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  1. THE TRAGEDY OF KING MARIUS I Dramatis Personae Marius, King of Haense Tobias, King of Courland Otto Heinrik, Crown Prince of Haense, brother of the king Karl Sigmar, Uncle of the king, Regent Lukas Vanir, Chancellor of Haense, the loyal minister Merric Staunton, Prince of Courland, cousin of Tobias Diedrik Barrow, the disobedient Interior Minister Sergei II, Cavalry commander, Lord of Kovachev, Duke of Carnatia Brynden Vanir, Lord Marshal, Lord of Vanir, Margrave of Vasiland Boris, Lord of Ruthern, Count of Metterden Otto Marius, Lord of Baruch, Baron of Ayr Adolphus, Lord of Vyronov, Baron of Graiswald Owyn, Lord of Amador, Baron of Mondstadt Alistar, Lord Commander of the Golden Crow, renowned poet Julia, Aunt of the king Tatiana, Aunt of the king, wife of Brynden Reza Elizaveta, the Queen-Mother Rory Othaman, Archbishop and Commander Sergeant, veteran soldier Reeve Brawm, traitor ACT I SCENE I. St. Karlsburg. The courtyard of Ottosgrad Palace. It is the winter of 1586. Alistar, a close confidant of the royal family walks outside of the castle holding a leash with a small grey puppy. There are thick heaps of snow that cover across the ground. ALISTAR (Enter Alistar, holding a leash with a young grey pup. Alistar picks up the young king and props Marius on his lap as he clears his throat.) Come Do you know the story of your namesake? Attend, young boy to Gaius Marius! The strength of GOD was vested upon him, Bringing with him the pride of Hanseti. For great was his brav’ry against his foes. To thee, young king, this ode I utter thus, Harken to his name, Gaius Marius! Today you are the one who stands on high, A great destiny few men seek to try. (The young Marius sits quietly, looking up at the poet’s narrative in awe. Enter Julia with courtiers.) JULIA Alas, poor boy, afflicted by neglect. I am baffl’d and disgraced to see him. Myself I throw dread monarchy at thy feet. Destined art thou to fail at eagle’s nest. Kings are but gilded snow and melted ice, Glistening upon the highest mountain. How great the mountain stands above the rest, Until the time of the season must change. All glistening of snow thus melts away. The wond’rous winter has but now elapsed, Leaving behind no trace to behold. Such became of the reign of his father, For now the season’s change has now arrived. (A gentle cascade of snowflakes descends to the ground.) ALISTAR Have hope dear princess, lest we be faithless! Woe to us, for GOD calls men to be strong. To what do we owe this ode of pity? There is no room for gloom and heartlessness, Deriding the blessing that GOD doth give. (Alistar hands the leash to Marius.) ALISTAR A wolf pup is a loyal companion, Surely a friend for life and unto death. The deep cold of the winters here in Haense, Test the soul to all that you shall hold dear. As a wolf is nourished by his master, So does a land from the love of their king. (Exit Julia and Marius.) ALISTAR My GOD, if thou hearest me in prayer, Look with pity and on the sins of the past. Strengthen those who need your guidance the most, And for this blessed Northmarch, redemption. Shed the angst of Andrik’s folly and vice, Renew the hearts of those who fear this life, And give us the grace to handle our pain. (Exit Alistar. Scene closes.) SCENE II. St. Karlsburg. The sparring arena within the Golden Crow barracks. Enter Otto Heinrik, Alistar, several Golden Crow guardsmen. OTTO HEINRIK (Otto picks up a sparring sword.) From the seas of Serpentstone to Greyspine, A warrior will I be to the north. So vast this land, yet I shall see its ends, From the mount of my strong and steady steed. Enemies to the right, and to the left, So great they are but still unmatched for me. ALISTAR Lo, Otto use your sense and keep your head! The enemy may come, or they may go, But the defender always stays en guarde. OTTO HEINRIK Heartily, I speak the truth, do I not? Great are the gifted fathers of Joren, So too am I, to follow in their stead! GUARD (Bellowing.) Entering His Majesty the King! (Enter Marius, flanked by his retinue of courtier and Gold Crow guardsmen.) MARIUS So great is Otto, who else can compare? Perhaps a jester roaming the manure! I kid, good brother for no one compares! (A nun comes forward, setting a desk for Marius’ study.) The words of yore still strike us true, Ever to keep us on our watchful eyes. Let none deceive or hinder, the glory Of the glacial and majestic winter. Whoso wishes to deny GOD’s elect, the Highlander and their great free spirit? ALISTAR I see you have excelled in your studies. It takes more than just one’s strength and one’s pride, But an unwavering mind that can see all. Barbanov never falls short of duty. (Exit all. Scene closes.) SCENE III. St. Karlsburg. The throne room of Ottosgrad palace. Enter Karl Sigmar, seated at the throne. Royal courtiers fill the peripheries of the palace throne room. Marius, Otto, the Queen-Mother flank Karl Sigmar. The Haense peerage are all present. The issue with the inclusion of House Brawm divides the Crown and the House of Kovachev. KARL SIGMAR (Seated at the throne. His face is shrouded in fatigue) My lords, we convene to discuss disputes, Concerning the lands within Carnatia. With that, the Duke Kovachev may rise forth. SERGEI II Your Highness and my fellow noble lords. Tis but a day of sad regret I rise, A man of loyalty and reverence To our Northern pride and our Northern crown. Why must we, the very House that sheltered Our king and gladly sacrificed our lives For the Kingdom, fight for security? KARL SIGMAR His Grace will cease his statement of dispute. Alas, the Duke heeds not my prior words, And with deaf ears he proceeds to this court! (Brawms snicker in the background.) SERGEI II Damned if I should act, damned if I do not. (Looks around to the courtiers.) His Highness seeks to silence me, but the Sun shines both on the good and the wicked! Woe to this court should complacency rule! We serve the right, not the dogs that were set On our duly earned Carnatian land. Friends, kinsmen, pledge your attention to me! I come to petition this esteemed court Not to sow dissent nor anger your hearts. May he not