(The Journey of the Mind)
(The Journey of the Mind)
 
Line 91: Line 91:
 
'''Ortenzia di Sarvos''' has suggested an alternative mandate.
 
'''Ortenzia di Sarvos''' has suggested an alternative mandate.
  
{{mandate|assembly=Assembly of Nine or General Assembly|mandate=The Imperatrix called on all her subjects to consider undertaking a pilgramage - either physical, mental, or spiritual. We send {named priest} with 50 liao to urge every citizen who is able to commit themselves to a pilgrimage of dreaming, to reveal the truths found in their own soul and beyond.}}
+
{{mandate|assembly=Assembly of Nine or General Assembly|mandate=The Imperatrix called on all her subjects to consider undertaking a pilgrimage - either physical, mental, or spiritual. We send {named priest} with 50 liao to urge every citizen who is able to commit themselves to a pilgrimage of dreaming, to reveal the truths found in their own soul and beyond.}}
  
This mandate will encourage citizens to seek out methods that will allow them to experience visionary dreams, whether that be rituals such as [[Dreams in the Witch House]] or [[Signs and Portents]], or potions such as [[Infusions_of_Feathers#Goosewhisper_Infusion|Goosewhisper Infusion]]. While they do so, it will be harder for the Imperial Synod to influence people with statements of principle as citizens would be seeking their own revelations rather than listening to the Synod as much.
+
This mandate will encourage citizens to seek out methods that will allow them to experience visionary dreams, whether that be rituals such as [[Dreams in the Witch House]] or [[Signs and Portents]], or potions such as [[Infusions_of_Feathers#Goosewhisper_Infusion|Goosewhisper Infusion]]. While they do so, it will be harder for the Imperial Synod to influence people with statements of principle as citizens would be seeking their own revelations rather than listening to the Synod as much. The revelations these citizens are exposed to would urge some of them to take action however - creating a number of opportunities and proposals at the WInter solstice based on their visionary experiences.
 +
 
 +
Finally, '''Benedict Pacelli Von Holberg''' suggested a different alternative.
 +
 
 +
{{mandate|assembly=Assembly of Nine or General Assembly|mandate=The Imperatrix called on all citizens to consider undertaking a pilgrimage - either physical, mental, or spiritual. We send {named priest} with 50 liao to urge every citizen, who is able, to commit themselves to a pilgrimage of spiritual discovery through the dreams and visions granted by liao. Citizens should be exhorted to help source, cultivate and distribute liao for this purpose.}}
 +
 
 +
If this mandate were enacted, it would encourage Imperial citizens to gather liao, seek out priests, and experience [[Dedication#Dreams|liao dreams]] in pursuit of their own revelation. Guided by their priests, many of them would gain insight into their path in life, and make significant decisions about how to proceed with their lives. Others would be inspired with proposals that represented their new insight into the virtues and their role within the faith. This would create a number of opportunities and proposals based on their liao visions at the Winter Solstice.
  
 
===The Journey of the Body===
 
===The Journey of the Body===

Latest revision as of 10:39, 11 September 2019

"Much more than just a mask friends, this priceless doll was touched by the Imperatrix' own hand and received her blessing. See how she smiles down on you all, her beloved citizens gathered before her. Now watch her expression carefully..."

Berend slid his hand in front of the small manikin he was holding up, concealing it from view for the briefest of moments - just long enough to swap it with it's near identical twin. The crowd gasped as the new manikin came into view, utterly unaware of the montebanc's art.

"See! Now she looks down with stern disapproval... what can have changed her demeanour? There must be one among you with unvirtuous thoughts... Someone has displeased the Empress!" Heads in the crowd swivelled left and right, seeking to find the miscreant who have offended the tiny Imperatrix but not revealed themselves.

"For less than a crown, you could own this miraculous replica, touched with the very same magic that imbues the Frieze itself." He turned and gesticulated boldly to draw the crowd's attention to the great work. Right on cue, there were more gasps of astonishment. Berend had a pretty fair idea what half of them were seeing right now. It worked every time, tell people that someone was thinking unvirtuous thoughts, and then get them all to look up at the Frieze. It was a better bet than backing a greyhound hopped up on bite that half a dozen of them would be seeing the Empress of Flowers glowering at them.

And boy she could glower! Even with his back to the Frieze it felt like those eyes were boring into his skull. He rubbed the back of his head self-consciously and tried to ignore it.

