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"Do you ever think the paragons might be holding us back?"

Enoch turned to stare at his sister, a look of utter incredulity on his face, as if she had grown a second head. "What?" he stammered, his face a mixture of horror, outrage and bemusement, as if he couldn't tell if Ruth was actually committing heresy or just pretending to do so to wind him up. "The paragons are an inspiration to all living beings. That's doctrine." he struggled to respond.

"Yeah, yeah" Ruth said dismissively, not even looking at her brother. "That's not what I mean, obviously the paragons are an inspiration. Obviously. That's not my point."

"Then what in the Seven Virtues is your point?" Enoch was still nonplussed, and he shook his head trying to dislodge the astonishment from his face. Ruth was prone to flights of whimsy, she liked to think aloud and give a voice to her thoughts. But she'd spent years trying to emulate Atun, which just made this bolt out of the blue all the more incomprehensible.

"As historians Ephrates teaches us to strip away the facts, so that we bring the acts of virtue into focus - that is how history inspires us to greatness in the future. We can see the virtue of paragons clearly because we're unencumbered by the minutiae of their daily lives. But we never apply those techniques to the present, we're infinitely critical of our failures, so we never measure up. What if the danger of that clarity of history is that it blinds us to the Virtue of the present?"

"Eh?" Enoch felt like he was still trying to board the ship his sisters thought was leaving harbour on. "I don't follow".

Ruth smiled at her brother and spread her arms wide. "Atuman and Atun founded Highguard. They birthed nations. They changed the world. Their achievements are near impossible. But... I'd argue they're not unparalleled."

Enoch tilted his head to one side to consider Ruth's words. He felt he was catching up, but only slowly. "Go on... " he said.

"Ianthe and Eska signed the Liberty Pact. Virtue is contagious. Their actions began a chain of events that is ending slavery across the world... Asenath, Barachel, and Achseh have led our armies to triumph over the Druj. Not victory. Triumph. The tyrants are fleeing, their armies breaking, their world collapsing... They made Ratibor a paragon just for destroying the Vyig. How will we celebrate those who destroy the Druj?"

"It's different though..." protested Enoch. "Barachel and the others are generals - they were just giving orders."

Ruth snorted. "That is exactly my point!" she responded. "Only the Labyrinth knows what miracles Ratibor accomplished, but I don't believe it was killing all the Vyig personally. We safeguard the the crucial lessons of history, the inspirational moments. The legend that we preserve is that Ratibor destroyed the Vyig because that is what will inspire us to greatness. But we don't distil the lessons of the present. We look at the messy compromises needed to create the Liberty Pact and all the tawdry facts obscure the legacy that is being created right in front of our eyes."

Enoch straightened up, happier with where this conversation was ending than where it had started. "So you're saying that Ianthe and Eska and the generals might be paragons?"

Ruth only shrugged. "I don't know... that's for the Synod to decide not me. What I'm saying is that if we stopped for just one moment, to consider the extraordinary things we've accomplished in the last few years. If we used the same techniques to assess our actions that we use to better understand our history then we would be awe-struck by how Virtuous these things are. We live in the most extraordinary of times. We have done impossible things. The Empire is changing the whole world for the better. What could possibly be more inspirational than that'?."
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Personal, as well as national, history is important to the Highborn; history does not live in the past it grows a little more every day. This is history, right now.
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Highborn armies first deployed in Urizen in 381YE. They fought side-by-side with the Citadel Guard to defend their neighbours; first by slowing the Druj advance and then to push them back. Periodically Highborn soldiers would be called away, redeployed to face the vallorn and the cultists who sought to rouse it, or to shore up the Western front as the Jotun pressed. Each time they would be drawn back to Urizen, like moths to a flame, summoned to fight the same evil that once took Reikos from them.

