta’s more famous states, tourists largely only knew Sangaur for being where the Emperor lived.

They weren’t wrong. He lived in the state capital of Kaurizil. Despite this, Sangaur was still an entire state, with other attractions that not every tourist stopped to visit. Every state in Nui-ta had such hidden gems.

For Sangaur, that gem was the city of Tarashka. It was a small city compared to the massive metropoli that Noctur could boast as a whole: but Sangaur wasn’t that big of a state, population-wise...and Nui-ta, on that same scale, wasn’t as big as other countries.

Tarashka had a notable place in the nation’s modern history, having been the scene of war-trials and massive legal changes in the aftermath of Nui-ta’s major civil war (known as the Tarashka Conference), and having been the emergency seat of the Emperor while the larger city of Kaurizil took the brunt of the urban warfare that marked the history of the Partition’s eastern theater of war.

It was also a noticeably less costly place to be, as a citizen or as a tourist, than the more well-known tourist destinations of Rahku City and Kaurizil. As far as actual tourism destinations, it boasted a few decent malls, some historical destinations, and a rather beautiful river at the center of the city.

The downtown portions of the city were built above the riverbanks. The actual riverside trailed below the major roads, on a path meant only for pedestrians and lined by various shops and restaurants and bars and other such things...

...And at one particular bar, there were three tourists.

Two of the tourists were obviously foreign. The three tourists sat in a triangular arrangement, around a round table on a somewhat elevated patio, overlooking the walking path and the river. From one perspective, an observer could stand between the two more obviously foreign tourists, directly across from the third.

From this perspective, the foreigners sat on the left and right. Both of these were men, and both much larger and taller than their third companion: a smaller Nui-tan woman. As for the ethnicity of the two tourists, the one on the left was Aazeronian, and the one to the right was Radiatian.

“You know,” one of the men said, “this arrangement sort of reminds me of how Radiatia, Aazeronia, and Nui-ta all seem compared to each other as countries. Two larger countries backing up this little tiny one!”

The other man laughed. The woman blushed out of embarrassment and averted her eyes for a moment.

A moment later, the three tourists resumed whatever conversation they had been having before that moment. They were comparing identification papers. The Radiatian went first.

A massive man, dominating his side of the table with both physical side and charisma (he was easily the most active of the three in conversation), he produced a nice looking black booklet.

The booklet was open to one particular page. His picture stared back at the other two tourists, with a blank expression, entirely business-minded, as Radiatians were so often stereotyped. The pub worker who had seated the trio had even commented on how dapper and business-like the Radiatian man was, boasting a full three piece suit despite being on vacation.

The Aazeronian and the Nui-tan gazed at the passport. Next to the Radiatian’s stoic photograph were the words that made up his name: “Boris Gunther Radovich”. They were staring at a visa granted to Boris for a later stop on his vacation: to Crata.

“Wow,” the Nui-tan smiled. “I didn’t know your middle name was Gunther”.

“Yep,” Boris nodded, looking at his two companions. “You know the drill. I show you mine, you show me yours”.

The Nui-tan reached into her purse next, producing a much smaller wallet of the same color. Within the wallet, she was able to procure a plastic card. It was her state identification card.

Unlike the Radiatian, she was smiling in her picture —- albeit thinly. Unlike the Radiatian, her picture also looked somewhat different from how she actually appeared. Whereas the picture on the Boris’s passport looked identical to how he actually carried himself in public, the picture on the Nui-tan’s ID card could have been mistaken for a slightly different person.

The two major differences were hairstyle and a lack of glasses. The picture had been taken before work, and the Nui-tan woman’s job required her hair to be pinned back, while here at the pub, it was worn loose. The agency issuing the ID cards demanded that no glasses be visible for ID card photographs —- but in reality, the Nui-tan woman was constantly bespectacled.

The card displayed her address, a check-mark next to the “organ donor” section, some miscellaneous numbers, and her full name: Juli Dal’mahal.

“They made you take your glasses off?” The Aazeronian man was intrigued. Like Juli, he was also bespectacled.

“Yeah, they don’t allow them in the pictures here”.

“Do you wear contacts?” Boris asked.

“My eyes are too sensitive. I can barely keep them in”.

The two named individuals now turned their attention to the Aazeronian man, who was already producing his wallet, and quite shortly afterwards, his form of identification.

A pilot’s license, issued in Aazeronia. The style was of a single card, similar to Juli’s, but the size was more along the lines of what Boris had presented. On the license, his name could be seen prominently: Samuel Gustavson.

“Wow, a pilot’s license!” Boris took the card, with permission, and examined it thoroughly. “This is really interesting!”.

“Wait, wait,” Juli said, having to physically move forward in her seat to claim even half as much of the table as Boris and Samuel. “I wanna see too!” A rather giddy Radiatian handed the license over to her. After examining it herself for a moment, she handed it back to Samuel.

“So what will we be having?”

Another voice cut into the scene —- the pub worker who had seated them and commented so admiringly upon Boris’s suit. It was this pub worker who had enticed the trio to come in: they’d been spending a while walking in the heat of a Sangaur summer, and the pub was themed (inaccurately) as a Radiatian setting. Boris couldn’t have been won over any more quickly.

After a moment’s discussion, the trio ordered two small cigars, two beers, and a mixed drink. The men sampled their cigars and beer happily. Juli sipped away at her own drink, abstaining from the tobacco when it was offered to her.

“My boyfriend already smokes,” she said. “So I’ll pass”.

Amidst the alcohol consumption and the cigar rings forming around the table, the conversation shifted to other topics. These three friends, who had met under unusual circumstances and were sitting down together after over six years, discussed their careers and travel plans, and impressions of their most recent stop of the day before the bar — Fort Ameriti3.

“Well I thought it was quite impressive,” Boris noted. “I certainly learned about Sangaur’s specific history in this nation”.

“I liked the bit that came later, where they mentioned about how after the Partition, Nui-ta opened itself up to the world and Aazeronia’s Air Force came here and started training Nui-ta’s pilots”. Samuel beamed with pride a little as he said that.

“We might as well credit the Nui-tan Air Force today to Aazeronia!” Juli chuckled. “You didn’t see that large Aazeronian flag on display?”

“Oh we did,” Boris said. “I even had Samuel take a picture next to it”.




As the discussion wore on, more alcohol and cigars made their way to the table. The two small cigars were fully consumed. Boris and Samuel replaced them quickly with larger variants. Each person ordered a shot as well: Boris ordered vodka, Samuel ordered bourbon, and Juli ordered a larger glass: whiskey diluted with soda.

A final drink was also circulating around the table: a very large mixed drink in a cylindrical glass, almost as long as Samuel’s entire arm. It was layered with blue and white in the colors of the Nui-tan flag. The prominent taste was, strangely, Tierra Azurian tequila.

Unfortunately, the server had only placed one straw in the drink. The trio eventually decided to pass the cylinder around, comparing it to a bong, and share the straw. This continued until Boris shook his head in disgust.

“I can’t. I don’t know what that is but it’s shit”.

“It’s tequila,” Juli said, slurring her words a bit.

“Yeah that tequila is definitely a bit strong,” said a noticeably less drunken Samuel.

Both men looked at Juli.

“Are you going to be alright?” Samuel asked.

“Yeah...yeah, I’m still okay. You only get to vacation once every now and then, amirite?”

“Don’t worry about her Sam,” Boris shrugged. “She’s with us. She’ll be fine. I used to work in a bar and I’m used to taking care of people”.

He offered the large tequila drink to Samuel.

“Take another drink?”

“Oh I can’t,” Samuel said, setting the drink at the center of the table. “I didn’t particularly like it either. I certainly can’t finish it”.

There was a moment of silence before Juli took the glass and began finishing it off.

“Hey, I actually didn’t mind it”.

As soon as she finished it, she felt the alcohol reach her brain and set her head down on the table.

“I think I’m done, guys”. The two men sniggered at her for a moment before continuing their remaining drinks.

“Talk about a literal lightweight,” Boris commented.

“I weigh about as much as one of your legs!” Juli protested, her head still on the table.

“Perks of being large men,” Samuel said.

The worker approached them again, to take their glasses. He looked down at Juli.

“Miss, you doing okay?”

“I’m just fine, just fine...”

She couldn’t remember the next bit of the conversation. In truth, she was kicking herself for being a little too inebriated for her own liking. Neither of the guys seemed to let it bother them, though, working around her in conversation but each keeping one eye on her, in case she did something silly, like slide out of her chair.

Whatever was happening, the worker must have seen this kindness...and promptly mistaken it for something else. The next words she distinctly remembered him asking the group, as he pointed at Boris and Juli, were...

“...so...is it you two who are dating?”

Boris cocked an eyebrow. Juli felt a bit of heat rise to her face. Samuel was politely suppressing a laugh. Before Boris could respond with a much calmer denial, Juli told the truth.

“It would be like fucking my cousin”.

At this point, both Boris and Samuel barely held in their laughter, while a very drunk and nervous Juli awkwardly, and ineffectively, confessed to the worker that the two men were long-time friends of hers who felt much more like family than romantic interests to her.

As soon as the worker left, Juli tried to find the words to apologize. It had been a long time since she’d drunk this much, or spent any considerable time with close friends. Her entire life had started over abruptly when she’d moved to Tarashka, fairly recently. In a way, she was just as foreign to the venue as them.

And perhaps, as far as the situation at hand, she was the most foreign of all. Nui-ta’s dating culture and concepts of love were far different than those of either Radiatia or Aazeronia. Boris and Samuel could have handled that far more effectively, because Boris and Samuel actually knew what they were doing.

And yet as the drinking session ended and the trio plotted out what they would do next, Juli realized something truthful about that entire situation.

It really was like a close-knit family, in a way. Despite years of disconnect and the meaningless frivolity of the events at hand...it betrayed something nice in her.

She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been “at home” like this. The relationship between her, Boris, and Samuel, could easily be written off as something less intimate, at least to her, than it really was.

They were special, in their own way.

Remembering this as she rose from the table and excused herself, she did her best to NOT fall and made her way to where the register was. Without even a moment’s regret, the tab for the whole table was paid.

Returning to the table, Boris and Samuel both gulped a little bit at her.

“Did you....did you pay out the whole tab?”

“You may have been a bit too drunk after all. At least let us get dinner then”.

Juli just smiled. “Consider it proper Nui-tan hospitality”. The two men remained slightly concerned, but brushed it off quickly enough.

Maybe they were right.

But she didn’t think so.