"Now - this is a unique replica - so I can't let it go cheap. But just think of how you could benefit from having the insight and wisdom of the Imperatrix in your own business! So who'll give me six rings for it?" A hand at the back shot up - an excellent start. "Six rings to the gentleman in the fine purple and gold waffenrock. Now do I hear seven rings?"

Lisabetta and Juha.jpg
On the last night of the Summer Solstice, Lisabetta Giacomi von Holberg, the Imperatrix and her husband Juha, the Imperial Magus disappeared from their chambers. They have not been seen since.

Overview

On the second night of the Summer Solstice, Lisabetta Giacomi von Holberg, the Imperatrix, and Juha, the Cave Spider, the Imperial Magus, disappeared. By all accounts they retired for the evening shortly after midnight, but by the morning there was no sign of either of them. No-one saw them leave their quarters and no-one has seen hide or hair of them since.

The magistrates are conducting an investigation into the disappearance, to try to establish the cause. Rumours are rife, but there are few publicly revealed facts at present. The one thing that is known for certain is that the egregores of both the League and Varushka have confirmed that they can no longer sense either the Imperial Magus or the Throne - and neither can the egregores of any of the other Imperial nations. That could mean that either or both are dead - but it could also be simply that their bond to their respective nations has been broken.

No-one can yet say for sure what their final fate may be but there is growing concern in some parts of the Empire. Will the great plan to fortify the territories of the Bay of Catazar be completed without an Empress to pay for it? The Throne was a staunch supporter of the Urizen military; who now will champion their cause to the Empire when they are threatened on two fronts?

The biggest concern comes from the Mournwold. The Imperatrix enjoyed unexpected popularity here, with a widespread view that her involvement was pivotal in the development and fortification of the Mourn following the rout of the Jotun. Crucially, many common Marchers regarded the Throne as the last line of defence protecting them from the depredations of the Military Council. How long will curses like Rivers Run Red remain interdicted if she is gone?

Constitutional Ruling

After careful deliberation, the Constitutional Court have confirmed that both the Throne and the Magus must be legally considered to either be dead or to have resigned their positions. While their friends and allies hope that both Lisabetta and Juha will yet be found alive, the fact that their connection to their nations' egregore is broken, and they are not connected to any other Imperial egregore, means that legally speaking neither individual is considered to be a living citizen of the Empire.

In simple terms, either they are dead, or something has happened that has caused them to cease to be Imperial citizens. In either case they are not eligible to hold any Imperial title.

The Court are at pains to emphasise that this ruling is not reversible even if either individual returned. In both cases their tenures as Throne and Imperial Magus have come to an end; if either person returned to the Empire then they would have no claim on the titles they formerly held. They could only resume these positions if legally elected to them once more.

As such, both the titles of Imperial Magus and the Throne are now vacant and may be elected as normal.

Her Lasting Legacy

With confirmation of the end of the reign of Imperatrix Lisabetta, thoughts are already turning to her legacy. Although there is no body, some consideration must be given to a tomb or memorial, what form it will take and perhaps more importantly where. At the same time the Synod has an opportunity to address the matter of the Empress's reign and her legacy with an opportunity to remind the citizens of the Empire of the most important achievement of the last few years.

Finally, the constitutional court have considered a number of issues arising from the rule of the Imperatrix, and issued guidance on these matters going forwards.

Resting Place

By tradition, the bodies of those who have occupied the Throne are interred in tombs constructed in the Necropolis, the legendary resting place of the greatest heroes of the Empire. In this case, a tomb may not be entirely appropriate, there is no body and indeed it remains a distinct possibility that the Imperatrix and her consort still live. This is not the first time a Throne has disappeared without trace however, Empress Mariika walked into Sydanjaa in 234YE. Her reign is memorialised by a trio of white granite pillars in ancient Highborn city of the dead.

It is customary when a Throne dies to argue about how and where they should be memorialised. Although the overwhelming majority of Thrones have a tomb or memorial to commemorate their life in the Necropolis, this is a tradition, not a legal requirement. The legal path is for the Imperial Senate to commission a folly whose size and grandeur befits the great achievements of the Throne. The amount of white granite planned as well as the location would normally be stated in the senate motion, although it is not strictly legally necessary to do so, and in recent times the Senate is often indifferent to such matters. Whichever senator raises the motion will get to determine the design of the tomb or memorial along with any other necessary details which have been omitted.

