Duxburian - Aurean Summit



  • -8th Floor Conference Room
    Federal Office
    Dairghazbury underground, LN
    1:50:18

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    Avoldran had been busy making preparations for the big summit all day. The goddamn media wouldn't shut up about it, so he finally had to A-level the schedule just to get some peace and quiet. He'd assembled important officials and security in the -8th floor conference room to finalize the schedule. These were people he could trust.

    Dehn turned on his mic.

    "Hello everyone, I'd like to begin the meeting. You are all here tonight because you have A-level security clearance and because you have a role to play in the upcoming summit. I trust everyone here to do their part in making this a successful, safe event. Now?

    Dehn pointed to a projector screen,

    [i] ?President Glorius and the Aurean delegation (I am assuming there will be aides, security, maybe some other government officials) will be arriving at Dominion Center, in the newly renovated Imperial Terminal.

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    Normally this terminal would be open to international public flights, however, space has not yet been allocated to any airlines except the Federal Express. Therefore, only government officials will be in the terminal and President Julius may simply walk out the atrium like a normal passenger.

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    The Aureans will be picked up by a greeter and escorted from there to the Federal Office. I would like this to be a familiar face, thus Acwellan Devoy has been selected. He will be returning home tonight to fulfill this role.

    It is actually faster and safer to enter the Office by underground rail than by car, so Devoy will take the 0 Line into Federal Station.

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    I would actually like our visitors to use the 0 Line whenever possible, as it is a secure means of transportation under the capital. After the attack on my body double in a busy street in broad daylight, I am adverse to using cars for this summit. The 0 Line does not officially exist, so if you are assigned to escort, please remind our guests not to talk about it.

    The Aurean delegation may settle into their accommodations before the tour of the capital begins. I've reserved the hotel-like -4th floor. Being in the Federal Office, it is far more secure and convenient than an actual hotel.

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    Ok so, the first cultural landmark on the list is Dresnan Tower. It's actually not that tall, but it provides an excellent, 360 panorama of the capital. Over 12 million people live in this city and over 100 million in the Linden-Lamington metro area. The sheer amount of civilization visible from Dresnan Tower can be awe-inspiring. Just remember to avoid this view:

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    as there are nothing but suburbs in that direction. It's got a good angle on the German embassy, though.

    Next up is the National Cathedral. The Aureans may learn about Duxburian religion here. It may even be the first time they've seen a Dalaenist church. Few foreigners realize that Abraham is responsible for more offshoots than just Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Of course, any denomination is welcome to use the National Cathedral.

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    Next up is Kligenberg Castle. The Aureans will meet our economic team there, including Robert Kligenberg. I know that Pax Aurea has had great reservations about joining and then remaining in the EEC, so hopefully we can convince them to stay as partners in free trade.

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    Next we have the Duxburian Supreme Court. The Sovereign Assembly and Dominion Council both declined visits due to busy legislative sessions, so the Supreme Court will have to suffice. There, the Aureans can learn about our legal system and meet Justice Kelander, who was once Chief Justice of the ECoJ. There, we must stress the importance of homegrown laws to our culture and can better explain why national sovereignty matters so much to us. We're often at odds with the Aureans in the European Council on that issue.

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    After that, we start the forbidden phase of the tour. Only President Glorius may proceed to the these locations, escorted by Devoy and Duxburian security.

    The first is Neroston Grando, more commonly known as Blackstone Manor. For those of you who are not as familiar with the military, this was the temporary home of Aelirs during the Great Siege of Dairghazbury, when the Federal Office had been destroyed by artillery fire. Neroston Grando was built completely out of Duxburian blackstone and located close to Fort Lamington for greater protection. This structure proved virtually indestructible (there are dent marks on the facade from 15" mortars) and it would have been a shame to tear it down once the Federal Office was rebuilt. Thus, it was given to the military as headquarters. While the modern military tends to use the underground complex at Fort Lamington instead, it maintains this historic building for civilian relations.

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    President Glorius will meet our military leaders, including General Reid. Hopefully those two will be able to work out their differences.



  • Now, it will be getting late. Dinner will provided in the International Ballroom for the Aurean guests. However, President Glorius is invited to a special state dinner hosted by Illian Evander in the Hall of Illian the Great. Mr. Evander still lives in the blackstone home of his famous ancestor.

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    Aelir Evander, as you all know, conquered Kendrevaria. He built a great hall under his house that wasn't discovered until very recently. Federal engineers knew there was a big gap in the underground around the home of Evander, but never knew why until 4 months ago. It will be opened to elite guests for the first time, just for this summit. Glorius may meet some people who are rarely seen, such as Kay Dio, or who don't officially exist at all, such as Brandon Devoy.

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    Finally, Acwellan Devoy will alone escort the President to the Amaranthaen Temple, using a windowless rail car so she will not know the route. As you all know, this site does not officially exist and maybe 7 people in the entire world know its exact location in the Dairghazbury underground. What is so special about this temple? This is the final resting place of Acennan Aelir am Dairghazbury.