forget my own sworn duty, Not to the fallible whims of myself, But to Haense and the lands which I defend. Nor have I stood here to exhaust contempt I demand all for my kin what is due, Riddance the plague that is House Brawm in Haense. KARL SIGMAR You stand in my court, audacious and proud. Careful with your use of such words, Your Grace. They do not serve you well for your demands. Our union of vassals stands without doubt. Perhaps it is that pride of yours to fix. To all who here, to thine ears I impart, The Crown is uncontested in all respect. For if anyone should show dissent here Let he be admonished in our presence. I hereby grant in this place our assent, that those of Houndsden shall dwell among us. (Exit all but Karl Sigmar and Marius.) KARL SIGMAR My nephew, I pray you know the burden. Let neither duke nor count speak over you. The lofty ambitions of your vassals Must never come before you nor the Crown. As GOD commands the snow fall all around, He blesses the land with wintry wonder, That where it falls, your reign shall reside. Know this fully and keep this in your heart, For the day of reckoning shall be had. (Karl Sigmar gave a sigh prior to departing the throne room.) MARIUS (Looked around at the empty room, the portraits of his father and grandfather prominently peering down upon him.) To stand or fall, this I must decide now. Shall I be condemned a life of burdens, Or shall I bring honor to this great house? Is it greater to endure the pains of this crown, Or to look upon strife as total strength? The swooping talons of rival birds strike, But the noble crow is steadfast to fight. For in death, I can sleep in quick respite. But what glory does that bring to the north? Who would stand in my stead to take on such? The spurns of this station define this life. What life have I been given to define! No limits bear down on me but my thoughts, The fears that dwell within this naive mind. For it is true fear that creates weakness, Furthering blinding the sight of resolve. I pray, yet I hear nothing from the saints. Oh gracious GOD and by Karl and Otto, By Petyr and Andrik, let me succeed. May this be your good will above indeed. (Exit Marius. Scene closes.) ACT II SCENE I. St. Karlsburg. A hallway within Ottosgrad palace. Marius is seated along the staircase of Ottosgrad, accompanied by Tatiana who is weeping. MARIUS (Comforts Tatiana and speaks in a jovial tone.) Pray, good aunt, confide in me your sorrows! What vice has afflicted your graciousness? TATIANA My dear young boy, I should not burden you. I shan’t wrest you away from your affairs. MARIUS No, dear aunt. I enjoy your company! TATIANA How gracious you share love for all. Alas, your uncle Brynden shows disdain, For his mindless actions cause much pain to me. His deep ambition remains above me, His mind has no care for our family. For love is scarce among men in this world. But you, o’ king and loving toward all. Give to the north your hand and heart with glee, Never to let go of your greatest vow: To be true and faithful in all your deeds. MARIUS To you I vow always to be truthful. Never shall I shirk this given mandate. To all who give their just and wise counsel, I attend with heed to what I must do. For you, dear soul art a blessing to me, Showing pure what love can bring to us all. Tis more than love that I have learned from you, But loving those who give not back the same. Such is the duty of this great station. (Exit all. Scene closes.) SCENE II. St. Karlsburg. The throne room of Ottosgrad palace. It is the day of King Marius’ coronation. The noble lords, courtiers, clergy, and royal family are congregated within the throne room at Ottosgrad. King Marius dons royal attire. REZA ELIZAVETA At last the day of accession is here! You shall finally wear the Franciscan crown, Take the scepter in hand and show to all, That you will be a king of great courage. Look in awe dear son, for you now wear gold! (Reza gestures toward the Franciscan Crown, a gold circlet with protruding features each ornately adorned with rubies, sapphires, and diamonds.) MARIUS Gold I shall wear but worry fills my heart, For this gold has ruined many a man. Mine own father was corrupted by it, And the Kingdom suffered for his great sins. (Marius’ face is filled with worry, but he cannot break his gaze from the crown. Reza places a comforting hand on his shoulder.) REZA ELIZAVETA Remember my son, you are not Andrik. MARIUS Truly mother, my father I am not. My people look upon me with great hope; For their sake and mine own, I must triumph. (The crowd quiets as Rory Othaman, Bishop of St. Karlsburg, processions to the throne followed closely behind by altar boys and the nobles of the realm.) RORY OTHAMAN Kneel, King, and accept the blessing of God. (Marius kneels, beads of sweat forming on his brow. Rory turns to an altar boy, and dips his thumb into a glass vessel filled with oil.) RORY OTHAMAN Be now blesséd by this holy chrism, O King, chosen by God to rule us all. Let no evil into thy heart, for you Shall walk with the Almighty as your guide. (Rory draws a Lorraine cross with the oil on Marius’ forehead. He then takes the Franciscan Crown and holds it above Marius’ head.) RORY OTHAMAN Swear thee now, King, to serve dutifully And, with whole of mind and body, protect Thy subjects who gather now before thee? To uphold justice, strike down evil men, Strive for peace between brothers and nations, And hold in great esteem the laws of God? MARIUS So I swear. (Rory lowers the crown onto Marius’ head, then steps back. Marius rises.) RORY OTHAMAN Long live the King! REZA ELIZAVETA Long live the King! (The Crowd cheers and continues the chant until Marius raises his hands to signal for silence.) MARIUS Whether this life be brief or storied thus, To my leal vassals, I stand in your midst, To proclaim to you a firm and resolute realm. Now that the drums of war have been ceased, Our people shall commit ourselves thusly: To strengthen this kingdom with unity. Let us rebuild honorable custom, And the respect that every man is due. It is the cause of every Haeseni, To fulfill their destiny under God, Honoring our fathers with sacrifice, Reaping the harvest