Chapter 57: Hearing

“It was written in faraway Mieza that law is what separates men and beasts. We know better, in Praes: law is what separates the beasts wild and tame.”
– Dread Emperor Terribilis I, the Lawgiver

It was tempting to send for Hakram and Vivienne, who in some ways were just as much the architects of the Liesse Accords as I might claim to be. The shape of them had come from me, but it was Adjutant who’d discretely gathered jurists from Callow and Praes and pressed them for understanding until a cohesive body of law could be put together. Vivienne herself had been at our side the entire way, spreading out her Jacks far and wide to obtain the practical knowledge that was needed to make any of our fancies a functioning reality – yet burning, ardently, to see it done. Some days I suspected she’d spent more hours working out how the Accords could be made to hold up than either of us, moved by sheer want of seeing them take hold. It wasn’t like they wouldn’t be of use when arguing, either. Hakram had a ludic way with cold logic, and a mastery of details I’d never be able to match. And Vivienne’s brand of argument, half ruthlessly pragmatic and half genuinely passionate, did tend to reach people neither Adjutant nor myself would get to. I didn’t, though, because it would be missing the point of this exercise. Black wasn’t simply demanding that I convince him, he was giving me the opportunity to cut my teeth on selling the Accords to a foreign ruler in a relatively safe manner. Here, if I stumbled, it would not be a disaster that struck at all I’d fought for.

Even now, I thought, he was a sort of teacher still. Some things you never entirely outgrew.

Still, in the end it would be me that carried the Accords to the shore if they were to ever reach it. Vivienne, while heiress-designate to Callow, was still deep in my shadow from an outsider’s eyes. And Hakram, and Gods it was unfair, but Hakram wouldn’t be taken seriously by any of them save if he had a knife at their throat. Because he was villain, because he was an orc, because he had chosen to stand at my side instead of raising his own banner. It angered me, the suspicion that in centuries to come the Liesse Accords would likely be written of as my work alone and other names with claims just as deep would be allowed to fall to the wayside. History, I thought, would shortchange Hakram of the Howling Wolves Clan. I’d fight it every way I could, even when he might wish I did not, but I did not believe it would be enough. For too many out there the story would feel neater without him – less challenging of what they thought they knew – and I well knew the knots people were willing to tie themselves into to allow their view of the world to go unchanged.  Yet it was undeniable truth that when the deal was brought to the table where Hasenbach and the Blood and Ashur’s committees sat, it would live or die by the wagging of my tongue. And so I dare not call on the others now, less that same tongue fail me on a day mistake would mean lasting calamity.

Still, it was past noon and we both kept to some of the Wasteland’s ways: though I did not send for the others, I did send for wine. And so Black and I claimed that old Mavian prayer for ourselves, breaking out bottles of some sharp Iserran wine – Prière de Fou, it was called – that lingered on the tongue like sin or vengeance. In the afternoon’s light he seemed strangely vital, for all the greying marks of age in his once-dark locks. With a loose white shirt on his frame and woolen dark trousers going into Legion-issue boots, he honestly seemed more… carefree than I could remember ever seeing him. There’d been a heavy jacket of linen on his frame when I first came, but by the second cup of wine it was on the back of my seat to my own cloak’s side.

“The throne of Callow recognizes Lord Amadeus of the Green Stretch, Praesi dignitary,” I began.

I was toasted with a rough clay cup holding wine of which a singe bottle could likely but a whole bag of. He was seated at the edge of our heavy wooden table, ignoring the perfectly good seat I’d left

“The Dread Empire of Praes deigns to recognize the Queen of Callow, Catherine Foundling,” he allowed, lips twitching. “In the depths of our mercy, keeping with our well-known concern for the fellowship of nations.”

“Kind of you, eastern devil,” I drily replied, leaning on my staff as I took a sip of my own shoddy cup. “Now, I assume you’ve read the proposed treaties that were sent to you.”

“These so-called Accords, yes,” Black easily replied. “A blatant attempt to weaken, isolate and starve the Dread Empire. And you expect us to sign these? You should be grateful our answer wasn’t releasing a plague in Laure and setting your granaries aflame.”

Threats, huh. It was true that while I arguably stood the greater victor on the fields of Iserre, Callow was not untouchable and despite the best efforts of my companions in fact remained rather fragile. Praes had other fires to put out, at the moment – a goblin rebellion that’d taken Foramen, the sack of Nok by Ashuran fleets and the annihilation of its largest port Thalassina along with every living soul in that great city save one – but Malicia might be able to get a handle on the mess, or whoever murdered her and claimed the Tower might. That meant Praes, though wounded, could turn its attentions on the fledgling goblin nation to its south and a very vulnerable Callow whose armies were largely abroad and had been for months. There shouldn’t be food shortages though the winter, though there’d certainly be a rationing of the handouts by the royal granaries Hakram had created. If those went up in flames, though? It’d be more than a lean winter we were dealing with. No, the Dread Empire was not entirely without answers if cornered. On the other hand, there was a reason that even though Black was speaking like some arrogant Wasteland highborn even in that pretence he’d not ‘actually’ struck at my kingdom. The current lack of open hostilities was something very much in the Tower’s interest to maintain, lest I turn my attention to it instead of the Dead King.

“If you strike across the border, I’ll dismantle Praes after we’re done up north,” I said. “The Grand Alliance already wants to, we both know that. The only thing that’s truly been standing in their way is trust and distance, both of which will be sufficiently seen to if Callow becomes a signatory.”

“When you are done up north,” Black repeated. “And there is the arrogance. Even should you beat Trismegistus on the field, will the Alliance not be ruined in achieving this? You threaten me with soldiers already sworn to die very far away. Your own armies are abroad, and their loyalties complex besides. If you do no want my concern to be how to break Callow before you return, or how to break it when you are returned, then offer terms other than submission or the sword.”

I drained the rest of my cup and tossed it at his head. He caught it, though a lot more narrowly than he would have a few years back, and filled it with the Iserran red even as I considered my answer. So he was making it clear my position in the Tower’s eyes was not so strong as one might think at first glance. I could concede to part of that, at least. After a costly campaign against Keter, I couldn’t see the current signatories of the Alliance eagerly embarking on a second military enterprise immediately after. In Praes, the prevailing belief among the High Lords might very well end up being that Callow was the only threat to worry of if it came to war. They might not even be wrong, I thought. I was not so sure the Sisters would send a great army of Firstborn to aid me again, if blades came out in the east.

“Then let’s see to your worries,” I said. “You said that the Accords would weaken, isolate and starve the Dread Empire.”

“When paired with your declared intent and seemingly imminent achievement of becoming a signatory of the Grand Alliance,” Black specified.

I inclined my head in agreement. Wasn’t going to be a secret for long, assuming it even was at the moment, so I did not mind the boundaries of our debate including it.

“I’m listening,” I said.

He rose to his feet and strode across the thinning snow, pressing the filled cup into my hand as he passed, and came to stand by one of the raised stones. He tapped the parchments hung there with a finger.

“Weakening,” he told me. “Your proposed laws would forbid the summoning for extra-Creational entities, save for peaceful purposes, and even then under restriction. These are specifically stated to include angels, devils and demons.”

“They are,” I said. “Cutting through the legalese, civilian labour and advice-giving is fine for angels and devils. Demons are forbidden under all circumstances save if all signatories of the Accords agree such an act is necessary.”

“And so you roughly enforce parity of means between Named,” Black said. “Which will be pleasing to some Named, mostly those incapable of actually doing any of this, but you seek to remove those same Named from positions of rule. As for lordly concerns, since those matter foremost under your laws, you would highly disadvantage Praes as a military power. Centuries of accumulated grimoires and contracts, which are potent soldiery when called on, are suddenly made invalid. Demons have been an integral part of the defences of our cities for ages, as deterrent and blade both. Some lasting presences of their kind would be difficult to dispose of even were we so inclined.”

