Sing your name
Rounding the corner, she continued on towards the north tower. It was colder here, the high curtain wall towered over her and the sun never seemed to warm this part of the castle. She shivered and pulled her robe around her, trying to block out the cold.
Kesiah turned to face her as soon as she arrived at the tower, his face beaming. "Exarch" he said, in a mix of respect of excitement.
"Show me what you've got Kesiah", she said, smiling encouragement at the young steward. He nodded his head and proceeded to draw her attention to the construction of the buttress he had carefully exposed, talking through each feature in turn. She nodded a little as he talked, partly encouragement, partly to keep her focus. The shadow bobbed in to view again - a flash of red on top of the curtain wall above her - distracting her.
"The foundations are incredibly deep, but this technique, lining the trench with granite, but broken down like this first - it's exactly the same construction as the tower near Highwatch. It's not proof that it was built by the same person - but I'm certain that it was built by the same people"
He reached out to point at one of the pieces of rock they had excavated, but as he did so there was a flash of movement followed instantly by a deafening crash and a scream and then the air was filled with dust.
Felicia struggled to regain her feet, from where the force of the impact had sent her sprawling. In front on her Kesiah was lying on the ground clutching his broken arm. Around him were the remains of the lump of rock that had fallen from the curtain wall high above them.Except it hadn't fallen. Felicia looked up to see a flash of red and then the shadow was gone.
The Heirs of Lepidus are a group of stewards of the dead dedicated to finding and recovering records of paragons and exemplars. Their chapter was quite influential in the early years of the Empire, but by the reign of Empress Varkula their significance had begun to wane. They continued to follow their calling, however, and patiently compiled information about modern exemplars with the same dedication they had shown to gathering evidence of past inspirational figures. Their chapter was struck a significant blow during the reign of Emperor Nicovar when their chapterhouse, the Lepidean Library, was burnt to the ground along with centuries of carefully collected tomes regarding the histories of the paragons and exemplars.
The Heirs have recently regained a small measure of prominence. In late 380YE, they completed a significant piece of work - along with the School of Epistemology in Tassato they recovered, collated, and published information on Berechiah, an exemplar of Vigilance. Shortly after bringing Berechiah back into the public eye, they approached wealthy patrons in Highguard in search of funds with which to continue their work. The benefactors of Cantiarch's Hold and Reumah's Redoubt provided significant backing to the small chapter and since then they have been actively working with scholars in many parts of the Empire to recover lore relating to the inspirational figures of the Way that has been lost, in some cases, for centuries.
In addition to their work on Berechiah, they have also recently published their research about Elayne Silverlark, Lepidus, Ruth, Permion, Atun and Atuman, and Gilda Ashwine increasing the amount that is known about these important historical figures.
The Silent Sentinel
The Silent Sentinel in Casinea is one of the oldest and ugliest fortifications in the Empire - and also one of the strongest. Built during the first few decades after the Highborn arrived on these shores, myths and legends have long held that the foundations of this castle were lain by the Paragon known as The Sentinel. It is true that the lower parts of the old structure are made of black basalt and granite, with significantly more recent upper levels being built of reinforced white granite.
As part of their research, the Heirs of Lepidus have been investigating many of the ruins ascribed to the Sentinel, and have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the foundations and lower levels of the Silent Sentinel are not only built using the same techniques as those towers and beacons known to be the work of the enigmatic paragon, but that they are without a shadow of a doubt the largest and most extensive. Given its position, they are prepared to venture the theory that the fortification was most likely the abode of the Sentinel itself.
It has not been plain sailing for the Heirs of Lepidus however; the investigation has been plagued by mischief by a mysterious figure. At first the problems appeared fairly innocuous: notebooks stolen, or covered in ink, labels on exhibits removed or rearranged. But over time they have grown steadily more intrusive and steadily more dangerous. On three separate occasions the scholars investigating the Sentinel structures have come under direct attack by a mysterious figure. Nobody has been killed, and none of the Heirs are able to give a clear description of their attacker, which they describe as a red shadow; but they believe that a single attacker is responsible.
