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Aroman Holiday


Galahinda

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"And we're live in five, four, three," Rang out across the studio, with the producer finishing the countdown silently on his fingers and pointing to the two women seated across from each other. 

Without missing a beat, program host and media icon Marie Engelsen began speaking, "Welcome back to the Englesen Angle! Today, we're here with breakout star Alyiah Arotica, creator of the song stuck in everyone's minds; Eat It!" Sitting across from her was the latest interview subject and popular musician and performer, Aliyah Arotica. Known for her equal parts vulgar and creative flow, Arotica had become an overnight sensation among the nation's youth. The pair paused for a moment to allow the applause from the studio audience to die down before continuing.

"Thank you so much for having me! I've been a huge fan ever since you were just starting out, so being here is absolutely unreal!" Gushed Aliyah, unable to hide the excitement in her voice.

"Likewise, I've been a fan since your first single, Galahindan Goddess. There's nobody out there that's creating music like yours." Replied Marie, a similar tone of excitement creeping into her otherwise professional cadence, "What inspired you to cultivate such a strong personality within your music?"

"Well Marie," began Aliyah, "I grew up in an Ecumenical family, and I felt very stifled by the rules and the messages they taught, so after I moved out and felt true freedom, I felt like I should really begin to express how much, for me, religion is less serious and should be critiqued." 

"So, are you a religious person?" asked Marie.

"Not traditionally, no. I'm actually a member of the Society of Saint Lucia." Responded Aliyah

"And for our international listeners who may not be familiar with the society, what do you believe in?" 

"Our beliefs are rooted in the idea that at the end of the day, we're all going to die, we can't control that. What we can control is the amount of experience we gain over that short lifespan. We're focused on sensation and what it means to truly be alive."

"Do you feel that those values are reflected in your latest song?" Queried Marie, shifting forward in her seat.

"Yes, I do, especially in the imagery and lyrics that we use for our music video, releasing later today."

"I see, do you think we could see a clip from the video?" asked Marie.

"Of course! I brought one along just for you." Fired back Aliyah, turning to watch along with Marie and the audience. 

On the large LCD screen behind the two, the clip began to play. Chairman Yiu Amistacia appeared on the screen, much to the audience's enjoyment. The chairman was wearing an extremely tight black latex suit blazer with matching assless chaps. Within the chairman's hand was a rhinestoned chain attached to what appeared to be Tagmatium's leader, Kommodos III. The man was wearing little more than a black loincloth, leather harness and was bound at the wrists and feet by the same chain held in Yiu's hand. Around the man's neck was a black latex collar with the MYNE logo emblazoned in gold. The video's audio began playing from the studio's speakers, with a heavy beat accentuated by a harsh snare every fourth beat. The chairman's voice could be heard over the top, stating, "If there was a god, I would make him eat my pussy." The lyric was accompanied by another crash, as Yiu yanked the chain attached to the man's neck, forcing him onto his knees, roughly at crotch height. "What that mouth do kanga go make it gushy." continued the chairman before the scene switched. 

Immediately following a scene of the camera panning into what appeared to be a Tagmatine church was Aliyah wearing an extremely low cut ceremonial robe. The robe was covered in rhinestones and had holes cut, exposing her cleavage. The artist began rapping, draping herself over a ceremonial altar, words building in intensity. "She's got that Apocryphal pussy, Personally condemned by Kommodos Pussy. She's got that Ignus Dei Sexcommunicatorum Pussy. What you waitin for kanga go make it gushy." Following the lyrics, Aliyah tore off the robe, leaving her in nothing but a set of nipple pasties and a pair of panties reading "Eat It!" before the clip ended and the studio's lights returned.

"Wow, I love everything I've just seen, and I cannot wait to watch the whole thing later today." Began Marie, beaming, "Now, I spy with my keen eye, a couple of familiar faces, am I correct in saying that was the Chairman and Kommodos III?"

"You're partially correct, that is actually Chairman Amistacia. However, Kommodos III is actually an excellent look-alike, with some digital trickery to enhance the effect." Said Aliyah, waving her hand to indicate the pair currently on screen.

"I would never have guessed. The recreation is almost spot on! How was it working with the chairman?" 

"The chairman was lovely to work with, they're fantastic on camera and took great direction."

Nodding, Marie asked, "Now, I'm no fashion or cultural expert, but am I correct in assuming that the outfit you wear during this scene is not traditionally Galahindan?" 

"You are correct, although it was made here in Galahinda by Yiu, it's actually a take on the traditional ceremonial clothing worn by Tagmatine priests," answered Aliyah.

"It's very edgy which I love. Given the video's content, how did you manage to get permission to go into a Tagmatine church to film this?"

"Oh, they didn't give us permission actually," replied Aliyah, laughing nervously, "we went in under the guise of being there for a documentary, and filmed what we needed without me, left, and inserted me in post."

"I can't imagine that'll make them too happy!" Englesen chucked to herself before continuing, "Now, anything else you'd like to tell us before we wrap up?"

"I would like to thank all of my listeners for helping get to this seat, and for everyone involved in the production of the song and video for making something so cool!" responded Aliyah, turning directly to the camera.

"Thanks again for being here, Aliyah, and make sure to watch out for the release of the Eat It! music video later today." Said Marie, turning to the camera before continuing. "Coming up next, we'll be looking at the perfect colors to paint your living rooms for the upcoming fall party season. We'll be right back after the break."

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“I'm just not sure how someone can be so stupid.”

The comment wasn't really said to anyone in particular and Eugenios Goulielmos felt embarrassed as soon as he said it out loud. The room was empty, save for his chief aide, who hovered in the corner of the office. Late summer rain was beating against the window and a low rumble of thunder could occasionally be heard, booming out across the Tagmatine capital. The building was the Grafeion Pittigaudeion, the main office of the foreign ministry, named after a famous former minister.The office was in a much more modern and subdued style than the suite set aside within the Basilikon Synkrotima Palation, the Imperial Palace Complex, for the Megas Logothetes ton Barbaron. That was outfitted in a ostentatious and somewhat pretentious way to emphasise the ancient nature of Arhomaneia. Something that was likely wasted, as only very rarely did any barbaroi step through its door.

Instead, this office wouldn't have been out of place as the office of a successful businessperson in almost any country on Eurth, if perhaps slightly old fashioned. The glass desk held a flat screen monitor and a keyboard and was the rest of the room was in a minimalist style. It didn't speak of the heavy-handed opulence that the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion, the Holy Imperial Government, tended to push towards any visitors. The floor to ceiling windows would usually have meant that the room felt light and airy, but the bruised sky and lashing rain made it feel a lot more claustrophobic than normal.

If the song and the video was made to inspire anger in the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion, then the songwriters would be disappointed that they merely succeeded in causing puzzlement. Arhomaneia had always attempted to maintain friendly relations with Galahinda, especially since the country held a remarkably strategic position in the middle of the Adlantic. Although in reality, the relations were merely polite, as of two colleagues who didn't really like each other but still had to work alongside each other. In years past, the island had been a key coaling and refuelling station in trade and travel to the New Wurld, although that had diminished over the course of the previous century, as technology advanced and ships and aircraft could go further on the fuel they carried themselves. It was still a nation that the Megas Agios Basileia could not ignore, however, even if it itself had a bloated opinion of its own worth and its place in the wurld.

Which was why the song caught the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion so off guard. Well, not the song itself – it certainly wouldn't be the first to insult God's Chosen Nation on Eurth, nor His representative. Every year saw dozens upon dozens of such songs made, whether by Arhomaioi or barbaroi. It was true of perhaps every other nation, too. If a government went about cracking down on any such song, then it would likely exhaust itself quickly. Alyiah Arotica's song would likely just be censored by the Logothesion ton Deeseon, the Ministry for Information, and banned from sale or play within Arhomaneia and forgotten about by the government. Certainly, it would probably find its own fans within the country and be legally streamed and downloaded, or even smuggled in as CDs by the technologically backward, and was what the Esoteriki Epitheorisi Pliroforion, the Internal Intelligence Inspectorate, was for. It, perhaps, would not have been so bad if they'd not used “kanga” – that had more than a tinge of an ethnic slur about it and had meant the Tagmatine government was less likely to let it slide.

“I'm not sure, Endoxotatos,” said the man, bowing his head slightly, breaking through Eugenios' thoughtful staring out of the window. He obviously hadn't thought that the foreign minister's question was rhetorical and actually addressed to him. “I am sure that the Proedros had a reason for it. And I don't think they are being stupid.”

The use of the Laimiaiki word for “Chairman” threw the Megas Logothetes for a moment, as he was used to equating that word with Isaakios Niketas. Goulielmos sighed and pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose with his thumb. He knew he ought to try to get them refitted, or even get a new pair, but they were comfortable. They'd literally worn groves in his flesh, after all.

