A time of plenty
"Probably not." she settled on. Would it be enough? Alas no.
"Why are you persevering then?" What was it about pessimists? It wasn't enough to be convinced everything was going to fail - oh no - they had to validate their beliefs by convincing everyone else that everything was going to fail. She wondered if there were any pessimistic architects in the world. She hoped not, for their sake.
"They probably asked Zemress the same question." It wouldn't work with her brother, he was too used to her, but sometimes people would be shocked when she mentioned the paragon so casually and they would shut up. It worked often enough it was becoming a habit.
"You're not Zemress." He moved closer, clearly trying to get into her line of sight, presumably to make her acknowledge he was talking so she focussed harder on her drafting board.
"Nope. But I'm trying to be. She's a paragon for a reason Hebi - she's supposed to inspire people." When she was day-dreaming she like to imagine that maybe, just maybe, he was wrong. I mean anything was possible... but that was her little secret that she never told anyone. Foolish to even think it.
"She's an exemplar Gabi. It's different. Point is your dock is stupid, it doesn't do anything."
Gabriela had absolutely no idea what the difference between a paragon and an exemplar was but someone had explained it to her once and she had decided they were quite wrong. Paragons were better than exemplars, and nobody was better then Zemress, so that meant she must be a paragon. And now to the other point. She turned to face her brother, better to get this over with quickly, then she could get back to drawing, hopefully without any further distractions.
"You're wrong Hebi, you're quite wrong. My seminary does do something. It inspires. That's what it does. It lifts up the human spirit, it reminds us to contemplate the virtues and the lives of those who have been virtuous before us. It drives us to pursue a virtuous life, which is the purpose of living. And who knows what might come of that? Yes it will be expensive, but if it inspires enough people to support it then it will happen - and if it doesn't then it will fail."
Hebi made to argue with her again but she cut him off. "It's ok to fail Hebi. I'm an architect, not a general. Nobody dies if I get this wrong. Trying and failing is virtuous, it's failing to try that is a sin. Now please, can I just have a moment's peace? I really need to finish this before the Solstice." Her tone was cajoling now, a reflection that her patience was running out.
"No! Sorry - that's what I actually came to tell you. That priest is back again - the one with the funny clothes. The Mash Potato fellow. He wants to see you again."
Paragons save us! She was not going to get any piece at all today that was now clear. Why did everyone have to keep bothering her?
Hebi could see his sister was at the end of her tether so he went in for the kill. "I reckon he fancies you..."
Gabriela threw her favourite pencil at Hebi as he ran out of the room laughing. But she was laughing herself by the time he came back leading the visitor into their study. "The Präster to see you Gabriela, about the paragon Zemress." She scowled at his mockery one last time as he shut the door leaving her alone with the beaming priest.
Zemress was an inspirational Freeborn figure, recognised as an Exemplar of Prosperity by the Imperial Synod in 223 YE, three years after her death. A brilliant ship-wright, she financed her first campaign against the pirates that plagued the Bay of Catazar with funds raised by the sale of her designs. With the money she designed and built the ship that made her famous, the Kraken's Bane, a sleek beautiful design half-way between a military vessel and a merchant ship. From the deck of the Bane she dedicated herself to driving every pirate from the Bay eventually until she earned the epithet The Blade of the Isles.
Zemress disappeared in mysterious circumstances in 220 YE, the Krakens Bane was discovered almost a year later, adrift at sea, empty. It was towed back to the place of her birth, Calvos Sound, where it remains moored to this day, in memory of Zemress and her inspirational deeds. Despite her significance in Imperial and Freeborn history, she has never possessed an inspirational tomb - until now.
Coin that Goes Unspent
Gilah, daughter of the Chantry, with the support of the Prosperity assembly will travel to Calvos Sound in Madruga and perform insight on the Kraken's Bane. If no true consecration of prosperity is on the flagship of the Exemplar Zemress then with a dose of true liao I will consecrate the Kraken's Bane, Inspirational vessel, which is the template for all ships sailed by the Corsairs. Let this shrine spiritually bolster all those that follow in her actions in raiding the Grendel, and guide pilgrims across the world in opposing slavery.Gilah, Daughter of the Chantry, Statement of Principle, Prosperity Assembly, Autumn Equinox 382YE, Upheld with a greater majority (152-0)
With the resounding support of the Assembly of Prosperity, Gilah of the Chantry travelled to Calvos Sound to examine the Kraken's Bane. Having identified that the ship did not possess a true liao consecration, she used a dose of the priceless liquid to create a permanent aura as testament to Zermress' inspirational legacy. The vessel has long been housed in a specially erected dry dock in Calvos and has always been a favoured destination of pilgrims from all over the Brass Coast, the Empire and even from far Sumaah. Now, more pilgrims than ever are seeking to travel to the town for a chance to look on Zemress' work, to stand on the deck of her vessel, and to experience the profound sense of fulfillment from all their hard work that the true liao aura creates.
Calvos Sound is a prosperous town and should soon be able to house a steady flow of pilgrims. Already enterprising Freeborn families are opening new paradors in and around the town, looking to cater to the pilgrims. Plans are in place to expand the dock, to make access easier - but also to put an end to people trying to remove pieces of the vessel to keep as relic. In place of pieces of the keel, merchants are being encouraged to fashion tiny replicas of the ship to sell, or for those with rings instead of crowns, copies of her novel ship designs. It seems that in death, as in life, Zemress will continue to enrich her beloved Coast.
And yet still people are asking if something more could not be done? The consecration has made the Kraken's Bane a focal point for the virtue of Prosperity and it will inspire pilgrims for centuries to come. But the prevailing mood is that it would be best if something, some structure, could be built where the lessons of Zemress life could be studied and shared.