Perhaps more crucial than the size, which often comes down to a question of cost and who will foot the bill, is the location. The first instinct of many citizens is to demand that the Throne be buried in their home nation. In this case many League citizens see the Imperatrix as one of their own and take the view that now is the time for them to come home. It is undeniable that the Empress enjoyed a close relationship with her home city of Holberg and some inhabitants of the city are keen to see her remembered there. Katarzyna Von Carstein, the famous architect who designed the Holberg Park has offered to design a great park built around a beautiful white stone pavilion befitting a Throne that was crowned the Empress of Flowers. The plan is ambitious however, requiring 50 wains of weirwood and 25 wains of white granite. It would need a Senate commission, but the labour costs would be provided by patriotic volunteers from Holberg and Dawn.

On consideration however, many people come to the conclusion that the Necropolis is the right place for the memorial. It is not simply a matter of tradition, though that is important. Not just Emperors and Empresses are interred here - the city is the resting place of many of the Empire's greatest heroes. Those who take pilgrimage to Bastion usually try to visit the Necropolis so that they gaze upon the final resting place of the most inspiring figures in Imperial legend and history. It is an extraordinary honour for any citizen of the Empire to end their days here - it demonstrates unequivocally that your deeds have marked you as one of the greatest, most virtuous, human beings who ever lived. Of course it is understandable that the people of Holberg would want the Imperatrix's tomb to be in the city - but do they really want to deny one of the greatest human beings who ever lived the honour of being memorialised alongside their peers?

The Custodes Clavium have offered to design an impressive tower fashioned entirely from 50 wains of white granite. The tower's appearance would be elegant but defensible, a nod to the great achievement of the Empress in fortifying the southern territories of the Empire. It would rise up to tower over the city, allowing those who climbed the 189 steps to share some portion of her great vision. It would need a Senate motion, 50 wains of white granite and 100 crowns to construct, but the efforts of the Custodes mean that that this work would not count as one of the twelve commissions that the civil service can support each summit.

Of course there is no limit to how many memorials might be constructed in her memory, but tradition dictates that the Imperial Senate be responsible for choosing a single location for the official memorial. As recent events with Empress Britta showed, attempts to split the honour between multiple locations produce only confusion and disappointment for all parties.

The Imperial Offices

The first act of the Imperatrix after her election in Spring 380YE was the establishment of the Imperial Offices. The Empress’s stated motivation for founding the Imperial Offices was to ensure a single central location at Anvil where citizens with knowledge pertinent to the Throne’s responsibilities could share that information with those who needed to use it. In practice the offices saw widespread use by the Assembly of Nine, the Imperial Consul and the Ambassadors, and a number of other prominent citizens and title-holders who were close to the Throne.

As things stand, if a new Throne were elected, then they would assume responsibility for the Offices, and be the beneficiaries of the support they provide. In the absence of a sitting Throne, it is less clear what function the offices will serve, though it is clear that they could continue to provide an important location for cardinals, ambassadors and others to carry out their business.

Since the Offices were established by Senate motion, they can only be formally disestablished by an act of abrogation by the Imperial Senate. Legally, that means the offices will continue to endure in perpetuity unless the Senate choose to abolish them. However the civil service note that there is only very limited space in Anvil; at present the two viable locations are taken by the Imperial Offices and the Anvil Library. While the offices continue to serve as an important meeting place for notable citizens then the offices will remain in their current location. If it becomes clear that usage of the offices has significantly declined in the absence of the Imperatrix then they will be moved further from their current privileged location in the centre of Anvil.

The Chamberlain

As the Imperial Offices developed in importance, the Imperatrix appointed a number of citizens to act as her chamberlains. As of Spring 382YE, the two senior advisors were Master Chamberlain Severin Teyhard von Holberg of the League and Madame Chamberlain Kellua Itsepainen of Wintermark. These de facto titles were not created by Senate motion, so they have no formal legal powers and are not considered Imperial titles. None-the-less, the chamberlain of the Imperial Offices was an important position in practice and played a significant role in the business of the Empire.