1 The current Monarchy of Nui-ta, as it exists today, is actually the second Monarchy in Nui-ta’s history. The first Monarchy, also known as the di-Etares line, went extinct during Zanzeanic occupation. The current royal family does claim indirect ancestry from this predecessor.

2 Sangaur still boasts the highest rate of voluntary recruits into the military (by voluntary, it is meant that they stay in the military after their mandatory service is completed). It also boasts the highest rate of life-long soldiers, also known as careers, in the nation. Of these two records, the state of Alinia is inching precariously close to beating Sangaur for voluntary, but not life-long, armed service personnel.

[size=90]3 Fort Ameriti was an old building, known for being a long-time military fortification, and later as the building where the Tarashka Conference was held following the end of the Partition.
Someone cares? Okay then. Economic Left/Right: -2.25
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INFP-T personality, quite heavy on the I,P, and T.

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The Arthurian Isles
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Ex-Nation

Postby The Arthurian Isles » Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:38 am

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On Vegmark



Vegmark (literally 'Waymarks', but more commonly referred to in English as 'Markings'), also known as The Sixty-Two Theses and Seventeen Commentaries, is a central religious text of Arthuria's native religion, Christian Existentialism. It consists of a series of theo-philosophical 'theses' which collectively establish a systemic world-view and explanation of human nature, as well as interspersed 'commentaries' which attempt to explain or expand upon certain concepts within the text. Alongside Verk Lofig ('Works of Love'), Bok Trørig ('The Book of Faith') and the Bible, Vegmark forms the so-called Tetragrammaton of holy works around which Arthurian Christianity is based. It is also widely-regarded to be one of the best explanations of Arthuria's culture to this day.

Its author's identity remains a mystery, but popular consensus has solidified around the semi-mythical figure of Søren Munkur - or Søren the Monk. Some scholars have postulated that this title, which was first recorded in the 16th century (7th century A.R.), is actually a play on the name 'Søren' which derives from the word 'strict', and that the alleged author is therefore someone referred to as 'the Strict Monk'. Whatever his or her name may have been, Vegmark is believed to have been written by a monk who sailed south from north-western Terra Oriens as part of the Great Migration, the exodus of ancient Arthurians which eventually settled the Arthurian Archipelago. According to this theory, the 'theses' were composed as a series of observations on life made during the decade-long journey and, in some parts, became records of prominent theological debates to occur during the voyage. The combination of private and public notes helps to explain why some sections of the text - notably that entitled 'The Sickness Unto Death' - are written in a more technical manner than other parts. The 'commentaries', however, are known to have been submitted by various theologians and philosophers over hundreds of years between the 11th and 20th centuries (2nd and 11th centuries A.R.).

Vegmark deals with a series of themes, all of which are intimately connected. It is for this reason that the 'theses' should not be read in isolation as individual aphorisms, but in sequence and with a holistic approach. The first theme is the nature of the universe itself, which is an implicitly subjective facet viewed through the lens of culture. Vegmark defines the Arthurian culture as being one of paradoxes, ultimately between a so-called 'Socratic tradition' (by which it means rational philosophy) and the 'Christian revelation' (which refers to faithful and involved commitment). This paradox - a contradiction of continuous tension - is mirrored in human nature which is split between the rational soul and the involved body. Society has evolved to the extent that the rational is assumed to be higher than faith, and that it is a human's task to eliminate the commitment within themselves in order to reach the universal heights of the ethical being. But Vegmark argues that this deprives us of our human nature by destroying the paradox which makes us who we are. Instead, it recommends embracing the paradox - something which is inherently painful because it makes us utterly vulnerable, but which ultimately leads to the reward of a blissful existence. The theological element facilitates this by re-introducing faith as something higher than ethics, embodied in the person of Jesus Christ who is the exemplar of how a person may live the paradoxical life. In short, there may be times when faith calls you to commit an individual action which goes against all conceptions of the ethical good, but which you must do regardless.

To the extent that Vegmark and wider Christian Existentialism has played a major role in Arthurian culture, it has given deep philosophical backing to the apparent contradiction of a collectivist view of society (in which we must all work to achieve a universal - that is, society-driven - moral good) with an individualistic end (the idea that society's goal is to empower the individual). Thus it strips back the hierarchy and ritual of traditional organised religion to create a radical form of organisation wherein theological power is decentralised across all worshippers. There is no such thing as a priest in Christian Existentialism, to the extent that everyone is a priest; all followers are recognised as holding the potential for deepening our understanding of faith. And yet the ultimate manifestation of that faith is one which cannot - indeed, must not - be understandable to anyone other than the individual. Faith is a personal matter to be discovered of one's own accord, but it is through coming together that its realisation is facilitated. What is perhaps darker is that Vegmark takes its worldview to be uniquely Arthurian, defined by the Arthurian cultural paradox of the Socratic-versus-Christian contradiction. Its impact on the national thought is potentially worrying, for the isolation it can engender and the belief - common with regard to non-native Arthurians - that only one who has been born and raised in Arthurian society can truly know what it means to be an Arthurian.

The parallels with Arthurian society are easy to recognise, though some writers have perhaps given too much credit to Vegmark for its effect on the country's culture. What it does best is to establish the hard philosophical grounding upon which later works of the Tetragrammaton can build their own ideas of what it means to be a good Christian, from which we derive the trinity of grace, love and humility.

This trinity is in its own way reflected in the way in which all of Vegmark's teachings are consolidated into one mantra:

Truth is subjectivity. The individual is higher than the universal. Eternity is only possible in time.



The Contradiction



1. Life is a struggle between two contradictory philosophical outlooks: the Socratic tradition of detachedness, disembodiment, timelessness, universality, reflectiveness and critical rationality, against the Christian revelation of involvedness, embodiment, historicism, the local and the committed.

The First Commentary: The Socratic tradition creates objective truths which form universal and eternal ethics; to reach eternity, you must escape from your temporal life by subordinating yourself to the ethical. In short, the universal is higher than the individual.


2. Society and its institutions have tried, over time, to reconcile the two approaches. Instead, the Socratic tradition has overpowered the Christian revelation. The god of the philosophers is not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The Second Commentary: It began with John, who wrote that "Jesus is the word [λόγος, or logos], and the word was made flesh". Logos has many meanings: to Stoics it is the rational structure of the universe, to Aristotelians it is reasoned discourse, and to Sophists it is pure discourse. In every sense, it is an objective truth. That it is "made flesh" assumes that the logos precedes the flesh, and so the Socratic begins to undermine the Christian.

Then came St Augustine, who translated Christian theology into Platonic terms. Plato's abstract supreme entity ('the good') is the ground in which all grows and receives moral direction. St Augustine made it into God. In one sense this worked, for it confirmed one omnipotent being presiding over all. In another, though, it revealed the tensions around creation - Plato's supreme entity is not a creator. Eventually, St Augustine fails to make sense of the contradictions. In his Confessions, he does not believe that Creation can be good for it prevents humanity's direct relationship to God, instead distracting our love and affection with finite objects. Nor can he understand Jesus, whom he does not believe to be the truth (as John does), but only the way - an example to follow in order to reach a direct relationship with God.

St Thomas Aquinas then framed Christianity in Aristotelian philosophy. Aristotle was closer in his thought to Christianity than was Plato, because he believed in the importance of the body - of which the soul is just one form - and the independence of individual things from supreme entities. His own omnipotent being is the so-called 'unmoved mover'. The tension here surrounds contemplation of the soul, which Aristotle views as being more important than involved action.

Dante came close to copying St Thomas Aquinas, but ultimately differed. He discovered romantic love in the person of Beatrice, to whom he could dedicate his whole life in order to give it meaning. He made love his saviour, instead of Jesus. But he nonetheless abandoned her at the finish in order to directly contemplate God. He had come so close to discovering the essential point of the Christian revelation, but lost it in Aristotelian contemplation.

Finally, Descartes, who absorbed the Socratic tradition so much that God lost all meaning as an incarnate, temporal, bodily deity (in the form of Jesus) that the importance of involvement and commitment disappeared. To him, God is as eternal and infinite as maths, the epitome of the Socratic tradition.


3. There is consequently contradiction in our understanding of truth. We admire commitment to values, which hold that you should be willing to die for your views. But we also admire dispassion towards an objective truth which does not need our sacrifice, and nor does our life's meaning need it.

The Third Commentary: The contradiction is a struggle between conformism - based off of the Socratic tradition's subordination of the individual to the universal - and individuality. Thus results two equally extreme entities: moral absolutists and religious fanatics. You conclude that there is no one truth, that everyone ought to do what they desire, and so is born a system of apathetic tolerance lacking in moral standards.



The Synthesis



4. The two approaches cannot be reconciled, but they are not of the same value. The Socratic tradition is a wonderful thing which ought to be pursued, but Christianity is higher still. Involvement is of more importance than detachment.

5. Truth is subjectivity. Subjectivity is not simply your whims and superstitions. It is instead a commitment to somebody or something. The Socratic tradition therefore has an important role in providing the objectivity with which to condemn superstition, while the Christian revelation offers the commitment with which you can move beyond philosophy.



The Movement



6. There is a movement towards commitment. You start in lower immediacy: pure impulse rooted in spontaneity, representing our superstitions and wild passions. It is not love so much as infatuation. You must abolish it by revealing its incompatibility with reality, using the Socratic tradition of critical reflection. Doing so is to undergo mediation: the movement in which you reflect on what you truly desire, and so abolish lower immediacy. Whereas lower immediacy is undergone, mediation is understood. Finally, you will reach higher immediacy: the unconditional defining commitment. Unconditional because it is the whole of life's content, defining because it forms your very self, commitment because it is more than an impulse or a detached critical understanding. It is a calling.

7. The ultimate commitment cannot be forgotten. The process would require ultimate concentration. The result would be a person who is not the same, for you will have lost the commitment which defined your self.



The Unconditional Commitment



8. The unconditional commitment makes you an individual. We all begin as particulars - that is, any sort of general entity. An individual has a unique identity that comes from having an unconditional commitment. The individual is the highest form of being, akin to higher immediacy. To deny it is to contradict yourself.

9. The unconditional commitment gives you a world separated from that shared with finite entities. Your whole world is organised by your commitment, which determines what is of importance for you. The object of your commitment is the paradigm, for which you have infinite passion. It is an individual amongst a world of particulars. The meaning you ascribe to it raises it above all other finite things, and so it becomes infinite.

