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Trial of the Senses [Closed | MT | Attn: Nova Secta]

Where nations come together and discuss matters of varying degrees of importance. [In character]
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Eothasia
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Founded: Jan 10, 2018
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Trial of the Senses [Closed | MT | Attn: Nova Secta]

Postby Eothasia » Fri Jun 11, 2021 12:44 pm

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Aedra Capitolia. The wonders of the capital city of Aedmeria were plentiful, stretching from the marvellous theatres that dotted the urban landscape to the parks, recreational centres, shopping districts, and other leisure activities that had thoroughly transformed the city from the previous centuries. The great capital of the Aterni Empire, from where the ancient emperors and empresses of old led the Imperial government as their troops marched thousands of kilometres away into cities of subjugated peoples-turned-provinces, had gone through an evolution not unlike other cities in the Dominion, with the advent of important technological advances that radically modified the very fabric of day-to-day life. And yet, it also experienced a unique evolution of its own; the great façades of the monuments that stand as an eternal testimony of the accomplishments of the Aterni Empire and the subsequent Imperial Aedmeri Union —the Imperial Palace of old, with its towering columns and marble floors, or the Magister’s Palace, where less-worthy audiences were held by the monarchs of the time— remained ever placated in the history of the city, but surrounded by the unmistakeable presence of a society that urged itself forward into the future with a ferocity and violence so great, very little could withstand their stampede. This was the Aedmeri way.

All too often, this had spelled doom for the peoples that advocated for this progression. The Aedmeri were not unscathed by this danger; the fervent desire to replace the obsolete structure of the monarchy, impatient in their march forward towards a more equal society, led to the coup d’état of 1901, bringing a violent end to the Pax Eothasi on the continent and a brutal end to an otherwise peaceful Unió Imperion.

But the establishment of the republic was not to be. The treacherous military leaders of the coup, dedicated and documented fascists that had seeped through the ranks of the Imperial military until occupying places of power, had no intention of providing the political liberties that had been lacking in the Imperial Union. Instead, their paternalistic nature led them to believe that they knew best, and that only they could push the Aedmeri forward. Thankfully for them all, the Aedmeri revolts bore their fruits sooner rather than later; the heroic actions of the leader Priscilla Poriér led to what is known today as the Egalitarian Revolution, reshaping the foundations of Aedmeri society and government to more adequately fit the prestige of their people. From the ashes of this revolution arose the Popular Constitution of 1913, and with it, the rudimentary form of the Aedmeri Dominion itself.

The country had undoubtedly continued evolving since then —after all, a full century and then some had passed—. Now, the future of the country lied in the hands of the Aedmeri people themselves, operating the National Citadel as a beacon of great pride for the Dominion. And yet, despite this, a figurehead was still needed, a structure to guide the Aedmeri forward in the paths the Gods desired. Sometimes, when Cornelia thought too much on the fact that she formed an integral part of that structure and that the lives of hundreds of millions of her Aedmeri compatriots were in her hands, she began to feel somewhat dizzy. It was never a thought that lingered for long.

Cornelia looked through the immense glass window overlooking the Plaza Imperion, her arms crossed at the level of her chest and her mind deeply considering alternatives. The Secret Intelligence Service had just provided a report that was most alarming; the Shuraya Tower slave market, one of the most notorious slave markets in the world, had reportedly included Aedmeri citizens —captured by slavers during their habitual raids of cities all over the globe— in their catalogue. This was a desperate situation for the Aedmeri Dominion; the Shuraya slave market had already been extensively condemned by the Imperial government many moons before, but the new development was of particular humiliation to the Dominion.

The possible methods to react were rather limited, much to the Aedarch’s dismay. The Shuraya slave market should most certainly be closed, forcibly or otherwise, by the Aedmeri military. Cornelia was certain that this would be the inclination of the National Citadel, who was quite vocal in their emotional defence of Aedmeri values and customs and would view this as a direct act of violence against the Aedmeri people. But the feat would not be so simple; the slave market —and, what’s worse, its slavers— were under the direct protection of the Grand City of Shuraya, which meant an official declaration of war against another sovereign state over this matter. And still, the National Citadel would vote in favour; this was not, however, how the Dominion operated. It was clear that this situation would require a deft touch; Cornelia was not fond of the many dozens of subsequent meetings this would cause.

As she continued to glare out the window, watching as dozens of Aedmeri strolled through the plaza and nearby streets, oblivious to the inner workings of the Palace and the thousands of minor administrative tasks being fulfilled to ensure their organised daily lives, the recognisable thump of a knock at her door tumbled into the office. She turned slowly, careful not to latch the edges of her white stola —adorned with black and gold embroideries on the seams and with the Imperial coat of arms, a circular laurel wreath accompanied by a cog which held in its interior a hammer, representing the working peoples of the Dominion, and a torch, representing a singular brotherhood and unity between all Aedmeri peoples, faintly sewn onto the drapes which fell from her left arm— on the protruding marble edges of the base of the window. Falling into her certain, confident self, she merely uttered the word “enter”.

The doors opened to show Avilius Viraló, a young man of some roughly twenty-five years of age. His black hair, buzzcut short on the sides and more populated on the roof of his head, donned white highlights on the tips, immediately drawing the attention it was due. He was dressed in a black and yellow uniform, with a splash of burgundy red on his shoulder pads to indicate his position within the Palace: he was service staff, specifically of the equerry department, as denoted by the small emblem sewn atop the pads, and a high ranking one at that, as revealed by the cloth fringe that hung from the pad over the edges of his shoulders. He pushed the door open wide, then stood at perfect attention in the doorway facing the Aedarch of the Aedmeri Dominion.

Mea leodiensis,” he said, bowing his torso slightly with his right fist pressed against his heart, as was the standard greeting when speaking with higher-ranking members of government. Cornelia returned the greeting, except with an open palm pressed against her heart, in contrast. Without further pause, Avilius continued.

“The Honourable Praetor Clara Ludwig of External Affairs has arrived at the Palace for her audience, ma’am. Shall we proceed to the chambers?” With a mere nod and no verbal response, Cornelia scanned the office quickly to ensure that she left nothing behind, then walked through the doorway with Avilius and down the long hall that led from the personal study of the Aedarch to one of the many chambers that were distributed throughout the entirety of the Imperial Palace.

The hall was adorned with long, red drapes, each marked with a golden silhouette of the Imperial seal, that hung from the ceiling beside the lofty columns decorated with reliefs of notable moments of Aedmeri history. The floor —an impeccable calacatta white marble with nary a hint of its age, despite the Palace accumulating nearly six hundred years of hard-worked experience— was covered with a red and golden carpet, leading the way through the centre of the hall down to wing of chambers of the palace. As she arrived at the particular room —the Rhoam Chambers, named so after the Aterni emperor who began conquests in the early 15th Century that would eventually lead to the Absolute Conquest, when the entirety of the continent of Eothasia was placed under the control of a single State—, she saw that a single bottle of expensive produce of the famously delicious vineyards of the State of Evras, far to the east, in the Province of Venza. The wines had been a delicacy for the imperial families of the Aterni Empire for generations; at the very least since the final expulsion of the Miverkians from the territory for Venza in 1438. Cornelia felt truly honoured to follow in the lavish footsteps of the rich historical nature of the Aterni Empire, although she was also consoled to know that, since the age of Emperor Rhoam, the wine had become a delicacy not just of the high-ranking members of the State, but also of all Aedmeri people.

Just moments after her arrival, mere seconds after the first droplets of the wonderfully selected wine from Evras emerged from her sizeable cage cup and sat upon her lips, the doors opened yet again. Through them walked Clara Ludwig, Praetor of the Praesidium since the last elections just a year and a half before. Dressed in an elegant blazer and a red dress shirt beneath, she walked in commanding the respect and reverence that a position such as hers demanded. She was a figure that Cornelia herself very much admired; she was confident, sure of herself at all times, and never missed a step. She was, by far, one of the most notable members of the Praesidium and a close confidant of the Aedarch herself. There was no question in Cornelia’s mind for the future of Aedmeria. In her eyes, Clara Ludwig should settle for nothing less than the position of Destinata ad Aedranus: Crown Princess of the Aedmeri and Primary Heir of the position of Aedarch. Undoubtedly, Clara Ludwig herself was well aware of her ambitions. Whether or not she would live up to the task in the eyes of the Aedmeri and their Dominion was yet to be seen.

Behind Clara Ludwig walked in another man, dressed similarly to the Praetor. He sported an intensely white, pristine dress shirt beneath a calm, navy blue blazer and dress pants. A small navy blue tie with yellow diagonal stripes spiralling down the front adorned his chest, alongside a small white handkerchief whose tip flowed out of the blazer’s chest pocket and laid itself gracefully over the edge. His hair, a constant light brown with no blotches that could indicate an eccentric character, was clean and formal, combed to a side in a uniform fashion that wasn’t entirely popular in their day and age, but was a suitable formal wear. Cornelia looked at him briefly, swearing on her mother’s grave that she recognised the man’s face —and position; he was an ambassador, undoubtedly, or at the very least an esteemed member of the Diplomatic Corps— but could not recall his name.

No matter, she told herself, I’m sure they’ll not wait long to introduce themselves.

Mea leodiensis, Clara said, leading both herself and the man behind her to engage the Aedarch in the habitual greeting, “I bring before you the Honourable Decus Terion, selected ambassador of the Diplomatic Cooperation Initiative to represent the Dominion at the Novan Exemplarstate, for which he shall be leaving tomorrow at dawn.”

“Allow me to say, ma’am,” Decus began, a genuine if slightly brown-nosed smile on his face, “that it is truly an honour to meet one as esteemed and glorious as yourself. Your many years of reign at the head of the Dominion, with record validation from the National Citadel, most certainly prove your importance to the history of the Aedmeri people for the coming years.”

“Please,” Cornelia replied, skilfully concealing a wide-eyed expression to what was the umpteenth excessive greeting someone had given her across her more than ten years of reign, “the honour is all mine, Ambassador.”

Cornelia tried to peer into the farthest depths of the abyss of her mind, seeking to extract any valuable information of the ambassador that she could. She remembered that she’d read an extensive portfolio of the activities and plentiful experience the ambassador had collected over years at service with the Diplomatic Corps of the State Ministry of External Affairs. Slowly, but without doubt, the information began to flow back into her mind in titbits. First, he’d been an attorney with a law firm —Gods know which one— in the City of Isa, one of the most populated and important cities in Venza. He signed on with the External Affairs Ministry in the last decade and had become an important member of the treaty negotiation teams of the Diplomatic Corps at various junctures, including that of the Most Serene Republic of Montevento and the People’s Republic of Zhouran. His promotion to ambassador was signed into effect just the previous month, with the onset of the improving relations between the Novan Exemplarstate and the Aedmeri Dominion, at specific request of Praetor Ludwig. Surely, if the praetor deposited in him her confidence and trust with the dealings of such a new and important treaty as the one with the Exemplarstate, Cornelia would have no reason to doubt his abilities.

With the pleasantries expended, Cornelia moved swiftly to her designated chair at the head of the long oval table in the chambers. She took her seat quickly, then observed the intricacies of the surface and decorations of the table whilst Clara and Decus reorganised themselves to address each other more comfortably. The wood was a marvellous oak, masterfully carved into a comfortable and delicate shape. Cornelia brushed her hands against the surface, feeling the soft crevices with the tips of her fingers. The mere knowledge that it was oak reminded her of her time as a Civil Administrator in Cyrelidon, a city far to the east in the Province of Vyshia, where the thin layers of southern taiga offered a unique variant of oak to that present in the rest of the continent.

The praetor and the ambassador sat at the table and began their debate, drawing inspiration from the dozens of individual draft policies placed on the table for their study. Cornelia took quiet sips of the expensive wine as the two discussed the primary positions of the Dominion on some of the more important elements that needed to be established in the future treaties with the Exemplarstate. They spoke first of the matter of immigration, with the easing of restrictions to travel and the acquisition of citizenship on behalf of both Novan and Aedmeri citizens. They then dabbled on the topic of extradition, which would require lengthy negotiations with the Novans to ensure that both their and Aedmeri policies run in alignment. Even then, the discussion took longer than most; the treaty with the Novans —nicknamed the “Concordat” for ease in speaking— was unique. Never before had the Aedmeri Dominion entered a bilateral agreement so extensive and dense, and various policies were being modified to better fit these new circumstances.

The rudimentary first clauses of extradition were agreed upon, and they moved on to the matter of economic policy between the two countries. This was somewhat easier, given the relative compatibility of the economic structures of both the Novan Exemplarstate and the Aedmeri Dominion. The general agreement between the three of them was that they should be treated as though they were a socialist ally, and thus, approve various laxing policies with regards to commerce. This permitted them to swiftly handle the topic and finally sum up the first three sections of the agreement inside of two hours. The second half of the document, regarding defence and research, moved even more briskly, ending in just one more hour. The end product was a remarkable final draft of the various policies that the Aedmeri government would present to the Novans for the Concordat.

After another hour securing consensus in other areas —the manner in which they would be invited to Aedra Capitolia, how the negotiations would go and the general schedule of the events—, the meeting was finally adjourned. It had been an interesting few hours, though this was only a foundation; the agreement would have to be taken to the Council for official approval.

Mea leodiensis,” Decus said as he stood from his seat and bowed to the Aedarch, “I simply wished to thank both you and matrona Ludwig once more for the opportunity to represent my Dominion abroad. I am certain that the partnership that blossoms from this initiative shall be a powerful bond that stands the test of time.”

“I share your optimism and confidence, Ambassador,” Cornelia said, standing from her chair herself and returning the gesture, keeping the falling drapes close to her chest. Without desiring to add to the mounting pressure the ambassador surely felt already, she did decide to give a quick warning.

“Remember, Ambassador, that there are many enemies in the world that would do us harm. This partnership may define the future of the Aedmeri Dominion.”

“You needn’t worry, matrona. I shan’t disappoint the Aedmeri.”

“I certainly hope not,” she responded, “for the future of our entire people is at stake.”
Last edited by Eothasia on Thu Jun 24, 2021 2:42 pm, edited 8 times in total.

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Nova Secta
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Founded: May 03, 2021
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Aederi

Postby Nova Secta » Sat Jun 12, 2021 10:21 pm

"They say the Lioness has a darkness in her soul, a void that makes her so deadly.
I must confess, though: I find the premise behind this line of reasoning problematic.

Seeing the broken bodies left in her wake, to believe she has a soul is to gravely err."

Imperator William Morrison Johnstone au Casca



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Arxopolis, Salernum Prefecture of the Novan Exemplarstate
Penates Vesperum, the Evening Palace of the Praedium Maxima
The change in scenery from cramped office space to a palatial winter garden was… jarring.

Most of her Friday evenings were spent in deep reflection over the correct usage of prepositions in a 25,000-word dossier sat on her desk at 4:55 PM in lieu of a 5 PM submission deadline. And while Lori was in no way criticizing being shunted into a broom closet for the sake of advancing her diplomatic career, the job lacked a certain panache when it came to the interior design of mid-level diplomatic office space. Sitting under fluorescent lights all day, walking through utilitarian corridors of heavily shampooed carpet and butternut-colored wallpaper, she had come to associate with generic, nondescript office space. After two years of carrying half a dozen leather-bound reports in the crux of one arm and a flimsy Styrofoam tray with cups full of murky liquid pretending to be coffee every day, banality had become commonplace. Nothing in the Manami Consulate could compare to the wonderland she now saw; bookshelves full of dusty books and a fake potted plant were a world away from the real, fragrant plants surrounding her, most from different continents. Maybe the culture shock of it all could have been weathered better had the summons not upended her schedule so rapidly; maybe it was a shock to the system for anyone walking through the Evening Palace that were unaccustomed to such opulence who was to say?

In any event, she was here now, and had to remain focused. Trying to decipher the psychology of weathering sudden, life-altering changes and navigating the complexities of moving from the backwater to the headwater in the span of twelve hours was beyond her pay grade. She was hired to fetch things and perform grunt work, not treat with Novan royalty in their private castle; this was never going to be comfortable, regardless of how much lead time she had to prepare. Her original itinerary for the weekend had been to get some generic paperwork done for her own workload before turning to the daily briefings she had to prepare. When she had woken up that morning, the biggest decision Lori anticipated making was which mediocre pizza chain to order from to fuel up for a work shift flying past midnight. From the time the uniformed Paladins of the Order of the Warriors Eternal had stepped into her office, requesting that she follow them without delay ‘til now, enough time would have passed for her to be threequarters of the way done with her work for the day. In that span, she had been squirreled aboard a military transport at Marine Force Station Akira, zooming through a cloudless sky and staring out over sapphire ocean waters for eleven hours without so much as a pillow to rest on or a book to read.