“I’ve made provisions for that last part,” I said.

“Yes, heroic Named under villainous supervision would remove lingering mistakes such as Hell Eggs,” he mildly said. “If that supervision were Praesi in nature, such an act might even be only mildly offensive foreign intervention in our affairs. Yet you do not address the most essential of imbalances: the Dread Empire would be surrendering a great deal of strength while other signatories would not. What does the limiting of angels mean to Procer or Ashur? To Levant? By weakening the Empire, you strengthen all its rivals at its expense. There is no nation in existence that would agree to such a thing unless forced – and treaties thrust upon a realm by force of arms rarely last.”

“Demons,” I flatly said, “damage the fabric of Creation. Every time one is used, it is an act of war waged on every other sentient being. That the Empire has been practicing that sort of diabolism for centuries is not an excuse to continue, it is something to expiate.”

“Regardless of such concerns, it remains an advantage surrendered for no given rationale,” he pointed out.

“You do get something from this,” I said. “You get to no longer be the Dread Empire.”

His brow rose.

“Look,” I said. “I’ve read Malicia’s treatise. The famous one, I man, ‘The Death of the Age of Wonders’. The touchstone of what she makes her foreign policy is making alliances abroad beyond the traditional Good and Evil lines, with the Thalassocracy of Ashur being the keystone. It’s skillful politics, using it as counterbalance for Procer since raditionally it keeps the Principate in check by strengthening Levant and ensuring the League of Free Cities is pointed west.”

“That,” Black said, “and alliance with Ashur means that sea trade lanes and the grain they represent would be effectively untouchable.”

“It’s a nice thought, but Ashur jumped into bed with Cordelia and just spent the better part of a year putting everything in Praes within walking distance of the sea to the torch,” I said. “Hasenbach is good, Black, but she’s not that good and Malicia had decades at the game before she was even born. Why did the Thalassocracy pick her over a risen but since restrained Praes as their ally?”

“Because the Tower can’t be trusted,” he replied. “Mind you, we had the effective heir to the Thalassocracy and some of their foremost admirals willing to back alliance after the death of Magon Hadast. But a powerful Praes – and we were, in those days, perceived to have largely assimilated Callow – will always be seen as a continental threat.”

“And if you sign the Accords,” I said, “you get to shed that like old skin. Oh, I don’t mean that suddenly the Wasteland will be trusted and the Tower will be the sudden beloved of people it spent centuries sending flying fortresses at. But when decisions are made, high up? They’ll know that the Empire is sitting at the same table as everyone else, following the same rules. The moment other crowns no longer have to worry about whether the latest Emperor is going to feed a few thousand babies to a snake to summon an army of devils, then they become a much more palatable ally. Then interests begin to matter again, and if that’s the game then Praes brings quite a bit to the table. You ask what signing the Accords give you? Proof that you’re a reasonable actor. And Black, how else are you ever going to get that?”

He studied me for a time, then gave half a nod.

“Some of the Empire’s highborn might be swayed by such an argument,” he noted. “Not the better part, but enough to make civil war feasible to win. Which brings us to an issue born of your Accords, yet not part of them.”

“Callow,” I said.

“Starvation,” my father agreed. “Having largely forsworn diabolism, the Wasteland might not longer be able to conquer the Kingdom of Callow to secure grain supply. Even less so should Callow be a member of the Grand Alliance, which involves clauses of mutual protection against non-signatory aggression. Praes would surrender the means through which to forcefully acquire grain without having first secured other means for that acquisition.”

“Praes can’t sign the Grand Alliance,” I admitted. “I can’t see that ever going through.”

“Neither can I,” Black replied, amused.

“So we cut out the middle man,” I said. “Praes and Callow, bound in a treaty of trade and peace. It’s not like we don’t take losses selling the crops south and west, anyway. The Principate has fertile plains and Mercantis gouges us habitually. Besides, in everything magical we’re at least half a century behind the Empire, if not more, so it’s not like you have nothing to trade aside from precious metals.”

“You would be tying our nations at their very heart,” he warned me.

“Good,” I snarled. “I want it to be that the Tower can never war on Laure again without starving itself. I want the fucking stained glass in the windows of our palaces not to be imported from Procer. All these centuries of taxes and steel and young soldiers we’ve spent moving the same border back and forth can be put to better use. Gods, Black, just imagine what Praes could do if it didn’t waste its talents on magical plagues and flying fortresses and bleeding its own people for fields! Imagine what Callow might become, if half the yearly taxes didn’t go to raising knights and raising walls to the east – we could be so much more.”

I laughed, harshly.

“Did you know that the cathedral in Laure, the one Elizabeth Alban had built spending Alamans treasures, is the reason why the House of Light is allowed to ask coin of the faithful?” I said. “Because there were points in Callowan history where the crown was too poor to pay for its damned upkeep while also raising armies and fighting wars in the east. Gods, Black, as nations we’ve spent more of – name it! – on killing each other than any single other thing in the span of our history. And while we were busy biting each other’s tails, the world moved on.”

“There will be those,” he said, “for whom those truths will not be enough.”

“Aye,” I said. “I had a few of those too, back home. I hung the sloppy ones and murdered the rest.”

He laughed.

“Those poor Regals,” he said, lips twitching. “The fought as barons challenging a queen and found themselves instead having slighted the Dread Empress of Callow.”

That there was a fond pride to his tone was not enough to prevent my wince. There was some truth to that and I knew it, for I had not learned the lessons of rule from my distant predecessors the Fairfaxes and the Albans. I’d wielded knife and scheme like one reigning from the Tower, tyrant no matter my good intentions. So be it. The Fairfaxes had failed, in the end, and I would not suffer that of myself after the myriad lines I had crossed.

“Your meaning is taken,” the green-eyed man said. “Thought here are objections still.”

“You trade the weakening for strength elsewhere,” I said. “Your feared starvation will be sworn away. That leaves what, isolation? Praes is already isolated, by virtue of having pissed away every possible alliance it could have struck. What fault of that is mine, or the Accords?”

“Don’t be childish,” Black chided. “You would require of the Empire that it willingly embraced your new age – you must then make a place for it amongst that age.”

“When did the High Lords and Ladies of Praes become lost children I must lead out of the woods?” I mockingly said.

A true speaker for those highborn might have taken offence to that, but while my father was hardly the source of my disdain for nobility he’d certainly reinforced the leaning.

“When you sought to place your will above even the Tower’s,” he easily replied. “In this world you would make, Praes must have a role to play. Else its energies will be spent unmaking what you have made.”

“To be honest, I expect that within thirty years it’ll be at war with the Free Cities,” I admitted. “They’ll not be Grand Alliance, and maybe not even Accord signatories.”

“War is one thing,” he said. “Inevitable, no matter what treaties are written. Yet more is required. Which brings me to this.”

Striding forward, wine cup in hand, he gestured at another raised stone. One holding parchments regarding the to-be city of Cardinal, and the academy it was to hold within its bounds. An academy unlike any other Calernia had ever seen.

“The school,” I said.

“It was,” Black said, “a stroke of brilliance. Forcing Named to attend there, teaching them the articles of the Accords as well as manners of villainy and heroism? The academy is the means through which your dream lasts longer than your life’s span. But it does not go far enough.”

In truth the academy was more Vivienne’s notion than mine – I’d been more concerned with enforcement, which had led me to the founding of Cardinal itself – but it truly was a stroke of brilliance. Oh, all those young Named would get practical lessons in how to accomplish what they wanted but they’d also get an education in the Articles of Strife: the manners of violence that were allowed of Named, depending on situation. How to keep mortals away from the damage, when it was allowable to kill another Named over a disagreement and what methods were legal to employ in that killing. And what methods would instead bring down on your head the wrath of the signatories, including the Named sworn to lethal enforcement of the Accords for a period of ten years at a time. I would leave behind a world where someone using a magic plague to wipe out a city would be met with heroes and villains from all over Calernia coming down on your head like the wrath of the Gods, where someone breaking the acceptable rules of warfare would be barred from Cardinal, from the Twilight Ways, from receiving support by any signatory government. Shatranj was a horrid metaphor for war, as war wasn’t a game. But the strife between Named I fully intended on making a continent-wide tourney, a pit fight that’d allow the Gods to claim their due and the rest of us to keep on moving.

