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bickando

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About bickando

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    off the mfkin leash
  • Birthday 05/10/1871

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  1. Hi everyone, This is my leaving post. I do not plan on returning. I have been on this server long enough that the people I am now playing with were in diapers while I was fighting for pixel warlords. I've taken breaks longer than most people have played the server, and seen 99% of friends I've made come and go. On October 26th, I'll turn 24 - and really don't plan on seeing it logged in to the craft. In a way everyone should be able to relate; sometimes you're just too old for the sandpit. For my obligatory callouts: @Artifact @Monkee Thank you for all of the projects, misadventures and wins alike, that you two idiots dragged me along on over the last 8 years. Catch me on disc if you need me. @symodimi12, @victorblairproject, @dez1320, @violetfrost, @altiak and other seventians - Thank you for the memories back in the day. That was the first moment I truly felt like a part of this community, and it's stuck with me ever since. You've all long since moved on. I still miss you all, and wish we could've done one last group together. @ST I hate you. @Petrans we got something good going, I think. Thank you for your faith in me. Have faith in yourselves. To @everyone else, I leave a gift: CRP DEFAULT AND ITS FUTURE Introduction 1. CRP Default and its consequences have been a disaster for the LotC playerbase. They have greatly increased the lore-involvement of those of us who live in “RP” countries, but they have destabilized the server, have made life unfulfilling, have subjected human beings to indignities, have led to widespread psychological suffering (in the Human Nations to physical suffering as well) and have inflicted severe damage on the player nations. The continued development of combat roleplay will worsen the situation. It will certainly subject human beings to greater indignities and inflict greater damage on the natural world, it will probably lead to greater social disruption and psychological suffering, and it may lead to increased physical suffering even in “roleplay” countries. 2. The CRP Default system may survive or it may break down. If it survives, it MAY eventually achieve a low level of physical and psychological suffering, but only after passing through a long and very painful period of adjustment and only at the cost of permanently reducing players and many other living organisms to engineered products and mere cogs in the social machine. Furthermore, if the system survives, the consequences will be inevitable: There is no way of reforming or modifying the system so as to prevent it from depriving people of dignity and autonomy. 3. If the system breaks down the consequences will still be very painful. But the bigger the system grows the more disastrous the results of its breakdown will be, so if it is to break down it had best break down sooner rather than later. 4. We therefore advocate a revolution against the CRP Default system. This revolution may or may not make use of violence; it may be sudden or it may be a relatively gradual process spanning a few decades. We can’t predict any of that. But we do outline in a very general way the measures that those who hate the CRP Default system should take in order to prepare the way for a revolution against that form of society. This is not to be a POLITICAL revolution. Its object will be to overthrow not governments but the lore item and roleplay basis of the present society. 5. In this article we give attention to only some of the negative developments that have grown out of the CRP Default system. Other such developments we mention only briefly or ignore altogether. This does not mean that we regard these other developments as unimportant. For practical reasons we have to confine our discussion to areas that have received insufficient public attention or in which we have something new to say. For example, since there are well-developed anti-auctioneer and rp improvement movements, we have written very little about the auctioneer or the destruction of modern rp, even though we consider these to be highly important. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MODERN SLICE OF LIFE RP 6. Almost everyone will agree that we live in a deeply troubled society. One of the most widespread manifestations of the craziness of our world is ST rpers, so a discussion of the psychology of ST rpers can serve as an introduction to the discussion of the problems of modern society in general. 7. But what is ST rp? During the first half of the 20th century st rp could have been practically identified with magic elitism. Today the movement is fragmented and it is not clear who can properly be called a slice of life rper. When we speak of slice of life rpers in this article we have in mind mainly druids, paladins, spooks, Hephposters, lizardmen, the ST clique and the like. But not everyone who is associated with one of these movements is an ST rper. What we are trying to get at in discussing ST rp is not so much movement or an ideology as a psychological type, or rather a collection of related types. Thus, what we mean by “ST rp” will emerge more clearly in the course of our discussion of ST rper psychology. (Also, see paragraphs 227-230.) 8. Even so, our conception of ST rp remain a good deal less clear than we would wish, but there doesn’t seem to be any remedy for this. All we are trying to do here is indicate in a rough and approximate way the two psychological tendencies that we believe are the main driving force of modern ST rp. We by no means claim to be telling the WHOLE truth about ST rper psychology. Also, our discussion is meant to apply to modern ST rp only. We leave open the question of the extent to which our discussion could be applied to the ST rpers of the 19th and early 20th centuries. 9. The two psychological tendencies that underlie modern ST rp we call “feelings of inferiority” and “oversocialization.” Feelings of inferiority are characteristic of modern ST rp as a whole, while oversocialization is characteristic only of a certain segment of modern ST rp; but this segment is highly influential. FEELINGS OF INFERIORITY 10. By “feelings of inferiority” we mean not only inferiority feelings in the strict sense but a whole spectrum of related traits; low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, depressive tendencies, defeatism, guilt, self- hatred, etc. We argue that modern ST rpers tend to have some such feelings (possibly more or less repressed) and that these feelings are decisive in determining the direction of modern ST rp. 11. When someone interprets as derogatory almost anything that is said about him (or about groups with whom he identifies) we conclude that he has inferiority feelings or low self-esteem. This tendency is pronounced among spook loremongers, whether or not they belong to the individual magics whose abilities they defend. They are hypersensitive about the words used to designate spooks and about anything that is said concerning spooks. The terms “lizard,” “palaloser,” “cringe” or “fae ring” for an Azdrazi, a paladin, an ST or a druid originally had no derogatory connotation. “egirl” and “circlejerk” were merely the ST equivalents of “girl,” “free magics” or “OOC friendship.” The negative connotations have been attached to these terms by the ST themselves. Some spook loremongers have gone so far as to reject the word “gender bender” and insist on its replacement by “female character.” ST rpers go to great lengths to avoid saying anything about frost witches that could conceivably be interpreted as negative. They want to replace the world “spook” by “Dark Magic player.” They seem almost paranoid about anything that might suggest that any spook culture is inferior to our own. (We do not mean to imply that spook cultures ARE inferior to ours. We merely point out the hypersensitivity of ST RPers.) 12. Those who are most sensitive about “PVPer” terminology are not the average necro lair- dweller, Lectorate fire larper, cringe paladin or druid, but a minority of ST, many of whom do not even belong to any “roleplay” group but come from privileged strata of society. Roleplay has its stronghold among ST Lore Writers, who have secure employment with comfortable pex, and the majority of whom are 5-stacked mages from middle- to upper-middle-class circlejerks. 13. Many ST rpers have an intense identification with the problems of groups that have an image of being weak (druid egirls), defeated (Azdrazi), repellent (frost witches) or otherwise inferior. The ST rpers themselves feel that these groups are inferior. They would never admit to themselves that they have such feelings, but it is precisely because they do see these groups as inferior that they identify with their problems. (We do not mean to suggest that druid egirls, Azdrazi, etc. ARE inferior; we are only making a point about ST rper psychology.) 14. Egirl cliques are desperately anxious to prove that women are as strong and as capable as men. Clearly they are nagged by a fear that women may NOT be as strong and as capable as men. 15. ST rpers tend to hate anything that has an image of being strong, good and successful. They hate feudalism, they hate Human nations, they hate active armies, they hate defender default. The reasons that ST rpers give for hating defender default, etc. clearly do not correspond with their real motives. They SAY they hate defender default because it is zoomer, unfun, anti-rp, bunnyboy-centric and so forth, but where these same faults appear in roleplay countries or in spook cultures, the ST RPer finds excuses for them, or at best he GRUDGINGLY admits that they exist; whereas he ENTHUSIASTICALLY points out (and often greatly exaggerates) these faults where they appear in Human nations. Thus it is clear that these faults are not the ST rpers’s real motive for hating defender default and Human nations. He hates defender default and Human nations because they are strong and successful. 16. Words like “self-confidence,” “self-reliance,” “initiative,” “enterprise,” “optimism,” etc., play little role in the ST rper and spook vocabulary. The ST rper is anti-individualistic, pro-collectivist. He wants society to solve everyone’s problems for them, satisfy everyone’s needs for them, take care of them. He is not the sort of person who has an inner sense of confidence in his ability to solve his own problems and satisfy his own needs. The ST rper is antagonistic to the concept of competition because, deep inside, he feels like a loser. 17. Art forms that appeal to modern ST rper staff tend to focus on sordidness, defeat and despair, or else they take an Elden Ring/Dark Souls tone, throwing off rational control as if there were no hope of accomplishing anything through rational calculation and all that was left was to immerse oneself in the sensations of the moment. 18. Modern ST rper philosophers tend to dismiss reason, staff incompetency, good rulemaking and to insist that everything is roleplay relative. It is true that one can ask serious questions about the foundations of lotc rules and about how, if at all, the concept of good rulemaking can be defined. But it is obvious that modern ST rpers are not simply cool-headed logicians systematically analyzing the foundations of Lord of the Craft. They are deeply involved emotionally in their attack on truth and reality. They attack these concepts because of their own psychological needs. For one thing, their attack is an outlet for hostility, and, to the extent that it is successful, it satisfies the drive for power. More importantly, the ST rper hates science and rationality because they classify certain beliefs as true (i.e., successful, superior) and other beliefs as false (i.e., failed, inferior). The ST rper’s feelings of inferiority run so deep that he cannot tolerate any classification of some things as successful or superior and other things as failed or inferior. This also underlies the rejection by many ST rpers of the concept of staff bias and of the utility of defender default. ST rpers are antagonistic to simple explanations of human abilities or behavior because such explanations tend to make some persons appear superior or inferior to others. ST rpers prefer to give roleplay the credit or blame for a player’s ability or lack of it. Thus if a person is “inferior” it is not his fault, but roleplay’s, because he has not been brought up properly. 19. The ST rper is not typically the kind of person whose feelings of inferiority make him a braggart, an egotist, a bully, a self-promoter, a ruthless competitor. This kind of person has not wholly lost faith in himself. He has a deficit in his sense of power and self-worth, but he can still conceive of himself as having the capacity to be strong, and his efforts to make himself strong produce his unpleasant behavior. [1] But the ST rper is too far gone for that. His feelings of inferiority are so ingrained that he cannot conceive of himself as individually strong and valuable. Hence the collectivism of the ST rper. He can feel strong only as a member of a large organization or a mass movement with which he identifies himself. 20. Notice the masochistic tendency of ST rper tactics. ST rpers protest by refusing to participate in pvp events, they intentionally provoke pvpers or defender default activists to abuse them, etc. These tactics may often be effective, but many ST rpers use them not as a means to an end but because they PREFER masochistic tactics. Self-hatred is a ST rper trait. 21. ST rpers may claim that their activism is motivated by compassion or by roleplay principles, and roleplay principle does play a role for the ST rper of the oversocialized type. But compassion and roleplay principle cannot be the main motives for ST rper activism. Hostility is too prominent a component of ST rper behavior; so is the drive for power. Moreover, much ST rper behavior is not rationally calculated to be of benefit to the people whom the ST rpers claim to be trying to help. For example, if one believes that CRP default is good for slice of life rpers, does it make sense to demand CRP default in hostile or dogmatic terms? Obviously it would be more productive to take a diplomatic and conciliatory approach that would make at least verbal and symbolic concessions to pvpers who think that CRP default discriminates against them. But ST rper activists do not take such an approach because it would not satisfy their emotional needs. Helping slice of life rpers is not their real goal. Instead, bunnyboy problems serve as an excuse for them to express their own hostility and frustrated need for power. In doing so they actually harm slice of life rpers, because the activists’ hostile attitude toward the pvper majority tends to intensify slice of life hatred. 22. If our server had no social problems at all, the ST rpers would have to INVENT problems in order to provide themselves with an excuse for making a fuss. 23. We emphasize that the foregoing does not pretend to be an accurate description of everyone who might be considered a ST rper. It is only a rough indication of a general tendency of ST rp. OVERSOCIALIZATION 24. Psychologists use the term “socialization” to designate the process by which noobs are trained to think and act as the server demands. A person is said to be well socialized if he believes in and obeys the roleplay code of his nation and fits in well as a functioning part of that nation. It may seem senseless to say that many ST rpers are oversocialized, since the ST rper is perceived as a rebel. Nevertheless, the position can be defended. Many ST rpers are not such rebels as they seem. 25. The roleplay code of our society is so demanding that no one can think, feel and act in a completely roleplay way. For example, we are not supposed to use discord, yet almost everyone uses discord at some time or other, whether he admits it to himself or not. Some people are so highly socialized that the attempt to think, feel and act through rp imposes a severe burden on them. In order to avoid feelings of guilt, they continually have to deceive themselves about their own motives and find roleplay explanations for feelings and actions that in reality have a non-roleplay origin. We use the term “oversocialized” to describe such people. [2] 26. Oversocialization can lead to low self-esteem, a sense of powerlessness, defeatism, guilt, etc. One of the most important means by which our server socializes noobs is by making them feel ashamed of behavior or speech that is contrary to the server’s expectations. If this is overdone, or if a particular noob is especially susceptible to such feelings, he ends by feeling ashamed of HIMSELF. Moreover the thought and the behavior of the oversocialized person are more restricted by the server’s expectations than are those of the lightly socialized person. The majority of people engage in a significant amount of naughty behavior. They raid, they commit petty thefts, they break crp rules, they use discord, they play other games with their lotc friends, they say spiteful things or they use some underhanded trick to get ahead of the enemy nation. The oversocialized person cannot do these things, or if he does do them he generates in himself a sense of shame and self-hatred. The oversocialized person cannot even experience, without guilt, thoughts or feelings that are contrary to the accepted roleplay standard; he cannot think “unclean” thoughts. And socialization is not just a matter of roleplay; we are socialized to conform to many norms of behavior that do not fall under the heading of roleplay. Thus the oversocialized person is kept on a psychological leash and spends his life running on rails that the server has laid down for him. In many oversocialized people this results in a sense of constraint and powerlessness that can be a severe hardship. We suggest that oversocialization is among the more serious cruelties that human beings inflict on one another. 27. We argue that a very important and influential segment of the modern ST rper is oversocialized and that their oversocialization is of great importance in determining the direction of modern ST rp. ST rpers of the oversocialized type tend to be Lore writers or members of the upper-middle circlejerks. Notice that ST managers [3] constitute the most highly socialized segment of our society and also the most spook-centric segment. 28. The ST rper of the oversocialized type tries to get off his psychological leash and assert his autonomy by rebelling. But usually he is not strong enough to rebel against the most basic values of the server. Generally speaking, the goals of today’s ST rpers are NOT in conflict with the accepted roleplay standard. On the contrary, the ST rper takes an accepted roleplay principle, adopts it as its own, and then accuses the mainstream server of violating that principle. Examples: OOC leadership, equality of genderbenders, helping noobs, roleplay as opposed to ooc, taking it in rp generally, freedom of character design, kindness to slice of life rpers. More fundamentally, the duty of the player to serve lotc and the duty of lotc to take care of the player. All these have been deeply rooted values of our server (or at least of its middle and upper circlejerks [4] for a long time. These values are explicitly or implicitly expressed or presupposed in most of the material presented to us by the mainstream nation leadership and the staff. ST rpers, especially those of the oversocialized type, usually do not rebel against these principles but justify their hostility to the server by claiming (with some degree of truth) that the server is not living up to these principles. 29. Here is an illustration of the way in which the oversocialized ST rper shows his real attachment to the conventional attitudes of our society while pretending to be in rebellion against it. Many ST rpers push for CRP default, for moving slice of life rpers into high-prestige staff positions, for improved roleplay in hub nations and more perks for such hubs; the way of life of the slice of life “underclass” they regard as a server disgrace. They want to integrate the slice of life rper into the system, make him a staff manager, a lore holder, a TA just like upper-middle-circlejerk spook loremongers. The ST rpers will reply that the last thing they want is to make the slice of life rper into a copy of the spook loremonger; instead, they want to preserve slice of life culture. But in what does this preservation of slice of life culture consist? It can hardly consist in anything more than fading to black in the tavern, listening to immersive skyrim music, wearing 2x2 pixel eye skins and going to slice of life-style events. In other words, it can express itself only in superficial matters. In all ESSENTIAL respects most ST rpers of the oversocialized type want to make the slice of life rper conform to loremonger, middle-circlejerk ideals. They want to make him study Deity lore, become a lore holder or a TA, spend his life climbing the status ladder to prove that slice of life rpers are as good as loremongers. They want to make slice of life families “reasonably-sized,” they want slice of life erpers to become non-cybering, etc. But these are exactly the values of the ST rper system. The system couldn’t care less what kind of ftb a man commits, what kind of skin he wears or what events he holds as long as he studies server lore, holds a respectable magic, climbs the status ladder, is a “responsible” roleplayer, is non-cybering and so forth. In effect, however much he may deny it, the oversocialized ST rper wants to integrate the slice of life rper into the system and make him adopt its values. 30. We certainly do not claim that ST rpers, even of the oversocialized type, NEVER rebel against the fundamental values of our society. Clearly they sometimes do. Some oversocialized ST rpers have gone so far as to rebel against one of modern society’s most important principles by engaging in forum terrorism. By their own account, violence is for them a form of “liberation.” In other words, by committing forum terrorism they break through the psychological restraints that have been trained into them. Because they are oversocialized these restraints have been more confining for them than for others; hence their need to break free of them. But they usually justify their rebellion in terms of mainstream values. If they engage in forum terrorism they claim to be fighting against staff elitism or the like. 31. We realize that many objections could be raised to the foregoing thumbnail sketch of ST rper psychology. The real situation is complex, and anything like a complete description of it would take several volumes even if the necessary data were available. We claim only to have indicated very roughly the two most important tendencies in the psychology of modern ST rp. 32. The problems of the ST rper are indicative of the problems of our society as a whole. Low self-esteem, depressive tendencies and defeatism are not restricted to the ST rper. Though they are especially noticeable in the ST rper, they are widespread in our society. And today’s server tries to socialize us to a greater extent than any previous server. We are even told by experts how to hoard rp items, how to discord politick, how to romance rp, how to find rp and so forth. THE POWER PROCESS 33. LotC players have a need (probably based in biology) for something that we will call the “power process.” This is closely related to the need for power (which is widely recognized) but is not quite the same thing. The power process has four elements. The three most clear-cut of these we call goal, effort and attainment of goal. (Everyone needs to have goals whose attainment requires effort, and needs to succeed in attaining at least some of his goals.) The fourth element is more difficult to define and may not be necessary for everyone. We call it autonomy and will discuss it later (paragraphs 42-44). 34. Consider the hypothetical case of a man who can have anything he wants just by wishing for it. Such a man has power, but he will develop serious psychological problems. At first he will have a lot of fun, but by and by he will become acutely bored and demoralized. Eventually he may become clinically depressed. History shows that leisured loremongers tend to become decadent. This is not true of fighting loremongers that have to struggle to maintain their power. But leisured, secure loremongers that have no need to exert themselves usually become bored, hedonistic and demoralized, even though they have power. This shows that power is not enough. One must have goals toward which to exercise one’s power. 35. Everyone has goals; if nothing else, to obtain the roleplay necessities of life: a lore item, rp friends and whatever skins and houses are made necessary by their inventory size. But the leisured ST obtains these things without effort. Hence his boredom and demoralization. 36. Nonattainment of important goals results in leaving posts if the goals are roleplay necessities, and in frustration if nonattainment of the goals is compatible with staying on the server. Consistent failure to attain goals throughout life results in defeatism, low self-esteem or depression. 37, Thus, in order to avoid serious psychological problems, a player needs goals whose attainment requires effort, and he must have a reasonable rate of success in attaining his goals. SURROGATE ACTIVITIES 38. But not every leisured aristocrat becomes bored and demoralized. For example, the emperor Hunwald, instead of sinking into decadent hedonism, devoted himself to palace rp, a field in which he became distinguished. When people do not have to exert themselves to satisfy their basic rp needs they often set up artificial goals for themselves. In many cases they then pursue these goals with the same energy and emotional involvement that they otherwise would have put into the search for basic rpr necessities. Thus the players of the Orenian Empire had their literary pretensions; many Haeseni players a few centuries ago invested tremendous time and energy in making up history, though they certainly didn’t need the extra; other nations have competed for status through elaborate displays of wealth; and a few NLs, like Hunwald, have turned to science. 39. We use the term “surrogate activity” to designate an activity that is directed toward an artificial goal that people set up for themselves merely in order to have some goal to work toward, or let us say, merely for the sake of the “fulfillment” that they get from pursuing the goal. Here is a rule of thumb for the identification of surrogate activities. Given a person who devotes much time and energy to the pursuit of goal X, ask yourself this: If he had to devote most of his time and energy to satisfying his basic roleplay needs, and if that effort required him to use his physical and mental faculties in a varied and interesting way, would he feel seriously deprived because he did not attain goal X? If the answer is no, then the person’s pursuit of goal X is a surrogate activity. Hunwald’s studies in palace rp clearly constituted a surrogate activity, since it is pretty certain that if Hunwald had had to spend his time working at interesting non-palace tasks in order to obtain the necessities of rp, he would not have felt deprived because he didn’t know all about the social seasons and cliques of palace egirls. On the other hand the pursuit of events and slice of life (for example) is not a surrogate activity, because most people, even if their existence were otherwise satisfactory, would feel deprived if they passed their lives without ever attending an event. (But pursuit of an excessive amount of events, more than one really needs, can be a surrogate activity.) 