The Courageous Priest
Golan the Wanderer is false in his preaching that purifying the Empire to Courage will cause the First Empress to Return. We know this for I, Yael, am the First Empress returned from beyond the Labyrinth and reborn among the people of my Empire. I shall come among the Citizens of Reikos to tell them of my vision of the Labyrinth and of the Land Without Tears.The General Assembly of the Imperial Synod 379YE Winter Solstice
The Assembly of Courage calls for a campaign of preaching in the territory of Reikos, teaching how the Virtue of Courage stands alongside the other Virtues as an inspiration against fear and ruin. The campaign will be led by Nina of Cantiarch's Hold and be supported by at least 25 vials of liao to inspire virtue through virtuous auras.The Assembly of Courage of the Imperial Synod 379YE Winter Solstice
The confusing and conflicting judgements passed by the Imperial Synod, have done little to slow the progress of Golan as he travels Reikos preaching to any who will listen. His words continue to inspire many Highborn citizens who hear him - with his dream of a Empire reforged - and of the First Empress come again. Priests who administer congregations of Courage soon find their numbers swell far beyond expectations - with every new devotee drawn from the congregation of another virtue. The First Empress united humanity beneath her banner - to forge an Empire. Now Golan seems intent on unifying the faithful behind one virtue - by invoking her name.
With the backing of the Synod, Nina of Cantiarch's Hold travels to Reikos to preach how the Virtue of Courage stands alongside the other Virtues as an inspiration against fear and ruin. For those not swept up by the fervour of the Courage of the First Empress, her words seem wise - balanced and fair, but Nina lacks the resources needed to counter Golan. Not that more liao would have helped since the Synod failed to address the judgement that the Empress was a follower of Courage. Without a clear response on that fundamental issue it is not possible for any priest to stop the spread of Golan's ideas.
It is much less clear if Yael of Felix's Watch intends to counter Golan or assist him. Logically, his claims that the First Empress will not be reborn until the Empire embraces Courage completely must be wrong If she truly is the First Empress reborn. But whatever the arguments, the presence of a living embodiment of the First Empress - with the support and backing of the Synod - is having the opposite effect. There are starting to be as many pilgrims flocking to the congregations of Courage inspired by Yael as by Golan.
Thus far neither of the Synod priests; Nina or Yael, have met Golan - perhaps they will have an opportunity to do so at the forthcoming summit for the Synod have called Golan to inquisition.
The influence of the Courage of the First Empress has already spread to every corner of Highguard - decisions at the next summit will determine if it continues to spread further.
"You seem troubled sister, why so? The liberation of Reikos is nearly complete, the Druj are scattered and defeated... Share your burdens with me, Mariamne?"
The Unconquered sighed heavily and shifted the weight of her armour across her shoulders. She glanced back and smiled wanly at Boethus before returning her gaze to the horizon. "It's probably nothing" she demurred, but her grim face told a different story.
"Good - it would not do to share a weighty matter while we eat - it might spoil our repast!". The wayfarer carefully spread a blanket over the crude table and begin to unpack a simple meal of bread, cheese, cold meats and wine. He decanted a little water into a hand bowl and generously offered it to the soldier first. He waited until she had washed before continuing to press his old friend.
"Now, what has your daughter done to trouble you this time?" he smiled to lighten the tone, but his tone was as sincere as his guess.
"It might not be about Sal!" Mariamne laughed despite herself. Boethus' ability to read her mood always made her smile.
"Mariamne, if you were a hundred miles over the border with no food and no way back... you'd be worrying about your daughter."
"I'm no different from any other mother" she protested. Despite her refusal to be drawn, Mariamne could feel she was losing the battle. Boethus always knew what to say to get her to relax and once her guard was down he would wrestle her concerns from her. Her priest said nothing... just smiled that infuriating smile that indicated that he was not going to give up until she opened up. She sighed again, and then accepted the inevitable.
"She's... she's... got herself caught up in the First Empress heresy. I always hoped you'd help her find Wisdom, but all she's ever wanted to do was become an unconquered and now she's got this crazy idea in her head that Courage is the only virtue worth having. We.... we argued... but she's passed her tests now and I can't stop her."
"What caused the argument?"
"She's been going to listen to Yael - that priestess who claims she is the First Empress reborn? I tried to point out that it's just possible that she might not have told the truth about what happened in her vision... and that's when Sal exploded. She said if we'd all been more Courageous, Reikos would never haven fallen and Noah might still be alive. And... that's when I lost my temper."
"Have you tried to reason with her since?"
"Several times - I even took her to see that young priest - Nina of Cantiarch's Hold - you know... the priest in Reikos who isn't preaching anything crazy or heretical at the moment."
"Pointless. She's articulate and knows her virtues, she's clearly got the backing of the Synod - but she isn't convincing anyone who isn't already convinced. The problem is the Synod - fundamentally if the Assembly of Courage are right, if the First Empress was an exemplar of Courage... then why should anyone follow a different virtue? Sure the other virtues are important - but this Golan isn't preaching that there is only one virtue - just that there is only one important virtue. It's not even clear it is heresy. Unless the Synod are prepared to gainsay the claim that the First Empress was devoted to Courage, then good priests like Nina are going to be helpless to stop this craze from spreading."
"And now your daughter is caught up in it?"
"Yes! Sal is talking of founding a new chapter - to follow the Empress reborn! She's 15! She passed her citizenship test a few years ago... and now she wants to found a chapter. It's ridiculous."
"She never lacked for Courage."
