The Imperial Synod recognises, with Pride, the efforts of the Hierro Clan in learning so much about The Way in just one season. We also acknowledge, with Vigilance and Wisdom, that the Hierro do not yet fully understand The Way and call upon them to embody Pride, Ambition, and Courage in aspiring to improve their interpretations of the Virtues. Elka Nadyanova Gremani will support them in this using the Experience of Pride and the example of the Paragon of Kethry. We look forward to seeing how the Hierro rise to this challenge and further earn the respect of the Empire.

The General Assembly of the Imperial Synod 379YE Winter Solstice

The Synod supports Duke Ferrero to take liao and preach to Imperial Citizens that they tolerate the refugee Hierro clan of Lasambria whilst in Imperial lands. It is Loyal for citizens to support the Empire's plans. It is Vigilant to not turn a potential ally into an enemy. It is Wise to try a new path over reactive instinct. It is Ambitious to envision a new way to resolve an unusual situation.

The General Assembly of the Imperial Synod 379YE Winter Solstice

Overview

The actions of Elka Nadyanova Gremani and Duke Ferrero have born strange fruit in the South. Where before the Lasambrians had paid only lip-service to the notion of the virtues, they now seem to have finally embraced them. More and more Lasambrians have been approaching priests working with Elka and the Duke to discuss the virtues and their meaning. The breakthrough appears to have come with the emergence of a handful of influential Lasambrians who are not just openly embracing the virtues but extolling them to others.

"What did you say it was again? A breadfruit?"

"Yes, try it - they're delicious. The Lasambrians used to grow them in the hills. Well gather them I suppose, I'm not sure they did any actual cultivation. Too much like hard work!" Valeria chuckled to herself, clearly amused by the joke at her host's expense, but Darko winced, clearly mortified by the new arrival's sarcasm.

"Be quiet - you'll be heard! It's crucial we don't offend these people, we've been working on these people for weeks. Even the simplest joke is dangerous - it could undermine the whole thing."

Valeria smiled again as she dismissed her rivals' words "You don't need to convert everyone, you just need to convert the right someone. Allow me to introduce the right someone - Kenza of the Lasambrians." She gestured to the orc that accompanied her.

The orc - Kenza - stood stiff-backed staring at the gathering of Lasambrians who were waiting for them inside the tent. He seemed lost in contemplation but finally turned to face the two human priests "It would be best if you let me speak with the warlord first. He will not listen to you."

Darko disagreed and an argument quickly broke out between him and the Urizeni. This was a crucial meeting, with the warlord and his followers - the new "priest" might be Lasambrian but it was too dangerous to risk such an important meeting on an untried mediator. "Cleave to what you know is true, even where others wish you to doubt." someone whispered. The warring priests turned to see that Kenza was already walking into the tent, forcing them to abandon their argument and scurry after him."

Kenza strolled confidently past the guards, into the centre of the tent. "Warlord Dayna, I have come to talk to you about the Virtues."

"Talk makes me hungry. Fruit?" The warlord threw a half-eaten breadfruit towards the newcomer, but Kenza made no attempt to catch it and it hit the floor. A hush fell over the tent, at this obvious insult.

"This fruit is not yours to give warlord. Your warriors stole it from an orchard belonging to Santa i Carri i Erigo." The tent went deadly silent, hands fell on swords. Darko flashed a venemous glare at Valeria but the other priest simply gestured for him to wait.

"They didn't steal it. They took it. It was my ambition to eat breadfruit today. So my warriors were prosperous and worked hard to bring me breadfruit. The Freeborn are armed with bows - but they courageously dared the risk. Now I am filled with Pride! For I have the breadfruit I wanted!" The warlord voice rose as he delivered his response so that it was loud enough to be heard over the rising laughter.

Kenza paused for a moment, to let the tent fall silent again, so that everyone would be certain to hear him. "Bullshit! Self-serving bullshit. Pride? What have you got to be proud of? Your warriors snuck in under darkness to steal the fruit. Was their Courage to dare the wrath of the trees as they plucked the fruit? It took years of hard work to grow these fruit - how much hard work was required to steal them? Ambition? To eat breadfruit? That's your ambition? See the mighty warlord Dayna, an inspiration to us all - today he will eat a breadfruit! All - by - himself!"