“You named these very accords after a tragedy wrought by sorcery – it was a Named practitioner, to be certain, but it was still magic that brought the madness,” Black said. “Shaping Named is not enough.”

“You want me to regulate sorcery,” I frowned.

“I want you to make this Cardinal of yours the greatest centre of magical learning on Calernia,” Amadeus of the Green Stretch said. “And to crown it the thief of our worst follies, made to serve higher purpose.”

206 thoughts on “Chapter 57: Hearing

            1. Yeah … Masego is not janitorial material.
              He’d smite a fool for suggesting he’d be the janitor at Cardinal. He could be talked into being one of the instructors there, but he’d definitely smite whomever suggested he be a menial labourer there.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Heck, even just the “help discipline rule-breaking kids” part would fit him pretty poorly. I can’t decide whether he’d be apathetic, needlessly harsh, or both.
                …Then again, I’m not sure Filch was suited to that aspect of the job, either.

                Like

  1. I’m liking what I’m hearing about the contents of the Accords.

    And, yeah, there’s no way someone like Laurence would have ever supported the Accords. A school for both Heroic and Villainous Named? She’d flip out over that before getting to the details.
    Oh. Snap. Is there going to be a series of teacher and teaching related Names as a consequence of the school?

    Liked by 24 people

      1. caoimhinh

        The Headmaster, the Professor, the Counselor.
        Then the more specialized, like the Hot School Nurse, the Practical Guide, the Great Teacher Onizuka, the Student Council President, the Badass Bookworm, the Aloof Prodigy, the Cool Senpai, the School idol, and many more.
        Maybe even a non-Named enforcer of the Academy’s rules, just to show how a badass normal can still make the Named behave in that school, serving as a reminder that in the world at large they can’t do as they please.

        And of course the Almighty Janitor.

        Liked by 16 people

    1. caoimhinh

      Probably.

      I can already see Masego as the Headmaster of the school, or at least the Dean of the Sorcery Department. I mean, it’s called Cardinal, who more suited to lead it than the Hierophant.
      Truthfully, Cat and Amadeus (or even Pilgrim) are likely the best Headmaster candidates, but they have huge roles in politics to play, though Cat is likely to abdicate as Queen of Callow and many of her thoughts hint at her planning to die by the time all these things are established, but being the Headmistress of the Cardinal Academy for Named (C.A.N) she might find something worthwhile to pursue after her time as ruler of Callow ends.

      Liked by 11 people

          1. Fuck no.
            Bard needs to get taken off the board somehow (toss her into Serenity with the Dead King and ward the Creation side behind her?), or at least her influence greatly reduced.

            There’s going to be warnings about Bard as part of mandatory classes in Cardinal.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. laguz24

              Exactly by gathering so many named there the plot would eventually force her to be permanently stuck there and as for your plan of warding against the bard. You need to ward against fate itself which does not exist, you cannot wield fate like magic or miracles. Since now masego knows what she is after she can now be controlled. In all instance I agree the bard needs to be taken off the board but how, what you cannot kill you can regulate since the bard is essentially just a sentient Name based on storytelling. Getting rid of her would be essentially impossible, but using fate to chain her to one area and giving her a purpose would slowly kill her by forcing her to act outside of her name.

              Liked by 3 people

      1. pmHoward

        Headmistress Abigail, Respected General living out her retirement in the only role that gives her as much responsibility and stress as an active battlefield

        Liked by 6 people

        1. Perfect candidates to run this school don’t exi-

          > Headmistress Abigail, Respected General living out her retirement in the only role that gives her as much responsibility and stress as an active battlefield

          Liked by 8 people

    2. stevenneiman

      The question is whether people who care enough to become Named are the sorts who would brook rules being forced on them which turn them into glorified sports teams. Enforcement by a few of the greatest heavy hitters might help, but considering that villains revel in breaking taboo and heroes thrive on fighting battles against impossible odds and against institutions that offend what they believe in, I highly doubt that it will be enough.
      There’s also the problem of getting those heavy hitters. Aside from Cat and the Woe, the most powerful Named on Calernia that I can think of are Neshamah, Hye, Kairos, Anaxares and Tariq. An argument could be made for Hanno as well. Of those, Tariq is the only one I could see possibly being willing to act as an enforcer of a sensible set of rules written by three powerful people, and while he would be great in a lot of ways there’s a lifespan issue to worry about. Also, banning Named rulers would make the Blood system very awkward, so even Tariq might have a hard time selling Levant on the Accords.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. >Also, banning Named rulers would make the Blood system very awkward

        I don’t think so? The “you’re a hero and you can’t rule but your children will be in line for it” arrangement makes sense, giving the Named the privileged position that Levant is after while at the same time sticking to the agreement.

        >The question is whether people who care enough to become Named are the sorts who would brook rules being forced on them which turn them into glorified sports teams.

        I mean heroes are after helping people, and helping people within bounded rules is still helping people.

        And villains are after personal goals, and achieving these goals in the environment you’re in is what the game is about.

        Villains’ goals aren’t “to fight heroes”, and heroes’ goals aren’t “to fight villains”, not inherently. They are means towards their desired ends, for both sides.

        Liked by 7 people

      2. KageLupus

        Tariq is actually a really good example of how barring Named rulers could work out for the Blood. The Grey Pilgrim went around the continent saving the day and killing the Bad guys and bringing glory to the blood, all instead of ruling. If the Named Blood can’t rule they are actually better off because then they are free to go gloryhunting across the land. Not to mention that most of the Named blood would rather go out and fight rather than rule anyways.

        I really don’t think it’ll change much of anything for Ashur, to be honest.

        Liked by 3 people

          1. Shveiran

            I agree, although it’s a bit of a PR nightmare in the short term.

            “We the Blood have a right to rule Levant because we are descendant of great Heroes, who were amazing and wise and strong and pure and tehrefore we, by association, are more awesome than lesser bloodlines.

            What’s that? One of us became one such Hero in his own right?

            Well. We can’t have HIM rule. That’d be silly. Off to adventuring you go! Spit spot!

            Liked by 3 people

      3. Mammon

        The biggest issue here is that Evil Named don’t die of old age, while Good Named do. Meaning that with these Accords enforcing Evil Named to be untouchable as long as they fulfill some conditions, they are going to be the big hitters almost exclusively. The old monsters will be the main enforcers, and alike Neshamah now they cannot come out until someone ‘invites’ them to cause havoc without much limits.

        Remember that Warlock wanted to get himself a nice and quiet mountain dungeon for his studies, and that Black stopped him from doing that because he’d become a target for Heroes to prove themselves and as a stepping stone for these Named to power up as a filler/training arc for a Villain that they currently cannot beat yet? The Accords would protect Villains like him and allow them to age like wine, until the time came that they had nothing more to perfect and continued with their next step or wait for perfect times to appear and meddle. That could make that part of the Accords a hard sell for the Heroes.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Andrew Mitchell

          The discussion in this chapter specifically included confirmation that Named would be allowed to kill one another.

          > Oh, all those young Named would get practical lessons in how to accomplish what they wanted but they’d also get an education in the Articles of Strife: the manners of violence that were allowed of Named, depending on situation. How to keep mortals away from the damage, when it was allowable to kill another Named over a disagreement and what methods were legal to employ in that killing. And what methods would instead bring down on your head the wrath of the signatories, including the Named sworn to lethal enforcement of the Accords for a period of ten years at a time.

          Liked by 3 people

      4. You’re forgetting about the Drow and Sve Noc.
        One of Cat’s plans for the Drow included employing them as support and enforcers for the Accords.
        It gives them a second purpose, and the rest of Calernia (especially the Above-aligned types) a second important reason to leave them be.