During the Imperatrix's reign, the Chamberlain played a decisive role in examining Senate motions before they came to the floor of the Senate, seeking to ensure alignment with the Imperatrix's desire to benefit the Empire overall. One option that the Imperial Senate could take to ensure the viability of the Imperial Offices and continue the Imperatrix's legacy is to consider making the Chamberlain an Imperial title. The chamberlain could serve the Throne when appointed, or it could offer advice and support to the Senate during an interregnum.

There are a number of legal powers that might be relevant to the title, depending on what responsibilities if any the Senate sought to give the position. The most obvious would be to make the Chamberlain a Member of the Senate, but that would require the removal of an existing member first and ratification.

Given the existing history of the position, it would be appropriate to give the title responsibility for the Imperial Offices. This would clarify the existence and purpose of the offices in the absence of a Throne.

Her Greatest Achievement

The Imperatrix's reign was punctuated by many important achievements. She was a noted constitutional scholar whose studies of Imperial governance led her to create the Imperial Offices and appoint chamberlains to help improve the administration of the Empire. She was clearly driven by strong humanitarian impulses; she used her ascension address to instruct citizens to seek out ways to reduce the blood price of the Empire's wars, resulting in the development of new strategies of war intended to minimise the loss of life. Although the negotiations were carried out by Ianthe Ravenswatch and Eska Crowspeaker, it is impossible to imagine that the Liberty Pact could ever have been signed without the active support of the Throne.

It is impossible to list every significant development of her reign, but just as her ascension to the Throne brought an opportunity to focus minds and encourage civic duty, so the end of her reign presents a similar chance. If the General Assembly of the Imperial Synod can agree a statement of principle that clearly identifies what Empress Lisabetta's greatest accomplishment was and why with a greater majority then that message will be communicated to every congregation in the Empire. Citizens will take that message on board and seek to emulate the example set by the Imperatrix. It is impossible what the outcome will be - that will depend utterly on whatever achievement the Synod choose to single out and why - but it will create an opportunity to capitalise on her deeds, provided the statement is clear and well focused. For the sake of clarity, any such statement of principle should begin with some version of "The greatest achievement of Imperatrix Lisabetta was..."

If the General Assembly cannot agree what her single greatest accomplishment was before the end of the next summit - or if they pass a statement that lists multiple different accomplishments - then this opportunity will be lost.

Pilgrimage takes us on a journey to the heart of our Imperial faith. I ask citizens of the Empire to consider whether they should undertake pilgrimage - in the understanding that this may take many forms whether of the body, mind, or spirit, unique to each person's path of virtue. I ask this, that we may, as an Enlightened Empire, find new insights to help us overcome our many challenges. As the Throne, I commit myself to undertake a pilgrimage of Wisdom.

Empress Lisabetta von Holberg, Assembly of Nine, Summer Solstice 383YE, Upheld (6-0)


Her Final Address

As one of her last acts, the Empress granted the right to address the Empire to Gabriel Barossa, General of the Wolves of War. However shortly before she disappeared, she submitted a judgement to the Assembly of Nine which passed with a greater majority. In the judgement, the Empress asked citizens to consider undertaking a pilgrimage - either physical, mental, or spiritual. As with any statement of principle that passes the Assembly of Nine with a greater majority, the wording was communicated to every congregation in the Empire. As a result many people are already referring to the judgement as her final address.

This judgement, this final address, has created a renewed interest in pilgrimage among the most virtuous citizens of the Empire. Of course the subject is already of great interest in Highguard, where the creation of the Grey Pilgrims has seen a great swathe of the Highborn citizens commit themselves to a lifetime of pilgrimage on the trods. But the words of the Empress invoke interest across the Empire. People are inspired by the idea of seeking new insights and give new consideration to the notion of a pilgrimage that is more than a simple physical journey.

Many of those who have been moved by the Empress final words will find inspiration on their own, but there is an opportunity for the General Assembly or the Assembly of Nine to endorse up to three mandates to provide a focus for the interest of the pilgrims. If the Synod can find a mandate whose goal suitably embodies the ideals outlined in the final address then that will rally people in support of the outlined goal. Whatever happens, the Synod must be decisive, a mandate will only be effective if it is passed at the forthcoming summit and then endorsed immediately afterwards - otherwise the opportunity will be lost.

The Journey of the Mind

One suggestion the civil service have examined is to focus the efforts of those pilgrims who a seek a mental journey designed to bring insight and new understanding.

