Temple of the bull
"Essua! Get in here right now. You're in big trouble young man."
"What? I ain't done nothing."
"Don't take that tone of voice with me young man. Where were you at noon?"
"I went into town to... to..."
"You went to that foreign temple didn't you?"
"I just wanted to see what they were building. You should see it mum, it's big as anything!"
"Essua i Carra i Guerra - I swear on my soul that if you so much as step foot near that thing again, you won't sit down for a week! Do you hear me? It's full of heretics. It'll split your soul in two and turn you into a horrid little liar if you so much as look at it."
"But they gave me a sweet candy... and a toy statue of a bull - look. Ow! Hey that's mine... that's not fair!"
The Senate has given permission to the Asavean priesthood to build a grand temple in Feroz. The senator who raised the motion, has arranged for construction to begin at the port of Oran. At great expense, the Asaveans have dispatched several cargo ships of white granite to the Brass Coast, accompanied by a dozen or so of their potent warships to provide protection.
The project is well underway, and observers say it promises to be quite an impressive edifice, incorporating two massive statues of the Asavean "gods" known as Balo of the Foam, and the Black Bull. A cautious estimate suggests the Asaveans have brought some fifty wains of granite with them to provide a suitable imposing temple to their idols. Out of respect to the Empire they have brought no slaves with them. Instead, they have also been quite free with their Imperial coinage, paying handsomely for Imperial labourers prepared to work with their architects. Work is expected to end shortly before the Autumn Equinox.
The Gods of Asavea
Balo of the Foam, and the Black Bull, represent only two of the many so-called deities of the Asaveans. The priests overseeing the construction of their new temple have been more than happy to discuss their faith with Imperial citizens and from them certain facts have been gleaned.
Balo of the Foam is a "god" of travel over water, who they believe keeps sailors safe from the many dangerous of long sea voyages. They claim that Balo sends good winds, and protects sailors from the storms and other dangers they say are sent by more jealous deities of the deep ocean. Balo is depicted as a beautiful, androgynous youth in gossamer veils who lives wherever waves break against a shore. There are apparently many songs, poems, and dances performed in his honour, which they are happy to share. Sacrifices to Balo take the form of valuable goods thrown into the waves. It is considered good luck to sacrifice wine, beer, scented oils, or pearls to the god at the start and end of a sea journey - and dreadful misfortune is said to befall those who try to steal such offerings.
The Black Bull, by contrast, is the patron of soldiers, bodyguards and guardians - anyone who protects people who travel in dangerous places. Sometimes male sometimes female (despite being a bull), it is a martial deity who encourages skill at arms among its followers. Priests and devotees of the Black Bull accompany merchants and diplomats who travel to foreign lands. The followers of the Black Bull constantly strive to show their prowess and bravery, often engaging in daring acrobatic feats involving the beast sacred to their patron. Modern sacrifices to the Black Bull involve the blood of a ritually slaughtered animal poured over an altar or acolyte, with the meat from the carcass then being prepared as part of a feast for the devoted.
Needless to say, the majority of Imperial priests are likely to consider involvement in such behaviour by Imperial citizens to be a religious crime.
Trade and Diplomacy
Once the temple is complete, it is expected that all Imperial citizens will find a warmer welcome in Nemoria, especially fleet captains. It will also represent a further improvement in relations with the Archipelago - the priests of Balo and the Black Bull are both influential in Asavean politics, and their good words will help sway the Plenum further in the direction of the Empire.
Furthermore, it is likely that good relations with the priests of the Temple will likely accrue a small benefit to the owners of businesses in Feroz. The presence of the temple will draw traders who might otherwise have gone to other ports around the Bay of Catazar, resulting in a small improvement to the income of businesses across the territory.
In addition, the Asaveans have indicated that they would like a named individual to serve as liaison with the priests of Balo and the Black Bull. The speaker for the Asavean priests involved in this project, Hueva Joãon, has indicated that he would like the temporal power in the land where the temple is being built - in this case Pedro i Taziel I Riquezz the Senator for Feroz - to guide his selection by presenting a candidate or candidates who would be open-minded and interested in cementing closer ties between the Archipelago and the Empire.
This appointment would not represent an Imperial title because the power to appoint or remove it would lie with the Asaveans, not with the Empire. Indeed, the Imperial Synod would have no authority to revoke this position at all, and even a Writ of Excommunication would not automatically disbar a citizen from serving as liaison. Rather, the Asavean priesthood itself has the ability to remove, or appoint a replacement for, the liaison at their discretion.
The likely benefit to the citizen appointed as liaison would be an opportunity to purchase goods at reduced prices from the Asavean merchants and sailors who visit the temple (almost certainly in the manner of a ministry similar to that available to the Ambassador to Asavea.
The Temple in Nemoria
As part of this agreement, the priesthood of Asavea has invited the priests of the Way to build a temple of their own in Nemoria, the capital of the Asavean Archipelago. No work has yet begun on this temple, however. As the Empire gave permission for a major temple to be built in the Empire, the same concession is made to the priests of the Way. At the moment, the Asavean government assumed that a Senator will oversee the project but in practice anyone could collect the 20 wains of white granite and 10 Thrones required to begin building the temple.