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    The last foreigner to enter the Amaranthaen Temple and gaze upon the tomb of the legendary founder of the Duxburian Union did so about 734 years ago. Entry is normally a privilege reserved only for Aelirs, but I will allow Glorius to walk inside. It is a very quiet, peaceful place and she may take as long as she'd like. Because Acwellan Devoy will now know the route, but unfortunately is not an Aelir, I forbid any of you from telling him what is inside that temple. He does not know. Only an Aelir may know both the location and significance of the Amaranthaen Temple. I really hate to do that to one of our great statesmen, but it is a most ancient rule. Glorius must also be reminded not to tell anyone what she saw.

    That concludes the first day of the summit. Note that according to custom, the Aelir cannot meet the guests on the first day. I will not actually see the Aureans until the second day. This is when we will head to my floor and talk about relations, trade, really anything.

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    At the end of the day, we'll both give speeches announcing any agreements we've made and the such. Then, everyone is invited to a state dinner in one of the hallways. I know it's a bit crude, but I actually prefer eating there than in places like the International Ballroom. The hall has outside windows!

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    After dinner, the Aureans may either depart for Dominion Center (use the 0 Line to the Imperial Terminal again) or may retire for the night and depart in the morning.

    That is it, any questions?[/i]



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    Thursday, September 27th
    On-route to Dairghazbury

    It took only a few hours for an airplane to cover the distance between the Aurean Islands and the Duxburian Union. Still, it felt inappropriate, to President Julia Glorius. Too short, for deep down, she would have wanted a little more time to go through the course of the meeting inside her head, as she wanted everything to proceed as smoothly as possible. And too long, for she was already anxious to begin her meeting, and explore the Duxburian Union like never before.

    I haven't been this nervous since... the very beginning of my career, I think, she confessed to herself. Then, a bit more sternly, chastised: But get a hold of yourself, woman, remain calm, and everything will go just so -- smoothly. Being nervous will only make you giggle in the wrong place, heavens forbid...

    Still, despite controlling her breathing and heartrate exemplarily, and managing to prevent her palms from sweating (how she hated that), she was slightly nervous still, and couldn't be too harsh on herself. This was, after all, perhaps the most important meeting in the calendar of the head-of-state of the Federal Commonwealth this year.

    ?Let's go the schedule through one more time, Madam President?, her Chief of Security, Elisabeta Acutus, said. The sharply-featured woman was occupying the seat next to her. ?On day one, we won't be meeting with the Aelir yet, but...?

    ?...But have a unique chance to explore the culture of the Duxburian Union?, Glorius completed her sentence. ?Yes, yes. I do remember. Thank you, Elisabeta, but I think everything is in order.?

    ?The delegation is small?, Acutus commented, glancing over her shoulder. ?We will make a very modest entrance.?

    ?Good. I think the Duxburians will appreciate efficiency more than pompousness.?

    ?Indeed, Madam President. But it was a close call to the Aelir himself not too long ago. Pax Aurea is closely involved in the DK affair still. And with the recent activity with the CACA...?

    Glorius's eyebrows arched. ?Are you seriously suggesting that a tiny home-brewn group of lunatics could pose any chance to cause mischief here, of all places??

    ?No. What I am saying is that taking only two Praetorian Guards with you is... an understatement of our present security situation.?

    There were indeed two tall, stone-faced men in dark suits and dark glasses accompanying the Presidential delegation, sitting quietly in the back of the passenger compartment. Though Glorius appreciated their work and was grateful for it, he had never found the presence of armed bodyguards too pleasant.

    ?Elisabeta, I have full confidence in the Duxburian security?, she said and smiled. ?They're the best, simply put. I could've arrived without any security personnel, and I wouldn't worry about my personal safety, or the safety of my team.?

    The team consisted of a throng of aides -- twelve in total, excluding Acutus -- for the President and the two ministers that she had taken along for the Dairghazbury trip. They were both currently dozing, having stayed up too long to celebrate the moon landing. Minister of Foreign Trade Moshe Baruch was a natural choice, for Glorius intended to do her very best to strengthen trade relations with the economic powerhouse of the European Union. Minister of Science and Technology Beatrice Chabert would have her part to play in another offer... as would the thin, geeky-looking black man currently occupied by whatever important he was scrolling through on his laptop.

    Yusif Guillaumus might not look like too imposing, but he was the Director of the Cyber Defence Department of the Ministry of Defence and Security -- and probably the single most skilled Aurean in matters of today's and tomorrow's cyberspace warfare, the President thought.

    That would make a delegation of 19 in total.

    As their plane drew closer to Dairghazbury and Dominion Center, Glorius peeked through the window, admiring the sprawling metropolis that stretched to all directions. There was a striking similarity to the Aurean cities, yet a lot of differences as well. She had already admired the gleaming glass towers of Verington a little earlier that morning, and had been particularly impressed by the majestic statue that greeted the ships arriving at the port of the Union's largest city. She thought Pacifica could use something like that. A Statue of... Liberty and Peace, perhaps?