"It's a bit of bloody Wisdom she needs right now, frankly she can save her Courage for fighting the Druj."
"I hear Golan has been summoned to Anvil - for Inquisition. If they resolve the heresy - would that help to heal the rift?"
Mariamne snorted and shook her head. "I doubt it - it's been one mad idea after another ever since her father died. She just needs to grow up a little."
"Would you like me to talk to her?"
Mariamne finally relaxed "Would you? With Noah gone, she won't listen to me anymore. I wouldn't ask but..."
"You didn't ask." Boethus cut her off - "I offered. Consider it done."
Golan and Yael's preaching is taking root, and has now had a significant effect. The Courage of the First Empress, as it is becoming known, includes Highborn citizens who follow Golan, or Yael - or in some cases both. These people believe that the First Empress is an exemplar of Courage - that the entire Empire is an edifice built on Courage and that it can only triumph when it is dedicated entirely to that Virtue. As a result citizens are abandoning the other virtues and flocking to the congregations of Courage.
Congregations lead by priests dedicated to Courage are seeing numbers swell in response to the teaching of Golan and Yael - while other Virtues are beginning to suffer by comparison. Every congregation in Highguard operated by a priest dedicated to Courage has seen a significant gain in the amount of liao and the number of votes they receive. Conversely all other congregations have seen a loss of liao and votes.
Countering the Courage of the First Empress
If Golan attends Anvil to answer to the Inquisition then it may give the Synod the opportunity to have him tried on grounds of religious crimes. Golan has prepared the ground well for this eventuality - making clear to everyone who will listen that the Synod will attempt to punish him for revealing the truth about the Courage of the First Empress. Executing Golan will prevent him from further preaching but will likely only harden the hearts of his followers - and it seems incredibly unlikely that anything short of such an outcome is going to influence the hearts and minds of those citizens who have been caught up in the fervour of Golan's cause.
The civil service are unable to offer any advice at this time on what steps might be taken to specifically counter the influence of Yael, but given a day's notice they would be able to advise a member of the Synod of the possible implications of any judgement proposed by them.
However such a judgement would need to be clear and direct. Only if the General Assembly passes a judgement explicitly refuting the claim that the First Empress was an exemplar of Courage and names a priest to travel to Reikos with 50 liao, can they stop the Courage of the First Empress gaining any more recruits. To reverse the gains the Courage of the First Empress and restore the former status quo in the affected territories would require the above judgement refuting the claim of the First Empress' Courage and 150 liao.
Helping Golan or Yael
If the Courage Assembly passes a judgement supporting Golan's claims then the backing of the Synod will provide a boost to his efforts. If the Synod names a priest to travel to Highguard with 75 liao, then they can spread the effects of Golan's teaching to Sarvos, Tassato, Miaren, Morrow, Redoubt, Therunin, and Astolat.
If the General Assembly recognises the First Empress as an Exemplar of Courage, then the effects of Golan's teaching will automatically spread to Sarvos, Tassato, Miaren, Morrow, Redoubt, Therunin, and Astolat. The Courage assembly could then name a priest to use 75 liao to spread the effects even further to Semmerholm, Weirwater, Upwold, Temeschwar, Karov, Madruga, and Feroz.
Additionally if the General Assembly or the Council of Nine passes a judgement supporting Yael's claims to be the First Empress reborn then the impact of the Courage of the First Empress can be spread using only 50 liao.
It may be possible to spread the effects wider still later, once this is accomplished.
In the event that multiple incompatible judgements are passed, the judgement that has had the largest amount of liao spent on it takes precedence.
It is not possible to counter the effects of Yael or Golan without passing a judgement that clearly states either the First Empress was not an exemplar of Courage or at the very least that there is no evidence that she was.
Judgements already raised by the Synod
The following judgements of the Synod raised during the Winter Solstice 379YE relate to this event.
|7||General||Recognition. Escalation of Judgement 28 of Autumn Equinox 379YE. To recognise the First Empress as an Exemplar of Courage, predicated on her presence in the Imperial Liao Vision of Yael of the Golden Hostel. Benevolence: Forged the Imperial People. Legacy: Her crown and Empire. Salvation: Extended the writ of the Synod. Inspiration: Whenever you have striven for the Empire.||Tullius Cascade||Not upheld 210 - 372|
|8||Courage||Inquisition to call Golan of Reikos to stand before the justice of the Synod on charges of Blasphemy, Heresy and Idolatry. As author of the Recognition of the First Empress I request the opportunity. Inquisition to occur at the Spring Equinox 380YE.||Tullius Cascade||Upheld 150 - 0|
|29||Courage||The Assembly of Courage calls for a campaign of preaching in the territory of Reikos, teaching how the Virtue of Courage stands alongside the other Virtues as an inspiration against fear and ruin. The campaign will be led by Nina of Cantiarch's Hold and be supported by at least 25 vials of liao to inspire virtue through virtuous auras.||Nina||Upheld 142 - 0|
|43||Courage||Inquisition. Due to the death of Tullius Cascade, the Inquisition of Golan the Wander will be led by the Courage Assembly at the Spring Equinox 380YE.||Vitória Barossa di Tassato Regario||Upheld 118 - 0|
|44||General||Golan the Wanderer is false in his preaching that purifying the Empire to Courage will cause the First Empress to Return. We know this for I, Yael, am the First Empress returned from beyond the Labyrinth and reborn among the people of my Empire. I shall come among the Citizens of Reikos to tell them of my vision of the Labyrinth and of the Land Without Tears.||Yael of Felix's Watch||Upheld 295 - 20|
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