Lori reflexively shifted in her leather-bound seat on the landing overlooking the fourth-floor winter garden, feeling the ache in her back from the long haul. The summons to Arxopolis was unexpected enough without the added carrot of having been summed back to Arxopolis to visit the home of the Praeceptor of the Exemplarstate, the Penates Vesperum on the Praedium Maxima. The whole of the royal quarter could be seen on approach to Merchant Airfield, this massive neo-ancient complex built onto the Promontory of Tonitrua, overlooking this sprawling valley bustling with life. Manami was by no means an ugly city; nestled on Kudo Bay, she quite enjoyed looking at the palmetto trees planted in the city’s parks to break up the mangrove forests surrounding the port town. But compared to Arxopolis, the glistening gem in the Seguntium Mountains cast more as a fantasy world than some real-life metropolis, Manami was little more than a quaint village in stopover country. In fairness though, most cities in the country were found wanting when compared to the capital, manufactured from the foundation up to lean on pomp and circumstance to promote the civic religion of belief in the state and its goals. Any time she made it back to the Lake Millry Valley, it was an exciting occasion. But this, though?

“Off the page,” she whispered quietly to herself, as much to keep from startling her frayed nerves more than anything. The Praedium Maxima was the crown jewel of the capital, and the Evening Palace was the crown jewel of the Praedium Maxima. Sitting here, just a couple hundred feet from the head of state in his office, this was an entirely new level of business. Meeting with her boss back in Hanamura was enough to put her on edge; this was some next level tomfoolery though. The expediency with which she had been swept away from her office probably played into her favor a touch: had she known that she would be meeting with the Praeceptor at some point, she may have gone crazy trying to mentally prepare. As it stood, things had almost happened too fast for her to fully process what was happening, leaving her margin of error a bit wider than it might otherwise have been. Sitting here now in the air-conditioned winter garden, the mahogany wood paneling with its arcades and fluted sconces, the sweet perfume of wildflowers and incense hanging in the air. In the middle of the room, cutting a path through either side of the flower beds and planters was a path made of marble and ivory tiling, leading towards the “Great Hall” outside of Kaison’s study. Beyond those heavy wooden doors lied another world entirely.

Even as the thought passed through her mind whilst staring at the intricate carvings on the double doors, they were slowly cast open by two stewards in formal dress coats and white gloves from within the hallway beyond. Walking down the middle of the path towards her small perch (really just a resting spot for visitors to the garden) was a man of noble countenance, stepping to with a purpose. His graying hair and grandfatherly appearance was betrayed by a burning intensity in his gaze; deep, pooling eyes which conveyed both dedication and wisdom. His crisp four piece suit, custom-tailored with golden cuff links and a silk-pattern tie beneath his coat and vest would have been right at home in an upscale country club or fine dining bistro. Such a noble, intimidating presence radiated from the man as he neared, raising his hand towards her. Lori quickly rose from her chair – as quickly as her ailing body would let her these days, at least – and started towards the stairs that led from the entrance landing down to the floor of the indoor garden. “Salvete, Ms. Amaya-Cavazos; thank you so much for coming on such short notice. My name is Salazar Al-Barzegar, and I am the Praemonstrator to Kaison. I hope the flight wasn’t too uncomfortable for you; expediency dictated the quickest flight here, unfortunately. Comfort isn’t always a going concern in the Vimaeris.”

“Oh, it was no trouble at all, sir. It is an honor and a pleasure to meet you,” she beamed proudly, extending her arm to embrace the Praemonstrator with a firm handshake. “Your reputation precedes you, Mei Praemonstrator, and with good cause.” With the pleasantries out of the way, Al-Barzegar motioned for the young diplomat to follow him back towards the hallway, pivoting on his heels in a single, fluid motion, the sound of his polished cane tapping on the floor tiling as he sauntered beside her. It was a rare talent for a politician to convey both humility and intensity at the same time.

“My reputation is less than what it once was, but I appreciate the compliment nonetheless,” Salazar answered with a chortle, nodding his head. “Your reputation has certainly seen a double portion recently; I’m a long-time friend of your boss; John has been extremely complimentary of your dedication and focus to your responsibilities – it would seem that you have become quite the commodity at our Consulate in Manami.”

“Just doing my part, Mei Praemonstrator. I was honored to be called to service, and I remain honored to serve,” Lori replied, doing her best not to seem too overwhelmed by the magnitude of where she was. The two stepped through the wide double doors, Salazar giving a brief nod to the stewards that stood ready to close the passageway back to her old life behind them. The neo-gothic design of the winter garden quickly gave way to the Classical Siscian school of design that dominated the rest of the Evening Palace: broad domed hallways, the vaulted ceilings painted with frescoes and murals overhead, their vibrant colors contrasting with the plain coloration of the stoneworks in the hall. Every several feet, another handcrafted tapestry hung from either side of the frescoes, the symbols of state proudly keeping vigil on all those who traversed the expanse. The tiled floor was now bisected by a long Siscian purple carpet leading all the way to the Praeceptorial study; for Lori, it felt both a million miles away and yet right in front of her, so close that she could reach out and touch it. Except for the soft, muffled clap of the Praemonstrator’s cane on the carpet, the hallway was completely silent, as if the very air itself was stilled for the occasion, watching to see how she would react in the presence of Novan royalty.

“The honor is ours, Ms. Amaya-Cavazos; we have a deeply profound respect for all those who are willing to travel abroad in service to the Exemplarstate. It is not an easy thing, to be separated from family and friends or the comfort of the homeland. Even though I share a portion through adoption, I can tell you that any time spent overseas can be quite taxing.”

“Indeed, Mei Praemonstrator,” Lori replied. “Just part of the job description, though.”

As the last note of her response faded into the ether, the two finally came to a stop just feet away from an identical pair of wood-crafted double doors as the ones that opened into the Great Hall from the winter garden. Salazar turned to her, leaning in a bit closer to keep his voice in check. “I know that they give you instructions on formal audiences with the Praeceptor, but just remember to follow his lead and respect the office. He’s a very humble man, but he’s also a bit reserved, so don’t fret if he doesn’t warm up to you right away. You were called here for a purpose, so know that he has respect for you and your service, even if he may not intimate as such right away.” “Yes sir, Mei Praemonstrator,” she replied, the notes of her voice changing pitch as the nerves started to build. Salazar recognized this – it was probably a common reaction among those unaccustomed to standing where Lori now stood, or at least she hoped – and gave her a reassuring nod. “You’ll do fine.”

Lori nodded quickly, using her own skill (meager as they were compared to the Praemonstrator’s) to paint on a face of steely resolve, even if her insides were knotting up. Salazar turned back towards the doors, reaching down to turn the brass handles firmly. With a slight push, the two doors swung open gently, revealing the most palatial study she had ever laid eyes on. There were few words to describe it, short of majestic: the floor was cast from polished obsidian, the volcanic glass heat-treated into one large floorspace. Two small fountains on either side of the door created the soothing sound of water, the liquid flowing from two lion head sculptures mounted on the wall. The large square room was open-air on three sides, with large granite columns supporting the arched roof, tapestries flying from the gaps much as they were in the Great Hall. A beautiful ornate Chilshire grand piano was positioned beside a full-sized harp off to the right of the path, a man in traditional satin tunic and shawl plucking at strings mounted in a golden cast. The young woman in her long ankle-length dress and laurel wreath sitting beside him was gently running her fingers effortlessly across the ivory keys of the piano. From beyond the column supports, you could see the whole of Arxopolis, Lake Millry and the seven mountains that surrounded the valley. It was sublime.

And there, in the middle of it all, was the Praeceptor, standing in front of his desk, watching as she entered behind the Praemonstrator. Kaison was so much bigger in person than she had imagined him to be, easily six foot five if he was an inch; his stocky build was less barrel chested than it had been during his military career, but Malachi I Caecilius still cut an imposing figure. His suit, oddly, was more plain than Salazar’s was; a simple two piece made of nondescript cloth, the usual charcoal gray color that he was oft filmed and photographed wearing. The slight streaks of gray in his short-cropped hair gave him the same distinguished look that Al-Barzegar possess. Yet where the Praermonstrator hid a quiet sense of wisdom and intensity of thought, the Praeceptor conveyed a stoic calmness that oozed from every part of his visage. His arms tucked in behind in, he stood as though he were a statue cast in iron, the kind of unsettling sereneness that would have confounded any enemy foolish enough to challenge him. The Novan monarch didn’t move from his position, though his two charges did; they swung to either side of his flank, several feet off and behind his desk. She knew that Kaison employed a personal guard, Comvitus Edwardes of the Vimagmen. And everyone knew of the Paladin Domitus, the Order of the Warriors Eternal’s master.

“Welcome to Penates Vesperum, Councilor” the Praeceptor opened respectfully yet curtly. “We appreciate your company this evening; I only wish that we had been able to give you more warning.”

“Salvete et Honorem, Mei Praeceptor,” Lori spoke firmly, bowing at the waist in deep reverence to her country’s leader.

Malachi nodded respectfully, his countenance changing to that of a concerned confidant. “Please allow me to extend my deepest condolences on your loss. I cannot imagine enduring such a difficult tribulation; your strength to return to service so quickly is a testament to the strength of our people."

Lori's eyes locked onto the Praeceptor's, her insides knotting up at the mention of the accident that had claimed the life of her husband, Angél some six eights prior. She had been suffered a broken back and been badly burned in the crash when their plane skidded off an icy runway landing in Batavorum for a diplomatic conference; the pilot, copilot, her husband and three of her staffers were all killed once the plane slammed nose first into a steep embankment. She was the only person to survive the accident. "Thank you, Mei Praeceptor."

Salazar and the personal bodyguard, Edwardes had retired from the scene entirely and were standing closer to the musicians, talking amongst themselves, but the Paladin guard's eyes never left her, even as the Praeceptor motioned for her to follow him. "Ms. Amaya-Cavazos, I tend not to beat around the bush during these sorts of meetings: the reason you are here is because we require your assistance on a matter of the greatest importance for the Exemplarstate. Your personal strength and tenacity, recovering from such a horrible accident to resume your duties put you on our radar. But your area of study in your education and your diplomatic training through the foreign ministry has led to our Foreign Minister recommending you for Project Vexatia."

"Project Vexatia, sir?"

"Yes," a new voice interjected, one of commanding presence. "A new initiative you will be helping us with, Mallory Amaya-Covazos."

As the Kaison and Lori walked towards the outside balcony through the colonnade, the presence of a woman standing with her back turned towards them was noticed. Before she could even postulate on the identity, the woman turned to face her, nearly causing her to faint on the spot. "That is, if you are able and willing to assume the burden of changing the course of Exmplarii history."

There were few women in the Exemplarstate more accomplished than the former Imperator Excelsis of the Marine Force. Chiasa Hayami aru Sayuri-Shinju Nagayo, a second-generation Novan whose parents had emigrated from Hanamura like Lori's had was a member of the Marine Special Forces Cohort in Lagentium before she served a tour as an Inquisitor with the Civil Security Forces for three years. Between her recall into the Marine Force command structure and her time as an Inquisitor, Chiasa had been honoured by the state twice, earning the names Caeca and Salinatrix. She was only the twentieth person and the first female to have earned the privilege of double honors, indicating just how talented she was. Those that served with her in the military called her the Lioness; those in the diplomatic corps knew her as the ‘Butcher’ for her role in "trimming the fat". She was a living legend, and Lori had to resist the mounting hurt to bow before her, a taboo in the presence of the Praeceptor.

"Mei Imperator," Lori humbly addressed her superior.

The Lioness paused for a moment, sizing her up as if deciding whether she were ally or pray; Lori now understood the apprehension most felt standing in the Imperator Excelsis’s presence. “We have tracked your progress through the diplomatic ranks; to ascend to the posting of First Attaché to a Minister Plenipotentiary is no small feat. Few of our number will attain such a measure of privilege in their careers.”

“–And it is that privilege that makes you valuable to our cause,” the Praeceptor added to the end, looking towards the Imperator. “Our delegation needs people like you if we are to succeed in our goals.”

Lori’s mind was swimming in a whirlpool of emotions; it were as if she had been given the pieces of a puzzle and asked to solve it without knowing what it was she was trying to make, all in the midst of a raging inferno crackling about. “Goals, sir?”

The Imperator spoke firmly in response, not so much answering her as continuing on from her previous point. The fierceness of her countenance was well earned amongst her peers. “Tell me, Attaché: What do you know of Aederia and the Aederi people?”

The strange alteration in the trajectory of the conversation took her aback; Lori had been unsure of what to expect from treating with such distinguished hosts, but this was certainly a left turn. "Aederia, ma'am? Not as much as I know of Hanamura, obviously – I did create several fact-finding dossiers independent of my station while I was on loan to the Foreign Intelligence Liaison at our section bureau in Meridia Vaus."

The Praeceptor rejoined the conversation, his arms crossed in front of his chest. "What were your conclusions?"

"That Aederia would make a formidable opponent for the Exemplarstate," Lori answered, trying to ascertain whether she was being interviewed or interrogated. "Their people, the Aederi are fierce of spirit, hard-working and honorable. Moreover, they share many of the same ideals as the Exemplarii, and this elevates them above the frey of the usual 'riff-raff' that would usually be laughed off by Castra Caedis and the political establishment in Arxopolis. Were we to come into conflict with them, it would be one of the gravest challenges the Exemplarstate ever faced, Mei Praeceptor."

"But that's not all you concluded, was it, Sein Servus?" The Lioness fixed her gaze on Lori's eyes, studying them intently. "What else did your research lead you to conclude? And please, do be honest; you know that we are already well-versed in your portfolio and the reprimand you received for your work."

Lori swallowed reflexively, the bitter remembrance of her professional embarrassment intermixing with her nerves. "It was my conclusion that the aims of Aederia and the Exemplarstate were similar enough that we might treat with them about a potential diplomatic partnership in some form or fashion."

The Praeceptor nodded. "An alliance with the Aederi?"

"Yes, Mei Praeceptor," Lori replied. "It was my conclusion that Aederia was a force we could not pretend to ignore. Their ideology, their philosophy as it were, they were going to enter our sphere of influence sooner or later. Better that we find amity with a kindred spirit than emity and challenge a formidable, imposing foe. The benefit of working with Aederia far outstrips the consequences of crossing them, Mei Praeceptor."

The Praeceptor blinked, his face not revealing the thoughts being processed. The Imperator Excelsis exchanged a look with him, but Lori’s thoughts drifted to her report and the damage it had caused. Exemplarii diplomats were not so much taught to find cause to befriend other states as they were uncover reasons to evade or invade them. The Novan government was, in a word, predisposed to aggressive isolation whenever possible, refraining from the nuisance of dealing with less-powerful states while waring off any potential conflict with nations that could pose a threat to Arxopolis. While the Novans feared no nation as a principle of their dogma, the leadership atop the Praedium Maxima were also not stupid by any means; going to war with a powerful adversary was a costly endeavor, and such a mistake could mean the difference between continued prosperity and renewed hardship. She had concluded that Aederia was a hardship and a half to Arxopolis, and that such a difficult challenge was a foolish enterprise given the similarities between the Aederi and the Exemplarii. Better, she had reasoned, to befriend an honorable people on their own honorable quest in the world than to make a powerful enemy out of a potentially-valuable ally. For this break with traditional protocol, she had been severely dressed down by her superior and sent back to Hanamura in disgrace.

Now, the wound of that disgrace was being ripped open in the most sensitive of ways. The Lioness took note of the discomfort in Lori's eyes and charged in, prodding the wound in her spirit: "Quite brave of you to take such a bold, contrarian stance. And you paid dearly for it, didn't you?"

"Yes, Mei Imperator, I paid dearly for it."

"And do you still hold to your belief?" The Praeceptor challenged her, boring a hole right through her. "Or have you regained the proper narrative?"

In that instant, something switched off inside of her; what had been a nervous flood of confusion and uncertainty was now a tiny spark that was quickly turning into a conflagration. The sneering, almost-pedantic manner in which the two were responding could be overlooked; after all, they were well above her proverbial pay grade in the grand scheme of things. But the personal embarrassment she had suffered, the humiliation of being accosted by her superiors for telling the truth, and the realization that she had to sit there and take it in order to be a ‘good Exemplarii diplomat’ made her stew. The building consternation was suddenly blossoming into a full-blown fit of internalized rage, her wounded pride shedding any vestige of nervousness in favor of a growing sense of desire for avengement. When she had finished putting pen to paper to that infernal dossier on the Aederi, she had believed herself to be accomplishing a great work for the Exemplarstate. Instead, it had almost derailed her career, and set her on a path that would end with a tribulation that nearly drug her asunder into the depths of oblivion. Any sense of intimidation in the moment was receding like the morning tide, leaving the raw wounds of her personal, professional disgrace exposed. And like any wounded animal backed into a corner, she was prepared to defend herself to the very last.