Dorka warily eyed the exit to the tent, as sword after sword slid clear of its scabbards. A moment ago he was worried that their attempt to convert the Lasambrians would end in failure. Now that failure was off the table and disaster was looming, the prudent thing was to check for escape routes before everyone was murdered. Vaguely he was aware that the Lasambrian was still talking - presumably he wanted the hole deep enough for all of them.

"You have twisted the Virtues to justify a life of petty banditry. You see something, you want it, you take. You're a child without restraint, a bully with a sword, a thief with an opportunity. The only thing you have learned from the Empire is to justify it by chanting the virtues like a dog barking to warn off a stranger."

"I am a warlord! I have two hundred warriors. Who the fuck are you to judge me, you insolent prick. This faith you have clearly swallowed is nothing but words. Who says what is virtuous? Who gets to judge it? It's all meaningless - it's a pack of lies so you lot can sit on your moral high ground and preach at the rest of us." The warlord was on his feet now, his hands waving in fury as he gestured at the priest. The others in the room were silent, weapons drawn, waiting for the command to act.

Kenza seem serene, untroubled by the obvious threat and his voice was calm as he responded. "From what I have seen of them, the best of the Imperials let others judge what is virtuous - not them. Truly virtuous actions can be seen by others - seen to be courageous - seen to be wise, to be ambitious, to be proud. The truly virtuous inspire those around them by their actions." He stopped for a moment to draw a breath and then spat out "But I am not Imperial! I am Hierro. The blood of my people flows through my veins, the Hierro ancestors speak to me. They will judge whether my actions are virtuous. Just as they will judge your actions. Perhaps they will return for you Warlord Dayna - perhaps they will choose to carry another petty thief across the Howling Abyss, perhaps they will not."

"What the fuck are you talking about - the ancestors don't talk about the virtues. They tell us to fight - to conquer - to defend what is ours, to take what we need! You think you're so fucking special, you and your little Imperial friends. We've always been bandits! That's who we are - you pompous self-righteous prick. That's who our ancestors were!"

"No. Our ancestors were not bandits. And if you come with me... I can prove it."

Significance

Those priests who have spent time preaching to the Lasambrians indicate that the acceptance of the Virtues is now widespread, genuine, and heartfelt. There is an enormous sense of accomplishment by many involved - this is an act of conversion the like of which has not been seen since the glory days of the founding of the Empire or the intergration of the Imperial Orcs. The situation for the Lasambrians - for the Hierro - was dire. A tribe of bandits who have spent hundreds of years living by robbing Freeborn, Faraden, and Suranni traders have been forced out of the hills and into the Empire. Their fellow tribesmen had sold out to a Jotun enemy they had fled from. They were literally a broken people - they had nothing. One might argue that they were ripe for conversion - previously they would have agreed to anything just to survive - but the Empire has restored their sense of self-worth.

Now the only way to describe them would be transformed. Before the only emotions they aroused were contempt and pity. Now they stand tall, their backs straight. The Empire has taught them the true meaning of Pride. The Jotun destroyed them on the battlefield - they fled with their tails between their legs - not they know the value of Courage. Few knew anything but banditry - now they have embraced Prosperity. Where previously they talked of how the Naguerro betrayed them - now they openly admit that they abused the Loyalty the other Lasambrian tribes gave them. Several mention that where before they were desperate to believe any offer of help, now they understand the need for Wisdom and Vigilance. And of all the virtues, Ambition is the most electrifying - catching in their spirits like a flame in a dry field.

Success then. A triumph not seen in living memory. Even the Freeborn inhabitants of Segura - with a lifetime of experience of being attacked and robbed by the Lasambrians - admit that something extraordinary has been accomplished. Thousands and thousands of souls... converted to a belief in the Way. Well ... perhaps not the Way exactly... Orcs do not reincarnate and the Lasambrians have no interest in ideas of the Labyrinth. But they have found a compromise they are happy with and embraced the Virtues in vast numbers.

Which only leaves the issue of what to do with them now. Now that they have adopted the Virtues, arguments between the Freeborn and the Lasambrians have almost completely stopped. No-one is calling for them to be driven off or even killed any longer. But everyone in Segura agrees that they can't stay here - not forever. So there remains the sticking point of what the Empire wants to do with the Lasambrians.

And for once the Civil Service have got absolutely no suggestions or ideas of any kind for the leaders of the Empire to consider.