Weak and idle theme
Ahra shook her head, eyes wide.
"The boy looked the magistrate right in the eye and said 'The law shouldn't prevent you doing what is right!'"
The little girl gasped.
"And then the boy said 'These people are just like us, and one day they will be just as free as all the rest of us. One day everyone will be free, and when that day comes it will be because people like me refused to look away when they knew what the right thing to do was!"
"And the magistrates were chastened, and they bowed their heads, and they apologised to the boy and sent him on his way. And do you know who that boy grew up to be? Can you guess?"
Ahra shook her head again, her face solemn.
"Why he grew up to be Emperor Ahraz, your father's great-grandmother's brother, the very man you are named in honour of!"
Little Ahra clapped her hands and grinned, and snuggled close to her uncle and said "I hope one day I'll be as brave as that boy," and within five minutes was asleep. Efra waited until he was sure she was fast asleep and gently laid her in her bed, tucking the covers under his chin, and kissed her softly on the forehead before heading back into the other room.
"You'll get into trouble," said Madame Lupita. His wife gave him a disapproving look as he sat down opposite her. He spread his hands, shrugged his shoulders.
"Why? It's more or less the story from the book, and it was the Cardinal of Pride herself who had it so its probably not made up. And Ahraz was recognised for his Courage, and they don't say that the vision wasn't of him do they? It's obviously what happened. And if I added a few extra bits and pieces... she's young. She's not going to get inspired by a story that ends with wrangling about legal technicalities and fines and what have you."
"Well you're filling your niece's head with the idea that you can do the right thing and get away with it and we know where that ends." Efra turned his head slightly, wincing. She'd spoken more sharply than she intended.
"Maybe you're right," he said sadly. She knew then he was thinking of Kieva, drowned when the Grendel burnt the shipyards. She half hoped the silly old stories were true, and he was a dolphin now. He'd like being a dolphin, from what she knew of him.
Madame Lupita put her book aside, and knelt beside her husband.
"No I'm not right and you know it. It's just been a long day. Let's finish off the peaches and go to bed. I'm just worrying about things. There's something in the air, I think."
"I know what you mean," said Efra sadly. Then he brightened up. "On the other hand, how wonderful would it be if our little Ahra grew up to be Empress of the entire Empire? She could tell everyone it was the stories her uncle used to tell her when he was tucking her into bed each night that inspired her Courage and Ambition and what not. Your husband could be a footnote in a historical research document one day!""My Pride overwhelms me," said Lupita, deadpan.
The brutal attack by the Iron Confederacy carried out against the Suranni rebels who were sheltering in Feroz has caused significant concern across the Brass Coast. Initially these concerns were expressed by the Zemress Islanders, the descendants of the Freeborn paragon Zemress who were rescued by the Empire and have chosen to settle in Segura. But in the face of two competing mandates issued by the Imperial Synod, interest in the issue is beginning to spread and more and more Freeborn are questioning the situation.
Strive, toil, and claim the just rewards of your labours.The Virtue of Prosperity
The Zemress Islanders are not just devout followers of the Way - they are also passionately devoted to the ideals of abolition and emphatically opposed to slavery. As such they have taken a rather black and white approach to the problem, viewing the Iron Confederacy as immoral slavers and their enemies as praiseworthy - fighting to overthrow an un-virtuous regime. They are particularly unhappy that the Confederacy was allowed to bring armies into Feroz and enslave their enemies in full view of everyone. Some have gone so far as to openly questioned whether they have made some terrible mistake in coming here.
Some of their concerns were for themselves. Having fled the threat of enslavement at the hands of the Grendel, they were deeply worried that they faced the same danger from a new source. But these are deeply religious people - profoundly spiritual in nature - the key part of their concern was the ethics of what had taken place, not the risks to themselves.
The Freeborn National Assembly has spoken clearly on this first concern unanimously passing a definitive statement of principle assuring the Islanders that they need not fear enslavement by the Suranni.
The rebels of the Iron Confederacy were heretics and bandits, who were offered refuge but refused and decided to use our territories as a base for their raids. Their treatment does not set a precedent for the treatment of Zemress settlers.The Freeborn Assembly, Immeldar i Ezmara i Erigo, Spring Equinox 382YE, Upheld 86 - 0 Greater Majority
The only flaw in this statement is the claim that the rebels of the Iron Confederacy were offered refuge but refused it. A few discreet enquiries have been made with the civil service trying to find out when this offer was made and by whom. The principle that the Empire should immediately offer succour to any escaped slaves who make it to these lands is one the Zemress Islanders are keen on.
Unfortunately the judgement of the Pride Assembly is also unanimous and far more damning in it assessment of what has taken place.