Her honor as a guardian of the Exemplarii people demanded no less a commitment. She looked at the Imperator, then at the Praeceptor, any hesitancy in her voice long gone: "No, Mei Praeceptor – I stand by my assessment. I will not retract my stance or alter my beliefs, for I believe them to be correct."

The Praeceptor and the Imperator exchanged a look, holding for a pause to absorb her reply. The Lioness turned towards her, the slightest of grins spreading across her stern visage. "Very good, Sein Servus. We came to the same conclusion six weeks ago ourselves."

"Ma'am?"

It was the Praeceptor who answered her instead, a sly grin spreading across his face as well: "You are an agent of change amidst the chaos of our complacency, Ms. Amaya-Cavazos. The Imperator and I are of a like-minded opinion to yourself, which is why we had you brought here."

"Sir," Lori replied, "I'm not sure I understand-"

"Project Vexatia," the Lioness interjected forcefully, conveying a sense of purpose. "We are going to treat with the Aederi government and seek a diplomatic partnership with them. It is the cornerstone of a bold new direction for our beloved Exemplarstate, and I want you to help me make this dream a reality."
Last edited by Nova Secta on Sat Jun 12, 2021 10:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Eothasia
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Posts: 243
Founded: Jan 10, 2018
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Eothasia » Wed Jun 16, 2021 3:54 pm

Image

The sun had long since risen past the mountains that filled the marvellous horizon of the city of Aedra Capitolia, its colourful mixture of the browns of rock and the greens of trees and vegetation pulsating under the vibrant sun of the sky that hung over the capital. The Aedmeri calendar marked the date as the 16th of Aestate, the sixth month of the year, and the sun bore down on the city with its usual intensity. It was, after all, only five days away from the official start of the summer period after which the month was named. The city did not seem to mind the rising temperatures, however; the Aedmeri, loyal to their festivities to a fault, had just finished their gloriously long weekend of celebration for the Diem Veneficia honouring the Goddess Meridian of Sorcery. They would not allow a meagre heat to upset their celebrations.

And yet, this was not true of all Aedmeri, for in the Palace of the Praesidium, the reality was a far different one. The polished oak doors of the interior of the Larethal Chambers flew open, allowing a flood of men and women wearing tightly-wound uniforms into the room. They quickly set about attending to different areas of the chambers, each with their own designated tasks; some cleaned the edges of the chairs and the tables, ensuring a respectable shine of the gold-embroidered armrests and smoothness of the artisanal wood, others guaranteed the cleanliness of the mats, wraps, name plates, and other equipment extended upon the large table made of the highest quality mahogany wood, while others still scurried to the windows at the far end of the room and dragged the golden drapes to the sides, allowing the powerful rays of sunlight to penetrate into the chambers. They worked intensely in the room, preparing all of the furniture for the events of that afternoon, whose importance could not be overstated.

After nearly a month of preliminary negotiations, the day had finally arrived. The diplomatic delegation from the Novan Exemplarstate, a far-away nation whose discovery and revolutionised the idea of diplomatic unity in the Aedmeri Dominion, was due to arrive at the Elenwyn International Airport soon. It would mark the beginning of what could potentially be one of the most prosperous relationships the Aedmeri Dominion had ever fostered.

Or, at least, so Saturna had hoped.

The State Officer of External Relations walked into the room confidently, brandishing in her right arm her work laptop, as well as its charging cables and a wireless mouse. In her left arm, she carried three yellow manila folders, thoroughly filled with dossiers, papers, charts, and all kinds of extremely diverse information that could come in handy during diplomatic negotiations. Her short black hair bounced up and down against her pale skin, accentuating the white blazer she wore over the similarly black dress shirt underneath. Her piercing blue eyes glanced around the room, watching at least two dozen workers scurry from left to right to ensure that the chamber was in the most magnificent shape before the arrival of the foreign dignitaries. For a moment, she paused, her mind racing in a sort of societal analysis: the absolute need, not only of the Aedmeri, truthfully, but of all civilisations in the world, to impress with glamour and elegance all those with whom they seek to establish a long-lasting relationship. It seemed, at first glance, that it was never about the underlying tones of partnership, the necessity of working in a collective environment for the betterment of all those involved. It seemed as though it was simply about the ability to impress international allies and bring them closer to supporting one’s own nation.

Saturna, of course, knew this wasn’t the case. The political intricacies of international relations were quite clear to her, and all the shiny armchairs and expensive wood from the forests of Alenea or Charra or the exquisite wine from the vineyards of Evras wouldn’t profoundly change that. It was but a front in the hopes of breaking down whatever barriers the outward intentions and foreign policies of the Dominion hadn’t done so already. And it was a sound tactic, to be sure; many a country had fallen prey to the excellent taste of the Aedmeri government in selecting the finest of goods to make the best of impressions. Saturna reserved doubts about the Exemplarstate, however.

From what she’d studied over the past months in preparations precisely for this meeting, the Exemplarstate was a truly isolated nation, which gave quite a few clues as to how the Aedmeri Dominion —so focused is she on her duties in foreign policy and expanding a web of allies and, where applicable, semi-client states to garner support against the fascists and imperialists of the world— had completely missed the entire existence of the country in a word so densely populated by thousands of states, cities, peoples, cultures, and ideologies. However, the mutual future of the Exemplarstate and the Dominion were clear and certain; their progressive tendencies and their more recent attitude towards foreign relations, not least demonstrated by their initiative to establish the so-called Covenant of Nations of the Progressive Action Congress, made them an evident people to approach. Speedily proceed through the following month and now, there they were, just four days after one of the more important religious reverences in the Dominion, preparing the arrival of their first representatives.

“A pleasure to make your acquaintance once more, matrona Saturna,” a voice from behind her said, ringing in her ears as she stood there watching the room unfold. Saturna turned her head to her left to look over her shoulder and spotted the unmistakable profile of the Arch Priestess Aliara Spella of the Pantheon of Aedra. She stood with her arms interlaced and hidden underneath the thick beige robes she wore, the hood lowered and hanging off her back in a manner not unusual for priests during political functions, but wildly uncommon in general, making it a view that Saturna herself never really got used to. Aliara had a neat and clean blonde hair that fell down her shoulders and over her chest, glowing over the intricate features of the robes that signified her status. Her confidence was, without question, an enormous relief for Saturna.

“Ah, Sacerdas,” Saturna replied, bowing slightly with an open hand pressed against her chest, “it is very good to see you.”

“Indeed it is, Saturna,” Aliara replied, returning the gesture, “for I have not seen you in the Pantheon in quite some weeks, an unusual trait in you. I trust all is well?” Saturna allowed only a momentary second of a smile to peek through her strong outer shell; had it been anyone else, she would have taken it with a condescending tone. Aliara, she knew, was genuine.

“Yes, Sacerdas,” she replied, nodding her head enthusiastically in the hopes of shooing away any lingering fears, “it is simply that, since the talks with the Novans began, the Ministry has been an extremely busy quarter of the city, as I’m sure you’ve heard.”

“Too much so, in fact,” Aliara joked, a quiet smirk emerging from the corner of her lips, “it has been an intense topic of conversation of much of your colleagues. I could not miss the opportunity to provide support to your delegation in such a crucial moment for our history.”

“We greatly appreciate your efforts, Reverend, as this is a trying time for us all.”

“Then I’m sure we will all be the better for it,” Aliara remarked with a smile. Just as she finished uttering the last syllable of her sentence, an equerry approached Saturna, quick as a rabbit, towering above the two Aedmeri. As Saturna turned, he simple relayed his important message: “Ma’am, the Novan delegation has touched down at Elenwyn.”

Image

The Honourable Ambassador of the Holy Aedmeri Dominion stood waiting, donning an elegant black suit and red tie over a yellow-gold dress shirt tucked in at the waist. His hair was slick and clean, tucked neatly into the corners to avoid flicks of hair unnecessarily prancing about his face. His glasses shone brightly as the morning sun penetrated the skyglass of the receiving terminal of the International Airport at Aedra named after Elenwyn, the theoretical and legal architect of the Aedmeri Consensus that served as a beacon of the success of the Aedmeri democracy. He took a deep breath, pressing his hands together, one in the palm of the other, and steeling himself for what was to come.

Decus centred his focus. He was nervous, to be sure, and with good reason. He was about to embark on a journey of epic proportions, one that could very well define the way the Aedmeri Dominion went about its foreign policy with its international partners. If he was successful, the acquisition of a powerful international ally would allow the Dominion to more calmly represent itself on the vast global arena, meaning its policy interests throughout the world —namely the unification against fascism and the construction of an internationalist banner of the proletarian— could be realised. If he failed, one of the first major steps into the international fold for the Dominion would be a bust, and its legitimacy in being a leading member of the formation of an international egalitarian movement would be severely hampered.

What’s more, the immediate effects were equally important. If he succeeded, the Novan Exemplarstate, which was undoubtedly a powerful country and a resolute people, would become close allies of the Dominion, sharing not only economic and commercial prosperity but intellectual properties, crucial judicial consensus, international cooperation on a level the Dominion had not yet achieved, truly, with any other nation… the possibilities were endless, to the point where the hours, days, and weeks that came would almost certainly be some of the most important, if not the most important, of Decus’ entire diplomatic career.

Decus glanced around him briefly. Behind him stood two guards of the National Security Service, specifically the Ambassadorial Guards, an organ of the department specifically designed for this kind of situation. He was also accompanied by other important members of his diplomatic staff, such as his Charge d’Affaire, a personal secretary, and some additional general staff. His highest ranking personnel would be introduced to the realities of the Novan delegations, which would certainly aid in their future relationship-building experience when they were actually operating within the Exemplarstate, in the Novan capital of Arxopolis.

Before he could realise it, he heard the distant voices of a roving party moving closer. He knew this was the delegation —half the terminal had been cleared for their arrival— and he prepared himself for the first encounter with the Novans. He took a deep breath, and with as much genuine enthusiasm as he could muster, drew a beaming grin across his face.
Last edited by Eothasia on Thu Jun 24, 2021 2:42 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Nova Secta
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Founded: May 03, 2021
Anarchy

Postby Nova Secta » Sat Jun 19, 2021 5:43 am

Isle of Casa Madatria,Novan Exemplarstate
Construction Site A-5, Arxorum West Sector
“Mendez! For the last damn time, get your ass back to the loading area and start getting the equipment collected. If you put me behind schedule, I’m going to tie half a dozen cinderblocks around your waist and punt your ass into the drink!”

Construction-site foremen were always a pain in the rear, but this was a whole new level of control freak. Daniel Mendez was a lifer in the business, much to his own personal chagrin: he had immigrated to the Novan Exemplarstate under the hope that he could forge a new life for himself in a ‘worker’s paradise’. Instead, the cold reality of intense competition among the transient population had forced him into his former profession, leaving him little more to do than break his back and find interesting ways to amuse himself. The pay was more than sufficient to meet the needs of himself and his family of course, that wasn’t so much the issue; rather, there was this vague dream-like quality to the Exemplarstate among immigrants looking for a new life for themselves and their loved ones. The Worker’s Paradise, many back home had called it – a nation that opened its doors to emigrant populations was a rare thing in this day and age. Daniel had moved his family to Lagentium, hoping to open up his own business. Instead, here he was lugging bags of cement around, breaking his back in sweltering heat far worse than anything he would have suffered to work in back home, looking for any oddities to spice up his day.

“Like this… thing,” Daniel thought to himself, staring up at the strange ornamental flagstaff set atop the bluff overlooking the new palace construction site across the inlet. He had weaved his way through the briar thickets and kudzu overgrowth to relieve himself when he had stumbled across the strange monolith perched near the causeway, placed there like some strange beacon inviting people to take a stab and unraveling the mystery. It didn’t take an expert to see that the flag mantling was all cast in gold, or at least plated with it. A gold-cast bracket created a T-junction drapery display with an expensive looking oriental cast of the Novan Phoenix atop it. Hanging from either side of the drapery display were two flags, both of which were unfamiliar to him. Decorative ribbon streamers hung from the end caps and the front bracket mounting, a larger crimson drape hanging from behind with Siscian script in faint gold and silver foil bearing an unknown inscription. Whatever he was looking at, it was an expensive display to have been positioned out in the middle of nowhere like this. Whoever had cast the flagstaff and placed it overlooking the new city obviously had deep pockets. ”If only I could understand their damn language…”

“Damn it, Mendez,” the construction foreman hollered at him, this time much closer. The sound of bristling thickets and crunching weeds under steel-toed boots conveyed the approach of a middle-aged balding man with a hefty paunch for a gut and a greasy, stubby cigar pinched between two sausage-like fingers. “How long does it take a guy to take a piss? Shake it off and get back to the loading area–”

Instead of looking over his shoulder at Mr. Mandrell, who had cleared the last of the briars and had entered the small clearing where he now stood, Daniel merely guessed as to the construction foreman’s perplexed, maybe even stunned look at the same sight that had captured his attention. For a moment, the only noise in the suddenly-still air was the sound of an overweight representation of middle management crunching on the tall grass trudging to come stand beside him. Several seconds later, Mandrell indeed came to a stop next to him, not even bothering to extend the courtesy of wondering whether he had in fact finished taking a piss. Out of his peripheral vision, Daniel could confirm the same shocked expression he had been wearing, one of confusion and consternation as to how and why this little display had found its way to such an unusual spot. For a short time, neither man said anything – the only noise ambient in nature, the sound of the waves washing up on the pebbled beach below the bluff, sea gulls cawing off in the distance, the huffing of a 45-year old fat man that would be dead of emphysema in five years trying to capture his breath after walking a staggering two hundred feet to find him.

When the construction foreman had stopped wheezing beside him, he finally broke through the ambient noise to ask the obvious question: “What in the blue hell is this? Did one of the crew put this thing up before we all clocked in at the checkpoint this morning or something?”

“I doubt it, I’m the only person that’s come over this way this morning,” Daniel replied, shaking his head in the same moment. “Even if we had put it up, how could we have snuck this thing through the mixing yard without two hundred people seeing it? This thing isn’t exactly what you would call inconspicuous.”

The foreman’s chubby hands were now firmly clenched under his armpits, his crossed forearms exposed through the button-up shirt’s rolled up sleeves in front of his chest. Daniel surmised the follow up question and was quickly rewarded with an affirmation of his intuition. “Okay then, why is this here? Who put it up?"

Daniel sighed inwardly. “No idea, Mr. Mandrell – I just found it perched here. Been trying to figure that out myself.”

For a second, both men continued staring at the monolithic sight before them, but Daniel quickly became aware of a sudden look of consternation on the foreman’s face. It took him a moment to realize that his field manager wasn’t staring at the flags or the golden mantling, but rather the crimson ribbon hung on the front of the center staff. A moment later, Mandrell confirmed his intuition with utter bluntness: “Holy shit!”

“Sir?”

Mandrell pointed at the long streamer, his face caught between confusion, excitement and mild fear. “You see the center ribbon with the writing on it? It’s Siscian; I don’t read Siscian that well, but you don’t really have to – I’ve seen dozens of those ribbons hung when I worked a job on the grounds of the Praedium Maxima. It’s a calling card of sorts to let you know you put it there.”

Daniel’s curiosity was piqued. “Who did put it there?”

The foreman exhaled sharply, the words dribbling out as if he were struggling to process them in his mind. “That’s the motto of the Order of the Warriors Eternal. They’re a group of Paladins with the Civil Security Forces.”

“The CSF? You mean the Inquisitors?”

“No, but close enough to be honest,” Mandrell corrected him. “The Paladins are almost as zealous and just as fearsome. Whatever the reason for the display, it’s damned important. They guard the Praeceptor and his family, and they're also pretty active at keeping a tight lid on things in Arxopolis. This means that they're here on the islands, which means we need to be mindful and watch our asses. We should probably leave it alone and get out of here.”