It has been a long campaign, from which thousands will never return, but throughout the commitment of Highguard has never wavered. The nation's congregations embraced the sacrifices, and urged the whole nation to throw its collective shoulder to the wheel. An unyielding commitment to the Way is never easy. The Virtues inspire humanity and their allies to greatness, but the price they extract is paid in Highborn blood spilled on the field of battle against the Druj in Morrow, Zenith and the Barrens. When news of the victory against the Druj in Zenith comes to Highguard, it results in joyous celebration. The Urizeni, Highguard's close allies, have their home back. The Druj have devastated the land, just as they did in Reikos, but there is no doubt that with the support of their friends, the Urizeni can rebuild what the Druj destroyed stronger than it was before.

Meanwhile the Druj are very clearly on the backfoot. Defeated and driven out of Zenith. Defeated and driven out of Ossium. Falling back in the Barrens, vulnerable in the Sarangrave. Their corrupt dominion surely hangs by a thread. Time to cut it once and for all say many. Time to finally end this evil. To liberate the masters of the Mallum, to secure the east. An extraordinary Ambition that fires many to call for the total annihilation of the Druj. But what inspires even more is the overwhelming sense of Pride in what Urizen, Highguard, and the other nations have accomplished. They have defeated the Druj at every turn.

And as if that were not extraordinary enough by itself, the Empire has struck a hammer-blow against the vile trade in innocent lives. First they convinced the Axou to abandon slavery, then the Sarcophans, the Faraden, and even the Thule. And then when they'd done all that, they eradicated the slavers of Rachensgrab. The Sumaah, and the Commonwealth could not possibly have achieved this goal alone. This extraordinary achievement was only possible because of the greatest power in the known world - the Empire.

This, the Highborn say, is what the Empire was formed for. This is why they took the Way to every corner of the land. This is the land of Atun and Atuman, where people lift their eyes to the stars because they know that nothing is impossible for those who cleave to the path of Virtue.

Victory in Zenith and Rachensgrab has rekindled a fire in every Highborn soul. The sacrifice was not in vain. The Empire is our destiny. Together we can change the world.

The Sticking Place

  • Highborn armies can no longer submit crusading storm as an order
  • Highborn armies engaged in a military campaign automatically generate an opportunity each season

These extraordinary accomplishments unleash a burgeoning wave of Pride that sweeps through Highguard. The victories in Zenith and the Barrens were aided by the dedication of the Highborn generals and the enthusiasm with which they have urged their armies to embody Ambition and Courage to achieve victory at any price. Such actions have not been without cost, but their unwavering commitment to virtue has demanded the attention of the faithful, and inspired the Virtuous to action.

Now that the Empire's accomplishments are manifest and visible for all to see, the pride of the Highborn armies has swelled and their trust in their generals to lead them to Virtuous triumph is absolute. The defeat of the Druj in Zenith is so comprehensive that no Highborn soldier can now imagine approaching warfare any other way.

As a result of their triumphs, the Highborn generals can no longer submit crusading storm as an order. Instead their armies are assumed to be dedicating themselves to the path of Virtue, no matter what orders are issued. This means if any Highborn army engages in a military campaign during the season then the virtue of the soldiers will be an inspiration to allies and a terror to their enemies. As a result, the Highborn armies will automatically generate an opportunity for their assembly to carry out a mandate. The mandate will influence the ongoing conflict in one or more of the campaigns where the Highborn armies are engaged in. The number of armies will not be a factor. The orders given by the generals will continue to be critical, with the precise wording of the order given by the general shaping any mandate.

Dare Do All

In the wake of the Empire's triumph, priests and their congregants are asking questions. In true Highborn fashion this tends to boil down to "great - what's next" but beneath this simple response is a deeper more philosophical question. For the last season, much of the focus on the Highborn Assembly has been on the actions of their armies and their generals. The crusades unleashed on the Empire's enemies have drawn the attention of the Empire's faithful to the battlefields and helped to deliver victory against the Druj.

Now priests are asking if the virtue of their nation cannot be harnessed in other ways. Is it Ambitious for the Assembly to simply wait to see what mandates arise in the armies wake, or would it be better for them to take the lead and the initiative and set the agenda themselves? And is it Prosperous to think only of war? Or should priests take a broader view of how they might best serve the the Empire?