The Imperatrix called on all her subjects to consider undertaking a pilgrimage - either physical, mental, or spiritual. We send {named priest} with 50 liao to urge every citizen who is able to devote themselves to a pilgrimage of investigation and study to discover what we can about {named subject}.

Synod Mandate, Assembly of Nine or General Assembly


This mandate shown opposite would encourage all citizens to consider the idea of a mental pilgrimage, by devoting themselves to do everything they can to look into the named subject. Pilgrims would seek out aged texts and study historical records looking for new insight and knowledge. The cumulative impact of this effort would be equivalent to a single piece of historical research. The results would be compiled and presented to the named priest who spread the mandate before being widely published.

Ortenzia di Sarvos has suggested an alternative mandate.

The Imperatrix called on all her subjects to consider undertaking a pilgrimage - either physical, mental, or spiritual. We send {named priest} with 50 liao to urge every citizen who is able to commit themselves to a pilgrimage of dreaming, to reveal the truths found in their own soul and beyond.

Synod Mandate, Assembly of Nine or General Assembly


This mandate will encourage citizens to seek out methods that will allow them to experience visionary dreams, whether that be rituals such as Dreams in the Witch House or Signs and Portents, or potions such as Goosewhisper Infusion. While they do so, it will be harder for the Imperial Synod to influence people with statements of principle as citizens would be seeking their own revelations rather than listening to the Synod as much. The revelations these citizens are exposed to would urge some of them to take action however - creating a number of opportunities and proposals at the WInter solstice based on their visionary experiences.

Finally, Benedict Pacelli Von Holberg suggested a different alternative.

The Imperatrix called on all citizens to consider undertaking a pilgrimage - either physical, mental, or spiritual. We send {named priest} with 50 liao to urge every citizen, who is able, to commit themselves to a pilgrimage of spiritual discovery through the dreams and visions granted by liao. Citizens should be exhorted to help source, cultivate and distribute liao for this purpose.

Synod Mandate, Assembly of Nine or General Assembly


If this mandate were enacted, it would encourage Imperial citizens to gather liao, seek out priests, and experience liao dreams in pursuit of their own revelation. Guided by their priests, many of them would gain insight into their path in life, and make significant decisions about how to proceed with their lives. Others would be inspired with proposals that represented their new insight into the virtues and their role within the faith. This would create a number of opportunities and proposals based on their liao visions at the Winter Solstice.

The Journey of the Body

While it might be appealing to encourage people to walk the trods as the Navarr do, the rebuke of the Grey Pilgrims encouraged by the Synod means there is little interest in joining the fight against the vallorn at present. But pilgrims could be encouraged to travel to the farthest reaches of the Empire and even beyond in search of inspiration.

The Imperatrix called on all her subjects to consider undertaking a pilgrimage - either physical, mental, or spiritual. We send {named priest} with 50 liao to urge every citizen who is able to devote themselves to a pilgrimage of travel and exploration following the trods to {named territory}.

Synod Mandate, Assembly of Nine or General Assembly


This mandate would encourage pilgrims to travel the trods to one of the far flung territories on the edge of the Empire and potentially beyond. If the Synod named one of the threatened territories on the Empire's periphery, then pilgrims would travel there. While such a journey would be dangerous, those pilgrims who returned would inevitably bring valuable information of use to the Military Council. The existence of any opportunity would be published widely with any specific details compiled and presented to the named priest who spread the mandate. Any territory that was in conflict could be picked, even if it was not controlled by the Empire, provided that the territory had an active trod network.

An obvious alternative however would be send to pilgrims to the holy city of Timoj in Sumaah. This is much more risky - these pilgrims would be exposed to the powerful faith of the Sumaash people. At the very least, this would present an opportunity for the faithful of the Empire and the faithful of Sumaah to mingle and could in theory lead to an increased understanding. Or possibly a disastrous deterioration of the current situation. It's impossible to say for sure.

A further alternative is that proposed as part of the appraisal prepared by Graciana i Lopez i Guerra, detailed as part of the five year plan to encourage the faithful to use the trods to perform extended pilgrimages.

The Journey of the Soul

Perhaps the most difficult journey is that of the soul. The path of Wisdom holds great appeal to those that can complete the journey but many struggle to find the way. Rather than nominate a single destination, the office of the Tribune has studied the impact of encouraging citizens to embrace the idea of revelation and the guidance of the Synod as they seek the path of Wisdom.