His boss was in no mood to mess around: he quickly beat tracks back towards the brush, eager to get away from the ornate monument overlooking the new government district and its magnificent central tower. Daniel had no way of knowing if the flagstaff was symbolic of something or simply a random decoration along the waterfront, but for a moment he was mesmerized by how much something like this would have cost. Against the backdrop of the new city their workman’s brigade were helping to build, it cast a fascinating shadow, especially in light of darkening skies coming from the west. Distant rumbles of thunder signaled the approach of an afternoon storm over the Coriel, a common occurrence to be sure. But while he wasn’t necessarily a superstitious man, he couldn’t help but wonder to himself whether there was something more symbolic at work on this random little bluff. Whatever this tableau represented, it had to be pretty damned important judging from the cost to work with such expensive materials. And the flags, whoever they belonged to or whatever they represented, someone had taken great care to make sure they were set against the most opulent of mantling possible. It were as if they were the standards of the gods…

“Hey, c’mon Mendez!” Mandrell shouted, stopping long enough to look back over his shoulder before ducking down under the thicket. “We’ve got work to do before the storm rolls in, so let’s get a move on.”

“Coming, sir,” Daniel sighed, backpedaling away from the flags. “Just getting a last look.”

”Not something that you see everyday…”



Image



Aedra Capitolia, Holy Aedmeri Dominion
The Terminal Building at Elenwyn International Airport
Aside from the considerable length of the flight from Arxopolis to Aedra Capitolia, things had gone relatively smoothly. It wasn’t until they had stepped off the plane onto the tarmac that things began to get real. Over the last several days, Lori had been mentally preparing herself for this assignment, trying to focus her mind, body and spirit to the task ahead. It was a Murian trait from her native homeland, of course – something Imperator Nagayo was certainly familiar with – but she had found it to be a powerful mechanism for centering herself before an important assignment. Despite the nerves that could occasionally flare up, she prided herself on her ability to step up to any challenge presented her way, and this was certainly a challenge she was intent on completing successfully. As part of the official envoy to the Holy Aedmeri Dominion, she was confronting the biggest diplomatic assignment of her career by a long shot. She would be utterly damned if she were going to flake out now, standing on the grounds of a powerful foreign country, the balance of relations with which could change the future of her adopted homeland for the foreseeable future. This was no time for nerves; this was a time for getting serious.

Landing at Elenwyn had been like entering a portal to another dimension. In many respects, Aedra Capitolia was much like Arxopolis in its aesthetics, aside from the differences in the two locations’ geography and relative locations, naturally. From what she could see as their plane came on for its final approach, the Aedmeri were every bit as sophisticated and cultured in the presentation of their capital as the Exemplarii were; it was a beautiful city, lush with the aura of prestige and power – the seat of a government whose people were of noble mind and honorable countenance. Ever since she had completed that infernal dossier that had caused her so much grief (and earned her such a valuable reward for her tribulations over it after the fact), she had possessed a singular fancy for the Aedmeri people and their way of life. Beyond the recognition of a kindred spirit between the governments in Aedra Capitolia and Arxopolis, there was a deeper connection between the two people. Their national ideologies and philosophy, the culture and mindset of the two peoples, even the unique similarities in their two languages on the surface, it all pointed to an almost-ethereal connection, as if the universe were pushing the two towards one another.

Once they had actually entered the terminal building under the guidance and welcoming of the airport’s tarmac workforce, the philosophical implications of their arrival gave way to a more practical assessment of their surroundings, which were, in a word, breathtaking. While the august charm of Arxopolis’s airfields were resplendent in their own right, they were but a pale imitation compared to the handiwork of the Aedmeri at Elenwyn. The terminal corridors were magnificent in their immaculate construction, the lighting through the ornate windows casting everything inside the building in a heavenly glow. The radiant beams pouring through the skylights above were almost acting as a guideway forward towards their destiny in the Dominion. It was, in a word, sublime, and it added to the sense of purpose that the envoys to the Dominion felt as they headed towards the welcoming delegation in the terminal building. The agency charged them by the Praeceptor and the Supreme Magisterium was to establish diplomatic channels through which the two countries could work together. This grand morning rendezvous at Elenwyn was the beginning of that goal, to treat with representatives of the Aedmeri in such a grand setting.

Lori smiled wistfully, taking account of the Novan delegation surrounding her; the Exemplarii were by no means slouching their way forward, of course. While most of the aides and supporting players were dressed in the usual formal business attire – coats, ties, dresses, shoes costing more than some houses – the ‘core five’ of the team were all fashionably exquisite for their rendezvous with the Aedmeri welcoming delegation. Lori and Ambassador Coaxum were the only two in their Sunday best; Praemonstrator Al-Barzegar was wearing his silk patti turque, the emblem of his native Alcazarstan crossed with a ceremonial embroidering of the Novan Phoenix, his satin tunic and familial shawl glistening in the ambient light streaming down from the sky-glass. Legate Modzelewski of the Vimagmen was wearing his silver armor plating with gold epaulettes and brazen fasteners, his byzantine sash and crimson kilt cut at the knees. His steel helmet with blue longitudinal plume was held in the crux of his arm at his side, near the ceremonial scepter that had replaced his usual cutlass. His figure in the morning light was almost a living fiction, as if some ancient Siscian legionnaire had come forward in time in their midst.

Even as ornate as the Legate’s armor was, and even as beautiful as the Praemonstrator’s ancestral tunasib was, neither Al-Barzegar nor Modzelewski could hold a candle to the Imperator Excelsis. Chiasa Nagayo, as the leader of the delegation, had taken point in the middle of the forward members of the party – Ambassador Coaxum was flanking her on the left, while Legate Modzelewski was flanking her right; the Praemonstrator was standing beside Lori behind the front three, ahead by some nine to ten meters behind. Yet all of them, no matter where they fell in the procession were of ill repute standing next to Nagayo. The Imperator, like Lori, was of Murian blood, and she honored that bloodline just as Al-Barzegar honored his through ceremonial dress. Her purple kimono was wrapped with a red satin obi bearing the familial crest of her ancestry, an important part of the Murian identity. Her kanzashi combs hanging from her pinned-up hair bore the national blossoms of the Exemplarstate, the blue Seguntese azaleas while also sporting the pink Kogashiroi cherry blossoms. Her haori was the most intricate part of her attire, cut and resewn in layers with gold and silver thread lacing the alterations. She held the grace of a goddess.

Up ahead, the delegation of the Aedmeri were waiting for them near a junction in the terminal. The sudden realization that their long exodus from the Exemplarstate to the Dominion to treat with the Aedmeri representatives intensified the sense of purpose that had guided both hers and her accompaniment’s thoughts ever since they left wheels-up from Arxopolis. Beside her, she could see out of the corner of her eye Al-Barzegar whispering a silent prayer to his gods, a man of faith serving a government of reason. As the last silent words escaped with baited breath, he closed his eyes tightly and exhaled sharply, centering himself for what was about to transpire. Before she could do the same however, he gave the slightest of nods in her direction, as if to get her attention before their meeting began. She stole a glance over to make sure he was motioning for her – he certainly was – and then leaned in a bit closer, trying to conceal the movement with a faster, more closed off gait. Whatever he had to tell her must have been pretty damned important; if Chiasa knew that he was breaking protocol by whispering to her, she may very well have thrown him out the emergency door of their transport upon departure.

“Don’t forget why you’re here,” Salazar whispered. “Don’t ever forget.”

Lori furrowed her brow. “Sir?”

“Everyone is starstruck by the moment, their first time,” the Praemonstrator reminded her, adding one last carrot before straightening back up: “I know it’s an intoxicating feeling, but you’re here at the behest of your country to make the lives of our people better, not sightsee. Remember that.”

For a moment, Lori’s mind was spinning with Al-Barzegar’s words rummaging in her noodle. He was right, she had been so mesmerized by the ‘majestic aesthetic’ of their hosts that she had lost sight of what was truly important. Oh, she had remembered the basic buzzwords, pretending like she was ready for this diplomatic mission, yet every single notion of service to the Exemplarstate was dripping with starstruck wonder over being on her first major diplomatic envoy, enjoying the grandeur of the Aederi style, feeling in control of things for the first time since her world has been upended. In truth, she was just spinning her heels stuck in place, that innocent wonderment that would hamper her ability to do her job effectively. Whether or not she deserved to be here, or whether she was agog at her fortune having landed a ‘spot on the team’, she was here now to do a job – a job that, if taken lightly, would greatly impact Arxopolis and the people that they stood to defend. The Holy Aederi Dominion was a powerful state of likeminded values: working with them to make both nations stronger would be a boon to both peoples. But to do that, an accord must be reached; Lori had to make sure she was ready to help reach that accord.

As she steeled herself for the important work at hand, Imperator Nagayo was already coming to a stop, several meters away from a group of Aederi diplomats gathered to meet them here at the terminal. As the group came to position around her, she stepped forward gracefully, poised and confidant. With a deep bow and arms opened to the sky – the mark of honor and respect from a Murian – she honored the Aederi host. Then she rose up, her arms outstretched and her head bowed in the custom of the Novans, her voice powerful and resolute: “Salvete; hic sumus. Gloria autem et honorem tibi vos. In æternum vive, misereatur exercituum.” She then placed a hand over her chest, repeating again: “Greetings; we bid you glory and honor. May you live forever, gracious hosts.”

Lori smiled; the Lioness paused a moment for dramatic effect before delivering the final translation: “The Novans are here.”

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Eothasia
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Founded: Jan 10, 2018
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Eothasia » Tue Jun 22, 2021 1:25 pm

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The doors slid open with a whine as the Novans approached the frosted glass sliding doors which separated the terminal from the reception where the Aedmeri awaited their guests, carefully allowing members of both realms to peer into the other’s side and gain a first glance at the companion delegation. Decus was not impervious to this; as soon as possible, he leaned to his side slightly to catch a glimpse through the doors, for the sooner he could see the Novans in the flesh, the sooner he could go into his professional stride. And what a sight.

The Novans arrived in such an immaculate fashion that Decus was, truthfully, stunned. Many of them wore the traditional formal attire common amongst envoys and messengers of the diplomatic corps the world over, but several of them —key members of the team, not to be confused with those of a lower stature— wore key identifying garbs and gowns. It was a sight to behold; the elegance of the Novans was unmatched, and Decus instantly found himself scurrying in his mind to bury away the worries of him being underdressed.

The leader of the delegation was, without question, she who wore the purple kimono. It seemed as though her arrival was graced by the Goddess Aurielis herself. The gleaming sunbeams that bore through the skylights highlighted her and her features specifically: the azaleas, the crest on her sash, all seemed to receive the approval of the Goddess of the Aedmeri realm, a good omen if there ever was one. It was unmistakeable —both by sheer intuition and thanks to the extensive dossier they’d all received from the Ministry— who this sophisticated leader was: none other than Imperator Nagayo.

The group stopped several metres ahead of Decus and the rest of the Aedmeri delegation, which allowed all of them to observe each and every feature of their presentation more closely. He listened carefully as she spoke the first words directly spoken to one another between an Aedmeri and Novan delegation: an honourable greeting, followed by the gracious exclamation of their arrival on Aedmeri soil. Decus suddenly realised that he was in the process of making history.

In a practiced speech in the native tongue of the Novans, rehearsed dozens of times just that morning, Decus responded, first placing his fist against his chest in the traditional Aedmeri greeting, “Greetings, honourable Novans of the Exemplarstate. As a representative of the Holy Aedmeri Dominion and the glorious Aedarch Cornelia, and with the grace of the Goddess Aurielis and all of her Pantheon, we bid you welcome to Aedmeria.” His smile was uncontrollable, widened from ear to pointed ear, and he could feel his very pulse in his neck, his hands, and the curvature beneath his arm as it rounded up to his shoulders.

The Novans have arrived.

The following minutes were filled with enthusiastic individual presentations, with each one giving their names and statures in the common tongue and presenting themselves to the other delegation. Once they had made each other’s acquaintances, Decus led them down the long corridor that connected the terminal’s reception area to the large roundabout on the interior border of the terminal. Normally, the area would be filled with taxis bringing and taking denizens to and from the airport, as well as a long line of interurban public transport busses connecting the airport to the city centre and various other points throughout the capital. Today, though, this was not the case; the area had been closed off to public access, the busses rerouted to other terminals, the frequency of the underground public transport system increased to compensate for the lack of connection to this particular terminal, all so that the spaces once filled by unrelated bystanders could be thoroughly packed to the roof with reporters and cameras.

As Decus and the two delegations emerged from the interior, the easily recognisable sound of professional photography began its barrage. In a split second, an enormous eruption of voices, carrying questions, comments or even congratulations sprang from the crowd aimed at the group of envoys. In the back, cameramen could be seen carefully holding their equipment, some even donning large apparatus that allowed them to raise their cameras above the crowd for better images of the subject matter, whilst the roads of the roundabout itself were filled with enormous vans carrying antennae on their roofs and spilling cables left and right as reporters spoke into their microphones to catalogue this historical moment in the eyes of all the Aedmeri.

With a dutiful pause, Decus turned towards the crowd, and stood with his hands clasped in front of him, at the level of his hips. The rest of the group did the same, posing for the pictures that were sure to stand of the test of time as the irrevocable demonstration of the unified character of their futures together. Decus glanced at the Novan delegation with yet another wide smile and basked in the forthcoming glory their actions would bring the Aedmeri Dominion and the Novan Exemplarstate.

They soon continued on their way towards the vehicles. A motorcade of large, six-door black SUVs awaited at the roundabout, with two swaying flags on the left and right edges of the hood at the front. On the left, the characteristic yellow, black and purple of the Aedmeri flag which had hovered over the lands for over a hundred years; on the right, the novel flag of the Novan Exemplarstate, a white background with a diagonal purple stripe and seal centred upon the stripe. Both were attached on their left-hand side to a small golden flagpole, measuring approximately fifteen centimetres tall, and the Aedmeri golden eagle perched atop as the guardian of the flags and the ideological and social elements they symbolised.

The delegations were split amongst the vehicles, with two Novan delegates and two Aedmeri delegates per vehicle. To finish the group of six per vehicle were the drivers, who would follow the distinctive police vehicle of the Imperial Guard regiment of the National Security Service, and their co-pilot, well-versed in the history and aesthetics of the Aedmeri Dominion. These co-pilots would become important as the motorcade set out on their tour of the Aedmeri capital.

The tour began as the motorcade cruised down the long, stretching highway leading from the Elenwyn International Airport, located far to the northwest of the city centre, all the way down to Aedra itself. The highway ran parallel to the River Aeternum, the river which had formed the foundation of the first settlement of the Aterni Empire well over two thousand years prior. Many monuments had been built flowing down the river in honouring of the rich history and boons the river and provided the city. Most important of these was the enormous gold-bathed statue of Emperor Rhoam of the Aterni Empire, who —in the 3rd Era B.U., or in the early 1400s of the standard international calendar— began the conquests of what would eventually become the first transcontinental empire. The symbology was powerful; although it was a fervently imperialistic past of the Aedmeri Dominion, it symbolised the start of something greater through its evolution to the contemporary Dominion. The base of the statute itself, a large pedestal upon which he stood, bore an inscription: “From our history we learn mistakes which must never again befall us, and take at our leisure the glory bestowed upon us”.

As they continued their trek into the city, they came across the Magister’s Palace. Once a monument to the importance of the imperial family of the Aterni Empire —and as a symbol of their superiority over the rest of the families and nobles of Aedmeria, with its primary use being the audience of clients considered less worthy of the time of the Emperor—, it now stood as a museum, filled with historical artefacts of the Aedmeri and acting as a reminder of the past that the Aedmeri must forever seek to overcome. The structure itself was absolutely immaculate. Although relatively low-rise, the façade was nevertheless impressive. Before it bowed a long set of stairs, each individual step with a seamless depiction of some moment of Aedmeri history. Some would display glorious battles won by the Aterni Empire, others represented important technological or cultural achievements, while others still honoured the Gods of the Pantheon. At the height of the stairs stood two lions, perched with one paw —one with the left paw, whilst the other placed the right— over a small orb, representing the two worlds of the Aterni and Miverkian Empires colliding into one. The façade itself, rising above the ground to roughly forty metres, was supported by immense cylindrical columns, each column head with a different relief of Aedmeri history. Atop the columns was a triangle, stretching from the farthest column on the right to the farthest on the left, and bringing them together at the top. The interior of the triangle donned a large relief made of marble displaying the declaration of Empress Duvaineth in 1681 which officially ended the Aterni Empire and established the Imperial Aedmeri Union. It was an imposing figure of the Imperial Square, filled itself with many historical remnants of the times before the unification of the Aedmeri people.