“I know that. Insofar as I can see, that reason was to piss off one of their biggest neighbours.” Goulielmos said with a sigh. He shook his head, mainly as a statement of his own disbelief. The Chairman was known to be a figure of great business and political acumen, or at least that was what the Tagmatine government had thought. Clearly, Yiu Amistacia believed that setting back relations with one of the most powerful nations on Eurth was offset by the benefits they would see within their own nation. In fairness, it didn't take an expert to see it, let alone an experienced Megas Logothetes ton Barbaron. Arhomaneia and Galahindeia were almost diametrically opposed. One was a conservative theocracy with an almost socialist economic model, the other a laissez faire oligarchy that took capitalism to an extreme, to almost kleptocratic levels. Making fun of Tagmatium would be an easy way to score points with the Galahindiki but it would be very risky – although the Chairman would know that Arhomaneia was never going to drop a Protathlites tou Christou aircraft carrier and its attendant fleet off of Cascadia, Amistacia would also know that Arhomaneia would never let it slide, especially because of the ethno-religious slur. No nation would.

Or could, and that was the main problem. These things had to be answered. The Chairman could never be described as naïve, so they knew that Arhomaneia would be forced to do respond, which could very much play into the Chairman's hands.

“I can't imagine that could be the only reason, Endoxotatos,” the Protoasekretis said. “Obviously, they know that we're going to be forced to respond, even if we only ask them to explain what the Proedros means by this.”

It was the only way Goulielmos was going to reply, for the moment. The Agios Basilikon Vestiarion, the Holy Imperial Cabinet, had met as soon as the information about the song and its video had been received by the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion. Kommodos had called them all to one of the many meeting rooms within the Basilikon Synkrotima Palation and sat them down, after the usual ceremony of bowing before the Leader of the Free Wurld. Once they had all been given permission to sit and offered refreshment, as was tradition, a large screen behind where the Agios Basileos kai Autokrator sat played the video of the song, followed by the clip of the interview on the Englesen Angle. Many of the cabinet had sat aghast, either because someone had dared to insult God's Representative on Eurth or that a head of state could be so insulting towards another head of state. The old tyrant sat and watched all of their expressions, but the look that Goulielmos saw going between Kommodos, Kouropalates Kommenos and the chief bodyguard, Adrianos, suggested that the monarch actually thought that bits of the video were funny. Surprisingly, the old tyrant was demonstrating a bit of self-aware humour.

The Church would certainly protest about the video, though, and rightly so. Even Kosmas I, the Katholikos Patriarkhes of Europatoria and the Patriarkhes Theodorankos IV of Dymafos, the two most liberal members of the patriarchy would have to protest about how the video abused the church's open door policy. Foreigners and members of other denominations and religions were invited and even welcomed into the the churches of Arhomaneia, to show them the glory of the Ecumenical Church and to turn them away from their false faiths. The video makers were too cowardly to film in a church openly spoke much about them, in the opinion of Goulielmos. He was a good church going Arhomaios, but as the foreign minister he also had to be pragmatic. But this did not allow much room for pragmatism.

“A cup of tea, coffee, or perhaps wine, Endoxotatos?” asked the Protoasekretis. Strictly, that wasn't the job of the asekretis. They were civil servants, not office staff, like the sekretikoi. Clearly the Protoasekretis wanted to ask something. The civil servants were never going to be logothetai but they organised everything else behind the scenes. They kept policy going, if not the ministries themselves.

“Tea, please, Flavios,” replied Goulielmos. “And some biscuits that we can share.”

Those chocolate chip and hazel nut ones, especially. Eugenios had not had them for ages but they were damn good.

“Of course, Endoxotatos. I shall get the staff right on it.” Flavios gave a traditional half-bow and then typed into his phone, presumably talking to the staff of the ministry. Hopefully bringing chocolate chip and hazelnut biscuits and tea. In a remarkably short while, the door of the office was knocked on and a member of the ministry's ordinary staff walked in, bowed, and set a plate of tea and biscuits on the table. Eugenios frowned slightly to himself when he saw that they were generic oat biscuits. He needed to find out where the Logothesion's snack budget was going.

For a moment, the two sat in their seats, at opposite ends of the room. It stretched into awkwardness.

“So... Flavios, what is the problem?”

Flavios looked like he was constipated for a moment before he blurted out.

“You can't let them get away with this, surely?” asked the Protoasekretis.

Goulielmos raised an eyebrow as he bit into one of the lacklustre biscuits. “It's not about 'letting them get away with it', Flavios. That's not especially how it works. It's about what one can offer the other.”

Arkhiepiskopos Doxapatres Kalothetos, the Megas Logothetes ton Deeseon, suggested that the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion ought to do a similar video, attacking the Chairman. Although they couldn't help it, all of the Agios Basilikon Vestiarion had a shared vision of what that video might look like. Frantzeskhos Zemarkhos, the Megas Logothetes ton Ilektrikon, happened to be drinking from a glass of water as that image went into his mind. He jetted water from both nostrils and lapsed into a coughing fit. The broad-shouldered Genikos Logothetes, the Minister for Finance, took the opportunity thump the disliked Minister for Power on the back for a lot longer than necessary under the guise of helping him clear the water from his lungs.

“No, this must be done properly, Protoasekretis,” said Eugenios, putting the image of Zemarkhos dribbling water from his nose and holding his back from his mind. “It's not about 'letting them get away with it'. Our nations must act with civility, even if the Proedros thinks otherwise. His Imperial Majesty has guided me to do this, so I must do it.”

Goulielmos took another biscuit and sat back in his chair before moving his keyboard towards him. Part of him felt a bit mean putting old Vyktoria Parker on the spot – the ambassador from Galahinda was a decent old sort, much more so than the usual make up of that island of sin. But this was a problem dumped on her by the Proedros, not by the Agios Basileos kai Autokrator.

 


 

FF2GAwK.jpg

 

To: Vyktoria Parker, Ambassador before the Leopard Throne of the Unitary Conglomerate of @Galahinda

From: Eugenios Goulielmos, Megas Logothetes ton Barbaron

 

Your excellency,

I do not doubt that you have heard the song, seen the video and watched the interview, so you must have been expecting a message from the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion. I also do not doubt that I do not need to clarify what I mean.

If it had not featured Proedros Amistacia, Arhomaneia would have been able to let the matter slide. After all, what are the actions of a few private individuals between nations of such importance as ours?

Certainly, had it been known at the time that they were to insult our ancient culture and religion so, their visas would have been revoked and they would have been ejected from Arhomaneia if they remained. They may have also been charged with public order offences. If found guilty, they would either have served their sentences or released back to the care of your nation, depending on the severity of their crimes or, indeed, political expediency. They would have been barred from returning to the Megas Agios Basileia and if they were foolish enough to try, they would have been arrested. They would then face the full penalty of Arhomaiki law.

But this is the sort of thing that civilised nations such as ours would expect, if foreign citizens flagrantly broke laws or attempted to insult the culture and civilisation of their host nation. I do not doubt that the Unitary Conglomerate of Galahinda would act in a similar manner, as I do not doubt that we could have come to some equitable agreement with regard to the hypothetical perpetrators of these crimes.

In normal times, and with normal perpetrators, this is where it would have ended and I imagine that our nations would have been stronger for it.

However, the actions of Proedros Amistacia mean that these are not normal times, nor are they normal perpetrators. If, perhaps, they were acting as a private citizen, then the Proedros is guilty of enormous naivety, in thinking that their actions would not be taken as speaking in the capacity of their role as leader of Galahinda. If the Proedros is appearing in this video as the leader of your nation, then it is an unprovoked insult to the Megas Agios Basileia, when the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion has always been careful to cultivate, if not cordial relations with your nation, then certainly polite relations. After all, we are almost neighbours and it benefits us all to remain at least civil to each other.

To this end, I would ask you to convey my nation's shock, surprise and hurt over Proedros Amistacia's actions, and I request an explanation that is reasonable, to ensure that our nations' relations do not deteriorate further.

May God heal the rifts between our nations,

Eugenios Goulielmos,

Megas Logothetes

of the

Logothesion ton Barbaron

of the

Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion

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Vyktoria Parker was an older woman, born in the decades after the Great Alharun War and Agglomeration; she watched as the country she grew up in spiral until she could no longer recognize it. It was almost a relief when she was asked to become the ambassador to Tagmatium. It was sad, but she almost felt more at home in her office at the Galahindan embassy than her modest apartment in Cascadia. At least her office wasn't constantly bombarded by the lights and sound that characterized Cascadia. Working with Tagmatium and its representatives wasn't too terrible either. They were nice enough and seemed to understand the amount of stress that working as a proxy for a government as controversial and unpredictable as the Corporate Board could place on someone. And stressful it was, ever since Yiu Amistacia had been appointed, it felt like all she ever did was damage control. 

 

The latest incident was as much of a shock to her as it was to her Tagmatine counterparts. She hadn't received so much as a warning from anyone about what the video would be about, much less even heard of Aliyah Arotica before. She had been half tempted to call her grand-daughter to ask if she'd heard of the woman but thought better of it. Currently, she sat re-reading the message sent to her, looking for a way to sate the curiosity of her hosts long enough to get answers from back home. Everything that Eugenios Goulielmos had said was true. By itself, this video would have been another small blip on the radar between Galahinda and Tagmatium. A few more outspoken individuals would have called for a harsh response, the video would be censored, she'd write an apology to the church that the video was filmed in, and they'd move on to the next incident. However, the fact that the Chairman appeared made this infinitely more complicated. Was this a personal statement? A statement of MYNE? A statement as representative of the island? A combination of the three? Taking a moment to collect her thoughts, Vyktoria sent off two emails, one in response to the Logothesion ton Barbaron, and another to her own superior back home.