Eli, the ageing custodian of Walter's Tomb puts forward an encyclical for consideration by his fellow priests in which he posits that the Empire is like a family of ten siblings. Each of them has their own great strengths, but as the eldest, he says that Highguard's primary role is to support their brothers and sisters, not just in war but in all things. Highguard has helped Urizen to reclaim Zenith, and helped the Navarr to turn back the vallorn in Brocéliande, but it is a failure of Ambition to focus only on war. The nation should support their siblings not just on the battlefield, but wherever they are needed most.

If the Highborn National Assembly wishes to endorse Eli's message they can enact the following mandate:

Nothing is beyond our reach if we strive for it. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to remind every Highborn congregant that the virtuous build up their fellows. Let us Loyally support each one of our siblings in their hour of need.

Synod Mandate, Highguard National Assembly

If this mandate is enacted then the Highborn Assembly will gain two different abilities, for the coming year. The opportunity to identify a single Imperial nation to throw their support behind (A Peerless Kinship), and an opportunity to support the religious goals of other nations (Partner of Greatness).

A Peerless Kinship

  • The Highborn Assembly can gain the ability to use a statement of principle to support another Imperial nation
  • This benefit will last for a year after the mandate is enacted

If the Highborn Assembly pass Eli's mandate, then each season they will be able to use a statement of principle to identify the single Imperial nation the Assembly feels will most benefit from Highguard's assistance. If passed with a greater majority, this statement will be communicated to every priest in Highguard, who will urge their congregants to use every means at their disposal to work with the named nation to aid them in their hour of need. An example of an appropriate statement might be:

Loyalty is not displayed by words or deeds alone, but by the unity of both. We urge every citizen of Highguard to support {nation} with their words and their deeds. The Empire is our destiny, let us go forwards together in strength.

Example Statement, Highborn Assembly
Under normal circumstances it is rare for a statement of principle by a national assembly to lead to a mandate. If the Highborn Assembly pass Eli's judgement, then for the next year, Highborn priests may submit a statement of principle calling on Highguard to support another nation. This statement of principle will always have an effect on the game setting if passed with a greater majority - by default it will create an opportunity for Highguard to support the nation as it looks to solve a challenge being faced by them. The same nation cannot benefit from this effect twice; Urizen and Navarr are considered to have already benefitted from Highguard's support and cannot receive further aid in this way.

If there are two or more statements with a greater majority that identify a different nation then the judgement with the biggest majority in favour would succeed. In practical terms such a statement is guaranteed to create one or more opportunity for Highguard to work with in concern with named nation provided that the target is one of the other nations and is not one that Highguard have already helped. At present this means that Urizen and Navarr cannot be targeted by the opportunity, as both have received significant help from Highguard in recent years.

The statement by the Highborn Assembly won't be able to influence the direction such aid might take, no matter what the statement says. The Highborn people want their Assembly to tell them who they should help - but they expect to talk to members of the nation to find out how they can help. However the Assembly of the nation the Highborn are trying to help could use a judgement in their own assembly to try and guide the assistance they offer.

The Assembly could issue such a statement at this coming summit, at the same time as they consider Eli's mandate, but it will only have a guaranteed effect if the mandate is enacted.

Under normal circumstances a different assembly is not able to consider an alternative mandate. If the Highborn Assembly pass Eli's judgement, then for the next year, Highborn priests may submit an alternative mandate for any mandate published for another nation's assembly to consider. This does not enable them to submit alternative mandates for other assemblies. The alternative mandate must be for judgement by the Highborn Assembly and must urge citizens to act on the issue the original mandate acts on. You can never submit an alternative mandate that attempts to cause action on a completely different issue.

