Troas pulled his cloak tighter as he hurried across the courtyard. It was nearly midnight and the winter wind cut through him despite the heavy wool around his shoulders. He idly considered pausing to warm himself at the eternal flame, and immediately worried that doing so might be heretical or blasphemous in some way. Or at least disrespectful, which was nearly as bad. Lost in his own thoughts, he suddenly became aware that he was not alone. There was someone else here, over by the flickering flame. That settled it. It might be rude to use a memorial flame to keep the chill out of one's bones, but it was surely acceptable to pass some time talking to a fellow pilgrim on a night such as this?

"It's a cold night, isn't it," he said as he approached, not wishing to creep up on the stranger. The youth jumped anyway, and looked both guilty and worried. Troas briefly wondered what he'd interrupted, casually scanning the empty plaza for signs of hidden threat. But they were alone, the two of them, in front of the guttering brazier.

"Sorry I didn't mean to startle you, just wanted to check you weren't mistmazed or anything. I can leave you to your thoughts if you'd rather. I'm Troas incidentally."

"It's alright, sorry." The youth was younger than Troas had first thought, still in their teens if he was any judge. "I don't know if it's a problem but we're only just arrived and I couldn't go to sleep without... I'm Mical. We're here from Sarvos."

"No it's fine," Troas said reassuring. "It's nice to hear, to be honest. We haven't had many pilgrims since the Empress' body was moved. To the marshes."

He frowned as he said the last - it still rankled a little. He hoped the darkness hid his impolitic expression from the youngster. He needn't have worried. They were staring into the flame again, in companionable silence. It burned low, but still bright, and Troas could feel it slowly seeping into him, banishing the cold and revitalising him for the last leg of his trip back to the chapterhouse.

"Do you think she was afraid? The Young Empress I mean? On that last day?"

Mical spoke quickly, the words escaping as if forced. There was an intensity to them that gave Troas pause. Rather than say something reassuring and glib, alone here in the winter night, he considered carefully before answering.

"Yes, I think she was." he said. "We're all afraid sometimes, and the Throne has so many more things to be frightened of. If I'd been one of the people going through the Gate that morning, I think I'd have been afraid as well."

"She still went though," said Mical. Was that a note of Pride? It was fleeting, but it was... something. Troas put a hand on the youngster's shoulder. He had the sense this wasn't entirely about Britta, or that last desperate morning.

"Yes. She still went. Sometimes Courage is about..." Troas stopped speaking, the homily he'd been about to deliver trailing off into silence. There was something about this moment that demanded honesty, he felt. "I think she still went because even though it was frightening, there was a chance. A chance to make tomorrow better than today. I think that's why she went, and even though she failed, I don't think she was wrong.

The youth nodded a few times. "It's not a failure when you try and don't succeed, it's only a failure when you don't try at all."

Troas felt they were quoting someone else, and didn't feel the need to add anything. The youth yawned then, suddenly, looking even younger.

"Thank you for the company," said Mical and there was the ghost of a wan smile on their pale face. "I think I'd better be getting back though before someone misses me."

Troas smiled himself, and they shook hands, and went their separate ways. Behind them, in the dark, the flame continue to flicker and dance despite the best efforts of the chill winter wind to extinguish it.


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The mandate raised by the Highborn assembly, and enacted by Vashti of the Shattered Tower in Summer 383YE has triggered a period of introspection among the Highborn congregations. Indeed, any statement of principle that does not "directly address matters of orthodoxy and false beliefs in the Empire" will be much less likely to result in a mandate even if it receives a Greater Majority, until at least the start of the Autumn Equinox 384YE. As a consequence, it is perhaps unsurprising that few of the statements raised during the previous summit have attracted much attention in Highguard. With one meaningful exception.

The Young Empress

During the Autumn Equinox 383YE, the archivist Elkiah raised a statement of principle calling for the shrine memorializing Empress Britta to be repurposed. Their statement proposed that it be altered to become a "memorial of the virtuous dead, those who gave their lives for our destiny, but could not be brought home and properly buried." They went on to say that this would be "a better memorial to Britta's memory than a forgotten, disused tomb." The Highborn National Assembly agreed, upholding the statement with a Greater Majority. It was duly circulated among all the congregations of Highguard.

As so eloquently put by Tabitha in Summer 383, it is time for the Highborn nation to show our Prosperity to the world. We call on the Highborn people to consider how best to re-purpose the structure of Britta's Tomb into a memorial of the virtuous dead, those who gave their lives for our destiny, but could not be brought home and properly buried. Many brothers and sisters have been lost abroad, beyond proper burial rites, and a structure would exalt the virtue of memorialised and pilgrim both. This is a better memorial to Britta's memory than a forgotten, disused tomb.