10. The unconditional commitment cannot be mediated - it cannot be understood. You cannot articulate why a paradigm is the object of your commitment. You cannot make explicit what the relationship means to you. It cannot be rationalised, and therefore cannot be understood by humans. It is the Christian revelation overcoming the Socratic tradition.

11. The paradigm is the object of your love not because of an objective fact but because of your ultimate commitment to it. Your own subjective experience is what makes the paradigm your saviour. Truth is subjectivity.

12. The unconditional commitment is both accidental and necessary. It is accidental because you cannot predict love. It is necessary because you must give your love in order to gain a self. It is not objectively necessary, but subjectively so because it defines your self. It is therefore an involved necessity, beyond the objective necessity of facts.

13. The unconditional commitment restructures temporality. All of your future actions will be decided upon in relation to your unconditional commitment, and all of your past actions are seen as empty for lack of it.

14. The unconditional commitment becomes the instant against which all future and past actions are judged. Before it, you re-interpreted your understanding of life with each new passing moment. Now, you need only understand life in relation to that single paradigm. You find eternity in time by being infinitely involved in a finite paradigm.

15. The unconditional commitment is irreversible. You cannot move from one commitment to another because once that ultimate commitment is made, you are the commitment. It defines you, and so to abandon it is to destroy your self.

16. The unconditional commitment is directed towards a finite entity. It cannot be a commitment to a future utopia, because that does not have necessity or temporality. It is necessary that the commitment must be achieved in your life. The fact that you may fail at your commitment is what makes you utterly vulnerable in your commitment.

The Fourth Commentary: To be in an unconditional commitment imprisons an individual. How is the problem confronted, wherein no-one would want to enter such a commitment. Nietzsche argues for rejecting it outright and enjoying the pleasures of life. Religion generally tries to provide alternatives into which you can place the meaning of your life (Buddhism teaches non-attachment to free yourself from suffering, Stoics try to merge with the cosmic order in order to live without surprise and Platonists attempt to merge human rationality with universal rationality in order to achieve total understanding). But the Christian revelation necessitates taking the risk of entering an ultimate commitment in order to gain its rewards.



The Knight of Infinite Resignation



17. There is a necessary connection between your ultimate commitment, your identity, and the reward which you are due. Thus to hold a commitment is to take on the risk of existential vulnerability for the possibility of reward. There have been many ways through which great people have tried to make the unconditional commitment safe - to remove its vulnerability. But they cannot work. They remove the finite and temporal elements of a commitment, and so it ceases to hold any meaning.

The Fifth Commentary: There are three ways in which people have traditionally tried to make an unconditional commitment safe. The first is to not let yourself become committed at all - to prevent anything from becoming bound up with the whole content of your life. This is like the man who loves a woman deeply, but keeps other possible girlfriends ready in case the love of his life does not reciprocate his feelings. It is akin to lower immediacy, to impulse.

The second is to forget the commitment entirely. For this, you must concentrate and so go through the movement of mediation such that you can dump the commitment and its relation from your life altogether.

The third is to forget the commitment by replacing the paradigm with some eternal entity. This requires a form of concentration which relates to the movement of mediation. It is what St Augustine did when he translated the Christian revelation into the philosophical terms of the Socratic tradition. He loved a friend who had died, and in his Confessions speaks of him thusly: "yet in a moment before we had reached the first year of friendship, that was sweeter to me than all the joys of life as I lived them, you [God] took him from this world […] My heart grew sombre with grief and wherever I looked I saw only death […] I wondered that other men should live while he was dead, for I had loved him as though he should never die. I wondered that he should die and I remain alive for I was his second half […] I felt that our two souls had been as one living in two bodies." His pain causes him to believe that it is wrong to place all of his love into an ultimate commitment for it makes him vulnerable. So St Augustine instead dispels that vulnerability by forming a commitment to God, who is eternal: "Blessed are those who love you, oh God, and love their friends in you. For your sake, they alone will never lose those who are dear to them for they love them in one who is never lost". However, this commitment has become subsumed into the Platonic idea of 'the good' - the rational aspect of the universe - and so has lost its individuality. St Augustine has betrayed his commitment by mediating away from the significance of the relation and instead reverting to the universal.


18. But the knight of infinite resignation remains in the commitment, never denying the crucial importance of the paradigm and, yet, keeping it safe. They do this by transfiguring their relationship with the paradigm into one with God. Deeper natures never forget themselves and never become something other than they have been, so the knight will remember everything; but the memory is the pain, and yet the infinite resignation is reconciled with existence.

The Sixth Commentary: This is not like St Augustine, who replaced his commitment with belief in God but did not use his love as a means to getting closer to faith. It is closer to Dante's romantic love for Beatrice, which takes on the Aristotelian concept of the body and soul. In the Divine Comedy, all the books of the Old Testament pass Dante in procession, after which come angels announcing "Behold! The holy is here!". What follows is a covered chariot containing not Jesus, but Beatrice. In this way, Dante has attained bodily love, free from the rationalisation of the Aristotelian soul. He has consequently formed the commitment and stepped beyond St Augustine. But at the very end, he transcends his commitment to Beatrice by contemplating the divine instead. Beatrice became the way by which he experienced God - he retained the defining nature of his relationship to Beatrice, but that love was subsumed by the 'unmoved mover', who caused his love "to become one with the will that moved the sun and the stars". Dante remembered Beatrice for the rest of his life. St Augustine did not remember his friend, for he had replaced that commitment with a belief in God.

It relates to John, who claims that Jesus is the "way and the truth" - that is, he is both the one who calls people to take up their unconditional commitment, and the person to whom they should commit. He is their Saviour. For Dante, though, Beatrice is the way: she leads him to God because she holds unconditional importance for Dante. But God is the truth, because once Dante finds him he no longer needs Beatrice. It comes so close to forming the synthesis, but at the last moment it takes away the vulnerability of the commitment. Beatrice, after all, says that Dante should not worry about her death, for the meaning of their relationship will live on in his relationship with God.


19. Infinite resignation is a form of both pain and happiness. There is pain because you are lacking the presence of your paradigm. There is happiness because the significance of your relationship with the paradigm is preserved. The pain reconciles you to an existence in which there is now peace and repose, if you have the discipline to make the movement of infinite resignation.

20. The joy of infinite resignation is minimal. It involves a recognition that you cannot get your paradigm back and a resignation to the fact that you will at least have meaning to your life through what once was your paradigm.

21. The knight of resignation makes their movement of resignation immediately upon discovering their commitment. It is the only way to abolish the vulnerability before they are hurt. If you make the movement of resignation after your commitment is already lost then you are not making it properly, for a true knight of resignation recognises from the start that it is only the meaning of the commitment which matters.

22. For the knight of infinite resignation, the finite and temporal world does not have the meaning it could otherwise have were they to still hold their ultimate commitment. In that way the commitment is secure, and yet they lose the immediacy of the knight of faith who retains their ultimate commitment. And so the knight of infinite resignation is not called upon to sacrifice themselves for their paradigm; how could they for something which is already lost? The truest knight of infinite resignation lives their entire life in the memory of their resignation. They need nothing else.



The Knight of Faith



23. The knight of faith sees the vulnerability in their ultimate commitment and nevertheless continues to become more committed. They purposefully abandon their defences after having recognised the risk in doing so. Thus they have already made the movement of infinite resignation, and yet go a step beyond.

The Seventh Commentary: The knight of faith is a paradox. It makes no rational sense to accept the vulnerability of an ultimate commitment. Their emotions are in conflict with their reason, and yet they are able to live in that conflict. From this belief stems the greatest poem of Arthurian literature:

"To see the sword hanging above the loved one's head and yet find, not repose in the pain of resignation, but joy on the strength of the absurd - that is wonderful."



The Teleological Suspension of the Ethical



24. Once you have an unconditional commitment, it holds authority over you.

25. The ethical is the universal, and as the universal it applies to everyone and at every moment. It is the highest reason, requiring no further justification. It is a categorical imperative, not a hypothetical imperative. You, as a particular, are in lower immediacy until you see your telos in the universal and take it as your task to express yourself in this. You must become the universal, and so do as all others would do at all times.

26. The knight of faith knows that it is beautiful to belong to the universal. To do so is to make a clear and elegant edition of yourself, readable for all. It is refreshing to become intelligible to yourself in the universal, so that you understand the universal and everyone who understands you understands the universal through you in turn.

27. The knight of faith also knows this paradox: that the individual is higher than the universal. The individual determines his relation to the universal through his relation to the ultimate commitment, not his relation to the ultimate commitment through his relation to the universal. They must relate to their commitment absolutely because it is what defines their self.

28. Faith is to make an exception of yourself. The Socratic tradition cannot differentiate faith from sin, because there is a higher immediacy to faith which cannot be made intelligible to others. It is inexpressible.

The Eighth Commentary: Hegelian ethics argues that there is no universal right or wrong. The ethical is what makes you intelligible to yourself and others in society. It is a shared moral vocabulary. Morality, therefore cannot translate between cultures. So a Christian saint is the same as a Greek slave; to turn the other cheek is glorious in the teachings of the Bible but pathetic in the Homeric tradition. Conversely, a Greek hero is the same as a Christian sinner because they exhibit no humility and so deny any higher authority.

In Hegelian ethics, to succumb to temptation is to do what you as a particular feel like doing. It consequently rejects the shared moral vocabulary and makes you unintelligible to others in society. Here is the problem: how can you form the synthesis between the Christian revelation and the Socratic tradition when the former allows unconditional commitments - that is, higher authorities above the universal which dictate to and define an individual - and the latter sees the universal as the highest truth? An unconditional commitment requires you to place the individual above the universal.

Therefore, you should always aim to obey the universal - that is, act ethically. But if there is a conflict between your unconditional commitment and the universal, then the commitment holds a higher priority.

The problem in philosophy which follows the Socratic tradition is that it has substituted the immediate for faith. Hegel equates it with lower immediacy because he subordinates the individual to the universal. In fact, he recognises no individuals but only particulars. If faith is simply lower immediacy, then it has always existed and is not a cause for our concern. In this context, Hegel is correct to say that we should not stop at faith, that we should advance to the universal. But faith is not what the philosophers say it is. Faith is to commit absolutely to an unconditional commitment.


29. The Socratic tradition is needed to escape from lower immediacy. It is the means to mediation, through critical reflection. But it is not the telos. Once you have escaped your lower immediacy, you are in a position to transcend the Socratic tradition and enter higher immediacy, to become an individual rather than falling back into particularism.