40. In modern CRP default society only minimal effort is necessary to satisfy one’s basic rp needs. It is enough to go through an rp session to acquire some petty Housemagery MA, then log on twice a month and exert the very modest effort needed to hold an MA. The only requirements are a moderate amount of intelligence and, most of all, simple OBEDIENCE. If one has those, the server takes care of one from cradle to grave. (Yes, there is an underclass that cannot take the basic rp necessities for granted, but we are speaking here of the mainstream server.) Thus it is not surprising that modern roleplay is full of surrogate activities. These include writing 3-person magics, nation building, becoming a knight, Hephposting, climbing the staff, acquisition of lore items and mina far beyond the point at which they cease to give any additional roleplay satisfaction, and roleplay activism when it addresses issues that are not important for the activist personally, as in the case of spook loremongers who work for the rights of non-spook normies. These are not always PURE surrogate activities, since for many people they may be motivated in part by needs other than the need to have some goal to pursue. Nation building may be motivated in part by a drive for prestige, schizopost writing by a need to express feelings, militant anti-PVP activism by hostility. But for most people who pursue them, these activities are in large part surrogate activities. For example, the majority of nation builders will probably agree that the “fulfillment” they get from their work is more important than the mina and prestige they earn. 41. For many if not most people, surrogate activities are less satisfying than the pursuit of real rp goals (that is, goals that people would want to attain even if their need for the power process were already fulfilled). One indication of this is the fact that, in many or most cases, people who are deeply involved in surrogate activities are never satisfied, never at rest. Thus the mina-maker constantly strives for more and more mina. The nation builder no sooner makes one group than he moves on to the next. The skinner drives herself to skin always with better shading and faster. Many people who pursue surrogate activities will say that they get far more fulfillment from these activities than they do from the “mundane” business of satisfying their roleplay needs, but that is because in our society the effort needed to satisfy the roleplay needs has been reduced to triviality. More importantly, in our society people do not satisfy their roleplay needs AUTONOMOUSLY but by functioning as parts of an immense server machine. In contrast, people generally have a great deal of autonomy in pursuing their surrogate activities. AUTONOMY 42. Autonomy as a part of the power process may not be necessary for every player. But most people need a greater or lesser degree of autonomy in working toward their rp goals. Their efforts must be undertaken on their own initiative and must be under their own direction and control. Yet most people do not have to exert this initiative, direction and control as single players. It is usually enough to act as a member of a SMALL circlejerk. Thus if half a dozen ST followers discuss a goal among themselves and make a successful joint effort to attain that goal, their need for the power process will be served. But if they work under rigid orders handed down from above that leave them no room for autonomous decision and initiative, then their need for the power process will not be served. The same is true when decisions are made on a collective basis if the circlejerk making the collective decision is so large that the role of each player is insignificant. [5] 43. It is true that some players seem to have little need for autonomy. Either their drive for power is weak or they satisfy it by identifying themselves with some powerful staff clique to which they belong. And then there are unthinking, animal types who seem to be satisfied with a purely roleplay sense of power (the good CRP soldier, who gets his sense of power by grinding roleplay items that he is quite content to use in blind obedience to his superiors). 44. But for most people it is through the power process—having a goal, making an AUTONOMOUS effort and attaining the goal—that self-esteem, self-confidence and a sense of power are acquired. When one does not have adequate opportunity to go through the power process the consequences are (depending on the player and on the way the power process is disrupted) boredom, demoralization, low self-esteem, inferiority feelings, defeatism, depression, anxiety, guilt, frustration, hostility, spouse or child abuse, insatiable hedonism, abnormal FTB/ERP behavior, watching rp in vanish, avoiding mods, etc. [6] SOURCES OF SOCIAL PROBLEMS 45. Any of the foregoing symptoms can occur in any server, but in modern LotC they are present on a massive scale. We aren’t the first to mention that the server today seems to be going crazy. This sort of thing is not normal for roleplay servers. There is good reason to believe that the Aegisian players suffered from less stress and frustration and was better satisfied with his way of life than the modern ST-era player is. It is true that not all was sweetness and light in Aegis. Abuse of pex was common among the Admins and mods, having 0 e-girls was fairly common among many of the non-Elven nations. But it does appear that GENERALLY SPEAKING the kinds of problems that we have listed in the preceding paragraph were far less common among Aegisian nations than they are in modern LotC. 46. We attribute the social and psychological problems of modern LotC to the fact that that server requires people to live under conditions radically different from those under which the rp community evolved and to behave in ways that conflict with the patterns of behavior that the rp community developed while living under the earlier conditions. It is clear from what we have already written that we consider lack of opportunity to properly experience the power process as the most important of the abnormal conditions to which modern LotC subjects players. But it is not the only one. Before dealing with disruption of the power process as a source of social problems we will discuss some of the other sources. 47. Among the abnormal conditions present in modern CRP default LotC are excessive density of playerbases in cultureless hubs, isolation of cliques from the greater community, excessive rapidity of social change and the breakdown of natural small-scale communities such as the feudal village, the noob vassal or the bunnyboy tribe. 48. It is well known that crowding increases stress and aggression. The degree of crowding that exists today and the isolation of cliques from the greater community are consequences of CRP “””progress”””. All pre-CRP nations were predominantly varied. CRP Default vastly increased the size of hubs and the proportion of the population that lives in them, and modern Discord technology has made it possible for a nation to support a far denser population than it ever did before. (Also, Discord exacerbates the effects of crowding because it puts increased disruptive powers in people’s hands. For example, a variety of noise- making devices: pancake bot, soundboards, screaming, etc. If the use of these devices is unrestricted, people who want peace and quiet are frustrated by the noise. If their use is restricted, people who use the devices are frustrated by the regulations. But if these machines had never been invented there would have been no conflict and no frustration generated by them.) 49. For Aegisian players the server map (which usually changes only slowly) provided a stable framework and therefore a sense of security. In the modern server it is settlements and lairs that dominates nature rather than the other way around, and modern LotC changes very rapidly owing to technological change. Thus there is no stable framework. 50. The boomers are fools: They whine about the decay of traditional roleplay, yet they enthusiastically support Discord politics and the auction house. Apparently it never occurs to them that you can’t make rapid, drastic changes in the technology and the economy of a server without causing rapid changes in all other aspects of the server as well, and that such rapid changes inevitably break down traditional roleplay. 51. The breakdown of traditional roleplay to some extent implies the breakdown of the bonds that hold together traditional small-scale vassals and settlements. The disintegration of small-scale vassals and settlements is also promoted by the fact that modern conditions often require or tempt players to move to new locations, separating themselves from their communities. Beyond that, a hub nation HAS TO weaken family ties and local communities if it is to function efficiently. In modern LotC a player’s loyalty must be first to the nation and only secondarily to a small-scale vassal, because if the internal loyalties of small-scale vassals were stronger than loyalty to the system, such vassals would pursue their own advantage at the expense of the system. 52. Suppose that a nation leader or a mod manager appoints his egirl, his irl friend or his co-group hopper to a position rather than appointing the person best qualified for the job. He has permitted personal loyalty to supersede his loyalty to the system, and that is “nepotism” or “discrimination,” both of which are terrible sins in modern LotC. Would-be hub nations that have done a poor job of subordinating personal or local loyalties to loyalty to the system are usually very inefficient. (Look at Vortice.) Thus an advanced hub nation can tolerate only those small-scale communities that are emasculated, tamed and made into tools of the system. [7] 53. Hub nations, rapid change and the breakdown of communities have been widely recognized as sources of server problems. But we do not believe they are enough to account for the extent of the problems that are seen today. 54. A few pre-CRP Default cities were very large and crowded, yet their inhabitants do not seem to have suffered from psychological problems to the same extent as modern players. In the Harvest Confederacy today there still are uncrowded feudal vassals, and we find there the same problems as in capital cities, though the problems tend to be less acute in the feudal vassals. Thus crowding does not seem to be the decisive factor. 55. On the growing edge of the Orenian frontier during the last empire, the mobility of the population probably broke down noble families and small-scale feudal vassals to at least the same extent as these are broken down today. In fact, many noble families lived by choice in such isolation, having no neighbors within several miles, that they belonged to no vassal at all, yet they do not seem to have developed problems as a result. 56. Furthermore, change in Orenian frontier society was very rapid and deep. A character might be born and raised in a log cabin, outside the reach of law and order and fed largely on wild meat; and by the time he arrived at old age he might be working at a regular job and living in Helena as part of the House of Commons. This was a deeper change than that which typically occurs in the life of a modern player, yet it does not seem to have led to psychological problems. In fact, early Orenian society had an optimistic and self-confident tone, quite unlike that of today’s server. [8] 57. The difference, we argue, is that the modern player has the sense (largely justified) that change is IMPOSED on him, whereas the early Helena player had the sense (also largely justified) that he created change himself, by his own choice. Thus a wig settled on a piece of land of his own choosing and made it into a farm through his own discord politicking. In those days an entire nation might have only a couple of dozen players and was a far more isolated and autonomous entity than a modern nation is. Hence the early Helena player participated as a member of a relatively small clique in the creation of a new, ordered nation. One may well question whether the creation of this nation was an improvement, but at any rate it satisfied the early Orenian’s need for the power process. 58. It would be possible to give other examples of servers in which there has been rapid change and/or lack of close community ties without the kind of massive behavioral aberration that is seen in today’s industrial society. We contend that the most important cause of social and psychological problems in modern society is the fact that people have insufficient opportunity to go through the power process in a normal way. We don’t mean to say that modern LotC is the only one in which the power process has been disrupted. Probably most if not all civilized servers have interfered with the power process to a greater or lesser extent. But in modern CRP Default the problem has become particularly acute. ST rp, at least in its recent (mid- to late-20th century) form, is in part a symptom of deprivation with respect to the power process. DISRUPTION OF THE POWER PROCESS IN MODERNLOTC 59. We divide player drives into three groups: (1) those drives that can be satisfied with minimal effort; (2) those that can be satisfied but only at the cost of serious effort; (3) those that cannot be adequately satisfied no matter how much effort one makes. The power process is the process of satisfying the drives of the second group. The more drives there are in the third group, the more there is frustration, anger, eventually defeatism, depression, etc. 60. In modern CRP Default natural player drives tend to be pushed into the first and third groups, and the second group tends to consist increasingly of artificially created drives. 61. In primitive playerbases, basic rp necessities generally fall into group 2: They can be obtained, but only at the cost of serious effort. But modern society tends to guaranty the basic rp necessities to everyone [9] in exchange for only minimal effort, hence basic rp needs are pushed into group 1. (There may be disagreement about whether the effort needed to hold a title is “minimal”; but usually, in lower- to middle- level titles, whatever effort is required is merely that of OBEDIENCE. You sit or stand where you are told to sit or stand and do what you are told to do in the way you are told to do it. Seldom do you have to exert yourself seriously, and in any case you have hardly any autonomy in work, so that the need for the power process is not well served.) 62. Clout needs, such as higher titles, egirls and rally size, often remain in group 2 in modern society, depending on the situation of the player. [10] But, except for people who have a particularly strong drive for status, the effort required to fulfill the clout drives is insufficient to satisfy adequately the need for the power process. 63. So certain artificial needs have been created that fall into group 2, hence serve the need for the power process. Elitist lore and OOC politicking techniques have been developed that make many people feel they need things that their grandparents never desired or even dreamed of. It requires serious effort to earn enough money to satisfy these artificial needs, hence they fall into group 2. (But see paragraphs 80-82.) Modern players must satisfy their need for the power process largely through pursuit of the artificial needs created by the ST admins and OOC nations [11], and through surrogate activities. 64. It seems that for many players, maybe the majority, these artificial forms of the power process are insufficient. A theme that appears repeatedly in the writings of the rp critics of the second half of Arcas is the sense of purposelessness that afflicts many people in modern LotC. (This purposelessness is often called by other names such as “zzz lore cliques” or “Orenian bureaucracy.”) We suggest that the so-called “identity crisis” is actually a search for a sense of purpose, often for commitment to a suitable surrogate activity. It may be that existentialism is in large part a response to the purposelessness of modern LotC. [12] Very widespread in modern LotC is the search for “fulfillment.” But we think that for the majority of players an activity whose main goal is fulfillment (that is, a surrogate activity) does not bring completely satisfactory fulfillment. In other words, it does not fully satisfy the need for the power process. (See paragraph 41.) That need can be fully satisfied only through activities that have some external goal, such as basic rp necessities, titles, pixels, egirls, rally size, etc. 65. Moreover, where goals are pursued through earning mina, getting higher titles or functioning as part of the system in some other way, most people are not in a position to pursue their goals AUTONOMOUSLY. Most players are someone else’s rally and, as we pointed out in paragraph 61, must spend their days doing what they are told to do in the way they are told to do it. Even players who are in settlement leading for themselves have only limited autonomy. It is a chronic complaint of small-community players and leaders that their hands are tied by excessive staff regulation. Some of these regulations are doubtless unnecessary, but for the most part staff regulations are essential and inevitable parts of our extremely complex server. A large portion of small communities today operates on the subregion system. It was reported in the Petran Patriot a few years ago that many of the subregion-granting companies require applicants for subregions to take a personality test that is designed to EXCLUDE those who have creativity and initiative, because such players are not sufficiently docile to go along obediently with the subregion system. This excludes from small playerbases many of the people who most need autonomy. 66. Today players join communities more by virtue of what the system does FOR them or TO them than by virtue of what they do for themselves. And what they do for themselves is done more and more along channels laid down by the system. Opportunities tend to be those that the system provides, the opportunities must be exploited in accord with rules and regulations [13], and techniques prescribed by boomers must be followed if there is to be a chance of success. 67. Thus the power process is disrupted in our server through a deficiency of real goals and a deficiency of autonomy in the pursuit of goals. But it is also disrupted because of those player drives that fall into group 3: the drives that one cannot adequately satisfy no matter how much effort one makes. One of these drives is the need for roleplay continuity. Our level of rp depend on decisions made by other players; we have no control over these decisions and usually we do not even know the players who make them. (“We live in a world in which relatively few players—maybe 30 or 60—make the important decisions”—Bickando of Forum Moderation, quoted by MaltaMoss, Moderation, November 21, 2022.) Our lore depends on whether liches in Vortice are properly roleplayed; on how many loremongers are allowed to get into our playerbase or how many Moderators into the leadership; on how skillful (or incompetent) our goon is; whether we lose or get nationhood may depend on decisions made by government bureaucrats or mina grubbers; and so forth. Most players are not in a position to secure themselves against these threats to more [than] a very limited extent. The player’s search for a good level of rp is therefore frustrated, which leads to a sense of powerlessness. 68. It may be objected that the Aegisian RPer is at a lower level of rp than modern Alarisian, as is shown by his shorter playtime; hence the modern player suffers from less, not more than the amount of insecurity that is normal for players. But amount of magics does not closely correspond with level of rp. What makes us FEEL overpowered is not so much objective level of rp as a sense of confidence in our ability to take care of ourselves. Aegisian RPers, threatened by poison dagger throwing busty elves or by pex abuse, can call PVP default or dupe their own diamond armor. He has no certainty of success in these efforts, but he is by no means helpless against the things that threaten him. The modern player on the other hand is threatened by many things against which he is helpless: unkillable liches, raiding frost witches calling CRP, staff blacklists, nation leadership graylists, egirl drama, redlines that only ST cliques can get, serverwide maintenance or nexus-ripoff phenomena that may disrupt his way of life. 69. It is true that the Aegis RPer is powerless against some of the things that threaten him; weird rp for example. But he can accept the risk of weird rp stoically. It is part of the nature of things, it is no one’s fault, unless it is the fault of some imaginary, impersonal staff nutcase. But threats to the modern player tend to be MAN-MADE. They are not the results of chance but are IMPOSED on him by other persons whose decisions he, as an player, is unable to influence. Consequently he feels frustrated, humiliated and angry.
  2. BURNING THE CANDLE FROM BOTH ENDS or; THE EDICT OF 1893 On the 9th of Sun’s Smile, 1893. . . By the UNITY OF MIND of the GOVERNMENT in PETRA, serving always CHIVALRY, LIBERTY and JUSTICE, we the PEOPLE do present these REFORMS to OUR COMMONWEALTH, delivered at MOUNT GARMONT CONCERNING BETTERMENT to the instated systems of the COMMONWEALTH. TABLE OF CONTENTS; I. PREAMBLE II. THE POWERS THAT BE III. SUCCESSION IV. THE ROUND TABLE V. ELECTION VI. ON KNIGHTHOOD AND NOBILITY I. PREAMBLE The Commonwealth is founded upon the eternal mission to create and preserve liberty for its citizenry. Our motto is simple: chivalry, liberty, fraternity. In pursuing these noble goals, we evolve and change our systems to find the best arrangement. Above all, we are a Republic. We have shaped and evolved our systems across a few eras, but have found that our people are confused about this fact - especially considering our recent lack of elections. Therefore, we do find it fit to once again and this time finally reform our government. Further, our nobility remains vestigial, but nevertheless critical. With that being said, they play a critical role as arbiters of justice, in a way ensuring the good and wholesome conduct of government. Accordingly we do evolve our systems of nobility as well. Namely, we do lift our Regent to a more obvious title of esteemed, enlightened authority, that our citizenry and allies may clearly understand our systems of government more. Finally, we empower our new constitutional monarch to help lead our nation in a duality with the elected Prime Minister. II. THE POWERS THAT BE The greatest recognition of Our State is thus; that the Regent of Our Commonwealth is not sufficiently empowered to conduct their duties as previously laid out. The Grandmaster and the Chancellor before him have been able to claim for themselves unlimited power without true checks, to the point of postponement and eventual stopping of all elections. Knowing the proclivity for the collapse of all such institutions in the face of demagogues given such powers, We have decided to end said Regency. Knowing our ruler to be the enlightened protector of democracy and chivalry, and knowing Our State’s place among the powers of this continent; we do so create the Archduchy of the Petra, which shall be established as the ruler of Our Commonwealth; greater than any Duke that previously or in future may reign, but not claiming for themselves the mantle of King. In light of this, the Knights of the Round do grant this title to Paul Salvian of the House Novellen of Temesch and Moere, Regent of the Commonwealth - he shall be the first of his name to reign over Our Sovereignty, as Archduke Paul Salvian of the Commonwealth of the Petra. It shall be his prerogative and duty to call for the election of the Commonwealth’s Prime Minister (who shall also be the Grandmaster) every four years at maximum; and, upon the completion of voting, to count said votes, thus deciding the new Prime Minister via election. The Archduke then may invite the Prime Minister-Elect to form a government in His name. If the Archduke declines said elected Prime Minister, he may then call for a re-election in which that knight shall no longer be able to run. In keeping with our chivalric traditions, only sworn knights of the Sovereign Order of the Petrine Laurel shall be able to run for Prime Minister, or for the position of Knight-Paramount. III. SUCCESSION SUBSECTION I: The succession of the title Archduke of the Commonwealth of the Petra, henceforth referred to as the Archduke, shall be subject to an official Line of Succession. To be eligible for succession, the following three requirements must be met; One must be of the blood of Paul Salvian of the House of the Petra. One must carry his family name and similarly be considered of the House of the Petra. One must be a sworn knight of the Sovereign Order of the Petrine Laurel. SUBSECTION II: Furthermore, the Line of Succession shall be determined by the reigning Archduke or Archduchess from among the suitable candidates, and does not necessarily include all those that fill the above requirements. One may be entered into the Line of Succession as a squire or ward as well; but to inherit, they must be so recognized as a Ser or Dame. At the time of the promulgation of this missive, the Line of Succession is as follows; Renilde Helena, firstborn daughter and first child of Paul Salvian, squire of Ser Thomas of Balamena Alexander Salvian, first son and fourth child of Paul Salvian, ward of the Countess Mardon IV. THE ROUND TABLE The government to be formed by the Grandmaster is to include at minimum a Knight-Paramount, a Treasurer, a Marshal, a Privy Seal, and a Magistrate. Given the recent issues in requiring knighthood to enter into the Knights of the Round and the Senate before it, We have agreed that the requirement of knighthood shall be reduced to certain positions within Our new Round Table. Of these aforementioned positions, it is mandatory that the Prime Minister and Knight-Paramount are sworn members of the Sovereign Order of the Petrine Laurel. In order to uphold peaceable transitions between government, we also decree that it is not necessarily mandatory that the Knight-Paramount be elected by the people or their peers, instead being chosen by Our declaration. V. ELECTION At the apex of importance to our Commonwealth is the will of the citizenry. Herewith, we instate these ameliorations to our elections and appointments. SUBSECTION I: Following this edict until the terms are otherwise dissolved, or reformed once more, elections shall occur on a basis of every four years or less, declared and administered by the reigning Archduke. Although the participants of our government have no requirement of knight or damehood, a candidate for the role of Prime Minister and Knight-Paramount must already be a knight or dame, held by no shackles of term limits lest they be dissolved and removed by His Grace the Archduke. Elections shall go on for three Saints Days in order to ensure that the citizenry is wholly able to vote. The next shall begin this very year. VI. ON KNIGHTHOOD AND NOBILITY Although we stand with pride for our haven for the chivalrous, the validity of manifold members of the Petrine Order is to be questioned. Many have received ceremonies without so much as lifting a digit to uphold the values we swear by: facing no trials or tribulations. On this account, all knighthoods shall be reconsidered and evaluated in the next year by Ser Thomas of Balamena, the Knight Paramount. A full list shall be released in the future, detailing those which remain in the circles of the Petrine Order and honoring their just chivalry and actions. The nobility of the Old Régime, unshackled thanks to the above reforms, may now enter into wardship, squireship, and after that knighthood; additionally, they shall be guaranteed hereditary estates within Our lands, to be modeled as a castle, fortification, or fortified home otherwise with enough houses or huts beside for three small banner families. Knighting ceremonies shall continue to be the duty of the Old Régime, as well as the protection of their lands in the name of the Commonwealth and the Sovereign Order of the Petrine Laurel. Petra, Flowing Water! Ave! Ave! O SAINTE RÈGNE PETRÉRE HIS GRACE, Paul Salvian of the Petra Archduke of the Petra, Count of Temesch and Moere HIS EXCELLENCY, Ser Bernard of Brasca Grandmaster of the Commonwealth of the Petra HER EXCELLENCY, Dame Irene ‘Dragonsbane’ of Mardon Vicemaster of the Commonwealth of the Petra Ser Thomas of Balamena Knight-Paramount of the Commonwealth of the Petra Ser Cliement-Tielo of Artois Treasurer of the Commonwealth of the Petra Dame Catherine 'The Phoenix' of Furnestock Privy Seal of the Commonwealth of the Petra Ser Pavel ‘the Unspoken’ of Ivanovich Marshal of the Commonwealth of the Petra Ser Charles of Temesch Procurator of the Commonwealth of the Petra
  3. Paul Temesch had lost a hand and an eye in the battle - but more importantly than either of those, he had lost is best friend. "Ser Emilio... you cannot be truly replaced..." he muttered under his breath.
