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  1. “Like the tiger, a big cat native to more southerly Europan climes than our own Arhomaneia, the leopard sometimes takes to man-eating. In my experience, a man-eating leopard is to be dreaded even more than a tiger that has gained the same taste, as it possesses greater agility and stealthiness, as well as its silence.” Excerpt from Man-Eaters: The Memoirs of a Professional Hunter by Khristoforos Iagoupes, first published in EK7400 (AD1892). Iagoupes was later awarded the courtly title of Protokynegos, or “First Hunter”, in recognition of his exploits. The Leopard Throne. One of the most important symbols of Arhomaneia. It stands on a dais of porphyry that is covered with a cloth of gold, under a canopy of the same material, at the end of the grand state throne room, the Asprotriklinos, of the Basilikon Synkrotima Palatión, the Imperial Palace Complex. The heart of the Megas Agios Basileia, the Greater Holy Empire. It is actually a dual throne – the left hand side is the vacant seat of Christ. The Holy Emperor, the Agios Basileos kai Autokrator ton Arhomaion kai Isapostolos, the Holy Emperor and Autocrat of Arome and Equal to the Apostles to give the more formal title, is the representative of God on Eurth, sitting at His right hand. The throne itself is gold and studded in precious stones, a shining example of Aroman craftsmanship and nothing that mere barbaroi could hope to imitate. Its seats are covered in leopard skin upholstery and the sides are in the likeness of snarling big cats, ready to pounce. The teeth of the leopards on the sides are ancient elephant ivory, the red tongues made from coral, their spots picked out in pieces of carved jet and the eyes are crafted from amber. This imagery gives the throne its name. To enter the throne room, two vast gold-plated doors have to be opened. These magnificent works of art are perfectly balanced and swung outwards smoothly and silently. They are kept oiled and were polished regularly by one of the myriad of servants within the Imperial Palace Complex. It is considered a high honour to be selected to carry out the task. Once inside the room, a visitor is greeted by one of the most striking sights in the wurld. The walls of the throne room are a shining white, representing the purity and holiness of Arhomaneia. The floors are a gilded mosaic, breathtaking in its magnificence. Glass, gold and ceramic tiles displaying proud moments in history, fearsome hunting scenes and the glory that is embodied by the Arhomaioi. Behind the throne is a multicoloured stained glass window of vast size which bathes the room in jewelled light when the sun shines through it. Unlike other, more heterodox Christian nations, there are no recreations of heavenly scenes or the Saviour Himself – depictions of holy figures are considered to be idolatrous by Arhomaneia's particular brand of Christianity, the Aroman Church. Great pillars hold up the high roof. These are alternatively shining white marble or porphyry. Beyond them, the walls are as richly decorated as the mosaic floor and more large windows of stained or clear glass, alternating in the opposite way to the pillars, allowing light to flood into the state throne room. It is designed to overawe any visitor to the throne room, as if being in the presence of the Holy Emperor wasn't enough in itself. The throne itself, on its raised dais, sits under a semi-dome at the apse end of the room with the words “Christ, King of Kings” inscribed across the conch of the apse. It is no mistake that the throne is under the eastern end. The ruler of Arhomaioi is appointed to this role by God Himself, manifesting His will on Eurth. As a sign of the Agios Basileos' lofty position as the Thirteenth Apostle, those that approach the Leopard Throne's occupant are expected to acknowledge their lowly position. This act, called the Proskynesis, signifies the subservience of the one doing it and the recognition that the Holy Emperor is their rightful overlord. The act involves throwing themselves to the floor and kissing the Holy Emperor's feet with their arms outstretched. It has, however, become impolitic to expect foreigners to perform it these days. The overly proud barbaroi find it very offensive, as they often do not recognise the primacy of the Arhomaiki ruler over their petty overlords. And as there was one Kingdom in Heaven, there is one Empire on Eurth. That Empire has stood for centuries as a bastion of civilisation in a wurld of barbarism, a beacon of faith and light shining out and inspiring the lands surrounding it. It is a centre of culture, ever changing and evolving, and yet maintaining a link to the glorious past of the Aroman Empire before it, even if that past had yet to find the enlightenment of Christianity. This cultural heritage meant that it is Tagmatium's duty to shepherd the rest of Eurth towards that enlightenment and the civilisation that it brought with it. The throne is flanked by a soldier from each of the six guard regiments of the Tagmata, the Palace Guard, the unit that had inadvertently gave the common name to the Megas Agios Basileia, the Greater Holy Empire. Their positions near the throne is kept in a strict rotation to avoid one being favoured over the others. The bodyguards are all brightly dressed, with horse hair plumes on their sallet helms the colour of their robes, clothes embroidered with golden thread and carrying shields decorated with symbols of Christ and Arhomaneia. A soldier from the Exkoubitores, their name meaning “Sentinels”, currently stood on the right of the throne, the closest to it. Perhaps the most famous of the units from the guard corps, their red robes and black lacquered armour, a mix of lamellar and plate mail, made them a distinctive sight throughout the capital of the Greater Holy Empire. They regularly accompanied members of the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion, the Imperial Government, abroad on diplomatic missions. Behind the Exkoubitor was one from the Ikanatoi, the “the Able Ones”, wearing red armour, cream robes and carrying a spear. Next to the Ikanatos, dressed in red robes and cream armour, was a Optimatos, holding a shield and a sword. To the left of the throne stood a soldier of the Athanatoi, “Immortals”, in green robes and wearing a similar mix of lamellar and plate, although their armour was coloured blue. This soldier was armed with a short-shafted axe as well a sword. Behind the Athanatos was one of the Paramonai, the name coming from those who stood close to the Agios Basileos. They were armed with maces and shields, dressed in blue robes and steel armour buffed to a mirror shine. Like the Exkoubitoi, their role was to closely guard the members of the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion, the palace complex and Tagmatika itself. Completing the row of three was one of the Arkhontogennhematai, “the sons of officers”, in shining steel armour contrasting with pitch black robes and holding a spear. The appearance of the guards might be deceptive - they were drawn from decorated combat veterans from the Tagmatine army or from candidates that had especially impressed their instructors during training. They would die to protect their charges and took their roles extremely seriously. As well as soldiers from the Tagmata, at all times dignitaries and attendants from the amongst the government, the civil service and the court aristocracy waited on the throne, even if it was vacant. They were dressed in jewelled robes of ancient, although not out of date, style. Whilst the positions within the court aristocracy were not hereditary, members of it were often granted great estates within Arhomaneia. This meant that they would have the time to wait on the Agios Basileos kai Autokrator without having to worry about money or inability to afford the splendour in which they would have to dress. They may not have been as powerful as the military or bureaucratic aristocracies in the reign of Kommodos III, but there was power in proximity to greater power. They were the cup bearers, the concierges and ushers, with their families having been in the service of the Greater Holy Empire for generations, even centuries. Being close to the Holy Emperor for many hours meant that they often had his or her ear and even become valued confidantes. They might be perceived as useless hangers-on by some but that often couldn't be much further than the truth. The Greater Holy Empire would last, and they would have their day again. With the guards around the throne and the attendants surrounding it, completing the groups within the throne room were a choir of monks, chanting praise to Christ. They were dressed in black clerical robes that were a sharp contrast to the sumptuous dress of the courtiers and the elaborate uniforms of the bodyguards. Bishops and other prelates were often in the state throne room too, as the Holy Emperor has such an important role within the affairs of the Church. The smell of incense permeated the cavernous room. If the Holy Emperor was present, then the chanting would cease and a respectful silence would dominate the room. Only if the Vice-Gerent of God willed it would that be broken. Court ceremony was entirely designed to emphasise the dignity and prestige of the monarch and to imply the superhuman nature of the one that sat upon the Leopard Throne. Recent years have seen a resurgence in activity from the Greater Holy Empire. At first, its attention had been focussed beyond Europa, then Arhomaneia turned somewhat quiet. Unlike @Adaptus, Tagmatium's closest neighbour, ally and fellow heir to ancient Arome, the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion has not become destabilised. Eurth had seen the influence of the Megas Agios Basileia spread. Several programmes to improve Tagmatium's environmental impact have taken precedence over the military actions that had seen the nation's international prestige increase over the years. Sustainable power generation has been stepped up across the country, from wind farms to hydro-electric power stations. There has been some rumblings within the nation's borders, primarily from pro-democracy campaigners, although these had been dealt with peacefully. They did not shatter the tranquillity and prosperity that had been earned after the hard shock of the Civil War in EK7513 (AD2005) and the struggle of the nation finding its feet again in the years that followed. Arhomaneia had once again become a main player on the wurld stage, with much of Eurth seeing its influence. But the same wurld was changing, and it was said by some that the Megas Agios Basileia needed to change with it, lest it become stagnant and lose its place as the country that all others looked up to. Arhomaneia could not afford to slip back into the background. It had come a long way since the Civil War and had reforged itself under Kommodos Iakoumos, who had been elected to his position in the aftermath. As yet, it remained to be seen how this most ancient and glorious nation would deal with the changes that had happened around it.