30. The Socratic tradition loses its role when you are forced to pursue your unconditional commitment against the demands of the universal. It is a situation in which you cannot relate to the universal. It is a situation in which you disobey that which is supposed to be the telos - ethics - in order to do right by your absolute commitment. You must become unintelligible to yourself and therefore to others. You must be in anguish.

The Ninth Commentary: It is a synthesis. It finds good in the Socratic ethical tradition, which should be used to strengthen your will and character and to make yourself intelligible to others and to yourself. Without it, you would not be a knight of faith - you would be insane. This is to be differentiated from existentialist philosophers who abandoned philosophy altogether. Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky believed that you should not concern yourself with ethics at all, Heidegger thought that ethics was conformism and that you ought instead to follow your partial desires, and Sartre wrote in The Flies that Zeus uses ethics to keep humans from knowing their true freedom.

But look to the Bible. There we see how Abraham took Isaac to the Mountain at Moriah in order to do as God demanded and sacrifice his only son. Insofar as the universal was present there, it was latent in Isaac, in whom was the promise that Abraham's descendants would spread the true word and make Abraham the Father of Faith. The universal ethical expression for what Abraham did was that he was willing to murder Isaac. The religious expression was that he was willing to sacrifice him. But in this contradiction lies the anguish without which Abraham is not who he is. For the highest calling required him to go against the ethical, and his understanding of this is what caused him angst. Yet he almost sacrificed Isaac, believing on the strength of the absurd that he would still gain his unconditional commitment.

It was the teleological suspension of the ethical.



The Tragic Hero



31. The difference between the knight of faith and the tragic hero is that the latter stays within the ethical. They allow an expression of the ethical to have its telos in a higher expression of the ethical, to mediate and rationalise exactly what they did. They are intelligible.

32. The knight of faith's action stands in no relation to the universal. It is purely individual. The tragic hero is great because their deed is an expression of the ethical; the knight of faith is great because their deed is of purely personal virtue. The tragic hero faces a momentary struggle, making the movement of mediation and finding safety in the universal; the knight of faith is under constant trial, always confronting the possibility that they can turn back in repentance to the universal at any point.

33. It takes courage to surrender yourself to the universal. But there is a security in doing so, precisely because it is the universal. It is glorious to be understood by every noble mind, and in such a way that even the beholder is thereby ennobled. But it is not faith.

The Tenth Commentary: Abraham cannot be mediated when he goes to sacrifice Isaac. He cannot speak, for the moment he speaks he expresses the universal, and when he does no-one can understand him. All he can explain to anybody, even himself, is that he is a murderer. But he has become higher than the universal, and so has teleologically suspended the ethical. This is the paradox which cannot be mediated. If it is not so then he is not even a tragic hero but a murderer.

When a person sets out on the tragic hero's difficult path there are many who would lend them advice; but them that walk the narrow path of faith no-one can advise, no-one can understand. They know it is beautiful to be born as the particular with the universal as their home, but they also know that higher up there winds a lonely path, narrow and steep; they know it is terrible to be borne in solitude outside the universal, to walk without meeting a single traveller. They know very well where they are, and how they are related to others. Humanly-speaking, they are insane and cannot make themselves understood to anyone.



The Problem of Faith



34. For the universal, it is the task of the particular to abolish interior emotions and express them through exterior ethics. When you shrink from doing so you commit an offence by being in a state of temptation. The paradox of faith is that there is an interior emotion which is not commensurable with exterior ethics, one which is not identical to the former emotion but is new and higher: the unconditional commitment.

35. The Socratic tradition has always held faith to exist as superstition, as a form of lower immediacy. It has therefore never existed precisely because it has always existed. But faith is actually a form of higher immediacy. It has never existed because there is no room in the Socratic tradition for anything above the universal. To go against the universal is to sin. Faith, because it introduces a higher authority into your life, is therefore to sin.

36. And so the knight of faith is born. They see the Sword of Damocles hanging over the head of their loved one and rather than defending themself against the loss - as the knight of infinite resignation would do - they become more involved instead, sure that they will win their desire in the end. This is the knight of faith who has made the movement of mediation, the movement of infinite resignation and then the movement of faith.



The Differentiation Between an Unconditional Commitment and Temptation



37. If you cannot resist doing something then it is a compulsion, and if it is a compulsion then it is lower immediacy. The basic condition of higher immediacy is that you are free not to do as it wills. Freedom is a necessary precondition of faith.

38. The first criterion of the knight of faith is that they respect the authority of the universal as if they were the perfect follower of the Socratic tradition - for they are, as all of us are, followers of it in that sense. They are unable to say or comprehend what they are doing. Then they can be sure that they are experiencing the tension of their actions as they teleologically suspend the ethical.

39. The second criterion of the knight of faith is that they are always in absolute isolation. They cannot accrue followers to their ultimate commitment, for this presupposes that their commitment is rational and intelligible. They are a witness, never a teacher.

40. The third criterion of the knight of faith is that they cannot be helped by the universal; they cannot find a point of rest in the universal as the tragic hero can. They must instead reside in constant tension. They are in anguish.

The Eleventh Commentary: Abraham is able at any point to turn back and let Isaac live, and consequently to say that his commitment was merely a temptation. Were he to do so, he would return to the ethical. But he would no longer be a knight of faith so much as a normal person living within the universal. Abraham did not do so, though. He went to sacrifice Isaac, which ethics would describe only as murder. He knew this and he could not speak in his defence because his actions were not rational. It made him sleepless, and he was in constant tension. And yet without that anguish, Abraham was not the one who he was. He was not the Father of Faith.

The knight of faith feels anguish which cannot be realised from the outside, but is felt deeply internally. They live in the paradox wherein they are obliged to do something which they cannot understand. That is the anguish of getting more involved whilst simultaneously recognising the vulnerability of the ultimate commitment. It is the anguish of doing what you feel you ought to do whilst knowing that it is wrong to do so. Abraham is silent, but he cannot speak. Therein lies the distress and anguish.



God



41. God is that all things are possible, the calling to your unconditional commitment, and the sword hanging above your paradigm's head.

The Twelfth Commentary: God is not a supreme being which you can hold as the object of your love. That is a Platonic conception which is made irrelevant because of Jesus. Jesus was God as a temporal, finite human. You cannot communicate with a supreme being more directly than you can communicate with Jesus, because your absolute relation to the ultimate commitment becomes a relation to him who is your calling. In short, it is your unconditional commitment which gives you meaning, and it is God who is the calling to your unconditional commitment. Therefore, God has given you your self; God is your Creator.

There are three aspects to God. The first is an atmosphere of possibility - that all things are possible - which is what allows you to teleologically suspend the ethical in the expectation of achieving your ultimate commitment; it is what makes faith possible. The second is the calling, which is how you relate to God as Jesus and thereby transcend the universal. The third is the Sword of Damocles swinging above the head of your loved one, which is what introduces vulnerability to your ultimate commitment and makes possible the movement of infinite resignation and the movement of faith.



The Reward



42. If you suffer the torment of teleologically suspending the ethical then you will eventually create a new ethical. It will be a universal ethic which is only noticeable as you look back on your life. But what was once considered unworthy, what was once unintelligible to society takes on over time its own language and ceases to become sinful. It becomes intelligible to others and so becomes a new universal.

The Thirteenth Commentary: The synthesis between the Socratic tradition and the Christian revelation is an attempt to explain Arthurian society. If there were no Socratic tradition then anarchy would reign. If there were no Christian revelation then society would not recognise that there can be higher things than the universal - ethics would be stuck, immobile and non-progressive. The synthesis is the possibility of people acting in such a way that though they do not understand what they do (and though no-one else can understand either), they still do it through faith and make what was once impossible the new universal. That we should be able to do so is contradictory and paradoxical, but it is a paradox which we ought to embrace.



The Sickness Unto Death



43. The Socratic tradition defines human beings as an unstable combination of body and soul. The body is temporal, the soul is eternal. The body seeks pleasures, the soul seeks ideas. The two vie for dominance over a human being. For philosophers, the goal of a human is to stabilise that relationship by contemplating within yourself whether the body or soul is what defines you and to minimise the presence of that which does not.

The Fourteenth Commentary: Plato believed the soul to be more important than the body, ideas to be more important than pleasures. Platonists therefore seek intellectual stimulation over bodily joy. The philosopher must die to their body. Lucretius believed the body to be more important than the soul, that the satisfaction of our atoms through pleasure was a natural desire. Philosophy, religion and the soul were to him simply distractions from our animal needs.


44. If you recognise the dominance of the body or the soul over the other part then you are relating to yourself in a negative unity. That is, you are defining yourself by actively negating one aspect. You have achieved harmony by removing the confusion between the body and the soul. But the two are not reconciled. Indeed, they cannot be reconciled in the Socratic tradition, for the body is supposed to act in the world and the soul to engage in reflection of itself. When you act, you cannot reflect and when you reflect you cannot be actively involved. It becomes impossible to achieve the highest life of the Socratic tradition: to reflect and remain politically involved.

45. The Christian revelation says that the body and soul are equally essential. That is why God the spirit took on a bodily form in Jesus. Nor are the two separate entities; they are integrated in such a way that one cannot exist without the other. The body acts in the world, the soul reflects on itself and we must live up to the Christian revelation by recognising the contradiction which this makes of humans.

The Fifteenth Commentary: Pascal believed that the aim of life was not to overcome the contradiction of body and soul but to fully express that contradiction through angst. To purify life according to the Socratic tradition is simply to repress the self by denying its inherent contradiction. Instead of peace, then, Pascal aims for aliveness. So he said that "we do not express greatness by going to one extreme, but in touching both at once and filling all the intervening space".

To have a self is a blissful experience. But anguish is a necessary part of it, because you will oscillate between pride in your reflective soul and despair at your animalistic body in a constant movement. The Socratic concept of negative unity is, by comparison, stationary fulfilment. The hope of experiencing a self without being in despair is seen in Jesus, who shows you the answer: he had reason to be extremely proud (as he was God) and extremely humble (as he was human). Yet he inhabited both extremes simultaneously with neither pride nor humiliation. You must imitate Jesus. Only then can the contradiction be overcome.


46. A human being is the stand which they take on themselves, the meaning which they give to themselves. Being a self is not only being a contradiction, but it is the way that this contradiction takes a stand on being a contradiction. For the Socratic tradition, that stand is to repress one aspect of the self in negative unity; for the Christian revelation it is to embrace the two and relate to Jesus. A human being is a being whose being is an issue for them.