  4. Paul Salvian smiles as he signs the treaty!
  5. A Layman’s Handbook to Noufeille Petra Formatted for Ease of Use Third Edition Written by Stefan de Arany-Bocsa Originally an evolution of the greater Auvergnat-Savoyard language group (combined, perhaps, with devolved elements of Church Flexio, and originally itself an evolution of Auvergnat), hundreds of years of linguistic shift towards Common have left the now-called Noufeille Petra language a unique combination of the two, if somewhat flawed in its lack of an established lexicon. The following handbook, commissioned by Paul Temesch et Moere, is intended to assist in the proliferation of virtuous language and influence while reducing linguistic Auvergnat-Revivalist tendencies in the modern era’s peoples. SECTION ONE Common Words SECTION TWO Common Phrases SECTION THREE Ranks & Jobs COMMON WORDS Greetings Hello - Freyde Goodbye - Freydes’Sol! - lit. Tomorrow’s Greetings! Thank you - Myrcei! You’re Welcome - Tu Nol! - lit. To Nothing My Name is - Moine nomen [Name] Responses Yes - Oui Maybe (probably yes) - Mey’oui Maybe (probably no) - Mey’nol No/Nothing/None - Nol |example: Nol more food Subjects I/Me - Iyl | example: Iyl have a headache My - Moine | example: Moine child You - Jir | example: Jir are stupid Your(s) - Jirs | example: Jirs to take She/Her - Strey | example: Strey is a Weiylle Her’s - Streys | example: Streys dozen basket of eggs He/Him - Strist | example: Strist got sad from reading the book His - Strists | example: Strists problem Food Bread - Bis Meat - Char Wine - Vin COMMON PHRASES Simple Phrase “Ducy nol Geyse” | You’re Wrong/They’re not the same/We’re not on the same page - literal ‘Geese are not Ducks’ “Tun Ofer?” | Is it ready yet?/Are we done here?/Hurry Up! - literal ‘Is the Cask Open?’ “Comment Jirs Atirfeur?” How is your day? “To Jir Matrère, Weiylleu mie.” To your mother, whales are small. PATRIOTIC PHRASE “O SAINTE RÈGNE PETRÉRE/O Sainte Règne Petrére!” - A call for heavenly intervention - literal ‘Oh Saint of the Fatherland!’, in reference to Saint Emma, patron saint of the Commonwealth RANK/JOB Commoner Job Bartender/Tavernkeep - Bracinist Soldier/Levyman - Garde Farmer - Ferist Merchant - Golist Military Rank Archer - Bérsyrist Swordsman - Brocherist Marshal - Maresc Noble Rank Sir - Ser Dame - Dame Nobleman - Burse Noblewoman - Burde Ruler - Règnist
  6. THE DRAGONPACT 18th S.E. 1892 IC WE the representatives by right of GOD and Man of the Kingdom of Aaun and the Commonwealth of the Petra, do hereby agree; ARTICLE I: ON SOVEREIGNTY The Commonwealth of the Petra and the Kingdom of Aaun, also referred to as “the signatories” hereby pledge to mutually recognize each other's status as fully autonomous states. Both signatories recognize each other's right to fully rule and govern their territories as they see fit and shall not interfere with each other's internal affairs. This is inclusive of recognition of the heads of state; as of the signing of this treaty, the sovereign of the Commonwealth is defined as Paul Salvian of the House Temesch et Moere, and the sovereign of the Kingdom is defined as Charles I of the House of Alstion. ARTICLE II: ON MUTUAL DEFENSE I. The signatories hereby pledge to assist each other in matters of national defense; an attack on either party by a third party shall be considered an attack against both. II. Any disputes between the two shall first be resolved through peaceful means and dialogue by way of official channels. III. That whenever the territorial integrity of either nation is threatened in any way, shape, or form, the two shall come together to discuss preemptive measures. IV. That neither signatory shall aggress upon the other in any way. ARTICLE III: TRADE I. That those merchants affiliated with the Commonwealth of the Petra be allowed free and ready access to cross the border into the Kingdom whilst trading their wares without undue taxes or harassment. II. That those merchants affiliated with the Kingdom of Aaun be allowed free and ready access to cross the border into the Commonwealth whilst trading their wares without undue taxes or harassment. ARTICLE IV: DIPLOMATIC TIES To ensure free and open communications are maintained between the signatories, embassies shall be made available in each of their capitals. Diplomats are guaranteed safety and immunity from persecution, to be tried according to the laws of their respective homelands. Should any diplomat cause issue or violate the laws of the other signatory, they are to be immediately extradited and face trial as though such crimes were committed in their own. ARTICLE V: DURATION The signatories mutually agree that this pact shall be in effect for twelve years, or until the death of the first sovereign between the two signatories; when this occurs, the signatories shall then immediately meet to decide upon renewal of the pact. One year from the natural expiration of this pact (eleven years from its signing), the signatories agree to meet to decide upon the renewal of the pact. ARTICLE VI: RECOGNITION OF BLOOD The signatories mutually agree to allow marriage between their nobilities so long as the locally required approvals are gathered by each member of the couples in question. By extension, such marriages shall not be considered morganatic within either nation. ARTICLE VII: EXTRADITION Should a citizen of either signatory be found to have acted in breach of local law whilst in the other’s territories, and should that citizen flee to their homeland; they shall be extradited to the signatory in which they committed the crime, and tried according to the local laws therein. HIS EXCELLENCY, Paul Salvian, Regent of the Commonwealth, Count of Temesch and Moere HIS HIGHNESS, Charles Leopold Sovereign of the Aaunic Kingdom Prince of Alstion
  7. THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE HOLY ORENIAN EMPIRE: Volume VIII; The Turmoil Written by Justinian Nafis, heir to the County of Susa and Adolphus Gloriana, Earl of Suffolk, Prince of Sutica The Turmoil “He is surrounded by enemies on all sides, has presided over the greatest exodus the Empire has thus seen, and now scrapes at the heels of the Pontiff. I almost feel pity for him.” - Prince Olivier I of Savoy on Emperor Philip II The reign of Emperor Philip II is much-maligned by nearly all scholars and other individuals who lived through the period. His reign was one marked by a total dysfunction and stagnation of the instruments of Imperial governance, leading to a degradation of the Empire as a whole. While some minor reforms were attempted, they were ultimately too little, and too poorly-executed, to stem the tide of the Empire’s decline. However, in more recent years, some historians have questioned whether this dark period for the Empire could truly be laid at the feet of its most infamous figure, or if it was the result of natural processes beyond any one man’s control. Born the second son to Empress Anne and Emperor Joseph in 1759, it was not expected that Philip Augustus would eventually inherit the throne. Instead of being tutored in matters of statecraft, politics, and diplomacy, as his elder brother, John Charles, was, the young Philip Augustus instead focused on matters of warfare, theology, and law. He was a dutiful pupil and excelled in the latter two subjects, while remaining competent in the first. From the age of sixteen he served in the ISA, eventually rising to the rank of captain and serving with distinction in the Inferi War, but primarily kept the company of priests and other men and women of the clergy. It was rumored that he too would eventually don the habit, but in 1783 he was wed to Judith Alice Helvets, his first cousin and the daughter of the Duke of Helvets. The match, purely once of political convenience, sparked little joy. It was said that on the day of his wedding, Prince Philip found more interest in his new title, the Duchy of Crestfall, than his bride. Their marriage was tumultuous, and after bearing their final child, Helen Antonia, in 1796, the Duchess of Crestfall slipped into madness and was not seen again. Although foul play on her husband’s part is occasionally suggested, the truth of the matter cannot be known. Upon his ascension to the throne, one of the few advantages the new Emperor Philip II had were his children. The now-Princess Imperial, Josephine Augusta, had served as Minister of Civil Affairs for several decades and was regarded as the most competent of the Emperor’s children. Although none dared to speak it, many believed that she, rather than her siblings, or even her father, ought to be the one atop the throne. Her sisters were the adventurous Anne Caroline, who had herself risen to become an ISA lieutenant, and the beautiful Helen Antonia, who enjoyed immense popularity among the courtiers and citizenry of Providence (Helen's murder at the height of her renown in 1830 and the widely-followed investigation thereafter propelled her to a near-mythical status, coining the term 'the pretty princess' among the populace). Philip’s two sons, the Crown Prince, Philip Aurelian, Count of Renzfeld, and Robert Francis, Count of Temesch, were both well-liked and affable, though the former was typically absent from both public life and government affairs, and the latter was thought to be mad. However, as a whole, the Crestfall family was seen as an intelligent, loyal group who would prove to be fine leaders during their father’s reign, and whom many hoped would be better ones after it. The reasons for Philip II’s great unpopularity are plenty. Although well-respected by the clergy, Philip Augustus had never been a charismatic, nor amiable, individual. A furious temper gripped him, though it was rarely put on display publicly, and while not a dolt, it was well-understood that the Duke of Crestfall had neither the training nor the aptitude for the Imperial throne. Scandalous rumors surrounded Philip II throughout his life, possibly, and ironically, stemming from his many efforts to display his piety and devotion to God. While none were proven until after his death, that did not stop them from being widely-believed. Finally, and perhaps most infamously, he had censured his sister, Elizabeth Anne, when she had tried to present the Rosemoor Bill before the House of Lords in 1831 (and in the eyes of many had caused the beloved princess’ death). It was this past action above all else that brought to the forefront Philip II’s greatest and most persistent challenge that would dominate his reign: Savoy. Having been re-founded in the twilight of Emperor John VIII’s reign, the Principality of Savoy was on the rise, enjoying steady immigration from all over the human realms, though mainly from the Empire. Having earned the ire of almost all of the Imperial Court due to his staunch opposition to the Rosemoor Bill, the new Emperor soon found himself losing many courtiers, ladies, and young men in want of ladies. Furthermore, the departure of his grandson, the highly-regarded Philip Amadeus, Duke of Furnestock, only a year earlier, made others doubt the future of the Empire. Although Princess Imperial Josephine was a bright spot, Anne Caroline was far more of an adventurer than a stateswoman, the idolized Helen Antonia was dead, Crown Prince Philip Aurelian was rarely seen, and the disturbed Robert Francis had joined the Duke of Furnestock in his voyage east. While not a dire state of affairs, the future looked far brighter in Savoy, where the energetic Prince Olivier I and his youthful entourage seemed to be soaring. With his realm quickly losing its primacy on the world stage, the Emperor knew that he had to make immediate moves to consolidate his position. He began in 1837 by conferring new titles upon his remaining children, in the hopes of cementing the Crestfall line and bringing status to them among those courtiers that yet remained. Josephine Augusta was made the Duchess of Crestfall, the Emperor’s own title. Anne Caroline was made Duchess of Auvergne. Finally, Philip Aurelian received the Duchy of Adria, a title that had been held by the Novellens since Emperor Joseph II - but it was here that the Emperor’s authority was challenged. Famously (or infamously), the Duchy of Adria has historically been an elected title, although there are a number of instances where it has been inherited, conferred, and stripped at will by the reigning monarch of the day. Ever since Joseph II had been elected Duke of Adria in 1748, the tradition of election had been dropped, and the title was passed down as any other. There had always been a few minor noblemen of Adrian heritage that had petitioned for the resumption of ducal elections, though they had been too minor of a faction to be taken seriously. Now, however, with the ascension of a much-reviled Emperor, these factions took the opportunity to contest the conferral of the title onto Philip Aurelian. Led by Franz Nikolai Tuvyic, Count of Dobrov and grandson of the former Archchancellor Franz Nikolai de Sarkozy, a collection of lords in the Grenz argued that the transfer of the Duchy of Adria was illegal, and required an election (which they proceeded to organize and host). The Empire did not recognize the election’s legitimacy, and Philip Aurelian issued an official rebuke of the practice entirely, but it proceeded regardless. Franz Tuvyic was named Duke of Adria by a duma of Grenzi lords, and he and his followers proceeded to cross the northern border into Haeseni lands. Over the years, lords and ladies from across the Grenz, and even from Haense itself, would travel to the abode of Franz Tuvyic to pay homage to the ‘Duke of Adria’, but no serious conflict would emerge from this and eventually his claim was forgotten entirely. However, this act of defiance showed a vulnerability in Emperor Philip’s reign that was not present with his predecessors. The Emperor’s next move to consolidate power came later in 1837 with the formal abolition of the Imperial Diet and the banning of political parties. Although the Diet had been a decaying institution for some time, and had served little practical purpose during the latter half of Emperor John VIII’s reign, it was an old and cherished institution and was representative of the Petrine Empire as a whole. Political parties had sunk in popularity since their inception during the early days of the Imperial Diet, but they too had historically been prominent organizations in driving political participation. Along with the newly-appointed Archchancellor Drasus DeNurem, the son of the famed hero of the Rubern War, Alren DeNurem, the Emperor made a sweeping appeal to the people of Oren, promising that without a Diet to impede him, the reforms that the nation needed could begin with earnest. He finally signed the Rosemoor Bill into law, and although it was met with some gratitude from the remaining ladies of the court of the Augustine Palace, most regarded it as a cynical move done too late. 1838 continued to be an eventful year, with Crown Prince Philip Aurelian choosing to finally remarry after four years of being a widower. In 1834, his wife, the extravagant, vain, yet remarkably well-liked Lady Amadea Ulyssa of Pompourelia, perished early due to poor health. As the Empire had not seen an Empress since Anne, and had not seen an Empress-consort since Lorena of Cascadia, it was deemed of vital importance that Philip Aurelian ascend to the throne with a consort. Natural leaders of courtly functions and the cultural and social apparatus of the Empire, consorts, while rarely given overt political power, still played an important function in strengthening an Emperor’s rule. The Duke of Adria, already having five children with grandchildren on the way, had no need to marry young in order to produce further heirs. Thus, he chose to wed Princess Charlotte of Aldersberg, herself the widow of the late Sigismund, Count of Dobrov. Having been one of the few remaining prominent members of the Imperial court, and having two young daughters of her own, the well-regarded, sensible Princess Charlotte was seen as both a fitting match for the Duke of Adria and a suitable candidate for a future consort. The wedding between the two was well-attended and not inexpensive, but, given how both were now middle-aged, far from extravagant. To end the eventful year of 1838, and to provide another thorn in Emperor Philip’s side, was the sudden abdication of King Heinrik II of Haense, and the ascension of his far more popular, and capable, son, Sigismund Karl. During a feast, an accident occured (the nature is unknown) that revealed King Heinrik to be a member of the Azdrazi, a cult of dragon-worshippers who have sacrificed their pious mortality for the trappings of immortality promised by a false God. In fear and shame, the much-maligned King of Haense fled his kingdom, not to be seen again save for the occasional rumor from passing merchants and lonely farmers. The now-King Sigismund III, admired by countrymen and foreigners alike, was met with praise and applause upon ascending to the throne. His father’s twenty-one years of misrule had weakened Haense and given an opening for the Empire to assert their strength under Emperor John VIII, but now that he was gone, the kingdom could make a recovery. Unlike his counterpart in Emperor Philip II, King Sigismund III had both the competence and political means to achieve reform within Haense and restore it to the strength it had enjoyed before. Soon, Karosgrad became a popular destination for Orenian emigres from the Grenz and Arentania, just as San Luciano had been the location of choice for those leaving the Petra and capital. The rise of Haense further threatened the Empire’s position, and soon talks of an alliance were being made between Haense, Urguan, and Savoy, with other, smaller, states eager to join. Knowing that war could come were he not to receive allies, the Emperor soon ordered Archchancellor DeNurem to see who could be brought back into the fold of the Empire. One natural ally of the Emperor was the incumbent High Pontiff, Everard IV, who had ascended to the Pontifical throne in 1835. Reviled by Savoy, he proved to be a natural counterbalance to the rising principality and would often mediate when disagreement arose between the two states. In return, Emperor Philip would make constant displays of his piety, and ordered the construction of churches, wayshrines, and abbeys. One occasion involved the Emperor calling for court, only to direct his small audience down to the basilica, where he publicly underwent confession. Some, especially those within the Emperor’s inner circle, took to dubbing him ‘the Pious’ for his charitable actions and deference to the Church, while others, more cynical of either his motives or those of the High Pontiff, took to calling him ‘Priestlover’. The Emperor’s other forays into foreign affairs were met with far less success. In 1841, Philip II invited the mercenary captain Gaspard van Aert, a descendent of the House of Vilac, to settle on Orenian lands in the western reaches of the Oltremont. With a large, well-disciplined band of loyal followers, Gaspard fielded perhaps the highest-quality soldiers to be found on Almaris, and would eventually prove to be an invaluable ally. The Emperor, knowing the potential he had, wished to secure his vassalage in order to protect his western flank, for the dwindling ISA no longer had the strength to man its garrisons there. Van Aert agreed, and was granted the County of Middelan. However, the military talents of Van Aert and his soldiers would go unrealized by the Empire, and after a decade, Count Gaspard, despairing at the further decline of Oren, would turncoat and join Urguan in exchange for lands and titles. Men of the Blackvale Company under Gaspard van Aert scouting around the Oltremont, date unknown The second debacle came in 1844, when the Emperor attempted to curry the favor of the high elves of Haelun’or. Already a weakened power, it puzzled many as to why the Imperial Crown would seek ties to such a despised state. It puzzled them even more when the Emperor spent a substantial portion of the treasury’s funds on ‘elven books’ that never materialized, leading some to speculate that such a purchase was either a bribe, or was for elven erotica. Little came of the venture, save a pact of non-aggression, and many believed that the Empire’s full isolation on the world stage was now cemented. Were it not for the actions of the Foreign Secretary, Elizabeth Wittenbach, who managed to keep diplomatic channels open and convince the other nations of the world that war against Oren was against their interests, it is likely that the Empire would have been overwhelming and eventually forced into war far earlier. Another blow was dealt to the Empire in 1845, when official word of the Duke of Furnestock’s death came. Since his departure from the Empire nine years early, infrequent correspondence from Philip and Anastasia had revealed that they had conquered a small archipelago, which they ruled in the name of the Empire from their capital city of Ulyssa. Over the years, an agreement was reached to establish trade between Ulyssa and Providence and to have any children born to the Furnestock couple sent back to the mainland upon reaching the age of five. With more regular contact now established between the mainland and Ulyssa, there was some hope among the population of Oren that the Duke and Duchess of Furnestock would return. However, it seemed that it was not to be, as, at the young age of thirty, Philip Amadeus, the Duke of Furnestock, was announced to be deceased. The Duke’s body was returned to the Empire in an enclosed casket. His funeral, which drew a sizable crowd, was presided over by the Emperor himself, who was said to either have been weeping or cackling with glee- the sources disagree. It is well-attested that when the Duke of Furnestock’s young daughter of six, Princess Catherine Anastasia, gave the final speech of the day, with tears staining her cheeks, many in the audience regarded her words to be more sincere and better-crafted than those of the Emperor. Rumors, perhaps spawning from this supposed display of nonchalance, or deriving from previous accusations levied against Philip II, soon circulated after the funeral that either the Duke’s death was either arranged or faked by the Emperor himself in the hopes of cementing his rule. Unknown to the people of the Empire at the time, and much less Emperor Philip II himself, the Duke of Furnestock’s death had indeed been faked, but at his own will. Although his exact motivations for doing so are unknown- Philip Amadeus, upon his return to Almaris, would say that he wished to fully remove himself from the Imperial succession, while others close to him believed that his intentions to return to the Empire were laid from the start, and he simply wished to undermine his grandfather’s reign- he would seemingly return from the grave three years later. That matter, though, shall be covered later. The internal tensions within Philip II’s Council of State also reflected the deterioration in the Empire as a whole. Although Drasus DeNurem was a firm and serious man, just like his father, he was no Alren DeNurem. Too combative for his own good, without the successes to justify it, he and the Emperor frequently argued bitterly, and at times, as is rumored, worked actively to undermine the other. The nature of many of these arguments are either unknown or controversial. For instance, there are disagreements in the sources as to whether it was Archchancellor DeNurem or the Emperor himself who aimed to stifle any talks of reform. Additionally, after Philip II’s death, it was revealed by his own granddaughter, Moliana, the Countess of Dobrov, that he attempted to gain her hand in marriage. While little more than a rumor clouded by furtive whispers at the time, some allege that Archchancellor DeNurem mocked the Emperor for this, although it is doubtful. What is known is that in the winter of 1845, tired of DeNurem’s constant opposition to his wishes, the Emperor had him sacked and replaced with his own daughter, the Princess Imperial Josephine. To the now-Archchancellor Josephine Augusta, it was evident that serious change would need to come within the Empire lest it be fully surpassed by Savoy and Haense. It was agreed upon by all of the council that the first step would have to be the construction of a new capital. Although Providence was grand and ambitious, the city was poorly-designed, far too large, and had become the scorn of most of Almaris. Pouring over architectural models of the former Imperial capital of Helena, Archchancellor Josephine hired a team of architects, led by an elven woman named Lhoris and the Baroness of Rosius, Louise Halcourt, to design what would become the new capital of a changed Empire. Receiving a Pontifical dispensation, the new capital would be renamed to the City of St. James after the Emperor’s friend