        The Dead King isn’t going to be a factor in the Accords – he’s going to be blocked off inside Serenity.
        Kairos and Anaxares most likely have to be killed, yes. That needs to happen anyways, so that’s not really a loss for the Accords.

        Hye/Ranger … while it’s unlikely that she’ll actively sign on, it’s also the case that she doesn’t care about or do the things the Accords are designed to prevent. It’s a bit like … the nuclear nonproliferation treaties, non militarization of space agreements, and the modern Vatican – I’m not sure if the Vatican’s an actual legal signatory on all of those … but neither is the Vatican interested in having or engaged in developing for itself a nuclear weapons program or a space program.
        Or maybe, telling someone who has a seafood allergy that the steakhouse is out of its seafood daily specials and doesn’t have live lobsters.

        Huh. I thought I had hit post on this hours ago. Oh well.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Shveiran

          I agree on most points, but are you sure about the drow? Setting the mostly lawless culture as guardians of an international treaty seems an hard sell. Is there a text reference to this I missed?

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Admittedly, the plan may have changed since then, and a number of the details have definitely changed since then, but prior to encountering Sve Noc and becoming First Under the Night, Cat as Sovereign of Moonless Night included clauses about enforcing the Liesse Accords in the oaths she was having the drow following her take.

            Now, the drow don’t have Named, but Cat is planning on reshaping their culture, and a fair number of them are functionally on par with Named except for the Narrativistic features.
            The drow will still need buy-in and tolerance from much of the surface, and having a bunch of them swearing oaths to uphold the Accords will help with that.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. Shveiran

              Ah, I see.

              Uhm, to be honest I think the plan changed because of how different Cat’s relationship with the drows is compared to her expectations: if she had been a Black Queen of Moonless Night, she could have counted on the oaths to turn the Mighty into a police force for the Accords.
              Now she needs to persuade them to serve that role.

              I’m not saying that’s impossible, it’s just… does it really feel like a role that fits for them? Granted, Cat is set on changing their cultures and, in some form, that is inevitable, but there is change and there is CHANGE, you know?
              It might be just me, but I really don’t get a “defenders of rules and enforcers of peace” image when I picture the drows.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. She just needs to sell it to them as the Accords help define who is “worthy” and who is “unworthy”.
                Following and enforcing the Accords is proof of Worthiness, and violating the Accords makes you Unworthy and fair game to murder for power (or the lolz).

                She’s reshaping their culture anyways, including the Accords as an objective reference for some things isn’t going to make her job meaningfully more difficult.

                Liked by 2 people

    3. Would also bei interesting to see what would happen with transitional Names and Aspects that already exist in such a school. Like Squire and Apprentice. And there even is an Aspect “Learn”. Imagine Amadeus becoming Headmaster (as a Name) and going around stabbing students to activate that Aspect. 😀

      Liked by 4 people

      1. RoflCat

        Would make sense on several levels.

        She’s one of the few beings alive(?) on Calernia to have stood on both sides.
        She’s well studied in magic of all kind of fields (she had that attempt at ritual to turn angel’s corpse into power battery, she dipped in diabolism, she’s had her hands on Fae power and now Night)
        And since she’s not really a living being, she can remain at school long past a mortal’s life time.

        Liked by 13 people

        1. Shveiran

          It makes a lot of sense.

          And it poses just as many problems.

          I’m very curious to see Amadeus’s reasoning on this one. Especially because I’ve long been wondering just where Akua’s arch is headed.

          Liked by 5 people

          1. Quite Possibly A Cat

            Well Akua is trying to become a hero. Good SHOULD leap at the chance to have a Good Headmistress at this Named School. Most heroes have an annoying flaw where they age to death. This is an all around great ending to Akua’s evil ark.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Shveiran

              That’s … one way to see it, yet Akua hasn’t (and possibly will never get) a Heroic Name. What she is, is a Villain with a remarkable body count and a close tie to both extradimensional entities and the Black Queen. I’m not sure she is quite as desirable an option for the heroic crowd.

              Liked by 2 people

      1. talenel

        This is what I was thinking. It’s perfect. I think they even called it the Throneless realm. It’s perfectly neutral and you can control who has access to it as well.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. Faiir

          And then any Named violating the accords loses access to travel through the realm.

          Imagine if bad karma in RPGs made you lose access to fast travel.
          Just delete the save and restart 🙂

          Liked by 5 people

    1. stevenneiman

      Akua’s Folly, Sinestra’s weather magic, and dozens of other things that haven’t been discussed in the same detail but which have been as ruinous in their own ways.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Steve

      I can’t help but feel he means to capture the Dead King. It would give the Dead King a way to live forever, so the Dead King may agree if cornered.
      That would get nutty, though.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Meet your gym teacher, the undisputed lifelong champion of Calernia’s Named Fighting Cup: Ranger.
      WARNING: discression advised – if you fail at class, you WILL be killed, as per Article 4.52b of Accords “Why we are not gonna fuck with that crazy half elf”.

      Liked by 22 people

    2. IDKWhoitis

      The Evil freshmen seminars

      Otherworldly Influences and Where to Find Them
      -Guest lecturer: Abua Sakulian.

      How to Change the Game: A Study on the Strategies of The Black Queen
      -Lecturer: Aisha Bishara

      A Study on Fear and its Uses
      -Lecturer: Amadeus of the Green Stretch

      ——————————————————————————————–
      The Heroic freshmen seminars

      Why You Should Pick Fights You Can’t Possibly Win
      -Guest lecturer: Hanno of Arwad

      Managing the Party: The Role of the Lancer
      -Lecturer: Hakram of the Howling Wolves

      What is the Greater Good?
      -Lecturer: Tariq Isbili

      Probably requirements for graduating (3 of 6)

      How to Kill Mages 101
      -Lecturer Ranger

      How to Kill Otherworldly Beings
      -Lecturer Ranger

      Story Pivots and How to Use Them
      -Tariq Isbili

      Without a Trace: Practical Applications of Networks and Intermediaries
      -Lecturer Eudokia

      The Art of Exploiting Political Structures
      -Lecturer: Amadeus of the Green Stretch

      Schemes in Moderation
      -Lecturer: Kathrine of Laure

      Liked by 25 people

  2. edrey

    i really can see masego teaching a new theory of magic for people without the talent or the so called Gift, on the side note the secrets DK are a must now

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Dudechcjcjcjcj

      A theory of magic for those with no magic, that dissects the laws of the universe…

      Science, bitch!

      Lead Engineer of Cardinal Academy: Professor Masego

      Liked by 3 people

          1. Shveiran

            Why wouldn’t they? Once research gets far enough, application of something they deemed dangerous becomes easier and easier – not to mention faster.
            If they wish to prevent dangerous technology being used, I don’t see them brooking technological research.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. Andrew Mitchell

              I may be wrong about this but the only examples of Gnome intervention that I can recall being mentioned were all about applied technology (machines and devices). I don’t know why they wouldn’t be interested in research that could be dangerous but they just don’t seem to be from what we’ve been shown.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. They sent the Empire a Red Letter because a goblin clan was “playing with powders”.
                Said goblins were apparently purged by the other Matriarchs before Black could get there.

                Also, the gnomes have historically objected to improved farming equipment.

                The threshold for the gnomes objecting to your activities is low. And you only get three Letters in a century before the gnomes break your shit for you.
                “You” referring to countries, in context with gnomes.

                Liked by 3 people

                1. Strang

                  There’s no way that school does not receive a red letter, or most likely Accords themselves will.

                  Most likely reason for gnomes’ penchant for blowing up farming implements in My mind is to prevent technological advancement. More efficient farming means less manpower needed for supplying rest of the populace, means more room for population, means more free manpower means more advancements in everything. My guess is that The plan is to control population, and stagnate technology via preventing key technologies from getting out there.

