Idle hands are the devil's playthings
Essua shut his eyes and screwed his face into a grimace at the words. The first of his exams were only four weeks away... He was going to pass, that was certain now. But it wasn't enough - he was absolutely determined to beat the others. And for that he needed to be able circumscribe a perfect arch. None of the other apprentices could manage it - even some of the initiates couldn't! If he could do it they would name him the first in the class for sure.
He opened his eyes and looked down at the sand table. Three points were marked in the sand, two cubits apart. He stared at the points, burning them into his memory. He needed to join them with a perfect curve.
He breathed in deeply and picked up the scribe. Then he relaxed and let all the breath out, shutting his eyes as if falling asleep. He'd practiced this motion over and over every day for months since coming here, his sight would only betray him now. With a calm hand, he placed the point of the scribe in the sand and began to sweep out the arc. To be perfect it had to be a single smooth fluid motion, constant speed, his hand unwavering.
Gasping for breath his lungs burning for air he opened his eyes to look down on the table. Marked out in the soft sand was a single neat arch spanning smoothly from one side to the other. With his eyes shut he'd missed the keypoint by a hair's breadth but the curve was flawless and beautiful. Elated he looked up at Delphine as she smiled in congratulations.
"Well done Essua!" she congratulated him, sharing in his excitement. "Balo himself was guiding your hand." His teacher picked up a brush and dusted his perfect line from the sand table, then made an adjustment to the guides to raise the keypoint almost half a cubit. "Now - again please."
We join our voices with Veikko Bondforger to condemn Almodin Oktístis, the "Asavean Architect". His inclusion of blasphemous and idolatrous iconography in large scale constructions is an affront to Imperial Pride, which we ought to proclaim in every aspect of our lives.Assembly of Pride, Winter Solstice 382YE, Rafael Barossa di Tassato, Upheld with a Greater Majority 262 - 0
At the instruction of the Imperial Senate, Almodin Oktístis, the "Asavean Architect", was engaged to carry out a number of important commissions across the Empire. Despite some requests not to, every building he constructed was decorated with statues, frescoes, and other decorations proudly displaying effigies of his false gods. Now the Imperial Synod has condemned the architect for heresy and the Assembly of Pride has issued a clear statement of principle to every proud citizen of the Empire.
By Words Alone
The statement of principle by the Pride Assembly has had a significant response in those territories where the Asavean priest’s idolatrous constructions are to be found. The proud understand the importance of symbols and many have long felt that these visible signs of a false faith were an affront to the dignity of everyone forced to live next to them. There is relief that the Asavean priest has been condemned by the Synod; now action must be taken to deal with the legacy of his actions.
The works of Almodin Oktístis are an affront to the dignity of the Empire; they denigrate our truth faith and demean the pride of every citizen who learns of their existence. We send (named priest) with 100 liao to urge devout Imperial citizens to surround these structures and urge any Imperial citizen who tries to enter to turn back.Synod Mandate, Pride or General Assembly
If endorsed, this mandate would cause pilgrims of the Way who dwell in Redoubt and Temeschwar to form a ring around the Great Game, the Pallas Docks, and the Runeforge urging every citizen to turn back. Not everyone would listen of course, but many would be persuaded, enough that all three commissions would cease to function for as long as the protest continued, although the Senate would still need to pay for their upkeep, maintenance and wages where appropriate.
The protest against Lorenzo's legacies would take a different form. These cleverly designed constructions require relatively little maintenance and ongoing work, however they are dependent on the arrangement of a number of stelae carved of red stone that channel the flows of magic. These stellae were designed by the Wunderkind guild of Holberg to be adjusted, to ensure that they could always provide the best returns no matter how the winds of magic blow. By turning the stellae out of phase, the inhabitants of Temeschwar, Tassato and Hahnmark could completely shut them down.
The protest would continue for up to a year after the mandate is endorsed, but the Imperial Synod could repass the same mandate at any point in the future to spend a further 100 liao to continue the blockade for another year.