 

To: Eugenios Goulielmos, Megas Logothetes ton Barbaron

From: Vyktoria Parker, Ambassador before the Leopard Throne of the Unitary Conglomerate of Galahinda

 

Your Excellency,

It is with great dismay that I am unable to provide the answers you seek. I agree that these actions cannot go unanswered, but it is with the utmost humility that I admit that I have no answers to provide. I have already contacted my superiors within the Galahindan PR Office, and forwarded your message. I expect a response shortly. In the meantime, I offer my sincerest apologies for the offense rendered at the expense of your nation. 

I would also like to extend my thanks to your nation for the hospitality it has shown me during my tenure as the ambassador for Galahinda. Despite unilaterally difficult positions and circumstances placed upon us by our respective governments, your nation has been nothing short of cordial. 

Humbly, 

Vyktoria Parker, Ambassador for the Unitary Conglomerate of Galahinda

 

To: PR.CUG@Gh.gov

From: VykParker.CUG@Gh.gov

Subject: Eat It! Music Video Response

 

⚠ This message has been automatically translated from Galaçoise. Click here to view it in its original state. ⚠ 

 

Salut,

Attached is a message I have received from the Logothesion ton Barbaron regarding a music video released earlier today. They are requesting answers regarding the video's content that I am either unable or unwilling to give. They are especially interested in whether or not the appearance by Chairman Amistacia is an official government position. 

Merci,

Vyktoria Parker, Ambassador to Tagmatium

 

After ensuring the messages had been sent, Vyktoria began anxiously shuffling the papers scattered across her desk for nearly half an hour, organizing and re-organizing them based on criteria she made up on the spot. The entire time she was waiting for the other shoe to drop, would the Tagmatine government convene and decide that Galahinda had outlived its usefulness? An hour passed before she received a reply, directly from the Chairman themself. After reading it, she forwarded it to Eugenios Goulielmos and began drafting her letter of resignation.

 

To: VykParker.CUG@Gh.Gov

From: YAmista@Gh.Gov

Subject: RE: Eat It! Music Video Response

 

⚠ This message has been automatically translated from Galaçoise. Click here to view it in its original state. ⚠ 

 

Salut,

Vyktoria, thank you so much for your email! I always love to hear from our workers abroad. I'm so glad you enjoyed the Eat It! Music video, it was so much fun to work on! I took a look at the message the Tagmatine government sent you, and I'm here to answer their questions. 

In regards to the filming in a church, under Galahindan Creative Commons Law, any footage obtained during filming for a non-fiction documentary can be used publicly if proper credits are given. If you look at the end of the video, you'll see that those credits were given, so technically, this isn't an issue. 

Second, I think -Quora will probably let me know if I'm wrong here- but I think that I have diplomatic immunity? I'll have to ask Aya about it, so that's an issue taken care of, I guess. 

Third, and I'm guessing this is the meat of the issue here, is whether or not I'm acting as Chairman in the video. Seeing as at the time of writing this, as I am sitting in my office at MYNE HQ, and the nameplate on my desk does read "Chairman Yiu Amistacia, They/Them" I would say that I was Chairman when the video was filmed. Anyways, tell Kommodos I say hello, or have someone in the ministry do it for me. Let him know I am willing to send him the collar and chain as a gift; they're really quite the statement piece. 

 

XOXO,

Yiu Amistacia

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ministryofforeignaffairs.png

 

Official Statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Tapinus Remporu dox Sanctum Imperium Catholicum, in regards to the controversial use of an ethnic slur that has Salvian origins by Galahindan singer "Aliyah Arotica".

 

To who it may concern,

The Salvian Executive, as led by President Patrick Saulius, condemns the use of an ethnic slur with Salvian origins by Galahindan singer Aliyah Arotica and its apparent promotion and support by @Galahindan Chairman Yui Amistacia.  The word in question, which shall not be reprinted in this statement, was a highly offensive slur used against the people of Tagmatium (@Tagmatium Rules) by Salvians before the founding of the Divine Republic.

While the Salvian Executive recognizes this move would be unnecessary if Ms. Arotica had acted alone as a private citizen, the fact that Chairman Amistacia is featured in the music video for said song indicates approval and promotion of this slur by the Chairman.  This act deserves unquestionable condemnation.

The Salvian Executive stands by her Tagmatine allies and wishes God will guide them in their response to this horrendous deed.

Minister of Foreign Affairs,

Alvon Russo

Edited by Salvia (see edit history)
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FF2GAwK.jpg

 

To: Vyktoria Parker, Ambassador before the Leopard Throne of the Unitary Conglomerate of @Galahinda

From: Eugenios Goulielmos, Megas Logothetes ton Barbaron

 

Your excellency,

On behalf of the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion, I thank you for your apology for the actions of your head of state. This current chain of events was not something that my government expected to happen, as it is usually thought that the head of state of a nation would act with more tact and dignity when it comes to what they choose to take part in. Certainly, the actions of the Proedros are outside of the norms of the diplomatic environment. Often, Arhomaneia can and does make allowances for the behaviour of barbaroi when dealing with foreign nations, as some are unable to live up to the standards of civilisation that is upheld by my nation. Galahindeia was not thought to be amongst those, and is still not held as such. After all, an entire nation cannot be held responsible for the actions of a few individuals, and it is recognised that the people of your nation did not elect or appoint the Proedros in a manner that is seen in many other countries.

The email that you forwarded from Proedros Amistacia was certainly unique in its content and tone and perhaps goes some way towards an explanation of their actions, even if there are some points that the Proedros appears to be mistaken on. I am sure that your own legal attaché has informed you of this, as I am also sure that the Proedros' legal advisors will also have done, that any Galahindiki law does not gain precedence over Arhomaiki law within Arhomaneia. That means that those who made the video would not be able to avoid any punishment under our law by merely applying a credit to the footage, were they to return to the Megas Agios Basileia.

Similarly, as there is no indication that the Proedros was physically anything to do with the individuals, then they have broken no Arhomaiki laws. There could be the suggestion that they may have broken ones concerning affronting the dignity of the holy Church and the office of the Agios Basileos, but as the filming of those parts did not take place within Arhomaneia, that is almost certainly unenforceable. It is also not a course of action the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion is willing to take – attempting to arrest a foreign head of state over a puerile video is not worth the hassle that it would inevitably involve.

Nonetheless, the actions of your head of state have still done some harm to our nations' relationship. However, the situation is not irrecoverable. In order to not publicise and draw attention to the rift between Arhomaneia and Galahindeia, the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion is therefore willing to accept an apology from the Proedros over the content of the video, which is undoubtedly a mockery of my nation and its values. This apology does not have to be given publicly and may consist of a simple message, conducted to my government by you. If given, the Megas Agios Basileia would be able to draw a line under this incident and we may resume our previous habits of polite indifference towards each other. I pray that the Proedros is willing to accept this.

I have asked His Aroman Majesty, Kommodos III, by the Grace of Christ the God, Agios Basileos kai Autokrator ton Arhomanion. However, he humbly declined the offer and instead requested that the Proedros instead donate the monetary value of the items to a charity that aids the poorest in your nation, or an environmental cause. I therefore request that you pass that suggestion on as well.

May Christ show the Proedros the light and help bring our nations closer together,

Eugenios Goulielmos,

Megas Logothetes

of the

Logothesion ton Barbaron

of the

Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion

 

 


 

 

Two Megas Logothetai sat in comfortable armchairs in the private withdrawing room of the collection of rooms given over to the Logothesion tou Stratiotikou. The room was decorated with a variety of martial ornaments and pictures. A suit of armour stood in each corner of the room, showing more or less a progression in personal protection from the height of the empire some two thousand years ago to when metal armour finally fell out of favour in Arhomaneia about one hundred years ago, much later than almost every other country. The floor itself was an intricate mosaic of a massive tank engagement during the Long War, one of the largest armour battles in Eurth history. It was certainly well executed but the overt religious imagery within the depiction would likely have made many art critics turn their noses up at it.

One of the seated ministers, Honorios Kontarian, found the room to be a bit heavy-handed in its execution – exactly what one might expect from a nation that was almost as synonymous with its military as it was with its religion. It was easy to end up in the room after work, however, especially as it was just several doors down the corridor from his own office. Kontarian tried to not make a habit of having a glass of wine or a beer before he headed home, especially not when his wife and family were in the ministerial town house.

This evening, he'd agreed to sit and share a bottle with Goulielmos before heading off. It was a private, quiet meeting, without the usual train of attendants the Megas Logothetai had along with them. It was just the two of them, the wine and some water to dilute it with, as was the civilised way to drink it. The handful of staff that stood discretely at the edges of the room didn't count, of course.

“Did you actually pass on the offer of the lead and collar?” asked Kontarian, a slight smirk on his face. Once the shock value of seeing God's representative on Eurth so demeaned by a pack of half-barbarians, the video was pretty funny. He swirled his wine in his glass, looking at the reflections of the lights in the liquid.