of honest labor, And leaving bounties when we are in graves. (Exit all. Scene closes.) SCENE III. St. Karlsburg. Marius’ office within Ottosgrad palace. It is early yet in Marius’ reign, and already he makes plans to meet with Lords Amador and Ruthern to settle a dispute between them. He waits in the royal office with his newly appointed Chancellor, Lukas Vanir, and his brother Otto Heinrik. MARIUS Come, Lukas, and tell me thus: that you have Grown accustomed to your new position. Few men may boast of such a rise as yours, From lowly mayor to noble Chancellor! You are surely proud of your achievement. LUKAS VANIR Ambition is not my wont, my lord King. I desire only to serve the Kingdom; The Greater Man places her above all. MARIUS A comfort, indeed, to hear you say so. Lacking faith in one’s councilor brings no Rest to one’s heart, but know that I place my Trust in you to serve this Crown loyally. Tell me, for what purpose have we been called? LUKAS VANIR To rule on a dispute as regards the Barony of Marbrand, seated between Lords Metterden and Mondstadt who presently Make way to your majesty’s grand office. (A knock at the door.) MARIUS Whence is that knocking? Come, let us see you. (Enter Boris Ruthern and Owyn Amador) MARIUS My lords, what troubles bring you here to-day? BORIS My liege, here is a villain and a traitor Who, by his own greed, seeks to take from me That which was granted by Petyr the King. My royal sovereign, my claim over the Greyspine Gate and my duty to guard it, A duty in which I have not failed thee, Are now both besieged by Lord Amador. An Owl he is assuredly not, For the lowest of rats alone cause such Havoc betwixt Haeseni brothers. OWYN My noble King, thou mustn’t listen to These false charges; truer words have come from The mouths of pagan Norlanders, who kill Freely and worship a false flaming God. Baron Marbrand has faith not in Lord Ruthern, For the shark has shown it will bite whatever It must to attain its true goal, the crown. Why then should any man serve the will of A lord who himself acts in poor faith? Be wary, my liege, for even now the Traitor conspires to take from thee thy throne. BORIS You clay-brained fool! Damn’d be your family! I ought to strike you down where you stand, knave! LUKAS VANIR We are in His Majesty’s company! Neither the dwarves of Urguan nor the Elves of Haelun’or carry themselves so! Raise you again your voice in aggression, And cursed be the day you choose to do so. Now step back and allow us to discuss. (Boris and Owyn scowl at Lukas, but silence themselves and step away whilst Lukas speaks in a lowered voice to Marius.) LUKAS VANIR See how they bear themselves, Your Majesty, As though crowned with allegiance and good faith? I am of one mind with your Lord Uncle, You must never allow your vassals to Dictate your actions unto you, my King. Regardless, this dispute has all signs of Peril, should either man feel insulted. Sire, assign an envoy to speak in Your name to keep you, in their hearts, friendly. (Marius nods. Lukas motions for Boris and Owyn to return within earshot.) MARIUS Lords Mondstadt, Metterden, be calm I say. This issue is of great import to us, And it is our interest to see it solved. Our brother Otto who has our respect, For he has done a great many things to Earn it, shall intercede on our behalf And bring to resolution this matter. None shall interfere in our goal to build A resolute realm; you will accept his Decision, whatever it may be. BORIS Thank you, my liege. OWYN Most gracious of you, sire. (Exit all. Scene closes.) SCENE IV. St. Karlsburg. The throne room of Ottosgrad palace. Marius sits in court, speaking with his gathered nobles and family. (Enter Sergeant) SERGEANT Pardon for the interruption, my King. Lord Reeve Brawm seeks admittance to your majesty. MARIUS We’ll give him present audience. Bring him. (Enter Reeve Brawm) MARIUS What message have you from our lord Houndsden? REEVE BRAWM Thus says my lord: To Marius King of Haense, Knave, polisher of Imperial boots, Only contempt and slight regard for you. Here lays our demand: full independence And freedom from your tyrannical shackles. No longer shall Hound lick the feet of the Crow, Who is unworthy of the crown it bears. In the name of my lord and our house, (Reeve Brawm removes his left glove, tossing it at Marius’ feet. Gathered nobles and courtiers gasp in surprise.) There lies our challenge to this mockery That fools may call the Kingdom of Haense. What message shall I return to Houndsden? (Marius picks up the glove and looks at it before responding.) MARIUS To your master say thus: that we accept His challenge and take arms against him. Houndsden shall regret this folly, see his Mistake, and regret the day he chose To turn his back on us, who have only Defended him to this court of our peers. Accused of tyranny, what nonsense. The only present mockery is his, The ruin he has but guaranteed for his house. Our response shall be like thunder, an earthquake, So hot an answer of it that all shall Return his mock and the people of Haense Shall see our actions as matching to his Frivolous and unwarranted insult. Leave now, tell your master what we have said. REEVE BRAWM I shall deliver so. Thanks to your highness. (Reeve bows and exits.) MARIUS What say you, Uncle Vasiland? Are the Armies of Hanseti-Ruska prepared To face this threat which has reared its ugly head? BRYNDEN VANIR Your soldiers stand willing and ready, sire. As do your loyal lords who gather here To-day, who shall stand with you to-morrow, And ev’ry day thereafter until these Traitors are brought before God Almighty. SERGEI II Your Majesty, most humbly I request The lead of the vanguard against these dogs, Who have mine own family harassed and Now make war against thy most august crown. MARIUS Take it, Carnatia, lead us to glory. Vasiland, Metterden, Ayr, great lords all, Raise your banners and rally your forces For we shall make war on these dogs of Brawm! BRYNDEN, ADOLPHUS, SERGEI, OWYN, and BORIS To war! (Exit all. Scene closes.) SCENE V. Houndsden. The royal command tent in the siege camp. Marius, Lukas, Brynden Vanir, Adolphus, Sergei II, and Otto Marius have all gathered