+++SILVER CLOUDS WITH GREY LININGS+++
“If you will understand only one thing about Loyalty let it be this one. ‘Know your heart and what commands it’s devotion above all else.’”
The preacher paused for a moment, scanning the crowd. It was smaller than he might have liked, drawn more by his exotic appearance no doubt rather than by any real interest in hearing his words. He looked for possibilities, and potential problems, as his mentor had taught him all those years ago when he first expressed his calling to be a missionary to benighted lands.
Two youths - little more than boys really - watching him with interest while eating apples might be worth speaking to afterwards. A small group of labourers more interested in soaking their sore feet in the fountain and passing a bottle between them could be a problem but weren’t really listening to him. An earnest looking person with a number of string-bound parcels at their feet seemed to be listening with interest - definitely one to talk to after. A woman with two buckets which she’d clearly just finished filling at the public well - he made a mental note to keep an eye on her. She had a certain look about her and he did not wish to end up soaked to the skin. Again.
“Some of your priests try to mislead you,” he continued. He had more of their attention now. These people loved a good scandal. “They tell you that the important thing about Loyalty is to be Loyal to whatever it is that best suits their purpose! They do not seek to inspire you to fill your hearts with Loyalty, they only wish you to obey them! They demand that you submit to ‘the good of the Empire’ or the the ‘needs of your nation.’ But that is not the path of Loyalty!”
Two hooded figures ambled across the market and stopped to listen. One of them leaned her weight on a long spear such as these people seemed to favour. The other hooked his thumbs into his belt, and shifted his weight slightly, settling back on his feet into what was obviously an accustomed stance.
“What’s wrong with being Loyal to the Empire then?” The woman with the two buckets was glaring at him through narrowed eyes. Somewhat ominously he thought. He felt frustration welling inside him, but mastered it. He touched the beautifully carved weirwood labyrinth that hung at his belt, and felt a renewed sense of certainty. His cause was right, his heart was strong, he would not fail. His path was clear.
“Nothing. If you look into your heart with clear eyes, and you see that it is the Empire that commands your devotion above all things, then you should do whatever it takes to support it, to build it up, to protect it. You should let nothing turn you aside, should not balk at any sacrifice, to make the Empire great. To make it strong. It should burn in you like a fire from waking until sleeping.”
She seemed surprised by the force of his words, he thought.
“But if you look into your heart an you realise it is not the Empire that is looking back at you… if you look within and see that what commands your devotion is the one you love, or your children, or the Way, or an old friend who has always been there for you. If you look into your heart and you realise that the Empire is just another one of the many things that draws you from your true path of Loyalty… why then you should not feel you need give it another thought! It is up to those who want your Loyalty to bring you to their cause, not to demand your service. And when a priest tries to tell you that you are unvirtuous because you do not obey when she tells you to do something in service to that thing that commands her devotion…”
He raised his clenched fist, raking the crowd with his gaze, eyes flashing.
“Then you should strike that priest down, for that priest is trying to lead you into false paths of obedience. That priest is trying to subvert the truth of your heart. That priest is a danger to you and to others!”
“Right, that’s enough of that,” said the man with his thumbs in his belt. He stepped forward, the woman with her long spear in lock step with him. The crowd parted to let them through. “I think we’ve all heard more than enough.”
He pushed his hood back - a face with a gray beard glared at Caotal where he stood on the steps below their temple.
“Move along, friend, before I have to take you to see a magistrate. And if I catch you round here, spouting off like that again, your feet will not touch the ground let me tell you. We’re followers of the Way here, and we’re not interested in your crazy heresy thank you very much.”
“Heresy?!” Caotal’s heart blazed with fury. He knew he shouldn’t, but he couldn’t help himself. He stepped forward until he was nose to nose with the militiaman.
“This isn’t heresy, Imperial! This is the Way!”
And he raised his hand, almost without thinking, and struck the man across the face with his open palm. Part of him regretted it instantly, but by that point it was a little bit too late.
And part of him sang as he struck the militiaman, with the righteous certainty that left him in no doubt that what he was doing was right, and to the darkness with the consequences.
Trade winds! This is the main international diplomacy wind of fortune. Here you will learn of such developments as:
- Peace with Sumaah and the power of missionaries!
- Asavean contracts, both mercenary and architectural!
- Loud demands from the Iron Confederacy!
- Nothing being destroyed in Cargo!
- The Mountains of the Moon - what are they? Nobody knows! Except for the people who do!
You can find this wind of fortune here - https://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/empire-wiki/Silver_clouds_with_grey_linings
I’m hoping to get another few up tonight, even if its just one, and again I apologise for the lateness. It has been all go here all day and no mistake.