“I did,” replied Eugenios, looking at his own glass. It was pretty much empty and he'd yet to wave forward someone to refill it. The man looked preoccupied. “Of course, Kommodos wasn't going to accept it. On the face of it, it could have diffused the situation and could have been spun in a way that made Amistacia look silly, but it would never have gone down well with the Church, not after they have been insulted by the Proedros.”

He sighed and sat back in his chair. Now he did motion with his glass and a functionary scuttled forward, filled the glass up and backed away again, off of the tiled artwork that made up the floor of the room.

“The Logothesion tou Paroikonikou was planning on putting out feelers towards Veridi, one of the main corporations of Galahindeia.” Goulielmos took a sip of his wine, talking about the Tagmatine Ministry of Agriculture. “They felt that Veridi's development of vertical farms was something that could be useful for our country, especially in the bigger cities. Now that's pretty much been stomped on.”

“At least for the time being,” Kontarian offered. Since Kommodos' announcement that he wanted to see a move towards democracy in the Megas Agios Basileia, Arhomaneia had been more actively pursuing economic and military relations with other nations, and encouraging businesses to do the same. “If Amistacia sees sense and offers an apology...”

Eugenios sighed again. “I doubt that's going to happen. You saw the message that they allowed their apokrisiarios to forward on. They're either an expert at putting on a show of obfuscating stupidity, or they actually are that stupid.”

The email from Yiu Amistacia had been shown to all of the Tagmatine cabinet during a meeting, after a private one between Eugenios and Kommodos. Its content had been surprising to the rest of the government. The impression the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion had gained of the Chairman had been one of a shrewd dealer and the lingering feeling was that Yiu Amistacia had a plan that the Tagmatine government was just not perceiving. On top of that, Arhomaneia was wary of damaging its relatively new alliance with the TRIDENT nations. Acting in a ham-fisted manner over a petty slight, from an outside perspective, could harm a lot of the friendly relations that had been built up during the Cussian and Ceris crises.

“The Proedros can't be that stupid, though? Why ruin amicable relations for no good reason?” Honorios raised an eyebrow as he asked the question, emphasising how unsure he was about the actions of the Galahindiki leader.

“Why throw a solid diplomat under the bus whilst doing so?” Eugenios returned the raised eyebrow with a shrug. He'd met with Vyktoria Parker enough over the last decade or so to know that she was competent, if old-fashioned. She was more in tune with Arhomaneia than many of the inhabitants of the island were these days. If the Chairman recalled her over these events of their own making, then Amistacia was robbing themselves of one of their best tools in dealing with the Arhomaiki government. The Tagmatine foreign minister had no idea whether Parker's career would survive this. If things continued in the seemingly inevitable downward spiral that they seemed to be, then he could see her being replaced by someone more in the vein of the regime ruling the island nation now. If one or the other nation didn't dissolve diplomatic relations before then, of course. “Again, I just fail to see what the end game of this is.”

The foreign minister scrubbed the toe of his shoe on the mosaic before Kontarian gave a pointed look at the offending shoe and then him.

“So far, our apokrisiarios in Cascadia is doing little more than giving the occasional platitude when asked about any ill-will that Arhomaneia might have towards Galahindeia and trying to downplay any possible rift,” carried on Goulielmos. In all honesty, Eugenios remembered little about the man, Theoktistos Niketiates. An inoffensive choice and something of a grey blur, he'd served his country admirably in that nest of iniquity over the years he'd been in place simply by being that grey and dull – he'd done nothing to embarrass his home nation and nothing to offend his host nation. During normal times, that was all one could ask for. Poor Niketiates was likely going to be out of his depth soon enough. “It's probably for the best.”

Both men lapsed into silence for a moment. Goulielmos turned back to staring at the floor whilst a frown etched the brow of Kontarian as he looked at his friend.

“You know, someone on the Epistrategaion, the officer in charge of the navy's cyberwarfare programme, suggested that we start flexing our muscles on that front,” said the Minister of War, trying to brighten things up. “I said that that key part is in the name, cyberwarfare and we'd not yet seen things sink to that level.”

Eugenios rolled his eyes in exasperation. “That's not exactly heartening, Honorios. The last thing I want to hear about is how members of the Basilikoploimon are already planning war with the bloody Galahindoi.”

“They've pretty much got a plan for every eventuality,” Kontarian said, finishing his glass of wine and putting it back on the table. He didn't seem all that concerned that members of the armed forces appeared to be already itching to fight the Galahindoi. He looked to be in two minds for a moment, before nodding towards a flunkey, who filled the glass back up. He looked over at Goulielmos with a conspiratorial look in his eye. “They wargame almost anything you can think of. One of the best ones I saw was vourdoulakai springing up in places like isolated villages and in provincial cities, trying to make people into more of their kind and having to be fought back. Silver became a proper commodity and they had to mass produce bullets out of it.”

The Megas Logothetes tou Stratiotikou was perhaps a bit more drunk than he should have been. He looked into his own wine glass and shrugged to himself. “It ended with a victory but it was theorised that they should see about recruiting wolfmen into the armed forces. So long as they can have the night of the full moon off, I imagine.”

Goulielmos put his glass on the low table in front of him and found himself staring at his friend. “What are you talking about?”

“My point is is that, at the moment, everyone seems to be letting themselves get carried away,” Honorios said, drinking a bit from his glass before continuing. “Both the Church and the armed forces are working themselves up into a sense of outrage over what the Proedros has done. You've seen the gatherings of protestors outside the Galahindiki embassy, in the Plateia tou Agios Konstantinou and in Arhoma. Certainly, it was shitty and there should be repercussions, but plans to launch digital attacks or burn Galahindiki objects are a step too far.”

The foreign minister removed his glasses and massaged behind his ears. “I think we can only wait to see what Amistacia does. I hope they realise that this is as pointless as the rest of us do.”

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The rain was drowning the island of Galahinda; the occasional flash of lightning sparsely illuminated the inky blackness of the sky above, accompanied only by the constant artificial sun of the urban core. The core was the single best representation of the island, with its glittering skyscrapers towering over the streets below. The MYNE HQ was one of the newer buildings in the urban core, but what it lacked in history, it made up for in sheer attention-stealing. The slender building started wide and tapered to a triple point at the top, 100 stories above the ground. The building was sheathed in a layer of LCD screens, allowing a 360-degree projection of advertisements, news reports, and videos of the latest MYNE trends into the urban sky. Inside the lobby stood the (in)famous MYNE runway, an I shape bisecting the otherwise triangular floor plan, with a towering LCD screen forming a wall for which the models to enter and exit behind. The runway had seen countless fashion shows and been the site of numerous press conferences since Yiu's appointment as Chairman. One such event was about to take place, with the Chairman donning an uncharacteristically militant outfit featuring a latex beret, triangular sunglasses, choker, blazer, miniskirt, and thigh-highs; with a rhinestone-studded riding crop tucked under the model turned ruler's arm. Sitting alongside the runway was an assembly of journalists, hoping to ask a few questions at the first public event since the release of the Eat It! music video. For the time being, they were sitting murmuring to themselves while waiting for the event to begin. Outside, a sizable crowd had gathered, ignoring the torrential rain and wind that threatened to strip off wigs and clothes, desperate to gain the upper hand against their social competitors by getting a glimpse of the latest MYNE creations. Taking one last look at themself in a compact mirror, Yiu stepped out onto the runway. 

 

The audience immediately broke into applause as Yiu walked the runway to accompanying electronic music, allowing the press to capture the outfit from every angle. Yiu could imagine the headlines as they continued to sashay down the runway, Chairman Awes in Black Latex, Latest Outfit from Amistacia Stuns as Usual, Yiu Unfazed by Diplomatic Dispute. Stopping at the end of the runway to pose, Yiu was alerted that the rest of the models were prepped and waiting for the signal. Making their way back to the front of the runway, Yiu waited for the applause to die down before speaking.

"Thank you all for coming today, I know the weather is less than ideal, but it does have a certain dramatic quality to it, don't you think?" Asked the Chairman, referencing the torrential downpour that punctuated the end of the island's summer season. After waiting for the mumbling agreement from the press to end, Amistacia continued;

"Now, I could stand up here and bore you with a lengthy speech about how passionate I am about this next project, and how dedicated I am to seeing it succeed, but I think the message would come across much better if I just showed you what it is." At this, the house lights dimmed, leaving only the LED strips on the edge of the runway and LCD screen at the back of the room for light. The darkness didn't last long, with the LCD screen illuminating in shifting patterns of white polygons on a black background, as Yiu continued to speak. 

"I am happy to announce the opening of a new MYNE branch, focusing on utility and durability, without sacrificing style or quality, DAUFA." The shifting shapes coalesced themselves into the new company's logo, featuring ornate typography that stood in stark contrast to the clean, minimalist branding of MYNE. At this, the house lights came up, and the pulsing music resumed, with models taking to the runway in the latest collection. The collection featured berets, bomber jackets, combat boots, cargo apparel, bulletproof vests, chains, and studding, as well as urban flash camouflage only suited for a battlefield as chaotically opulent as the island's city center. The audience ate it up, with the flashbulbs of fashion photographers and journalists mixing with the lightning from outside. 