It is worth nothing that the entire cost in Thrones to build the temple could be waived it the person commissioning the temple chose to accept the kind offer of the Joãon family to provide their own "labourers" to work on the project.
Construction of the Temple of the Way in Nemoria will take six months, and once it is complete it would automatically create an Imperial title responsible for aiding and liaising with the Imperial priests attached to it. The Senator who raised the original motion - Maher i Zaydan i Riqueza - is ultimately responsible for determining how that title would be appointed. The most obvious methods of appointing the title would be appointment by the Senate, or appointment by either the General Assembly or the Assembly of Nine, although a case could certainly be made for making it an Imperial title auctioned through the Imperial Bourse.
The Judgements of the Synod
The Temple of Balo and the Black bull unequivocally exists to allow the practice of heresy, blasphemy, and literal idolatry on Imperial soil. While the Senate claims to have allowed its construction "under the understanding that it is for the usage of non-Imperial citizens only" this is little more than an understanding. The priests of Asavea have already demonstrated a willingness to talk about their religion to anyone who approaches them.
The Imperial Synod sought the veto when this motion was raised in the Senate, but failed to achieve the required majority. Yet it is clear that there is some resentment of the construction and its implications. Even among the notoriously relaxed priests of the Brass Coast, there is such a thing as going too far.
The Freeborn assembly, the General assembly, or the Assembly of Nine, may raise a Statement of Principle worded in such a way as to declare that anyone who assists in the construction of the temple should be considered a heretic, blasphemer, and/or idolator. The judgement must include a named priest who will be responsible for spreading word of the Synod's judgement through Oran. The named priest will need to provide at least 25 doses of liao for the creation of auras that will encourage people to denounce the idols of Asavea, and ignore the lucrative work offered by the foreign priests.
This will immediately slow construction of the Temple to a crawl. Rather than being completed shortly before the Autumn Equinox, the temple will not be completed until shortly before the Spring Equinox 381YE, and finding labourers prepared to work for the Asaveans will incur significant additional expense for their project.
Regardless, any successful action by the Synod that delays the completion of the temple will almost certainly create a diplomatic incident with the Asaveans.
Finally, there is one additional option. The Freeborn Assembly, General Assembly, or Assembly of the Nine may raise a Statement of Principle calling on all devout Freeborn followers of the Way to take steps to prevent the construction of the Temple. A named priest must be chosen to actively preach against the temple in Feroz, and equipped with at least 50 liao to support the creation of auras. If this is done, it is likely that the partially complete temple will be destroyed by Imperial citizens who heed the authority of the Synod. This option can only be used before work on the temple is completed.
If this option is taken, and the temple is destroyed, then the priest raising the motion and the named priest will be liable to investigation and potential prosecution by the magistrates.
In the event of multiple contradictory statements from the Synod, the one supported by the most liao would win.
The Council of Nine of the Imperial Synod has decided to denounce the Temple of the Bull as an idolatrous affront to the Way. Agnetha de Rondell has been active in Feroz discouraging workers from cooperating with the Asaveans, slowing work on the project significantly. Rather than being completed shortly before the Autumn Equinox, the temple will not be completed until shortly before the Spring Equinox 381YE, and finding labourers prepared to work for the Asaveans will incur significant additional expense for their project.
The "Temple of the Bull" in Oran is an idolatrous affront to The Way and threatening to seduce Imperial Souls into iniquity. To assist in its construction is to engage in, assist in spreading, and endorse idolatry. I will go to Oran to dissuade the people from this sin.The Assembly of Nine, 380YE Summer Solstice
At the same time Jorma Steelhail attempted to gain the backing of the General Assembly to encourage the complete destruction of the temple, but their statement of principle was not upheld (despite 327 votes in favour, there were 421 votes against)
When the Senate agreed to the construction of the Temple of the Bull in Feroz, this was under the understanding that the Asaveans do not preach their false faith and idolatry. This agreement has already been broken. The Empire cannot legally prevent citizens entering the Temple. The General Assembly supports Jorma Steelhail to ensure the destruction of that heathen building. Our conviction to The Way is boundless and we will not suffer heresy, blasphemy and idolatry.The General Assembly of the Imperial Synod, 380YE Summer Solstice (failed)
Finally, an attempt by Vitor de Mestra to raise funds to support the building of the Temple in Nemoria was withdrawn following confirmation of a theft from the Imperial Hub, despite having passed.
Rewarding of 20 Thrones from the Virtue Fund for labour and resource purchased to build a temple of the Way in Asavea to bring truth and counsel to followers there.The General Assembly of the Imperial Synod, 380YE Summer Solstice (withdrawn)
An additional judgement was passed by Soratio urging the citizens of the region to remain calm. Although backed with liao, the wording of this judgement meant that it had no effect and no liao was used.