Moving mountains is no easy task
"Keep your calm. You're gritting your teeth before you attack. I can read it. Don't get mad."
Abe lowered his weapon and tried to regain his composure but the more he tried to relax his grip, the more angry he got. He could feel his anger rising inside him, impossible to control.
Ruth smiled sadly at her pupil. She walked over to the table, put down her weapon and gathered some water from the fount to wash the dust from her hands. "Wash" she commanded Abraham. "The lesson is over. Now tell me what's on your mind."
Abe's head fell, downcast, but he did as he was instructed by the older woman. "It's just... the thing with the Senate - the exchange. My sister was so angry when it was turned down. She has five wains of white granite to sell that we bought from the Faraden. The Cinderpath would have been the perfect way to get a fair price and still ensure that it was used virtuously. I don't know what to tell her to do. Bartimaeus said the exchange was virtuous but it isn't going to be built and nobody seems to know what to do. But we have to do something!"
Ruth stopped drying her hands on her skirt. She considered the problem for a moment and then smiled again. "Perhaps your sister should choose to do nothing."
"No! Virtue demands we take action - we have to do something."Abe was clearly frustrated, he'd expected more, but she only grinned at his failure to understand her. "Lets go and find your sister and have a talk. Politics is like war, sometimes - just sometimes mind - choosing to do nothing is choosing to do something."
The Cinderpath Exchange
In the lead up to the Summer Solstice 382YE, the Highborn turned their attention to matters of construction. As a consequence of this, there was increased interest in the white granite of Highguard. Highguard produces some of the best white granite in the Empire - while not on par with Varushka, the quarries and mines of Casinea and Reikos both produce a steady stream of the valuable stone. As discussion of various building projects - the White Roads, the refurbishment of the Basilica of the Seven Doors, the hostelries of Virtue's Rest, and even the proposed palaces of the cardinals in Bastion - questions were raised related to why white granite is so expensive and so hard to come by.
Several benefactors suggested a possible solution to the perceived problem of acquiring the valuable building material - that steps should be taken to stop the small amounts of white granite produced in Highguard each season from leaving the nation, at the same time recognising that economic forces are subject to the will of the virtuous, and not the other way around.
Rather they proposed the construction of the Cinderpath Exchange. built in the hills of Mareholm, the Exchange would have encouraged Highborn in possession of white granite to sell it at a virtuous price rather than take it to Anvil to auction it through the Bourse. Those using the exchange would be secure in the knowledge that not only were they enriching themselves, and receiving a just reward for their Prosperity, but they were helping their virtuous fellows.
We the Prosperity assessment deem the building of the Cinderpath Exchange is a virtuous endeavour as although it removes material from the public auction it will increase those in the Empire as a whole.Statement of Principle, Prosperity Virtue Assembly, Edna of the Chantry, Autumn Equinox 382YE, Upheld with a Greater Majority 152 - 12
The Senate chose to eschew building the Exchange, however. Yet it appeared that part of their reason for doing so may have been misleading information received from the Civil Service. The Civil Service presented the motion to build the Exchange once more during the Autumn Equinox - as an administrative motion but it was again defeated. That, presumably, could have been the end of it.
The Synod Intervenes
However, the Assembly of Prosperity disagreed. They agreed with Bartimaeus and the Highborn Assembly that Virtuous people set prices for things which are fair, and buy and sell them accordingly. Through a Statement of Principle they expressed their support for the Cinderpath Exchange.
With this unequivocal support - for all that it is at odds with the decision of the Senate - prosperous individuals are now questioning how something supported as virtuous by the Prosperity assembly could be denied by their senators and asking what might be done to try and force the Senate's hand.
As Bartimaeus has already vouchsafed, virtuous people set prices for things which are fair, and buy and sell them accordingly. The Senate disagrees; it denies the virtue of engaging in trade in a virtuous manner. We send (named priest) with 25 doses of liao to urge those Highborn citizens in possession of white granite to refuse to deal with the greed embodied by the Bourse Auction at Anvil until such time as the Cinderpath Exchange is completed.Synod Mandate, Highborn Assembly
If the Highborn Assembly passes this mandate, Highborn citizens in possession of white granite would either keep hold of it rather than sending it for sale on the Public Auction at Anvil. This would result in a reduction of white granite available to the public auction by 6 wains each season and encourage further scepticism among the Highborn for the "invisible hand of the Bourse" - and provide further support for the virtuous economic philosophies of the benefactors..
As Edna has declared, the building of the Cinderpath Exchange is a virtuous endeavour that both increases the Prosperity of the Empire as a whole, and ensures that those who sell white granite receive a fair and virtuous reward for their labours. We send (named priest) with 100 doses of liao to urge those Prosperous citizens who have white granite to refrain from auctioning it through the Bourse Auction at Anvil until such time as the Cinderpath Exchange is completed.Synod Mandate, Prosperity Assembly
If the Prosperity Assembly passes this mandate, then Prosperous citizens across the Empire would think twice about sending white granite for auction at Anvil. As a consequence, almost all white granite currently being auctioned through the Public Auction would be withheld until the Cinderpath Exchange were built. While a small amount would still reach Anvil, the expectation is that no more than six wains each season would be available from Imperial citizens.