The Imperatrix called on all her subjects to consider undertaking a pilgrimage - either physical, mental, or spiritual. We send {named priest} with 50 liao to urge every citizen who is able to commit themselves to a pilgrimage of devotion and revelation found in the mandates endorsed by the Synod.

Synod Mandate, Assembly of Nine or General Assembly


This mandate would urge people to embrace the mandates issued by the Imperial Synod, encouraging people to seek virtue and revelation by devoting themselves to those ideals that engaged their soul. If it were endorsed this mandate would make it easier for the Imperial Synod to pass mandates in the coming season, as congregants would be more eager to seek a spiritual pilgrimage in pursuit of the ideals of the mandate. As a result, any new mandate endorsed in the following season would only require a lesser majority to pass.

Competing Mandates

The Imperial Synod can pass one mandate for each of the three possible journeys - inline with the ideals of the Imperatrix's final address - i.e. one physical pilgrimage, one mental pilgrimage, and one spiritual pilgrimage. Thus these mandates do not compete with each other - it is possible to pass and benefit from all of them.

The possibilities outlined above represent the most useful options that the Tribune's office has been able to identify, but others doubtless exist. Any new mandate would automatically compete with the equivalent mandate listed above - i.e. a mandate giving focus to a physical pilgrimage would compete with the one listed for the journey of the body, a mandate giving focus to a spiritual pilgrimage would compete with the one listed for the journey of the soul.

Lasting Effects

The civil service believe it is possible that one or more of these mandates could lead to further opportunities for lasting effects if they were endorsed. As ever, with spiritual matters, reliable predictions are very difficult, but each of the mandates could lead to an opportunity to commission a memorial to the Empress that would encourage further pilgrimages of that kind in the future. What they can say for certain is that the more respect shown to the Empress - the greater the effort to immortalise her memory - the more likely people are to emulate her words.

Her Ultimate Fate

The strange events surrounding the disappearance or death of the Throne and the Imperial Magus have led a number of citizens to suggest that the virtue of one or both figures should be carefully weighed by the Synod to see if they have met one or more of the signs of the paragon and exemplar.

The Labyrinth of Ages

There are unconfirmed reports that the Empress and the Imperial Magus embarked on a strange magical quest to the Dreamscape in search of Wisdom, guided by the enigmatic Varushkan magician Simargl, the Empty One. However there is a growing number of people who have a much simpler explanation for the overnight disappearance of the Empress and her consort - that together they achieved Liberation.

Liberation, one of the signs of the paragons, is an indication that an individual is so virtuous they have transcended the Labyrinth completely. The virtuous souls of true paragons are able to navigate the Labyrinth of Ages and depart it. Some claim this enlightenment allows them to enter the presence of the Creator; others that they move on to a higher form of existence in the heavens or another world. Evidence for this normally takes decades to accrue - as it relies on no other mortal receiving a past life vision of themselves as the Liberated soul.

However Liberation can take a more immediate form - bodily ascension - where a paragon attains Liberation whilst alive and simply disappears. Aldones di Sarvos is the probably most famous soul ever to ascend in this way - it is notable that he was a League citizen who was famed for his towering ambition and enormous political influence.... not unlike the Empress Lisabetta.

The Frieze of Flowers

The strange disappearance of the Throne and her consort are far from the only signs that something is afoot. The Frieze of Flowers is an awe-inspiring work of art created to celebrate the coronation of the Imperatrix. The central part of the frieze depicts the Empress, triumphant, with a backdrop showing the rebuilt walls of Holberg, and surrounded by symbols associated with her early life.

Something strange has happened to the Frieze. The Empress is still depicted at the centre in all her glory, but now it is rare to find two people who agree on her countenance. Some claim to see the Imperatrix smiling down at them benignly, raising their spirits and encouraging them to virtue. But others are adamant that the Frieze now depicts the Empress frowning or dismayed, as if troubled by something, causing them to doubt themselves. A few people even say that the Empress's expression seems to change depending on what they are thinking at the time. At first people are excited to imagine that the Frieze somehow reflects the Empress's state of mind, but it seems the truth is more complicated than that somehow. It is now common for two different people who view the frieze to see a different expression portrayed there, even when both are looking at the image at the same time.