Close to the Magister’s Palace was the Capitolium, the large building where the Imperial Senate would meet during plenary sessions. It depicted a similar, albeit less extravagant, image. Built after the establishment of the Imperial Aedmeri Union, the Capitolium was once the seat of both the Imperial Senate and the Imperial Houses, the bicameral parliament of the Imperial Union of the time. The building demonstrated that historical avenue; the front of the building, much like the Magister’s Palace, displayed a set of columns that gracefully held the triangular roof, depicting the official signing of the Popular Constitution in the First Constituent Congress of 1913, which officially created the Holy Aedmeri Dominion under the tutelage of the Aedmeri people themselves. At the peak of the triangle was a large statue of a pure-gold eagle extending itself past the edge and looking down at the roads beneath it, representing the eagle of Aurielis watching and guarding the Aedmeri people.

While the glamour and pompous nature of these buildings was immaculate, nothing could compare to the incredible awe that the Palace of the Praesidium inspired in those that turned their eyes to it. As the motorcade came into its final destination —the Plaza Illustris, with its statute of the Aedarch Priscilla standing at the centre, staff at the ready— the enormous tower of the Palace spawned a shadow that enveloped all that which lay in front of it.

The Palace was an enormous tower, standing at over three hundred metres high and bustling with thousands of people in its interior. Its shape was unmistakable; it looked almost as though it were a giant hourglass with a thick centre, gleaming a shiny silver as the rays of the sun bounced off its surface. It broke through the low clouds that hung above the city as it towered above most of the city, imposing the will of the State of the Aedmeri people upon it all. As Decus emerged from the interior of the SUV in which he rode, he looked up at the building in which he’d worked for nearly a decade with amazement; it was, quite simply, the pinnacle of Aedmeri engineering, the greatest demonstration of the will of the Aedmeri and the elegance of an entire people and its history. The Palace of the Praesidium was unmatched in the entirety of the Aedmeri Dominion.

Decus turned back towards the rest of the motorcade, watching as the delegations emerged and marvelled at the majesty of the tower. Patiently he waited as the delegations exited and collected themselves, caring to keep the intense wind created by the tower in this district from blowing their attire into disarray. Leaves darted through the air falling from the many lush trees that provided shade from the summer sun in the square as Decus took it upon himself to lead the delegation quickly across the large square and into the tower.

The Atrium at the ground floor was no different. With the ceiling standing at over thirty metres above the ground, it seemed as though the Aedmeri had taken special care to construct a paradise within the very foundation of the tower. Large trees spurred from controlled environments of flora, the sounds of calm fountains spurring the water into a cascade that peered at the delegation through the many stairs that rose to the visible second floor of the Atrium. The smells were incredibly strong, with the odours of the wet grass and blossoming flowers dense in the air. The Atrium invited one to almost relax absolutely, providing a peaceful and tranquil environment for the dignitaries. It truly was a trial of the senses.

“Welcome,” Decus said, turning to the Novans that examined with care each crevice of the Atrium, “to the Palace of the Praesidium.” He led them through the Atrium to the stairs and up to the second floor, where various large elevators were already anticipating their arrival. They filed into the large glass machine and rose to the thirty-fourth floor, where the Larethal Chambers awaited them. After passing the seventh floor, the steel bed that surrounded them disappeared, instantly placing the entirety of the city on display on one end of the elevator. In the distance, the towers of the financial district of the city —the Crystal Tower, the Pyramid of Cyladiil, and many others— were clearly visible, as were the historical structures in the Ebner District and the Poriér Harbour that led into the Ocean of Cylësen. The glory of the Aedmeri Dominion was unveiled for all to see.

Before long they had finally reached the thirty-fourth floor and exited onto a large, modern hallway. Dual banners hung gracefully from the ceiling, depicting both the Novan and Aedmeri coat of arms, as an army of equerries rushed to greet them. Each member of the Novan delegation was handed a metallic thermos filled with ice-cold water, and then the combined delegations marched down the hall into the Larethal Chambers.

The night previous, Decus had been keen to inspect the chambers. They had yet been fully prepped, with various tables needing to be set up before the arrival of the foreign dignitaries, as well as banners needing to be hanged off of both of the walls in the room. What he saw was as he led the delegation into the Chambers was an absolute transformation. The paintings that hung on the sides of various leaders of the Imperial Aedmeri Union and the Dominion, as well as a bust of Empress Duvaineth herself, were now accompanied by colourful black and yellow banners of the Aedmeri Dominion and white and purple banners of the Novan Exemplarstate. Beneath them, hugging the walls, were long tables of the purest of mahoganies, with an enormous set of plates adorning them, each with an assortment of foods and delicacies of both the Novan Exemplarstate —which had been procured by the Ministry for this occasion— and the Aedmeri Dominion. At the centre rested a large oval table, with a dozen golden candelabra acting purely as decoration underneath the shine of the immense chandelier suspended from the ceiling, had name plates and mats for each individual member of the diplomatic mission. Each placemat was accompanied by a large chalice, where the finest selection of Aedmeri wines would be poured to the delight of the Novan delegates. It was, undoubtedly, the best Aedmeri attempt at a glamourous first impression.

“Finest greetings,” Saturna said as she emerged from the right-hand side of the room, donning a professional and charismatic smile, “and welcome to the Aedmeri Dominion.”
Last edited by Eothasia on Thu Jun 24, 2021 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Nova Secta
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Founded: May 03, 2021
Anarchy

Postby Nova Secta » Thu Jun 24, 2021 4:59 am

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Sipsey, Austellus Province, Moultonsland
The Village Meeting Hall on the Valley Promontory

“They’re coming up! They’re in the valley!”

The sudden cries from outside the vestibule nearly startled Neville out of his chair, having been on the verge of falling asleep. Three straight sleepless nights pacing back and forth on the precipice of the bluff overlooking the valley below had taken its toll on him. And now, the sudden warnings being repeated by a voice quickly closing in on the meeting hall had triggered a deep sense of anxiety in him. He quickly rose from his seat in the vestibule, reaching for his small dagger laying on the end table beside him. Astor must have heard the screams from outside at the same time; he was already jogging through the doorway into the vestibule, making a beeline outside through the open doors onto the front grounds. Though he passed too quickly to get a good look at his friend’s face, there was enough of a passing glance to see the firm resolve on the aging Curzon’s weathered features. Neville quickly darted forward towards the exit of the vestibule to the outside; whatever the crier had seen, he was not about to let Astor face it alone.

Everything about their predicament was one giant mess. Despite Astor and several other elders urging the delegates to return home and begin recruiting soldiers to the cause of the revolution, their fear in the wake of Governor Combes’s calling up of the Austellusian militias to put every member of the Symposium to the sword had frozen them in place. None dared leave the relative isolation of Lake Millry and the valley of the watershed, thinking it a more secure redoubt then daring to return home and be hung by colonial deputies. Curzon and sent him east towards the lower passes, hoping to recruit men from the villages that dotted the trek down towards the lowlands. Unfortunately, the name Neville Beattie carried little value in this part of the province, and his handiwork had produced only a scant column of one hundred volunteers, mostly artisans and farmers who had never been in battle before. Astor had done slightly better, bringing around four hundred souls to Sipsey, but compared to the thousands on the way…

“Ten thousand soldiers. Hundreds of cavalry. Wagon trains stretching for miles…” Certainly, the true total of soldiers coming up the river trail was going to vary, but the reports of a large host on the march had been relayed enough times to be cause for sufficient worry. The men with soldiery among their résumé had been rounded up into an impromptu militia of their own, but many of the attendees to the Symposium had forsaken soldiery for scholarly pursuits. A small militia of academics and a few farmers against a professionally led militia was going to be put to the sword in short measure, and their revolution was going to die in its infancy. And now, the soldiers were on the march near their refuge, at least two or three days ahead of where they were suspected of being. Many of the militiamen called up to help protect the town were sequestered in nearby villages, some a day’s travel. Their forces would be even less with the stragglers coming in to be picked off after most of the town had been fired by the Governor’s forces.

Neville quickly ran down the small dirt path to where Astor and several other men had gathered. The crier turned out to be Bartholomew Harthecourt, one of the other men sent to scout for supporters down the very same river trail that the column had been marching up. Word had arrived too late to rescind Harthecourt’s mission, but thankfully (for the moment) it appeared as though he had made it back. As he neared the gathered group, Astor saw him coming from his periphery and turned towards him, his face grim and pale. He motioned for Neville to join them, running his hand through his graying hair: “Bartholomew came within sight of them near Herod Pointe, approaching Thompson Pass,” he wearily replied, the emotional exhaustion palpable in his voice. “He ran through the night and morning to make it back in time to warn us; the group coming is large, Neville – very, very large.”

Astor motioned for him to step down the path several steps beyond the group, clear enough of the landing to see further off into the valley below. The force was perhaps as large or even larger as feared; thousands of soldiers, some of them appearing to be professionals from the Colonial Guard were among them, noted this far off by their pennants attached to their pikes. Even now, they were gathering around numerous wagons heaved up the long mountain trail by oxen teams, dozens and dozens of them lined up one after another. Tents were already up by the lake further off, as if they were encamping to settle in for a siege of some sort. And there, much closer to them was a small party of the host riding up the promontory road towards them, at least fifty of them with two wagons in tow. They carried the standard of the province with them, the horsemen galloping at a steady gait to get up the sloping trail; Neville had at least a miniscule hope that they were coming to treat with them, get them to surrender as prisoners before being put to the sword.

He turned back to Astor, his own features now as worried as his friend’s were. “There’s no way we can outrun an army already on our grounds,” he started in, wiping at his brow impulsively. “Most of our host are scattered up in the heights still; I don’t know what to do.”

“I don’t think you’re alone in that assessment,” Astor deadpanned, the words stinging like a wasp’s barb. “Harthecourt counted at least two dozen wagon trains on his first encounter, but he was perilously close to their lead column when he made that assessment, so there could be more. He thinks there’s still more columns coming up behind the lead here.”

“I guess Donovan Combes feared us more than I thought,” Neville morbidly quipped, watching as the lead horses summitted the trail and were now free to gallop straight onto the Promontory. “We can take that as a small measure of satisfaction when they take us to the gallows.”

“If we make it that far,” Astor replied, turning to face the lead host as they approached. What little of their forces were encamped by the meeting hall were mustering as quickly as they could, though a handful were already throwing down their arms at the size of the army down in the valley. The riders in front were now close enough to make out in greater detail; most appeared in civilian clothes – that much was comforting, at least – but one or two bore the uniforms of the Colonial Guard, and many had on crude forms of leather armor over woolen tunics. The flag-bearer was carrying the Provincial Colors, just behind the leader of the group. Neville watched nervously as the leading horseman pulled his mare to a stop about five meters from them, waiting for more of his men to catch up before agilely dismounting. As more and more of the horsemen gathered at their leader’s side, he motioned for one of his riders to take the reins of his own steed before turning his attention to Curzon and the rebels gathered down from the meeting hall.

Curzon and a few of the other delegation leaders turned towards the group, helping move the breathless Bartholomew back and out of the way after his harrowing dash to the momentary safety of their party. The lead figure was quite the sight, one of the few to be wearing formal attire in their group. From the looks of his clothing, he was a town deputy of some repute, a crocheted gray sash tied around his waist. He was an older gentleman, perhaps slightly older than Curzon, but still spritely for his years. His balding head appeared mildly sunburned from coming up the trail, a small shawl tucked into the side of his waistband. By his side was quite the relic, an old cutlass from the old world, its iron handle rusted over but still impressive looking considering the circumstances. Dragoon cutlasses were as rare as hen’s teeth nowadays, and only those of considerable means could afford the few left in Moultonsland. This along with his dress probably meant he was a man of some affluence and clout. If he was able to marshal this large a host…

“–Then he could afford to pay them well enough to do anything he asked of them,” Neville thought to himself coldly. The lead rider rested his hand on the pommel of his cutlass, looking over the group less as a lion sizing up prey and more as a feudal lord taking stock of his serfs. “Is there any among you whom we may treat with?”

The words were boldly spoken; an obvious observation given the force mustered behind him. Astor took a firm step forward to separate himself from the group, resolute and defiant if nothing else. “Welcome to Sipsey, gentlemen. What suffers you to travel this high into the mountains?”

The lead horseman took his hand off his pommel, placing his hands behind his back. He bowed slightly to make a formal introduction: “Cantrell Ives,” he replied, his voice far more casual and humored than before; he was probably trying not to laugh at the pathetic sight of his ‘enemy’ marshalling before him. “And who might you be, sir?”

“Astor Curzon, Alderman of Corynna and a delegate of the Symposium of Sipsey,” his friend defiantly answered back. “Are you and your men down by the lake of the Austellusian Militia?”

“We are, sir,” the horseman replied, taking a more interested look at him. “Astor Curzon, you say? Yes, indeed! We have heard of you, sir; your name is of some import to the citizenry of the settlement I govern, Ventana. One of your apprentices came to our village to share some of your… ideas with our town council two summers ago.”

Neville swallowed heavily, knowing full well that he was the apprentice (or at least the leader of said apprentice) Ives spoke of, having visited Ventana two years prior with one of Astor’s apothecary students, James Fitzhugh. Curzon bowed respectfully at the horseman’s acknowledgement, carefully eying two of the wagons that were clattering their way over the rock-strewn trail towards the meeting hall. “It is a pleasure then, sir; I wish this meeting were under better circumstances.”

“Yes,” Ives answered, “better circumstances would be more fortunate, indeed. I suppose we are all slaves to the will of providence. My wife is with child this very day; to leave her to come here was not an easy choice to make. And yet here I am, just as fate would have me to be.”

Astor nodded, the philosopher in him riled. “I suppose you are correct. Though I tend to take a dim view of the idea of the inevitability of actions aforethought. What you call fate, I call the power of revision to claim providence after the fact of the event. For example, those who carried your cutlass in service to the King would have certainly not spoken so fondly of providence after she obliterated our ancestral home.”

Rather than take offense to the challenge, Ives instead nodded. “You may be surprised; as the one who carried this cutlass in service of our deceased regent in my intemperate youth, I can assure you sir that fate is still preached among the few of us left to remember those dark days.”

Curzon politely nodded, yielding the point; from the look in his eyes, the revelation of his military service to the Lynlandic government definitely had Astor on edge. His voice would not betray that fact, however: “Though we could enjoy a discourse on philosophy, I fear that you have not come to treat with us over the polities of the great philosophers.”

“Quite right, sir – I doubt any conversation of ours on philosophical ideology would have required men at arms to back us up,” the horseman replied. “I’m afraid our affairs here are less whimsical and more macabre than we wert them to be.”

“Well then,” Neville’s old friend bluntly answered, “to what end shall we make of this audience. If you seek to carry out the Governor’s will, are you here to treat with us over surrendering, or do you intend to bring your force up the hill and put us to the sword?”

The look on Cantrell’s face was one of incredulousness and dark humorousness. He motioned towards the two wagons that had been brought to a stop near their party, a contingent of his men already moving back towards them. “We have much to discuss, it seems.”

As the last notes of his almost-musical tone lingered, Neville noted two of the largest of Ives’s host were heaving a large wooden chest the size of a fully-grown goat, struggling mightily to bring the container towards Ives and Curzon. Though he couldn’t see behind the second wagon, he could see a commotion among the men, revealing that something else was being hauled down from the back of the covered conveyance. Soon, seven of the host were hoisting large wicker baskets full of what appeared to be short swords, their hilts sticking up through the open lid. They quickly caught and passed by the group hoisting the chest, though Neville was now completely oblivious to anything but the sight of three more chests being unloaded from the first wagon. Either Cantrell was toying with them and stretching things out for his own grotesque amusement, or he had arrived with some other purpose in mind. In either case, the happenings in front of him had thoroughly wrought chaos in his mind, the thoughts racing around one another.

“I would believe so,” Astor said calmly, referring to Ives’s response. “What would your business be here in Sipsey? Few have come this way so heavily armed to fish the waters, I would think.”

“Indeed, sir. I come bearing a most important purpose,” he responded, motioning for the chest to be sat down beside him. The two men had barely gotten it on the ground, their faces red and sweaty when Ives used the toe of his boot to loosen the latch, kicking the attached lid upward. What was inside the large crate was almost too impossible for Neville to believe. “This may explain the gravity of the situation better than I could.”

The chest he had so nonchalantly opened was filled almost to the brim with coin, the gold and silver intermixed revealing different currencies within: Austellusian communities often carried regional currencies over provincial currencies given the crises rocking the provincial governments. To count the value of such a magnitude of coin would take a season in and of itself, but suffice to say Cantrell was hauling more than any of their group would have seen in several lifetimes. Ives spoke firmly, “we bear arms and coins on this expedition, in addition to the most valuable treasure of our company,” he motioned out towards the valley below at his milita – in truth an army really – making camp along the lake shorefront. Neville was now thoroughly confused as to what was happening, though his fear of being ran through with a sword this day seemed to be evaporating more and more quickly.