What the Morrow Holds
In response to these concerns, Gabriela i Matez i Riqueza i Zemress, suggests that the Empire might build a great wharf, running away from the dry dock where the Bane is kept to jut out into the sea. Vessels could tie up at the wharf of course, that is what they are for after all, but Gabriela would like permission to construct a seminary on the jetty itself. Priests dedicated to prosperity could come from all over the Empire - from all over the world even - to study at the seminary, to learn about Zemress, and to contemplate the virtues.
The plans for this seminary are ambitious. A great tall building of weirwood and white granite, it would stand out in the ocean on heavy pilings driven deep in the bedrock of the shallow bay. Tall glass windows would look out over the waters on all sides, so that students studying there could contemplate the oceans and how humankind's dominion over the waves was achieved and preserved through hard work. The proposed structure would include a library of books and scrolls all pertaining to the life of Zemress, so that scholars could pore over the details to glean new insights into her life and works.
The most exotic part of the structure that Gabriela has proposed is a mithril floor, worked with intricate designs, etched into the precious metal to depict seminal moments from the life of the exemplar. According to Gabriela, visitors to the seminary will literally follow in Zemress' footsteps as their journey through the building takes them over the key scenes, the crucial moments that caused her to become the Blade of the Isles.
All That is Worthwhile
Gabriela's plan is expensive of course, it would need 15 wains of weirwood, 15 wains of white granite, and 15 wains of mithril and 45 crowns. That is a huge undertaking for what is ultimately no more than a folly. It would be cheaper and easier to just build a regular church to celebrate her life, a sinecure that would provide whoever was appointed to run it with liao and votes to match. But Gabriela claims that the beauty of her design is that it is absolutely dedicated to showing the importance of Zemress as an inspirational figure. The building would be beautiful and inspiriting, it would allow everyone who came to study there to focus on her lift without being distracted by worldly concerns.
Against all the odds, help is offered from some unlikely quarters. The first, perhaps unsurprisingly is from the Zemress islanders themselves. Zemress is more than just an exemplar to the people of Zemress Island, she is literally a mother figure to them, an iconic legend responsible for their existence. They have no precious resources that they can contribute to the plan, but what they have is the gift of their labours and on that they will not stint. If the Empire will find a way to authorize the construction of Gabriela's design and provide the relevant materials so that the construction can begin, then the Islanders will carry out the construction work, paying for it with coin from their community. As a result, all of the 45 crowns will be paid directly by the Islanders.
The other offer of help is much more surprising. There has always been a small but steady stream of Sumaash pilgrims coming to visit Calvos Sound to see the Kraken's Bane. Zemress visited the Republic on many occasions and is recognized as a paragon of Prosperity among the Sumaah, her visits having a notable impact on their faith. Consequently, she is a popular and well liked figure there, and followers of Prosperity who can afford it sometimes make the long journey to the Empire to see her vessel for themselves.
The Sumaah are absolutely delighted that the vessel has been consecrated with true liao, and there is a noticeable increase in the flow of overseas visitors to the shrine once news of the deed reaches the Republic. The missionaries that come to Calvos Sound are in general much less interested in denouncing the Synod and much more interesting in expounding the virtues of Prosperity as exemplified by the life of Zemress - making them little different to the Freeborn preachers doing the same. When Gabriela begins to sound out local dignitaries about the prospect of constructing the seminary word of her plans spreads to the small Sumaash community visiting the town and a delegation comes to see her. They discuss the plans in detail, and although they are keen to make no promises at first, they speak favourably of the plan and suggest that the House of the People (the Sumaah equivalent of the Imperial Senate) might be willing to support the construction with material help.
Weeks later, confirmation is received that the Republic will provide help in two forms. The first is material, Sumaash vessels are willing to provide all of either the white granite or the weirwood needed to complete the structure provided the Empire will put forward the other two. Both resources are precious and valuable in the Sumaah Republic, as doubtless they are in the Empire, so the präster don't know which resource would be most useful. As a result they have made their offer in good faith, whichever material the Empire is most short of, they will provide.
In addition to that, once the seminary is complete, the präster will also supply carefully created copies of the life and works of the exemplar Zemress i Ezmara, the Blade of the Isles, that are currently stored in Sumaah. Doubtless most of these works contain information about Zemress that is already known to the Empire, but these people are certain that not all of it will be. Accounts of her travels in Sumaah, of her dealings with them, are near certain to be unknown in the Empire. Obviously the Republic won't release the original tomes - but they are prepared to have perfect copies made in their scriptoriums and all at their own cost. Once complete, these would be conveyed to the seminary, where they would help to bring new insights into her life and her philosophy.
All that the Republic asks in return is that the Empire and the people of the Brass Coast give them a solemn promise that the Seminary would forever more remain open to all followers of the Way to come and study, not just Imperial pilgrims. Obviously Sumaash pilgrims are free to visit the Kraken's Bane now but their request makes clear that they would expect to be welcome to come study here no matter the state of relations between the Republic and the Empire.
Gabriela's plan is essentially complete - there is no requirement to begin work on the seminary immediately. Support among the Zemress islanders and Sumaash pilgrims however is a little more conditional. If work has not begun on the seminary by the start of the Summer Solstice 383YE, the offer of labour, additional materials, and accounts of Zemress' time among the Sumaah will not be available.
Several statements of principle were raised in the Imperial Synod urging that "pilgrims visiting the shrine of the exemplar Zemress at Calvos Sound in the Brass Coast who are dedicated to the Way should be allowed to conduct their pilgrimage in safety regardless of their country of origin" but none achieved a greater majority. Fortunately, the Sumaah have accepted the statements at face value, as evidenced by the strong support for them, and have indicated that they will provide the promised support, provided the construction begins on time.