within the royal command tent in the Houndsden siege camp. ADOLPHUS Mighty is your artillery, my liege! For even now the dogs within the fort Cower in fear and await their slaughter! OTTO MARIUS Tis a shame that men of Courland should die After, by trickery, entering the fort. BRYNDEN VANIR A shame, nay, an honor my Lord Baruch! Long have my kin clashed with those of Staunton! We know well their penchant for deception And their love of war and all things evil. OTTO MARIUS Aye, you speak truly, my Lord Vasiland. Never again can the white eagle be Allowed to spread its wings across the land. (Enter Rory Othaman, sweaty and armored.) RORY OTHAMAN The enemy’s wall has crumbled, my liege. Your soldiers, with hardened heart and clenched fist, Stand ready to attack and take the fort. MARIUS Then take it, Lord Bishop, as you have said. Bring us victory. God be with you all. (Exeunt Lords after bowing. Marius breaks composure and kneels before a cross.) MARIUS O God above who watches over us all, Steel my soldiers’ hearts, take from them doubt and Fear, for those shall bring them death in battle. Rather, grant them to this thy leal servant. Is this then the true weight of the crown? Men shall live and die by my command, and Yet I know not whether my acts are just. My grandsire did nobly fight and win war, Forming this crown which now rests on my head. Did he ne’er doubt himself? When taking arms Or striking men with steel, did he not care For the widows made from his ambition? Of mine own father, a veteran of war, Songs are sung of his conquests and glory, Yet guilt did not preclude his violence. Why then hast thou chosen me, mighty God, Who withers and writhes with guilt and conscience? (Marius pauses, staring at the cross for a moment.) But this is not mine to question why, But to do as you have commanded me. This I know to be true, that for the better Or for the worst, the crown rests upon my Head, and I am King of Hanseti-Ruska. Such is the burden that I must carry. (Enter Sergei with blood on armor and sword.) SERGEI II The flag of surrender is raised, my King! The castle has fallen to our great arms! MARIUS And how many among us do lie dead? SERGEI II But one of the eight thousand whom you sent. A slight amount, Your Majesty. Minor. (Marius nods, Sergei bows then exits.) MARIUS One thousand more orphans, yet slight he says.. (Exit Marius. Scene closes.) ACT III SCENE I. St. Karlsburg. The throne room in Ottosgrad palace. Some years have passed since the Brawm Rebellion. Marius wraps up a diplomatic meeting in court with Prince Merric Staunton in hopes of reducing tensions with Courland. (Enter Marius, Merric Staunton, Diedrik, and Lukas.) MERRIC STAUNTON Great words between us, royal brother! I’ll report to my kingly coz that you Peace have invested in, that no more blood Be shed for any cause between our realms. DIEDRIK BARROW (Quietly to Lukas) How low the crow does fly to treat with such? Why entertain the scum of Courland, they Who unjustly buried our great Empire? LUKAS VANIR Your tongue is rough. Pray the King does not hear, Or pray that it should fall from your mouth, Lest you lose more than you wish to part with. Peace is the wish of all, both Man and God. When has our sovereign led us astray? DIEDRIK BARROW (Quietly to self) What fools do wear the crown to lead us all! Peace should not so dull a Kingdom, its swords Must not rust, nor its people grow lazy. Would that these twits see this friendship is naught, These praises covering ambition with A coat of humility and finesse. Tis now that defenses ought to be made, Soldiers fitted and armed, forts brought up. War will come upon the land once more, brought By the talons of Courlandic eagle. Did not these Courlanders send aid to Brawm When those dogs bit the hands which fed them? Pure truth must surface and be made known lest Death will, with his great scythe, cut down all here. The instrument of truth I shall be, and Strike down with my blade this disguised devil! (Diedrik pulls out a dagger from under his cloak, stabbing Merric in front of the court. Merric collapses, dead.) MARIUS You fool! Know you what disaster this brings? DIEDRIK BARROW I have only done that which is good for Haense. MARIUS Arrest the murderer, and bring here a Priest to inter a man who would be our friend. (Guards arrest Diedrik. Exit soldiers and Diedrik with Merric’s body.) MARIUS (To Lukas) Ambassadors to Courland send, that peace May yet be saved despite the blood spilled here To-day, that it may not all be in vain. (Exit all. Scene closes.) SCENE II. Cloud Temple. A round table within a peaceful grotto. After the murder of Merric Staunton, Tobias and Marius meet for a diplomatic council on the grounds of the Cloud Temple. Tensions are high, as a less-than-successful meeting could result in world war. TOBIAS My people will not be cowed by your threats, Nor will they quake at the drawing of steel, For Courlanders are made of sterner stuff As shall be witnessed should we come to blows! MARIUS Stay your hand, my royal brother Courland. Your coz Merric and I were of one mind, That ne’er again can war destroy our realms, So our princes may be not captiv’d by The black hand of Death, servant of Iblees. TOBIAS If, King of Hanseti, you would the peace, Whose lack gives home to these imperfections Which you have naively explained to us, Then now explain you must why Merric lies In eternal slumber beneath the dirt. Brother he was to us, confidante when Discretion was demanded of us. As friend no equal did he have, no man As gracious nor as loved was he by all. Why then lies he with worms below our feet, Whilst you, who brought his death, walk free with life? MARIUS The crime of which you speak was done not in My name, but by a fool, a rogue who acts For self and pride, who wants above all, war. Put to arrest he was, executed For justice and in furtherance of peace. Thy cousin was accordant with my want, My aspiration for peace between us. Scorn not his memory through thy pursuit Of war, rather honor his sacrifice. Let his blood mark a new beginning for Our realms, a path towards great prosperity. TOBIAS To yet place my trust in the King would be To treat with men