    When Acutus started barking orders to the rest of the delegation -- she'd make a fine drill sergeant if we still had an army -- Glorius went through a series of Kendrelaatzenian phrases she had seen fit to study, finding the language curious but not unpleasant to hear and speak. The words rolled nicely on her tongue. She also triple-checked to make sure she remembered the personal name policy of the Union, lest she insult her gracious host in some horribly ignorant manner without even realizing it.

    The plane rolled to a stop. Glorius turned to her delegation, and noticed they all were at least slightly more excited or nervous as herself for the big event. So I'm not the only one, then. She had to smile, broadly. ?Very well, ladies and gentlemen. Take a deep breath, all of you. These will be days of great importance to us and to Pax Aurea. Let's do our very best -- I know you will, and I have full confidence in you, my friends.?

    ?So?, she straightened up, ?let's go and meet our reception committee...?

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  • OOC: So?we are continuing with this after a long period of being busy. At this point in time, the Aurean team is still on the moon, the European election has yet to come, and President Glorius is still alive.

    18th Floor
    Federal Office
    Dairghazbury, LN
    6:50:21

    Avoldan Dehn had completed final preparations for the Aurean summit. Acwellan Devoy's flight had to be diverted to Blackstone International Airport in Lamington due to technical difficulties. He wouldn't even be at the Federal Office for final instructions until 8 AM. He wouldn't make it to Dominion Center in time to meet the Aureans, so Dehn had to call in a driver to take Devoy there by super high speed rail. It would actually be faster than using a helicopter.

    ***********

    -20th Level
    Federal Station
    Dairghazbury underground, LN
    8:13:45

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    Acwellan Devoy had no idea how Dehn expected him to be on time. The train would get him to Dominion Center a good hour after the Aureans would arrive. This schedule made no sense. However, he went with it and realized that something was different when he looked at the itinerary - "Depart Federal Station on Track -2 for Dominion Center at 8:25 AM".

    Track -2? Surely that was a typo? Devoy was deeply intertwined in the intel community, A-level clearance - hell he'd actually been born in the DIO facility - but had never heard of secret platforms in Fed Station.

    The stationmaster assured him that it was certainly not a typo.

    "Right this way, Councillor."

    Sure enough, there was a back hallway with a special elevator. The entrance was heavily guarded. Even the operator was packing heat.

    "Please dial it in, Councillor."

    Devoy entered his ID details: EUC Acwellan Devoy, A2-G-1EC1

    The green light came on and he was permitted to enter the elevator. Devoy noticed that it only had two button options - "Gold" and "Silver". The operator hit "Silver" and the elevator descended. It took longer than a typical floor's height to reach this level.

    The doors opened to reveal a platform that was very different than the main. It still contained two tracks, but this level was much narrower, with circular walls covered in plate metal. The tracks also?there were no tracks in the track beds?only slits on each side and markers.

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    However, he did not have time to ponder what that meant, for a line worker was indicating an arriving train. In the blink of an eye, something came flying in, but it barely made a sound. When it stopped, Devoy saw a sleek, aerodynamic engine and a single car attached.

    The driver motioned for him to board the engine, so he did.

    "Markmaster Alec Race at your service, sir!" the driver said, shaking hands.

    Devoy recognized him. Race (aptly named) was a national benchmark tester for high speed rail systems.

    "Mag1 to CT, departing FED on neg2 at 0825 hours, over. You might want to hold onto something, Councillor." Race gestured to the floor, "This is our brand new maglev line."

    "Mag1 to CT, cleared FED on neg2 at 0828 hours, requesting permission to proceed to DCI at?full speed?for arrival on neg2 at 0845 hours, over."

    "CT to Mag1, you may proceed, over."

    "Wait what? It's only going to take 17 minutes!? But, that's not even possible!"

    "Yeah, hold onto something, Councillor."

    Devoy got a death grip on a railing as Race did the equivalent of "flooring it" and the train started rapidly gaining speed.

    ...50 MPH?100 MPH?150 MPH?

    "This is our next generation subway system! It's a marvel of engineering that will take you and the Aureans around the capital in no time at all! You have it all to yourself since this line is not open yet."

    Devoy just hung on for his life as the train that had been perfectly quiet started screaming. ?200 MPH?250 MPH?

    The tunnel became a total blur as the speed peaked at 298 MPH.

    Devoy was pretty sure that his mind was there and his body was being left behind, but the Markmaster was quite enjoying himself.

    "What a rush! Now THIS is a proper subway - I calibrated this system myself!"

    He glanced up at the "298 MPH" screen with a look of disappointment.

    "Well, it's supposed to reach 300 MPH, sorry about that."

    After enduring about 10 minutes of bone rattling, mind warping speed, Devoy was super relieved when Race had to start slowing down.

    ?250 MPH?200 MPH?150 MPH?100 MPH?50 MPH...

    "Mag1 to CT, arriving at DCI on neg2 at 0845 hours, over."

    Acwellan Devoy stumbled onto the platform like a severe drunk.

    "Don't worry Councillor, it wears off in a few minutes."