 

Yiu joined the audience in applauding for the models as they took one final lap of the runway. Along the back wall, a slideshow of DAUFA advertisements began rolling. The advertisements featured models wearing various DAUFA outfits in a white room and holding the same chain and collar that had appeared in the Eat It! music video, this time without a wearer. The company's apparent slogan, "DAUFA, Make The World Your b*tch™" appeared across the bottom of each. Allowing the applause to finish, Yiu continued the event by saying, "DAUFA is going to launch later this year, with pre-orders available online now. Use the promo code EATIT, that's E-A-T-I-T, all capitals, for 10% off at checkout!." During the ensuing commotion, as the more desperate of the audience scrambled to place orders before the collection ran out, Yiu opened the floor to questions from the audience. Yiu began by pointing to a younger woman towards the front of the stage wearing a MYNE headscarf.

"What was your inspiration for the DAUFA line?" Asked the woman, audio recorder in hand.

"One area that MYNE lacks is utility wear, so we thought we'd break into a market sorely lacking in any style." Answered Yiu, allowing the clamor of voices to resume before singling out an older gentleman wearing a suit and tie.

"Chairman Amistacia, Clint Rivers from Realpolitik Magazine, do you regret appearing in the Eat It! music video?" 

"No, Clint, no, I do not." Responded the Chairman. Brushing aside the insinuation that they'd ever regret their actions, Amistacia pointed to a woman in the center of the crowd.

"Director Amistacia, are you afraid of potential retaliation from Tagmatium over your comments?" Asked the woman, notepad and pencil at the ready to record the answer.

"Not in the slightest, they'd be crazy to jeopardize their position in TRIDENT and their relationship with Seylos by attacking us." Reassured Yiu, before pointing to the man standing next to her. 

Taking a moment to adjust his tie, the man asked, "Do you have any plans to issue an apology to Kommodos III or Tagmatium?" 

"I will not apologize for being a champion of the arts, but I would be open to the possibility of auctioning off some of the clothing from the music video, with proceeds going to help those affected by their war in Ceris." Responded Amistacia, hoping that this would be the last of the questions surrounding Tagmatium. Yiu pointed to a man towards the back of the crowd and listened carefully in case their question couldn't be heard over the distance.

"Is DAUFA's style pointing to a potential formation of a standing army?" Questioned the man. Happy for the deflection away from the current incident between the two nations, and that they didn't have to ask the man to repeat himself, Yiu responded. 

"Yes and no, while my commitment to remaining a pacifist nation has remained the same, DAUFA styles can easily be adapted for military uniforms if the worst comes to pass." Taking a moment to look for someone that appeared to care a little more about the fashion being showcased and not some stupid controversy, Yiu settled on a woman dressed head to toe in the latest MYNE fashions, as she desperately waved her hand.

"Are you worried that DAUFA advertisements will worsen the current situation between Galahinda and Tagmatium?" Asked the woman, much to the Chairman's dismay. 

"No," replied Yiu instantly, rolling their eyes, "and if it does, they can have their ambassador talk to me about it, that's why we have one." Before they could choose the next question, they were interrupted by a voice directly in front of them.

 "Chairman, Chairman, over here! Do you have anything to say in response to demands that the music video is removed or censored?" Narrowing their eyes in anger, Yiu spoke directly into the microphone in their hand, clutching it with enough force to turn their knuckles white, "Die mad about it." Before anyone could ask any further questions, Yiu walked off stage, leaving some PR rep to go finish taking questions for them. 

 

Edited by Galahinda (see edit history)
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 Lauchlan Ross stepped off the diplomatic jet that touched down at the Cascadia International Airport. He had been sent from Seylos to deal with probably the most frustrating and bizarre international incidents he had ever seen. Lauchlan was one of a few undersecretaries of Foreign Affairs assigned to different regions of Eurth, and while most of the time he delt with mainly older Europan powers, he also had one small country shoehorned in. Galahinda. Of all the countries he had to deal with Galahinda most definitely required the most work, at this point he couldn’t count the amount of invasions he had to diplomatically head off because of some cultural misunderstanding the Galahindan corporations managed to create every year. Of course in his mind he was overexaggerating, but he still felt that way. If he had just accepted all those corporate bribes he’d own his own small country by now.

A large Galahindan woman briskly pushed her way up to him through the small crowd of people exiting the terminal and stood straight in front of him waving a pack of brochures and speaking broken Anglish which was the sort of lingua franca for visitors to the country, “Need a hotel? Great prices and amazing luxuries-”

Lauchlan glanced at her for a second and sighed waving her off, only saying one word, “Seylosian”

The woman huffed, retracting her arm, and rushing off to another passenger “Figures, boring people…”

Foreign visitors were a pretty easy target for the myriad of lower level scams going on around the more popular tourist areas of Cascadia, but Seylosian familiarity with the country had bred almost a certain boredom for the scammers who typically didn’t bother with them unless they were extraordinarily rich.

Another woman approached him from the side giving him a slight tap on the shoulder, “Undersecretary Ross? We’ve transportation waiting for you.”

“Thank god,” Lauchlan said, “I’d rather not go through the deluge of scammers.”

----

The diplomatic vehicle they took from the airport was quite lavish, a gift from one of the Galahindan corporations. Seylos didn’t decline the offer in slight fear of angering the finicky CEO, but as soon as it was in a garage the vehicle was stripped bare in search of listening devices. Lauchlan remembered hearing about the vehicle crew finding no less than two of them inside the frame of the car. The windows of the vehicle had been removed and replaced with a heavily tinted version to block out the almost blinding light of screens illuminating the city nonstop.

“I’m surprised you joined me on the car ride back Ambassador.” Lauchlan said, closing a diplomatic file on the recent incidents.

“I thought best to begin the briefing immediately” Ambassador Teri Acker replied, “This is causing all sorts of issues for the diplomatic corp. The corporate boards have been resistant to talk over this. They seem to think our guarantees are unbreakable.”

Lauchlan sighed, “And they’d be right Teri. They well as f*ck know we wouldn’t allow any foreign power in.”

Seylosian dominance in the island was seen as a critical piece of foreign affairs. While Galahinda was relatively small its strategic position next to Seylos made it a military liability if the worst was to occur. Luckily for Galahinda, the Seylosian people weren’t excited to war against every nation near them, otherwise he was sure Seylos would have wiped them off the map centuries ago. Well, he thought, if old Prince Henry was in charge he’d have most certainly have done something.

“I don’t think the Tagmatines ( @Tagmatium Rules) are going to do anything ridiculous. We are allies in Ceris, and most importantly a critical ally for their power projection in the Adlantic. No… the Galahindans would have to do something very extreme to warrant a military response. Tell me more about the latest MYNE meeting.”

“Nothing out of the ordinary. Product reveals, lauding Seylosian military protection. Though… there seems to be talk of possibly establishing a permanent professional military.”

“What like a long contract with a contractor?”

The ambassador shook her head, “Not sure, it wasn’t clear. It’s possible they mean to establish a true professional military or possibly convert a mercenary group to that role. We really aren’t sure at this point.”

“f*cking Christ, what do they need a military for? This all feels strange, it isn’t like the CEOs to be as bold as they are right now. How is this making them more money?”

“I don’t think it is, it has to be something else.”

Lauchlan hung his head, “Alright we figure out this f*cking mess when we get to embassy. At least all the f*cking lights are off around it. How do these people live with it?”
 

Edited by Seylos (see edit history)
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  • 1 month later...

To some extent, it was gratifying to see the the Proedros so unsettled by questions that were prompted by their own actions. That national policy could be revealed in a fashion show had meant that the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion had initially missed the fact that the Chairman wasn't going to apologise privately, as they had requested. It only came to the attention of Megas Logothetes Goulielmos when someone within his ministry had flagged it up to him. There was certainly some novelty to the way the Galahindiki government conducted their affairs – it kept everyone else on their toes.

The late summer rain that had rattled against the glass of the office when Eugenios had had to start dealing with this mess created by the Galahindoi had been replaced by a gloomy late autumn sky. The clouds seemed low and it was already beginning to get dark. Days like this didn't really make the best use of the floor to ceiling windows of the office and the room felt cold, even though it wasn't actually that cold. A wisp of steam rose from a cup of tea on Eugenios' desk as he pressed play on a video clip of the fashion show. He had watched it numerous times since the the Tagmatine government realised that this was the only reply that they were going to get from their Galahindan counterparts and parts of it were quite interesting.

The @Seylosian ambassador and the @Galahindan press weren't the only ones to suspect that the Corporate Board looked to be moving towards the formation of some sort of military. It was either that or it seemed like they were moving to start supplying uniforms that were likely way above the usual budge for most militaries. And, fundamentally, it wasn't as if the island starting its own military would be a threat at all to Tagmatine interests, either in Europa or the New Wurld. Not for another two, three or even four decades, according to estimates put forward by the Epistrategaion, the Logothesion tou Stratiotikou and the Arhomaiki Noimosyni Dykton, or so Eugenios had been told by representatives from each of those bodies.