who but ten years prior Raised arms against my realm in defense of Horen and their great crimes against the world, Who stomped upon the necks of the uruks, Who burnt Savoy out of spite for their lord, Who sought to end the line of the dwarf kings! Desire not my people to return to The ways of the Imperium Quintus, Yet I believe with all my heart that you Yearn for these days of old in which you ruled. How then can I with good conscience believe That you do not aim to restore Horen? MARIUS Loyal service I gave, for that’s my oath. When I, like all, am interred in the ground, To rest with my father and all before, With me shall go no gold, nor silk, nor jewels. All these and more may be taken from me, But my honor shall be mine forever. Shame to him who leaves this life with dishonor, For his stain shall not be made clean in death. To quit my liege in his hour of great need Would so sully my soul that no good deed Would wipe away the shame of my deceit. How then can you say, ‘I do not trust you’? By my acts I have shown my commitment To all pacts which shall bear my signature. My one concern henceforth will be to guard My people, from youngest child to oldest man. What reason then have I to lie to you? In spite of your lack of faith in my words, I will offer to send envoys to thee, So that swords may stay sheathed and words shall then Resolve conflicts that rise between our realms. This I say to ease thy mistrust of me, So you may see my heart is pure and true. TOBIAS Not out of love shall I agree to this, But in remembrance of my sweet cousin. Fare thee well, brother Hanseti-Ruska. (Exit all. Scene closes.) SCENE III. St. Karlsburg. The throne room of Ottosgrad palace. Months after the diplomatic council, ambassadors have gone back and forth between Courland and Haense, ensuring the tense peace between them remains in place. Marius stands in Ottosgrad, speaking to Rory, Sergei, Otto Heinrik, and Brynden Vanir. (Enter Lukas.) LUKAS VANIR Grave news my liege, for in pursuit of peace Sent I Count Metterden to see Staunton And in this endeavor, death has taken him. MARIUS Murdered? God preserve us, all will be lost! A babe, fresh from the womb, was our new peace, Fragile and new to this world’s cruelties, Protected only by good will of men, Smothered now whilst laying within its crib! Give me your thoughts my lords, what should be done? RORY OTHAMAN An opportunity given by God, Planted at the feet of one who must answer. His Holiness shall place God’s grace on us, Should we, with all expedience, make war On Aleksandria who dare appoint A false Pontiff in challenge to His Grace. Tears shall be shed for Count Metterden, yet Others will follow if we idle and Permit this hope for justice to slip us by. Hear me, gracious sovereign, and you peers, That owe yourselves your lives to this grand cause, That what was torn asunder may be new, And be re-united under our God. I speak, of course, of our Imperium, Risen from the flames of our holy war. Gracious lord, stand for what is your duty, Unfurl your flags of war as your forebears Did for generations before you and Restore Humanity from fallen state To life in our Holy Oren Empire. MARIUS To breathe new life into Humanity Is my solemn duty, but to declare On brother Courland for Orenia? A hypocrite would I be should I do What you here now suggest to this grand court. Marshal Vasiland, speak your mind to us. BRYNDEN VANIR I am one with your mind that Empire is Not cause enough to send men to battle. Yet I agree that war must be declared. Years have passed since the collapse of House Brawm; Your peers and soldiers grow tired and restless, Eager to prove themselves worthy of the Legacies of their ancestors before. War will grant them such opportunity, And make known to the world that Haense remains Strong as ever to fight all who attack. MARIUS Brother Otto, where stands your mind on this? OTTO HEINRIK Your peers lack in caution, royal brother. Courland is no small dog like that of Brawm. The wings of the white eagle stretch out far, Its talons long and sharp, its beak jagged. Forget not how Horen lost their great crown At the hands of a mighty coalition Assembled by the cunning of Staunton. To war them now would be to risk such fate Upon us all, to change the maps of the world. MARIUS Lukas, chancellor, where does your mind fall? LUKAS VANIR Metterden was no minor peer, my King, But one of the great houses of the realm. To not act now would be to turn your back On those houses which have served you with faith. Complaints of insincerity will come After your words in council with Tobias, But your nobles shall think you weak if you Fail now to avenge the death of their own. A tough choice lies before you now, sire. No matter what decision you shall make, I am forever your loyal servant. (Marius pauses, thinking to himself.) MARIUS Let it be war then, and may it be swift. BRYNDEN VANIR (To other peers gathered) Raise then banners of war, my lords. Make haste To call upon your men; let us repeat The grand subjugation of Houndsden now! (Exeunt all. Scene closes.) SCENE IV. St. Karlsburg. The courtyard of Ottosgrad palace. After declaring war on Courland, Marius dispatched his army to the forest crossroads of Elba, one of the many pathways into the Kingdom. He paces anxiously within the palace courtyard while waiting for news. (Enter Lukas and Sergeant.) LUKAS VANIR Here comes now a man who fought at Elba. MARIUS Come Sergeant, and give your report to us. SERGEANT My honorable King, I bear ill news, For though eight thousand stood to fight House Brawm, Only came four to fight against Courland. Such ill can only be caused by Vanir, Who failed in his duty to properly Maintain and train your host to be ready For the war which we now find ourselves in. This gross incompetence and mismanagement Has made many a man desert his post, For none of sound mind wish to die for the Mistakes of another, in command or In battle, as was the case at Elba. It was two to one and Courland was fresh, With full bellies and warm clothing to wear. Disaster continued as we sought to Rout their cavalry with our own; in this We failed and so were forced with all haste to Quit the field