    "Since when did we build that?" asked a confused Devoy.

    "Just this year, Councillor. You've probably never noticed it because you probably skimmed the defense transportation budget appropriations section. Dreadfully boring stuff there?anyway that is Ethan Lamington's #4 tunnel complex. It's an impressive piece of ancient engineering that would have taken centuries to dig with their tools. They probably used a magnetic course to guide the routes, which is why it's so unnaturally straight. Perfect for a high speed rail line, so federal engineers converted it with stops at major destinations all the way from Linden to Lamington. That's why the new tracks in Federal Station look so weird, it's all maglev. Of course, when this line is ready to take government passengers, regulators will probably impose a speed limit, maybe something around 200 MPH?", Race shook his head as if to indicate actual disappointment at the prospect.

    "Well, thanks for the ride and the history lesson."

    "Any time, Councillor. I'll be waiting here when the Aurean delegation arrives.

    Another elevator ride, heavily armed guards, and code entry later (you need to enter your ID to leave, too?), Devoy found himself on the main floor of the renovated Imperial Terminal. The place looked good, he approved of the new marble and gold leaf. He was sure that President Glorius would like it, with the statues and columns it was quite similar to classical Aurean architecture.

    Actually 10 minutes early now instead of an hour late, he had some time to go over the itinerary and some Latin. He wasn't very good at Latin and he was sure Kendrelaatzenian wasn't Glorius' strong suit, so they'd end up meeting each other in the middle with English. Still, it was a respectful gesture to at least try another's home language.

    It was funny that he was even there at all. The Aelir must want to truly reconcile with Pax Aurea. Very unusual move for a Lathamist to make with a civilization lacking an army. He couldn't remember a time that Dehn considered such as an equal. And, the Aelir wasn't clearly after anything in particular?it seemed that what he actually was hoping to achieve was respect among the Aurean people. Funny how all the kaels and guns in the world wouldn't be able to achieve such a thing.

    A plane touched down on Runway I-W. That would be the Aureans, right on schedule.

    "Here we go?"

    *************

    Yusif Guillaumus was taking advantage of the free wireless that popped up when the plane crossed into Duxburian airspace over land when his computer suddenly froze. He couldn't figure out what was wrong with it until a message popped up:

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    "Well played, Brandon," Guillaumus thought. If only his colleagues could see him now?he was going to meet Brandon Devoy, a truly legendary cyber warrior. They would be so jealous! He had no idea what the code was, but figured it was important and wrote it down before restarting. It was obviously not a phone number.

    The Aureans disembarked at Gate 5 and were instantly reminded that this would not be an ordinary trip. Ornate gold decor from the floor to the ceiling started in the jetway and kept on going through the terminal hallways. The Duxburians were awash in money and certainly wanted the world to know it.

    President Glorius did not know who exactly would be there to greet them, but was relieved when it was someone familiar - Acwellan Devoy, the well-known Duxburian Councillor.

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    He extended his hand,

    "Welcome to the Duxburian Union, President Glorius! I hope your trip was pleasant."

    She took it, responding, "Yes, the flight was smooth and your nation is surprisingly close. The scenery of Verington and the capital was great. Thank you for meeting us, Councillor Acwellan Devoy."

    Devoy noticed that the Aurean president was a bit nervous.

    "Oh, don't worry about the formalities. Just call me Acwellan. You should hear what the socialists call me?"

    Ah, now that drew a smile.

    Devoy engaged in small talk to break the ice as he led the delegation to the maglev line.

    Glorius paused to read the inscription on the huge statue of Acennan Aelir in the foyer. It was a poem:

    Welcome to the Realm of the Free,
    If you are pure of heart, proceed,
    We will never turn away a friend,
    Nor a traveler in need.

    But, if hostile you come to our gates,
    Beware, foe, you have drawn your last breath,
    There is nothing here to conquer,
    There is nothing here for you but death.

    We will NEVER surrender,
    We will NEVER fall,
    For no foe shall ever be permitted,
    To breach our great blackstone wall,

    Even if the heavens open up,
    And the sky comes crashing down,
    The Gods may tremble in fear,
    But we shall still defend our town.

    You may fling missiles and stones,
    You may rush with the sword and the spear,
    But you will NEVER break us,
    and we, the Duxburians, will persevere.

    • Acennan Aelir am Dairghazbury

    "It's not actually that great, but to be fair, he wrote that over 2,000 years ago with no formal education," remarked Devoy.

    "I think it's lovely, even though the subject is about conflict" replied Glorius. She had been here for less than 15 minutes, but already the stereotypes were coming down. The Duxburians had poems?

    They had reached the platform elevator. The guards no longer held automatic weapons, that memo must have gone around.

    Watching Devoy dial into the system, Guillaumus noticed that the code Brandon Devoy had give him was in a similar format and started with the same characters.

    "That must be what it is for," he thought to himself.

    Glorius was surprised when she saw the train. She knew immediately what it was, for they had maglevs in Pax Aurea.

    "Welcome Madam President and all of our new guests. I am Markmaster Race and I will be your engineer today. It will only take about 17 minutes to reach Federal Station, so buckle up."