47. A human being is a synthesis - an integral being in which two inseparable parts require one another. It is a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, the eternal and the temporal, freedom and necessity. A human being is therefore the stand which they take on being a synthesis of contradictions.

48. A synthesis is a relation between two terms. Looked at this way, a human being is not yet a self because a simple relation is not enough to be a human being: you need also to relate to that relation by taking a stand on it. If you do not, then you are unconscious in despair of having a self. That is, you do not know that you are not yet a self because you are forgetting the difficulties of being a human being of contradictions by attending to bodily pleasures or reflections of the soul. This is inauthentic despair.

49. Negative unity occurs if you recognise a relation, but define yourself by repressing one half of that relation. This is not wanting in despair to be yourself, to give up trying to bring the self together in synthesis by discarding one half of that synthesis and trying to perfect the other half.

50. Positive unity occurs if you recognise the relation and relate to the whole self without repressing one aspect of the synthesis. This is wanting in despair to be yourself, to try with all of your strength to bring the two parts of the synthesis together but to find yourself unable to do so because, firstly, they are contradictory and, secondly, it cannot be done alone.

51. To be in despair is to recognise the inherent contradiction of having a self.

52. If you could overcome this contradiction then you would be your own constitutive power. You cannot. You are not your own master because you are a contradiction which you yourself cannot overcome. Therefore, you must have been created by an establishing power - a paradigm.

53. The self can only relate to itself by unconditionally committing to something else which established it. That is why there are two forms of authentic despair. If the self were self-established then there would only be one form: not wanting to be itself, wanting to be rid of itself as in the Socratic tradition.

54. The unconditional commitment to the paradigm is what elevates you to individuality and gives you meaning. This, then, is the formula which describes the self when despair has been eradicated: in relating to itself and wanting to be itself, the self is grounded transparently in the paradigm.

The Sixteenth Commentary: To be grounded transparently in the paradigm is to live in such a way that everything you do is manifestly and self-consciously done in the name of that paradigm. It cannot be God because God is the three aspects (that all things are possible, the calling to the ultimate commitment, and the sword over the loved one) and therefore stands outside of the self and its paradigm. But God is what makes it possible to relate to that establishing power without resignation, through faith. Because God exists, all things are made possible and so you can overcome the impossible contradiction of the self. God therefore plays a fundamental role in fulfilling the self, but is not the self.


55. The unconditional commitment reconciles the contradictory elements of the self by defining them such that they support, rather than exclude, one another. This cannot be done in the Socratic tradition because it values contemplation as the highest form of self, and through it the paradox cannot be overcome. Therefore one side must be repressed. In the Christian revelation, though, involvement is more important than detachment, and through it the paradox can be reconciled because, firstly, God is that all things are possible and, secondly, you are in anguish and consequently alive to the tension. You know, then, that you can reconcile the two factors even if you do not understand why. You do so through the strength of the absurd. Hence, your identity is inseparable from your unconditional commitment.

56. Synthesising the temporal and the eternal gives you an identity. The temporal is every fixed moment in time, which can be continuously re-interpreted. The eternal is an instant in time in which your identity and meaning is determined by your unconditional commitment. Your past and future become defined by this instant. The synthesis of the temporal and eternal is to live a moment of time involvedly in such a way that you receive an identity which is eternal - you are forever your unconditional commitment.

57. Synthesising the finite and the infinite gives you a world. The finite is every thing in the world. The infinite is every finite thing which ever could be. The synthesis of the finite and the infinite is that your unconditional commitment does not give meaning to every finite thing in your world, but you know that it gives meaning to every possible thing that ever could enter your world - the infinite. Thus, your unconditional commitment, by giving meaning to your world, defines the limits of that world. By having an infinite passion for your finite unconditional commitment, you receive a world in which you know the infinite.

58. Synthesising the necessary and the possible gives you despair. The necessary is facticity, that is your unconditional commitment which is what defines you. The possible is freedom, that is that you are free to relate to your unconditional commitment in any way. The synthesis of the necessary and the possible is that even when the central concern of your life (the necessary) is fixed, you are free to relate to it in any way (the possibility). You may betray your unconditional commitment for the universal, become a knight of resignation, or revert to lower immediacy. The commitment is therefore not a compulsion - you may surrender it and be in despair.

59. Despair is the experience that you are not relating the factors of your self through a positive synthesis. It is simultaneously the experience that you have never done so. Consequently, you realise that your life has been without meaning and you have been without identity. You simultaneously realise that you never will have meaning or identity. Your past, though it may have appeared happy and successful, is revealed as an illusion because you were not relating to your self through a positive synthesis. You were not truly happy, and so you realise that you were always in despair, albeit unconsciously. Despair, then, is negative reflection upon an unconditional commitment.



The Answer Being Christianity



60. The only way to guarantee that you will not experience despair in the future (and thereby retroactively have ben in despair for your entire past) is if you are a knight of faith. You must relate yourself to your self by relating to your unconditional commitment with infinite passion. You will be reconstituted as a new being.

61. Part of having a self is to be grounded transparently in the paradigm which created it. The paradigm which created it was Jesus, for there was no such notion of reconciliation of the self before him. Therefore, in order to save your self, you must relate in a positive unity to Jesus.

62. You can relate to Jesus in two ways. Firstly, by having an unconditional commitment to him. This was the path taken by his contemporaries, and available only to them, and they became the disciples. Secondly, by imitating him. Jesus is the perfect example of a self: he has shown us what it means to die for our ultimate commitment.

The Seventeenth Commentary: There is no sign in the Bible of what Jesus's ultimate commitment may have been. He must have had one, in order to be the perfect example of a self. It does not matter for the teachings, for they are not meant to put forward a rational or scientific argument concerning Christianity or its notion of the self. They simply seek to explain what the Bible - the revelation - say to be true. We all believe it by virtue of its deep roots in our culture. Those outside of our culture are not in despair. It is doubtful that they can be, for their culture has no conception of the 'self of paradoxes'. Their thinking does not allow for the revelation, and so they have forfeited both the possibility of bliss and the possibility of despair. As Dante would have it, they are in limbo.
Last edited by The Arthurian Isles on Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Moralistic Democracy

A Quiet and Uneventful Morning

Postby Nui-ta » Thu Aug 23, 2018 9:29 pm

She would never, ever admit to it --- but when her husband retired from politics, Kiana couldn't possibly have been happier.

It hadn't always been that way. When she and Josko had first met, both of them still had careers and responsibilities. Josko was practically a life-long politician, and Kiana had jumped from position to position as Josko's responsibilities changed. For a while, it had been easy. When they first married, she was able to work for the Nui-tan military attache to Radiatia, but her eventual pregnancy with their only child had resulted in her discharge from the Nui-tan armed forces.

When motherhood slowed down, the family had relocated to Rahku City due to Josko's appointment as the ambassador to Nui-ta. Kiana found work with the up-and-coming Class Reform Party for a bit, and when that venture failed, she managed to maintain enough connections between the CRP-led government and her older contacts to continue to keep herself busy.

The family's return to Radiatia so that Josko could run for the Senate was when things had changed. Suddenly, the family were back in Radiatia, where Kiana had far less ability (or need, as far as anyone was concerned) to find work. Johanna kept her mother busy at first, but as she finished high school and left home to start her own life, suddenly Kiana was faced with mind-numbing boredom. It was a common enough problem for Radiatian housewives, as far as she was aware...but there was little to remedy it.

With Johanna grown and Josko gone frequently, Kiana spent much of her time looking for anything to do. Some days, she followed Josko around between Xerconia and Yuesses, but there were often moments where she knew better than to cling to him too much for company. Now reaching a level of importance such that he could throw his hat into the Presidential race, he needed to be allowed to work.

Some days, Kiana would try to call Johanna --- but Radiatian culture was such that parent and child did not keep close contact after a child was grown.1 Johanna was a sweet girl, and took to these attempts kindly. However, one day Kiana overheard Johanna trying to explain to someone why she was talking to her mother for no apparent reason. Feeling a bit of guilt after that, Kiana cut her calls down from once every couple of months to special occasions only.

There were a few nameless, faceless "friends" that dotted her life from time to time. Some of them were from Nui-ta, but distance wore those relations down. Some were random Radiatians, but friendships in Radiatia seemed far more superficial. Kiana was stunned to find that more often than not, any Radiatians she befriended were good for one, or maybe two weeks of intrigue before they moved back to their lives.2

For all the pleasantries and smiles that she gave off, and for how pleasant people seemed to think she was (she couldn't be sure), she really only had two friends.

One was Josko. This was the reason she was so happy to have him back in the house. Having him around to keep her busy again was ridiculously pleasant. The boredom practically melted away.

The other, who had maintained just enough contact with her to give her something to look forward to when everyone else was gone, was Hariem. There was a very particular kind of friendship that Kiana had with Hariem. It was the kind of thing that was foreign in Radiatia, and probably would have been met with raised eyebrows. In Nui-ta, however, it was so common that it also had a name: "bar'kija".

Bar'kija: there was no English word for such a concept. This was a very "pure" kind of friendship --- one that maintained its form without either changing into a romance (known in Nui-ta as bar'tolja), or resulting in some alternate arrangement between clans (another concept which was distinctly Nui-tan, known as kuj'bar naz'hai)4.

The friendship between Hariem and Kiana in particular had its ebbs and flows. Contact between the two usually remained steady at an email once a week, but if one of them was experiencing some kind of personal difficulty. This was far more common on Kiana's part, as Hariem lived in Nui-ta and had a more extensive network of family and close friends to rely upon if something happened.

But every now and then, there were moments.




It was early in the morning. Kiana had woken up earlier than normal and had logged into CONFERO for a moment to check the news. Hariem must have noticed that she was online and decided to ask for a video call, which Kiana immediately found as unusual.

"I haven't heard from you in two weeks," Kiana scolded him. "How very not Nui-tan of you. And a video-call instead of an email? What's the occasion?"

"I've been busy," Hariem yawned. It was just as early in Nui-ta as it was in Radiatia. "And something told me to try and call you today. I haven't actually talked to you face-to-face in months".

"Probably closer to a year," Kiana chuckled. She paused for a moment. There was a dull pain in her neck. Brushing it off, she asked him, "so, what are you so busy with these days?"

"Wedding planning," Hariem laughed. "I finally made a break-through with Rahim about all the formalities. Crivan and Sharina are finally getting married".

"Took them long enough," Kiana said. "You'd been mentioning they'd been engaged for a while".

"They're already married, actually. Sort of".

"Wait, how does that work, I thought..."