Elkiah, Highborn National, Autumn Equinox 383YE, Upheld (546 - 12)

Despite the current preoccupation of many congregations, the statement attracted a great deal of interest - although not precisely in the way Ekiah perhaps intended. While Highguard is undergoing a period of introspection, in some cases this means that many of the priests are concerned about tradition. It is traditional that every Throne has a memorial in the Necropolis, even if no bones rest beneath it. Only one Throne in the history of the Empire - Empress Giselle - explicitly defied that tradition, and everyone knows how that unwise decision turned out...

People point to the memorial to Emperor Barabbas. While it is not precisely popular the black monolith that bears his name still serves as a place of pilgrimage, especially for the virtuous who would consider issues of Wisdom and Ambition. The three white pillars that commemorate the reign of Empress Mariika are the site of a quarterly market, recognising her commitment to Prosperity. The reason that Britta's tomb has fallen quiet, claim these priests, is that it is not clear what it is for any more. If that could be addressed, it would once again become a place of pilgrimage - and maintain the tradition that Necropolis is a place where the dead are remembered.

Servant of the Empire

  • A mandate could be passed by the Highborn assembly recognising the inspirational nature of the former Throne

Nobody contests that Empress Britta is an inspiration to the people of Wintermark. While a few grumble that she should have been interred in the Necropolis, like Emperor Guntherm before her, these unhappy voices are few and far between. Yet Britta was not only an inspiration to the Winterfolk. Her reign was marked by a renunciation of corruption, and a rekindling of the Empire's destiny. As with so many Thrones before her, the important thing right now is to determine which of the seven Virtues Britta best inspires, and bring pilgrims back to her memorial.

Achieving this goal would require two stages. The first would be for the Highborn national assembly - in conjunction with the archivists and the stewards of the dead perhaps - to consider Britta's reign and how she inspired the people of the Empire. They would then pass a mandate presenting their findings, and urging people to consider the lessons they can learn from her deeds. This is very different to a judgement of recognition - nobody is claiming Britta is a paragon or exemplar with this mandate - only that her inspiration is worthy of a memorial.

Empress Britta rests in the marshes of Kallavesa, but her memorial in the Necropolis commemorates her reign and the inspiration she gave to the people of the Empire. We send [named priest] with 25 doses of liao to remind the citizens of the Empire to consider how she inspired {virtue} through her {deed}.

Synod Mandate, Highborn National

The mandate would need to name a single virtue of the Way, tied to one of her deeds. If several different versions of the mandate were passed, they would all be considered to be in competition. The mandate would have little impact by itself however, for that the shrine would need to be modified to reflect Britta's inspirational status.

Mistress of the Empire

  • A Senate Motion would be required to alter the shrine

A Senate Motion could be raised to alter the shrine at the Necropolis, to better represent the virtue of the Young Empress. The motion would require only 20 crowns in labour and take three months to complete. The expectation is that it would simultaneously amend the title Guardian of Britta's Shrine so that the title would no longer be appointed by the Highguard national assembly but by the appropriate Virtue assembly as determined by the above mandate. The name would again be changed, this time to Guardian of Britta's Memorial. If this were done, then Britta's Memorial would once again become a site of pilgrimage, providing the title holder with 5 doses of liao and 10 votes in the Imperial Synod each season.

Assuming the senate passes the motion in this form, it will not require a commission slot to alter the shrine; several chapters among the stewards of the dead have expressed an interest in undertaking the work if permission and the funds could be secured.

The work would only be effective if paired with a mandate recognising Britta's Virtue, both are needed to effect change. Without the mandate, the alterations to the shrine will have no effect. Without the alterations, the impact of the mandate will quickly fade and nothing will change with regard to the Guardian. The Highborn assembly would need to pass a mandate during the Winter 383YE summit to take advantage of the interest provoked by the recent statement. If a mandate were enacted, the associated senate motion would need to be passed before the end of the Autumn Equinox 384YE, that being the seventh anniversary of her death. If this opportunity is not seized, it is very unlikely that another will be available before 387YE (the tenth anniversary of her death).

There is some question as to whether changing matters so that the custodian of the memorial is not Highborn; the general consensus is that the point of a memorial to a Throne is to inspire the people of the Empire. It is not something that is meant to be kept jealously in the hands of the Highborn.

The Forgotten

  • The matter of forgotten soldiers has touched something in Highguard

Elkiah's statement has further implications beyond Britta's Shrine, which touch at least tangentially on matters of orthodox doctrine. While the wording of Doctrine of Human Destiny proves increasingly controversial, it underpins the idea that every single human life has value. The Highborn in particular understand the importance of recording events, and how records and memorials can inspire virtue in even the darkest heart. To those who hold this view, the idea that any Imperial citizen - or person at all - may die alone, unmourned, and unremembered is a travesty.

The Silent Obelisks at the Necropolis commemorate every major Imperial battle, and the names of all those who fell fighting for virtue and for the Empire. Almost all of them have a blank cartouche near the base to encourage contemplation of those whose names have been lost. The Imperial War Memorial at Anvil echoes this tradition. Yet for many, especially among the archivists, this is not enough. Elkiah's words touch deeply at something in the Highborn soul, and the question of how any Imperial citizen can be "forgotten" is one on the minds of many as the Winter Solstice approaches.