    "He pushed this thing to 298 MPH on the way here," whispered Devoy to Glorious.

    "Mag1 to CT, departing DCI on neg1 at 09:19 hours, over."

    But, Race kept the ride smooth and quiet this time, only reaching 200 MPH.

    Devoy used those 17 minutes to tell the Aureans all about the new maglev system, in an authoritative tone as if he'd known about it more than a half hour before meeting them.

    Upon arrival in Federal Station, handlers brought the Aureans' luggage up to their rooms, while some lower level government officials came by to greet them.

    The Aelir remained out of sight.



  • Long flights usually left Glorius somewhat weary, but the arrival in the Duxburian Union and her speedy trip through the underground of Dairghazbury -- or rather, the beginning of the journey! -- had been... invigorating. Although not an engineer of any kind by her education, she had been interested in technological marvels ever since she was a little girl... and even if it was a trait not overly suitable for a prestigious head-of-state, she did enjoy things that went very, very fast. The secret maglev the Duxburians had crafted had got her heart racing and her blood tingling like no other welcome celebration could. She actually sympathized with Alec Race -- she wouldn't have objected to seeing the cart at top speed.

    A few paces away, Minister of Science and Technology Beatrice Chabert was lost in a lively conversation with Race, seeminly enamored with the maglev and eager to learn more about its specifics. The discussion was overwhelmingly filled with technical jargon, and went beyond Glorius's aptitude.

    The first hours in Dairghazbury had already proved rewarding, as well. As the entourage was waiting at the station, Glorius took the opportunity to speak with Devoy.

    ?On our way here, I've kept going through the poem of Acennan Aelir in my head and contemplating its meaning. Not the words per se, but the underlining spirit, if you will. There is... I may be reading my own interpretations into the text, but I suddenly realized several similarities in the Duxburian worldview compared to the Aurean one. I can't but feel that both of our civilizations have long held a sense of... being isolated. I don't mean that we've been enclaves with closed borders and without international contacts, but on some subconscious level in our societies' psyche, there exists a feeling of being besieged. By something dark, lingering outside the walls. I've called it the islander mentality in my homeland. We like to be seen as open and peaceful people, and that's basically Aureans in a nutshell, but further below, there's this little explained sense that out there, the world is filled with wars and pestilences and horrors, things and events that are alien and distant and do not concern us directly. We're quick to act like champions of the values we consider precious and humane, and extend our hands to the needy, yet the overall safety and intactness on our little islands, guarded by the Atlantic and the distance to the mainland, has perhaps made us experience this ?darkness?, so to speak, as something indigenous to the nations and peoples around us, but not within the Aurean society itself. As if we had already ?evolved? past such aspects of the society as war and violence. There's a subconscious need to protect ourselves from what lies beyond... and though we as a culture have reacted differently to this feeling than the Duxburians, I think the existence of this sentiment is something we have in common.?

    Suddenly she smiled, feeling a little embarrassed. ?Apologies. I didn't mean to come forth as an armchair philosopher, and I certainly didn't want to misinterpret the Duxburian culture. But as you said -- I can see why this poem is still read and kept in high value after two millennia. It speaks of very profound emotions.?

    Quietly, she wondered how much this Acennan Aelir of the olden times shared a similar mindset with the present Aelir of the Union. Then again, how much in common did she have with the first consuls of the Aurean Republic?

    ***

    Meanwhile, Yusif Guillaumus had been wrestling with himself... and lost. Overcome by curiosity, something that was present quite insatiably in his person, he had decided to follow his gut feeling, which had gotten him into trouble earlier -- yet eventually brought him right here where he stood. As a teenager, he'd already proven himself as a competent fiddler of computers, and as a Grand Prize for his talents of codesmithing and hacking his way into the computers within the Office of the Prime Minister just because he could, was awarded with three months in a juvenile incarceration facility, with the calculator being the most advanced electronical device available to him -- and, following that, a job offer from the Ministry of Security within the recently established Cyber Division.

    Yusif was perhaps an exceptional Aurean because he had an untrammeled admiration for the Duxburian Union. While on a principal level he found militarism in general somewhat undignified, he could and did see the beauty in the actual execution of the acts, even if they had something to criticize in themselves on some moral ground or another. The unbeatable ICT superiority of the Duxburians was his coveted Holy Grail. As much as was possible, he had studied their clever designs and superb innovations, and done his best to adopt similar new solutions to his own work. He had stumbled in rumours -- purely unconfirmed, of course -- that the Duxburians had their fingers in the sudden drawbacks in the Monogolian nuclear program. True or not, what mattered was that it was the Duxburians and no-one else that could be suspected of pulling such an amazing trick... all the while keeping it all hush-hush.

    And what was certain was their devious and most competent cyber warfare with Dromund Kaas. It had to be. Yusif himself could name a dozen brutally effective yet relatively simple means to disrupt one's military capabilities via electronical warfare without thinking, and if he could do that, so could the Duxburians. Ten-fold.