Do Not Be Complacent
There is a much simpler, quicker, more effective step that could be taken. The idolatrous statues could simply be torn down, the frescos smashed, the mosaics defaced. It would not be difficult to remove them all, but would be impossible to do so without damaging the buildings themselves.
The works of Almodin Oktístis are an affront to the dignity of the Empire, they denigrate our truth faith, and demean the pride of Imperial citizen. We send (named priest) with 25 liao to lead Imperial citizens in tearing down these idolatrous symbols of false gods.Synod Mandate, Pride or General Assembly
If endorsed, this mandate would cause a mob to descend on every building constructed by the Asavean priest. The buildings would be damaged in the process, but the defacement would remove every decoration and statue raised in praise to a false god.
The buildings would cease to function until they were repaired. Each structure would need a separate commission to repair it. No material would be needed, but it would cost twice the original costs in thrones to repair the damage.
In addition, every territory that contained one or more of Almodin's buildings would see a boost to the Pride of local citizens that would last for a year following the action. Congregations in the territory would swell, providing an additional two votes in the Synod and one additional dose of liao to every one.
The exception would be Karsk, where the buildings have already been defaced in this way. Here the benefits would be an additional four votes in the Synod and two additional doses of liao for every congregation as people took Pride in knowing that they had led the Empire with their determined response.
Embrace Your Past
Although Almodin designed the fortification in Lestasny, there are no statues to the Asavean deities there. By order of the boyar of Ivarsgard, the idolatrous statues were used to gravel the courtyard, so that every Imperial boot that entered the fortification would be treading the Asavean gods underfoot. It was a powerful statement, a permanent act of defiance for the Asaveans and their false gods.
The works of Almodin Oktístis are an affront to the dignity of the Empire; they denigrate our truth faith and demean the Pride of Imperial citizens. We send (named priest) with 50 liao to lead Imperial citizens to destroy these statues. Let us follow the example of Ivarsgard and create a lasting covenant to show the world the fate of all false religions.Synod Mandate, Pride or General Assembly
If endorsed, this mandate would inspire architects, masons, and builders to force their way into the buildings designed by the Asavean priest. The images of false gods would be carefully and meticulously removed and then repurposed in such a way as to provide a lasting symbol of opposition for the Asaveans and their faith.
The buildings would be damaged in the process, though not nearly as badly as if the statues were simply torn down by a mob.They would cease to function until they were repaired as above but each building would need only the original construction costs in thrones to repair the damage.
As with the earlier mandate, every territory that contained one or more of Almodin's buildings would see a boost to the Pride of local citizens, but this bonus would be permanent - as long as the Synod maintained its clear stance opposing the idolatry of the Asavans. Congregations in each territory would swell, providing an additional two votes in the Synod and one additional dose of liao to every one.
In Karsk, for the next year very congregation would receive four votes in the Synod and two additional doses of liao for every congregation as people took Pride in knowing that they had led the Empire with their determined response. After that, they would continue to receive two votes and one liao just like the congregations in other places where the problem of Almodin's idolatry had been decisively addressed.
Chainbreaker Snark has submitted an alternative mandate for the Synod to consider.
The works of Almodin Oktístis are an affront to the dignity of the Empire, they denigrate our true faith, and demean the Pride of any being that sees them, including the Asaveans themselves, who have lost the understanding of their spirit to decadence and idolatry. We send (named priest) with 75 liao to destroy these statues, and offer the Asavean priests - by their will or by blade - a second chance at Salvation.Synod Mandate, Pride or General Assembly
This mandate would have all the effects shown above, in addition it would motivate a mob of Imperial citizens to fall on the Temple of the Black Bull in Feroz. The Temple is currently in the hands of the Grendel who put a cordon around it, so it would need to be a large well-motivated band to break through the cordon (hence requiring more liao). It is likely that there would be Imperial and Grendel casualties in the process. Once that was achieved, then the temple could be destroyed and the Asaveans forced to recant their false beliefs or face summary execution by the mob.
This action would to lead to significant diplomatic consequences with the nation of Asavea. It is harder to judge how the Grendel would respond.
