Rebirth in Reikos
The Virtue to which the First Empress was dedicated remains an enduring mystery. The Synod has rejected that she was an exemplar of Courage. In her life, we can see her exemplify all of the Seven Virtues and the Virtuous should look to her example whatever their chosen dedication. She created her Empire to allow her people to follow and uphold Ambition, Courage, Loyalty, Pride, Prosperity, Vigilance, and Wisdom. She placed none in prominence above the other. I call on the people of my Empire, the people of Highguard, and my followers in the chapter of Yael’s Revelation to dedicate themselves to the Virtue to which their soul cleaves most true. A life lived in pursuit of any of the 7 True Virtues will speed you through the Labyrinth, through the cycle of Reincarnation, and on to the transcendent destiny I have glimpsed beyond the Labyrinth. I go with liao to bring this messageThe General Assembly of the Imperial Synod 380YE Winter Solstice
I, Jared of the Suns of Couros Chapter of Highguard in Reikos will travel the lands of the Empire to counsel the Faithful that the General Assembly of the Imperial Synod has rejected the First Empress as an exemplar of Courage on grounds of insufficient evidence. She is now amongst us again and we must listen and learn from her again.The General Assembly of the Imperial Synod 380YE Winter Solstice
More than a decade of bloody rule by the Druj has made a charnel house of Reikos. Burned out chapter houses litter the land. Wells poisoned with lye. Carcasses block the streams that now carry fetid water to the Haros. The Druj were not content to conquer Reikos - and so they sought to destroy it. It would be the work of years to unmake the ruin they have wrought and restore Reikos to its former glory.
The savage wickedness of the Druj, the butchery and the destruction, was not mindless. Rather it was orchestrated by the depraved leaders of the Druj, a deliberate program of oppression intended to break the spirit of the Highborn people. Only the strongest, armoured by their faith in the Way were able to endure it unchanged and none were left untouched. It is no wonder that Golan's message was so readily taken up - the people, like the land, seek salvation.
Now Golan is absent, leashed by the Synod. But that august body of the Empire, the mountain on which the fortress that is the Way is constructed, has authorized two priests Yael and Jared of the Suns of Couros to bring their message to the receptive people of Reikos. The timing for this latest intervention could not be more apropos - the priests arrive just as a wave of magic plunges the territory into chaos once more.
Micah stared at the water she had drawn from the old stone well. It was not a deep well and often ran dry in high summer, but since the recent change there seemed no end to the water she could draw from it. It was always bitter of course, the Druj had had made sure of that long ago.
When word of the First Empress's most recent journey through Reikos had reached Micah she had paid it little attention. A land without tears? Micah had abandoned tears when she gave up her childhood. Crying did not fill the hole in your belly - nor the one in your heart. What use had she for such dreams?
Her mother had fought to the last to defend their farmstead, until she was cut down by a poisoned arrow. Her father they had captured and taken as a slave - she never saw him again. But Micah had been young at that time - so young that they had simply ignored her and moved on. A child not even worth enslaving, they had abandoned her to her fate. Their last act of spite was to fire the farmstead and pour lye into the well - poisoning the waters that had once brought life to the tiny farm.
She had survived for all the years that the Druj had controlled Reikos by hiding out in the ruins. Food she could forage for, but clean water had been her a constant struggle. Anything drawn from the well not even fit to feed animals, bitter and even a sip would make the stomach heave. On good days she liked to imagine that one day she would be grown enough to the dig the well out and remove the last trace of the Druj bile from her parents farm - but it was little more than a dream.
And then the change had come to Reikos. The burned out ruins of her parents farm was slowly consumed, the few remaining beams that survived the fire quickly rotting while the thick ivy pulled down what little remained of the walls. Micah had fought it at first, but it was hopeless and in the end she was forced to accept the inevitable. She abandoned the ruin and built herself a small shelter in the thick green wood that was now growing where her mother had once grazed their flock of sheep.
Now as she looked at the water in her bucket she stared, unable to believe what she was seeing. It was impossible - simply impossible. The water should have been brackish and green - good for watering her small vegetable patch and little else. But instead it was clear - completely clear - like meltwater from a mountain. She cupped a little in her hand and cautiously tasted it, expecting to feel the familiar burn on her tongue.
Instead the water tasted wholesome and fresh... pure. Of the legacy of the Druj, the poison they had spitefully poured into the old well, there was no trace. The water - the well - her parent's well - the one her mother and father had worked so hard to create all those years ago - was clean once more.
Silently she whispered a prayer of thanks to the First Empress for this miracle, as she raised her hand to her cheek to wipe away the wetness.