“I’m afraid you have us at a loss,” Astor charged, his hands firmly clasped in front of him. “Are you here to bribe us with gifts, or are these the spoils for putting Sipsey to the torch? I beg you, speak sir.”

“Bribery? Putting Sipsey to the torch?” He mockingly reiterated, trying to stifle a laugh. “Sir, we have not come here to put your town to the torch. We have certainly not come here to bribe you, and we certainly would not bring harm to his little hamlet. It would be unbecoming of those gathered in its service to destroy the very thing they sought to protect.”

The dramatic shift in the winds of the conversation were so great, and his sudden surge of relief so powerful that Neville almost buckled at the words. Astor seemed equally as relieved, a slight grin spreading on his face. “Protect Sipsey, sir?”

Cantrell nodded, extending his hand towards Astor. “Indeed, sir. Your revolution is quite popular in Austellus, it seems. This is just the first detachment of soldiers coming, those closest. We have some coming in from as far away as Southpointe and Tyler Towne. We bring twelve thousand under arms here today, and another eighteen are on the way at last notice.”

Astor could barely contain his excitement. “You have impeccable timing, sir!”

Ives smiled, his hand clasped in Astor’s as he shook it up and down ecstatically. “The revolution is begun, and we are here to help those that gathered to help us.” He then spoke up so all gathered in the vicinity could hear him. “The revolution is accomplished in Austellus!”

The titanic blast of noise from the delegation and the local populace at the Meeting Hall had to have been heard all the way north across the mountains to Teutonia. The host of Sipsey and Cantrell’s party began to congregate together, strangers shaking hands, some embracing, some nearly overcome with emotion. Astor turned towards Neville, the relief in his eyes more genuine than he had ever been, and that said a lot given how trustworthy he was. The two men embraced in a hug, as much to keep each other from having their knees buckle as anything. As the vigil for the dead became a celebration of the living, the two men turned towards Cantrell, himself side-stepping his own men as they came forward to mingle with the Sipseyans. The trio managed to get outside of the jocular maelstrom for a moment, though speaking over the throng of celebratory voices was damned difficult. Still, the look on Astor’s face was part relief over the news and part confusion as to how such a large force came to their aid in the mountains.

Cantrell must have sensed the question that Astor was about to pose, and he beat him to the punch: “news about your Symposium and the work you were doing here has been spreading all around the province. Many were convinced it was some sort of cruel twist, a group calling for revolution and change on behalf of the people. It was not until official missives arrived by armed carrier calling for your destruction that most realized the news was genuine. When we first marshaled in Ventana, every single man down to the last agreed that we would never follow such an obscene directive from Emeria. And so we marched under arms to join you, picking up hundreds and hundreds along the way. Our men have been collecting donations from villages and towns from here to Avacelia to support the cause. By the time we reached Seaton and the foothills, there were over ten thousand of us with more arriving by the day. The other two columns were formed independent from us, but all our riders soon coordinated with one another.”

Astor put his hand on Cantrell’s shoulder, embracing him yet again as though he were a long-lost brother returned from the beyond. “You have no idea how grateful we are. When we heard reports of a large host of armed men coming up the trails, we feared the worst. The gentleman behind us that you may have seen heaving for air had journeyed through the night to warn us of your approach – after you had already reached the valley, coincidentally.”

“Ah yes, the mystery man,” Cantrell laughed, shaking his head. “We tried calling out to him when he started running, thinking he had yet to be spotted. Unfortunately he either did not hear us or did not dare meet with us; it might have saved him a lot of energy and several changes of trousers.”

The three men all shared a bellowing laugh together. Neville’s grin had spread from ear to ear: “That might have been the best gift of them all.”






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Aedra Capitolia, Holy Aedmeri Dominion
The Larethal Chambers of the Palace of the Praesidium

The entire trip from Elenwyn had been a blur, the intoxicating visage of the majestic grandeur of Aedra Capitolia and the monuments that bracketed their entourage through the ornate capital of the Holy Aedmeri Dominion, the breadth of the Dominion’s high culture and the heritage of such fantastic historic richness almost too much for the senses to handle. Perhaps others might view Arxopolis in the same way that Lori now viewed Aedra Capitolia, having never set foot in the metropolis; to think that one could ever grow weary of walking amidst the towering monoliths, the temples and the iconography of the immutable Dominion and the splendor of their power, it was preposterous. And here, now, present in the Larethal Chambers of the Palace of the Praesidium – more the Tower of the Praesidium in truth – she began to wonder if the amazement would ever wear off. To think, she had been just a short while before marveling at the flight in and the design of the skylights in the airport.

The voice of the Aedmeri diplomat had quickly broken her daydreaming though. The Novan delegation stood in respect for the owner of said voice, one Saturna Salvitto, a State Officer (if she remembered the title correctly) in the Dominion’s Foreign Ministry service, and an extremely high ranking one at that. She had been one of the key touchstones of Lori’s original report to her own superiors of Novan equivalency, a wellspring of information on the Dominion that had led her to her tempestuous conclusions. For over forty years, she had served the Dominion with honor and distinction; at a time when Lori and the Legate were still riding their bicycles to primary school, Saturna was winning favor as an esteemed and venerated diplomat, serving the Holy Aedmeri Dominion with such grace that she had been given postings in four separate countries. There was no nepotism at work here, no source of bribe or political kickback to explain her rise in power and stature.

“Moxie! Pure, unabashed moxie, full of mettle and grit and undeniable determination,” Lori thought to herself as Saturna approached her own delegation, the elegant stride almost an effervescent affectation in and of itself. She was, in many respects, the Aedmeri equivalent to Chiasa in terms of poise and station, not only in the physical rank, but in the manifestation of her presence, her essence as it were. Saturna carried herself as a goddess too humble to wear the cloak of her divinity yet simmering with an intellectual intensity that swept over the rest of the people in the room like a churning high tide. If Chiasa Nagayo represented the fierceness of spirit, Saturna Salvitto represented the inviolable, unshakable truth of the fortitude of logic, reason and wisdom. She was not an antipode of the Imperator so much as a kindred spirit traveling adjacent to her, the grace of her glory from her accomplishments bringing a triumphal praise that clung to her like intensity clung to the Lioness.

Chiasa was already standing in deference to their hosts, bowing before Saturna from afar as she had for the delegation back at Elenwyn; this time, however, the greeting cast before them was quite different: “Ave, nobilis rectrix. Gloria aut honorem.” The Imperator was already forming the succeeding words even as the last lurid notes of her voice hung in the air, the candor frank and forthcoming: “Honoured Ambassador, State Officer of External Relations, a powerbroker in the grandness of the Holy Aedmeri Dominion. Your reputation speaks for itself, and the triumph of your career shall resonate through the ages as a testament to your desire to serve the Aedmeri people and the Dominion which stands in service to them. Though their own deference could surely be felt in the demureness of their countenance upon your entrance, may I offer that it is the great honor of all our careers as diplomats in service of the government of the Novan Exemplarstate to work with you and your esteemed colleagues.”

As her opening dictation came to a close, the Imperator motioned towards her left at a cadre of assistants brought along with the diplomatic envoy, their purpose in the group about to be fulfilled. Each had been toting three distinct cases of varying sizes, their contents part of the traditional custom of the Novans giving gifts to their host: the Tria Munera. Lori marveled at Nagayo’s poise and dignity, her diplomatic talents mirrored only by the macabre fierceness she displayed on the battlefield: “Our goal, the ‘first cause’ that brings us to your esteemed Palace is the mission for which we were chosen by our countrymen: to work towards the creation of both a lasting friendship between our two peoples and the foundation for a partnership that will not only spread the influence of our two countries and their governments throughout the world, but to achieve great works that will record for posterity the greatness of our collective intellects and the mightiness of our collective power.”

“To that end,” the Lioness continued, stepping forward towards the table as the attendants, each with white gloves on as they positioned the three boxes before her on the table, “I wish to present these three gifts from the Novan Exemplarstate to the people of the Holy Aedmeri Dominion, that the veracity of our mission here may be recognized.”

Nagayo stepped towards the table, her kimono casting a nigh-pearlescent glistening under the lighting of the great forum. Each box, though differing in size and dimension were of the same basic aesthetic style and quality of craftsmanship, though in the tradition of the Novan custom, each was made from a unique material. The first box on the left, also the smallest of the three, was made from a hardwood, perhaps mahogany or cherry. The wood in any case was polished to a high sheen and framed around the edges with bronze casting, pins holding the container together cast in likewise manner. Atop the box was leather padding dyed with a byzantine purple coloration in mind; in the center of the lid, a coating of waxy adhesive held in place a small steel crest of the Exemplarstate’s national shield. The front of the box was interlaced with gold foil woven into ribbons that laced into small holes cut in the fastener plate, itself cast from pure silver from one of the silverworks in the Nassican and Merendan Steppe.

As ornamental as the first box was, it was of no comparison to the container placed beside it. The second box was made from three different variations of onyx-marble, with a lid made from alabaster; all sides of the container and the lid were treated for translucency. The bottom of the box was supported by four round pegs of black onyx, similar to the bottom of the container. The two sides of the container were made of sardonyx, the creamy pink stripes cutting through the deep red shades. The front and back were cast of onyx chemically treated to achieve the byzantine purple made famous by the Novan flag; intricate patterns made by gold and silver foil set into the marble created a unified theme with the color variations. The alabaster top was the real stunning achievement of the piece, however: it was laced with black micro-foil and then stenciled around with a fine ink, creating a recreation of the Praedium Maxima en miniature on the lid, with the center piece of the first box duplicated, albeit with a pearl implanted in the middle.

The byzantine and crimson ribbons attached to all four corners and their gold-cast mountings easily made it the most decorative of the three. Lori furrowed her brow; this was actually something of an anachronism, a faux pas of sorts in the custom. Per the tradition of the Tria Munera, each subsequent gift was of greater material worth than the previous – sort of a “building to the best” tradition as it were. The idea manifested itself also in the manner in which the gifts were presented; in other words, the nicer the gift, the nicer the package or wrapping. In this case, however, only the size of the third box denoted a greater presence, for its construction was easily the most simplistic of the three. Elongated to little more than half a meter, nearly a third of a meter wide and with almost that much depth to it volumetrically speaking, the large container was utilitarian in its construction. It appeared to be an oaken box wrapped with fine leather and a simple set of metallic latches to keep the lid closed – ordinarily a fine case, but out of place in this setting.

As all three boxes were carefully arranged, the Aedmeri delegation dutifully observing the proceedings with what could almost be considered an intellectual inquisitiveness over the event unfolding, Chiasa carefully ran her hand across the tops of each of the three containers, coming to the first box set to her left on the table. As she opened it, the crimson felt lining was interrupted by a circular imprint. The group watched as the Imperator reached inside, retrieving a large circular coin, so large it could almost be considered a medallion. She carefully held it forward that its design could be seen by all in the vicinity: on the one side, the two flags of the respective parties cross inside a laurel wreath, an olive branch placed directly above. On the relief, the wings of the Aedmeri Golden Eagle crossed with the wings of the Novan Phoenix, and on the cut of a ribbon an inscription in Siscian: “SAPIENTI FORTUNA IUVAT,” ‘Fortune Favors the Wise’. It looked to have been double cast: the front in silver, the reverse in gold.

“This coin,” the Lioness spoke directly to Saturna, “was minted at the foundries of Procul Porta on the Praedium Maxima in Arxopolis. Only the Exemplarii Treasury has access to these works, for only the finest of metals are cast there. It is the Mint of the Exemplar, and it represents the richest source of material wealth the Novan state possesses. We present this token of our respect to the Aedmeri government, that your nation may prosper in good favor, fortune and wealth in its enduring amity, favor and that old sport of good humor and goodwill shown towards the Exemplarstate.”

Even Salazar and the Legate were stunned by the admission of the medal’s minting, Lori noted – the Procul Porta was one of the most restricted areas on the capitol promontory; you needed clearances a mile long just to get inside the gate, let alone the complex itself. The location of the medal’s birth was almost as important as the medal itself, whether or not that context would be immediately known to foreign powers given the insular nature of the Novans as a government and as a people. Even as she mused this, Chiasa had returned the medal to its now-open container, moving steadily to the onyx container. Opening its delicate latches revealed an immediate revelation as to its contents – one need not be an expert to deduce a crown when it saw one. The ornate diadem rested inside a felt lining, a wreath of laurel wrapped around the base. Encrusted in the gold of the crown were a string of emeralds, rubies, and diamonds, inlaid within the unique golden works to give the crown a field of depth. The jewels of the diadem were quite stunning, cut to different dimensions around the large bowl of the band-portion.

Jutting up from the circular plate that formed the base were six supporters made of brass geometrically positioned at equidistant positions from one another along the sides of the band. Their surface was encrusted with hundreds of tiny diamonds, packed so tightly as to create a sparkling sheen when placed under the light. These six supporters arched to form the crown hat, connecting with the seventh piece: a solid band of gold arching perpendicular to the brazen supporters. Its surface was lined with tiny diamonds, creating alternating streaks of diamond and gold to the eye. Set atop the apex was a small golden spike, and placed upon it was a small crystalline figure of a Novan Phoenix. Lori knew that only a Praeceptor could adorn such a diadem, which gave way to the realization that the Exemplarstate had gifted a relic of a venerated Praeceptor to the Aedmeri Dominion. The rarity of this gesture, more than anything else, conveyed how deadly serious the Novans were about treating with the Aedmeri.

Chiasa did not dare place her bare hands on the crown; instead, she held up the alabaster box at an angle for the Aedmeri delegation to see the diadem inside more clearly. “In our custom, those who wear the title of Praeceptor are judged by a gathering of their peers upon the completion of their work. Those who are found most worthy have their names Venerated, that the knowledge and the memory of their accomplishments might be preserved for the sake of posterity. This,” Chiasa paused for effect, extending the container slightly forward, “is a relic of one such Praeceptor, he who enfranchised our people and who galvanized our country for its fight against slavery, a battle that we have been waging now to great effect for more than three centuries. May the Mantle of Sebastian the Third reflect the enduring truth of our willingness to stand in defense of your values, your custom and your liberty, just as the Venerated Praeceptor stood in defense of ours in the same.”

Lori shot the quickest of looks over towards Ambassador Coaxum, noting with some surprise that he almost appeared melancholy, as if the Lioness’s speech reflected some sort of inadequacy of talent within him that troubled his spirit. Yet it was looking towards Coaxum that revealed a greater source of puzzlement: beside the Ambassador was Legate Lucullus; Modzelewski’s eyes were transfixed on the third box, to the point that it almost seemed as though it would ignite from the blazing intensity in his eyes. Whatever had him so wound up would soon be revealed to all as the Imperator carefully set the box down containing Praeceptor Sylvester’s crown before slowly walking to the third container, her hand gently touching the top of the case’s lid. Just as the Legate’s eyes betrayed his feelings, so too did the Imperator’s eyes betray hers: Lori could sense that there was both a profound welling of sadness in her watery eyes, but also a fiery intensity of spirit as well. It was readily apparent that she was steeling herself and strengthening her resolve.

With a trio of successive snaps, the case lid was gently opened, the Lioness exhaling sharply. “To rise to the rank of Imperator Excelsis is no small feat. As my colleague the Legate would attest, only those found most worthy may possess the singular honor of lording over a branch of our military forces, the Veraxvira. The noble glory of this rank is compounded by the countless years of thankless service required to reach such lofty heights. It is for this reason that a tradition was initiated among the senior leadership of our military apparatus headquarters at Castra Caedis generations ago. When a serviceperson of the individual branches reached the rank of Legate, they were gifted with a special scepter; this prize was a symbolic token representing their mark of office. When that Legate achieved the rank of Imperator, they were given another baton, this one of even greater stature reflecting their advancement. This process was repeated for those who reached the top of the ranking hierarchy, Imperator Excelsis, with one key difference.”

“Those who govern an entire branch of the military are presented with a scepter unique to them; no baton of an Imperator Excelsis has or will ever be duplicated, symbolizing the honor and esteem with which their leaders and countrymen hold them in. So long as they possess their baton, the Imperator Excelsis remains bound to the honors of the rank, even when they enter the luxury of retirement. To relinquish their baton is to sever the umbilical connecting them to the military. This symbolic cut represents the end of their service – the end of their life, as it had come to be defined – and their ability to partake of the spoils of the title. Those who voluntarily yield their Marcam Honoris, their Mark of Honor are renouncing their superiority over their troops, the superiority of their being over their countrymen. They are leaving behind the glory, the pomp and the triumph of the office; the regalia stripped from them, they become ordinary citizens once more. This act is a valorous one, demonstrating humility and self-sacrifice.”