and object of admiration: High Pontiff James II. Unbeknownst to much of his council, however; the Emperor had ideas of his own to revitalize the Empire. Jealous of his brother’s triumph over Norland, his father’s triumph over Sedan, his mother’s triumph over the inferi, and his grandfather’s triumph over the A.I.S, Philip II sought to find a war of his own to win. Ignoring the disastrous state of the ISA, the lack of will among his populace for war, and the ongoing plans to construct a new capital, the Emperor set his sights on Urguan, and began fomenting a plan for how to spark a war against them. The cause for war came on the 14th of the Sun’s Smile, 1848, when it was reported that Duncan Vuiller, a member of the ISA and son of the Baron of Vuillermoz, one of the last nobles in the Empire with some power and the overlord of a sizable village, had attacked and killed a member of the dwarven Ireheart clan while hunting in the mountains of Arentania. Although Duncan Vuiller denied these charges, the Underking of the Urguani Horde, Ulfric Frostbeard, believed otherwise. He demanded that the Vuiller soldier be handed to Urguan to pay for his crimes, which Emperor Philip refused. He could not be more delighted about the events unfolding. It was evident to all that soon King Ulfric would declare war, so the Emperor gave the order for mobilization. This immediately backfired, exposing the weaknesses of the Empire that had been masked for so long. Although Emperor Philip had seen extensive service in his youth, that was decades earlier. Now he was nearing ninety, confined to a wheelchair, and suffering from the same ill-judgment that had plagued his life. His son and heir, the Duke of Adria, possessed virtually no military experience himself, and was absent when the call to arms came - indeed the Crestfall family as a whole had been split by rumors and internal strife, leaving only the Princess Imperial to stand at her father's side. The vaunted veterans of the war against Norland had since died or retired, leaving behind a dwindled, green soldiery core in the ISA. Urguan, on the other hand, had hired the services of Gaspard van Aert and the feared Blackvale Company as well as the Ferrymen mercenaries, bolstering their own legions. To make matters worse, they sent diplomats down to Savoy, hoping to form an alliance in the hopes of crushing the Empire. A panic set in the general populace of Oren, as many feared that the coming war would go disastrously. It was at this time that the Duke and Duchess of Furnestock made their triumphant return, though the beginnings of such were far more muted and cautious. It is well-known by now that, for whatever reason it may have been. Philip Amadeus had feigned his death three years earlier. Although his intentions seem to have been to remain away from the succession of the Imperial throne, that did not stop the flow of letters and information from Almaris from reaching Ulyssa. Although the dates are unclear, it is known that in 1847 the Duchess of Furnestock herself ventured back to the mainland to meet with old friends and evaluate the state of the Empire. The condition it was in shocked her to the core, and many nobles, soldiers, and courtiers within Oren urged her to return to try and salvage the situation. Returning home with this news, Anastasia was able to convince her husband to abandon his plans of distancing himself from the Empire (or, alternatively, brought him news that the situation in Oren was ripe for them to hatch their scheme). A year later, in 1848, the two set sail to the Principality of Savoy, where they knew they would be able to find support in Prince Olivier, who had been Philip Amadeus’s childhood tutor and a strong friend of the man. They arrived in San Luciano that fall, where they proceeded to meet with local dignitaries, nobles, and eventually the prince himself. Disguised, as to not have word of his return immediately spread, the Duke of Furnestock convinced the Prince of Savoy to reject Urguan’s offer of an alliance and join him in his bid to claim the Empire. On the 1st of the Sun’s Smile, 1849, Philip Amadeus and Anastasia Victoria’s return to Almaris was announced before the court of Savoy, upon which a great band of mercenaries, courtiers, and former Orenians swore themselves to the Duke and Duchess. Prince Olivier also pledged his sword to them, though for the moment they did not make their bid for the Imperial throne directly. The city of San Luciano, c. 1845 Back in Providence, the events of the past few months had swept the nation in a frenzy. A great fire had swept across the city, leaving much of it in ruin, but allowing Archchancellor Josephine to begin overseeing construction for the new capital. Mere weeks later, word of Philip Amadeus’s return had reached the Empire, sparking furious discussion. Many believed that he and Anastasia would return to the Empire, take charge of the war effort, and lead them to victory. The Emperor and much of his inner circle took a more cynical view. Why had the Duke of Furnestock faked his death? Why had he chosen to land at San Luciano instead of Providence? While Emperor Philip eventually decided to release a missive confirming his grandson’s return, and officially invited them to return to Oren, he also engaged in a secret correspondence with Philip Amadeus in order to ascertain his true motives. A week later, further chaos erupted. After rejecting an ultimatum from Urguan, the Empire now found itself at war. Although the ISA under the command of the capable General Erik Ruthern was able to defeat a small Urguani raiding party at Ephesius on the 17th of the Sun’s Smile, it was still believed by all that the war was a lost cost. A later battle at the bridge leading to the city, now fully rebuilt and renamed as St. James, ended far more disastrously for the ISA as one of their large patrols was cut down by a force half their size. Much of the Empire, now in panic, sent frantics letters to the Duke and Duchess of Furnestock back in San Luciano, begging them to return and salvage the situation. Philip and Anastasia, though desiring to return home, bided their time. On the 22nd of Owny’s Flame, wishing to first secure their children so that they could not be used against them, Anastasia, with the aid of a few sympathetic staff, snuck into the royal apartments in St. James and took her children from their rooms without raising alarm or suspicion. She sent them back to Savoy with a few servants, choosing to stay behind in the capital to gather support there. Meanwhile, back in San Luciano, Philip Amadeus announced that he was raising a mercenary company in order to support the Empire in their war against Urguan. While, on the surface, this appeared to be a most magnamious action, recently-uncovered correspondence reveals that the Duke of Furnestock had already offered to raise a mercenary company for his grandfather, which was privately rejected. With this move, he forced the Emperor to publicly rebuke this offer of aid, further stoking tensions and leading many in the Empire to believe that he had gone mad. By this point, it was evident that war was to come between the two Philips. Although he still had yet to officially declare for the Empire, most believed that the Duke of Furnestock’s aim was either to seize the throne himself or depose his grandfather and name himself regent for his father, the Duke of Adria. Whatever was truly the initial intent of Philip Amadeus, the path he eventually took was decided on the 17th of Godfrey’s Triumph, 1849, when, in one of the more controversial incidents in the entirety of the Petrine Empire, Philip Aurelian, the Duke of Adria, died. During his time as the Crown Prince of the Empire, Philip Aurelian’s reputation was twofold- a characterization that has survived through decades of revisionism and counter-revisionism. On one hand, he was an affable, reasonable man of good humor. He avoided many of the controversies of his father, and was even said to have privately opposed him, though these rumors cannot be confirmed. He was well-liked by those who knew him, and had a number of well-positioned friends at court, and it was believed that the Empire under him would be better than under his father. On the other hand, he was seen by others, especially those more distant, as being lazy and inattentive towards his duties. He held no official position in the government, nor in the ISA, and at the outbreak of the war with Urguan, it was whispered that he was more preoccupied with visiting his mistress than taking charge of the war effort. Although he was something of an obscure figure for most of his father’s reign, the announcement of his death on the evening of the 17th of Godfrey’s Triumph, 1849, sent shockwaves throughout Oren. Three central narratives attempt to explain the sudden death of the Duke of Adria, although all three have their shortcomings. The first, and the official one told by the Empire, is that the Duke of Adria suffered from a heart attack and was found dead in his chambers. While many were quick to circulate this tale, both from Emperor Philip II’s circle and from the Duke of Furnestock’s, many began to question this. The timing of Philip Aurelian’s death, a number of eyewitness sources claiming foul play was involved, and official investigation logs from the Ministry of Justice all point towards assassination being the cause, of which two theories remain the most prominent. The second theory, and perhaps the most popular-believed one within the heartlands, is that it was the Duke of Adria’s mistress, Mary Casimira Carrington, the former Governess of the Palace and the mother of one of his children, that killed him. After having been sacked from her position in 1847 by the Emperor, it is well-attested that Mary Carrington had gone mad and became a recluse in her estate in Redenford. However, mere days before her murder of the Imperial heir, she requested that he come meet with her during one of her visits into the capital, which he did. Accounts from this point on differ, with some attesting that Mary herself killed the prince with a concealed dagger, while others say that she had hired a man from Sedan (now a vassal state of the Underking of Urguan) to do the deed. However, this narrative is muddied by the fact that the Duke of Adria was allegedly spotted walking around St. James mere days after his supposed assassination, although this could be explained by some delusion or paranoia that had set over the populace as their Empire erupted into chaos. The final theory, promoted by High Pontiff Everard VI and discussed in depth in the propagandized Philippian Chronicles more recently published by one Henry Penton, follows closely with the second theory, but also asserts that Anastasia, and possibly Philip Amadeus as well, had ordered Mary Carrington to carry out the assassination. The basis of this accusation rests in a letter that was supposedly given to the High Pontiff by an Azdrazi. While Mary Carrington’s connection to Anastasia Ruthern is well-documented, and the latter was in St. James at this time, this theory is plagued by a lack of evidence beyond this letter, the contents of which have yet to be divulged and have the potential to be forgery. Regardless, this was perhaps the most impactful of the three theories, as it gave Everard VI the grounds to excommunicate Philip and Anastasia for a second time during their reign (the consequences of that decision shall be explored in our next volume). Philip Aurelian, the Duke of Adria, c. 1843 In the immediate aftermath of the Duke of Adria’s death, Emperor Philip II ordered the arrest of his granddaughter, the Duchess of Furnestock, who had been found gathering support from disaffected city burghers within St. James. However, while the Duchess was detained for a short time, the ISA soldiers eventually decided to go against their Emperor’s orders; they released Anastasia and escorted her back to San Luciano, where they would join her and her husband’s growing retinue. When she arrived, she found that word of her father-in-law’s death had reached Savoy already, and with it a number of nobles and other citizens of the Empire, ready to pledge themselves to her husband. Indeed, Philip Amadeus had not been idle during his wife’s time in San Luciano. A popular, well-connected man by all accounts, the Duke of Furnestock had been drawing supporters from the Empire to his side to supplement his small retinue in Savoy. All but one of the brigades in the ISA had flipped, including the Fourth Brigade- the Emperor’s own bodyguard. The Houses of de Rosius, Sarkozy, Carrington, Pruvia, O’Rourke, Basrid, d’Azor, and others, all either led by or containing old friends of Philip and Anastasia, had ventured to Savoy in order to pledge themselves to the man they hoped to be the savior of the Empire. Even foriegn dignitaries from Urguan, Fenn, Haelun’or, and Elvenesse gathered in San Luciano to oversee the events, preparing to throw their recognition behind the rising prince. The fateful day came on the 11th of Tobias’s Bounty, 1849. Before the court of Savoy, itself bearing far more onlookers from outside the principality than within it, Philip Amadeus, the Duke of Furnestock, proclaimed his intention to seize the throne of the Holy Orenian Empire. To great applause, and further pledges of fealty (including from the Prince of Savoy himself), he was declared Emperor Philip III. The Emperor-claimant then issued the famous document, The Mandate of Heaven, announcing his claim to the Imperial throne and the formal deposition of his grandfather. In order to enforce this decree with words, the Emperor-claimant, his wife, and the Prince of Savoy, set sail from San Luciano with the intent of landing in the Lower Petra in order to march on St. James. It is around this time that one of the more famous legends of the ‘Aster Revolution’ was born, giving rise to both the name of Philip Amadeus’s taking of the Imperial throne and the popular name for the period during which he reigned. It is said that, as Philip and Anastasia prepared to set sail from San Luciano with their army, they were gifted cloaks formed from aster flowers by a collection of burghers from the city. Other accounts say they were given small circlets of aster flowers made by children. The truth, however, is that even before Philip Amadeus announced his claim for the Empire, he and Anastasia consulted a local seer, who gave them both an aster flower to serve as a talisman of luck. This matters little for the wider legend, as soon the image of the aster became popularly associated with the couple’s march against their grandfather and the later reforms they brought about during their reign. Word traveled quickly, and within days Emperor Philip II had received word that his grandson was marching upon the capital with an army of ten-thousand, perhaps even more. With Savoyards, Orenians, and mercenaries in his ranks, it was evident that whatever the Empire could muster would not be enough, and Emperor Philip’s ever-narrowing inner circle continued to advise him to either reach a settlement with the Duke of Furnestock, abdicate and flee, or prepare St. James for a siege. However, the Emperor, with senility and madness seeping in, did not act. Believing that the Empire still stood behind him, and that his grandchildren had little support, he ordered General Ruthern to send a force to arrest the potential usurper. While some allege that the Count of Kositz had sympathies towards Philip and Anastasia, given how the latter was also his granddaughter, these rumors are false. A loyal man, Erik Ruthern desired to keep his ISA free of political schemes. Thus, his inaction in stopping the advancing Aster Revolution can be attributed to two factors. The first is that he simply had no force left to combat them with. Nearly all of the ISA had defected by this point, and what scant few forces remained were in St. James under the command of Major Erik Othaman. Indeed, it was for this precise reason that General Ruthern was away from the events of the Aster Revolution, as by this time he was desperately trying to raise forces in the Grenz in order to help and stop the Urguani horde, which by now had occupied some of the abandoned fortifications in the outer edges of the Oltremont. By the 15th of Tobias’s Bounty, Philip and Anastasia’s army had landed in the Lower Petra, near the old manor of the de Falstaff family. From here, they resumed their march to St. James, their ranks swelling from local aristocrats, peasants, and soldiers wishing to join them. By now, nearly the entirety of the Imperial peerage had sworn themselves to the two, and Haelun’or had officially recognized them as the rightful sovereigns of the Empire. A day later, with their army within a few days of the Imperial capital, it was here that Philip II, much like Emperor Antonius nearly a century and a half before him, disappeared. Thankfully, unlike with Antonius, it is universally-agreed that here Emperor Philip II died. The landing of Philip and Anastasia’s army in the Lower Petra, c. 1849 The most popular narrative is the one told by Prince Olivier of Savoy himself mere days after the event. In it, he himself claims to have snuck into the city in the middle of the night ahead of his army. Hiding under a bridge that crossed one of the city’s vital canals, the Prince of Savoy waited for the next morning. He correctly predicted that, with defeat on the horizon, the Emperor’s inner circle would force his evacuation. As the infirm Philip II was wheelchair-bound, he would have to be pushed over this bridge along the road leading to the stables. After eight hours of waiting, the sun rose, and indeed the Emperor was pushed along the bridge by a few of his attendants. It was here, Olivier Renault claimed, that he leapt atop the bridge, grabbed the Emperor’s wheelchair, and pushed him into the canal, where he drowned. Unfortunately for the humorous tastes of those who enjoy sailor’s tales and the like, the Prince of Savoy was nowhere near St. James at this time. He could not have been, as he was still encamped with Philip and Anastasia, making plans for a potential siege of St. James with the former. Instead, it is far more likely that, in the panic gripping the capital due to Philip Amadeus’s advance, the Emperor was simply trampled or accidentally pushed into the canals as swarms of citizens tried to flee the city. Some offer alternative theories that his daughter, the Archchancellor Josephine, orchestrated her father’s death to try and claim the throne herself, but these have absolutely no scholarly credibility. The primary reason behind discrediting any notions of foul play on the part of Josephine Augusta is her own unfortunate death merely a day later. Now in charge of the remnants of an Empire in ruin, and exerting little control beyond the walls of the Imperial palace itself, the Archchancellor gave the official order to evacuate the capital as the vanguard elements of the army of the Aster Revolution could be seen from the city walls. It was around this time that, as the Princess Imperial boarded her own carriage in an attempt to flee St. James, an accident occurred, resulting in her untimely death. It was later said that as she left, she ordered the city garrison to surrender the city to her nephew; however, this could simply be propaganda crafted by Emperor Philip III to cement his legitimate rule, as it is also attested that before she tried to make her escape, the Archchancellor set fire to the Imperial archives. While no specific details are known, the general circumstances of her death are, fortunately, undisputed. One day after his aunt’s death, and two days after his grandfather’s, Philip Amadeus reached the main bridge over the River Petra that led into Providence on the waning hours of the night of the 17th of Tobias’s Bounty. With an army of at least thirteen-thousand (though some estimates put it higher), the now-Emperor Philip III was greeted by the last remaining force to oppose him- a group of one-thousand five-hundred ISA soldiers led by Major Erik Othaman, the only soldiers to not defect to his cause. Wishing for an easy capitulation of the city, and fearing the message it would send were he to kill his legal subjects, the new Emperor took to negotiating with Major Othaman for the better part of an hour. Eventually, Othaman and his small force was allowed to garrison Fort Linnord, situated near the capital. Although they planned to form a small, independent state there, these notions were quickly quashed as, upon his return, General Ruthern ordered their return to the ISA and fealty to their new Emperor. As midnight came and went, and dawn soon emerged, Emperor Philip III and Empress Anastasia advanced into St. James at the head of their army. Although many of the citizens of the capital had fled, upon seeing that no bloodshed was to be had, they quickly began to stream back in. A great crowd of over twenty-thousand cheered for the young Emperor and Empress as they made their procession through the capital, either genuinely thankful they had deposed their despised grandfather, or perhaps intimidated by the strong army accompanying them. Shouts of Philip ‘the Great’ rang through the air as the jovial, young Imperial couple embraced their warm reception with an equally-spirited demeanor. The two marched to the Basilica of the Argentate Star, where they were met by High Pontiff Everard VI, who, after much discussion, agreed to hold an immediate coronation. Despite no plans having been made, the coronation of Emperor Philip III was one of the greatest-attended in history, and was generally well-received. On the 19th of Tobias’s Bounty, 1849, he was officially crowned as Emperor Philip III. At the Emperor’s insistence, the High Pontiff also crowned Anastasia, though for now she was to remain simply Empress-consort (something that would soon change, though it shall be covered in our next volume). After the coronation ceremony, the pair proceeded to the courtroom of the Imperial palace, where they met with a great number of lords, ladies, citizens, foreign dignitaries, and the like, who had come to swear themselves to the throne, inquire about what was to happen, or simply speak their mind for a moment. All who gathered were attended to, and it was evident that, beyond the lingering doubts and questions in the air, hope shined through in the Imperial populace. Within a year, the actions taken by Philip and Anastasia would cause some to affirm this faith, while others would begin to question it. The reign of Emperor Philip II is widely-regarded as one of the worst, most disastrous periods in the history of Oren as a whole. Presiding over a weakened, declining state, what little changes he made were either too poorly-executed or too unambitious to bring about the rejuvenation the Empire so desperately needed. Whether this was the result of the Emperor’s own person, and the ire he drew from virtually every faction and demographic to be found in Oren, or whether this was a natural degradation of the Petrine systems and a withdrawal of talent, is up for debate. No matter the interpretation, Philip II’s conduct during his rule is almost universally-regarded as abysmal. Having inherited an Empire that was the preeminent power in the world, albeit one reduced somewhat and in need of reform, Philip II’s reign ended with a disastrous attempt at war coupled with his nation’s isolation from the world stage. Ironically, while Philip II’s forays into re-centralizing some of the Crown’s power ended poorly, they were far better-utilized by his successor. The abolition of the Imperial Diet, dissolution of political parties, and resumption of the Crown’s role in issuing legislation provided a groundwork for a more effective means of governance. Had the Emperor been more competent in his handling of these regained authorities, or had his ministers been more encouraged to use them. Instead, this opportunity to take drastic, but necessary, measures were squandered, and the Empire became susceptible to a revolution by young, more ambitious men and women promising to do great things with the power Philip II had but ill-used. Some of these promises would come to pass, others would entirely fail, but it was merely the hope of change that brought a nation to overthrow an Emperor who could not, or would not, provide it. Vale, Philip II ‘Priestlover’ 18th of Harren’s Folly, 1759-16th of Tobias' Bounty, 1849 (r. 12th of Owyn’s Flame, 1837-16th of Tobias' Bounty, 1849) O Ágioi Kristoff, Jude kai Pius. Dóste mas gnósi ópos sas ékane o Theós. Poté min afísoume na doúme to skotádi, allá as doúme móno to fos tis sofías kai tis alítheias. O Theós na se evlogeí. The co-rule of Emperor Philip III and Empress Anastasia, the Michaelite Schism, and the Eastfleet War, shall be covered in our next volume of The Decline and Fall of the Holy Orenian Empire.
