"Guilty, magistrate - but I wish to submit a plea of clemency."
"I see. I assume the troubadour intends to speak on your behalf?"
"I do magistrate, thank you. I am Ser Eddard and Hugh is part of my congregation. As you will be aware magistrate, it is not unknown for sentries to slip away from their post on occasion, but usually it is to enjoy a game of dice with a fellow soldier or else the comfort of a welcoming pair of arms in some brothel. On this occasion though I swear to you that Hugh was with myself, and his thoughts were only for his immortal soul."
"I see. That does sounds pious. Perhaps you can enlighten me as to the virtue of that action Ser Eddard? I assume you have some claim to that?"
"Ah... yes... the virtues... yes. It's the birds you see, lovely creatures to be sure - but their song is desperately sad. And Hugh's sister, Elaine, was killed by the Druj near a decade ago fighting in the Barrens. And he's been hearing that mournful song for days now and when you hear the words you just can't help thinking about all the people we've lost. Now Elaine (that's his sister) was the one in the family everyone was sure would pass the test, and poor Hugh has always looked up to her..."
"The virtues troubadour", the magistrate interrupted, cutting the priest off mid sentence. "A plea of clemency must make the case for the virtue of the guilty person's actions."
"Quite so, quite so! So Hugh was wise to come and talk to me... because I was able to help him by reminding him of how his sister would have wanted him to stay at his post. And he showed great loyalty to his sister in wanting me to compose a song for her. And it was prosperous because he was then able to return to his position. And brave because we are all in grave danger of being attacked by the Druj.""Thank you Ser Eddard, you have helped me to see clearly what role the virtues must have played in Hugh's action." The Highborn magistrate paused for a moment to adopt a stentorious tone. "Hugh of Ellotry - you are guilty of dereliction of duty. I fine you four crowns and order you to stand the watch every night for the next month. In future I recommend you listen less to fine words that move your soul - no matter who sings them - and more to the orders of your commanding officer. Perhaps then neither your soul nor your feet will move."
While the Knights of Eleonaris support the Eastern Sky (albeit grudgingly), a stranger set of creatures attend the Golden Sun as they hunt the Druj through the forests of Holberg. Issuing forth from a Night regio somewhere in the depths of Axmure, a stream of brightly coloured bird-heralds of Lashonar proceed joyfully up the road to Holberg to meet up with the army.
Deftly avoiding any entanglement in the sordid business of violence, they instead infest every camp-fire and baggage train, a haunting refrain on their beaks - a new song apparently commissioned from Lashonar himself, a song of Glory, of lost love, of death in each others arms ...
Lashonar is not an eternal of Summer, but of Night; his song is excellent at communicating its message, as one might expect from Lashonar the Loquacious, and also at tugging at the heart-strings and provoking emotional responses. Unfortunately, these intoxicating emotional responses are primarily contemplative, or downright sorrowful. They do nothing to kindle determination or encourage enthusiasm for the war. Hardly an ideal sitaution when facing a foe such as the Druj, no strangers to provoking their own emotional responses in the Imperial troops.
The general effect of the song appears to be driving soldiers into the arms of religion - or the arms of the innkeepers and other givers of comfort. Attendance among Holberg congregations is gradually creeping up as soldiers manage to find time away from the front to attend to their immortal souls, the condition of which they have been driven to heavily contemplate due to the reminder of their likely upcoming bodily demise.
If the song continues to spread, it will have a detrimental impact on the operational effectiveness of the Golden Sun and every Imperial army in the same territory, reducing their combat effectiveness by 5%.
There are some benefits to the songs, as the soldiers seek out priests or alehouses to cheer their soul. Congregations in the territory will receive two extra votes and an extra dose of liao while every business in the territory would gain an extra 18 rings.
The influence of and eternal is often complex and unpredictable; they may be countered - or encouraged - in many different ways by individuals acting alone or by appropriate action of one of the Senate, Synod, Conclave or similar body. Civil servants in the Hub are ready to provide advice and costings for any Senate motions, Conclave declaration or Synod Judgements that might theoretically be passed.
The Golden Sun army is currently enjoying the hospitality of the nobles of Spiral Castle in Weirwater. The heralds of Lashonar has followed the Dawnish army, and the effects - both negative and positive - are being felt across the entire territory.
Silent is the air tonight, and all the world's asleep
Here beneath the midnight sky I sit alone and weep
For loves I've had, and loves I've lost, and loves that ne'er shall be
And I long in vain to hear the wind; wind that brings your voice to me
Many sweet and tender nights we spent beneath the moon
Before I wore the golden sun and you took up the loom
You swore you'd keep your true love's vow though wed we'd ne'er could be
And on the wind from Weirwater, you would send your love to me
Oh far across the land I roved, upon my errant's quest
And little thought of home, or of the one who loved me best
But Glory was a shining star I never quite could hold
Until at last I found the sun, turned to lead instead of gold.
Now parting weighs upon my heart , grown heavy with the years
And I'll return to Weirwater, to salt the lake with tears
For silent lies the air tonight, the wind at last is still
And I long in vain to hear your voice, knowing never more I will