The Imperator reached into the case, producing a totem of incredible craftsmanship, the likes of which Lori had never seen. It was at least a foot and a half long, maybe even two feet; the bottom of the long shaft capped with a silver cap ground to a sharp point. The actual baton was made of thick cork wrapped in corrugated steel; the divots inlaid with thin golden plates running the length of it. Two stout, brain-tanned leather straps were wound at either end of the baton, two inches from the orb and the bottom cap. There were small brass loops fastened to the leather with a plethora of golden, silver and byzantine-colored ribbons and small streamers hanging from both of them, each bearing inscriptions of Nagayo’s military accomplishments. Attached to the two brazen rings were five aiguillettes wound tightly with two dozen gold and silver laces; silk bows dyed byzantine purple, gold and white ran the length of each aiguillette. Atop the scepter were two casts made mostly of solid gold, their immense size topped only by their detail.

The head the scepter was cut in a way to present two animals. In the background was the cast of the Novan Phoenix, its wide wings outstretched and pointed to the sky, its head turned to the side and the flames surrounding its base carved in and plated with sard-colored marble. A diamond was inlaid where the Phoenix’s lone eye would be. In the foreground, made in such a way as to be fused with the Phoenix was the front third of a female lion made from jade. One of the lioness’s paws rested on a small gold pedestal extending outward from the joint connecting the headpiece to the baton; the other was outstretched, claws bared just as the lioness’s teeth were in its snarling growl, its diamond eyes cut so precisely as to reflect the animal’s viciousness. On its back was a small circular relief where the baton’s actual orb was placed: a hexagonal shaped glass crystal that had been stained red called the Crystallum Erythraeae, a special signet of the Novan Marine Forces which Chiasa once commanded. The exquisiteness of its design was readily apparent.

With the scepter held in both hands in a presentational manner, the Imperator slowly made her way around the table, her path leading her directly towards Saturna. Both Legate Lucullus and Al-Barzegar quickly rose to attention, prompting Lori, the Ambassador and their staffers all doing the same instinctively. They watched as the Lioness approached the State Officer of the Dominion, speaking quietly: “I worked all my life to defend my adopted homeland; I felt compelled to honor her, my sacrifice serving as payment for her gracious acceptance of my family among her children. So fierce was my service to the country that my peers bequeathed me with the sobriquet Lioness, itself a Mark of Honor, and one that I gladly accepted given the circumstances. I had thought that, should I ever reach the top of the Marine command, I would feel as though my debt would have been paid. Reaching the pinnacle, I realized that my hunger to serve was not – and would never be – satiated. Thus, here I stand before you as a servant once more.”

The hall was completely silent, save for the soft muffled steps that the Imperator’s ceremonial sandals made. As she drew close to Saturna, she came to stand at attention for a brief moment, crossing the scepter over her heart – the salute of an Imperator to their superiors. Legate Lucullus also saluted in the custom of his rank and station, his head bowed to the floor in a show of reverence. Both the Ambassador and Al-Barzegar had their heads bowed in respect to the proceedings, but Lori could not fight the compelling desire to watch. The entire show was like some sort of living art, an impromptu ceremony so remarkably poignant that she could not help shedding a tear from the corner of her eye, the gentlest of tickles from the drop sliding down her cheek. This was not the Chiasa she had come to know in the short time she had spent with her; that Chiasa was every bit of her nickname, fierce and predatory, the undisputed leader of their troupe. Here though was something else altogether: the meek humility of a servant.

With a breathless, graceful movement, Chiasa slowly lowered herself to her knees, her poise resonating deeply within Lori. “I hereby gift to you the Marcam Honoris made for me upon my ascension to the rank of Imperator Excelsis of the Vimaequoreus Branch.” Bowing her head in deference to Saturna, her figure slowly lowering into a nigh-prostrate position. Raising the Mark of Honor – her Mark of Honor – up towards Saturna, she spoke with a quiet whisper, her eyes still cast to the floor: “May this gesture serve as a stand-in for the humility to which my adopted homeland treats with you in, and the self-sacrifice it is prepared to endure to stand in unison with you as allies, in times of peace and in times of struggle. Even in the darkest hour of your despair, when the whole of the world stands before you with swords unsheathed, the Novans will stand at your side. For just as I am willing to part with that which is so dear to me, so too is my country willing to endure hardship and sacrifice for the cause of our friendship with you."

"Well done, " Lori softly replied. "Well done, indeed."
Last edited by Nova Secta on Thu Jun 24, 2021 5:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Eothasia
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Eothasia » Wed Jun 30, 2021 10:47 am

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Saturna watched carefully as the decorated Novan delegation entered the Larethal Chambers, carrying themselves with a poise and distinction most befitting the prestige carried by the Novan Exemplarstate both internationally and within the government of the Aedmeri Dominion. There was a visible sense of grace, of determination and undeniable exuberance of amongst the delegates, all of them eager to prove themselves in the representation of their State and in the portrayal of the Novan Exemplarstate as a worthy ally to have, whilst simultaneously ensuring that Dominion itself was also a worthy ally.

Saturna, however, was woefully unprepared for the detail of the add-ons with which the Novans arrived. A gift had been, at least partially, expected by the Ministry; it was, after all —and most especially between States that could grow a powerful bond, as was believed to be the case between the Exemplarstate and the Dominion— customary for gifts to be presented to one another as a show of respect and mutual commitment to the advancement of a cooperative relationship. The sheer scope of the gifts presented to the Aedmeri by Imperator Nagayo, however, vastly outclassed all expectations, however. As if the first two gifts, one of which was the priceless crown of an exalted past leader of the Novan Exemplarstate, which was undoubtedly no small fortune, weren’t enough, the third was a truly unexpected phenomenon.

Little was known in the Aedmeri Dominion regarding the Novan state or its people. The mysterious veil behind which they’d existed for decades had pushed even the most elder of Aedmeri, well into the last stages of their lives, into a fray of ignorance. The enigma of the Novan people was one that Saturna was dutifully determined to crack, but it would most certainly have to be a long process spreading out across generations to fulfil. One of the few titbits of information that had crossed the dense veil of the Novan Exemplarstate into the vast international spectrum had been the value Novan society placed on military prowess and the significance of service to the Novan people. With that information in mind, the act that was transpiring before Saturna —that which had so fervently caught her eye and thrown her off her horse— carried a weight indescribable by mere words, unintelligible to those who lacked the education and knowledge of Novan culture to understand the very roots of their particularities with respect to the rest of the world. Saturna was not one of those people, however, and the motion to grant the sceptre of a Novan legate, an act never recorded in the history of the Novans’ exterior relations, set her heart on fire. She was suddenly acutely aware of the blood that slushed through her veins, the intensity of the thoughts inside her brain, and the heat that now permeated through the room. Her eyes glared, lids opened to their maximum extension, the light glow of her sapphire eyes blinding those that dare glance.

The moment was a powerful one. More powerful than anyone could have imagined. To present this to the Aedmeri Dominion not only symbolised a great deal of collective trust from the Exemplarstate towards the Aedmeri in one of the first diplomatic initiatives the Novans had undertaken in eons, but also the immense personal sacrifice and devotion of the Imperator that kneeled before her as a loyal and unrelenting servant of the Novan Exemplarstate. The mere implication of what was happening made it infinitely more difficult for Saturna to focus on the words the Imperator uttered as she wished she could suddenly gain the power to stop time and recover from the shock. She felt her head grow groggy and she attempted to restabilise herself to avoid losing balance, licking her lips as she forced herself to blink and reigned in the overwhelming emotions.

And then, the fog cleared. The reality of the situation dawned on her, and the realisation of it urged her forward, demanded that she take the lead, given her stature, and command the respect bestowed upon her by the Novans with the glorious gift they presented. With perfect posture and composure, trained into her very veins from the start of her career so very many years before, she closed the small gap between herself and the Imperator. She placed her hands beneath the sceptre, grabbing it firmly in her fist and feeling the shared weight of the Novan mark of honour. It was a hefty item, glorifying both the symbology of the nation with the Novan phoenix and a lioness, as well as various jewels and gems which signified the importance of its owner. It was, without question, a gift worthy of the Gods. Aurielis Herself would have been most pleased with the offering and would bestow upon the Novans a great boon for their devotion and commitment to cooperation with Her. And the Aedmeri must prove worthy of following in Her glorious footsteps.

Saturna lifted the sceptre slowly, so as to give time to the Imperator to fully accept it being removed from her grasp. She pulled it closer to her chest and examined it, inspired by the many colours and the incredible condition of the weapon. She took a deep breath, then shifted her eyes from the weapon to the delegation which stood nearby, whose faces were a confirmation of Saturna’s own emotions; they were largely flabbergasted, surprised beyond belief that the fidelity of their Imperator seemingly knew no bounds when it came to the Aedmeri Dominion. She glanced back down at the Imperator, who was rising from her kneeled position.

“Imperator Nagayo,” she began, holding the weapon still in front of her as she lowered her head towards it in a heavy bow, her eyes closed as she continued to regulate her breathing. “Words cannot describe the immense appreciation and gratitude that we of the Aedmeri Dominion feel at the bestowal of such an honourable and sacred gift. We understand the meaning of the sacrifice you make in presenting us with this sceptre, and we solemnly promise to ensure that both this sceptre —as an element of the history that guided your service to the present day— and, most importantly, what it represents are forever guarded by the powers of the Aedmeri people and the will of the Gods. This is our oath, and it shall never be broken.”

Saturna carefully returned to the last case and returned the sceptre to its original position, making sure to treat it with the respect and competence it deserved. As she relieved herself of the sceptre and closed the lid, two of the equerries in the chambers arrived and carefully retrieved the boxes, quickly making their way away from the table and through one of the back doors of the chambers. It would almost certainly be taken to one of the lower levels, where they would wait in a pompous storage room before officially being designated a location within the venerated halls of the Eagle Tower. She glanced at them as they darted away for a moment before returning to devote her full attention to the Novan delegation.

“The Aedmeri Dominion is most honoured to receive you, Imperator Nagayo —and the rest of the Novan delegation— in what is the first official meeting between members of our respective governments. The weight of the following days and weeks shall have a reverberated effect on the rest of our futures together and, should the Gods will it, shall lead our peoples down the paths of absolute strength and prosperity. In the hopes of presenting the Novan Exemplarstate with a similar token of our appreciation for your efforts and a symbol to stand the test of time in representation of our mutual glory, we present to you a gift.”

Saturna turned and watched as another equerry, likely hiding behind the corner of the passage awaiting the key words uttered from Saturna’s mouth, walked into the chambers with a sizeable coffer. Made of the finest oaks from the forests of Alenea —far to the east beyond the cold plains of Rhyla and through the grasslands of Evras— it was covered in small sapphires and amethysts that lined the edges of the box, each encircled by golden embroidery. At the front of the chest was a dark metal band, connecting the upper lid to the body of the coffer. The metal band held at its tip a large circular mechanism which acted as the lock, disengaged by removing two pins on each side and moving a small dial in the centre to align with the aperture on the band Surrounding the aperture were two animals, flying in counterclockwise fashion. At the top, upside down and swirling towards the left-hand side of the band, was a Novan phoenix engulfed in an elegant and yet ferocious flame; below was an Aedmeri eagle, flapping its wings to pull itself forward. Together, they seemed to be in motion, drawing constantly forward towards one another.

The equerry laid the coffer on the table, then stepped away. Saturna walked closer to the coffer, unlatching the pins on the sides and sliding the dial into place. With the movement of the dial, the two animals that had been on top and bottom shifted to left and right, fitting each perfectly on half of the circular mechanism. As the dial slipped through the apertures, the lock opened, splitting into left and right halves which dangled from a common piece at the top of the clock, with each half donning one of the two symbols etched onto the lock. Unlocked, Saturna lifted the lid of the coffer and retrieved from within the gift from the Aedmeri Dominion to the Novan Exemplarstate.

It was a large, enclosed glass case in a long, rectangular shape, the twelve edges of the case bordered by a shining golden gleam. Inside the glass case was a statute, about seventy centimetres in height. The statue was made of pure gold, with a long horizontal base etching the words Forward Unto Prosperity in Aedmeri script . Atop the base, at the centre, was a tower rising to the top of the statue. On the left hand-side of the statue, towards the edge of the base, was a small pile of ashes with a beak peeking from the right-hand side, emerging from within; as it moved towards the centre, there were different levels, each representing a different stage in the life of a phoenix as it rose to the top of the tower at the centre of the base. On the right was a nest of an eagle with an eaglet peering from the edge. In a similar fashion, as it drew towards the centre, the different levels showed the evolution of the life of an eagle until it reached the top of the tower.

At the summit of the statute, the eagle and phoenix, fully grown and in all their splendour, flew in a circle, intertwined with one another in a solid embrace. The eagle carried in its right talon a set of arrows, while the phoenix carried, also in its right talon, a sceptre not unlike that gifted to the Dominion by Imperator Nagayo just moments before. In their left talons, both majestic animals held a single laurel wreath, each one latched onto one of the sides of the wreath. It was a powerful object, certainly symbolising the unity between the Novans and the Aedmeri in the years that were to come.

“This statue,” Saturna began, holding the case in her hands, “was designed by none other than Oerion Ar-Feiniel, a masterful artist that has showered the Aedmeri with his cultural gifts since nearly the dawn of the Aedmeri Dominion. He is one of the most revered and sought-after Aedmeri sculptors and he graciously accepted this task in honour of the Novan Exemplarstate. It has been cast in gold from far to the north of here, near the capital of Valamendo in the Province of Vyshia. The gold there is said to be the most beautiful and purest reserve in all of Aedmeria, carefully tended to by Odesius, the God of Air, Wind, Sky, and the elements of our world. In the olden days, under the first of the Miverkian Empires, the mines of Valamendo were rumoured to be the greatest treasures in the land, and emperor after emperor of the long-lasting Empire longed to control the Vyshian kingdoms to seize control of the mines. This would finally be achieved eons later by the Third Miverkian Empire, which controlled all the territories from the north, beyond Valamendo, to the peninsula of Villa and beyond; from east as far as Canzia and Grenter to the west as far as Pella, near the Great Woodlands of Venza. These mines were used exclusively, then, to cast the great crowns and staves of the emperors of the Miverkian Empire and became a symbol of the wealth and prosperity of the Miverkian Empire.

“The Absolute Conquest of the Aterni Empire and its victory over the whole of the continent drew the mines to an even higher state of worship,” Saturna continued, edging closer to Nagayo, “as it was decreed by Emperor Séverine, before the start of the 17th Century and less than a decade after the end of the Eons War, that the mines were to be left untouched, only used for the exclusive purposes that the Emperor deemed necessary —and he did not—. For many decades, the mines of Valamendo were left as a testimony to the wealth of Aedmeri lands, untouched and yet shining from a distance with beautiful gold for all to see. The Imperial Aedmeri Union of the subsequent Empress Duvaineth, and the Holy Aedmeri Dominion that followed, vowed to keep the sanctity of the mines intact as a means of worship to the God Odesius.

“Today, we present to you this gift, in the hopes that with it, we can honour you in a way graced by the gods. The gold presented here is of great religious value to the Aedmeri people, and we hope that the Gods of our Pantheon lend us Their strength, that we may persist through the eons as they have for us.” With a wide smile and a deep exhale, she extended her arms further, holding the case in front of Imperator Nagayo.