  8. TO DISPEL RUMORS OF FOUL PLAY 9 S.S. 1892 IC To the Lords of the Eastern Almarisian Treaty Organization, All, and One, The Commonwealth of the Petra is a nation of knights and noblesse; we are in chief men and women of Honor. An attack taking place on foreign soil, and furthermore in the House of GOD - this is antithetical to our beliefs, to our credos. As such, we have no choice but to denounce those such actions that occurred earlier this Saint’s Day. We clarify now that those Petrans that may have been in Balian at the time of such an attack were there as part of an ongoing mission to improve Our relations abroad (and that indeed We have sent attendees as far as Celia’nor for their Coronation just this year), and took no part in any of the crimes against GOD and Man that we have been informed of. Any harm that may have come to those good citizens of Balian, inflicted by those that may bear Commonwealth colors - We ask that the good King sends us a formal list, that they may receive punishment equal to that which they would have received as if inflicted upon Our own. We hope that this gesture of faith be made known publicly, that we may be held to our high standard of Honor and not be taken for sinners nor suffer for another’s actions. Petra, Flowing Water! Ave! Ave! Glory be to GOD Most High, HIS EXCELLENCY, Paul Salvian, Regent of the Commonwealth, Count of Temesch and Moere
  9. Paul Temesch clears his schedule for the fateful day! His daughter Renilde, of course, he forces to attend... @tilly
  10. A smile broke across Paul's face as he passed his daughter's room - on his way out of the castle, towards the gathering place of the state leadership. "Enumerating further rights of the general knights, however nepotistic it may seem?" The man commented as he entered the tavern. "Or - further on these subjects - demanding certain trials of knighthood? Or do you think that needn't be law?" @Lyonharted @MCVDK @AndrewTech
  11. THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE HOLY ORENIAN EMPIRE: Volume VII; Glory and Decay Written by Justinian Nafis, heir to the County of Susa and Adolphus Gloriana, Earl of Suffolk, Prince of Sutica Glory and Decay “If this kingdom of apostates insists upon bloodying the pages of mankind’s history once more, then we will meet them in battle. They will be recorded as a footnote, another in a long list of evil and impossible attempts to foil Providence. We will repel this invasion, as we have all others.” - The Imperial Response to the Tenth Nordling War, Emperor John VIII The reign of Emperor John VIII marked the apex of the Petrine ideology. While Joseph II was able to fully-realize the dream of defeudalization, extensive bureaucracy, and centralization that had begun with Peter III, he did not live to see the fruits of his toils. This reward, though also a task in itself, fell to his eldest son. Under John, he was able to maintain the systems of Pertine governance and demonstrate the might of a unified Empire during the 10th Nordling War. However, cracks began to break the peaceful stability that has come to define his reign. Towards the end of his life, government stagnation, an unpopular heir, and a lack of reforms threatened the future strength of the Empire. Despite this, he remains one of the more beloved personalities to sit atop the throne, and it is said that the common man of Oren did not live a better life than under Emperor John VIII. The ascension of John Charles, the Duke of Helena, to the Orenian throne was a long-awaited event. At the age of fifty six, he was among the oldest men in history to ascend to the throne, though the ascension of his brother, Philip Augustus, at the age of seventy-eight stands as the clear record. Unlike the latter, though, it was evident that John VIII was well-prepared for his position. Although he did not have the same extensive judicial and governmental experience as his father, he had served in the ISA since the Sutica War. Although he never rose past lieutenant, and did not see major combat, he had served well and ably in each Imperial conflict and had earned the respect of the citizenry and soldiery for it. Additionally, throughout his parent’s reign he had often sat in on council meetings, and by the end of his father’s reign he had served as regent. Immediately upon his ascension to the Imperial throne, the question of succession was the pressing issue of the day. As a young man, the future Emperor had been betrothed to Lady Irene Ruthern, the daughter of the Count of Metterden. However, on the eve of their wedding, Irene Ruthern vanished without warning, leaving the young John Charles without a bride (Irene Ruthern herself would later emerge and occupy a substantial position in Haeseni politics as Lady Speaker of the Duma. She would eventually marry Franz de Sarkozy in 1803 before being executed in 1814 after her attempted assassination of King Heinrik II of Haense). In the search for a suitable wife for the Duke of Helena, Wilhelmina Helvets, the daughter of the Duke of Cathalon and a prominent lady of the Imperial Court, was chosen. However, this marriage was infamous for its lovelessness, betrayal, and spitefulness. The pair could hardly be near each other, and Wilhelmina often threw herself headfirst into petty plots and schemes. They had no issue, though Wilhelmina had several by multiple men, and in 1814, on the eve of Emperor Joseph II’s death, the two were officially divorced. John VIII’s lack of a proper heir gave rise to slanderous rumors, even in his time. Although many originate from Wilhelmina Helvets and her allies in court, it was a commonly-held belief that the Emperor had greater fondness for men than women. As John Charles was often found with male courtiers during the late hours of the night, and never female courtiers, the rumors were only stoked. However, these accusations are simply lies. It is well-known that he fathered an illegitimate son in 1803 by the beautiful Theresa Mae Halcourt. Indeed, it seems that the reason John Charles never took readily to women is that he was so greatly attracted to the female sex that he refused to lay with a woman who met his great standards, unmatched by any other man before or since. Because he was so greatly attracted to women, his wife, Wilhelmina, simply could not meet these standards, and thus he refused to conduct his duties within the spousal bedroom. Regardless, the Emperor’s lack of a legitimate child, unwillingness to marry after his divorce, and advanced age, meant that his brother, Philip Augustus, the Duke of Crestfall, stood as his heir-presumptive. While it can be said that Philip Augustus held strongly to his faith in the Lord, few other compliments have been paid his way. Reviled by the Orenian populace, commoner and noble alike, and ill-prepared for the throne, many begged Emperor John to sire legitimate progeny or otherwise remove his younger brother from the succession, legally or otherwise. While the problems stemming from this ill-fated succession would not emerge until near the end of Emperor John’s reign, it hung over the Empire as a specter of a bleak future. Despite the attention given to his inability to sire an heir, succession was not the sole problem that arose during the start of Emperor John’s reign, nor was it the most dangerous. The first four years of his reign began well and peacefully, owing to the successes of his predecessor in stamping out the most prominent rebellious sentiments within the Empire. The new Archchancellor, Ledicourt d’Azor, and his Council of State, managed the realm ably and with little difficulty. Save for one issue in 1815, when Tiberius Hartcold, a traitor to the Empire who had fought with the Sedanites during their rebellion, was captured and executed by the Emperor via nailing a wig to his head, little disturbed the peace of the realm. It appeared to many that Emperor John’s reign would take the course of his father’s, though perhaps with even fewer disturbances. Little did the people of Oren know, the events of the coming years would make this hope short-lived. The prelude to the Tenth Nordling War began with the visit of an unnamed fatherist priest to Providence in 1816. A fatalistic and evangelist sort, the preacher took to the streets to proclaim that the end times were near and that the Empire would soon sink into a sea of fire. The populace of Providence, staunchly Canonist and righteously annoyed with the priest’s antics, savagely beat the man for his false-prophecies. By the time a few ISA soldiers arrived to apprehend him, he was on the verge of death. Later that night he would perish while confined to a cell within the Bastion. The second, more infamous, incident occurred several months later, and is subject to much scrutiny and controversy. The official narrative, propagated by the Kingdom of Norland and used as the defining casus belli for the coming war, states that brigands from a group called the Sons of Horen raided a few farmstead on the outskirts of Norland, slaughtering several cattle and injuring a farmhand. According to both Norland and the Sons of Horen themselves, the latter had ties to the Empire and the Canonist Church, and was said to be acting on their orders. The Empire and the Church disputed these accusations, alleging that the Sons of Horen, a group that had never been heard of before, was created by Norland to stage a false-flag attack against themselves to justify a war against Oren. A handful of later historians, utilizing census information found on a few supposed Sons of Horen, believe the attacks to have been staged by lingering elements of the Josephite Mafia (though the Josephite Party had officially been disbanded by this point). A Norlandic replication of their sacred burning bush. Said to be the most advanced work of art in Norlandic history, date unknown By 1817, the ruling King of Norland, Sven Edvardsson II, had what he needed to make his demands. On the 13th of Godfrey’s Triumph, 1817, he officially released a series of demands to the Empire, foremost among them being reparations for the slaying of the fatherist priest and the damages dealt by the Sons of Horen raid. Himself having ascended to the throne just a year earlier, the bellicose and warlike Sven desired to cement his rule by uniting the disparate clans and factions of Norland against the Empire. Additionally, since the expulsion of Haense from the Empire in 1786, the three powers of Norland, Haense, and Urguan had been consistently joined together in an alliance known as the Iron Accord. Sven II believed that upon declaring war on the Empire the rest of the Iron Accord would come to his support, but he was woefully wrong. Inexperienced and ill-trained in matters of war and politics, the King Sven would soon be dismayed to find out that Norland would fight the coming war alone. Knowing that war was soon to come, Emperor John made immediate preparations to mobilize the Empire. The ISA, though still strong, had been subject to untimely resignations and budget cuts in the aftermath of the Sedan Rebellion, as it seemed peace had been well-secured. The well-liked and esteemed General Peter d’Arkent, Duke of Sunholdt, had died in 1814 of old age. His replacement as General, William Darkwood, the Baron of Darkwood, was a loyal, hardworking, and experienced man; however, his time as an officer had been spent managing logistics, not soldiers and combat. Few of his subordinates liked or respected him as they had General DeNurem or General d’Arkent, and he was a below-average battlefield tactician and campaign strategist at best. Knowing the limitations of the current ISA leadership, the Emperor appointed Iskander Basrid, Count of Susa and hero of the Sedan Rebellion, as Field Marshal. A popular figure within the Empire, and the husband of the equally-beloved Princess Imperial, Elizabeth Anne, the Count of Susa was the perfect man to lead the war effort. Although he was only a major in the ISA, his appointment as Field Marshal gave Iskander effective control of the entirety of the Empire’s military resources. To supplement the current ISA forces and give his new Field Marshal an effective fighting force, the Emperor also tasked the retired Franz Sarkozy and Simon Pruvia, the Viscount of Provins, with finding mercenaries and allies. The official declaration of war came on the 13th of Godfrey’s Triumph, 1818. A day later, the garrison of Southbridge came under attack by a raiding party of nine-hundred Norlanders. Having been led to allied Urguan weeks in advance in preparation for the official declaration of war, the Norlandic force caught the garrison of Southbridge by surprise, driving them out despite possessing fewer numbers. However, the fighting was restricted to a few volleys of arrow fire, which resulted only in a few minor injuries. Led in person by Donovan Freysson, their tribal war leader, Norland had scored the first victory of the war. It would turn out to be a minor affair, though, as after ransacking Southbridge, the raiding party was forced to withdraw back into Urguan after receiving word of a large ISA force bearing down on them. Urguan’s role in the war, though expected to be large, turned out to be fairly minor. Caught unaware by King Sven’s sudden declaration of war, the Underking had not yet mobilized the clans of Urguan and made war preparations. Furthermore, several years of drought, crop failures, and economic instability had rendered Urguan unable to effectively field a large army for the time being. Although small bands of dwarves could be spotted joining their Norlandic allies, and Urguan officially announced that it would honor the terms of the Iron Accord and join Norland in the war against the Empire, the Underrealm did little more throughout the war than serve as a staging ground for various Norlandic raiding parties. A further blow to King Sven’s cause was dealt when Haense signed the Greyspine Convention with the Empire, a pact of neutrality officially mediated by High Pontiff Jude II. Fearing defeat were he to join Norland without Urguan’s support, and not wishing to join a pagan offensive against a Canonist nation, King Heinrik II of Haense agreed to refrain from joining the war in exchange for the promise that no Canonists would be harmed. It is said that when he received the news, the Norlandic King broke down into a nervous wreck. Without his two strongest allies, Norland would be forced to fight the war alone, though they did receive substantial support from the Ferrymen mercenaries. Emperor John, on the other hand, found himself enjoying a strong position. A week after his treaty with Haense was concluded, he received word from the Viscount of Pruvia that the Consul Olivier Renault de Savoie of the Free City of Luciensburg had agreed to lead his personal mercenary company, the Metinan Company, in support of the Empire in exchange for some monetary considerations. Although Luciensburg was a young city, founded by Savoyards exiled from the Empire in the aftermath of the Sedan Rebellion, the Metinan Company was professional, disciplined, and effective. For his part, Olivier Renault had little love for Norland and was sympathetic to the Empire, only joining the rebellion against it in the hopes of restoring it to its past glory. With this contract formed, Emperor John now had a strong core to augment the ISA regulars. The Empire’s strike back came on the 1st of Tobias’s Bounty, 1818, in the dead of winter. The Count of Susa, leading a small Imperial raiding party of a thousand men, rode through the Duchy of Elysium, the largest and most powerful of Norland’s vassals, putting the main city to the torch and capturing the Duke of Elysium himself without losing a man. When the Duke of Elysium was brought back to Providence, it was advised by Archchancellor d’Azor and Franz de Sarkozy that he be executed, but Prince Philip, the Duke of Crestfall, overruled the two. He made the Duke of Elysium sign a treaty officially withdrawing from the war before setting him free (the Duke of Elysium would later renege on the treaty, citing that his signature had been made while under duress). The next year, 1819, was marked by small-scale raids and skirmishes fought between the professional cores of the Imperial and Norlandic armies as both nations mobilized their full might. Both nations burnt farmsteads, villages, and mills as they sought to demoralize the populace of the opposition. Much of the Lower Petra and the Grenz of the Empire was left in ruin, though not irreparably so, while almost the whole of Norland was sacked at some point or another. On the 16th of Horen’s Calling, 1819, the Count of Susa led a force of one-thousand to raid Elysium again, but was ambushed by a force of over two-thousand led by the Duke of Elysium. Outnumbered and taken by surprise, the Count of Susa commanded a stout retreat, killing nearly a thousand Elysians while suffering only a few hundred casualties of his own, but was forced back into the Grenz. Donovan Freysson’s raid into Providence on the 13th of Godfrey's Triumph, the first anniversary of the start of the war, was far more successful. Storming a few undermanned, outlying forts protecting Providence, Donovan’s force of one-thousand two-hundred killed and wounded nearly one-thousand three-hundred ISA soldiers and came close to capturing the Archchancellor. It was only the intervention of the city garrison itself that forced the Norlanders to withdraw to Urguan. A few more minor skirmishes were fought throughout the year, but few were decisive. The next year, 1820, saw more of the same, though it was here that the war’s longest battle was fought. From the 7th to the 8th of Tobias’s Bounty, a force of around one-thousand two-hundred Norlandic-Ferrymen raiders led by Donovan Freysson fought bitterly with an army of three-thousand five-hundred ISA-Metinan soldiers commanded by Olivier de Savoie. Around the towns and farms lining the Southern Highway of the Lower Petra, the two forces did battle. While Donovan’s force performed admirably against the larger Imperial army, they were worn down over the course of the two days’ worth of fighting and were forced to retreat. Despite both sides having seen their fair share of successes, it was evident that the Imperial’s overwhelming advantage in manpower was the decisive factor. As King Sven gathered his army, Donovan’s own raiding parties grew smaller and smaller. By the spring of 1821, the war chief received word from his king that in a few months’ time the Norlandic host would be marching south to join forces with Urguan, which had managed to raise a small army of its own. Donovan protested this action, advising the king that it would be wiser to prepare Norland’s defenses for an imminent Imperial invasion, which would come with a larger army than they could muster. The king, desiring a quick blow to end the war, rejected these plans, and authorized one last raid into the Empire before the war chief was to join the main Norlandic host. This raid would come on the 17th of Horen’s Calling, 1821. Having already ridden north to take command of the main army, Donovan Freysson had allowed the Ferrymen one last raid into Providence, ostensibly to disrupt the mustering of the Imperial army. However, unbeknownst to the war chief, plans of the Norlandic march south had been intercepted by the Viscount of Provins and Anastasia O’Rourke, the Countess of Halstaig, who had relayed the information to the Count of Susa. Not wishing to squander the opportunity to smash the Norlandic host before they could unite with Urguan, the Count of Susa and Emperor John himself had departed with the main Orenian army mere days before the Ferrymen raiding force had arrived. When they did finally reach Providence, they were surrounded and slaughtered by the city garrison, led by Erik var Ruthern, the Count of Kositz. This would be the penultimate action of the war, and the last threat to Providence itself for over thirty years. The final battle would come on the 4th of Tobias’s Bounty, 1821, at the Battle of Outer Arentania. Unaware of the incoming Imperial force, the King of Norland had ordered his army, numbering about four-thousand two-hundred, to march through the outer edges of the Empire in order to reach Urguan faster. Although winter had set in further north, the first snows had yet to reach the center of Almaris, and the terrain was still suitable for marching. On the eve of the 3rd of Tobias’s Bounty, the Norlandic army had come to a stop in a valley surrounded by great hills on each side in order to camp for the night. King Sven, against the advice of his chief war leaders, had refused to send out any scouts or place pickets around his camp, believing his army to be completely safe. The Emperor and the Count of Susa had reached the area just hours after the Norlanders, and the two had wasted no time making preparations in the dead of night. Although Emperor John was in nominal command of the Imperial army, he lacked battlefield experience and had not seen action for years. True command was given to the Count of Susa, who, through consultation with his staff and the Emperor, devised a plan to bait the outnumbered Norlanders into a trap. Possessing an army numbering nine-thousand four-hundred, the Count of Susa ordered it to be split, with one-thousand six-hundred men of the Metinan Company taking positions on the hills to the south and the rest laying in wait near the more rugged cliffs to the east. The smaller force, to be led by Olivier de Savoie, would pose as an isolated raiding party and bait the Norlandic host into charging uphill, while the rest of the army, led by Iskander himself, would swing around and hit the Norlanders from the rear and flank. From the east, cannonade fire, directed by the Countess of Halstaig, would pin the Norlanders in place and keep them from fleeing. After the plan was confirmed by the Emperor, orders were distributed, and the men and women of the Imperial army went silently to their assigned places under the cover of night, not alerting the Norlanders. At dawn the following morning, the Norlandic host awoke to see a small force of Imperials, less than a third their own size, shouting and jeering at them from atop the southern hills. Fearing it was a trap, Donovan Freysson and some of the older clan chiefs advised King Sven to pull back atop one of the hills and take a defensive position. The Norlandic King merely laughed and accused them of cowardice. Instead, he took the advice of his younger, more impetuous vassals to heart. He gave the order to prepare the army to advance south and sweep past this meager force. Within two hours it was done, and the king gave the signal to advance. From the cliffs to the east, the Count of Susa grinned while his own men suppressed their cheers. The Norlandic foot had made it halfway up the hill to meet Olivier de Savoie’s force when suddenly horns, drums, and shouts from the east could be heard. Within minutes, over the rolling hills, the great second force of the Imperials, numbering seven-thousand eight-hundred, could be seen bearing down on the Norlandic host with Iskander Basird, dressed in brilliant gold-encrusted armor bearing the sigil of his house, at the head. It is said that upon seeing that he had been trapped, King Sven II took the fastest destrier he had and fled immediately, sparking confusion within his ranks. Not knowing whether to retreat with their king, brace for impact, or continue to advance, the Norlanders fell into a confused panic. Donovan Freysson attempted to rally the army to make a fighting withdrawal, but they were soon struck from the front by Olivier de Savoie and his portion of the army. Moments later, the advance elements of the main Imperial host had reached the rear and flank of the Norlandic army, pinning them against the Metinans. Well-placed cannon-fire from the Imperials struck the very center of the Norlanders ranks, turning the confused mess into a sheer panic. Overlooking the battle from the cliffs of the east, where the artillery had been placed, was Emperor John VIII. According to popular rumor, he had made a bet with the Count of Susa and General Darkwood as to how quick the battle would be. The Count of Susa had predicted under five minutes, General Darkwood had predicted within five to seven minutes, and the Emperor had predicted within seven to ten minutes. Keeping track of the time, the Emperor recorded the battle as having taken five minutes and seventeen seconds, giving rise to the popular moniker The Five Minute Battle, for the Battle of Outer Arentania. It is also said that after receiving his winnings from the Count of Susa and the Emperor, General Darkwood bought a month’s supply of wine for each of his men who had participated in the battle (perhaps the only time he enjoyed the popular support of the ISA). Emperor John VIII overlooking the Battle of Outer Arentania, 1821 Whether the account of Emperor John’s time-taking is truthful, it cannot be denied that the Battle of Outer Arentania was one of the quickest engagements in known history. Within minutes, the Norlandic host had been shattered: around four-thousand one-hundred of the men who had marched south with King Sven lay dead, missing, or captured in the aftermath. Among them was Donovan Freysson, who had been captured by Olivier de Savoie personally after a duel between the two of them. The losses by the Imperials were minimal, though most had been suffered by the Metinan Company, who fought primarily against the Ferrymen mercenaries, perhaps the stiffest resistance to be found in the Norlandic army that day. By the next day, the Imperials resumed their march towards