Shortly after the Spring Solstice, a wave of change sweeps over Reikos. It begins with the smallest thing, a crop of strange fungi begin appearing throughout the territory. There are edible mushrooms aplenty - food enough for everyone - but also brightly coloured toadstools with vermilion caps thick with poison and tall yellow mushrooms that hurl spores far and wide every time the wind blows. Every imaginable fungus seems to blossom as well as the moulds now growing on trees, plants and buildings. From the fetid waters long poisoned by the Druj, new life springs. Attempts to remove the fecund growth is futile, for every mushroom cut down, two more spring up in its place the next day.
Into this miraculous landscape come two priests, Yael with her companion Jared, sent from the Imperial Synod. They travel the land, working to undo the heretical glamour Golan has worked upon a desperate people, bringing word of the First Empress reborn. The vast bounty of liao brought with them is more than sufficient to bring the followers of the heretic Golan under her sway, and discredit his vision of Courage as the prime virtue - especially with the forceful words of Jared's synod judgement to back them. Where Golan had denounced the Synod, seeking to turn the Highborn against the august body, the words of Yael and Jared are backed by Synod judgements. Working patiently they counter Golan's claims, and spread the word that Yael is the First Empress reborn - at the very moment that Reikos itself is reborn.
Some say the timing is serendipity, a mere coincidence. Some point to the all the memorials, graves, mausoleums and monuments saved from the Druj, now drowned beneath this wave of life. They say the magic is the work of fell creatures - of twisted beings from the Realms who seek to yoke human destiny - they claim that Yael and Jared are in league with these creatures - some even claim that they are heralds of Spring themselves.
But those who are thankful for the change sweeping over Reikos point out that what is happening is exactly what they would expect from the presence of a living paragon, what Imperial doctrine has lead them to believe should happen. It is a miracle. Everywhere the First Empress walks... new life springs up and the stain of the Druj is washed away. They cite the multiple judgements of the Imperial Synod, which has repeatedly chosen to confirm that Yael is the First Empress - returned from beyond the labyrinth - to the Empire. The Synod - the bastion of Imperial orthodoxy, the centre of learning that points the Way for the entire Empire - has embraced the First Empress. The mighty have spoken - who can refute that judgement now in the face of a clear miracle?
By the time of the Summer Solstice, the transformation of Reikos, both physically and spiritually, is well underway. Many of those who followed Golan have returned to their original congregations; enough that the levels of attendance have returned to normal - at least for now. But others, eager for any hope of salvation in these apocalyptic times have taken up the new cause with great fervour. Now a massive impromptu assembly has formed in Reikos, the Congregation of the First Empress, dedicated to spreading word of the her rebirth. If the current preaching continues for another season, this new congregation will begin to eclipse the impact that even Golan achieved.
If the Courage Assembly or the Highborn Assembly passes a judgement encouraging citizens to listen to the First Empress reborn then the backing of the Synod will provide a massive boost to her efforts. In support of Yael, the Synod can authorize a priest to employ liao to spread word of the return of the First Empress. For each 25 doses of liao authorized, the effects of the Congregation can be spread to an additional territory adjacent to Reikos. This will significantly increase the size of the new congregation but will not affect attendance at other congregations. In addition, either of these Assemblies could choose to further support Yael in Reikos. If a named priest is authorized to employ 50 liao in Reikos the current Congregation will grow significantly larger - but the impact of this will then be noticeable on other congregations in the territory.
Ultimately Yael is claiming that to be "the First Empress, returned from beyond the Labyrinth and reborn among the people of my Empire". Her words describe her "vision of the Labyrinth and of the Land Without Tears." If the General Assembly passes a judgement in support of this claim, then a named priest chosen by either the General Assembly or the Assembly of Courage could spread this word across the Empire. This would require 100 liao - but every territory in the Empire would then experience the same effects currently happening in Reikos. The priest could be named as part of the statement of principle raised by the General Assembly.
If the General Assembly or the Courage Assembly passes a judgement refuting the earlier judgement by Jared of the Suns of Couros that the First Empress "is now amongst us again and we must listen and learn from her again" or the Yael's claims to have had a "vision of the Labyrinth and of the Land Without Tears." then they can name a priest to travel to Reikos with 250 liao. This will counter the effects of the Congregation of the First Empress, persuading those who have sworn to the new congregation to give up their crusade undoing all the work that has been achieved so far.
As always, in the event that multiple incompatible judgements are passed, the judgement that has had the largest amount of liao spent on it takes precedence.
There's a lot going on in Reikos this season. You may also want to look at some of the following sections:
- Winds of War
- More details of the general situation
- An opportunity for the Imperial Synod regarding the weird fungi growing in parts of Reikos.
The Imperial Synod supported Jared, Cardinal of Loyalty, in spreading the word of Yael's teachings throughout the entire Empire. You can learn more about the repercussions of this event here.