Even if the Galahindans were able to procure a sizeable enough navy or air force to threaten Arhomaiki supply lines between Ceris and Arhomaneia within the year, then all of their crews and logistics services would be so woefully inexperienced and unused to conflict that they would be likely brushed aside. And that was assuming that the Galahindan leadership all suffered a similar series of delusions to consider going to war with one of Eurth's premier militaries was a good idea. Or decided to utterly bankrupt themselves trying to build a vast military from scratch.

What didn't necessarily seem like a good idea in the mind of Goulielmos was a response to Amistacia's comments at the fashion show. The Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion guessed that there was little likelihood that they were going to get a positive response to the requested apology from the Proedros. Really, Goulielmos kind of supposed that very few nations would back down in such a manner, once their head of state was determined to follow the path that they were. Especially a group of barbarians as proud as the Galahindoi were. Climbing down now would mean that their government would lose a lot of standing in the eyes of their own people.

The video stopped playing and Eugenios tapped a pen on the notepad in front of him. Little spots of the green ink that showed him to be of high ministerial rank appeared on the paper before he realised he was making a mess. Sometimes, things seemed to have an inevitability about them. The barbaroi might be egotistical and prone to easily taking offence and the Arhomaioi aware of their achievements and not keen on being insulted by those they viewed as lesser. This was, even in the mind of a patriotic Arhomaios such as Eugenios, a potent mix that was seemingly doomed to become volatile. He had questioned Kommodos when the Tagmatine monarch had asked him to pen a reply to the Galahindan ambassador.

Kommodos had paused before answering him. Not because the Agios Basileos was about to indulge in some unnecessary display of his place as the unquestioned autocrat of God's chosen nation on Eurth, but because he was probably trying to think of an answer that wasn't “No, probably not”. The hierarchy of the church had certainly seen the video from the fashion show as well and was pushing Kommodos for a response. Especially the “champion of the arts” part. They failed to see anything about the music video as art and remained grossly insulted about the subterfuge used to gain access to a church building. Even Kosmas I, the Katholikos Patriarkhes and usually a surprisingly liberal voice amongst the otherwise conservative Church had referred to it as “nothing more than mindless, artless pornography” when his All Holiness was questioned on Amistacia's recent comments. That the government was being slow on a reply was starting to look a bit bad.

In the end, the Agios Basileos had told Eugenios to drive harder for an apology. In turn, there was probably little doubt that the Galahindans were going to push harder back. As yet, no country had begun to move towards sanctions of the other but Goulielmos imagined that that might be around the corner. If this were happening one hundred years ago, then Galahinda denying use of its refuelling facilities to Tagmatine vessels attempting to cross the Adlantic might actually give the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion second thoughts about irritating the Galahindan government. Or it would have meant that the Basilikoploimon would have very rapidly turned up off of Cascadia and shelled them until they'd apologised.

Everyone involved knew that such a course of action was virtually impossible for Arhomaneia these days, as Amistacia had said in the fashion show. This was probably why the Proedros was more than happy to appear in that music video. And fail to apologise and defend their appearance. And, it turn, this was why the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion had to be seen to be protesting.

He picked up his cup of tea and swivelled his chair around to look out over Tagmatika. Street lights were starting to come on across the the city. It undoubtedly wasn't as built up vertically as Cascadia, nor was it as ancient as the other two cities that laid claim to the title of being the Arhomaiki capital. The parts of it that Eugenios could see from his window were relatively low and flat, a sea of rooftops, with the domes of churches and occasional insoulai breaking the monotony of it. Here and there, open areas of parks broke it up further. To his left, towards the financial district of the city, the tower blocks became higher and more modern, a testament of the financial boom that started after the Long War. To his right, the bulk of the Basilikon Synkrotima Palation could be seen. Sometimes, the city could look beautiful, in its own way. Especially in winter sun, with light reflecting of the churches and being caught by traffic in the streets and on the canalised rivers. Today, however, wasn't one of those days.

The Megas Logothetes turned away from the window.

The room, of course, was not empty. Aides stood at their designated places around the room and Flavios, his Protoasekretis, stood beside the desk, expectantly awaiting to be of help to his minister. The civil servant was one of the many who kept the logothesion running but Eugenios couldn't doubt that if he himself were just waiting on someone else all the time, he would find the role incredibly boring. The helpful smile that seemed to be affixed to Flavios' face rarely seemed to waver.

If it didn't waver, then it sometimes seemed to become worried. Which it was now. The Protoasekretis contrived to move towards the desk without seemingly moving his feet at all and gave a half bow when he got there.

Endoxotatos, if you would forgive me, but I believe that his Aroman majesty was expecting a message sent to her excellency the Galahindiki Apokrisiaria relatively quickly.” Flavios said, breaking the contemplative silence that had reigned throught the office since Eugenios had returned there from meeting with Kommodos, a little under forty minutes ago. The tone was mild as it could possibly have been but nonetheless held an edge of reproach to it. It wasn't what Eugenios was expecting.

Reluctantly, he nodded. “You're right, Protoasekretis. I just felt I needed to gather my thoughts, so that I might help Arhomaneia along the best course for the future, within the bounds set forth by our holy monarch, may Christ guide him.”

Despite not moving any muscle in his face and maintaining that fixed, helpful, expectant smile, it definitely looked like Flavios frowned at Eugenios' tone of voice. “Of course, Endoxotatos. I would not imagine you would do anything different.”

Flavios bowed again and slid back across the carpet. Eugenios took another sip of tea, replaced the cup on its saucer, tapped his pen for a bit and earned himself another invisible frown before moving his hands to the keyboard on his desk.

 

 


 

 

FF2GAwK.jpg

 

To: Vyktoria Parker, Ambassador before the Leopard Throne of the Unitary Conglomerate of Galahinda

From: Eugenios Goulielmos, Megas Logothetes ton Barbaron

 

Your excellency,

I am saddened and disappointed that their excellency has decided to ignore my government's reasonable request that they could apologise in private for the grave and unprovoked insult that they gave to Arhomaneia and the holy church. These feelings are also reflected not just by his Aroman Majesty, Kommodos III, but the entire Aroman people. Similarly, whilst the Proedros' suggestion that the shameful attire that was worn in the video concerned is put up for auction and the money given to charity is undoubtedly a wonderful idea, the fact that they also imply that the war in Ceris is of Arhomaiki manufacture is a falsehood. Arhomaneia is acting alongside your nation's long term ally Seylos and many other countries to try to bring peace to the island. That the Megas Agios Basileia is willing to provide a significant military deployment to that crisis demonstrates my nation's wish for the conflict to be brought to a swift end and to save the Ceriser people from undergoing prolonged hardships at the hands of the fanatics who are threatening the way of life of the inhabitants of the island.

As yet, it seems that the Corporate Board is willing to turn a blind eye to the affairs of that benighted island, only using it in an attempt to score political points against a nation that is willing to help the population of Ceris. God be willing, this will change and the Proedros and the Corporate Board begin to help the Cerisers in a more definite manner.

However, as that statement does seems to be in line with the rash comments and ill thought through actions of the Proedros, the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion is willing to let it slide, especially as the question of their apology to Arhomaneia still stands. As outlined in my last message, my government was willing to keep the apology private – there has been no mention in official statements from my government that an apology was required. It seemed prudent to not harm the Proedros' sense of dignity and public image if any headway was going to be made on this issue. It seems as if the time has long since passed for this to be kept a discrete matter between our governments. Perhaps that time was never truly upon us, due to Proedros Amistacia's rash behaviour in the first place.

Because of this, and because of the fact that the Proedros does not show any contrition in their actions, the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion now calls upon the Proedros to issue a public apology. With that, and it may be emphasised by them that it is an action of them as an individual with no suggestion that the Galahindan state is any part of their actions over this, our nations can then put this sordid business behind them. This will then allow our nations to once again regard each other as friends, friends who have perhaps been distant and sometimes seen a falling out between them, but friends nonetheless. It is realised that this may tempt the Proedros with a new opportunity to insult Arhomaneia, but I hope that they will rise above that and see the mess that has become of the diplomatic relations between our two nations, one that did not need to be the case.

I pray that this will be the end of the matter, and that God will guide Proedros Yiu Amistacia to the path that makes this right.