Archivist of the Blank Book

  • The Imperial Senate could create a title whose responsibility was to strive to ensure that no Imperial warrior's name was ever forgotten

It is, of course, an impossible task to ensure that no name is ever forgotten. Yet for the Highborn, sometimes accepting something is "impossible" is just not acceptable. Abigail of Ira's Shield, a steward of the dead belonging to one of the chapters that oversee the Silent Obelisks, has proposed that a memorial specifically dedicated to the memory of the forgotten. Built in the Necropolis, in a plaza of it's own, it would serve as a sobering reminder of the ultimate price that some must pay, as well as a commitment to ensure as few soldiers as possible go unremembered.

She proposes that an archivist - rather than a steward of the dead - would be the ideal person to be placed as custodian of this memorial which she calls the Echoing Obelisk. Their role would be to ensure that as few Imperial soldiers as possible are forgotten, especially among the Imperial heroes who travel through the Sentinel Gate during the solstice and equinox. She proposes that they have a particular responsibility during the Day of the Dead celebrations; to mark the end of the grand procession at Anvil by calling on all present to spend a moment thinking on the nature of virtue, and what a terrible thing it is to be forgotten.

If Abigail's proposal finds favour, the Imperial Senate would need to create the Imperial title of Archivist of the Echoing Obelisk, and give permission to the keepers of the Silent Obelisks to add the blank-faced stone. She proposes that in addition to the responsibilities to gather the names of the fallen, and end the Day of the Dead procession at Anvil, the Archivist be given the power to Address the Senate, to speak on behalf of those who have fallen in the name of Imperial destiny should they feel moved to do so. The position would be appointed by the Highguard National Assembly, and would hold the title for a year.

There would be no cost to the Senate - neither white granite nor coin - and the title would not require a commission. Ira's Shield and the other chapters who tend the Silent Obelisks have all the materials they need, and in any case the title is neither a sinecure nor a ministry.

We are sad to hear of renowned architect Frederick di Sarvos' intention to renounce Imperial citizenship. We feel his loss keenly. The Highborn chapter of the Cenotaph and Empress's Guild the House of Seven Mirrors petition him to reconsider his decision. In her will, Empress Lisabetta desired for a beautiful and useful structure "such that lessons of the past may be remembered by those who are yet to come." As a pilgrim of Wisdom, the Twentieth Empress was much taken with Frederick di Sarvos' plans for the Garden of Atun. We ask him to apply his inspiration and vision to her memorial so that it may stand equal to the tombs of the other august individuals who have held the Imperial Throne. If Frederick di Sarvos wishes to speak to the Cenotaph and the House of Seven Mirrors in Anvil, he would be most welcome. His costs and (??) would be recompensed in accordance with the rarity of his great skills.

Ruth of the Cenotaph, Autumn Equinox 383YE, Upheld (339 - 16)

Empress of Flowers

  • Ruth of the Cenotaph has asked tempestuous architect Frederick di Sarvos to take on a final project
  • Di Sarvos has let it be known he intends to visit Anvil during the coming Summit to hear proposals

During the Autumn Equinox, there was another statement of principle that has attracted a little attention, but not from the congregations of Highguard. But then, it's target was not the Highborn priests but a single individual: the renowned, and infamously touchy, architect Frederick di Sarvos. The statement asks him to "apply his inspiration and vision" to the matter of a fitting tomb for the late Empress Lisabetta.. and by all accounts he is both flattered and enticed, not least by an opportunity to work with the Custodes Calvium who have volunteered to oversee the construction as a service to the Empire.

Di Sarvos has reportedly postponed his well publicised trip to the Commonwealth, and has allegedly been caught up in a frenzy of drawing and planning. While the notoriously touchy architect's nose has been put out of joint, he is nothing if not Ambitious, and the chance to design the tomb for a Throne - especially one of Lisabetta's reputation - comes along only once in an architect's career. As such, he has sent a message to Anvil that he will be attending the Winter Solstice, and will be very interested indeed to hear what the Cenotaph and the House of Seven Mirrors have in mind, although he has stipulated that he will not under any circumstances meet with either Cardinal Viviane de Coeurdefer nor Ranae de Rondell, who he holds responsible for the humiliation of his recent inquisition.

Those close to the architect have privately expressed the hope that if his hurt feelings can be mollified, he might well abandon his impetuous decision to quit the Empire and could be persuaded to return to his first love - designing beautiful and ambitious buildings for those he thinks will appreciate them (and his genius).

Frederick di Sarvos will be visiting Anvil at (TBC)


After the Winter Solstice, Sister Sarah of the Suns of Couros enacted the mandate to rededicate Britta's tomb to the virtue of Courage. The Senate supported this judgement by amending the title and allowing for the appropriate alterations to be made.

Frederick di Sarvos met with several people during the summit; the outcome of the meeting is not yet clear.