                  With that in mind, place for higher education, as well as possibly enormous savings of manpower with people not getting plagued/mindfucked/fed to tapirs…gnomes will start showing up, or they’ve already fucked off to another planet(flying machines and bombings are not that far away from spaceflight, historicaly speaking).

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Andrew Mitchell

                    > There’s no way that school does not receive a red letter, or most likely Accords themselves will.

                    Past warnings have always been to countries so it would be a break with the past for them to target a school or an international agreement. If they do decide to target the countries that sign the Accords then Calernia is fucked.

                    > to prevent technological advancement

                    Yes, that does seem to be what the Gnomes are doing. So the clear clash with Cat’s plans will need to be resolved somehow. I wish I had a clue how that can possibly be resolved though…

                    Like

                  2. Calernia is a backwater on the planet.

                    The Gnomes appear to have no issue with the place on another continent that has two rulers – one empowered by Above and one by Below. Nor do they care about the massive multi-racial empire that the Elves of the Golden Bloom got kicked out of for being racist assholes.
                    So the Gnomes probably don’t actually care if somewhere tries to (or succeeds in) moving beyond being torn apart by war on a regular basis.

                    If we go back to Book 1 Chapter 15, where Black gets the notification, he says that Kerguel “had an interest in natural physics” and pursued it in the face of Red Letters, and so were wiped out. This was when “the great Baalite cities were a collection of mud huts”. The Baalites are the people who colonized Ashur and fought repeated wars with the Miezans. As I understand it, by analogy, the gnomes got pissed off at Archimedes or Pythagoras and nuked Ancient Greece. Or maybe the gnomes nuked part of pre-unification warring states period China.

                    The only thing the Gnomes have been demonstrated to care about is any kind of technological and/or scientific advancement. They don’t care about magical advancement, just mundane scientific advancement. Though there are thresholds below which they don’t care about, ie Praes building a sapper corps and it’s own improved siege engines and designs.

                    Neither the Accords nor Cardinal will trigger a Red Letter based on what we know about the Gnomes. No one involved (at least on Cat’s side of things) is going to go anywhere near anything that the Gnomes would object to.

                    Liked by 2 people

      1. edrey

        bah, i was thinking in how the dead king use magic when he is just a pile of bones, or the fae magic, now you want the gnomes, there is not third letter, they just attack.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Isaac Martinez

    Wait, a school?
    All the future Named will curse Catherine Foundling for making them go through exams, creepy teachers, entire bags of homework, bullying, possible romantic scandals, and the student council. All in the name of peace.

    At least there will be expert lunch goblin and the tournaments of blood.

    Liked by 12 people

  4. IDKWhoitis

    So she effectively makes the Institute of War from League…

    Not a bad play overall.

    I would laugh if Cardinal used devils as its instructors or practice targets. They would follow rules more deeply than anyone else would or could. I wonder if a double headmaster system would be necessary, since having one side’s influence that high up would erode the authority of the school…

    Although there remains the questions of:
    Funding – Do the signatories pay taxes to Cardinal in a sort of “Named Insurance”?
    How are disputes between claimants resolved if no one backs down?
    How are the claimants found? (I’m guessing magic shenanigans are involved)
    Would Ranger need to be brought into the fold? She already heads a pseudo-predecessor of Cardinal. Would she be subject to the law?
    Can non-named people enroll outside of the magically talented? I would assume counties would like to have observers in the academy, and likely would want their heirs to have connections to Named besides.

    I’m deeply loving the Father-Daughter thing going on, with Amadeus playing Praesi advocate.

    Liked by 11 people

      1. I would expect Ranger to more or less get grandfathered in by default.

        While she’s Named, and technically a Villain, she’s nonstandard, and just generally doesn’t get up to causing trouble in the ways the Accords are designed to care about.
        Ranger doesn’t do diabolism or Angel summoning, nor does she go in for dread sorcerous rituals, nor does she have an interest in conquest or ruling. I mean, sure, she’s technically in charge of Refuge, but she only made one law (whatever she says goes) and doesn’t like having to actually do anything in relation to ruling the place. And, to be fair, following the dictate of “whatever Ranger says goes” is as much self preservation and common sense as anything else. She’s probably one of the most dangerous people existing on Calernia and has a temper.

        She probably won’t officially sign on to the Accords, but she’ll likely respect the parts that matter by default because she doesn’t care about doing the things the Accords exist to prevent.
        As such, she won’t be involved in enforcing the Accords, but she wouldn’t be subject to an attempt to enforce them either.
        Amadeus and/or Indrani might need to be the one(s) to break the news about the Accords to her, if only so as to avoid the messenger being murdered on principle.

        Hell – she might even like the Accords because it gives her an excuse to not rule Refuge. I’m pretty sure whatever non-Named governing structure Refuge gets will keep “don’t annoy Ranger” as a fundamental principle of life and the legal structure in Refuge.
        (Cause of death? – Suicide. – But the corpse is in fifteen pieces! – Suicide by Ranger, technically speaking.)

        Liked by 11 people

          1. Powerful Named will exist outside of the Accords because they’ll only cover Calernia, and Named on Calernia, not the rest of the planet – including the empire where rule is split between a Villain and a Hero.

            Powerful Named can’t be allowed to violate the Accords and get away with it because they’re too powerful.

            However, Ranger isn’t going to be violating the Accords (especially not in the ways that really matter) because the stuff the Accords are designed to prevent are things she has no interest in doing.

            I … don’t have a good analogy to use here.

            Liked by 9 people

          2. You mean like Neshamah? ;-p It might actually be time for Ranger to seek apotheosis, but that’s a digression anyway.

            The real point is that no matter how big your house is, there’s always an “outside”, and dealing with powers outside the Accord has to be covered in the rules. A closed-border option would be something like “need approval of the Committee to make trade agreements”, while a more open (and realistic) one would be: No agreements that violate or cross the Accords themselves. Respect the blacklists, tariffs, and subsidies from the Committee. If an outsider attacks a member unprovoked, we can and should dogpile the offender, subject to our own restrictions.

            By “the Committee”, I mean whatever body is set up to administer and arbitrate the Accords. There will be something, whether informal or formal — and that group will be vastly powerful.
            This is actually the first step towards a continental federation….

            Liked by 4 people

            1. > It might actually be time for Ranger to seek apotheosis, but that’s a digression anyway.

              It is a digression! AND SO I DIGRESS. Unless I’ve totally misunderstood what you’re talking about, I’m pretty sure that will never be in the cards for Ranger. As Catherine found, apotheosis is like living in a cage that’s been built out of your own soul, so the only way out is to die and/or pull a Foundling. And since Ranger’s whole thing is she will never accept chains of any kind from any one, I don’t see her going for that.

              tl;dr – Ranger’s whole sine qua non is going “NO ONE TELLS RANGER WHAT TO DO, NOT EVEN RANGER” so she’ll never trade accepting more rules for more power.

              Liked by 4 people

                1. Yeah, exactly. She would be taking restrictions she’d never want to accept when the payoff for doing so is making life more boring, when excitement appears to be literally the only thing she cares about (and I guess Amadeus, but I’m prepared to file sexy times and related things as a subcategory of excitement).

                  Liked by 2 people

    1. Andrew Mitchell

      > How are the claimants found? (I’m guessing magic shenanigans are involved)

      It’s not necessary to find students when they are claimants, I think. Anyone who comes into a Name has to attend. Identifying them, and compelling them to attend are both really important points to be nailed down in the Accords.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. werafdsaew

        I don’t think any compelling is necessary. It’s not like the rules only apply to those who attends, and those who attends gets a Name education, which is hard to find anywhere else, plus access to the Twilight Way. The competitive advantage would be enough to draw most Names

        Liked by 10 people

                1. Jesus. Last Rock University, but it’s founded by Catherine instead of Arachne.

                  …It REALLY says something that this is an institution that can reasonably be expected to make Calernia MORE stable.