    It was time to see what the piece of code he'd been entrusted with could do.

    ?Begging your pardon, Madam President?, he said, hovering into her presence and interrupting her chatting with Councillor Devoy, ?but there's a matter that requires my attention. With your permission, I'd like to see to it ASAP.?

    Glorius raised her eyebrow. ?A matter that takes you... where, exactly??

    ?Oh, I'll rejoin the party when I'm needed again in the talks, I'm sure of that?, Yusif hurriedly assured. ?I'm about to meet a... colleague of mine.?

    He noticed a quick glimpse of understanding in the president's eyes. Yes, exactly that. ?Very well. But please don't wander off where you're not supposed to, and keep me posted. And Yusif...? She stepped closer, straightening his tie, and adding in low tone: ?You're authorized to present our offer if you meet with the right people, understood??

    ?Understood, Madam President.?

    This would be even more interesting a trip than he'd imagined when boarding the plane...



  • Like I said, I fully intend on finishing this summit. I just had no idea how difficult it would be to create a credible religion from scratch or lots of dialogue in general, especially when you get busy. I'll try to keep future posts shorter get these segments written much faster in the future, like within a week of the last.

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    ***LONG POST WARNING***

    This might be the longest thing I've ever written on this forum. Proceed at own risk. I have shortened/cut out most descriptions using images to help keep it shorter.

    Acwellan Devoy was informed that there had been some kind of electrical fire on the top floor of Dresnan Tower that morning and it would be unsuitable to take the Aurean Delegation there. He switched destinations seamlessly, instructing Race to head for the National Cathedral.

    After arriving at Cathedral Station in a matter of minutes, they walked up to the surface. This was the historic Blackstone neighborhood of Dairghazbury, and the angle of the morning sun draped the buildings in darkness, giving the place a very imposing feel.

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    Glorius had heard of Duxburian Blackstone, but never seen it in person before. The infamous material could only be found in certain volcanic plugs, as it was some type of basalt that had been subjected to metamorphic forces and concentrated to extreme densities. The resulting new rock was tough as diamond and denser than lead.

    While she disapproved of its devastating military applications, she observed the houses very carefully on this walk, noting that this material was the Duxburian equivalent of the ocean protecting the Pax Aurean islands. Duxburian society was both figuratively and literally built upon it. The rock here occupied a special place in the nation's history.

    A bright, radiant light now provided contrast against the neighborhood. The sun's rays danced off the National Cathedral, piercing into the darkness.

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    Glorius was excited about this portion of the trip, being that the Dalaenist religion was almost completely unknown in Pax Aurea. The National Cathedral was beautiful and strongly resembled catholic cathedrals back home. A winged cross hung outside the door. She then realized that Delaenists were Christians. If this were a Christian sect practiced by hundreds of millions of Duxburians, why was it totally unheard of in her country?

    And?is that a person?

    A young man was sitting all the way up on the steeple, staring directly at her.

    Glorius pointed this oddity out to security, but when they all turned back around to look, there was no one there. How strange!

    She was absolutely sure there had been someone there.

    Several leaders of the Church were waiting to greet the Aurean Delegation on the steps of the Cathedral. Devoy greeted them as "Deons", so Glorius did the same. They all wore the same winged cross, so that must be the symbol of the religion.

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    As they moved inside, the grandeur of Delaenist design was on display, with huge columns humbling everyone before God.

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    Representatives of other Duxburian religions, some familiar, some not, had gathered inside. While everyone appeared to be very friendly, Glorius noticed that Councillor Devoy and the Catholic Archbishop of Laatzen did not shake hands. They didn't think the Aurean president was looking, and stood there exchanging looks of disgust. Devoy then rolled up his sleeve and flashed something on his arm to the Archbishop. Glorius managed to get a good look at it:

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    The Archbishop nodded his head in understanding, changed his facial expression to a more respectful one, and moved on.

    Glorius was now very curious about the discord, but kept it to herself for now.

    There he was again! Up high!

    She quickly turned away, waited a while, and turned back around. He was still there, staring only at her.

    She motioned to her bodyguards again, but when she looked back, he was gone again. Several others noticed the agitation and she assured them everything was ok.

    The delegation of Aureans and religious representatives started to walk around in the cathedral as one of the Deons handed Glorius a Delaenist Bible, the Delaan, and began to tell her about the religion.

    "This is a Delaan, it's like a Bible and is structured akin to a Bible. However, Delaenism evolved independently of mainstream Christianity, thus all of its books will contain unfamiliar material."

    First Testament:
    Book of Genesis
    Book of Abraham
    Book of Eliander
    Book of Deloneus
    Book of Exodus
    Book of Acennan Aelir
    Book of Sanctuaries
    Book of Thrones

    Second Testament:
    Book of Prophecy
    Book of Perquisition
    The Gospel According to Jan
    The Gospel According to Ansley
    The Gospel According to Leanna
    Book of Tribulation
    Book of Valkyries
    Book of Revelation

    Third Testament:
    Book of the Psalms of the Lord
    Book of the Laws of the Lord
    Book of the Peoples of the Lord
    Book of the Prophets of the Lord
    Book of the Wars of the Lord

    As she skimmed, Glorius could now see why this sect was unheard of - ancient and probably many modern Catholics would find it incredibly heretical. A secret son of Abraham? Not one, but two Gospels written by women? Valkyries? The long lost Book of the Wars of the Lord? Different prophets and laws? These laws of the Lord?are totally different?