"On paper," Hariem explained. The whole process was taking so long that Crivan went ahead and filed for marital paperwork a while back, but the el-Hashem's won't accept that. They want the whole ceremony. All the formalities. They're complaining that it's taking forever and that Crivan and Sharina are both over 30 now, but then they're the ones who've been holding everything up since they first got engaged a few years back!"

"God I hate Nui-tan weddings," Kiana rolled her eyes. "Er, no offense. Yours was alright".

"Mine was way less of a pain in the ass to plan. You know how the groom's family pays for what the bride's family chooses? Trenta's family wasn't choosy. My family had money. We wrote the check for the arrangements, and they cashed it --- but with Sharina's family, she's a sweet girl but there's no making her family happy".

"I bet you're glad you're not a poor man".

"I'm not, but the el-Hashem's are ridiculous. One of Sharina's sisters is married to the Emperor's cousin. They're Barons, Kiana. Highest class of nobility there is, and they act like it".

"Oh god, don't tell me the Emperor will be at Crivan's wedding".

"He won't, but the Empress and the Princess will be". Kiana let out a gasp of surprise at that answer, and felt another pang in her neck. This one radiated down a bit towards her back and shoulders. She began to make her way to a cabinet in the house where she knew pain medication would be located, filling up a glass of water at the kitchen along the way.

"That's awkward".

"Tell me about it. They're all relatives. Like I said, the el-Hashem's are pretty ridiculous".

"And here I thought you were up there in the nobility, Hariem".

"I'm not a Baron. Trust me, there gets to be a difference. It's gonna be sort of awkward considering the bride and groom are married already, ceremony notwithstanding, but...well. You know..."

"Right, they wouldn't have had to wait this long if your friend Rahim wasn't being such a pain about his daughter's wedding".

"Oh please, that man is not my friend. I can't wait for Crivan to get married so I can finally stop having to be in the same room as Rahim," Hariem said, prompting a laugh from Kiana.

A laugh followed by a sharp pang.

She winced a little. Hariem could see this on the screen of his phone.

"Are you alright?"

"I've woken up with some shoulder pain this morning," Kiana chuckled a bit. "Sorry..."

"No, no. Don't be sorry. Should I let you go?"

"I'll be okay, I just need to sit down for a bit. I just took some pain medicine and that should help".

She grinned a little bit. "I was just thinking of my own wedding, you know. Things are so different in Radiatia. You know we spent all day in line waiting for the proper paperwork?"

"Not as romantic as in Nui-ta, eh?"

Kiana just smiled. "I don't mind. It hasn't changed anything".

"That's good," Hariem smiled back. "How is Josko anyway?"

"Still sleeping, I think. Usually I am too, for one more hour".

"Must be nice, not having much to do since your politician husband is retired".

"Oh shut up, between old money and what Trenta left you, I'm sure you don't have to work if you don't want to".

"Yeah, but I get bored. You should know. You always used to email me about how bored you were".

"Thankfully with Josko around, that's not a problem anymore".

"Good," Hariem smiled. "Go have fun with your husband. I just realized I have something I have to finish. I'm gonna hang up now. Don't have anything else to tell me, do you?"

"No! Have fun getting the wedding all set up. Maybe if you're lucky you'll see Rowan di-Amori and get his autograph!"

"Oh god..." Hariem rolled his eyes, before saying, "the same annoying sense of humor that you've always had. Have a quiet morning, Kiana. If you don't hear from me again for a while, it's because I've gone to jail for finally punching Rahim in the face".

And then he hung up. Kiana chuckled a little. For a moment, there was quiet, and then the pangs began again.

I should sit down, Kiana thought to herself. She ventured back into the kitchen for a moment, made herself a cup of coffee to start the morning, and then sat down on a couch in the living room. Getting back on her phone again, she continued to read the news again. There was plenty of news about the Radiatian Presidential Primaries. Kiana was leaning towards voting for Yamada, but she hadn't solidly made up her mind yet.

She spent a bit of a time thumbing through some specific articles discussing the differences between Wesley Yamada and his main rival, Steven McCarthy. Finishing her coffee, she got up from the couch to rinse out the cup. The pain had gone away, it seemed.

On the second step she took, she felt something strange. A ripping sensation in her chest and upper abdomen. It didn't hurt like the earlier pangs she was feeling. She took another step. It was the last one.

And yet suddenly, it was extremely difficult to breathe. Obviously, she had gotten up too quickly. The lights seemed to flicker around her --- in actuality, that was a total loss of consciousness. The final signals her brain sent to the body rushed out --- her legs attempted to make another step, but they turned to gelatin as her balance disintegrated and she fell to the floor.

Her arms attempted to search for something to grab, but with no further input from the brain, they were useless. The coffee cup slipped from her grasp and shattered on the floor. Maybe the noise would wake Josko up.

Certainly, the noise was the last thing from the living world Kiana's brain could sense as it failed to intake enough oxygen to survive. Her ascending aorta had ripped open. A quick, quiet, unexpected death for Kiana, but for Josko Ivers, this was not going to be a quiet morning.




1 Perhaps this was the hardest thing for Kiana to get used to. In both Hadin and Nui-ta, families maintained life-long contact.

2This is actually such a common cultural disparity between Radiatia and Nui-ta that there is now a Nui-tan term for it: Soj'kija lin parin'm. The term literally translates to English as "a friendship for one blink of the eye".

3Those familiar with the "four loves" theory would easily identify "bar'kija" as being identical to philia. (The four loves theory, however, doesn't hold up in Nui-ta because agape isn't a concept).

In some countries (like Nui-ta), it is perfectly acceptable for two persons to maintain a close friendship than for no other reason than because they're close friends. In other countries (South Zanzes and Hadin), this is an odd concept, and such friendships are viewed as possessing some ulterior motive.

4 The concept of friendships evolving into romance is universal across Noctur. The other concept, known as kuz'bar naz'hai, is different from bar'kija because it involves a friendship that is strong enough to influence a family. Close friendships on the part of two clan patriarchs, for example, may result in them arranging or encouraging a marriage between their relatives.

Kuz'bar naz'hai is actually more intrinsically Nui-tan than bar'kija, because it is almost certain that there are other countries in Noctur, mostly on Terra Oriens, who recognize the concept of bar'kija. Furthermore, kuz'bar naz'hai is thought to be far more common than bar'kija. It is considered difficult to keep a strong friendship as "just" a friendship, as most platonic friendships in Nui-ta eventually result in kuz'bar naz'hai out of convenience.
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Radiatia
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A Noisy and Eventful Day

Postby Radiatia » Sat Aug 25, 2018 12:13 am

A bitter wind blew through the prairies.

There was a flutter as the wind passed through the endless fields of brown grass, slicing its way down and parting each blade of grass from its neighbour as it continued down the flat terrain to blow into the face of the lone man standing on the side of the road.

Josko Ivers knew New Vashura when he saw it. He knew that the empty field before him contained not nothing, but everything.

The wind blew again, scattering broken twigs from the lone tree before, the smaller of which landed in the dust at his feet, on the side of the lonely highway.

He looked behind him. There was no car - he must have walked here. He didn't remember how, but he was here.

He heard a twig snap. He spun around. There was no one in sight.

The twig snapped again.

Josko looked around.

"Who's there?"

The wind was whistling now. Silence was his only answer.

No, not silence... the whistling wind was masking a sound. A faint sound. Footsteps.

Suddenly, from behind the tree, there was a flutter. A shadow. A figure, emerging.

Josko struggled at first to make out the figure but as it slowly edged toward him he recognised it.

It was a woman, a very young woman no more than 20 years old, carrying a small infant.

The young lady stopped in the field and didn't move, instead she just stared at Josko.

Part of him didn't want to, but Josko felt compelled to approach the woman, to step off the road and on to the field of dry grass. The grass came up to his shoulders in places, and at parts he had to fight his way through, trying to approach the young woman.

She smiled at him as came up her, standing near the tree.

"You shouldn't be here, Josko," She said. The small child she was carrying averted Josko's gave and clung tighter to its mother.

"Neither should you." Said Josko.

The young woman smiled, even giggled slightly. "How many times have we gone through this now?"

"I come here sometimes. There's nothing wrong with me being here. Hell... it's a free country now!"

The young woman reached out to Josko, close enough to touch him and made to brush his face, but hesitated, choosing not to make physical contact.

"You still shouldn't be here," She said.

"And neither should you." Said Josko.

The young woman rolled her eyes. "I've told you so many times now that it wasn't your fault. Of course I should be here. I like it here. I always liked it here. And I know you like it too because you keep coming here. The years roll on and still... you keep coming... here. To this spot."

"They say the past is another country. And sometimes I like to visit foreign countries." Said Josko.

The wind blew again, louder and stronger than before. The blades of brown grass whipped up and moved, briefly obscuring the young woman from Josko's view.

"Do you remember... what it was like? Under communism? Do you remember all the lies they used to tell us?"

Josko nodded. He had not come to this place to discuss politics.

"Remember when they used to say there's no God? That there's no afterlife? Wouldn't it be nice if one day we could all learn that the communists lied about that too...."

Josko tried to say something but whatever he said was drowned out by the rustling grass and howling wind.

"Don't worry about it, Josko..." Said the young woman. "I'll take good care of Kiana."

She turned away and began to disappear into the field.

Josko tried to run after her, to call out after her, but before he could do anything he realised that he was in fact lying in a bed over a 1000km southeast of New Vashura, in the suburbs of Xerconia, FCT.




It wasn't long before the ambulance arrived in the quiet cul-de-sac on the northern edge of the city. Nor too did it take long for the paramedics to pronounce Kiana dead.

"Yep, she's a stiff alright," Said one of a paramedics - a man with a thick rural accent - speaking of Josko's deceased wife as if he was looking at a busted car motor. "We'll have to take 'er in for a proper examination to be sure of the cause but looks like her heart fucked out. Yer'll need ter get a new wife."

Josko stood for a moment. He was still in shock, and hoping he was still dreaming.

"Oh and, err, sorry for yer loss." Said the paramedic as Josko handed him a 50 Tsenyen banknote while the other paramedics carried Kiana's body out on a stretcher in a bodybag.

The paramedics were barely out the door when a formally dressed woman carrying a clipboard and series of documents arrived at the door.

"Hi, my name's Katrina Gottlieb, from the City of Xerconia, Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages. How are you this morning?" She smiled and put her hand out for Josko to shake it.

"I'm terrible," He said, not even bothering to shake her hand. "My wife just died."