                  Liked by 4 people

      2. IDKWhoitis

        I think it would be easier to find claimants (especially to Names like Thief or such) and get them to come along through mundane means, rather than go through the whole process of tracking them down once they fully claim the name. Also, by taking claimants rather than full Names, it prevents some meddling by other Named or organizations by using assassination to “simplify” the problem of several claimants.

        Thinking about it, how large is this school realistically going to be? Even in the “all hands on deck” scenario of this crusade, there was only really like 40 named total, both sides counted, including the old ones.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. JJR

          That might be part of why Amadeus wants it to also be a magic school. With the not named there to learn magic you’d have enough people for proper lectures.

          Liked by 2 people

      1. IDKWhoitis

        He plays the role so well, even adopting the mannerisms of old style Praesi diplomacy. Threats and insults to catch the opposition flatfooted, and trying to bullshit a position of strength.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. Well, Amadeus has always been more than smart enough to understand the principle that understanding your opposition is the first step to defeating them. I suppose it should really be no surprise that he can imitate the approach of a Praesi highborn flawlessly, as such.

          Liked by 3 people

        2. I love how he’s doing it while sitting on the table. I also love that his reply to Catherine throwing a cup at his head is to fill it with wine and give it back to her. This nerd ;u;

          Liked by 1 person

    2. I would expect Ranger to more or less get grandfathered in by default.

      While she’s Named, and technically a Villain, she’s nonstandard, and just generally doesn’t get up to causing trouble in the ways the Accords are designed to care about.
      Ranger doesn’t do diabolism or Angel summoning, nor does she go in for dread sorcerous rituals, nor does she have an interest in conquest or ruling. I mean, sure, she’s technically in charge of Refuge, but she only made one law (whatever she says goes) and doesn’t like having to actually do anything in relation to ruling the place. And, to be fair, following the dictate of “whatever Ranger says goes” is as much self preservation and common sense as anything else. She’s probably one of the most dangerous people existing on Calernia and has a temper.

      She probably won’t officially sign on to the Accords, but she’ll likely respect the parts that matter by default because she doesn’t care about doing the things the Accords exist to prevent.
      As such, she won’t be involved in enforcing the Accords, but she wouldn’t be subject to an attempt to enforce them either.
      Amadeus and/or Indrani might need to be the one(s) to break the news about the Accords to her, if only so as to avoid the messenger being murdered on principle.

      Hell – she might even like the Accords because it gives her an excuse to not rule Refuge. I’m pretty sure whatever non-Named governing structure Refuge gets will keep “don’t annoy Ranger” as a fundamental principle of life and the legal structure in Refuge.
      (Cause of death? – Suicide. – But the corpse is in fifteen pieces! – Suicide by Ranger, technically speaking.)

      Liked by 5 people

  5. Andrew Mitchell

    1. Good to read about the depth of involvement that Vivienne and Hakram have had in the creation of the Accords.

    2. Just lovely to see Amadeus ‘teaching’ Catherine again, even though the style is quite different.

    3. I smiled to see Catherine still can’t call her father Amadeus. “And Black, how else are you ever going to get that?”

    4. Now this puts Catherine in a new light “… having slighted the Dread Empress of Callow.”

    5. Black makes a really great point. “Praes must have a role to play. Else its energies will be spent unmaking what you have made.”

    6. Cardinal and the school sounds A M A Z I N G.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. erebus42

      5. Yeah, people always go on and on about the Lower of Love but very rarely give the Power of Spite its due. Spite can keep the dying alive, keep the exhausted moving, and help bring the mighty low. It definitely would not be a good move to snub Praes if they don’t want a big ol’ “Fuck You” Plague.

      Liked by 9 people

    2. re: 3, I predict she will switch to calling him father before she switches to calling him by his given name 😀 (have predicted that a while back and still not backing down on this)

      re: 4, this has been brought up before, Cordelia commenting on how she ‘rules by Wasteland methods’ and all :3

      re: 6, remember how Warlock refused to teach magic at War College? Amadeus has not given up on the idea since ;u;

      Liked by 7 people

        1. Amadeus is honestly also biased: he’s Praesi, and he’s not looking at all the ways Catherine does better than that because he’s entertained by the surface comparison.

          Trying to not be the Dread Empire of Callow is exactly why Hakram put importance on listening to Vivienne more.

          Liked by 2 people

    3. > Now this puts Catherine in a new light “… having slighted the Dread Empress of Callow.”

      Amadeus is being slightly facetious, but the Black Queen is definitely much more badass than the Good Queens were. And touchier.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Agent J

        What do you mean? The Founders of both dynasties, Elizabeth Alban and Eleanor Fairfax, were every bit as badass as the Black Queen. One was the godsdamned Queen of Blades and the other kicked Triumphant’s teeth in while shagging the Duchess of Daoine.

        I love Cat to death, but she’s hardly the first badass queen Callow has churned out. How’d Malanza put it?

        “-what was it with Callow and spawning all those wee dangerous women?“

        Liked by 3 people

    1. erebus42

      I could see houses being based on type of name: Strikers (warrior and martial Names), Weavers (more subtle influencer types), Shapers (Mages and priests), Stalkers (thief and ranger Named)

      Alternatively they could be based on what the individual seeks to accomplish: Architects (those with the ambition and will to create and or bring things about (art, weapons, schemes, policy, nations, etc)), Bleaders (those who fight and kill for the sake of fighting or killing), Guardians (protectors and healers), Scholars (seekers of understanding and knowledge), Rovers (thrill seekers), and Hands (those who seek to serve as best they can and or do their job as best they can)

      Liked by 10 people

      1. Decius

        Foundling, Amadeus, Sahelian, Isbili, Komena, Alaya, Wekesa, Eudokia, Theodosian, Almorava, de Montfort, Dartwick, Hassenbach … after their first heads of house, of course.

        Yes, some of those would require extraordinary events in order to be physically possible, and others would require extraordinary events in order to be acceptable to everyone involved.

        Liked by 7 people

        1. Not on board with all of those (for one thing, in organizational terms that’s about a million houses for an institution on a continent where the total number of Named appears to perpetually hover somewhere under triple digits) but I absolutely love the idea that even after she abdicates this is how Catherine has to accept House Foundling being a thing.

          Liked by 2 people

    2. House Audacia, motto “Godhead is the trick of perpective”
      House Nobilitas, motto “Objectively better than you”
      House Curiositas, motto “To boldly go”
      House Scortatio, motto “Anything goes”
      House Ambitione, motto “Will to power”
      House Archer, motto “Sullen wench”, unofficial motto “Look what I can do”
      House Rectus, motto “Lies and violence”
      House Iustus, motto “To do good”

      Liked by 12 people

    3. caoimhinh

      Well, I would personally not use the House system like in H.P, mainly because that system is kinda ridiculous and didn’t really make any difference except cultivating stereotypes among the student body, but I digress.

      I would divide it into departments, like a University, as the Named are more likely than not to be teenagers and older, and they are each highly specialized, so besides some basic core teachings the Academy would need to prepare them in different ways, the trappings of a story for Villains are not the same as for Heroes, and the way for each of them to fill their Role are different too.

      Department of Story-Fu and Narrative Self-defense, directed by Headmistress Catherine.
      Department of Political Science, also known fondly as the Schemes Department, led by Vice-headmistress Akua.
      Department of Sorcery, directed by Dean Hierophant, Masego.
      Department of Lore and Culture, led by Professor Tariq.
      Department of Logistics and Support, handled by Professor Hakram.
      Department of Network and Management, led by Professor Eudokia.
      Department of Knife, directed by Professor Indrani. Everyone comes back from the classes sharper, one way or the other.
      Department of Military Strategy, led by Professor Grem (as Juniper would be busy still being Marshal and General of Callow’s army).
      Department of Madness Lateral Thinking and Obscure Plans held by Professor Kairos, who insist that the Department’s proper name is the Department of Visionary Wisdom.