Partner of Greatness

  • The Highborn Assembly can gain the ability to respond to statements of principle in other nations
  • This benefit will last for a year after the mandate is enacted

In recent times, the Highborn Assembly have taken a keen interest in the affairs of the Dawnish Assembly and recently they have been considering some of the judgements of the Navarr Assembly. If the Highborn Assembly pass Eli's mandate, then each season they will have a brief opportunity to consider the mandates being presented by the other nine national Assemblies of the Empire. Individual priests will have the opportunity to ask the civil service to examine the impact of an alternative mandate to one published by the civil service. If the possibility exists for the Highborn Assembly to convince congregants to take a stance on the issue, then this will be identified and published along with the forecast outcome.

In effect, the Vigilance of Highborn priests in keeping an eye on the actions of their fellow Assemblies will provide Highguard with opportunities to act in support of, or perhaps even in opposition to, the proposed mandates of the other nations of the Empire.

This power follows all the same rules for submitting an alternative mandate.

In Deepest Consequence

While Eli's words chime with many, Mordecai of the Basalt Throne Chapter of Bastion has a different concern. People are loath to use the phrase "rabble rousing" but Mordecai has given a number of passionate speeches that have stirred the hearts of many. Her accusation is that Highguard has done so much to aid the other nations, that it has become complacent and lax about its own position in the world.

There are inspirational tombs being created all over the Empire - but Mordecai points out that none are in Highguard. There are temples, basilicas and churches being raised in Dawn, Varushka, Urizen, and other lands, but very few in Bastion or Necropolis. The Sumaah are openly disdainful of Highguard's cathedrals and with good reason argues Mordecai. It is no surprise that the Empire does not look to Highguard for leadership in the Synod, if the Highborn do so little to demonstrate what their virtue means to them.

Rather than focussing on supporting the other nations, Mordecai wants Highguard to focus on building up the faithful at home. If the Highborn National Assembly wishes to endorse Mordecai's message they can enact the following mandate:

Let us protect and raise up the things we truly care for. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to remind every Highborn congregant that their decisions are crucial for their safety. Let benefactors and priests work together to show the world that the Way was born here in Highguard.

Synod Mandate, Highguard National Assembly

If this mandate is enacted then Highborn congregations will look for ways to restore the pre-eminence of Virtue in Highguard itself. They will gain two effects for the coming year, a renewed determination to demonstrate their commitment to the Way (Neither Beg Nor Fear) which will result in improved attendance in congregations and an opportunity to create new temples, cathedrals and chapels in the nation (Dare Do All).

Neither Beg Nor Fear

  • The Highguard Assembly can boost attendance in Highborn congregations

If the Highborn Assembly pass Mordecai's mandate, then for the following year, there will be a surge in attendance at all Highborn congregations. Most Highborn already devote a significant amount of their time to the pursuit of Virtue, but such efforts will be redoubled, causing the ranks of congregations to swell. Each congregation will gain an additional dose of liao and two additional votes for the coming year to reflect the additional numbers. In addition, each congregation will also gain 1 crown of income, to represent donations from the faithful to support the creation of a new basilica or cathedral in Highguard.

The wains provided by Dare Do All are in addition to any wains provided by the players. If the players commission and fund a 10 wain sinecure, then they will receive the benefits of a 12 wain sinecure. If they create a 40 wain great work then they will receive the benefits of a 50 wain great work.

Dare Do All

  • The Highborn Assembly can encourage support for building virtuous structures in Highguard

If the Highborn Assembly pass Mordecai's mandate, then for the following year, there will be a drive to construct one or more places of worship in Highguard. People are eager to see the nation raise monuments to their shared faith, as they have done even in the recent past. Any sinecure or great work that provides liao and votes, which is constructed in Highguard for the next year, will benefit from the support of the faithful. For every four wains of white granite they will provide one additional wain, and 2 crowns of money. This support will be in addition to the materials contributed by citizens attending Anvil, and will serve to make the finished work grander and more impactful. These effects will be automatically calculated and included for any opportunity that is affected.