"Yes Mr. Ivers... Minister Ivers? Oh you're that Josko Ivers! Yes I'll leave you to grieve in a few moments but first we need to get this paperwork out of the way as efficiently as possible."

Without even waiting to be invited, she barged her way into the house and set up shop on the kitchen table.

"Do you mind if I wait a while? I haven't even told my daughter..."

"Please, Mr. Ivers! I'll be gone just as soon as I have your F-82 form, a copy of Mrs. Ivers' citizens ID and relevant papers and of course the small matter of the 170 Tsenyen processing fee," She said, with no compassion or even social grace. "In accordance with federal law, we will be extracting your wife's organs and donating them to the needy - it's not efficient to leave perfectly good organs inside a dead woman is it? And I see you have private insurance so if we could have your policy number we'll take care to transfer her corpse to..."

"Do you have no respect!?" Spat Josko at the rude bureaucrat who had barged into his home. "My wife of 30 years just died suddenly... and you want me to dig out our health insurance forms!?"

"Mr. Ivers, please, just because you were a Senator doesn't mean you're exempt from..."

"I will follow these processes. But I will do them when I'm ready and when my family knows that my wife is dead."

"But surely if we don't have the right paperwork, she might end up at the wrong morgue? Why... she could end up mixed up with a living patient! Or worse - we could have inaccurate information for the tax department? Did you even think of the tax department? I know you're upset but it's not my fault your wife died, and I'll ask to you to please stop being so inefficient!"

Josko rolled his eyes. He was barely dressed and if he was still in New Vashura he would grabbed his shotgun and ushered the woman out with it.

Instead he signed and grabbed a pen, marking where and when the lady said "sign here" and then lazily offering her his credit card (she had brought a mobile payment-processing device) so she could assure that Kiana's death was made official.

When the awful woman was finally gone he picked up the phone and dialled Johanna's number - it was still 6am in Das Engel and chances are she was still asleep.

The phone went to voicemail.

Josko sighed. For a girl who spent her teenage years glued to her phone, Johanna hardly seemed to answer it these days. He was about to take a shower when he noticed Johanna's number flash up on his screen.

"Daddy?" Johanna must have been the only woman in the entire Radiatian Federation to still call her father 'Daddy'. "Daddy did you pocket dial me? The sun isn't up yet here..."

"Johanna... your mother is dead."

There was a pause.

He continued. "They don't know for sure what happened but it looks like it was a heart problem. I found her this morning, there was nothing they could do."

"No!"

Josko sighed. He remembered back to the time, not long after they first married, when his own mother had died.

It was hard on him and for Johanna, who was far closer to her family than was usual in Radiatia, it was probably harder again.

"I'll... I'll be on the first flight to Xerconia I can get!" Said Johanna, and she hung up.

Josko thought for a moment and realised there was another call he needed to make. It was for someone who was further away than Johanna yet somehow still in the same time zone.

Hariem was a close friend of Kiana's, and a fairly close friend of Josko's (with certain incidents involving one of them breaking the other's nose now lost to ancient history).

Of course he needed to be notified. In fact, Josko needed Hariem's guidance on just what to do with Kiana's remains - maybe she should go back to Alinia. Or maybe she should be buried in Xerconia. Or even in New Vashura. He was at a loss.

Unfortunately before he could phone Hariem, his own phone began to explode with voice messages and marketing material from those who had - somehow - already learned of Kiana's death.

"Hi, this is George from Grimm's Undertakers, Radiatia's 10th most trusted brand of undertaker. You've lost a loved one, why not SAVE on funeral costs? Call us now!"

"Hi... you loved your family member, and you love Greasy Joe's! Why not have them minced up and made into a special burger! Offer not available outside of the States of Zorbakh and Saskenya..."

"It can be hard to find love after loss, but here at Radiatia's Premium Dating agency we'll be able to get you a new wife before your old one is even fully cold!"

"Pavlov's Pizza Parlour is sorry for your loss and we're offering you a special deal - order two pizzas, get just one because now you don't need it! Give us a call on 0800 PIZZAK - the "K" stands for "Kwolity"!"

"Is there an empty space in your life, now that your loved one is gone? Speaking of space - why not send your loved one's remains to outer space? That's right, we can launch your deceased relative into space for as low as 100,000 Tsenyens!"

"Death of a loved one getting you down? Well learn to smile again with our special themed funerals! We have everything from rodeo theme, sci fi theme, fantasy theme, clowns, candyfloss, you name it! Call 0800 "FUN"-E-RAL now!"

Josko decided to go and take a shower. He'd call Hariem afterwards.
Last edited by Radiatia on Sat Aug 25, 2018 12:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

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A Turbulent and Complicated Evening

Postby Nui-ta » Sat Aug 25, 2018 2:24 am

A text message had beckoned Hariem to end the phone call with Kiana and dart into the shower. Apparently, he'd forgotten to finalize arrangements with a local temple involving the wedding ceremony.

This was normally the kind of thing Crivan should have been dealing with, but Crivan was balancing his wedding plans with a very high-profile legal case in New Zanzes --- the one involving the state governor.

"Dad, I can't be in two states at once and I won't be back in Sangaur until next week," Crivan had told him. "I faxed over everything, but someone has to go over there and sign the paperwork. Could you sign for me? I already called ahead".

"Did you pay the fees?" Hariem texted back, once he had started getting dressed. His pants were already on. Hariem was still trying to find a particular shirt.

"Yeah, I paid online".

"Good. I'll head over and scribble some signatures for you then," Hariem texted back, in between fumbling with the shirt and the clothing hanger.

He slipped the shirt on. His phone beeped in between. It was just an affirmative text from Crivan. "K".

I wonder what that boy would do without me, Hariem laughed to himself in his head. He found himself a pair of shoes and made sure his hair was neatly combed. These days, he kept the beard closely-shaved, as a "5-o'clock shadow". It was getting to be too much of a pain to maintain at any other length.

Be nice to your kids, Hariem, a small voice reminded him, from his own imagination. They will choose your nursing home.

He was in high-spirits through the drive to the temple. Once he got there, he got out of the car and made his way inside. One of the temple workers was waiting for him.

As soon as Hariem saw the necklace that the worker was wearing. He stopped dead in his tracks. The necklace in question was the emblem of Yi'tna.1.

Though he'd been raised religious, he didn't consider himself a particularly superstitious man. Yet, there was something about this particular moment that sent a chill down his spine.

Probably nothing.

The temple worker, a pretty young woman with dark eyes and dark hair, had some papers in her hand for him.

"Crivan?'

"I'm his father".

"Oh, you'll have to excuse me. He didn't tell me you were coming".

Dammit Crivan, I thought you said that---

A phone rang somewhere behind them. Hariem looked down at his pocket. It wasn't his. Realizing it was a faux-pas to have his ringer on in an auspicious place, he took the opportunity to set the phone to vibrate. The worker had scurried off for a moment to answer it, and quickly returned.

"Nevermind, that was him! Come in quickly and let's get all of this signed".

There were several dozen papers to sign, despite the fact that Crivan had already filed for marital paperwork months ago, and thus the wedding was purely ceremonial rather than legally binding. Most of it was cost-related. Much of it also verified specific details that the el-Hashem family had been very particular about when they'd discussed the specifics of this wedding.

As long as it had taken, everything was already sorted out. Now all he had to do was...

...

...there was a long moment of silence. Nothing could be heard besides the sound of pen, scrapping against paper. The emblem of death glowed in the soft lighting of the room, and Hariem suddenly found he couldn't take his mind off of it.

"If you don't mind me asking, why are you wearing that?"

"Oh, I've taken Yi'tna as a patron. I used to work in a hospice before I hurt my back. Now I assist most of the priests with making funeral arrangements. Still, getting to help with a wedding is nice!"

"I'm sure," Hariem said softly, finishing the last signature and handing the paper back to her. "Will there be anything else?"

"I don't think so, let me check".

A few moments passed before the worker verified that there was nothing else needed at the moment. Satisfied, Hariem decided to head into the main shrines of the temple. It had been a while since he'd offered any prayers to the gods. The part of him that had been raised religiously felt a bit of guilt.

Despite it being very early in the morning, Hariem was surprised to notice that most of the shrines were occupied at the moment. The ones to which he felt he really should have been praying too, considering his eldest son's wedding was just around the corner, were all packed with various pilgrims offering their prayers.

The obvious choice to offer up prayers to was Pimera, the goddess of love. That shrine was packed. He'd pick someone else.

The next couple of choices were Jodon and Ubesis, the gods of prosperity and protection, respectively. Those shrines were also packed.

He'd been a soldier, before he retired. A thought crossed his mind to offer up gratitude to Ialdir, out of consideration for surviving his career. Ialdir's shrine was also packed.

Ena's shrine was packed too. The goddess of peace did not want to hear him today.

Dases, Doesis, and Karasil, the three main gods of the Stalari religion (who technically encompassed everything), were as packed as they got.

Hariem's eyes finally noticed one shrine which was empty.

He gulped a little bit. Yi'tna. Death, again.

Gods above, I really hope I don't have to watch my back.

Seeing no other option, he went to the shrine and took a moment to say a prayer. For what he was praying for though, he had no idea. The people he'd loved the most who were gone were long gone. He'd said enough prayers for his wife. For his parents. For fallen friends who had died during the Partition, which was now almost 40 years into the past. He really didn't feel like saying those same prayers again.

It didn't feel like that was why he was here, anyway. And yet for a moment, he felt as though there was someone watching him. Maybe it was some lost soul, with no one else to offer up words to the goddess of death and judgement.

Well fine, I'll pray for you then.

It was a rather sincere prayer. Whether or not any religion turned out to be true or not, Hariem had no way of knowing. It was entirely possible that all of this was just a fool's errand. There was probably no reason for any of this. And yet, the hairs on the back of his neck were standing on end.

He found himself sincerely hoping that if someone was watching him --- if there really was some deceased soul out there, asking for a kind word on his behalf as they faced death itself, that this helped.

Godspeed, whoever you are.

When he returned to the car, he took a moment to laugh at himself. He was probably just being silly.

And then he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket.




Kiana was dead.

He had somehow made his way back to his house intact. Despite the shock of the announcement that she was gone --- I was just talking to her a couple hours ago! --- he'd managed to focus on driving the car home. The entire time he drove home, he told Josko via speaker-phone exactly what he thought should happen.

"Josko, she was your wife. You're the one who needs to decide what would be easiest for you and your daughter. I know she was born in Alinia...but it's a very different place from where she left it, and where would you even put her? By where her parents were? Those were old colonial graves. They've long been destroyed by now --- who knows if we could even find them..."