      Rule Enforcement, directed by Professor Hanno.
      Campus Security, a team of multiple species, morning-shift to Orcs, night-shift given to Drow, and alternated in between are the Goblins, overall command by Ivah

      The Office of Footrest is thought to be one of the mysteries of Cardinal Academy for Named (C.A.N), but it’s said that the one holding office operates outside ordinary rules of the Academy at the behest of Headmistress Catherine.

      Bi-weekly seminars on Extra-creational creatures are a mandatory curriculum.
      TED Talks by many professors and guest lecturers are provided monthly, of special notice are the How To Be Successful Despite Yourself seminars given by the highly unwilling General Abigail, who insists that she just talks shit in her seminars and denies any capability of providing good advice, only giving half-assed answers, yet her Talks are a huge success among the student body and are proven to be highly educational.

      Also, mandatory bi-monthly trips to foreign countries in order to build cultural knowledge and exchange, providing the students with insight about other countries and cultivate understanding between them.

      Liked by 11 people

      1. Ahem: An oddity of English is that “bi-monthly” and “bi-weekly” can mean almost the same thing, about every two weeks. (The “bi-” prefix is ambiguous.) In any case, even 6 times a year is probably too many field trips.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. caoimhinh

          True, and Catherine will definitely use that legal minutia to be a bit lazy XD.

          But hey, they are Named, they will be fine with lots of trips and adventures, and can use the Twilight Ways to travel fast, so it can work out fine. Named are people of action, even those in supportive Roles(if we take Adjutant and Scribe as example, they are arguably those who rest the least).

          Liked by 2 people

      2. I assume that Eudokia’s department is the only one not bolded because people somehow keep forgetting to remember it’s there.

        Also, I feel like Story-Fu and Narrative Self-Defense are related but not identical fields. As such I could definitely see them being lumped together under Catherine like you have them, but I could also see Narrative Self-Defense being broken out into its own field under Amadeus given that the difference between how Amadeus and Catherine approach narrative tropes is that Amadeus avoids them because they’re dangerous to him as a villain while Catherine finds a way to leverage them. Which maps pretty well to Narrative Self-Defense and to Story-Fu, respectively.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. caoimhinh

          Indeed.
          And I agree with you, that’s why Story-Fu and Narrative Self-Defense are both mentioned, together and related but not the same.

          There probably will be a class called “Defense against the Defeat Stories” or something like that. Including asignments like writting essays about Narrative consequence, and story logic applied to Named activity, exemplified in history.
          Also, I can imagine them writing books on the subjects:
          “Monologues and why they suck”, “First Step Is Sure Step”, and “100 Ways To Not Get Killed By The Story” and “Patterns of Three” series which of course must be a Trilogy called Loss, Draw, and Win.

          Liked by 5 people

  6. Ben Serreau-Raskin

    And there it is. Catherine Foundling sees a status quo she doesn’t like and flips the table, continent wise this time.

    Negative enforcement and positive reinforcement at the same time.

    Liked by 10 people

  7. Andrew Bartlett

    ‘spent more of – name it! – on killing’

    Forget to name a currency after the initial draft or was she trying to say like, ‘Spent more of ?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think that Cat is saying that if you can name something, anything, that can count as a measurable resource, Callow and Praes have spent it on killing each other in greater quantities than basically anyone else has. Food, money, steel, blood, lives, magic, Named, etc.

      Liked by 9 people

    2. Na

      I think that’s as intended. I believe it’s meant to be understood as “Spent more of *literally anything you could name* (lives, steel, gold, time) on killing …”

      Liked by 9 people

    1. Yes.

      And Catherine and Amadeus are going to do that.

      I love that the entire dramatic part with ‘convince me’ was a lead up to ‘and you need to add a magic academy to that also’ so fucking much

      Liked by 9 people

      1. konstantinvoncarstein

        I was wondering what could Catherine do after all is settled (if she survived). Being FUN till the end of times seems a bit boring, and she need rest. Maybe she could become professor? What chair should she have?

        Liked by 4 people

        1. I mean Indrani has first dibs on taking her travelling around the world.

          But Cat as a teacher = YES. Even if it’s not quite the EXACT degree of amazingly fitting that is for Amadeus, it’s still great ;u;

          Liked by 3 people

      2. caoimhinh

        That’s also evidence that Amadeus is still a bit bitter that his plan of a Magic Academy taught by Wekesa didn’t come to fruition (Masego even said that was one of the gravest fights they had), so now he is getting Cat to approve of one, probably getting Masego as the main teacher of Magic. Petty vengeance FTW, hahahaha.

        Black:“Wekesa, teach magic for the Empire, that will be good for the country”
        Warlock:“Nah, fuck those idiots, I’m not going to spend my time teaching my secrets to those bastards”

        *Fights happens*

        Black:“Okay, don’t do it. But one day, I will have your child do it.”
        Warlock:“Yeah, right. Sit down comfortably and wait for that to happen.”
        Black:“I’m a patient man.”

        *Decades pass, flash forward to the present*

        Amadeus:“So, Masego, have you noticed how many practitioners have so many holes in their education, and bumble so much in their spellcraft?”
        Masego:“Of course, that’s one of my main complaints to Catherine about her armies, it’s like they were never taught properly.”
        Amadeus:“Indeed, that seems to be the issue. Catherine and I have been speaking about that, you know. About how to resolve that matter of ignorance among practitioners and improve the way of future generations.”
        Masego:“Oh?”
        Amadeus: “I have a proposal for you.”
        Just as planned.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. Yes.

          Yes.

          Yes.

          Eventually:

          Eudokia: “Amadeus, you’re blinded by sentiment. Think: why ARE you supporting this?”

          Amadeus: “So, do you remember that idea I had about thirty years ago–“

          Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m not entirely convinced by the Accords as they’ve been presented so far. Two biggest problems include:

    – Most of the signatories would’ve been at war with each other prior to the signing. This leads to extremely strained relations and it’s easy to imagine a member leaving soon after signing. It’s also not ideal when it comes to personal relations. Imagine forcing a villain from Thalassina or Nok into a same room as a Hero from Ashur.

    – Leaving the enforcement of the rules in the hands of member states is a recipe for disaster, see the League of Nations or UN. The rules will quickly become nominal, with superpowers of the age making a token effort of appeasement whilst in reality disregarding them with impunity. You need an independent stick because member states will always prioritize their own good over the rules if given a chance.

    I’ve got more concerns but they’re more practical in nature.For example, there’s a couple thousand years of culture with regards to Named. Not sure making a school will really make a difference without some serious social engineering. The idea of Cardinal as a center of magical learning makes sense because sorcery is a skill and it heavily depends on understanding and theory. If you gather all magical experts in one place other practitioners would naturally want to learn from them, perhaps gain some prestige. Kind of like wanting to get into Cambridge or Oxford.

    Names are similar but also not. There’s obviously a skill component to them and having a talented teacher yields results, but at the same time one can become incredibly powerful simply by playing into their Role. Like, how would you convince Named to attend it? Especially since many of them have a very narrow outlook on life – it’s practically a prerequisite for being a Named. So yeah, not entirely convinced.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. IIRC Cardinal would answer these concerns exactly – it’s going to be an independent center of power, maintaining it easily because of its ties to most of existing Named (and the most learned mages, with Amadeus’s addition). Once the system is made to work – which there are enough interested players to make happen right now, or rather, it’s exactly Cat’s game to arrange so that everyone will be – it wil be self-maintaining and self-enforcing. Cardinal will BE the independent player, one whose strength comes from its independence and neutrality (since breaking it will cut it off from a proportionally significant fraction of new Named), so it will be strongly incentivized to keep the system going as defined. Its approach and specific interests will evolve naturally as the world changes, and it will be a permanent self-reinforcing fixture after the initial investment.

      Liked by 7 people

      1. Shveiran

        This. The problem is not mantaining the system (not anymore than any other system, anyway); it is jumpstarting the project and bringing it up to speed.