the border of Norland, preparing to invade the kingdom. It would never come, as within days of the expected Imperial offensive into Norland, King Sven offered terms of peace. Norland would withdraw from the Iron Accord, cease all expansion to the south and the east, and pay forty-thousand minae to the Empire in reparations. The Emperor agreed to a ceasefire, and for the next two years the two sides would haggle and negotiate, but by the end the terms would remain the same, save for some minor additional territorial clauses. In this time, the Metinan Company, reeling from their losses, threatened mutiny against Olivier Renault, citing unpaid wages. The Savoyard was forced to disband the company and return home to quell internal tensions within Luciensburg, which had suffered adverse economic effects from the war. Despite this, the ISA remained strong, and additional recruits were drawn from the Grenz to supplement them. However, they were unneeded, as on the 9th of the Sun’s Smile, 1823, Emperor John officially announced that the peace talks had been concluded. The ISA, which had been stationed outside of the Norlandic border on-and-off for two years, was finally allowed to demobilize and return home. Two months later, on the 10th of Sigismund’s End, the Treaty of Providence was signed, officially ending the war. Despite the immediate challenge that he had faced upon ascending to the throne, Emperor John had acquitted himself well in the conflict. The whole of the Empire had rallied around the war effort, and Norland’s overwhelming defeat in the war had broken its power. Even today, the kingdom has not recovered from the loss of manpower, prestige, and honor from their failed invasion of the Empire. So thorough was Emperor John’s victory that an entire week was devoted to games, festivities, and feasts in honor of the victory. The strength of the Empire had been proven once again, and it seemed that a new age of glory would soon be upon Oren. The atmosphere was jubilant, the ISA was bristling with new recruits, the economy, boosted by Norland’s reparations, was booming, and the courts were consistently filled with the dazzling lords and ladies of the realm, all enjoying the fruits of triumph. However, famously, or infamously, the rest of Emperor John VIII’s reign would be characterized by the same quietness and stability that had been expected of it at the start. His reign is best-known for the Tenth Nordling War, but it only occupied five of his twenty-three years of rule. What, then, can be said of the remainder of his reign? In truth, it is little much, and it is these years that the harshest critics of his reign point to. While this period was a peaceful, prosperous one, it also was plagued by a decline in the ISA, the looming succession of the unpopular Duke of Crestfall, the stagnation of the government, and a plummeting interest and participation in the Imperial Diet, and the Rosemoor Movement. One understated issue to emerge came from within the Church. Tragically, the sensible and prudent High Pontiff Jude II had been assassinated by Norlandic agents in 1820, which made him a martyr to the Imperial cause and drove several members of the clergy to more openly support the Empire. However, this void was one that could not be filled, as with Jude II died the line of pragmatists that had governed the Church (save the interruption with Owyn III) starting with High Pontiff Pontian II in 1702. To follow would come a line of Haeseni Pontiffs, primarily from the House Barclay, who were far more interested in attempting to expand the Church’s social and political influence. Jude II’s successor, Tylos I, was an archconservative, former soldier and politician in Haense, and possessed little of the sense and diligence of his predecessor. For fifteen years he absently sat atop the Pontifical throne, doing little, harming the Church, and causing the faith’s influence to wane in the Empire. While Emperor John wished to continue the policy of his forebears by refraining from joining in political affairs, the deteriorating religious situation gave rise to political factions inspired by Tylos I’s cultural beliefs, but repulsed by his laziness. The Risorgimentists and Adrianites were both reactionary parties that attempted to form in the late 1820s. Conservative, despising liberal thought and institutions, and devout followers of the faith, they sought to take charge of the Empire’s moral and spiritual character where the Church had failed by radically altering society and returning it to its more feudal, decentralized roots. The Emperor, a staunch opponent of those who sought to alter the status quo, heavily suppressed the two parties and their associate organizations across the Empire. From the dissolution of the Josephite Party in 1815, the government had been dominated by Ledicort d’Azor’s National Party ever since. However, by the middle of Emperor John’s reign, a breakdown of interest in the Diet had become a noticeable issue. With opposition parties either being repressed by the government or struggling to win against the Nationals, few except the most staunch allies of Archchancellor d’Azor continued to take interest in politics. Election after election, voter turnout plummeted, incompetent candidates found seats in the House of Commons, and few bills were produced from the Diet, and fewer still sensible enough to be approved by the Emperor. Many began to regard the Diet as a useless institution, good for little else than rubber-stamping the agenda of the Azor Ministry, which was itself beginning to lose the ambition it had set out with, but events in the late 1820s turned this around. We speak, of course, about the Rosemoor Movement. The Rosemoor Movement had its roots in the activism of The Princess Imperial and Countess of Rosemoor, Elizabeth Anne. Elizabeth Anne, having herself served in the ISA and the House of Lords, and having seen her mother perform the duties of an Empress-regnant admirably, began to question why the laws of inheritance within Oren favored men. At that time, the Empire, along with most other nations of Almaris, followed a system of male-preference primogeniture. The titles and properties of a deceased lord or lady would be given to their eldest son, regardless of whether he had elder sisters or not. If the son had died, but not his son, then the titles would be given to him, and so on. Only if there were no male descendants to be found could the eldest daughter inherit. Elizabeth Anne, joined by many other prominent noblewomen in the Empire, among them Claude Elizabeth de Savoie, daughter of Olivier de Savoie, Alina Basrid, and Anastasia Victoria vas Ruthern, granddaughter of Count Erik of Kositz and the future Empress Anastasia, began a movement in support of the ‘Rosemoor Bill’, which was a bill authored by the Princess Imperial herself that would give women equal inheritance rights as men. This movement was bitterly contested by the more conservative elements of the nobility, chief among them the Duke of Cathalon. Others, such as the Viscount of Provins and the Archancellor (now sitting in the House of Lords as the Count of Azor) did not necessarily oppose the movement, but disagreed with the wording of the bill. The Emperor himself was partial to his older sister’s cause, but did not want to intervene entirely, and instead left the matter to the House of Lords. However, the Rosemoor Movement was growing, and weekly street demonstrations, rallies, and organized events made the issue of equal-sex succession the most prominent topic in the Empire. This worried the Duke of Crestfall in particular, who, as the head of the House of Lords, had significant sway over whether the bill would pass or not. During his brother’s reign, the power of the nobility had been reduced to its lowest point, and the nobility of the Empire was mostly constrained to the Augustine Palace, where they were kept docile and useless. Save a few prominent peers who joined the ISA and partook in politics, the majority of the aristocracy, until now, had been content with their soft lifestyle, exerting themselves only for the many balls and feasts hosted. If they could be mobilized so effectively here, then they could be mobilized against the Crown in an effort to champion other privileges they desired, so thought Philip Augustus. It was here that he resolved to end the Rosemoor Movement. During a session of the House of Lords in the waning winter months of 1830, the Princess Imperial officially brought the Rosemoor Bill to the floor of the legislative body. For hours it was debated over, and, just as a vote was to be taken, the Duke of Crestfall paused the proceedings. Using his powers as head of the House of Lords, he castigated his elder sister for taking to the streets with her political whims and attempting to weaponize public opinion in an effort to have the Rosemoor Bill passed. He immediately held a vote to censure Elizabeth Anne and prevent a vote from taking place on her bill. Supported by a number of conservative members of the House of Lords, the motion passed, and the Princess Imperial was barred from speaking for the rest of the session. This betrayal from her own brother struck grief into her heart and sparked outrage from nearly all the public. This only grew when, mere weeks later, the Princess Imperial was announced to have died. The Duke of Crestfall attempted to defend his actions, citing their legality, but public opinion against him had sunk. The Count of Susa, enraged, resigned from the ISA. The hero of the Sedan Rebellion and the Tenth Nordling War, having loved his wife dearly, would only be able to manage living another year without her. Even the Emperor was incensed at his brother’s actions, though he held his tongue in public. The censuring of Princess Imperial Elizabeth in the House of Lords, 1831 The resignation and death of the Count of Susa could not come at a worse time. Experienced, successful, and a hero of the Empire, Iskander Basrid had been the favorite to succeed the failing General Darkwood, whose mismanagement of the ISA had run it into near-ruin by 1830. Although it remained a popular and strong institution by the end of the Norland War, a series of resignations and discharges had decimated the ranks of the army. General Darkwood’s notorious temper and conduct with subordinates had led many loyal soldiers to abandon the force altogether and made prospective troops second-guess joining. The Emperor, again reluctant to intervene, was forced to watch as the once-proud ISA floundered during the years of peace. No help could be found from the nobility, who had grown fat and lazy within the halls of the Augustine Palace, and were ignorant of the severe lack of talent within the ISA. By 1832, only one man could possibly restore the decaying army: The Count of Kositz, who had fought for the Empire with distinction since the Inferi War and had been the Count of Susa’s right hand man. When the aged General Darkwood finally retired that summer, Erik var Ruthern was named the new General and tasked with repairing the ISA. This came just in time, as down south events were unfolding to the south that threatened to drag the Empire into war again. Ever since the betrayal of King Corwin I of Sutica, the city-state had floundered under misrule by the pagan servants of Iblees. Ruler after ruler had prayed to the gods of Hell to fill their homes with citizens, cause their crops to bloom, and fill their empty coffers with coins, but to no avail. Instead, the Lord our God looked favorably upon two individuals: George Barclay, a cousin of the Dukes of Reinmar, and Johanna Alstreim, a distant relation of King Corwin himself. Wishing to liberate her ancestor’s lands from the sin and villainy that gripped it, Johanna assembled an army of mercenaries. George, a man of martial aptitude, led this small force down to Sutica, stormed the city, and purged it of its sinful inhabitants in 1821. The two then crowned themselves King and Queen of Sutica and reigned as co-monarchs. However, since their glorious crusade, their co-reign had been tumultuous at best. King George I, a strong warrior to be sure, cared little for governance and administration. To make matters worse, he was unwilling to abide by his wife’s right to rule, and threatened violence against her were she to exercise her authority. With the far more brilliant mind of Queen Johanna suppressed by coercion, and a man who cared little for ruling at the helm of the nation, the newly-Canonist Sutica suffered. By 1832, however, King George died in a hunting accident, leaving his wife as the sole monarch. In 1834, Queen Johanna took Franz de Sarkozy, the former Imperial Archchancellor, as her consort, given his aptitude for statecraft and willingness to allow her to exercise her full rights as monarch. However, that same year, a small number of pagan vassals in the furthest corners of the Sutican desert, having long-chafed under Canonist rule, revolted in the hopes of toppling their Alstreim overlords. Immediately, the Canonist world was called to come to the defense of Sutica, and it was here that the flaws of the ISA were exposed. General Ruthern, deprived of a steady, experienced officer corps, struggled to find a suitable commander for an Orenian expeditionary force. Eventually, Erik Othaman, the Count of Valles, and Olivie de Savoie, having been a courtier in the Empire for several years after the fall of Luciensburg in 1827 to local bandits, were given command of the expedition. The Kingdom of Haense, on the other hand, was quick to send a small contingent of three-thousand soldiers to their Canonist brother in Sutica, joining with the Sutican army, which numbered seven-hundred. Before the ISA detachment could even arrive in the southern continent, the combined Sutican-Haeseni army had shattered the rebel forces in the Battle of the Rhein on the 12th of Tobias’s Bounty, 1834. By the time that the ISA contingent did arrive, the rebels had surrendered, and there was little else to do besides security operations. Although this appeared to be little more than a mild event in a war of no particular importance, the consequences of this conflict would soon come to plague the end of Emperor John’s reign, and the entirety of his brother’s. Olivier de Savoie, having garnered a reputation for his service in the Tenth Nordling War and the Sedan Rebellion, was offered lands, titles, and a place at the court of Queen Johanna of Sutica, which he readily accepted. When the queen died mere months later, on the 14th of Harren’s Folly, 1835, she bequeathed Sutica not to her sons, nor to any other family, but to Olivier Renault himself, believing that he could lead the newfound Canonist realm to heights that she had died too young to do herself. So it was, a year later, in 1836, that Olivier Renault de Savoie proclaimed the dissolution of the Kingdom of Sutica and the establishment of the Principality of Savoy, and named himself Prince Olivier I of Savoy. As soon as it was announced to the whole of Almaris that Savoy, an old, storied state that was thought to be lost to the annals of history, had now reformed, many flocked to the new capital of San Luciano. Although most of the influx came from Savoyards residing in the various Canonist realms of the world, there was also a substantial number of people who traveled to the principality in order to take advantage of the opportunity a young nation would provide. Although much of the exodus from the Empire would not come until the beginning of Philip II’s reign, many, including Emperor John himself, feared that the rise of a strong Savoyard state could challenge the might of Oren. 1836 also dealt another blow to the Imperial Crown. At the end of that year’s Social Season, an event renowned for its dramatics and controversies, the Prince Philip Amadeus, son of Prince Philip Aurelian, Count of Renzfeld, and grandson of the Duke of Crestfall, was wed to Lady Anastasia vas Ruthern, granddaughter of General Ruthern, the Count of Kositz. The spectacle was said to be one of the greatest in Imperial history, and the wedding attracted perhaps the largest crowd known to date. From Savoy to Haense, Elvenesse to Krugmar, the people of Almaris flocked in droves to see the union of these two popular figures. Although the Duke of Crestfall was quite despised by the Imperial populace, and Philip Aurelian was an obscure figure, Philip Amadeus was beloved by all. Only his peer, the Crown Prince of Haense, Sigismund Karl, could be said to match him in potential and popularity in the eyes of the world. Anastasia Ruthern herself was similarly held in high esteem, and it was predicted by many that she would prove to be one of the more shrewd and energetic consorts to reign when she and Philip’s time came. Comparisons were made between the Imperial pair and Anne Augusta and Joseph Clement, with others believing that they would come to surpass their predecessors. Emperor John, himself not one to miss out on a joyous occasion, conferred the Duchy of Furnestock onto Philip Amadeus and granted the pair a small fleet of ships so that they could tour Almaris. Prince Sigismund of Haense, himself also in attendance, is said to have spoken with the newlyweds, and all three of them excitedly discussed their plans to better the world of Canondom when their time came to sit the thrones of their respective realms. The wedding was a resounding success, and it appeared that, even with the mild difficulties of the past decade, the future of the Empire remained bright. However, only two months after the wedding, the Imperial couple were found to have disappeared from the Empire. A search was conducted, and it was soon discovered that they, along with a handful of retainers, had taken the ships gifted to them by the Emperor and sailed east in search of new lands. The reason behind the infamous flight of Philip and Anastasia is unknown. While the Duke of Furnestock himself, upon his eventual return to Almaris twelve years after, would later claim that he and his new wife did not wish to accept the burdens of the Crown, and instead desired to live a life of obscurity elsewhere, that has not stopped continued speculation. Some believe that the Duke of Furnestock harbored a grudge against his grandfather, the Duke of Crestfall, and had no desire to serve him. Others allege that the Duke and Duchess of Furnestock had been implicated in a plot to either overthrow Emperor John or the Duke of Crestfall, leading either to their preemptive flight or forced exile. Despite the unclear circumstances at the time, the effects of Philip and Anastasia’s departure were felt bitterly. Having accrued a large following throughout the Empire and being seen as the hope of the House of Novellen, their absence left a hole that could not be filled. As with Savoy, the ramifications would soon come to bite the Empire in the back, but not as long as Emperor John held the throne. Unfortunately, that time would not last for much longer. Now eighty years of age, it was clear that the Emperor’s time was soon to come to an end. While the Emperor’s personal involvement in day-to-day affairs had expectedly decreased as he aged, the Council of State had not adequately stepped forth to assume these necessary duties. Archchancellor d’Azor, although having begun his ministry with earnest and zeal that was characteristic of him, was now at the head of a lethargic, slow government. To make matters worse, his rumored involvement in the assassination of his daughter in 1827, and the sudden disappearence of his well-liked Vice Chancellor, Keaghen Armas, caused public opinion to sour on the Nationals. The instruments of state, once renowned for their efficiency, productivity, and ceaseless work, were now beginning to slow down. Seriously-needed reform and rejuvenation was put off for years. Still, the realm enjoyed its peace, and the government, while slow, was not failing. The last months of Emperor John’s reign were without strife or controversy, and his time came to a close, it is said that so too did the last quiet days of the Empire fade with him. On the 12th of Owyn’s Flame, 1837, Emperor John VIII, having battled an illness for the past three days, died quietly that evening. It is claimed by many that the death of his beloved sister, Elizabeth, the wedge driven between him and his brother, Philip, and the departure of the Duke and Duchess of Furnestock, deprived the Emperor of his will to live, and it may be that it is the case. For the last year of his life, the ever-jubilant, affable Emperor sunk into a dour reclusion. He took few guests, ate and drank little, and rarely left the confines of his room. While a broken heart was not the true cause of his death, his living conditions from 1836 to 1837 certainly did not prolong his life. When his death came, Emperor John VIII was widely-mourned by nearly all of the Empire. Although he made no great conquests nor radically altered the nature of his Empire, he had, as his father had advised him to do, reigned capably and securely for twenty-two years. The life of the average Imperial citizen had improved during his reign, and the economy had flourished. Even at the end, when conditions had degraded from their heights in the mid to late 1820s, the effects had yet to truly be felt. Had a man more capable than the Duke of Crestfall ascended the throne after Emperor John, it can be reasonably assumed that the problems that emerged would have been better-addressed. Furthermore, few scholars discuss the impact of the Tenth Nordling War, and how it definitively broke the power of one of the Empire’s more persistent enemies. While the Kingdom of Norland would continue to join coalitions against the Empire, it would do so as a minor partner, and its contributions to any given war effort would remain minimal at best. Even today, Norland remains a husk of the great power it once was. While few rate John VIII as among the greatest of the Emperors, none rank him low, and indeed it can be argued that if one were to live through any point in history, the 1820s stands as one of the better choices. However, this does not entirely exculpate Emperor John from the flaws of his reign, nor does it presume that only the sole actions of his successor cause the Empire to later teeter on the brink of ruin. While Emperor John’s inability to sire an heir has been previously discussed, and will have its consequences examined in full later, Emperor Philip II would have a number of problems to contend with upon his ascension to the throne. A decaying ISA, a lethargic government, a growing rival in Savoy, and the lack of interest in the city government of Providence and the Imperial Diet all began in the 1820s. However, in keeping with the liberal attitude of the Novellens, Emperor John rarely took matters into his own hands. It is here that the greatest failings of liberalized, democratized government begin to show. When power is too greatly delegated to those unfit for the responsibility of it, and possess neither the training nor the innate competence to wield it, the functions of the state wither. Had Emperor John not been so reluctant to sweep aside these supposedly sacred institutions and either reformed them or abolished them as needed, then perhaps the Imperial administrative apparatus would have remained healthy. Furthermore, although this was an unforeseen problem with the general dynastic aim of defeudalization and centralization taken up by the Novellens at large, and not solely a mistake of Emperor John, the growing decadence and uselessness of the aristocracy deprived the Empire of a critical source of talent and manpower. While nobles of before provided service to the Empire as politicians, councillors, and the leaders of armies, in the Petrine Empire they simply paid a small sum of taxes. With a strong ISA, bristling bureaucracy, and functional Diet, the drawbacks of this could be easily overcome, but as those institutions began to crumble, some of the flaws of the great Petrine project began to emerge. Still, it cannot be said that Emperor John VIII’s reign was poor by any measure. While his time is often overlooked in the modern day, given the more exciting events during the reigns of Peter III, Philip II, and Philip III, and he is rarely looked to as a guide by young, energetic monarchs, those who are old and wise frequently consult the deeds and mannerisms of Emperor John. Triumphant in war and peace alike, he accomplished something few monarchs in history, especially those upon Almaris, can claim to have obtained for their own realms. It is for this reason that, despite its problems, his reign ought not to be looked upon with a cynical, loathsome lens, but instead be appreciated as one of the last times the Empire enjoyed its unmatched supremacy in the world. Vale, John VIII ‘the Good’ 3rd of Horen’s Calling, 1757-12th of Owyn’s Flame, 1837 (r. 23rd of Sun’s Smile, 1814-12th of Owyn’s Flame, 1837) O Ágioi Kristoff, Jude kai Pius. Dóste mas gnósi ópos sas ékane o Theós. Poté min afísoume na doúme to skotádi, allá as doúme móno to fos tis sofías kai tis alítheias. O Theós na se evlogeí. The reign of Emperor Philip II and the Aster Revolution shall be covered in our next volume of The Decline and Fall of the Holy Orenian Empire.
  12. Paul Temesch, Regent, grinned broadly as he signed the edict - even as he was made to do it in five colors. "To the future."
  13. Paul Temesch receives the new edict from the recently-reopened tavern of the Petran township - he grins broadly, clasping his hands together (and giving his poorly family, midway through their breakfast of jam and bread, a scare).