“May our futures be as prosperous as the Vyshi mines of Odesius.”
Last edited by Eothasia on Mon Jul 12, 2021 12:09 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Nova Secta
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Postby Nova Secta » Mon Jul 05, 2021 12:03 am

Aedra Capitolia, Holy Aedmeri Dominion
The Larethal Chambers of the Palace of the Praesidium

Between the ceremonial bestowal of gifts to the Aedmeri delegation – and the somewhat shocking (if not unwelcome) bestowal of gifts in return – Lori was almost agog at the pageantry of it all. Despite being squirreled away from public view in the Larethal Chambers, the two countries’ best and brightest had come together in a mutual demonstration of amity, faith and trust in the other. It was an organic moment, and not one that she had anticipated living to see. Surprise as it may be, it was a welcome one, and Lori felt a swell of pride well up within her at the thought that her groundwork may have helped make this moment possible. There were so few joys in life greater than being remembered, and this would most certainly earn her the right, if not the privilege of being remembered for the steps that brought the Exemplarstate to this watershed moment in its history. Given the price she had paid to make it this far, there was no shame in relishing this small measure of satisfaction in the soaking in of the grandeur of it all. ”If only it had not cost me so damn much…”

Lori watched on as Saturna prepared to hand the statue over in presentation to the Imperator, the look of her ashen pallor somewhat-amusing to her (Novans were not accustomed to receiving gifts back during the Tria Munera, and though this breach in protocol was absolutely fantastic from a diplomatic perspective, the poor Imperator probably had no idea how to respond to it). She watched intently, as did the rest of the Novan delegation to see what she would do, the thrill of the excitement found in such a resplendent setting more than Lori could stand to bear. The Imperator bowed slightly at first, then found her mental footing and bowed deeper before Saturna. With outstretched arms, she gently took hold of the case from her Aedmeri counterpart, admiring the gift bestowed upon her and the delegation with a careful, keen eye. She studied the statue for a long while, the room seemingly breathless, waiting to behold the next chapter in this unfolding spectacle, the tension in their anticipatory excitement almost palpable to the last.

Then, something bizarre happened. With a slight flick of her head to the side, one of her personal aides came fast-stepping to her side, her hands tightly clenching the leather satchel worn at her side. As the aide approached her, Nagayo took a step back from Saturna, carefully holding the case containing the statue. Lori watched as another aide passed by her spot in the chambers, carrying another long container, his hands wrapped in the linen shoba of a Muria Katan, one of the traditional warrior-priests of their native homeland. Because he had been wearing a suit and tie, she had never bothered to consider the idea that the Imperator, a stickler for her native land and its heritage, would have brought one of her servants along. The first servant leaned in, allowing Nagayo to whisper something into her ear. As the Imperator finished, she turned back towards the Katan, whispering something to him. Lori shot a look over at Salazar, who seemingly could read minds seeing as he was intently staring back at her, as if to intimate whether she had foreknowledge of this turn of events playing out.

With her aide putting on a pair of white satin gloves, the Imperator carefully handed the statue case over to her, gently placing it in her care while the second aide began to open the long case he carried. Inside was a small satin cloth obstructing a short object from view. Lori watched intently, unsure of what was about to happen… and had to literally restrain herself from gasping out loud at what the Imperator had produced. Handing over her mark of honor was one thing, but this? The pure sight of it was so impossible, even Salazar and the Legate could not help to stymie a breathy gasp of shock and surprise. The Imperator quickly took hold of the three objects, all neatly bundled together, their being tied together with a short strand of pink ribbon frayed around the edges. She dared not take her eyes off the scene unfolding, too afraid to see what the Aedmeri delegation may think of what was about to happen. If the previous showcase in the chambers had been the fantastic production of a grand script, the gathered delegations were about to witness the most sacred – and bizarre – of improvisational sketches.

The Imperator held in her hand the Dizho Na, a ceremonial kit of their people meant to signify the setting of a blood oath. It contained three items, and three items only: a flint striker cast with silver plating around the edges, simple and true; a small piece of woolen cloth that had been soaked in kerosene at one end; and the most important piece of all, a small ceremonial dagger of some six inches in length, the Rahzado. Its wavy, serrated edges glistened in the ambient light, just as its polished leather handle did, coated in a wax meant to protect it from damage or harm. The unsheathed blade was meant for one purpose, and one purpose only: to slice open the skin of its user, to draw forth blood that would be made to bow and make prostrate the user’s very soul. The only two times it was deemed acceptable to use the damned thing in their native culture was when death was near on the battlefield, or when one was preparing to accept a mantle of responsibility upon their shoulders that outweighed any previously upon them.

”What the Hell could be going on now,” Lori questioned to herself, watching as the Imperator quietly held up all the objects for both delegations to see. With a flick of her hand, the dagger drug across her open palm, neatly slicing a thin layer of skin back from the base of the index finger down to the thumb. She quickly clenched the fist shut, placing the dagger back in its container, the room almost a vacuum of all breath and sound once more. Nagayo watched as the second aide quickly used the flint striker over the case, allowing the cloth to catch an ember. Within a heartbeat, the small cloth had taken the flame, its brightness shining as it found its fuel and began to consume it. The Imperator exhaled sharply, opening her bloody palm and extending it towards the flame. With a firm grasp, she clasped the burning fabric in her wounded hand, several people in the room audibly gasping. Lori watched intently as the Imperator turned back towards Saturna, the flame now put out in her bloodied hand, unable to watch the scene yet somehow unable to turn away at the same time, a war of confusion raging in her soul.

“On my honor,” the Imperator spoke quietly, clenching her first tightly, managing the briefest of grimaces as the searing pain in her flesh drove through the importance of the gesture, “on my blood, I shall protect this, always. Reina khozusu, Aedmeri.”

With her free hand, she used the cloth as a makeshift-bandage, pressing it hard into the palm to begin soaking up some of the blood trickling out of her fist. The second aide had sat the case to the side, stepping forward with a long swathe of a much finer linen than the sacrificial cloth, preparing to bandage her wound. Yet the Imperator was already reaching into her kimono with her free hand, producing a sealed envelope bearing the mark of the Praeceptor. Lori turned towards Salazar, but this time he had paid her no mind, instead watching as the Imperator slowly extended her hand back towards Saturna, the envelope outstretched. Once more, any semblance of a script had now been thrown by the wayside, and Lori felt as excited – and, perhaps, as helpless – as the rest of the Novan delegation to affect any sort of contribution to the moment. Any such gestures would have been vain affectations anyhow, but still, it would beat watching the Imperator leave them all behind in the dust, displaying before the Dominion delegation how honorable a people the Novans were prepared to be for them.

"From my master," she whispered to Saturna softly, holding out the envelope. "He beckons you to read this."

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Eothasia
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Eothasia » Fri Jul 16, 2021 11:03 am

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Saturna watched in absolute silence as Imperator Nagayo took a dagger to her hand and sliced a clean slit through it. The vibrant red of her blood oozing from underneath her skin was a stark reminder of what was truly at stake; not merely the economic interests of the Ellvïsh, not merely the diplomatic status of the Novans or the unified nature of their cooperation, but the very bloodlines of their peoples, the future of their entire civilisations and their ability to withstand the rigorous tests that lay ahead still. Such devotion to a cause was far more than admirable –it was, indeed, enviable; the Novan Imperator was so fervently aware of her category in the grand scheme of things, her absolute and total commitment to the future friendship of her people and the Ellvïsh so undeniable, that it was all but guaranteed that the negotiations would go forward pleasantly for both sides.

Steeling herself against the magnificent display of fidelity demonstrated by Nagayo, Saturna accepted the final gift provided by Nagayo, as well as a small envelope. As Saturna grabbed it, she immediately felt the weight and importance of the missive; the envelope was hard, not soft and flimsy like the kind she’d use to write her grandmother far to the east in Canzia. The white background of the sleeve was bound by a small, yet noticeable golden fringe, sparkling in her hands. She turned the envelope over, noticing her very own name –written in a majestic calligraphy unlike anything she’d been able to conjure during her own calligraphic education– inscribed unto the back. She carefully opened the letter and retrieved from within an equally firm piece of parchment, with a gold-and-purple embroidery encircling the text within. Saturna read the text in detail before allowing a smile to slip through her veil.

“The Eldarquén is most pleased to receive this invitation, Imperator Nagayo,” she responded, pressing an arm to her chest before extending it towards the chief Novan delegate, “and humbly accept. Elvarch Cornelia is very fond of the Novan state, and she shall most surely be in attendance. We shall ensure that this missive,” she said, replacing the letter in its casing, “be delivered to Her Excellency at once.

“Please,” Saturna gestured, her outstretched arm directing the Novan delegation to the chairs on the far side of the table, “you may take your seats where you like”. As the Novan delegation closed in on the chairs, their remarkable detail became all the more visible. The chairs were made of a fine maple, masterfully extracted from the Great Woodlands in Venza, near the city of Inatlon, where the lumbers and mills along the Lothengriol River and the Flower Valley, carefully crafted the nearby maple reserves, carefully preserved for eons, into the most artisanal pieces of all of Ellvïndôr. The seats and backrest were covered in authentic high-quality leather, prepared by the centuries-old traditionalists of the rolling hills and plains of Santarrejo, shining a deep black colour under the chandelier of the Larethal Chambers. The armrests were simple, with an extension of black leather on the top and a visible support of maple at the front, with a series of colour gems rolling down from the top of the armrest to the seat of the chair, the shine of the pearls from the coasts of Diondus and Elle or the spherical sequins made of gold from the mines of Viere distinguishing themselves from the hardwood.

As the Novan and Ellvïsh delegations took their seats, Saturna rose her head at the Imperator and waited for them to seated comfortably. In that moment, the realisation that it was all about to begin drew a subtle smile on her face.

“Now,” she began, “the first item on our Order of the Day would be to address the business of Immigration and Citizenship between the Exemplarstate and Ellvïndôr.”

Chiasa nodded succinctly, the topic obviously near and dear to her heart. “The Novan Government has long accommodated immigrants from a variety of locales; it has been our policy to integrate many different elements into the collective whole. With respect to our diplomatic ties, I don't foresee that policy changing.” The response was much to the liking of Saturna; Chiasa had displayed an elegance and confidence that would make the negotiations simpler and more amenable moving forward, which was –unfortunately– not an incredibly common occurrence.

“Indeed, Ellvïndôr has maintained a similar policy for several decades. Various peoples can call it home, and our people are extremely welcoming of well-meaning foreigners. It would seem, Imperator Nagayo, that our peoples are most suitable for a true integration that goes far beyond economic or diplomatic ties, but down the very cultural heart of our civilisations, the very essence of what makes our peoples unique and virtuous. It is for this reason that the Eldarquén proposes establishing the possibility of dual naturalisation of our citizens, as well as free travel in each other’s territories for one another’s citizens. Would this be agreeable?”

“My government would find this agreeable,” Chiasa replied, preparing to add a caveat, “but we would insist that any agreement on the free travels of peoples within our respective territories be linked with economic integration in likewise manner. The nature of our economic system necessitates a measure of compatibility with our immigration and travel policies.”

“Some of our economic markets operate outside of governmental purview in Nova Scioscia,” Ambassador Coaxum added. “A special customs policy between the two nations would be an agreeable pivot point to the negotiations.”

Saturna nodded at the response, noting that it was most certainly an expected one. With a tilt of her head to the side, her black hair flowing as though it were one of the many majestic rivers of Ellvïndôr, she replied, “Yes, of course, the Ellvïsh government understands that important nuance in this matter. Indeed, the Eldarquén –in a manner quite uncommon with other countries, given the prevalence of liberal economics in this day and age– has seen it fit to agree to the abolition of import customs from the Novan Exemplarstate into Ellvïndôr, assuming this were a bilateral agreement, as well as cooperate in surpassing some of the technical hurdles of international trade between our two nations. We also extend this offer to the commercial expansion of various business enterprises from one country to another, in order to also support the Novan and Ellvïsh citizens who which to emigrate seeking work.” Saturna licked her lips slowly, carefully selecting her next words.

“However,” she continued, “we must clarify how our economic systems are to interact. All foreign corporations that wish to establish work centres, whatever form they may take, must abide by strict rules for foreign companies such that they must provide equal yearly benefits to their workers as the domestic average between companies of the industry. We do this because of the nature of corporations in Ellvïndôr; companies here are all cooperatives, as I am sure you know, and as such, all workers engage in workplace democracy and are truthfully owners of their companies, with appropriate annual retributions at the end of the fiscal year in accordance with the economic performance of the company over that time period –or in whichever other way the company decides, so long as it is on a yearly basis–. We do not expect foreign companies will allow such practices in their establishments in Ellvïndôr, and as such, these are replaced for these new restrictions. Of course, if the companies are publicly owned or cooperatives already, these practices would not apply.”

Saturna settled herself in her seat, maintaining a strict and straight posture. “I explain this because of how this might affect Novan corporations that are not publicly owned; this is not something the Ellvïsh government is willing to negotiate, you understand, as it is a sacred tenet of the economic culture of our people. If this is a non-issue, then we are more than willing to continue forth, but the alternative must be discussed as well.”

“There is no other form of economic enterprise in our realm,” Coaxum answered her, looking towards Salazar, “though you must understand that our provisions for economic autonomy to our cooperatives divorces them from our direct control. Our hand in economic affairs is more... ‘regulatory’ in nature.”

“There would need to be special dispensation from the Supreme Magisterium to accommodate any conflicts that may arise between the two economic spheres, but such measures are both obtainable and agreeable to Arxopolis,” Chiasa interjected, looking towards Salazar. “We have the utmost assurances from the highest levels of the Novan government.”

“Oh yes, the very highest,” Salazar reaffirmed, looking towards Saturna as he joined the discussion for the first time. “The Praeceptor wishes to ensure that both he and the Supreme Magisterium are in agreement that whatever dispensation need be issued from them, within our constitutional power to do so, will be undertaken. The will of Arxopolis is usually irresistible to our cooperative counterparts – they will play ball with us as well, so we don't foresee any major hiccups.”

Saturna nodded her head in agreement. “That does simplify the matter indeed, then,” she said, clearing her throat as she scrolled down slowly on her tablet device. “However, the matter of economic treaties between our countries is a long one, and it is best handled with care. It is on our agenda, but farther along the line. For now, let us return to the first item.” She scrolled up momentarily, scanning the text on her tablet before lifting her head at the Novan delegation with a smile.

“If we were to agree to the economic terms of such an arrangement, then we could also be in agreement with regards to free travel and residency in each other’s countries, as well as the dual naturalisation of our citizens, which is an important aspect for the Eldarquén moving forward.

“However,” she continued, pressing her lips together, “the introduction of such a free environment for our citizens, even regulated as it will and must be, will necessarily carry the trouble of exploitation of the system by unsavoury characters. It is for this reason that the Eldarquén also proposes to the Exemplarstate, should it find it acceptable, that we reach agreement regarding the possibility of extradition between our two countries. Now, of course, the exact terms of extradition –the definition of what is a punishable offence, on which grounds extradition may be refused, and other such topics– can be negotiated, but I think a baseline agreement in this aspect would be beneficial to our cause moving forward.”

The Imperator turned towards Modzelewski, nodding at him to enter the conversation. The Legate responded in the affirmative, leaning forward in his chair: “Security in the Exemplarstate is coordinated through our military. The Civil Security Forces and the Civil Constabulary Forces work hand in hand with respect to all matters dealing with the detention of foreign-born criminals, extradition, and the like. To consider the matter of extradition and the legal grounds would require us to open the door - if only just - to the military cooperation that would exist in respect to the legal enforcement of extradition orders.”

“If open extradition laws are to be broached,” the Ambassador chimed in, “it would require members of our military to transport detainees onto your soil, lest some new apparatus be jointly-shared between us.”

Saturna smiled in appreciation. The information placed on the table, done so in a cautious manner, would have surprised many other international dignitaries, even those of most esteemed prestige and honour amongst the ranks of the Ellvïsh. She, however, was unfazed, as this was not something that she had not been expecting. Many of the diplomatic reports that had been filed into the dossier of the Novan Exemplarstate anticipated such a circumstance, given the enormous importance of the military and militaristic service within Nova Scioscia. Though it was certainly different in a wider aspect for the Empire, it was not that far from the functions of the National Security Service which also operated in Ellvïndôr. Though technically a police and security branch of the Ellvïsh government, it incorporated amongst its ranks the Ellvïsh equivalent of a national guard, making it a far more militarised force than one might perceive at first glance.

“Yes,” Saturna replied, smiling and nodding, “I see. The intention of the Eldarquén is to achieve the highest level of cooperation between our two states in terms not only of economic or cultural significance, but also security and defence. It would please the Elvarchy if we could press on that matter; Ellvïndôr does not have an issue with allowing members of the Novan military transport detainees to Ellvïsh soil, assuming the federal police troop of the National Security Service could do the same inversely.”
Holy Aedmeri Dominion
DEFCON: [4]; Double Take
| Pop.: 229,766,318 | Area: 853,009 km2 | Demonym: Aedmeri/Imperial |
| Active Military: 2,348,747 | GDP: US$12.91 trillion |
| Diplomatic Cooperation Initiative | National Informational Codex | Popular Constitution |

Elessian People's Republic
| Pop.: 149,220,976,115 | Inhabited Systems: 411 | Demonym: Elessian |
| Current Year: 2385 CE | Capital: Elessia | Core System: Aurelis |
| Formerly appeared as a wild Xanixi |
| #Salud&República #TerceraRepúblicaEspañola |
| About Me |


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