    This hit her philosophical side like a ton of bricks. This version of God created women not as man's companion, but to balance man and keep him pious. She knew the Duxburians ran a strongly egalitarian society, but had not known that it ran so deep. The outward face was one of military swashbuckling and macho posturing, but inwardly, the society was more advanced and progressive than most gave it credit for.

    The Deon broke down the various books of the Delaan:

    "The Delaan starts very much like the mainstream Christian version, although its great flood take place in the Kendrevarian Mountains. Although Noah would have been a valid Varian name, he is referred to as Nore in the Delaan, and his ark ends up on the summit of Mau Delonaea, the tallest mountain in the Duxburian Union.

    Abraham's life unfolded outside the country, until he accidentally fathered a third child, Eliander. Ashamed of this and fearing God, he suppressed all knowledge of this and banished Eliander to a place no one would ever find him: the great wilderness of the Kendrevarian Mountains. However, he was found by a female Varian Mountain Lion, who raised him as one of its own.

    A group of hunters killed this lion for reputation, discovered the child, and brought him back to the Varian town of Delon, in the shadow of Mau Delonaea. There, the townspeople discovered that he possessed extraordinary abilities for a child, able to speak in foreign languages and believing strongly in a single God.

    The Varians at the time believed in a variety of deities and this didn't fly well. However, he was physically fit and intellectually talented, ideal traits for a young Varian male, so they tolerated it at first. Eliander remained an ideal youth as he aged. He was unusually kind as well - he insisted that the Varians end their practice of killing weak and malformed babies, asserting that everyone had value in their own special way. He is also credited with getting the Varians to adopt unwanted babies, shaming them with his own story of being abandoned by his birth father in a faraway land.

    Eventually, the Varian emperor (whose name has been lost to time) had enough of this nonsense and personally ordered Eliander to stop. However, Eliander claimed loyalty only to God, provoking the emperor to send in the army. At this point in time, Eliander was something of a local legend, having been raised by lions and having a popular religious message for everyone, not just the elite. The town of Delon fought back, giving him time to escape up Mau Delonaea.

    Furious, the emperor ordered the army to slaughter every single person in town, after they'd caught Eliander. The soldiers were forced to pursue Eliander to the very summit of the mountain, a legendary task in itself, given that the mountain stands over 34,000 ft tall and only Nore had ever summited it, albeit during an epic flood. At the summit, cornered by soldiers and dying of oxygen deprivation and exposure to frigid weather, Eliander appealed to God to take him. At that moment, the snow on the summit started shifting. The slide quickly ballooned into an avalanche, which then rocketed down the mountain, obliterating the Varian Army. The monster avalanche stopped right in front of Delon, without damaging anything or killing anyone in the town.

    Eliander did not survive the avalanche, but his legacy lived on, especially through Deloneus, the leader of Delon. The emperor had no intention of giving up, despite the miracle, so Deloneus decided it was best to evacuate Delon and leave the Varian Empire.

    He sent his capable military commander, Acennan Aelir, ahead to scout for a potential new homeland. Facing many challenges along the way, and gaining many followers who also wanted out of the Empire, the Delons arrived at what is now the Capital Promontory.

    Many feared this place, with its jet black bluff towering over the rivers. It was said that demons inhabited the place. To Acennan Aelir, it was perfect. If there were demons, God would surely protect the people. They soon discovered the uniqueness and utility of the rock and built a fortress city unlike any other.

    A grand cathedral was constructed where this building now stands, pledging their city to God. Deloneus received visions of the benefits, invincibility against all enemies and a special place in Heaven. Deloneus, taking the place of Eliander as principal prophet, left to convert new peoples, entrusting Dairghazbury to Acennan Aelir. It was rightfully Aelir's, as he surveyed the site, chose the site, planned its layout, built its defenses, and named it.

    True to belief, the city withstood everything the Varians, Kendrans, and Laatzenians could throw at it. All of them hated the new city-state for poaching their citizens and spreading the religion in their empires, yet were unable to breach its defenses.

    Flash forward several centuries: Acennan Aelir has proven to be an extremely capable leader, leaving a powerful social impression upon his people that still exists today. Dairghazbury is now a thriving city with a booming population and has expanded with the founding of nearby Lamington. This is when the Deons and Delons start having visions of the coming of the son of God.

    The search leads Jan, Ansley, and Leanna to foreign lands, where they meet Jesus and become disciples in secret. The original disciples would not accept them, considering their beliefs somewhat heretical. Jesus, of course, accepted everyone. You know what happened next, as the betrayal and crucifixion follows the mainstream version very closely.