Eugenios Goulielmos,

Megas Logothetes

of the

Logothesion ton Barbaron

of the

Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion

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      There has been some brief talk between our nations' foreign ministers with regards to a trade agreement between our nations, as well as the idea of regional security. I have been charged by his Aroman Majesty, Kommodos III, by the Grace of Christ the God, Holy Emperor and Autocrat of the Aromans, Equal-to-the-Apostles, to discuss the former with you. However, my government is not adverse to the latter becoming a topic as well although for this we would have to bring in representatives from my nation's Ministry for War. This would enable for a more serious discussion on the matter but it is also beyond the scope of what I am sending this message about.
      It does seem that in some areas, our economies could be considered to be direct competitors. This is especially true of the agricultural sector, as both of our nations lean more heavily into that than others may do. I appreciate that that comes across as protectionist but I feel that the wurld economy has not yet moved into a stage of truly free trade with other nations. Trade agreements such as what the Holy Imperial Government is hoping to achieve with the Christian Commonwealth is a step towards this, however.
      My government would be keen on Ebrary opening certain aspects of its market to imports from my nation by reducing tariffs, customs duties and import fees. My ministry has prepared the following list in light of this. This list has also been tailored to areas where it seems that your economy might be open to foreign imports, especially where it is not directly competing with domestic production or manufacturers. This is not considered to be an exhaustive list but should provide us with opportunity for further discussion.
      The list is as follows:
      Biofuel, especially biodiesel Agricultural chemicals Renewable energy technology, whether for domestic or industrial purposes Consumer electronics Luxury goods, such as but not limited to wine, brandy and whisky I have had analysts employed by my ministry going over your nation's economy, as well as conducting interviews within Tagmatium in order to find out what areas of my nation's economy might be receptive to Ebrarian imports. Therefore, the following list has been compiled and it is of areas that my government would be willing to look at reducing tariffs, customs duties and import fees.
      Motor vehicles Natural gas vehicle technology Beef and beef products Soyabeans and related products Luxury goods, such as but not limited to wine, brandy and whisky I hope that these will give us a starting point for discussion. It is realised that our nations may turn out to be against one or more of these, or they may be dropped during further negotiations but that certainly should not stop us from trying.
      Of course, any food products or others, such as motor vehicles, that are imported to my nation will need to meet the safety standards of the Greater Holy Empire and it is imagined that the reverse is true as well. The health and safety of the Aroman population is a key concern of my government and it is imagined that the same is true of the Ebrarian government. If products do not meet the standards laid down by laws concerning them, then we will need to take a joint look at whether our nations can raise the bar or come to some sort of agreement over them. Equally, Tagmatium has some of the highest environmental protections on Eurth and this has been pledged through international treaties as well as our responsibility to protect God's Eurth.
      This is the reason that my nation is proposing a reduction on tariffs on renewable technology. The Greater Holy Empire has consistently met targets set by the Holy Imperial Government for providing all of its energy needs through renewable sources. A key part of this has certainly been nuclear technology, of which the Aroman power plants have had a consistent safety record for almost fifty years. If these talks go well, perhaps sharing this can come up for discussion, if the Ebrarian government so wishes. Of course, as your nation is mainly fueled by natural gas, I recognise that introducing a competitor to that industry may not be something that your government considers.
      Our foreign ministries also discussed the possibility of looking at the visas for our nations and this is something that can also be addressed during these talks. Student visas would enable the youth of our nations to experience higher education is each others' nations. Tagmatine universities are consistently ranked amongst the highest on Eurth and I am sure that those of Ebrary are equally as good. Other visas, such as tourist and working ones, can also be up for discussion. I believe that this will help bring our nations together and strengthen them, a necessary thing at a time when it seems that the wurld is becoming more hostile.
      Indeed, the Cetan Sea is becoming more hostile than it has been before. If the Ebrarian government wishes, then a topic of our negotiations could also be armaments. Although my nation does have a significant armaments industry, this is primarily turned towards the armed forces of Arome. We would be willing to cooperate with Ebrary and help it to be capable of facing a hostile wurld.
      Our shared faith in Christ give us better understanding between us than most nation, and I pray that these negotiations are satisfactory to all.
      Takitos Khalkeos
      Megas Logothetes, Grand Minister
      of the
      Logothesion tou Kommerkiarionikou, Ministry of Trade,
      of the
      Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion, the Greater Holy Empire of the Aromans
    • By Tagmatium Rules
      To: Their Excellency, Oiguina Escoffier, Trade Minister of the Autokrateia ton Megas Zaxareia, the Empire of Greater @Zaxar
      From: the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion of the Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion
       
