"Look - I'm as loyal to the Empire as the next man - but she's paying significantly less than a Throne and the Asaveans are paying significantly more...."

His voice trailed off as he stared at the immaculately dressed young girl sat in front of him. How in the name of all that was virtuous had he let himself get backed into this corner? His entire company was due to set sail in an hour and instead here he was explaining himself to this jumped up brat! She had some bloody nerve coming in here telling him what to do.

"You seem to have confused Loyalty with Prosperity... " She paused just enough to diminish the title before she finished. "Captain".

She spoke in a calm voice - like the Little Mother priest who had first taught him how to count. It struck him how ridiculous it was that a girl less than half his age was schooling him in his own business. Rigs was going to be standing guard for a month for letting this bloody woman in here.

"Yeah Prosperity - that's what I meant. We're fighting for the Asaveans and that's hard work and they're paying us and that's prosperous." He nodded his head up and down to add some emphasis and certainty to what he said. He was pretty sure he had the right virtue now, so hopefully that would shut her up.

It did not shut her up. "Prosperity teaches us to despise the thieving bandit and those who take without giving. There is no place for slavery in the Path of Prosperity... nor for those who support it. Prosperity is a Virtue, not a pile of gold."

The captain stared slack jawed at this woman. He wasn't sure but he thought she had just called him a thief. Incredible - here in his own tavern! Well, his brother's tavern technically - but it sort of belonged to the whole Free Company really.

"Look woman - what did you say your name was? Henrietta?"

"Bishop Henrietta" she corrected him.

"Right. Yes. Look - bishop. The law's on our side. The law says we can do as we please. No-one can stop us. My company can sail to Asavea and it's nobody's business but our own."

"That is almost correct captain. The law does grant you the right to serve the Asavean slavers if you choose. But when I publish my list of the activities of Holberg's Free Companies I believe you will find that your business is of interest to a great many people."

He stared at her... he'd badly underestimated this bishop - been too slow to see where all this was going but the threat was out in the open now, like a drawn blade. He leaned back in his chair so that his right hand naturally fell below the height of the table as he weighed his options. His eyes flicked left and right looking to see who else was in the tavern... and that's when he finally noticed that the two drunk bravos who had come in here with the bishop were now sober as a prince and had militia symbols hanging off their belts. No way they were wearing those openly when they came in... not even Rigs was that stupid...

He closed his eyes and silently cursed as the ring finally dropped.... Rigs was going to be standing guard for the rest of his bloody days.


The previous summit brought news of a new conflict in distant Asavea. Marracoss and Emphedor, two great provinces ruled by the Plenum in Nemoria had overthrown their satraps and declared themselves independent. The Asaveans had put out a call to all their allies, seeking to hire mercenaries to help them suppress the revolt and were offering a steep reward for anyone who would help them.

The response from the Empire was not uniformly positive - the Assembly of Nine provided clear guidance to every virtuous Imperial citizen unanimously calling on them to reject the Asavean offer. An even more inflammatory judgement by High Exorcist Solas that called on Imperial citizens to "aid the peoples of Marracoss and Emphedor in their struggle for liberty" was passed by the General Assembly but it failed to achieve a greater majority and its impact was muted as a result.

The judgements of the Synod have made much of the nature of the conflict, notably comparing it to the rebellion instigated by Thrace, the renowned orc exemplar of Ambition. The inference is that the war is one between the Asavean slavers and those who have rebelled against the chains forced on them. The Asaveans have disputed this version of events; while it is true that there are slaves in the Asavean Archipelago, they claim that their enemies are free people who have been seduced to violence and murder by the whispers of agents from the Sumaah Republic. According to them the agents have risen up and murdered their own leaders - and that the forces of Nemoria only seek to reimpose order.

The institution of slavery is a dark stain on the soul that will never wash clean. Every citizen should take arms in defence of those who fight against slavery against any who threaten it. We send Eska Crowspeaker with 150 doss of liao to tell every citizen of the Empire to reach out to help those who have been enslaved - all that is worthwhile is shared with those who deserve it.

