"GET IM MAGGIE!" shouted Maggie's little brother John Tiny. Too young to take part in foot-the-ball, he had taken to participating vicariously through his sister's accomplishment.

The crowd roared their approval as Maggie slammed shoulder first into the chest of the Red Miller, sending him sprawling. It was a small crowd, this was just a little game between a few members of the monastery and a team from the nearby village of Harlep, but even damp wood burns in a hot fire. And nothing was hotter than the onlookers enthusiasm for their favourite player, Maggie Beekeep. Maggie wasn't as tall or as strong as some of the other players, but a woman who could cheerfully face down a hive full of furious bees was not someone to be messed with. Maggie had the ball know and was racing in the other direction, inspiring one of the home crowd to burst into song.

"Oh there was a young chap called Benson" a lone voice took up the song at first. Nobody knew for sure who had penned the doggerel, but it had got pretty popular in recent times. Just the thing for a Sunday morning watching foot-the-ball. "Benson!" roared the crowd. The writer knew what they were doing. The key with a refrain was to keep it simple.

"And this chap fought and them some" It was Roddy Drywall singing the verse. He was a good singer and had written a few of his own. He said he might written it himself, one night when he was drunk, but he couldn't be sure he hadn't heard it some place first. It wasn't exactly a work of art, but that didn't bother the crown. "Benson!" they echoed in unison at the appropriate moment.

Roddy was really getting into it now, it always helped to have the crowd behind you. "Come dawn he said bye son". The limerick was probably not going to make the High Bard's performance in the Imperial Senate, even if nearly had a tune, but it was good enough. People round the monastery were pretty bloody Proud of the fact that their favourite son was finally getting the due he deserved. It was definitely their religious dedication to an important historical figure and not the foot-the-ball that had a crowd of twenty people enthusiastically shouting "Benson!" in the light morning drizzle.

"They looked on him in the new sun"


"They knew then they were undone"


Maggie Beekeep dodged under a haymaking clothesline from Giant John. The man was as tall as windmill and just as slow when the wind was quiet. He always played defence for Harlep, too slow to keep up with the runners. If he connected it was all over, but Maggie Beekeep was way too fast for him and slammed the ball home.

The crowd went wild. Some of them were shouting "Beekeep" at the top of their voices, others were still shouting for Benson. It didn't matter, nobody minded one way or the other. Pride in small things, loyalty to great ones...
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Brother Martin Orchard is a sometimes controversial, well respected monk from Pickham Monastery. in Upwold
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Not much is known about Benson the Bellringer, occasionally known as "Major" Joshua Benson. He is believed to have been a pre-Imperial figure who was part of the March from Dawn. The Lepidean Librarian might be the best person to go to in order to uncover more information, but the best source of information is probably the members of the Pickham Monastery and any records they have kept. They have their own oral traditions that escaped the chaos that plagued the end of Nicovar's reign.

A Little Known Soul

Recognition of "Major" Joshua Benson of the Marches as Exemplar of Vigilance who, before the time of the Empire, showed Benevolence for the people of Marches and Dawn, Inspired the founding of a Monastery, did a Pilgrimage in participating in the rebel March, left a Legacy of a tower and shield and Saved Marcher and Dawnish souls.

James Appleseeder, Vigilance Assembly, Spring Equinox 379YE, Upheld (113 - 0)

The exemplar, Major Joshua Benson, is a Marcher hero. Next season his grave orchard at Pickham will be permanently consecrated to Vigilance by Pickham's librarian, Martin Orchard. Come pilgrims, friars, and monks, witness this memorial to a Marcher exemplar.

Rowan Harper, Marcher Assembly, Spring Equinox 385YE, Upheld (Greater Majority 155-0)

Next season, I shall consecrate the tomb of the exemplar. Major Benson, using True Liao. The Grave-orchard at Pickham Monastery, Upwold, shall become a lasting memorial. Benson was a sentry who rang a dire warning. He was a father in name and deed to generations of monks. He built his legacy not with legend and miracle, but brick by brick to defend what he loved. We can all be Major Benson. The Exemplars are defined by their capacity to Inspire. Come, pilgrims! Witness his memorial!

Martin Orchard, General Assembly, Spring Equinox 385YE, Upheld (1787-20)

The monks of the Monastery first raised the case for his exemplarhood to the Imperial Synod with a judgement of recognition six years ago, during the Spring Equinox 379YE. The Judgement passed the Vigilance Assembly with unanimous support, but it struggled to gain much traction in the General Assembly. They did eventually pass the judgement with a simple majority, 145 votes in favour and 67 against, and under the rules that the Synod operated under at that time, that was sufficient to recognise Joshua Benson as an exemplar. However the judgement was not widely circulated across the Empire, and Joshua Benson remains a little known figure outside the Marches.