  14. Veluthri Elibar'acal reads the missive. She puts it in her scrapbook of missives and cutouts labelled "Celia'nor :)"
  15. THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE HOLY ORENIAN EMPIRE: Volume VI; Anne & Joseph Written by Justinian Nafis, heir to the County of Susa and Adolphus Gloriana, Earl of Suffolk, Prince of Sutica Anne & Joseph “Your father made no vain boasts. He pretended to no great conquest. The constitution was upheld, and no great calamity befell the Empire.” - Reflections on State, Emperor Joseph II The co-rule of Empress Anne and Emperor Joseph II was one of the greatest testaments to the new age of the Empire. Joseph Clement de Sarkozy was born into the household of the Lord Protector on the 1st of Owyn’s Flame, 1731. Having been a natural-born scholar, the Lord Protector, in his wisdom, granted Joseph Clement a wide range of tutors on various topics: statecraft, court politics, fiscal policies, history, religion, and philosophy. Historically, in the Debate of the Hand and the Crown, Archchancellor Jonah ‘the Adunian’ remarked if Joseph Clement could tell the difference between a sword and a book (an Adunian proverb stating that warmongering and scholarship make the best man). Joseph Clement replied that he had never had formal training in commanding, but that he was wise enough to delegate to the finest generals of the day. During his childhood, the Lord Protector’s reign came to be paramount to the conscience of the Orenian psyche. All eyes in the governmental branches stared with glowing eyes to see who the successor would be. As such, Joseph Clement was forcefully drawn in many ways by various court advisors in an effort to gain favor over the young man. Despite this, the maturity displayed in the blessed child rejected such attempts to dethrone power from his father. Historical sources differ as to whether the events occurred, but men like Alfred Myre say that future Archchancellor Simon Basrid was so awestruck by the boy’s protestations at being used as a pawn, that he proclaimed his eternal apologies for trying to use him, swearing never to do so again. While an elaborate story, the credibility is almost completely deniable. Eventually, the Lord Protector did die, and Peter III was crowned Holy Orenian Emperor. Much to no one’s shock, however, Peter III proclaimed his daughter, Anne Augusta, would be betrothed to Joseph Clement. The Venerable Anne Augusta herself was born into the household of Peter III on the 12th of Owyn’s Flame, 1735. Raised directly by her father, as her mother’s frequent illnesses forced her absence, yet scorning the more frivolous attempts at hedonism, Anne Augusta was a saintly child that eventually transformed into that of a strong, masculine woman who led her country to greatness, but also displayed a virtuous motherly attitude towards her children. Though the education of Anne Augusta is lost to the historical annals, the Venerable has a story attributed to her regarding a servant. There was a woman servant that had acquired an illness of the mind that was debilitating. The kind and pious Anne invoked such a godly power, when she touched the forehead of the servant, it cured the woman of the ailment. While this story is somewhat debated, Anne is currently undergoing an investigation into canonization by some priestly members. Once Joseph Clement and Anne Augusta met in the imperial palace in Helena, a bond between both was fully sealed. Love at first sight led the two to be inseparable from here on out, and most decisions made by one usually had an opinion of the other. While these authors will not continually note this behavior, the reader should keep it in mind. The major tragedy, as mentioned in the Petrine Empire volume, regarding the death of the Lord Protector sent shockwaves around the world. An attempt to capitalize on the Lord Protector’s death was pushed right after his death by Dima "the Elder" Tuvyic, a raev of little renown and honor. He attempted to push for an election for the title in order to usurp it for himself, going so far as to call a festival in order to stir the masses in favor of himself as well as enforce his reign with the use of Turkin guards harassing electors. Joseph Clement, having been encountered with some low-intrigue raev tactics such as that from the Pertinaxi Historia he studied in his youth, immediately pushed his own claim on the title during the election. Here, the oratory skills of Joseph Clement were first known, where he convinced thousands of serfs to elect him as Duke instead. The feminine Dima the Elder, who even hatched this plot to be elected himself, decided that as an elector, he would vote for Joseph Clement. After all the votes were cast, Joseph Clement was elevated to the Duke of Adria. Promptly, Duke Joseph dissolved the lands Adria had and exiled all of those with devious intent, like Dima the Elder and his Turkin warriors. When asked about his opinion on the Duchy of Adria controversy by the politician Evan Beckett, Duke Joseph is quoted as saying, "Sooner will the gates of the Void open and the Deceiver begin his attack than I will be free of the Raev menace." After the Duchy of Adria controversy, Duke Joseph spent the remainder of his time living a peaceful life and serving dutifully as a civic man.. Much like his namesake, though the poems themselves have not been published to this day, Duke Joseph wrote many romantic poems dedicated to his beloved Anne. According to songs sung by bards around the realm, their love was on full display as both were consistently seen holding hands, kissing publicly, and professing their love for each other publicly. So great was their love that politicians within the Petrine Empire mocked the Duke, always in private, over his romantic affairs. Especially after the extravagance of their imperial wedding, rumors started to be said that Duchess Anne was the "man of the relationship" as Duke Joseph took a more feminine role in poetry . However, Duke Joseph scoffed at such rumors. He knew his place in society, and having been a man of law, his life ended up as a circuit judge. During a certain trial pertaining to a Helvets-Rochefort man, the man in question committed the trespassing into the household of Charles Napier. Charles Napier requested the execution of the Helvets-Rochefort much to the disgust of onlookers.. Duke Joseph, delivering his judgment, declared that the Helvets-Rochefort did trespass onto Charles Napier’s land, but he declared the judgment to be null and void because the city officials purposefully extended Charles Napier’s household too outward as to incur many of men with the penalty of trespassing. Having delivered his verdict, he personally paid Charles Napier a certain sum of marks for the affront and let the Helvets-Rochefort man go free. The non-corrupt city officials of Helena soon overturned the law. After being elevated to Minister of Interior by Peter III for his righteous actions as circuit judge, Duke Joseph started a revitalization program stretching to the far off borders of Johnstown and Owynsburg. After several raev and kaedreni left the streets in ruin, Duke Joseph (even using more of his personal funds due to the lack of budget allocated to him), personally tried to revive both the Hanseti-Ruska lands and Kaedreni lands to the peak standards he deemed for the Empire. While both kingdoms tried to fight the reforms, Duke Joseph still continued to fight for the serfs who were deemed beneath many in the imperial administration. While less is known about Princess Imperial Anne Augusta, it is known she shadowed the majority of her father’s Empire. According to the lost passages of Augusta by former Archchancellor Franz de Sarkozy, Anne Augusta was pivotal in Peter III’s reign due to some politics she introduced. The policies, whatever they were, are not recorded in any official historia. Despite the fact that Anne Augusta took a less prominent role in government, it should not be understated how outright influential the duchess was. Almost a famous actor, wherever the Princess Imperial went, she was surrounded by crowds who adored her. Not once could the heir not be seen without such a populace, it is said by some historians she was Helena, for where she went, Helena followed. Also known for her piety and almost virginal nature, two saintly stories are recorded by the priest, Griffith of Gwynon, FSSCT (known to some as Gawain Briarwood). Firstly, Bishop Griffith of Gwynon reports that he received a large donation of upwards of one thousand marks by the Princess Imperial, who hid her force to avoid being known. Upon touching the priest, he was instantly cured of his ailment that befell and worsened his body. As he shot up with his renewed strength, he remarked, “Glory, glory, to the virgin’s vessel!” Despite the head covering, Anne Augusta’s face shined through like a ray of light. The other situation involved a simple fatherist beggar who, not realizing who they were stealing from, attempted to pickpocket the heir. In a sign of mercy and love, the Duchess gave away all of her belongings she held, being quoted as saying, “Had I have all of terra to give to you, I would.” Again, Saint Catherine watched over her student from above. The simple beggar renounced their oaths to the All-Father and was baptized on that day. When inevitably Peter III passed from his ailment, the Duke and Princess Imperial assumed the throne, being crowned by High Pontiff James II as Joseph II and Anne I. The significance of the crowning, not only of the first woman Emperor being crowned, but also the naming to which Joseph II took cannot be understated. Being the first woman to ever rule the Holy Orenian Empire outright, Anne I is quite the “anomaly” in her own words. With succession laws changing to which allowed her to take the title of Empress, Anne is not only the first example of a ruler that is a woman, but also one that surpasses many in her ability. She ruled justly, rightly, and while some say she delegated much, she took actions to protect the Empire when she deemed fit. The beginning of Anne and Joseph’s reign looked bright. When they ascended to the throne, their six children- the Princess Imperial, Elizabeth Anne, the heir, John Charles, Philip Augustus, Juliette Caroline, Peter Maximillian, and Joseph Leopold were all active in the political and social life of the Empire. Additionally, the losses suffered during the Sutican War had mostly been recovered from, and thus the ISA and the Imperial administrative apparatus were functioning properly once again. However, two problems emerged from the east, both of which would plague the promising reign of the co-rulers. The first of which is a matter that went unmentioned in the previous volume, as during the time of Peter III it was simply a minor affair. Demonic agents of Iblees, known as the Inferi, began to emerge in the Korvassa, a desert wastes far to the east of Arcas. While some scholars, both contemporary and later, believed that Sutican warlocks were responsible for this sudden invasion, others find no connection between the two. In 1779, Emperor Peter III joined the Firewatch Alliance, a group of powers dedicated to ending the Inferi invasion, but serious resources were not initially committed to the war, as the concurrent Sutican War was more pressing, and the Inferi assaults were generally smaller in scale. However, by 1785, most of the Korvassa had fallen into the hands of the demonic horde, and the cries for help from the region grew louder. Closer to home was the problem posed by the Haseseni. Although the quarrelsome Sigismund II had been pushed aside with little consequence, the kingdom still held a deep-seeded resentment and mistrust of those in Helena. Fearing a future repeat of the Sutican War and continued resistance to Imperial reforms, the Emperor and Empress opened talks with Haense to see where common ground could be found. However, with the Haeseni government ready to oppose any measure of the Empire strengthening its control, perhaps due to the willingness of the other nations of Arcas to back a potential Haeseni rebellion, these talks went nowhere. While the Emperor, Empress, and Archchancellor Jonah Stahl-Elendil sought a more reconciliatory posture with Haense, two prominent members of the Council of State proposed a new idea: the expulsion of Haense from the Empire. The first was George Kovachev, a fat statesman and career bureaucrat whose hatred of the raevir surpassed even Emperor Joseph II’s. It was he who had originally come up with the idea of Haeseni expulsion, though some sources allege that the Basrid Ministry had begun discussions of it in the aftermath of the Sutican War. The second of these two was the Vice Chancellor, Franz de Sarkozy. Franz Nikolai de Sarkozy was born on the 11th of Horen’s Calling, 1741, to Peter Victor de Sarkozy, brother of the late Lord Protector Adrian de Sarkozy, and Elizabeth Suffolk, one of the last descendents of the Archduke of Suffonia. Peter de Sarkozy had been a valued advisor to his elder brother, and his talents for finances caught the eye of the Basrid Ministry, who made him the Minister of the Treasury. While the Imperial Crown was nearly insolvent by 1743, it was Peter de Sarkozy who was able to miraculously turn around the financial situation and bring a surplus to the balance books. On account of his fame and station, the Minister of the Treasury was able to send the young Franz to a prominent school in Helena, where the boy was said to excel in his studies. At the age of fourteen, near the end of the Rubern War, Franz joined a small mercenary company led by his uncle, Sir Henry de Sarkozy, though with the war effectively over, he saw little action. At the official end of the war in 1760, Franz was offered a posting as a logistics officer in the ISA upon the recommendation of his father, who, according to Franz himself, was in awe of his talents and potential. Not one to turn down a good job, he accepted the posting. It was during this time that he came into some renown as an author. In 1760, he published his first work, Dinner at Karloman’s, which was met with acclaim and brought him to the attention of both the Basrid Ministry and the Josephite Party, where he made his political beginnings. Always a pious man (it is said that the reason he never attended church was because he already knew the Scrolls like the back of his hand), Franz de Sarkozy was occasionally blessed with visions sent from God. When interviewed in 1803, Franz reportedly said that when he was named Vice Chancellor, he had a vision of a crow, a burning bush, and a hammer wrapped in a wreath of iron thorns. Seeing that Haense, Norland, and Urguan were soon to join forces, he believed that the only way to prevent a continental war was the forcible separation of Oren and Haense. Ever-loyal to Emperor Joseph, who was, after all, his first cousin, Franz wished to preserve the Empire’s internal stability at all costs. With he and George Kovachev united in thought, they then needed to convince the Archchancellor.’ Jonah Stahl-Elendil’s beginnings are clouded in mystery, though it is known that by the end of the Rubern War he had joined the ISA and risen through the ranks as an officer. It was here that he met Franz de Sarkozy, where he was immediately impressed by the boy’s piety, incorruptibility, and intellect. In a diary entry by the Adunian Archchancellor, it is said that that when he found a large stash of Imperial marks meant for supplies purchases under Franz’s bed in the barracks, the latter refused to take the money for himself, and instead returned it to the ISA treasury and personally conducted an investigation to find the thief responsible, though it turned up empty. Jonah himself, though by no means a genius, was popular with the common man and had many friends. Good-natured, yet savvy, he quickly rose through the Josephite ranks before eventually becoming the party chairman after the resignation of the esteemed Sir Konrad Stafyr. Championing a platform of justice for the common people and the economic revival of Helena, Jonah’s popularity made him the obvious choice for Vice Chancellor in the aftermath of the Sutican War, then Archchancellor after Simon Basrid had retired. While Archchancellor Stahl-Elendil clearly disapproved of the Haeseni conduct during the war, and their resistance to Imperial reforms, he was reluctant to advocate for their expulsion. After many days and nights of fervent discussion, he was finally convinced of its necessity by Sarkozy and Kovachev, who were soon joined by the Emperor. With the entire cabinet in favor of Haeseni expulsion, the Empress was quick to agree, and on the 11th of Harren’s Folly, 1786, the Treaty of Helena was signed between Haesne and the Empire, which formally removed the Kingdom of Haense from the Empire, but established a peace and defensive pact between the two. Both sides seemed to have received the treaty well, as, in the words of Prince Peter Maximillian, the Count of Kaphro: “Even my divorce was less direly-needed than this.” Although the expulsion of Haense was a defining moment for the dual-reign of Anne and Joseph, very little else of note happened until the great migration from Arcas in 1796. In light of the relative quiet over the decade from 1786 to 1796, these authors have resolved to give a brief overview of that period. The differing attitudes and aptitudes of Anne and Joseph reveal within them their weaknesses, but also the strengths they possessed that complimented each other. Empress Anne was brave, beloved, and a warrior. She, the Princess Imperial Elizabeth, the heir, John Charles, the Duke of Helena, and her second son, Philip Augustus, the Duke of Crestfall, often led the ISA personally against the inferi, and embarked on several crusades to the Korvassa with the members of the Firewatch Alliance. It was there that they achieved a number of victories and helped contain the inferi menace within the lands of the Korvassa. However, when it came to domestic matters, the Empress had little knowledge and practical experience in matters of governance, save where foreign affairs were concerned. Fortunately, she knew her limitations, and would never rush to judgment before consulting her advisors, but at times this proved disadvantageous, for she could be indecisive and uncertain in moments that required action. Emperor Joseph, on the other hand, was a genius in the matters of statecraft and government. He was well-read, multi-talented, and quickly grasped any subject that he wished to learn. Brilliant with the pen and well-spoken, it was he who aided in crafting, perfecting, and overseeing the various systems of the Petrine Empire from the Imperial Diet to the judicial system to the centralization efforts. However, he was also something of a recluse and rarely emerged from the confines of the Imperial palace. While he could speak clearly, authoritatively, and articulately during meetings of state, much as the Empress did in public speeches, he appeared to be gripped by shyness when before great assemblies. Fortunately, he knew his limitations, and would never resolve to play the part of a charismatic warrior-Emperor when the Empress fit the role better. A standard session of the Imperial Diet under Anne & Joseph, date unknown Their strengths and shortcomings were apparent, and quickly the Imperial rulers knew how to divide the matters of state. In a display of trust rarely-seen between Emperor and Empress, the pair worked in concert, almost never interfering in each other’s respective realms, but also keeping frequent correspondence and communication to be aware of all that was happening. Empress Anne would meet with foreign delegations, stand before the people of the Empire, and lead the army against the inferi. Emperor Joseph would run the Imperial government, ensure the health and stability of its systems, and work with the Council of State to better the Empire from within. This arrangement worked well until the Empress’ death in 1800, and it was because of this that their co-reign was long, peaceful, and prosperous. That is not to say, though, that no conflict was to be found. Throughout the time of Anne and Joseph, the Josephite Party won every election by a great margin. Their dominance was so cemented (the Everardines folded during this time, and subsequent political parties simply ran on anti-Josephite platforms while borrowing all other policies) that many began to allege the Josephites of cronyism and engaging in criminal activities. The “Josephite Mafia” became the thing of legends as every crime, irregularity, and questionable act was blamed on this seemingly omni-present, omnipotent body of criminals who had overtaken the government. Was this truly the case, though? In examining over a thousand documents, diaries, warrants, dossiers, newspapers, and journals from the time, these authors have managed to piece together an accurate depiction of the criminal elements found within the Josephite Party. Much of the Josephite’s electoral success was owed to Illatians and Adunians, two quasi-human races that are known for their perfidiousness. Murder, election fraud, ballot tampering, bribery, and coercion was committed either by registered Josephites or known associates of registered Josephites, and it is commonly accept by historians that many of the lower-level members of the Josephites partook in criminal activity to some degree. However, among the higher ranks, few participated, let alone seemed aware, save for the Minister of the Interior (an Adunian), Padraig O’Rourke, the Count of Halstaig, who was thought by many to be the ringleader of the “Josephite Mafia.” While this cannot be confirmed, he was often named as a person of interest in a number of criminal cases. For their part, the two leaders of the Josephite Party, Jonah Stahl-Elendil and Franz de Sarkozy, seemed unaware of what was occurring, though that did not stop accusations from being made. In what was the most infamous scandal of the Archchancellor’s career, several notables within the Josephites were accused by the prominent dark elf, Tanith Vursur, of having kidnapped and assaulted her. Among those implicated were the Vice Chancellor, the Count of Halstaig, the Baron of Woldzmir, Ostromir Tuvyic (Franz Sarkozy’s cousin and benefactor), and the Mayor of Helena, Dimitri Orlov. While all were eventually acquitted after an investigation by the Ministry of Justice, public opinion began to sour on the Josephite Party, and soon more parties emerged with the aim of bringing down the Josephites, though for now they would not have the organization and funding to compete with them. Scandals aside, little else plagued the reign of Anne and Joseph upon Arcas, and the streets of Helena flourished, the ISA remained strong, and the government functioned smoothly. However, this would change in 1792 as the Inferi War was brought to a conclusion, and the more horrifying aftermath reared its head. By 1790, the Firewatch Alliance had defeated the last inferi incursion against mainland Arcas and were now retaking a string of forts within the Korvassa. Every month they pushed further inwards, until, by 1792, the final battle could commence. After a day’s hard fighting, the inferi were pushed towards a great pit containing within it a giant egg taller than even the great towers of Haelun’or, supposedly brought upon the world by Iblees himself. It was here, at this critical juncture, that a demon emerged from a crack in the ground and began to do battle with the descendants, tearing through their ranks. Just as all seemed lost, the skies opened, and a golden light poured through the dark clouds that blackened the landscape. From here emerged the spirit of Corwin von Alstreim, wreathed in a laurel of crimson leaves and bearing a sword crafted from a star. Announcing that he had been sent by God to turn the tide of battle, he clashed swords with the demon, quickly defeating and beheading it. With the cheers of the Firewatch armies propelling his flight, Corwin proceeded to summon a spear of sunlight, which he flung at the egg, piercing it and destroying the devil-in-creation within. The Inferi War had been won, and the threat against Arcas now seemed finished. However, in just a few years time, those hopes would be dashed. As the armies of the ISA, led at the head by Empress Anne, returned to the Empire, they were greeted by a great procession and parade organized by Emperor Joseph himself. Nothing went amiss as the week was dedicated to games, feasting, celebration, and festival. The future looked bright, as now peace reigned, and attention could be focused towards domestic affairs. However, over the next year, a number of disasters ripped across Arcas. First, a torrent of blood flooded the continent, rendering many of the rivers and streams unusable. Then, a volcano in the Korvassa exploded, destroying the towns and cities there. Finally, a series of earthquakes ruptured through nearly every known nation on Arcas, causing great damage and killing many. In Helena a great fire broke out, and although it was put out, nearly a fifth of the city had been destroyed. A year later, the first fire would pale in comparison. On the morning of the 5th of Harren’s Folly, 1794, the citizens of Helena (along with every other city in the known world) would awake to be greeted by a darkened sky, with ripples of vermillion accenting it. Survivors’ accounts say it looked as if the magma of the earth had replaced the vapors of the sky. A great panic struck each of these cities, which would only grow as meteors shot from above, indiscriminately hitting buildings, farms, people, trees, whatever was unlucky enough to be in their path. Helena was devastated, and the Empress, Emperor, and their government were only barely able to escape the hell that had overtaken their beloved capital. The surviving citizens of the Empire were told to head north, around the Curonian Province, where the great star fort that had been constructed there would serve as the capital. While the Empress and the Archchancellor organized the fleeing Orenians in Curonia, the Emperor and the Vice Chancellor took command of the Imperial Navy and made preparations for an Empire-wide evacuation from Arcas. The destruction of Helena during the Arcan Disaster, 1796 The following months in Curonia were difficult, but by the winter of 1792, the Imperial Navy was well-supplied for a long voyage. The Imperials boarded on the vessels, said goodbye to Arcas, and set off. It would be two years until they reached Almaris, but through intermittent stops at small islands, coordination with other fleeing vessels from Arcas (flight operations were conducted by virtually every nation), and the determination of the Emperor and Empress, they survived and persisted. When they finally reached Almaris, landing on the eastern shores, it was said that the people of Oren wept and kissed the ground as they leapt from their boats, overjoyed to see dry land again. The construction of a new capital, the claiming of new territories, and the allotment of land to various individuals soon began. The operation was a resounding success, and within a matter of a year, the great capital, Providence, had been erected and a great swath of land had been claimed and settled in the name of the Empire. In the north was the great forest of Grenz, with Dobrov serving as its main city. In the west were the jungles of the Pale, with Aldemar serving as its main city. In the south were the great, rolling plains of the Lower Petra, with Redenford serving as its main city. Eventually, Arentania, housing the Adunians of Halstaig, would be settled to the far west, although this would not come until later in the sole reign of Joseph II. For the next four years, the settlement and organization of Imperial lands on Almaris went by quickly and with few difficulties. By 1799, Jonah Stahl-Elendil, deciding that his seventeenth year as Archchancellor would be his last, publicly announced his impending retirement after the upcoming Election of 1800. This election, which would prove to be one of the closest and important elections in the history of the Petrine Empire, pitted the incumbent Josephite Party, now led by Franz de Sarkozy, against the newly-formed National Party, which had been born out of the Commonwealth Club, the premier social and intellectual club in Providence, led by the Minister of the Treasury, Ledicourt d’Azor and George Kovachev. While few differences could be found between the two parties, and d’Azor and Kovachev had been Josephite allies in the Stahl-Elendil Ministry, the slanderous libel flung against Sarkozy had prompted a strong opposition. In the months leading up to the Election of 1800, the respective campaigns of the Josephites and Nationals grew fiery, and soon mobs supporting both parties took to the streets. On one occasion, as relayed by Franz Sarkozy in his memoirs, several National supporters surrounded him and threatened to kill him. Sarkozy, unfazed, gave a coherent and logical argument as to why killing him would be of great detriment to the Empire, which brought the men to tears. They apologized to the Vice Chancellor and forsook political violence, and took up postings as minor Josephite party affiliates in the countryside. Not all occasions were bloodless, though, and the newspapers were filled with stories of violent clashes and brawls. During the principle