General Assembly, Summers Solstice 382YE, Eska Crowspeaker, Upheld 1330-200

Quite what role slavery plays in the Asavean conflict may yet prove critical. The General Assembly recently sent Eska Crowspeaker to spread a mandate encouraging all Imperial citizens to take arms in defence of those who fight against slavery against any who threaten it. As a result many Imperial citizens will not wait for further guidance, but are likely to instead reach out immediately to aid and protect any slaves they discover who are in need of help.

The Temple in Nemoria

The Empire does not have a significant official presence in the Archipelago, but it does have the Temple of the Way in Nemoria. The Temple was established a few years ago, as part of an agreement between the Empire and the Asaveans that allowed them to build their own Temple in the Brass Coast. Since then there has been a small but steady interest in the Way from Asavean citizens, though that has been hampered by recent decisions to recruit and train only those priests that have been selected and approved by an Imperial priest appointed by the Synod.

Now the Temple finds itself at something of a cross-roads. They could follow the instructions of the Imperial Synod and reach out to the enemies of the Plenum - of the Asavean government - and offer them what help and support they can. If it was clear that the armed uprising consisted of slaves fighting off their oppressors then that would certainly be inline with the recent Synod mandate urging every citizen to action. The priests claim they are prevaricating because the nature of the conflict is not entirely clear, but it seems just as likely that their judgement is being influenced by the reality of their situation.


It would certainly be a very bold decision... it is one thing for citizens backed by the armies of the Empire to take a stand against slavery. It is quite another for a small group of Imperial priests many thousands of miles away from the Empire to speak out against the government of the nation that hosts them. Doing so would categorically cause a major international incident; the Plenum would be furious and those who have argued that the Temple of the Way exists purely to spread sedition among Asavean slaves would have claim that the act proved they were right all along. It is not clear what reaction the Plenum might take, but the safety of the priests of the Temple cannot be guaranteed.

But adherents of the Way are taught the importance of Pride and Courage and these priests are prepared to do what must be done. They would just prefer a little guidance and support from the Synod before they start a war between Asavea and the Empire. But if the General Assembly, the Assembly of Nine, or the Assembly of the Way passed the following mandate then the Temple of the Way in Nemoria would act accordingly.

The cruelty of the slavery has brought the Asavean Archipelago to the brink of open rebellion. We send named priest with 25 liao to call on all slaves to break their chains and take up weapons and fight with the peoples of Marracoss and Emphedor to achieve freedom by any means possible.

Synod Mandate


There is an alternative to be considered. The Asaveans state that those who have rebelled against the governments are anarchists and murderers. It is true that they have overthrown and slaughtered the satraps of Marracoss and Emphedor, brutally murdering many priests and others along the way. The Plenum claims that they have been manipulated by Sumash agents to turn them against their own rulers and to spread dissent in Asavea. The priests of the Temple could call on followers of the Way to seek to resolve their difficulties without resorting to violence. The General Assembly, Assembly of the Nine, or the Assembly of the Way could pass the following mandate to encourage the faithful to seek a more peaceful solution

The false virtue of Anarchy must be resisted at all costs. Asaveans should find ways to resolve their differences without resort to violence and murder. We send named priest with 25 liao to call on all Asaveans to be Vigilant against any foreign influence; to put aside their differences and seek a Wise settlement that ensures the Prosperity of all.

Synod Mandate

Whatever happens, the Plenum will have no alternative now but to use force to put down the uprising in Marracoss and Emphedor. But a statement like this would certainly be very well received by the Asavean government, providing a significant boost to relations between the Empire and Asavea. It would make it difficult for the Synod to interfere in support of any future rebellions, but it would also make it much more difficult for the Sumaah to gain any influence over the people of Nemoria.

The Senate will assume responsibility for relations with other nations...

The Imperial Constitution


The Imperial Constitution makes clear that the Imperial Senate has final responsibility for relations with other nations. The Senate appoints the Ambassador to Asavea and the law is clear that only that individual has the authority to receive delegations and to negotiate formal treaties. As a result most nations base their assessment of the Empire on the words and actions of the relevant Imperial ambassador.

