Ruth was recognised as an paragon of Loyalty by the pre-Imperial Highborn assembly. Her status with the Imperial Synod is unclear. In 82YE, the Assembly of Loyalty attempted to recognize her as an exemplar, but there are no records of the judgement's outcome. Some lists of inspirational figures list Ruth as a paragon, some as an exemplar, and many omit her entirely. Regardless, a number of devotees of Loyalty continue to look to her for inspiration - even though they risk accusations of criminality for doing so.
Ruth was the daughter of Abital, the patrician of the powerful Innyata family. Privileged from birth, she eventually turned her back on that existence to the great chagrin of her mother. She joined the Chapter of the Seven Stars to seek a deeper meaning to her life, drawn by the teachings of virtue. She devoured the teachings of the virtuous, and quickly became recognised as an accomplished philosopher. She was an outspoken proponent of the power that modern theologians would recognise as Loyalty - that the virtuous must know their own hearts, and understand the nature of their devotion.
Shortly after joining the chapter, she met and fell in love with her future husband Lepidus. According to contemporary reports, she was attracted to his conviction and belief in the ultimately virtuous nature of the Highborn people. For his part, he was drawn to her keen mind and commitment to the Revelation, and enjoyed every opportunity to discuss the paths of virtue with her.
In the last years before the civil war began, Ruth used her knowledge of the patricians to gather information about the enemies of the Revelation. She became a confidante of Permion the Navigator, and recruited several key allies for the cause from among the ranks of the patrician families. Combining a keen understanding of the social graces of the patricians with a zealous commitment to the Revelation, she was able to move freely between the privileged courts of the nobility and the more austere halls of the chapters. During this time, she also recruited agents loyal to her personally, or to the ideals of virtue. In addition to gathering information, she worked hard to try and head off the coming war, encouraging as many people as possible to embrace the Revelation and see the potential bright future it promised for the Highborn people.
When the civil war began in earnest, Ruth was forced into hiding. She continued to coordinate agents and funnel information to the chapters, but she also took a more active role in fighting the patricians. In addition to intelligence gathering, she was not averse to committing acts of sabotage and even assassination in support of the virtuous cause. For example, she and her agents destroyed the grain stores of the Tutamen family shortly after the Autumn harvest, crippling their soldiers and preventing them from marching against the chapters in Casinea until the following Spring - giving the northern followers of the Revelation vital extra months to prepare for the coming assault. She is also known to have ordered the deaths of at least eight key commanders in the patrician forces - men and women whose tactical skill was vital to the enemy but who resisted all attempts to sway them to the Virtuous cause. In one of her surviving letters, she speaks of the grief she feels at this course but seeing it as a way to shorten the war and ultimately save lives. "Those who refuse to accept the Revelation are our enemies," she wrote. "It is easy to kill them on the battlefield with our swords, but we must also be prepared to kill them in their beds with knives if we are to be victorious. They have made their choices, and we have made ours, and we must all accept the consequences."
She was captured by agents of the patricians on two occasions, and both times managed to escape execution - the first time with the aid of an ally hidden within the patrician ranks, the second time when her supporters assaulted the prison where she was being held. Historians tend to agree that Ruth and her agents were critical in giving the chapters the upper hand at the Battle of Pharos that effectively ended the civil war. Following the end of the war and the death of her husband, Ruth continued to serve the Virtuous Assembly, both by identifying potential threats and by continuing to recruit allies in unlikely places.
Ruth is believed to have been an accomplished magister who made extensive use of Night magic to create false identities that allowed her to venture into dangerous situations in cunning disguises. She also made great use of a unique quill that allowed her to send magical, untraceable messages to her allies. Not all theologians concur that she was a magician - given her ability to inspire personal loyalty in others, it is just as likely she simply had allies among the virtuous magisters. For the most part, her magic played second-fiddle to her rock-solid commitment to her cause, her keen mind, and her willingness to do what was required to secure victory for the virtuous.
While some of the Virtuous Assembly held her up as an example of someone who was truly Vigilant, she vehemently disagreed with them. For Ruth, the paramount virtue was not Vigilance but Loyalty. It was her Loyalty to the Revelation, to the dream of the virtuous life, and to the future of the Highborn people that was the source of her strength. She remained committed to the vision of a spiritual Highguard until her death, using her influence to strengthen the Virtuous Assembly and working to ensure that people who shared her commitment to the dream of Virtue were in positions of authority.
According to the Heirs of Lepidus, Ruth was recognised by the Virtuous Assembly as a paragon of Loyalty shortly after her death. For some reason, however, she was not recognised by the Imperial Synod after the formation of the Empire - possibly an oversight, or possibly a consequence of the recognition of so many Highborn historical figures as inspirations. There is documentation that confirms that a judgement was raised in 82YE by the Loyalty assembly to recognise Ruth - as an exemplar not a paragon - but there is no record of whether that judgement passed or not. There is some rumour that Ruth was buried in an inspirational tomb somewhere in Bastion - she was certainly not interred within the White City itself - but the location of the tomb if it exists, has been lost.