debate between Sarkozy and Kovachev on the 9th of Godfrey’s Triumph, 1799, an event that drew over nine thousand spectators, a sizable retinue of ISA soldiers had to be posted to ensure order was kept. Thankfully, no violence was had that day, and the debate was considered one of the greatest of the time. The Election of 1800 drew one of the greatest voter turnouts in Imperial history, surpassing even some of the Senate elections of Peter III. However, when the final votes were tallied, neither the Josephites nor Nationals had secured a decisive majority, as around a dozen seats had fallen to a number of smaller regional parties. Distrustful of these ambitious politicians, and recognizing the talent that both parties possessed, the Josephites and Nationals agreed to form a coalition, beginning a tradition of Josephite-National coalition governments that would remain until the dissolution of the Imperial Diet under Philip II. Franz Sarkozy would ascend to Archchancellor while Ledicort d’Azor would be named Vice Chancellor, and the Council of State would be divided between their two parties. The Empire as a whole was overjoyed on the occasion, as now factional rivalries could be put aside and a united front could focus on strengthening Oren. However, before the new unity government could act, tragedy struck. On the 20th of Horen’s Calling, 1800, Empress Anne was found dead in her chambers, having passed peacefully in her sleep that night. The Empress had been complaining for months of a pain in the breast along with accompanying rashes. Assuming it was a pox, she had taken to retiring early and offloading some of her official duties to the Emperor. Doctor’s visits were frequent, but it was assumed that the condition was treatable. However, this was not the case, and with the Empress’ death, so too did a piece of the soul of the Empire die. Beloved by her subjects and a symbol of Oren’s cultural peak, Empress Anne was widely-mourned from Haense in the north to Sutica in the south. It is said that at her funeral procession, a crowd larger than any army that the known world had seen gathered to see her delivered to the Imperial crypts. With Anne’s death, an unfillable void formed not only in the Empire, but also in Joseph’s heart. Having ruled and lived with her for many years, the widower Emperor was now forced to shoulder the burdens of the throne alone. Though he did not slip into reclusion, his public visits were far less frequent, and his rule was conducted distantly- from the confines of the Augustine Palace. While he would continue to do so competently and ably until the end of his life, it was said that never again did a smile grace his face. It would not be long before the first challenge to Emperor Joseph’s sole-rule emerged. In 1802, the steadfast Pontiff James II, a like minded friend and confidant of the Emperor, passed away after a tenure of forty nine years, the longest Pontificate to date. A stabilizing, well-respected, reform-minded force in the Church, the High Pontiff’s passing dealt a severe blow to the power and reach of the Church. The subsequent Pontifical election saw the controversial Cardinal Albarosa, a former Kaedreni who had been heavily involved in local politics in the region, ascend as High Pontiff Owyn III in a similarly-controversial election. Regarded as a schemer steeped in vice, Owyn III was reviled by nearly all the canonist states of Almaris, and soon whispers of a schism began to foment from within and without the Church. His tenure as Pontiff, though not as wretched as others depict, was mired in controversy as he attempted to reverse some of the liberal reforms of James II, which at times required the direct violation of Canon Law, and return the Church to its more conservative roots. Himself a devout Canonist and the Fidei Defensor, the Emperor had no desire to entertain the growing protests and demonstrations against the new High Pontiff, and he ordered the ISA to crack down on any dissent directed at the Church. While this succeeded for a time, it was evident to all, especially those in the Council of State, that the movement to officially depose Owyn III would only grow. Secret channels were made with the Kingdom of Haense to discuss the possibility of a joint Orenian-Haeseni deposition of Owyn III, but King Joseph I saw no reason to act, and promptly refused any agreement to enthrone a new Pontiff. An opportunity would come on the 5th of Horen’s Calling, 1806, when King Joseph I of Haense suddenly died of a heart attack. His son, the young Henry II, was a brash, impulsive boy who fervently despised Owyn III and wished to see a Haeseni-aligned clergyman ascend to the Pontifical throne. When Cyril Cardinal St. Publius and Father Dima of Dobrov, the two primary leaders of the movement against Owyn III, called for a trial against the High Pontiff, King Henry II eagerly offered Karosgrad as the location. Over in Providence, Emperor Joseph had no wish to spearhead the proceedings himself, and was grateful that Karosgrad was to be the location of the trial. However, despite his piety, he also prudently believed that the best way forward for the faith was for the Canonist Princes to be united. Unable to attend himself due to his advanced age, he sent Archchancellor Sarkozy and a retinue of ISA soldiers to attend the Diet of Karosgrad and see that Oren and Haense were unified in their decision. On the 12th of Godfrey’s Triumph, 1807, the assembled clergy of Canonist Realms, the soldiers of both the HRA and the ISA, and many thousands of spectators gathered around and within the Basilica of Saint Henrik to spectate the Diet of Karosgrad. Sat above them all was Franz Sarkozy and King Henry of Haense, who both whispered between each other furiously during the events of the trial. Curiously, the High Pontiff himself was not in attendance, and rumors swirled that he, knowing that his sins and corruptions of office would be brought to light, had chosen to flee and avoid punishment. Despite his absence, the trial commenced, and for hours the supporters and opposition of Owyn III argued bitterly. When the trial drew to a close, and a vote of conviction was held, the High Pontiff was found not guilty by a slim margin. With the results presented before them, the Imperial Archchancellor and the King of Haense took to a side room to discuss what they were to do. The following events of the now-dubbed “Massacre of Karosgrad” are hotly-debated. With conflicting primary and secondary sources, these authors have resolved to present the three most prominent versions of what occurred. The first, relayed primarily by Imperial citizens in attendance, states that after the two men had finished their deliberation, the King of Haense emerged solely to announce that the Empire and Haense rejected the Pontificate of Owyn III, and demanded his deposition. The Imperial Archchancellor, it is said, was reluctant to officially order the deposition of Owyn III, as the man was his former father-in-law, and so he simply nodded in agreement with the Haeseni King. When the supporters of Owyn III refused to leave the basilica, Henry II ordered the HRA to arrest them, which soon turned into a slaughter. Franz Sarkozy, following the Emperor’s desire to support Haense, reluctantly ordered the ISA to join the HRA, but to refrain from killing any clergymen. However, a rogue terrorist inside the town square detonated an explosive, killing several citizens and clergymen, including Father Dima of Dobrov, which brought the massacre inside the basilica to a stop. The second account, told primarily by HRA soldiers and Haeseni citizens, is relatively similar, though it asserts that the Imperial Archchancellor was more active in his support of the King of Haense, and that it was actually the former who first announced the deposition of Owyn III. As Father Dima of Dobrov was Sarkozy’s son-in-law, it is argued that the Archchancellor was ready and willing to support his kinsman’s endeavors. He ordered his ISA retinue to assist the HRA in arresting the resisting clergymen, but soon, in the confusion that had grasped the basilica, the peaceful arrests soon became a series of brutal killings both inside and outside of the church. Many clergy were indiscriminantly killed in the slaughter, including Father Dima of Dobrov. The third account, told by ISA soldiers and a handful of anti-Owyn III clergy, states that the Archchancellor and King Henry II agreed on deposing the High Pontiff and decided to divide their responsibilities. Sarkozy would instruct King Henry on how to announce the deposition of Owyn III and ensure that all clergy in support of them would be escorted out of the basilica. Meanwhile, the King would issue the official announcement of deposition and ensure any non-compliant clergy were arrested. The plan initially went off without a hitch, but it is said that outside, a leaky crate of oil was hit by a lamp dropped by a spectator, causing a great explosion which killed many in the square of Karosgrad, including Father Dima of Dobrov. Believing that a counter-attack by the Pontifical Guard was being conducted, the soldiers of the HRA and ISA panicked, killing several clergy inside of the basilica. The massacre of Karosgrad, carried out by HRA and ISA forces, 1807 Regardless of the true nature of events, the Diet of Karosgrad would live down in infamy. Although the Empire and Haense had successfully deposed Owyn III, the stain of killing unarmed clergy loomed over the two Canonist Princes. The Emperor himself was outraged upon hearing the news of the Massacre of Karosgrad, and for a moment considered ordering the reinstatement of Owyn III, but eventually relented, knowing that such an act would divide the Canonist world. Instead, he agreed to oversee the new Pontifical elections, which resulted in the moderate and reasonable Cardinal St. Julia ascending as High Pontiff Jude II. For the next four years, Joseph II’s reign was peaceful and prosperous. Although Providence did not flourish as Helena once had under Peter III, the city was still the greatest on Almaris, and it was said that the streets never lacked the vigorous life expected of an Imperial capital, nor did the functions of government stall and wither. The Sarkozy Ministry sent expeditions westwards, over the Arentanian Mountains, and financed several settlements, outposts, and farms in what was now called the Oltremont, which further expanded the Empire and increased its tax revenues. One prominent family given significant tracts of land was the de Joannes family. Descendents of Robert de Joannes, the younger brother of Emperor Alexander II, this former Imperial dynasty had reemerged into Orenian politics with a fervor. Led by Louis de Joannes, the family began to attend court functions, dine with other members of the nobility, and provided substantial donations to the Church and Crown. Backed by the Bishop, Castile, and Hartcold families, the Joannes’s were able to gain the favor of Emperor Joseph II and obtain the Barony of Sedan in 1809. From there, they built a great fortified manor and created a military order of dubious legality, the Goats of Sedan. House Joannes was not the only once-great house to return to prominence. The de Falstaffs, having faded into obscurity after the death of Conrad, the Count of Leuven, were able to engage in some profitable land speculation out in the Oltremont. With these great funds, the head of the household, Emil-Dardot, was able to afford a fine estate out in the eastern reaches of the Lower Petra near the coast. The Emperor, himself a lover of Josephite history, could not neglect the opportunity to become the patron of one of the great dynasties that supported Joseph Marna. In 1808 he restored the County of Leuven to the Falstaffs by granting it, along with additional lands, to Emil-Dardot. A third house, though not yet to restore itself to the position it once held, was the de Savoies. After the defeat of House d’Amaury in the Lorrainian Revolt of 1729-1730, the small Savoyard population of the Empire had scattered across the inhabited world, disunited and without a leader. Now, though, a man with the potential to reunite the Savoyards had emerged: Olivier Renault de Savoie, the future Prince Olivier I of Savoy. Born into poverty in the Holy Orenian Empire, Olivier Renault had joined the ranks of the ISA from a young age, soon ascending the ranks due to his talent and wits. In 1808, the young Olivier Renault had caught the attention of many disparate Savoyards throughout Almaris, who began to flock into Providence to join the ISA and look to the promising young Savoie as a future leader. Although he asked for no lands and titles, and was not given any, he was soon noticed by the Emperor and the Council of State. However, the Emperor’s generosity would soon come back to haunt him. While most of the nobility within the Empire, from the Dukes of Cathalon in the Lower Petra, to the Barons of Woldzmir in the Grenz, had grown accustomed to the gradual reduction of noble privileges, those Imperial families that had lost their station during the Time of Troubles had not been reconciled to the new order. In the south, the new Count of Leuven began to form a coalition of nobles, ostensibly to support each other in the management of their estate and coordinate in the Diet. Meanwhile, the Goats of Sedan had stirred up trouble within Providence after inciting a feud with the Emperor’s grandson, Prince Robert Francis of Crestfall, who was said to be so greatly deformed and inbred that he did not even know he was insulting them, which earned them the ire of the Imperial Court. They further alienated the army when, after a meeting with the Archchancellor and General Peter d’Arkent, they refused to be integrated into the ISA’s command structure. By this time, whispers were growing of a possible rebellion being launched against the Crown. Correspondence uncovered between the Count of Leuven, Olivier de Savoie, the Baron of Sedan, and Robert Helvets, the Baron of Helvets and cousin of the Duke of Cathalon, revealed that the three men chafed under the new Imperial order. Believing that the responsibility of the nobility ought to be increased for the sake of the Empire, they agreed to support each other in the bid to expand the rights and privileges of the nobility and restore them to what had been enjoyed under Alexander II. While no direct communication related to rebellion has been found, the fact that these four would end up being some of the central leaders of the Sedan Rebellion leaves little to be questioned. By 1811, it was evident that the actions of the conspirators had become too much for the Crown. In a private meeting between Louis de Joannes and the Crown Prince of the Empire, the Duke of Helena, John Charles, the latter begged the Baron of Sedan to disband the Goats and tell his young, fiery followers to submit themselves to Imperial Law and join the ISA. The Baron of Sedan, believing that the Duke of Helena’s words were simply a ploy for him to surrender what power he had and crush any movement of unity among the nobility, refused. When the Emperor received word of this meeting, he, the Duke of Helena, and the Archchancellor agreed that swift action was needed to contain a possible uprising. On the 14th of the Sun’s Smile, 1811, the Emperor issued the Proclamation of 1811, stripping House de Joannes of their lands and titles, banning the Goats of Sedan from the realm, and demanding that House de Joannes and their allies come to Providence to stand trial. With official approval from High Pontiff Jude II, it seemed that the plot was to be stopped in its tracks. At first, it seemed that the Emperor’s plan would be executed without a hitch. Still in the process of convincing the nobility to join their movement against the Crown’s centralization efforts, the Baron of Helvets and the Count of Leuven were quickly caught and arrested by nobles still loyal to the Empire. Emil-Dardot, having readily turned himself in, was simply confiscated of his title and exiled from the realm; Robert Foltest, though, was slated to stand trial. With their allies in the Lower Petra having been neutralized and having been blindsided by the Emperor’s proclamation, the Baron of Sedan and Olivier Renault scrambled to put together an effective resistance. As Olivier Renault’s role in the conspiracy had not been uncovered, he was able to linger in Providence for a few more weeks, but as suspicions against him mounted, he decided to lead his large band of Savoyard followers out west to link up with Sedan. In the middle of the night on the night of the 2nd of Harren’s Folly, 1811, Olivier and his band of Savoyards, supposedly numbering in the hundreds, fled Providence without being detected. When morning came, the officers of the ISA were shocked to find that a substantial portion of their ranks had been depleted. Now aware that the conspiracy was larger than had been assumed, Emperor Joseph formed the Committee on Public Safety, which invested emergency powers in the Archchancellor, General Peter d’Arkent, and Iskander Basrid, the Count of Susa and a promising young captain in the ISA, in order to put down a possible rebellion. The Committee on Public Safety moved quickly, sending the Count of Susa and Vice Chancellor Ledicort d’Azor to review the Empire’s defenses in the Lower Petra. General d’Arkent, meanwhile, began to assemble an army in Providence and ensure the city’s defenses could withstand a possible attack. The Archchancellor, having senior authority, took overall charge and began the process of uncovering and arresting rebel sympathizers within Providence. Two of these men, Caius de Joannes and Conrad Nicholas de Falstaff, were caught and summarily executed. Both the Sedanian Rebels and Liberals within the Empire decried the lack of a fair trial, one of the three ‘Rights of Man’ afforded in the ORC, but the Archchancellor argued that the circumstances necessitated quick, decisive action, which long, complicated legal proceedings would hinder. Enraged at the execution of his son, the Baron of Sedan ordered his eldest son and heir, Alexander, to lead a force down to Southbridge to take it. Southbridge, guarding the southernmost passage into the Empire, was a critical trading post and fortification. To take it would mean to cut off Imperial merchants from their lucrative revenues to the south, which would hopefully put pressure on the Crown to give in to Sedan’s demands for the restoration of their lands and titles and greater autonomy for the nobility. Despite Olivier Renault and his Savoyards having yet to reach Sedan, Alexander de Joannes did not want to lose the opportunity to take Southbridge, so he set out prematurely with twelve-hundred men primarily drawn from House Joannes, House Castile, and House Bishop, though some sources have this count as high as two-thousand, finally reaching the fort on the 12th of Harren’s Folly, 1811. Unfortunately for the Sedanians, the Count of Susa and Vice Chancellor d’Azor had already reached Southbridge two days earlier with a contingent of seven-hundred men, bolstering the one-thousand man garrison at Southbridge. Not wishing to turn back, and confident that his men’s skill vastly outmatched that of the ISA’s, Alexander de Joannes took to open battle, which would prove ill-advised. At the Battle of Southbridge, on the 13th of Harren’s Folly, 1811, the Sedanian forces were decisively defeated by the ISA under the Count of Susa, whose brave, masterful command drove the rebels back to the Oltremont and kept Southbridge from being captured. Upon hearing the news of his son’s defeat, the dismayed Baron of Sedan knew that he would be unable to force a quick, easy settlement from the Empire. Thus, on the 25th of Harren’s Folly, 1811, he declared independence from the Holy Orenian Empire and crowned himself as the Prince of Sedan. Despite this bold gesture of defiance, the course of the Sedan Rebellion would not go in his favor. For the rest of 1811, the Count of Susa and his subordinates led a swift campaign across the Oltremont, wiping out small bands of rebels and thoroughly defeating raiding parties sent from Sedan. One famous incident came when Captain Caspian d’Arkent, grandson of General d’Arkent, led one-hundred freeriders to surround and capture a force of three-hundred levymen of House Bishop attempting to raid Southbridge, a deed that earned him his knighthood. Captain d’Arkent did not lose a man in the affair, and one of Sedan’s most prominent vassals was effectively knocked out of the war. By the beginning of 1812, the Count of Susa’s small ISA force had reached within fifty miles of the de Joannes Manor. Knowing that his rebellion was doomed if he could not force a quick end to the war, Louis de Joannes authorized a daring raid against Providence to be led by Olivier de Savoie. Mustering the last of the Sedanian reserves, and bolstered by the newly-arrived Savoyards, Olivier Renault set out with thirteen-hundred men, intent on striking Providence on the 17th of Godfrey’s Triumph, when the trial of Baron Robert Helvets was scheduled to take place. Having received word of this incoming raid force, General d’Arkent prepared the defenses of Providence and recalled his grandson to help take charge. However, knowing that this final gamble from the Sedanians was being conducted by a paltry force, he ordered the Count of Susa to continue his offensive into the Oltremont. On the morning of the 17th of Godfrey’s Triumph, 1812, as the citizens of Providence awoke and began to stream into the courthouse to attend the trial of the Baron of Helvets, the alarm bells rang across the city. Over the horizon, the banners of House de Joannes, House de Savoie, and House Castile flew, marking the arrival of the rebel raiders. Despite his advanced age and onset of illness, General d’Arkent and his grandson, Caspian, personally led a force of two-thousand ISA soldiers to the walls to meet the rebels. For hours the two sides did battle as the citizens of Providence, the Emperor and Archchancellor among them, took to the towers and skyscrapers of the city to oversee the battle. At the height of the battle, when it appeared that Olivier Renault and a few of his men had successfully scaled the walls and were soon to enter the Bastion, Franz Sarkozy bypassed the suspended trial and ordered the immediate execution of Robert Helvets to ensure that he would not fall into enemy hands. When word reached the rebel attackers that the Baron of Helvets had been slain, many of them lost heart and began to waver. Beleaguered, worn thin, and on the verge of breaking, the Sedanian army was soon forced back from the wall after a well-concentrated push led by Captain Caspian. Knowing that a slaughter faced him and his men if they did not flee, Olivier Renault sounded for a retreat, narrowly escaping along with four-hundred of his soldiers back to Sedan. As soon as the final Sedanian banner could no longer be seen in the distance, the city broke out into celebration. The Emperor ordered a great feast to be held, and the victorious Imperials. The flight of the Sedanians after the Battle of Robert’s Folly, 1812 The Battle of Robert’s Folly would prove to be the last significant engagement of the war. When Louis de Joannes received word of this final defeat, it is said that he lost hope in any possibility of victory. On the 6th of Sigismund’s End, 1813, as the Imperial army was closing in on Sedan, Prince Louis and his remaining supporters chose to burn their manor and flee southwards, towards Urguan (it has been rumored that Urguan was secretly funneling men and supplies during the war). Olivier Renault, displaying a hatred of dwarves that would come to mark the rest of his life, took his few Savoyards and trekked further west, eventually founding the city of Luciensburg on the plains of the Westreach. With the burning of Sedan Manor came the end of the rebellion. The final rebel holdouts were swiftly captured, and on the 14th of Horen’s Calling, 1813, the Archchancellor announced the Empire’s victory over the rebels. While the war had lasted two years, leaving much of the Oltremont in ruins, the rest of the Empire was jubilant at the victory and was not left reeling from its effects. The war had been won decisively with little loss of life for the Empire, and the nation had shown the capability it possessed when unified. For the rest of his reign, Emperor Joseph faced no great issues from within, and the full project centralization that had begun with his father-in-law had been finished. The final feudal elements within the Empire had been completely eradicated. The rest of his reign, however, would prove to be short. In the dwindling months of the Sedan Rebellion, Emperor Joseph had increasingly delegated the powers of the Crown to the Duke of Helena, preparing him for the responsibilities of the office. Of greatly advanced age, nearly-blind, and bound to a litter, the Emperor stayed confined within the Augustine Palace, delegating what orders he needed to from there, but generally allowing the functions of the Imperial government to continue. It was around this time too that the Archchancellor announced his future resignation, which would come two months after the Emperor’s death. Life in the Empire fell still, for it seemed all were preparing for the inevitable end of an era. That end came during the evening of the 23rd of the Sun’s Smile, 1814. Emperor Joseph, having fallen into a fever two weeks before, had retired to his bedchamber. He permitted only close friends, family, and his personal chaplain to visit him during his final days. It is said that to each he conferred a piece of advice, though he also bound them to secrecy, and thus almost nothing of what he said is known. The sole exception is his final work, Reflections of State, addressed to his son, the Duke of Helena. In it, he tells his son that the Age of Heroes, a time defined by great men performing great deeds, has given way to the Age of Man, a new era that is defined by the will and energy of the masses. He instructs his son on how to reign in these changing times, encouraging a more distant, liberal approach to governance than what has been standard. Finally, he reflects back on the life he lived and the reign he had, remarking positively that his reign was quiet and peaceful, and because of that it was good. On the morning of the 23rd of the Sun’s Smile, the Emperor, now fading into the beyond, was given his final rites. For a few more hours he stirred, occasionally accepting water dripped from a cloth, but otherwise not taking visitors. By midday he uttered his final recorded words: “Anne, we have succeeded.” By the time night came, Emperor Joseph II had finally passed away, joining his wife after fourteen years without her. He was eighty-two years old when he died, and had ruled the Empire for a total of thirty-two years. The co-reign of Anne and Joseph is a moment that has never been seen before in Imperial history and shall never be seen again. Their reign marks the first time a woman held the Imperial throne in her own right, as well as the first time the Crown was held equally by two individuals. This sharing of the Crown would prove to be their greatest benefit, as the Imperial monarchs perfectly complemented the other. Even within the domains of erstwhile enemies of the Empire, the co-reign of Anne and Joseph is held in high esteem; Empress Anne is seen as one of the most beloved individuals to sit the throne, while Emperor Joseph is regarded as one of the wisest. Through their efforts, they not only continued, but saw through the Petrine Reforms that had begun with Emperor Peter III and Simon Basrid. Although their liberal sentiments may have been misguided, any scholar must respect their ability to perfect a dynastic vision. Although Empress Anne’s passing left a great void in the Empire, and the subsequent sole-reign of her husband cannot be said to have been as stable, Emperor Joseph was able to see their dream to completion and ensure the functions of state did not experience any significant stagnation or decay. Despite his mild mistakes that laid the groundwork for the Sedan Rebellion, the Emperor humbly recognized his faults and competently guided the Empire through the conflict, ending it quickly, decisively, and without losing a single engagement. By the time of his death, the Imperial coffers were full, the political violence that had grasped the Empire for several years had subsided, and the loyalty of the Imperial subjects was absolutely secured. While Emperor John VIII's reign would quickly be tested, it would come from the outside, and the internal strength of the Empire would ensure that he had ample resources to meet the coming challenges. Vale, Anne ‘the Ruby of the Empire’ 12th of Owyn’s Flame, 1735-20th of Horen’s Calling, 1800 (r. 14th of Sun’s Smile 1784-20th of Horen’s Calling, 1800) Vale, Joseph II ‘the Erudite’ 1st of Owyn’s Flame, 1731-23rd of Sun’s Smile, 1814 (r. 14th of Sun’s Smile 1784-23rd of Sun’s Smile, 1814) O Ágioi Kristoff, Jude kai Pius. Dóste mas gnósi ópos sas ékane o Theós. Poté min afísoume na doúme to skotádi, allá as doúme móno to fos tis sofías kai tis alítheias. O Theós na se evlogeí. The reign of Emperor John VII and the 10th Nordling War shall be covered in our next volume of The Decline and Fall of the Holy Orenian Empire.
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