Pride teaches us it is in what we do we should be proud. We lineaged of Highguard and the Highborn National Assembly declare that unveiling is a valid spiritual discipline as it is a physical representation that our immortal human souls will triumph over the siren call of our blood. Should that individual do this of their own volition, then they draw Virtue from their actions; indeed to enforce or coerce a lineaged individual to unveil against their will is deplorable as it removes the opportunity for the lineaged person to act in their virtue.

Brother Aemon, Summer Solstice 384YE, Upheld (Greater Majority 512-0)

Dagger of the Mind

  • The Highborn Assembly could try to take the lead in calling for a change in attitudes to orcs and lineaged people in their nation

There is one more profound question to be considered by the Highborn Assembly. For centuries the Highborn have concerned themselves with the human spirit. Some of the Doctrines of the Way speak only of the human soul and Highguard has long championed itself as the birthplace of human destiny. Partly inspired by the statement of principle raised by Brother Aemon at the Summer Solstice, Dinah of the Passine Chapter argues that this focus, tantamount to obsession, has cost the Highborn dearly. It has led them to misjudge the orcs and other creatures like the hylje of Wintermark. Perhaps the manumission of the Imperial Orcs might have come a century earlier if the Highborn had not clung so long to the notion that the Empire exists to further human destiny, but instead seen that its true purpose was to unite all people in Virtue.

"Pride inspires others, it does not demean them." People all over the Empire judge and demean briars for what they are rather than what they do. This is a massive failing of Pride and we encourage everyone to challenge any who would demean or condemn Briars based on lineage alone."

Lady Josephine of Adina's Charge, General Assembly, 383YE Autumn Equinox, Upheld (Greater Majority (1555 - 222))

And what of Highguard's treatment of the lineaged? How many have felt forced to cut their horns in shame, in the mistaken belief that the touch of the realms somehow affects their immortal human soul? Dinah claims that the history clearly shows that there are known cases where people have experienced past lives in which they were not lineaged - proof she says that lineage is a condition of the body, and has nothing to do with the human soul. Lady Josephine of Adina's Charge had the resounding support of the General Assembly of the Synod when she argued that the Empire should not judge and demand briars for what they are rather than what they do - a sentiment that logically extends to all the lineaged.

It is common knowledge that a council is being formed to consider the Doctrines of the Faith, and it is widely believed in Highguard that the council intends to look at those doctrines which single out the human spirit or soul. But Dinah argues the nation should not wait for this council to render its verdict - to do so would be an abdication of Wisdom. Instead they should make Highguard's view clear by embracing the extraordinary accomplishments of an Empire formed of orcs and humans. They should lead the way, and embrace a new ideal, that the Empire's destiny is to drive the barbarians from the land and unite all beings in Virtue.

If the Highborn National Assembly wishes to endorse Josephine and Dinah's message and enact the following mandate put forward by Lady Josephine:

Pride inspires others, it does not demean them. Virtue is based on deeds and it is only actions that we should judge. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to urge every Highborn citizen to put aside the prejudice of the past. Let us make the pursuit of Virtue the one unifying principle of this glorious Empire.

Synod Mandate, Highguard National Assembly

The effects of this mandate are unpredictable but if it is enacted, it will lead to subtle but profound changes in the way the Highborn view the lineaged, the Imperial Orcs, and other sentient creatures. Nations like the Druj, will always be despised for their tyranny and oppression, but going forwards the Highborn nation will embrace the presence of orcs, and the lineaged, within the Empire.

Compatible Mandates

  • None of the three mandates competes with the others

Mordecai and Eli's mandates offer competing visions for Highguard: that the nation should expend its energy and its liao aiding others or instead turn inwards and look to strengthen its own commitment to Virtue. But the assessment of the civil service is that the current swell of Highborn Pride in the Empire's achievements has given them the capacity to enact both these mandates, should they wish to do so.

As a result, none of the mandates presented here are competing - the Highborn Assembly can pass one, two, or all three of the mandates if they chose to, and any or all of them will take effect.