At the previous summit, Martin Orchard and Rowan Harper seized the opportunity to bring the story of Benson's life to a wider audience. The greater majority of the Marcher Assembly voted to support Rowan's judgement which was then communicated to every priest in the Marches. As a result there has been renewed interest in the details of Benson's life across the Marches and in Upwold in particular.

The General Assembly also supported the judgement by a wide margin with well over 1700 votes in favour versus just 20 against. Sadly it fell short of the number needed for a greater majority. The General Assembly could revisit this issue in the future if they chose to, at any point they could use a statement of principle to draw attention to the example set by this important historical figure and encourage everyone to be inspired by their life. If that passed with a greater majority, it would be distributed to every priest in the Empire and would certainly help to elevate Benson's status and renown. Getting a greater majority in the General Assembly is a huge undertaking, but then "The reward for a good job is more work," as the Marchers say.

Whatever happens, it needn't stop Pickham's librarian, Martin Orchard using a dose of true liao to consecrate the orchard where his corpse lies to the virtue of Vigilance. The consecration has already been announced and it seems fate has played a role in supporting that. But if the General Assembly passed a judgement with a greater majority, the impact of the consecration would spread beyond the Marches as pilgrims came to visit the memorial and be inspired by it.

Benson's Orchard

  • There is a conjunction of the Sentinel Gate that would allow a score of people to visit the orchard believed to be Benson's final resting place
  • It is possible to go there and use a dose of true liao to consecrate the orchard to Vigilance
  • The Sentinel Gate will open at 23:00 on Friday to Benson's Orchard, Tower March, Upwold

Prognosticators have identified a conjunction through the Sentinel Gate that would allow twenty Marchers to visit the orchard that is believed to be the final resting place of Joshua Benson. There does not appear to be any threats in the area that the civil service can identify, so all the evidence would suggest that this is a happenstance of fate that has occurred because of the intention to consecrate the orchard. For this reason, the civil service have appointed Martin Orchard to take responsibility for the conjunction. They assume that he will arrange for those who wish to take part in the ceremony to consecrate the orchard to Vigilance using true liao will join him.

There is one odd thing happening with the conjunction however, the size of the conjunction has changed at least twice already since the prognosticators first found it and checked the details. At one point it was large enough for only a dozen citizens, another time when someone checked it was vastly bigger, and now it is a score. These things usually settle down eventually, but the civil service strongly advice Martin Orchard to check the size of the conjunction once he arrives at Anvil.

A Neighbour's Fields

  • The National Assembly of the Marches could enact a mandate that would see pilgrims from across Upwold visit the orchard

The inspiration of Benson is better known and accepted in the Marches themselves; the names of the monks from Pickham Monastery are a common sight in the lists of judgements of the Synod disseminated throughout the nation. Likewise the exemplar's legacy can't really be ignored; a tower is a bloody tower, no matter where it is (even if some Marchers omit the mention of the shield when talking about Benson). The sign that has really caught Marchers' attentions is the salvation of Marcher and Dawnish souls. The Marches is under threat from dangers within and without, and whilst the Marcher armies can deal with the threat of the barbarians there's not much they can do about the danger within.

But "Sword and shears both cut alike", as the proverb has it. What an army can't do, a few vigilant souls could. If the orchard is consecrated then the National Assembly could take advantage of the renewed interest in Joshua Benson and encourage everyone to vigilance.

Better to seek out the toadstool before it poisons the cattle. We send {named priest} with 25 doses of liao to encourage pilgrims of Vigilance who visit the consecrated orchard of Benson the Bellringer at Pickham to seek out the poison in their neighbour's field.

Synod Mandate, Marcher National Assembly

If enacted this mandate will see the citizens of Upwold who are dedicated to Vigilance start to proactively seek out blasphemers, desecrators, heretics, idolators, traitors, and other threats in the territory. It would take a while to have any effect, there would be nothing by the next season, but within six months the civil service would be able to compile a report of all active dangers in the territory of Upwold and present it to Martin Orchard or his proxy, at the Winter Solstice 385YE. If a position was created that was responsible for leading and guiding the National Assembly then the report would instead be delivered to them.

Of course that assumes there is anything going on! There's no reason to imagine that there is anything going on in Upwold, there are no rumours or ill-tidings. Most folk have been focussed on the war in Bregasland and much too busy to be poking their noses into other people's business. Maybe it should stay that way... or maybe the Assembly think it would be better to just turn over a few stones and see what was underneath. Can it hurt to check?

Orchard A.png
Brother Geoffrey Orchard is a talented horticulturalist, and vigilant investigator, who now lives at Pickham Monastery in Upwold.

Under Cover of Night

The Whisper Gallery declare themselves at war against the Empire. Those who assist them are foes for the Vigilant to root out. Threshers, set to and harvest this field of sorcerers and assassins! Your clergy will be ready with shriving, clemency, and recognition once the reaping is done. Let us be as watchful in our vigil as Vardas, as decisive in our action as Berechiah.