Unscrupulous mountebanks are already suggesting that the Empress's expression is an indication whether a person who views it is fated for weal or woe. For a pair of rings they are inviting visitors to tell them their troubles, so that they can advise them on how to best interpret the Empress's expression. While nobody approves of such charlatanry, the Frieze is still drawing crowds of eager visitors, keen to witness this new miracle and ponder what it might portend.

Nor is the Empress alone. According to some who have viewed the frieze there is further evidence of some miraculous provenance at work. They claim that there is a new figure visible on the battlements of Holberg - a horned man in a familiar heavy robe leaning on a staff. Some who have studied the frieze believe this figure to be none other than Juha the Cave Spider, Imperial Magus and husband of the Imperatrix. It is difficult to make the figure out - and even more difficult to prove that they were not always part of the frieze - but the belief that this is somehow representative of Juha watching over and supporting his beloved wife is gaining traction.

Recognition

If the General Assembly or the Assembly of Nine passes a statement of recognition indicating that the Empress Lisabetta and/or her consort the Imperial Magus Juha may have achieved ascension, or that the Frieze of Flowers represents a clear miracle, then this will provide great encouragement to her followers and supporters across the Empire. The news that the Imperatrix is well on the way to being declared a paragon will embolden her supporters and all those who wish to follow in her footsteps.

As ever with such things, it is difficult to be certain what the effects would be, but there would be at least one opportunity to endorse a mandate to capture the benefits of such enthusiasm and devotion for the betterment of the Empire, provided it is passed at the coming summit. The Synod will need to act swiftly to get control of events in this way - otherwise the opportunity will be lost.

These effects will be even stronger if the Imperial Synod agrees that both events constitute one of the signs of the paragon.

Imperial Favour

The most traditional use of an Imperial favour was either to provide an extraordinary gift to reward a loyal follower, or else to purchase the loyalty of a political rival at a crucial moment. Such a favour would be very explicit on which power of the Throne could be invoked, and would be jealously guarded by their owner. In the right circumstances, an Imperial favour can be virtually priceless.

The Imperatrix pioneered an imaginative new use of Imperial favours, employing them frequently throughout her reign to allow her closest associates to act in her absence. In private correspondence with the Throne, Magistrate Abraham was frank that he considered this use of favours to be tantamount to circumventing the constitutional restrictions prohibiting the Throne from employing a proxy. Despite taking this view, the court did not rule against the practice, and instead issued guidance intended to make it easier for the Throne's chosen delegates to speak for her. The Speaker for the Senate and the Herald of the Council were advised that the bearer of a favour that granted an appropriate power of the Throne should be considered a member of the Senate or Council respectively.

This guidance represented a significant extension from established practice for an Imperial favour. Previously the Speaker for the Senate would allow the bearer of a favour to exercise their right to use the favour via a Senate announcement or an address. This new guidance was not simply to make it easier for the Throne to deploy her chosen spokespeople to act. It was done to minimise the burden on the civil service, so that the magistrates office would not have to go through the time-consuming and expensive process of validating an Imperial favour each time the Empress wished to send a delegate to speak on her behalf in the Senate or the Military Council.

In light of the disappearance of the Imperatrix, the Constitutional Court has been forced to re-evaluate the guidance they previously issued to the civil service and have, frankly, admitted that their previous ruling was in error. While the practice of allowing the bearer of Lisabetta's favour to enter the chamber was reasonable during her reign, it did not provide sufficient constitutional safeguards for the use of an Imperial favour once there was no Throne present.

As a result, the Court have issued the civil service with new guidance on the use of the Imperial favour. If the bearer wishes to act as a member of the Imperial Senate or as a member of the Military Council, then that action should be considered to be a use of the favour, which will no longer be valid afterwards. This means the previous guidance on the use of a favour will apply henceforth, so using the favour to gain the benefits of Member of the Imperial Senate or Military Council would constitute using the favour.

If the bearer wishes to use the favour to make an appropriate announcement - such as Hand of the Chancellor or a declaration of War - then they should speak to the Speaker to get the announcement added to the agenda as normal. To use a power such as veto, either in the Military Council or in the Imperial Senate, the bearer would simply have to be present in the council chamber or in the viewing chamber and call out to the civil service that they have a favour and wish to use it.

This guidance does not affect the use of the favour at the Summer Solstice. The favour remains valid until it is used as outlined above.