Virtuous people set prices for things which are fair, and buy and sell them accordingly. To do otherwise, to invoke market forces and economic factors, is to subsume human destiny and will to an impartial, immoral, and unvirtuous force. We send Bartimaeus with 25 doses of liao to urge those Highborn citizens in possession of white granite to deal through the Cinderpath Exchange rather than to indulge their greed.Mandate, Highguard National Assembly, Bartimaeus , Summer Solstice 382YE, Upheld with a Greater Majority (601 - 92)
In both cases, the embargo would continue until the Cinderpath Exchange were built. At that point it is likely that those who have been holding on to their white granite rather than auction it would sell any reserves they had held onto. The Highborn are likely to sell their excess on the Cinderpath exchange, but merchants of other nations would send the withheld white granite for auction an Anvil resulting in a potentially large one-off sale of white granite in the season following the building's construction.
Prosperity For All
The statements of Edna and Bartimaeus have not gone unremarked in other parts of the Empire. There are Navarr brokers who have always grumbled about the fact that their lands contain not one but three large weirwood forests - but only one of them is actually in Navarr hands. Varushkan merchant families who have nursed a bitter jealousy for four centuries that there are bourse seats in Varushka that are not in Varushkan hands. It is the same in every nation of the Empire - from Wintermark to Urizen those who trade in such things sometimes question the value of sending their mithril, weirwood, white granite, and ilium to Anvil to be auctioned. Few are as idealistic about it as the Highborn, but concerns about fair prices and just recompense could find a receptive audience anywhere in the Empire.
These rumblings of dissent are far from universal. There are also Varushkan mine owners and Navarr traders who are more than content with the significant profits they make auctioning the Bourse resources they are able to acquire. League and Freeborn merchants in particular are largely dismissive when people question the virtue of seeking personal wealth. It is only right, they argue, that the richest use their wealth to purchase the materials they want at the highest price they are willing to pay. How can it not be prosperous for those who have worked hardest - as demonstrated by their personal wealth - to pay for the things they deserve?
Eyes turn to the General Assembly. Does the Imperial Synod have anything to add to this discussion?
Loyalty and Pride
The virtuous build up their fellows, and take pride in their people. Rather than looking to line their own pockets, Imperial citizens should seek ways to strengthen their own nations - and by doing so strengthen the Empire as a whole. We send (named priest) with 75 liao to urge Imperial citizens to consider how best the bounty of their nations might be used for the benefit of their people.Synod Mandate, General Assembly
If the general assembly passes this mandate, by the next summit several nations will have prepared proposals for ways that the bourse resources currently being sent to the Public Auction might be harnessed by their own people. Most will likely be commissions, and require the approval of the Senate (or the use of an Imperial Wayleave) and the investment of suitable materials to construct.
At the same time, the mandate is likely to see a reduction in weirwood, mithil, white granite, and ilium being sent to the Public Auction in the short term - these resources will be disposed of locally for instead of being offered for sale at Anvil.
Furthermore for the next year, statements of principle that encourage citizens to put money ahead of virtue, or that encourage nations to sacrifice themselves for the "greater good" of the Empire or other nations are less likely to lead to mandates.
Ambition and Prosperity
The virtuous reap just reward for their hard work, and know that no price is too high to achieve their dreams. The right to sell one's goods for the highest price one can get is fundamental to the dignity and Prosperity of Imperial citizens. We send (named priest) with 75 liao to urge Imperial citizens to seek the best possible prices for their goods and services.Synod Mandate, General Assembly
If the general assembly passes this mandate, then it will put the current discourse about bourse resources to rest for at least a year, perhaps longer. It will end any interest in the Cinderpath Exchange - and as such is considered to be in competition both with the mandate above and with any other mandate supporting interference in the Public Auction. While it is unlikely to see an increase in material available through the Public Auction in the short term, it is much more likely that citizens who experience a windfall in valuable materials or rare items will place them on the Public Auction.
At the same time, however, it will mean citizens will expect significant returns for their Bourse resources - it is likely that most if not all bourse resources on the Public Auction will be placed with a minimum reserve price, probably estimated from the amount of money paid each year for the equivalent bourse seats.
Furthermore, for the next year statements of principle that encourage citizens to sacrifice their dignity or prosperity for the benefit of others are less likely to lead to successfully lead to mandates.
This alternative mandate was proposed by Bethany of King's Stoke.
Vigilance demands that we prepare for threats, and do not blind ourselves to dangers. The Empire faces dangers from many sides at this time - let's not create more dangers from within. Imperial citizens should seek ways to use their resources for the benefit of the Empire, and the Way - not just their own nation, and not just themselves. We send (named priest) with 75 liao to urge Imperial citizens to consider how best the bounty of their nations might be used for the benefit of the Empire as a whole - and thus make returns for their owners in what they truly value, not merely in coin.Synod Mandate, General Assembly
If th general assembly passes this mandate, it will cause a reduction in weirwood, mithil, white granite, and ilium being sent to the Public Auction in the short term as the virtuous to look for ways to use their resources for the good of the Empire rather than selling them on the Bourse. Furthermore for the next year statements encouraging money over virtue would be reduced in impact as would statements that prioritise the good of individual nations.
During the Winter Solstice three mandates were raised in the Prosperity, Highguard, and General Assembly. All three were upheld - one with a Greater Majority. The General assembly sends Bartimeus to urge people to strengthen their nations rather than line their pockets; the Highborn assembly sends Raziel of the Shattered Tower to urge the Highborn not to deal with the public auction and the Prosperity assembly sends Edna of the Chantry to urge the prosperous to do the same. If these mandates are enacted, then it seems that the Synod solidly supports the Cinderpath Exchange - and the creation of similar structures in other nations.