All three mandates are in competition with each other. Only one could be enacted. As always, if multiple competing mandates are raised successfully, the one that achieved the highest margin of success will be the one that is considered to have been enacted.
The Temple of Balo and the Black Bull
There is one other building that would be caught up by any mandate that addressed the works of the Asavean priest. The Temple of Balo and the Black Bull in Feroz was not actually built by Almodin, but rather than being an Imperial commission decorated by idolatrous images, it is a literal temple to the Asavean gods. While the Asavean priests who live there have trod a careful line, their merchants routinely conduct their business here, so hundreds of people both Imperial and Asavean, visit a site dedicated to the worship of a black bull every day. It is impossible to rouse people to action against the works of the architect without also inspiring similar action against the Temple.
If the first mandate were passed, the Freeborn would put a cordon in place around the Temple urging Imperial citizens not to enter. The benefits enjoyed by the current Imperial Delegate to the Temple in Feroz would be lost for as long as the protest continued. If the second or third mandate were passed then the temple would be destroyed and the position would cease to exist. The current delegate is Franco i Erigo, a Freeborn sutannir.
Any action against the Temple in Oran will impact local trade and businesses. The Temple has become a hub of commerce, with Asavean shipping bringing white granite to the Brass Coast. There will be a loss of taxation from the territory if this trade is disrupted, either temporarily or permanently.
There will also be some local unrest. Although there are many Proud citizens in Feroz who would be only too glad to see the back of the Temple, that view is not ubiqitous. The Temple and the priests who live there have become popular with some Freeborn families who are prepared to overlook their obvious idolatry. The Temple has provided valuable benefits to a number of families, freely helping them to secure important trade deals with visiting dignitaries and a number of families have taken advantage of the priests offer to teach secrets of architecture and construction to any who study there.
The Temple also serves as a symbol of good relations between Imperial and Asavean merchants; if it were destroyed or damaged one other likely outcome would be the loss of the additional profits in orichalcum gained by those trading with Nemoria.
Imperial relations with Asavea are already being impacted by the Liberty Pact as well as by the decision to convict Almodin Oktístis for heresy. Any action against their temple and the architects works will further undermine relations. There are so many elements of Imperial policy that are impacting relations with Asavea at the moment that it is impossible to predict what the outcome may be. Likely it would be influenced in part by any explanation provided by the Imperial ambassador tor Asavea but no words would serve to excuse the destruction of the temple at Oran. If that happened then the Asaveans would be outraged. They would be certain to demand an explanation and reparations to cover everything that was lost and more besides.
If Almodin's buildings are not simply destroyed, but actively despoiled. If they are deliberately defaced in ways designed to denigrate the Asavean deities, then the Asavean response is likely to be somewhere between bellicose and apoplectic.
The Senate can pass a single motion addressing all the commissions of Almodin in one go. This would require six of the senate's nine commissions, and cost 92 Thrones and 4 crowns in labour (or 185 Thrones if the appropriate mandate has been enacted). It would take three months to remove all evidence of Almodin's handiwork. Alternatively, they could address each structure in turn, using a single motion per building and paying the appropriate labour costs for that structure.
This alteration work could be done before, after, or during the effects of any of the mandates related to the idolatry.
The Senate cannot alter the temple of Balo - they did not build it after all, and forcibly removing the status of the Asavean gods would be indistinguishable from decommissioning the structure. They may however choose to abrogate their permission for the structure to be built. If they did this, the temple would be decommissioned - the title associated with it would cease to exist and the temple would no longer have permission to operate as such. It is not clear what would happen to the priests who staff the temple - but the best case scenario would be that they returned to Asavea. The worst case scenario would be that they barricade the doors of the Temple and the Empire have to use military force to remove them.
The Iron Qanat
The Iron Qanat does not require the attention of either the Synod or the Senate. While it was commissioned, work in Segura was never begun. The motion used to order its construction has since lapsed - and the focus of the Zemress islanders has turned to other things.
The Works of Almodin Oktístis
- Constructed the Pallas Docks