The Assembly of Loyalty recognised the following signs when they proposed Ruth as an exemplar in 82YE.
- Ruth worked tirelessly to spread the Revelation, but she also worked to minimize the damage done by the Highborn civil war and the transition to a more virtuous nation, demonstrating her Benevolence.
- She Inspired people to embrace the Revelation, but she also inspired them to commit themselves heart-and-soul to their cause. She often expressed grudging respect for her opponents - at least for those who were acting out of a commitment to the rule of the patricians rather than those who were motivated by greed or fear of change.
- Her actions both during and after the civil war brought Salvation to many, while her work helped expand the Highborn understanding of Loyalty.
- Her quill, which she used both to send vital intelligence to her allies and agents and to record her thoughts on the need for loyalty, is considered to be a Legacy. According to stories, it surfaces from time to time in Highborn history in the hands of people of great commitment.
Shortly before the Winter Solstice 381YE, the Heirs of Lepidus published documentation relating to Ruth and her status as a Paragon of pre-Imperial Highguard and an unconfirmed exemplar of the Way. These documents included several letters and excerpts from her journal, their authenticity supported by several prominent scholars - the provenance of the documents has also been confirmed by magicians associated with the rare documents departments of both the Litharge and Holberg University.
Yet the precise status of Ruth as an exemplar or paragon remains unclear. The absence of her inspirational tomb (assuming it existed) makes categorizing her even more complicated. While nobody has been prosecuted for heresy in the last hundred years for claiming she is an inspirational figure, she likewise tends to be left out of lists of paragons and exemplars.
There have always been theological scholars who have been critical of Ruth, although few can actually fault her commitment to the Revelation. She provably ordered the deaths of people who opposed her vision of the future for Highguard and the nascent Way. She lied and deceived, stole, and used hunger as a weapon against the soldiers of the patricians. Her pivotal role in the civil war is difficult to refute, but there are always those who question whether she should truly be held up as inspirational given (they argue) that she inspired others to commit murder and other heinous acts. Indeed, some scholars suggest that by encouraging people to abandon their families and their former allegiances in pursuit of her cause she actually acted against the interests of Loyalty as a platonic force.
Further complicating the issue are the old rumours of the creation of an Inspirational Tomb. If its existence could be confirmed one way or another, some of the controversy surrounding Ruth might be laid to rest. If the tomb does exist, that may provide proof that she was recognised by the Imperial Synod and that her absence from the lists of inspirational figures is an oversight - or the result of political maneuvering within the Synod.
Alternatively, the Synod could resolve the issue somewhat conclusively with the usual judgement of recognition. The Synod would need to decide whether they agreed with pre-Imperial Highguard that she is a paragon, or decide that she is an exemplar, or indeed decline to recognise her status as an inspirational figure at all.
Ruth in Play
Lepidus of the Seven Stars
Ruth was married to a man named Lepidus, a significant figure in his own right - both during the revolution against the patricians and in the creation of the virtuous nation of Highguard. Recognised as a paragon of Pride, Lepidus' legend has somewhat overshadowed Ruth's story. A chapter devoted to restoring lost exemplars and paragons to prominence, the Heirs of Lepidus, are responsible for bringing Ruth back into the public eye. Their work is supported by a number of wealthy patrons, including the benefactors of Cantiarch's Hold and Reumah's Redoubt.
The Quill of Ruth is believed to be an artifact, infused with a powerful aura of Loyalty, that allows the one bonded to it to send magical missives regardless of whether they are a magician or not. According to accounts, it most likely permits the wielder to perform an effect similar to Call Winged Messenger - including the requirement for a specially prepared letter. For several centuries, the quill was considered to be a unique item of unknown provenance. Modern scholars, however, point out that similar items are relatively common among the Magician-Princes of the Principalities of Jarm. Whether this speaks of some connection between Ruth and that eastern nation is a matter that might bear further investigation.
According to some reports, the Hallowing of the Token was called the Hallowing of the Quill in pre-Imperial Highguard.
The Wardens of Virtue
The story of the Wardens of Virtue is almost certainly apocryphal. According to this tale, after the formation of the Virtuous Assembly in Highguard, Ruth of the Seven Stars turned her talents, and those of her agents, toward protecting the Revelation from a counter-revolution. This small sect, calling themselves the Wardens of Virtue, were dedicated to Loyalty and specifically to the cause of Virtue. There are several stories in which vital information unexpectedly falls into the hands of people whose interests align with the Way at just the right moment, which has lead to a belief in a shadowy cabal of spies and possibly even assassins who operate without oversight from the Imperial Synod and protect a particular ideal of the Way. Their symbol is allegedly a white quill with a crimson nib.