and surrender the ground with shame. Retreat was costly and we just escaped, Though not without the loss of many men. Slaughter it was, the frozen ground turned red With the blood of the defeated fallen. MARIUS Oh God, from where have they this mettle? Are they not from warm and cozy climate? Their men not raised in lives of great comfort? From young age are our boys taught to survive, Yet they now find themselves bested by sheep! I shall put it out of my mind, it is No matter, for Metterden now stands tall, Ready to weather the strikes of Courland. As the rocks of the coast do with great waves, So shall our fort withstand assault by men. (Enter Sergei.) SERGEI II Lies and deceit betray us all my King! For now Staunton marches his men around Greyspine Mountains, his aim to siege the fort At Vasiland and take our coast to build Routes of supply to feed his vast army! MARIUS Hubris and vanity cost us this day, For in our ostentation we failed to Properly fortify our coast, a sin That shall cause us great pains in this conflict! Scurry yourself and what soldiers remain To Vasiland to garrison the fort. I too shall go with you, to be a beacon Of hope and raise the spirits of my men Who, soon enough, shall fight in defense of This crown I wear which makes men call me King. LUKAS VANIR To permit you leave would be to put your Life in grave harm, my King, too great a risk Does this pose to our realm that I, with all Intensity must refuse your desire. You must, for the sake of us all, remain. MARIUS Accept then I your judgment of my mind. In safety I shall stay while Carnatia Commands the defense of our eastern land. Spare neither cost nor time, do what you must. Bring victory so we may see another day. (Exit all. Scene closes.) ACT IV SCENE I. St. Karlsburg. The throne room of Ottosgrad palace. Marius waits in St. Karlsburg, anxiously waiting for news of the Siege of Vasiland. (Enter Lukas, Otto Heinrik, all Haeseni Lords, bloody and defeated.) MARIUS Lukas, Chancellor, friend, what news have you? Has our tactic played out as we intended? LUKAS VANIR Reproach, ruin, and shame, Your Majesty! All our ranks are broke; men flee for their lives. Fire, the enemy artillery did, At our walls which could not withstand such a Barrage of stone and flame, and came crashing To the earth, scores of men following them. Die well they did not, and there shall be many In Haense to-day lacking husband, father, or son. Woe to us who sent these men to their end! Once more back again to the field we must go, To die with honor and fall beside the Men whose souls now rest with the saints above! MARIUS Stay your hand, gentle Lukas, for God still Has purpose for you and us fellows all. Defeated in battle we may be, but Fulfill I must the duties of the crown. Proclaim it through my host and my realm that Purses shall be made for flight to Mardon, That none who wish to live in subjugation Must do so, and may rather join us in That southern asylum which we must call home. Shame and dishonor may follow me for The rest of my life, but my people shan’t Suffer for the mistakes of their ruler. Go and do it now, quickly. OTTO HEINRIK It shall be done, your highness. God bless you. (Exeunt lords with a bow except Lukas.) LUKAS VANIR And as regards the war, my sovereign? MARIUS Send messengers to Courland for Staunton. Peace shall, nay, must be made no matter the cost. (Exit Lukas with a bow.) MARIUS (buries his face in his hands, weeping) May Almighty God have mercy on me. (Exit Marius. Scene closes.) SCENE II. Mardon. A street-side bench within the city. Some time has passed since the flight to Mardon. A peace treaty was signed giving away all Haeseni territory to Courland, but Marius retained the titles of King of Hanseti and Ruska. He sits alone on a bench in the city, bottle of wine in hand. MARIUS In all of life’s woes, no comfort is found: Let’s speak of crumbled stone and ashen flags, Of hollow armor where knights once adorned. Inscribe sorrow on graves of our fallen. For when we join them, our last wills are read. And yet at our death, what do we pass down? Nothing shall remain but our memory. Our lands, our lives, our homes are all Staunton’s, Nothing left we call our own but demise, And all the shallow graves of distant lands, Which are final rest to our flesh and bones. For God’s sake, let us sit where we so please And share sad stories of the death of kings: How some overthrown or slain in battle, Some cursed by the sins of their father’s deeds, Some poison’d by their queens, or killed by fate. All struck dead whilst wearing the weighty crown, That gilded vice taking the king hostage, Where death awaits and lingers all around, Taunting his state and cursing his first born. Yet life gives him leave to suffer a while, Allowing him time to govern in vain, Entrapping him in duty before death, As if this body were made of stern stuff. When he finally feels safe and secure, Death comes at last to shame his vain conceit. Like a trebuchet in the dark of night, At a moment’s release, bores through his keep, And alas they shall say, “O’ farewell king.” For death is truly our fate’s great master, Mocking our fragile lives at any time. But for now, let me not think of duty, Mandate, ceremony, or tradition, For you have mistaken me all this time. I suffer like you, grieve much, long for hope: How can any of you say I am king? (Marius sips from the bottle, then falls off the bench dead.) FIN