It is an insult to the Pride of the Empire to allow slaves to be taken on Imperial soil. Whatever the legal technicalities, this was the consequence of allowing forces from the Iron Confederacy to assault the group of rebel slaves this season. We must do better than this.Pride Assembly, Daniel of Jeremiah’s Welcome, Spring Equinox 382YE, Upheld 237 - 0 Greater Majority
The followers of Zemress are more reassured by the Statement passed by the Assembly of Pride. When they lived alone on the Isle of Zemress, they had largely abandoned the other six virtues in favour of Prosperity alone. With Imperial assistance, they have accepted that they should return to the practice of all seven - but it is statements like this that reassure them that they have made the right decision. But it does cause the islanders to question why the Freeborn assembly are not taking a similar stand against the evils of slavery...
Despise those who take without giving.The Virtue of Prosperity
Inspired by Daniel's words the impassioned Zemress Islanders take their concerns to their neighbours. The followers of Zemress point out that the inhabitants of the Brass Coast call themselves the Free-born. The Islanders have always believed that the idea of freedom is central to their spirit as a people. Indeed they are at pains to remind people that it was the Freeborn who ensured that slavery was outlawed when the Empire was formed by the First Empress. It wasn't the Highborn or any other nation who insisted that slavery would not be tolerated - it was the Freeborn that demanded it. The right of beings to live free was the great gift that the Freeborn gave the Empire - something they feel every Freeborn should be immeasurably proud of.
When they talk to the Freeborn inhabitants of Segura about these matters, it is clear that some of them share their concerns. Their neighbours are not slow to relate that the Brass Coast has been instrumental in banning slavery in the Empire not once... but twice. The Islanders know the stories of the founding of the Empire but they were previously unaware of the recent history of the Empire - and the role played by Emperor Ahraz in ending the orc rebellion and extending emancipation to all inhabitants of the Empire - not just the humans.
In fact Idailio i López i Guerra, a rather bookish and well-read Sutanir notes that according to the accounts of past life visions published by Livia of the Celestial Cascade and Rodric Worldscribe, Elka Gremani had a vision of encountering a young Freeborn youth called Ahraz who had been found guilty of breaking the law by freeing a pair of orc slaves. It's clear that the individual in the vision was already determined to free what slaves he could. It's a little fanciful to imagine that this vision was of a young Emperor Ahraz - but you can't prove it wasn't, and Ahraz was not exactly a common name sixty years ago... It would certainly cast the events of the rebellion and the Emperors negotiation with Thrace and the rebels in a very different light if Ahraz had been intent on emancipation all along.
Even if that were true, Empeor Ahraz is just one figure in Freeborn history. However what can't be denied is that slaves are just about the only thing that the Freeborn are known to never buy or sell. In the Brass Coast you can put a price on almost anything, except that. Many Freeborn are intensely proud of their reputation as a people who do not hold with slavery and who take no part in the trade even when overseas. Normally they would put the words of their own assembly before any other, but the words of the Pride Assembly resonate so much more that people are openly questioning what is to be done.
No one knows what the morrow holdsThe Virtue of Prosperity
The Suranni have all been dragged in chains back to the Iron Confederacy. There is no point now crying over torn sails - what is vital now is to do as the Pride Assembly encourages and make sure that something like this never happens again.
Zemress, the great paragon of Prosperity, did not just teach the importance of hard work and investment - she also believed passionately in the importance of taking-up of arms to defend what is yours. Working with their neighbours, the Islanders formulate a plan that they believe would make Zemress proud. The Assembly of Nine passed a statement of principle encouraging people to reach out to the Suranni slaves, but their camp was wiped out before anyone had a chance to act on that. If there was any other offer of help for the slaves made by the Senate or the Synod, the Islanders are unaware of it.
So then - in future why wait for Senate to speak? It takes half a year for the Synod to pass a statement and a mandate. Too long! What does it mean to be Freeborn? The Freeborn philosophy is that society is best served when every individual is responsible for themselves and to themselves. So then - let no-one wait for orders - let the Coast take up arms in defence of freedom whenever it is needed.
The institution of slavery is a dark stain on the soul that will never wash clean. Every citizen should take up arms in defense of those who fight against slavery against any who threaten it. We send XX with 50 doses of liao to tell every citizen of the Brass Coast to reach out to help those who have been enslaved - all that is worthwhile is shared with those who deserve it.Synod Mandate
The civil service advice that if this mandate were passed by the Freeborn National Assembly or by the Pride Assembly then it would have an immediate impact on the Freeborn populace across the entire Brass Coast. As a result the population would not wait for further guidance, but would instead reach out immediately to aid and protect any slaves who came across the border. It is impossible to be certain on the full effects, but by way of example, if such a mandate had been in place recently, then the population would have formed up to try and fight off the Duke of Kalino and his forces when they attacked the slaves camp.
Alternatively the General Assembly or the Assembly of the Nine could pass a similar worded mandate (replacing "Brass Coast" with "Empire") authorizing a priest to use 150 doses of liao to take the message to every nation in the Empire.