The attacks all seem to be restricted to those Highborn looking into the Sentinel as well - researchers gathering information about Ruth and Gilda Ashwine, for example, have been able to do so unimpeded. There is some suggestion that this might be the work of the Whisper Gallery - no eternal is to be trusted in the minds of most of the Heirs of Lepidus, but this entity is known to attack scholars working on historical research. But this... creature... seems very different to any agent of that being and its methods seem slightly less murderous - thus far at least.
The general assembly recognises again the lessons to be learned from stories of the Sentinel, and the importance of the virtue of Vigilance. Let Imperial citizens be alert for all dangers, and prepared for malice. Further, let the Silent Sentinel in Casinea be consecrated as a site of pilgrimage and recognised as the likely resting place of that paragon whose inspiration and legacy has endured so many centuries. We send X with a dose of true liao and 4 crowns to consecrate the Silent Sentinel in the name of Vigilance.Synod Mandate, General Assembly
If the General Assembly passes this mandate, a named priest would need to provide a dose of true liao with which to create a true consecration at the Silent Sentinel. The effects of doing so would be twofold.
The Sentinel is a proud castle, but as the recognised home of one of the oldest known paragons, it could be significantly more. A commission could be used to adapt parts of the fortification as a place of pilgrimage, and to construct a grand tower holding a beacon or warning bell. The Heirs of Lepidus have found old references to a ruined tower that stood here before the Highborn adapted the foundations to their own use.
Recreating the original tower, using the same principles as the Sentinel themselves may have used, would require 25 wains of white granite and 50 crowns, and take three months to complete. The resulting sinecure would provide 10 liao and 20 votes in the Synod to the prelate charged with maintaining the shrine. It would also serve as a grand site of pilgrimage, attracting devotees of vigilance not only from across the Empire but from across the known world. Of course it is always possible to commission a more restrained structure - a smaller sinecure - but that would follow the standard costs.
As part of any senate motion to adapt the fortification to receive pilgrims, the Imperial Senate could grant custodianship of the entire Silent Sentinel to the individual charged with overseeing the sinecure. This would allow them to serve as castellan of this grand fortification as well as prelate of the shrine.
The civil service suggests that regardless of size, the well-worn path for appointing this sinecure would be at the choice of the vigilance virtue assembly or, given its location, the Highborn national assembly.
Securing the borders
If the true consecration is mandated, then the faithful across the Empire would be inspired by the lessons of the Sentinel regardless of whether the beacon tower is constructed or not. As a paragon of vigilance, the legacy of the Sentinel perfectly exemplifies the admonition to "prepare for malice, yet thwart malice before it strikes against you." It is not enough to simply watch for danger, you must take active steps to counter it.
Reminded of this crucial quality of the virtue, people across the empire will be inspired to follow in the footsteps of the Sentinel and contribute to the construction of new defences and fortifications. For the next year, the amount of white granite required to build a new fortification or to improve an existing fortification would be reduced by a fifth, and the labour cost adjusted commensurately.
The reduction would apply to any commission begun during the year, as soon as the true consecration were completed (that is, if the mandate were passed during the Winter Solstice and the true liao submitted, any new fortification or improvement commissioned at the Winter Solstice would benefit from the reduction). It would also apply to fortifictions that had been commissioned but on which construction had not begun. It only applies to fortifications using white granite (the Great Forest orcs "Holt of the Oak" for example would not benefit from this reduction as it is made of weirwood).
In the event that a fortification commission or improvement already has a non-standard cost, the civil service will be able to calculate what the final cost would be if given enough warning.
The ability to place a true consecration on the Silent Sentinel, and the subsequent opportunity to build an inspirational tower, remain available unless something significantly discredits the research of the Heirs of Lepidus.
The effect of increasing vigilance however is dependent on the excitement caused by the revelations about the Sentinel - as such regardless of when or if the Silent Sentinel is consecrated, any benefits would be lost shortly before the start of the Winter Solstice 382YE.
The General assembly mandated Rhesa, Exarch of the Scions of Ravensfell, to consecrate the Silent Sentinel. For the next year, all new fortifications will receive additional support from pilgrims dedicated to Vigilance.