However by constructing a large Temple in Nemoria, the Senate has effectively delegated some of that authority to the Synod. The Temple has slowly grown in influence in Nemoria, but the priests of the Temple answer to the Synod, not to the Senate. The result is that there are limited options now available to the Senate to reassert their authority in this matter. They cannot pass laws to prevent mandates, nor limit what sermons priests may preach. Only the Throne or the Imperial Senate can declare war on another nation - but they cannot legally prevent Imperial citizens from words or deeds that will provoke another nation to declare war on the Empire.

Ultimately the only obvious way that the Senate could regain control of this situation would be to abrogate the motion that commissioned the Temple in the first place. Doing so would see the temple building torn down or disposed of and the Imperial priests recalled to the Empire. It would mean the end of any practical attempt to spread the Way to Asavea for the time being - but it would be the best way to ensure that the words of the Ambassdor to Asavea and the motions of the Imperial Senate were what determined relations with Asavea for the foreseeable future.

Our great constitution states that: "The Synod will ensure the behaviour of individual citizens does not debase the Empire." Crushing a slave rebellion would be an act that debases our Empire. Imperial military captains should not aid Asavean forces in this matter.

Assembly of Nine, Summers Solstice 382YE, Imperatrix Lisabetta von Holberg, Upheld 9-0


The Assembly of Nine have not been silent on the matter of the Asavean uprising and the riches offered by the Plenum to Imperial captains prepared to fight for them. No less a person than the Imperatrix herself has stated in unequivocal terms that crushing a slave rebellion is an act that debases the Empire - a choice of words that seems to resonate beyond just the current situation. In case the guidance was not clear enough, the Empress stated finally that no Imperial citizen should aid Asavean forces in this matter.

Of course if the Plenum weren't offering a heavy bounty to every captain prepared to fight for them - significantly in excess of the Imperial Guerdon - then the Assembly of Nine probably wouldn't have needed to issue such firm guidance on the subject. But as Empress Varkula once noted "Money cannot buy Loyalty - but those without it are always for sale". The Imperatrix is already considered one of the most eloquent thrones of the age, but money also talks.

For as long as the Plenum continues to offer a rich purse to any Imperial captain who chooses to fight for them, then as sure as day follows night some will take them up on their offer. It seems that there is no legal way to prevent citizens from fighting for the Asaveans short of declaring them barbarians. In response to a letter querying the matter, one of the older members of the constitutional court stated that the Constitution guarantees "dignity, freedom, and prosperity" to every citizen. The Empire may urge Virtue upon all its citizens... but it may not demand it.

However, a young bishop of the League in the Assembly of Vigilance, has proposed a response. Henrietta von Holberg is an ambitious young priest who claims to be inspired by the Imperatrix and who has recently become one of the youngest bishops in the city. She has proposed that the words of the Throne might ring more loudly in the ears of Imperial captains if the names of those unvirtuous souls intending to fight in service to the Plenum were more widely known. It is doubtful that the Senate has a way to set a watch on every Imperial military captain - but the Assembly of Vigilance certainly could.

Henrietta will not be present in Anvil this summit but she has asked those who do attend the Empress to consider the following proposed mandate.

The Assembly of Nine have made the only Virtuous response to Asavea abundantly clear. We send (named priest) with 50 liao to urge every Vigilant pilgrim to take notice of those citizens whose virtue is lacking. Let us provide the Cardinal of Vigilance and the Imperatrix with the names of every citizen who chose to turn aside from the Way.

Imperial Synod Mandate

If this mandate is endorsed by the General Assembly or by the Assembly of Vigilance then Henrietta and her fellow priests will compile a list with the name, banner, and nation of every Imperial captain who takes service with the Asaveans in defiance of the Throne. That means that if 50 liao is used to spread this mandate in the season following the summit, then the identity of any captains who choose to fight in Asavea during the coming season (and in future) will be forwarded to the Imperatrix and the Cardinal.