        If Cat can come out ahead in the war in the north, with enough allies still breathing, it doesn’t seem impossible.
        Just very very hard.

        Liked by 3 people

      1. That’s the option Amadeus explicitly shot down right at the start. It’s not a valid foundation: the key is making sure every nation is getting something positive out of the deal, an incentive to help maintain this paradigm rather than to find a way to overturn it.

        Liked by 6 people

    2. > Not sure making a school will really make a difference without some serious social engineering.

      The school is social engineering. Nearly every new Named on the continent will go there to be indoctrinated/educated in the Laws of War, which spells are Forbidden (as contrasted with the Official Spellbooks), and what Named may lawfully/safely do for their nations. There will be stories about students, ex-students, and even instructors, getting out of hand, and their inevitable comeuppances. There will be school songs, and traditional oaths.

      This is where the new regime is shaped.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. That’s sort of my second point. Unlike the mages who greatly benefit the expertise, there’s no real incentive for Named to go to the school.

        Imagine you’re a Black Knight, historically second or third most powerful Named in Praes. Or a bigshot Hero from Levant – one of the ruling lines. Your name has enjoyed a thousand years of privilege and you have a lot of power. Why would you agree to go to a school, where your privilege will be restricted? With people whom you will despise on a deep, philosophical and cultural level?

        You say every Named will go there but I ask: how and why? You think someone like Archer or Ranger would go? White Knight, who flips a coin and kills people if it land the wrong way? You can’t just mash villains and heroes together because they’ve literally been fighting against each other since the beginning of time. Hence the need for social engineering before the school is even established.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Most, if not all, current Named wouldn’t attend Cardinal as students.
          Hell, most of the big Names who survive the current wars might be instructors or guest lecturers. Probably the same will happen with some of the non-Named.
          However, new Named would go – because it will make them better at what they do. Oh, sure, there’ll likely be issues getting new Evil Named to attend in the beginning … but the Accords will also start to reshape new Evil Named towards being practical Evil types, not the classic or old school Evil types.

          Liked by 2 people

  9. Aotrs Commander

    Reading through this chapter, I was thinking to myself, “if this is implimented, this reads like the backstory worldbuilding of your other typical fantasy stories with the strange rules of conduct and evferything…” It’s not often you get to see it get SET UP.

    Now, while everyone ELSE immedaiately jumped to anime and Harry Potter, I thought of the Heralds of Valdemar and their academy.

    We should be so lucky if EE decides to go all Mercedes Lackey on us and spend decades writing up and down the timeline! (Valdemar is, I think just about the most complete history of a world I think I’ve ever personally encountered; even in an RPG world like say Golarion, the history is mostly just history to the “now.”

    The academy would certainly give the room for future expansion.

    But one think that Paizo’s Golarion has taught me is that the best world building always says about a place (or an organisationg or whatever) “what sort of adventure or story could you have there?” Even if the adventures are intended never happen, the space for them tends to catch people’s imaginations. And this is just as true for non-RPG things – case-in-point, even if EE has no plans for a sequel, just look at how engaged everyone is with just the idea.

    Liked by 6 people

  10. Shveiran

    This was a lot less tense than I anticipated, and unfortunately also a bit less detailed than I hoped. The enforcement part and the “who does what” interest me deeply.

    On the other hand, I saw Cardinal coming as an independant enforcer… I did not foresee that school, and yet in hindsight it’s so obvious! It fits Cat so nicely!
    This is the best kind of twists.

    MOAR please.

    Though this time there is a certain anime vibe, admittedly.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Soronel Haetir

    So long as the Names themselves don’t change (which I could well see this system accomplishing) I have a very hard time seeing the current holders going along with this, even when they don’t personally hold political power.

    A simple example, the whole being-forced-to-attend-school bit, for someone like Hakram with a Name intimately tied to helping a particular other I just don’t see that person being willing to take time away from what they see as their role that was so important that it coalesced into a Name. I could even see the forced attendance shifting such a person into someone aligned against the Accords themselves if something happened to the anchor while the second were away at school.

    Names are first and foremost an act of will, suborning that will to what some other person (or group of them) thought was a good idea just sounds like a non-starter.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Soronel Haetir

        That’s fine if the pair come into their Names at about the same time but it seems unlikely that an assistant role would come into being while the primary is in school. And a primary Named doesn’t seem all that likely to set aside whatever need drove them to take on a Name just so their second could go learn.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Andrew Mitchell

      Once this gets established and starts producing Named individuals who are much more effective (for example, understanding and using story-fu) then anyone who doesn’t go will be at a disadvantage.

      For Names like Page and Squire, their respective mentors will want them to go.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. anon

    Four typos:

    “a singe bottle”
    single*

    “The fought as barons”
    They*

    “Thought here are objections still.”
    Though* there*

    “might not longer”
    no*

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Daniel E

    Jokes aside, seems to me that this plan would seriously screw with Above & Below’s pissing contest. On a less metaphysical note, I can’t see any of Below’s Named actually going for this. Heroes who can compromise sure, but Villains would essentially become Chaotic Good.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Andrew Mitchell

      > this plan would seriously screw with Above & Below’s pissing contest.

      Absolutely. I think that’s the driving force for making the Accords a reality. It’s a way out that benefits all people and (at least) limits the cycle of destruction created by the gods contest.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. caoimhinh

        Yeah, it establishes rules of engagement and limits the destruction caused by the clash of Named (which is inevitable to happen as more often than not the presence of a Named spawns other Named around, be it support or oppose them).

        “the strife between Named I fully intended on making a continent-wide tourney, a pit fight that’d allow the Gods to claim their due and the rest of us to keep on moving.”

        Liked by 3 people

      2. JJR

        Except if you screw with the gods too hard, they might just call a mulligan on your existence and settle the bet with a different world. The fae were leftover from the first time their world building didn’t get them to an answer.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. caoimhinh

      Yep.
      In a more serious manner, there are lots of practicality issues for an Academy for Named. More specifically, that people come into a Role in response to actions they are specifically taking, and they get empowered to attempt to carry on their will on the world.
      In theory, having Named learn about many things relevant to them as the rules of engagement and the consequences of Narrative to their lives is important, and many of us jumped to imagining ways this could develop in a proper school (because it’s incredibly fun to do that); HOWEVER, in practice this is far more likely to be a type of seminar of only a couple of months that every Named will have to attend and then sign a few oaths to bind themselves to the Accords and abide to the agreements maybe even enforce them onto Rogue Named that refused to attend the Academy.

      As Named come to their Name in dramatic circumstances more often than not, they will have personal agendas to pursue right at the moment they become Named, so they will naturally be more reluctant to travel to an Academy for many months or years considering they come to their Roles in the middle of some kind of mess, until that mess is solved is highly unlikely they would leave.

      Maybe Amadeus saw this and decided it’s better to have it as a Magic Academy that houses the Named Seminars for Accords Appliance (NSA) since Named are unlikely to spend a long time in a single place unless their story is drawing them there.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Shveiran

        True enough.

        On the other hand, this is once more a temporary matter.
        Cardinal, if done right, could change how most perceive Names (“talented folks get to Cardinal, then get their Names, don’t you know nothing? That’s proper heroes, that is”) and thus it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.

        The system can work; the problem is merely implementation, even if it is a huge one.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Andrew Mitchell

          > “talented folks get to Cardinal, then get their Names, don’t you know nothing? That’s proper heroes, that is”

          Hahahhaha. Fantastic way to illustrate your point. A+

          Liked by 1 person

  14. ninegardens

    Where do you think they’re going to house Cardinal?

    Is it going to be part of the city in Twighlight? Will it be in Paeres (for political reasons, so as to reduce the isolation that Black mentioned), in Callow (nice and central?)

    Personally I put bets on twighlight…. but I’m not sure if the realm is stable enough (magically) for some of the more… experimental sciences.

    Liked by 2 people

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