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7r1tKquhyzU AD MAIOREM DEI GLORIAM Portrait of Everard VI, c. 1849 ((Art by the talented UnBaed)) The day started as any other would. Everard had finished his morning prayers, said grace for his servants before they all ate breakfast, then went outside to water the flowers in his garden. He was born in Haense and had grown up seeing the beautiful gardens owned by the royals when Josef was King. Over the years, he had picked up gardening as a hobby, not only to remind him of his childhood, but also as a way to distract him from the ongoings of the outside world. So much plagued his mind, but he wished to have a moment of peace. The gardening wasn’t enough to clear his mind today; a walk was what he needed. He said his farewells to his staff, and stepped out the door into the bright, sunny day. Normally when he went on a walk, he would walk only through his private gardens in Karosgrad on the advice of the Apostolic General, for security purposes. But today was too good of a day to forgo a walk through the city and royal gardens. It was decided, a quick walk before he began the business of the day. He took his time with this talk, stopping by every unique feature he could find, anything to prolong this moment of peace before he returned to work. It was then that he first felt it - a small but sharp pain in his chest. Remnants of breakfast, he assured himself as he continued with his walk, but the pain hadn’t dissipated. As he walked, he’d offer a smile - forced though it may be - to the citizens of Karosgrad he walked past. A woman approached him then, son in tow, begging him to pray for her child’s well-being. As he placed his hand on the boy’s head and closed his eyes to pray, it returned - that same pain from earlier. But now, it had multiplied in strength, and caused the elderly Pontiff to collapse to the ground. Screams for help echoed through the garden as the mother beckoned passersby to assist. Everard’s attention in these last moments were on the young child who witnessed it all, offering only a slight smile in an attempt to reassure the child. Then, his eyes closed for a final time, and he lay dead. REQUIESCAT IN PACE Sanctitas, Pontifex Maximus Everardus Sextus MDCCCXXXV - MDCCCLVI Yaromir Nikuldov 1785 - 1856 High Pontiff Everard the Sixth 1835 - 1856
  3. QUARTUS AUREA BULLA JORENUS THE FOURTH GOLDEN BULL OF JORENUS 7th of Sun’s Smile, 1856 | 7th of Tov & Yermey, 409 ES. HIS HOLINESS EVERARD VI, High Pontiff of the Church of the Canon, Archbishop of Visigia, Successor of the High Priesthood of the Church, Supreme Pontiff of the Church of True Faith, Keeper of the Canon, Missionary to Aeldin, High Servant to the Exalted's Testaments, Humble Servant of the Faithful and Vicar of GOD does decree… TABLE OF CONTENTS ┏━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━┓ SECTION I - Diocesan Appointments ┗━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━┛ SECTION I Through Our Apostolic authority, We do confirm the following appointments: DIOCESE OF REINMAR, encompassing the lands to the south and west of the Capital City of Karosgrad, shepherded by Adelric Bishop Reinmar. DIOCESE OF FREIMARK, encompassing the County of Freimark and surrounding lands, shepherded by Erhard Bishop Freimark. ☩AD MAIOREM DEI GLORIAM☩ FOR THE GREATER GLORY OF GOD
  4. A monk in a sackcloth robe dropped a letter off at Primrose's residence. Upon inspection, the red wax on the envelope would display the seal of the Holy See, the personal coat of arms of Everard VI. "To Doctor Primrose Gendik, Thank you for writing Us. We are always pleased to hear from members of Our flock, and are happy to address the concerns that you listed in your letter. Before We address them however, let Us first personally thank you for your assistance during the attempt on Our life in Providence. Know that We have kept you in Our prayers since that day, and hope that you remain in good health. Firstly, let Us state that excommunication is not something that We give unjustly. All who We have excommunicated have committed a great evil in one way or another. Simon Pruvia, one of Our first excommunications, was discovered to be a servant of Azdromoth. Your former husband, Arlo Cooper, was guilty of attempting to murder Cardinal Basil. Philip and Anastasia, who We have excommunicated twice now, schismed, tried to take Our life, and conspired to take the life of Philip Aurelian in order to seize the Orenian throne. When We issued Our latest excommunication of Philip and Anastasia, We made it clear that this excommunication was only for them directly, and for those who cursed the Church or betrayed it for issuing this just judgement. We recognize that there are many within the Empire who remain quiet and serve for survival, not because they are willing to ignore the crimes of Philip and Anastasia. We understand that survival is a a basic human instinct, one that is ingrained within each and every one of us. However, faith demands us to grow beyond Our instincts. After all, can it be instinct that causes us to believe in a God that We cannot see, or one we cannot hear unless He reveals Himself to us? Then, all Canonists have a choice: continue as they have for survival's sake, or put their faith in the same God that created us all and work to see His justice prevail. We would urge all who read this letter to choose the latter, for their reward in the Seven Skies shall be great. To answer your question, We cannot rightfully judge those who choose the former, unless they do so whilst committing blasphemy or preaching heresy. There is a great difference between quietly surviving and loudly supporting the Anathemata. While We shall not excommunicate those who signed their name to that letter, We shall also keep close watch to see who has done so for survival, and who has done so to blaspheme against God or against the Church. Unless your husband has done the latter, he shall not be excommunicated. As for the matter of the allegations against Charlotte Augusta, you can trust that We shall be conducting an investigation into the matter, as We conducted an investigation into the accusation of attempted murder against the Anathemata. Should Our investigation conclude that such an event occurred, then you may be assured that Our reaction shall be swift. Keep God in your heart always, and know that Our enemy is and always shall be evil and injustice. May God bless you, and grant you peace. Pontifex Maximus Everardus Sextus"
  5. To Presbyter Ileana, We shall pray for your swift recovery, as this recent influx of fanmail that We have received is too much for Us to handle alone. Return as soon as is possible. Pontifex Maximus, Everardus Sextus
  6. To Father Trevor, Let Us set the record straight then: Owyn is a farfolk. Pontifex Maximus, Everardus Sextus
  7. To whoever wrote this, We hate this. Pontifex Maximus, Everardus Sextus