      Your Excellency,
      It has been noted by the Holy Imperial Government that your nation is on the verge of becoming one of the largest suppliers of lithium to the rest of the wurld. This is primarily due to the fact that your nation has some of the largest and most readily exploitable reserves and sources of it on Eurth. It has also been noted by my government that your nation has already struck a trade deal with at least one of your fellow Aurelian nations and it also seems that word has got out that Tagmatium is equally interested in pursuing such a deal with your nation. This, I can very much confirm, is the case.
      Whilst your nation is not the only nation with available sources of lithium on Eurth, the Empire of Great Zaxar is the only one that the Greater Holy Empire is interested with doing business with at this time. Your nation has shown itself to be a nation whose star is rising at the moment, and it would be in the interests of my nation to help this star to continue to rise. Although we would envision this to be a reciprocal relationship between our nations, as such a relationship would be of benefit to both Zaxar and Tagmatium. To this end, I am requesting that your government facilitate talks starting between your nations' lithium mining companies and companies within my nation that are keen to utilise this source, to enable the export of lithium to Tagmatium.
      Whilst this trade would be a good next step in the short history of relations between our nations, there is undoubtedly more that we can do for each other. In order to make this more of a wide-ranging trade deal, one that benefits both of our nations beyond just trading in lithium, I would also request that our nations use this opportunity to investigate what tariffs might be reduced against the other products that can be sourced from our nations, what investment opportunities might be available and what further aspects of trade that we could encourage between our nations.
      For example, my nation is known for its expertise in farming, and a standing deal exists between Tagmatium and the Dominions of @Metztlitlaca whereby experts from my nation help to improve the farming techniques employed by the farms of Metztlitlcaca. Equally, my nation is a main exporter of farming machinery, fertiliser and other related products. I know that Aurelia has one of the most extensive rail networks in the New Wurld, and there are several locomotive works that would be keen to do business with state- or privately-owned rail companies in your nation.
      The people of Tagmatium, the Holy Emperor and I await your reply.
      Through faith in God and through trade, we can bring the wurld's nations closer together.
      Takitos Khalkeos
      Megas Logothetes, Grand Minister
      of the
      Logothesion tou Kommerkiarionikou, Ministry of Trade,
      of the
      Megas Agios Basileia ton Arhomaion
    • By Tagmatium Rules
      Spring was finally coming to Gournaion, the capital of the island of Efmoseia and the nation of the Hexanisa. It had been a hard winter across all of northern Europa and even the western countries of Machina @Haruspex and Tagmatium had suffered in the coldest weather in decades. Despite being the two most functional nations in either the Occident or Burania, many of their citizens had died in the cold weather and parts of them had been cut off due to the deep snow and blizzards. In the band of six large islands and innumerable smaller ones that marked the division of the Thalassa ton Kataigidon (Sea of Storms) and the waters of inner Europa, the weather had been especially hard because the islands had very little resources of their own to call upon. Some of the small fishing villages and semi-permanent logging camps that made up the settlements on the exposed northern coasts of the islands had to be completely abandoned. Vessels and aircraft from the Stolos, the militarised coast guard, were now going out to assess the damage to the settlements and to see if the inhabitants could return. The weather had been a shock after the warm temperatures of the summer and very few people had been prepared for anything other than the usual winter weather, although that was always quite harsh. The economic damage would have to be counted before the country could move forward. The long cold winter had delayed the planting of crops and prevented fishing for weeks when the fleets should have been out laying pots for crab or trawling for Adlantic salmon. Whilst the people of the Six Islands were unlikely to starve over the coming months, the finances of the country and its inhabitants would suffer. The last decade hadn't been kind to the Hexanisa and it seemed like the start of the new one wasn't going to be great, either.
      Those were the thoughts going through the head of a warmly wrapped little old lady as she sat at a cafe table and took sips of a cup of tea whilst looking out over the harbour of Gournaion. The cafe had cast iron furniture arrayed around tables and segregated from the street by low planters with hardy plants, although most of them had died over the winter. A heavyset stheneloser dog lay curled at her feet, its thick black and white fur proof against the cold of the northern islands. There were still boats in the harbour, although most of them were out to sea, trying to catch up with the season's fishing. She had just come from a morning service at the Panagia Theotokos, the cathedral of the Hexanisa. A savoury pastry lay untouched on a plate in front of her. Several newspapers were spread across the table, some from the Hexanisa, some from Tagmatium and even one from @Orioni. It was the old lady's habit to look through the headlines in the morning after church before she pottered back to her house. The headlines, at least of the Tagmatine ones, were mainly about the Megas Agios Basileia's involvement in Ceris – two carrier groups and a corps were now in action there, with suggestions that more might follow on. She shook her head. It was unlikely that “Arhomaneia” was involving itself there for the benefit of the Cerisers, although no one could deny that the Sentists were a plague that wouldn't go away of its own accord. The Orinese paper was at least more hopeful, although it focussed on the ongoing EOS mission in the Bainbridge Islands.
      The papers were full of just more examples of the powers of the wurld bullying the smaller nations. Although the Orinese were much less... conservative, blunt and chauvinistic than the Tagmatines, they were perhaps a bit more hypocritical. They tended to frame all of their actions as good for the people they were subjecting them to, even if it was entirely against their will. The intervention in the Bainbridge Islands had been going on much longer than any operation the Tagmatine armed forces had undertaken in decades. Under the aegis of EOS, the Orinese were bringing peace and stability to the south of Europa, whether it was wanted or not. After a moment looking out to sea again, she broke off a corner of the pastry and crumbled it up further. She then tossed the crumbs to a wagtail that was scavenging around the tables of the cafe but keeping a wary distance from the stheneloser. Another joined it and the two birds bickered for a moment amongst the table legs before seemingly deciding that the amount of crumbs was enough for the pair of them. She watched the small birds briefly before sighing to herself and pouring more tea from the pot into her cup.
      A passerby called a greeting and waved at the old lady. The wagtails, always timid, scattered and chittered their outrage at being forced away from their crumbs. The stheneloser raised its heavy head and watched the passerby and the old lady's reaction to them, its eyes darting between the two. When she waved back, it put its muzzle back on its paws, content that there was no threat there and closed its eyes. She reached down and scratched it behind its ears and broke off another bit of the pastry. The dog put its head up again and gave a begging look. The old lady smiled at the big dog and gave it the rest of the pastry, saving a corner for herself. It chewed messily for a moment and nosed up the crumbs that it had dropped. She ate the corner she had broken off and sipped the cup of tea.
      Of course, to the locals it wasn't just an old woman – it was Evangela Leotykhidissa, the Megas Kritissa, the Great Judge, of the Kritakrateia of the Hexanisa. A small bodyguard called the Skouterioi lurked nearby, attempting to make themselves unobtrusive but also trying to be a visible barrier between her and any possible threat. Unlike the bodyguards of the islands' western neighbour, they weren't in ostentatious armour and robes but coats and suits. It was clear that they were still bodyguards, as the tailoring of their suits couldn't quite hide the presence of holstered pistols. The Skouterioi had always made it clear that they weren't happy with the fact their head of government was content to sit in public and let the islanders greet her as they walked by. Although the islands weren't rich, they were strategic. The Arhomaiki Noimosyni Dykton was an ever-present threat, as were the secret services of the Exousiokrateia or the Volskoi. Any of them might try to engineer a takeover of the islands or assassinate the Megas Kritissa. They would likely then try to take advantage of either the islands' position or the possibility of mineral or oil wealth possessed by them. The Gharoiki have been carrying out “hydrocarbon mining” in the areas of the Thalassa ton Kataigidon under their control. It seemed to be a pompous way of saying “oil and gas extraction” and it couldn't be doubted that the Hexanisa were being eyed up by the northern barbarians.
      Evangela took another sip of tea. The Megas Kritissa had been voted into the position in 2016 as a reaction against the regime of Kommodos Iakoumos, as she had been in the election six years before that. The old woman was one of the few of the Lipotakai, the Deserters, still actively involved in the politics of the Hexanisa. She had been repeatedly elected because she was seen as taking a hard line with Tagmatika. There was still an arrest warrant out for her in the Megas Agios Basileia, even though it had been over sixty years since the events at the end of the Long War which had caused the Hexanisa to break away from Arhomaneia. It looked like the relationship between the islands and the mainland were warming up in the reign of Theodosios VI but his death at the hands of an assassin and the civil war that followed had halted that.
      At the time, some of the other Kritai had considered throwing in their support behind the cabal of naval and army officers attempting to revive the Navarkhokrateia but that scheme had been stopped by the then Megas Krites, Ioannes Hegesinos. It just would have meant a vengeful Kommodos landing forces on the islands and bringing them to heel by force. Some of the defeated rebels had tried to flee to the islands in the aftermath of the civil war but they had been turned away, most of those disappearing further east or south. There were rumours that the new regime in Tagmatika had shot dozens, if not hundreds, of rebellious officers. Handing over any refugees would have been as bad as murder even if it would have meant that Tagmatika might have warmed up to the Hexanisa.
      The pot of tea was empty and Leotykhidissa stood to her feet, using the arms of her chair to help her get there. One of the Skouterioi stepped forward to take her arm but the old woman waved him off. The big dog stood up and followed the old lady at her heels as she started on the walk towards her official residence. It wasn't too far away from the harbour and the cafe. Gournaion was not a bustling metropolis by the standards of most nations, even New Wurld ones, but it was the largest city of the Hexanisa. The other people walking the streets knew the Megas Kritissa by sight and waved at her as she passed. Many other heads of state would use a car to get around but the size of the capital meant it was unnecessary and Leotykhidissa also loved to see the city. It meant that the old lady felt like she was more in touch with the ordinary people of her country than others in her position might be. And she could see the effects of the policies that she enacted or the repercussions of wurld events.
      In recent years, the numbers of boarded up shops were more noticeable than ever before. As she walked through the cobbled streets of the port, it was obvious where the road surface had become worn or damaged and been replaced with cheaper tarmac. The Great Europan Collapse had not impacted the islands as badly as others – the government hadn't fallen apart due to economic ruin like in many other countries but the primary industries of fishing and logging had taken a hit. The tourist trade had been nascent but starting to bear fruit, with southerners coming to see the relatively unspoilt landscapes, although others came to see the remains of the battlefields of the Long War. Those were mainly Tagmatioi and their money was as good as anyone else's, even if the Hexanisoi didn't like their government. However, that had dried up and the tourist board of the Kritakrateia just didn't have the money or the pull to try to attract more people to the islands. Foreign faces were now entirely uncommon on the islands.
      The Megas Kritissa got to the official residence of the head of the islands. It was no towering edifice but a low villa, almost in the classical style, if not for the modifications made to the architecture to take into account the frigid winters. A pair of guards in the dress uniform of the Taxiotai, the island's paramilitary police, stood either side of the door. Their faces were slightly reddened from the cold and their breath clouded in the early morning air. Leotykhidissa would make sure that the guards changed over a bit earlier than scheduled to get them out of the cold. The big dog walked up to the nearest and sniffed at the gendarme's boots.
      “Arkadios, come.”
      The dog stopped sniffing about immediately and trotted after the old woman and into the building. It was a comfortable enough building, if slightly more grand than many others in the city. It was the old seat of the Exarkhos, the governor, of the Hexanisa, back before the Long War had dashed that all to the winds. It was, imaginatively, known as the Palati tou Exarkhou, the Palace of the Exarkhos, although “palace” was far too grand a name. Arkadios' nails clicked on the tiles in the hall. The vestibule was cold and a draught blew through it, even with the front doors now closed by the Taxiotai on guard. The only real nod to being in the building was when an aide stepped forward to take the Megas Kritissa's coat and held out a warm indoor robe. Waving the aide away with a gesture, Leotykhidissa took off her coat and changed into the offered robe.
      “A cup of tea to warm you up?” the man asked. He was almost as old as Leotykhidissa and had the air of a trusted retainer about him.
      “Yes, thank you,” replied the Megas Kritissa, giving him a thin smile that still managed to be warm. “Can you take it through to the study? There are some papers I wish to go through before I get anything else done today.”
      “Of course,” he sketched a quick bow and stopped to give Arkadios a pat on the head before he did so. “Anything for this boy?”
      “No, he's had a pastry already this morning,” Evangela said, looking down at the big dog, who was in turn looking up hopefully at the aide with big eyes. He was trying to suggest that he'd not been fed at all today, despite what was being said. “He sat patiently outside, waiting for the service to finish. He's been a good boy.”
      Arkadios' tail wagged at the words.
      “I will bring the tea through when it is ready, Megas Kritissa,” said the aide, finally stopping rubbing the fur on top of the stheneloser's head and walking down the hall. “The heating's on, so the study should be nice and warm.”
      “Thank you, Leontios,” the old lady said and walked further into the residence.
      One of the main changes from the traditionally designed Arhomaiki home was that the study wasn't in a commanding place in the building, open to both ends to allow a good view throughout. Instead, in a nod to the cold weather, the room abutted the kitchen, to allow it to take warmth in from the ovens in the walls. That, along with the underfloor heating, made it one of the most snug rooms in the depths of winter. For an elderly person, it made it very liveable. Arkadios padded into the room and went straight over to the dog bed that lay in between the desk and the door and curled up in it. His eyes were on the Megas Kritissa as she pulled out the chair behind the desk and took out a pad of paper. She looked ahead almost blankly for a moment before taking a fountain pen from the mug of pens on the desk and started writing. It took a long time for the words to start properly coming and the cup of tea that Leontios placed on the desk was stone cold before she took notice of it. Eventually, the big dog had started to fidget and whine slightly, making it known that he needed to go out to go to the loo before Leotykhidissa finally stopped her fitful writing and looked down at the words on the page.
      She sighed and made the sign of the cross in the Aroman fashion – thumb, index and middle finger together, going from right to left – before sitting back in the chair. Of course, as she herself was not a despot, Leotykhidissa would put it before the other five Kritai to see what they would think. Personally, it seemed to be the only way to guarantee the fate of the Hexanisa but she had no idea whether it was the right choice. She was just tired of seeing her beloved nation rot and its people suffer like they had been doing for the last few decades.
      Her status as a Lipotakissa and her stance on Arhomaneia meant that she would probably be the only person who could propose a reunion with the Megas Agios Basileia without it being immediately shouted down and the proposer being arrested for high treason. It was certainly shocking, even to Leotykhidissa, but perhaps it was time for her country to come in from the cold.
       
       
      OOC: It's time to get the ball rolling on the first part mentioned here.
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