Brother Geoffrey Orchard, Spring Equinox 385YE, Upheld (Greater Majority 166-0)
  • The threshers of the Marches could be turned lose against the Whisper Gallery

While most of the attention is on the creation of a memorial for Johua Benson, there's another matter of interest for the Marcher people arising from Pickham Monastery. During the Spring Equinox, however, the Marcher national assembly upheld a statement by Brother Geoffrey Orchard urging all threshers to root out the supporters of the Whisper Gallery wherever they could be found. The wording of the statement seems to imply that the assembly has softened its previous stance that threshers needed to operate solely within the bounds of the law, offering "shriving, clemency, and recognition once the reaping is done." Some threshers are champing at the bit to hunt out Whisper Gallery allies, especially those who use their access to secrets and hidden lore to harm their neighbours. If the assembly is prepared to "let out the choke chain a little" as Alisoun Bathwater puts it, she's confident that the threshers will be able to at the very least "kick over middens in the Marches and watch the Gallery's friends wither in the sunlight."

Recent developments at the Department of Historical Research have lead to the researchers taking matters into their own hands, employing guards and encouraging citizens to fight the Whisper Gallery at their own game. Battling the agents and followers of the Court of the Shadowed Oracle is not unlike battling fog. There are victories, but also setbacks, and while the power of the Whisper Gallery is reduced it is not broken.

We are at war with the Whisper Gallery, and anyone who helps them must be rooted out. It falls to the threshers to harvest this field of sorcerers. We send (named priest) with 50 liao to urge the threshers to turn their full attention on agents of the Whisper Gallery, and deal with them using whatever tools are necessary. Shriving and clemency will both be available whenever they are needed.

Synod Mandate, Marches National Assembly

If this mandate is enacted, the threshers of the Marches will stop worrying about what is lawful, and start doing what is right, at least in regard to the Whisper Gallery. They'll start in the Marches - kicking over midden heaps and bringing quick justice to anyone who is found to be working with the sinister eternals. There's no way to do this without some disruption; every mana site and farm with a monolith in the Marches will lose one crystal mana from its production after the Summer Solstice. However it will also create opportunities; a chance for the Marcher threshers to confront a major agent of the Whisper Gallery. It'll also hopefully encourage threshers who visit Anvil to turn their attention on their fellow Imperial citizens, scrutinizing them for signs of Whisper Gallery corruption and doing whatever is needed to deal with them once they are identified.

It's not clear how much the Whisper Gallery is actually active in the Marches of course, and while they may poke around in the other nations their ability to actually get anything done is limited unless someone wishes to propose a well-worded alternative mandate urging them to try it. On the other hand, Brother Orchard mentioned both Vardas and Berechiah in the same breath. Neither of them have an Inspirational location associated with them, but if they did then it might well be possible to gain support for threshers kicking in the doors of the Whisper Gallery across the Empire, and who knows what else they might find? One for the Vigilance assembly to consider, perhaps.

Martin Orchard has presented an alternate mandate to encourage the threshers to venture into neighbouring Tassato.

Threshers! Let us start a Pilgrimage of Vigilance against the Whisper Gallery. Let all who are willing travel to our neighbours in Tassato, first home of the exemplar Berechiah. Take heed of how to thresh the chaff from any city as cleanly as you would in Meade! Offer the Vigilant your aid in pursuing their suspicions and dealing with whoever they flush out. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to seek out the poison in our neighbour's fields.

Synod Mandate, Marches National Assembly

If enacted it would see massive disruption in Tassato and result in armed conflicts in the city streets. Every mana site in Tassato will lose two mana crystals from its production after the Summer Solstice. However it will also create opportunities; a chance for the Marcher threshers to attempt to ensnare a major agent of the Whisper Gallery. It'll also hopefully encourage threshers who visit Anvil to turn their attention on their fellow Imperial citizens, scrutinizing them for signs of Whisper Gallery corruption and doing whatever is needed to deal with them once they are identified.

Both mandates in the Marches National Assembly are in competition with each other.

Aemon of the Suns of Couros has offered an alternate mandate, using the Partners of Greatness power, to the Highguard National Assembly.

'Highborn! Our Marcher siblings have Vigilantly raised the cry to defend our great empire from the malignant operatives of the Whisper Gallery. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to urge Highborn Inquisitors and Magisters to take inspiration from our Marcher siblings. Our nation’s bedrock is founded on Human Destiny, the parasites of the Whisper Gallery will not stop our realisation of that fact!'

Synod Mandate, Highborn National Assembly

If enacted this mandate would see inquisitors and magisters work to seek out the cultists of the Whisper Gallery in Highguard. It would be more difficult as any cultists in Highguard are likely to be more adept at keeping hidden than those in the Marches. Every mana site in Highguard would suffer a loss of one crystal mana which would last until the start of the Winter Solstice 385YE but at the end of it would see the Highborn magisters and inquisitors have a chance at ensnaring a major agent of the Whisper Gallery in Highguard.