  8. To Father Stor, Thank you for your letter. If you wish to retrieve a copy, please issue a request to the Pontifical Librarian, Presbyter Ileana. We have not yet had a chance to deliver the Handbook of Sin to Father Clemens yet either. Pontifex Maximus, Everardus Sextus
  9. PONTIFICAL LETTER WRIT OF DISSOLUTION: OF THE SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY Most Beloved Brethren, Health and Pontifical Benediction. We have issued many dissolutions during Our pontificate, yet each brings to Us the same amount of sorrow as the last. We truly believe in the holiness of Marriage, yet understand that there are circumstances in which unions are insupportable and cannot continue. Therefore, We hereby declare the union of Prince Andrik Nikolas and Princess Nikoleta Barbara, void, dissolved on grounds of the risk of harm to and endangerment of parties within the marriage. All children produced by the marriage shall remain legitimate before God's eyes. We do pray for each of the pair and hereby demand that each seek Our permit before entering any future unions. May God bless them. Dei gratia, Sanctitas, Papa Everardus Sextus ☩AD MAIOREM DEI GLORIAM☩ FOR THE GREATER GLORY OF GOD Fifteenth of Harren's Folly, 1855
  10. To Father Harold, Thank you for your letter. Our polos are Our favorite casual wear, and We would hate to lose them. We shall send an acolyte soon to collect them. Pontifex Maximus, Everardus Sextus
  11. ENCYCLICAL LETTER OFFICIUM AD DEUM DUTY TO GOD OF THE HIGH PONTIFF EVERARDUS SEXTUS Addressed to the Anathemata. A response to an open letter. HIS HOLINESS EVERARD VI, High Pontiff of the Church of the Canon, Archbishop of Visigia, Successor of the High Priesthood of the Church, Supreme Pontiff of the Church of True Faith, Keeper of the Canon, Missionary to Aeldin, High Servant to the Exalted's Testaments, Humble Servant of the Faithful and Vicar of GOD. “Their enemy is Vargengotz the Destroyer, who rules from his capital, which was the holiest city. And in his army are Vargengotz’s slaves, the tyrants and the treacherous, and his false servants, Justice, Glory, and Reward.” (Auspice 2:33-34) Everard VI, Pontiff not through usurpation but through ordination of God, to the Anathemata, not rulers but children at play. Breaking from the Church has never been a worthwhile venture for previous Emperors. Simply look to your namesake Philip I, who deposed High Pontiff Theodosius II only to be forced to commit suicide and detonate his own city, and his empire with it, a few years later. Look still to your own humiliation after your failed schism. You, who believed that We had organized a coalition, so wantonly and childishly attempted to take Our life with the Prince of Savoy and, upon your realization of your mistake, were forced to march through the streets of Karosgrad as waste and insults were thrown at you. We must congratulate you on your achievement! Never before has an Orenian ruler been humiliated in such a way! Rulers who claim to be as faithful to the Church as yourselves should know that it is written in Canon law: “An excommunicant prince who remains in this status for four consecutive years automatically becomes illicit, unless expressly provided for by the High Pontiff. Additionally, Canonists are obliged to make all virtuous efforts to reconvert him, or failing that, to overthrow him.” If you are not aware of this, then do not worry, for We shall teach you. This law was written during the Pontificate of James II, and approved by all the clergy of the time, Ourselves included, and is intended to ensure that Canonist rulers remain so. In case you are unsure what illicit means, let Us put it in clear terms so you may understand. Your four years have come and gone. Your coronation is annulled. You are Emperor and Empress no longer. As for who Leopold Alstion is, he is but one man who seeks to perform his Duty to God per the law of Our faith. Did you think to surprise Us with these letters of his? Leopold Alstion carries with him more faith and honor now than the both of you shall have in your lifetimes. May all Canonists follow his example. Continuing through your letter, yet again you have accused Us of organizing this coalition which has delivered a great thrashing upon you, and yet again Our hands were clean of it. When will you learn your lesson, children? We tire of having to explain it to you. You declared war. You lost the war. Your Crownlands were lost and your men died as a result. We have prayed for the souls of the men you have killed, including that of Philip Aurelian. Have you no shame or sorrow for your deeds? To murder one’s own father, or father-in-law in the case of Anastasia, to send innocent men to die in a war that was not needed requires a heart full of malice and greed. No house built upon murder and deceit shall last; God shall see it fall, as God sees all sinners brought to justice. Let all be as God wills it. Pontifex Maximus, Everardus Sextus
  12. PONTIFICAL LETTER WRIT OF ANNULMENT: OF THE SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY Most Beloved Brethren, Health and Pontifical Benediction. We write this declaration from Our most Holy Office with sorrow to hear of the dismantling of a union which has lasted many years. Marriage remains one of humanity’s holiest sacraments, inspired through the example of the Exalted Horen and Saint Julia. Yet, after close investigation and discussion, We have come to the conclusion that this union cannot continue. Therefore, We hereby declare the union of Count Vladrick Kortrevich and Lady Margot Baruch, void, annulled on the grounds of their marriage being unconsummated and of marital abandonment, with the spouses not having even spoken to each other for many years. We do pray for each of the pair and hereby demand that each seek Our permit before entering any future unions. May God bless them. Dei gratia, Sanctitas, Papa Everardus Sextus ☩AD MAIOREM DEI GLORIAM☩ FOR THE GREATER GLORY OF GOD Tenth of Godfrey’s Triumph, 1855
  13. Everard sighs upon reading the letter, but gets to work writing letters and arranging meetings.
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