"If you're honestly asking my opinion...I think she should stay with you. In Radiatia. Wherever home happens to be for you. New Vashura, then. Josko, she should be with you.

He'd fixed himself a sandwich and a glass of water. He'd gotten through half of it when he realized the weight of his words.

Kiana should have been with Josko. Because she shouldn't have died yet. She was only 52 --- that was almost as shocking and horrible as when Trenta had died at only 40. Deep down, however, Hariem had known Trenta wasn't going to make it to old age: she was just too sick.

Kiana? That was a complete shock.

As much as Kiana had annoyed him in their younger days, there was something about Kiana that Hariem had always admired. Everyone could still remember a particularly fateful visit in Radiatia --- an incident during which Kiana had shown considerable bravery when a far-right Radiatian MP had tried to take a terrorist attack she had been involved against, and turn it into a platform for his own agenda. Out of line though Kiana had been, no one could admit she was wrong.

Not to mention, the kid was resilient. Kid.

That's what she'd been, when they first met. The Partition had just ended. In those days, Alinia wasn't yet a state, and it conscripted at a younger age than Nui-ta. Kiana was still a brat who had lost everything to the war when they'd first met --- and yet she somehow had the strength to put on the bravest of smiles and keep pushing forward. Even when her life had drastically changed, and she faced mind-numbing boredom and isolation in Radiatia, she smiled and kept going.

In Radiatia's case, it was obvious why she pushed forward. As Hariem had learned from his own marriage, love made a person do strange things. It gave a person unimaginable strength in the face of all forms of negativity.

But before Josko, he couldn't quite put his thumb on what pushed Kiana forward.

Maybe she was just that strong. And it blew his mind to think that someone so strong could be gone in just a few minutes.

He couldn't bear to think about it anymore. Something about the entire thing made him sick. It just didn't seem fair. It wasn't the worst loss he'd ever felt in his life --- but it was very close.

Throwing the rest of the sandwich into the trash, and pouring the water into the sink, he stood in front of the kitchen sink for a moment at a loss. His phone was going off again. Hariem didn't even bother checking who it was.

He took a moment to comprehend the totality of what had just happened this morning. By the time he'd made any sense of it, morning had faded to night. There were several missed calls from a multitude of people. Only Josko and Crivan warranted picking up the phone at that moment.

Throwing himself into the events of the day, he did his best to forget the shock of what had happened and just accept the events as they were happening. The roles of society still remained. There would now be a wedding and a funeral to make, likely one immediately after the other.

As much as he wanted to weep, he found that he could not do so. Maybe Kiana's resilience had rubbed off on him. He decided to take advantage of it and push forward with the necessary arrangements. This was going to be a busy month.




1 Yi'tna is the Nui-tan goddess of sickness and death
Someone cares? Okay then. Economic Left/Right: -2.25
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INFP-T personality, quite heavy on the I,P, and T.

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Free-Market Paradise

Out with Autenberg

Postby Radiatia » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:59 pm

Not for the first time in the last four years, President Jaagen Autenberg was waking up with a hangover.

It was his last day in the Executive Tower, the official residence and office of the President, and the night before he had invited his staff for a party - and given that most of his staff had come from the north like him, they drank like northerners drank.

The cleaners were going to have a hell of a time cleaning up the drunken debris - especially considering that in a few hours a new President was due to move in, and the office looked more like a student flat than somewhere befitting the leader of Free Noctur.

Mary Autenberg had already flown home to Diatara - she never liked Xerconia anyway.

Jaagen was more torn about the place.

On one hand, it wasn't for him - big cities weren't for him, and certainly cities in the desert that got very hot in the summer weren't for him.

And yet, as he looked out watching the sun rise over the capital, he couldn't help admire that it was beautiful - a beauty that people perhaps didn't really associate with Radiatia. The sandstone art deco styles, the view over the Great Radiatian Desert, even the dull communist-era apartment blocks all had their place.

Jaagen Autenberg was not one for introspection usually, but he knew he was seeing this view probably for the last time ever, and he was grateful for the fact he'd ever been allowed to see it.




Though he hardly ever stayed in his office, officially Steven McCarthy was usually located two floors down and already his family were waiting there with him for the big move up to the top floor, and the top job.

He was still fielding phone calls from various MPs, Senators, people he'd met on the street - basically anyone who wanted to brown nose him before he officially became the President and therefore difficult to contact directly.

"Howdy folks," Said a familiar drawl as President Autenberg surprised the family with a visit. "Y'all set for yer big day?"

The President-elect's daughter Meghan smiled at the man who four years ago she used to call "Grandpa Jaagen" (though now she was 11 and getting more mature for that sort of thing).

"Just putting the finishing touches on my speech," Said McCarthy. "But apart from that we're ready to go."

"Ayup. An' Josko is ready too?"

"Yeah, he'll be here be soon."

"Okay then. If y'all need any liquid courage let me know... this ain't the kinda job a sober person should do." Said Autenberg, continuing his long tradition of leaving a room unable to tell if he was joking or serious




A few hours later, there was a roaring crowd in Federation Square as Autenberg, McCarthy and Josko Ivers made there way onto the platform, carefully following security directions to ensure they remained behind bullet proof glass at all times.

Black and gold flags were everywhere, but the biggest cheer was for Jaagen Autenberg who waved at the crowd despite his tiny frame barely being noticeable from a distance.

"It's sorta like musical chairs," Said the President. "Josko done takes yer seat, you take mine and then I... well I go home."

Also on the podium was Vladimir Perry, who Steven McCarthy shook hands with in front of a barrage of camera flashes. Several other former Presidents had turned up - Angela Pavlovic whispered her congratulations to the President-elect, Keldon Silviu wished him good luck and Gregori Fyoderov gave him a weird, sweaty handshake.

Soon Tobias Kneib, the Chief Justice of the Radiatian Federation, ushered Josko Ivers to the podium.

Josko paused for a moment and looked around. His daughter Johanna and her boyfriend, possibly fiancee David were on the platform, just behind Ksenia and Meghan McCarthy.

And yet something hit him there - which was that what would and should have been a happy moment for him was tinged with sadness. He wished, with all his might, that Kiana could have been here to see him become Vice President.

Such thoughts were inefficient. He had to soldier on.

"I, Josko Ivers swear my allegiance to the Radiatian people and the Radiatian constitution.

"I swear I will do all in my power to defend the constitution, to defend freedom and to defend our democracy.

"And I will execute to the best of my ability the duties of the office that I have been appointed to."


Tobias Kneib smiled at him.

"By the power invested in me by the Radiatian Constitution, I hereby declare you to be the Vice President of the Radiatian Federation." He said, shaking Josko's hand and then adding quietly, "And I'm sorry to hear about your wife."

The was a cheer, and firm handshakes all round despite the fact that truthfully, Josko was holding back tears at that moment and questioning if he even could be Vice President.

But soon it didn't matter as all attention fell upon the young man from South Corpshire who was sitting between him and Jaagen Autenberg.

Steven McCarthy faced Tobias Kneib on the podium as Kneib gave him his lines - lines that McCarthy already had memorised but which for formalities sake he had to repeat.

"I, Steven McCarthy swear my allegiance to the Radiatian people and the Radiatian constitution.

"I swear I will do all in my power to defend the constitution, to defend and protect our democracy and to defend, promote and protect our national values of individualism and efficiency during my time in office as President of the Radiatian Federation."


There was a dramatic pause before Tobias Kneib confirmed it: "Well then... congratulations, President McCarthy!"

There was a roar from the crowd, a 21 gun salute and a flyover by the RFAF and then suddenly silence, as President Steven McCarthy addressed the nation for the first time.



"Chief Justice Kneib, President Silviu, President Fyoderov, President Pavlovic, President Autenberg and... fellow Radiatians - thank you.

"I stand before you today as the first of a new generation of Radiatian leaders. Today the torch has been passed from the Greatest Generation of Radiatians - that is, the generation who brought us our freedoms - to my generation, who have grown up knowing only the freedoms that they fought so hard for.

"I am absolutely humbled to be here, because I am so acutely aware that I am standing on the shoulders of giants. We all are. Some of those people are gathered behind me today. And the greatest of us all lies in a tomb over there, on the other side of Federation Square. Every time we go to vote, or buy food, start a business, use the internet, watch television or have a conversation... we are in their debt.

"Thus we owe it to them to ensure that Radiatia remains not just a beacon for freedom, but a beacon for human progress and human dignity. We live in a country with the power to feed the world, or destroy it. That is the responsibility that is upon us all, at all times.

"This is an auspicious year because this year marks exactly half a century since the great Traiyan Silviu stood where I am standing now and announced to the world that communism was now on the ash-heap of history.

"It is a year to look back at how far we have come as a nation, while we look forward to what is next.

"50 years ago we were enslaved and starving, under the boot of a regime that considered the murder of 10 million innocent people to be perfectly morally justified. Even in my own childhood, resources were scarce - we all had to go without in those days. Food shortages were common. Consumer goods rare. A Radiatia where every citizen could afford a car, a computer and something to eat was unforeseeable.

"But look where we are today. Today we live in a country where the bottom 10%, that is the poorest of all Radiatians, still rank in the top 30% of the richest people in the world.

"We live in a country where the GDP of a small city sometimes exceeds that of entire nations. A country where you have have, do or buy anything you like and chances are you have the means to.

"We have struggled and sacrificed hard for these things, but today they are ours. Our children do not starve, and the rest of the world looks to us with envy.

"The story of Radiatia is the story of a nation of slaves who threw off their shackles and overthrew their cruel master. It's the story of a people who thanks to their individualism and the creativity that entails, in conjunction with their efficiency and hard work, built up the greatest superpower Noctur has ever seen.

"Radiatia is a land where dreams come true provided you work for them, because in Radiatia we don't believe in God: We believe in hard work and efficiency.

"What Traiyan Silviu said fifty years ago is as true then as it is now: There is no force of nature more powerful than the will of the Radiatian people.

"As this new generation takes over, where we go is up to us. Where our nation goes over the next fifty years will be determined by our endurance, our efficiency, our creativity and our hard work.

"Whatever you can dream of, you can do and Radiatia is always at its best when its citizens put their dreams into action.

"So wherever you are, whatever you do, whatever your plans are, know this:

"Radiatia's best days are still yet to come!"

Last edited by Radiatia on Sun Sep 16, 2018 12:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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