  2. It has come to the attention of the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion, the Imperial Government of Tagmatium, that it is not just the rogue nation of Derthalen that still maintains the barbaric and savage practice of slavery. There are many others that still pursue this crime, one that all civilised nations think has been consigned to the history books. However, this is not the case. Some nations, backwards and savage as they are, still accord it more than revulsion. They openly and willingly enforce it on their own citizens and, indeed, trade their own citizens with other barbaric nations. That it still exists is inexcusable and one that all right-thinking nations must make a stand against. That these vile nations still carry this bestial trade out must be stamped down upon. In this modern age, this is entirely unconscionable that slavery still exists; it is an affront to the modern notions of self-determination and to God Himself. That these nations, these slaver-states, feel that they can continue with this abhorrent trade entirely unmolested is itself arrogance of the most extreme and noxious sort. They will find themselves disabused of this belief. In the past, the Megas Agios Basileia Arhomaion was famous, nay, infamous for its use of slavery. In these ancient times, slavery was common and it played an important and well-defined role not just within the economy of Tagmatium, but in wider society, too. Manual labour was not the only role undertaken by slaves, but almost every profession as well. Whilst these slaves were often well treated by their masters, they were still the property of their owners, as much as those who were worked to death in brutal conditions in mines or the fields. They all could be subjected to sexual exploitation, torture or even summary execution, all at the whims of their masters. As Christianity took root and Tagmatium slowly threw off the shackles of the old, ignorant superstitions that had formerly held sway over its populace and the state, it became clear that it was against the virtues that were now held dear. Slavery is an affront to God. It is nothing more than one of the most base acts of covetousness and an act of human rebellion against our true Father. As such, as the Agios Basileos kai Autokrator Arhomaion is the representative of God on Eurth, it is decreed by the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion that it cannot be stomached that slavery is allowed to continue without punishment of those who defy God in this manner. As the Megas Agios Basileia Arhomaion is looked on as the shining beacon of civilisation on Eurth, one that all other nations follow as the example to live up to, it follows that it will be the first to truly step up to the mark and take a stand against these slaver-states and their abominable trade. As such, any nation that has on its statute books slavery, indentured workers or similar practices or ideals, whether directly or indirectly, or indulges in the trade or sale of their own citizens, or those of foreign nations, will find themselves with the following sanctions levied against them. These are in line with those that have been placed against the rogue nation of Derthalen and will continue to be maintained until that nation, and those that hold the foul institution of slavery dear, change their ways and enter into these modern times. There may be those that feel that Tagmatium is overstepping its reach, that it has no right to attempt to police the internal policies of other nations. The Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion feels that this is not the case – that to allow slavery in its many forms to continue is to encourage it. If it is not stamped out sooner rather than later, it will spread, a dark plague from history that will once again become a dark blot on the world. The Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion will expel any non-essential diplomatic personnel that any slaver-state has within the Megas Agios Basileia Arhomaion. The Megas Agios Basileia Arhomaion will cease trading in any way with any nation that maintains slavery or similar, or backs the trade in any way; it will send no products to these nations, nor will it accept any items of any sort made in them or by companies owned by their nationals, whether in part or wholly. Any property and assets, financial or otherwise owned by nationals from these states within the Megas Agios Basileia Arhomaion will be seized. This will include assets and properties owned by either individuals working for the the governments of these nations or entities and organisations based in those nations. It will then be disposed of, kept or sold in a manner that best benefits the Megas Agios Basileia Arhomaion. Vessels owned by nationals or entities based in these nations or sailing under their flags will be turned away from Tagmatine waters, as defined by the Megas Agios Basileia Arhomaion. However, any vessel will not be turned away if there is a danger to the lives of those on board or those on other vessels. Any such vessels, owned by nationals or entities based in these nations or sailing under their flags, within Tagmatine waters, as defined by the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion, or ports will be escorted from them along the shortest possible route, so long as that does not pose any danger to any vessel involved. Aircraft based in these nations will no longer be able to land or use airfields in the Megas Agios Basileia Arhomaion, nor pass through Tagmatine airspace. An exception to this would be if there are emergency circumstances, which will be defined at the discretion of the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion. Any aircraft from these nations currently within Tagmatine airspace will be escorted from it via the shortest route, so long as that does not pose any danger to said aircraft or others, whether on the ground or also in the air. A travel ban will be set against members of these nations' governments and those suspected of being members of said governments. The Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion reserves the right to place further travel bans against any nationals it is suspected that are working in the interests of their government, rather than as private individuals. Any individual from these nations attempting to gain entry to the Megas Agios Basileia Arhomaion will be turned away from its borders before entry. Individuals from these nations, if it is suspected that they are working for their governments or in the interests of their government, in an espionage capacity or otherwise, will be escorted to the borders of the Megas Agios Basileia Arhomaion and expelled. It will be an offence, with a penalty of up to ten years in prison and/or an unlimited fine, for a citizen of the Megas Agios Basileia Arhomaion to trade with a company owned whether fully or in part by an individual from these nations, or an individual from these nations. If these sanctions are perceived as having no impact on the nations that they are levied against, if they continue in their monstrous and blasphemous trade and beliefs, then the Megas Agios Basileia Arhomaion will consider what steps to take next. Those that still pursue slavery; be warned. Tagmatium has a long reach and the means to make sure that slavery does not last all that much longer on Eurth. May God bring those nations around to civilisation and guide their people, and may He break the chains of every slave, whatever their oppressors may call them.
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