    After Jesus rises, the next millennium is one of constant warfare and great suffering, in which the state almost falls and the religion almost dies out. However, it is a test of faith and the Delaenists will be rewarded with eternal life if they pass. God's plan for Heaven is laid out very similar to the mainstream version of the Book of Revelation."

    Glorius had been listening attentively, but had also been keeping tabs on that guy, who was still watching her. As she followed the Deon's descriptions in her copy of the Delaan, she noticed a piece of paper on the floor and picked it up. All it said was:

    "Please follow me if you want to know the truth"

    and then a hand drawn picture of the same tattoo that was on Acwellan Devoy's arm.

    After much discussion with the Deons, she requested time to reflect on all of that and maybe pray.

    "Of course, take as much time as you'd like."

    Everyone then proceeded to file out of the cathedral, leaving Glorius alone.

    This was potentially a dumb decision and security would never have cleared it had they known why she really wanted to be alone. However, she just had to know. The Deon had flown through 1,000 years of tribulation in one sentence, failing to even mention the 400 Years' War. She knew about that because of Councillor Devoy. It was no secret that he was a member of a martyr family from that conflict.

    The man appeared, gestured to her, and walked out the back door. He couldn't have been older than 30. She hesitated, again thinking how stupid it could be?what if it's a CACA assassin or something? He had unusually pale skin and gray eyes?she'd never heard of people having gray eyes. However, Glorius' instinct told her that the ghost-like person did not want to harm her.

    She walked out to a grassy courtyard. There was nothing there but walls and a shed with a green door. The youthful man was standing in the middle.

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    "I must apologize for the weirdness of my actions. I have been waiting my entire life thus far to meet a person with the powers you possess," he said, extending his hand.

    Glorius - all too curious - took it, finding that he was indeed not a ghost. She didn't believe in ghosts, anyway.

    "The name's Byran Lunde. Of course, I know who you are, Madam President."

    He opened the green door, revealing a gate with a fingerprint scanner and a long tunnel staircase. Lunde pressed the scanner without blocking the display, so Glorius could see that he was indeed Byran Lunde with A1 level security clearance, a higher set than she'd seen Councillor Devoy validate with. The gate opened.

    "200 feet below us lies forbidden Duxburian and Delaenist history. If you choose to come with me, you will see and learn things that may be disturbing, things that are "off the reservation" of this trip, so to say. You can still walk away."

    Glorius was not about to walk away after all this trouble.

    "Ok, let's go. Unfortunately, there is no elevator."

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    A lot of stairs later, they arrived at a large, dark place.

    There was something greenish?a building?a large building?

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    "Welcome to the Emerald Lady of Dairghazbury, the greatest of the 5 Delaenist cathedrals. Rediscovered in 808, it had been lost for over 8 centuries. The construction worker who accidentally drilled into the space was the first to enter this cathedral since the unification of the Duxburian Union."

    The impressive entrance hall contained murals of important events and people in Delaenist history. Glorius recognized Eliander and the avalanche, Deloneus preaching to the masses, Acennan in battle defending a city wreathed in black, and was able to figure out another, the Prophet Lir healing someone in the waterfalls of Kedallt. Again, Councillor Devoy, he looked just like Lir. Acwellan Lir Devoy, born in Kedallt, that made sense. There were many more depicting unfamiliar scenes and people.

    The murals along the left wall terminated at a massive statue of Jesus Christ on a winged cross.

    "This is the same style cross on Acwellan's arm. It is an ancient design, from a time when Delaenists believed Valkyries selected who would go to Heaven when they fell in battle. The modern church changed the official design to the softer angels' wings. Now, only the 6 great martyr families use the old cross."

    An important-looking plaque was located at the feet of Jesus' statue.

    Lunde translated for her:

    _TO THE VAUNTED HOUSE OF TOLLAND, THE MOST ESTEEMED HOUSE OF LUNDE, THE ILLUSTRIOUS HOUSE OF LAMINGTON, THE MIGHTY HOUSE OF NYQUIST,

    TO THE WISEST HOUSE OF HASIL, ENLIGHTENED FAR BEYOND ITS DAY,

    TO THE BRAVEST HOUSE OF DEVOY, DEFIANT TO THE LAST MAN,

    TO THE LEGENDARY HOUSE OF AELIR, FATHER TO US ALL,

    WE, THE EMERALD ORDER OF THE DELAENIST FAITH, DEDICATE THIS GREATEST OF ALL CATHEDRALS. MAY YOUR MEMORY LIVE ON EVEN TO THE DAY WHEN ELIANDER'S VISIONS OF PEACE AND PROSPERITY COME TO BE. REST IN PEACE, BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF THE LORD._

    Memorials to martyr families lined the right wall, with their lineages etched into the stone. The lineages were surprisingly up-to-date. The youngest crop of Devoys were already there:

    Brandeus ----- Lia Jenson am Eriksson
    ????.??...|
    Brandeus, Acwellan, Alea, Tristan

    Acwellan ----- Jane Reymond am Kedallt
    ??????...|
    ?????.Alereus

    Alea ----- Zander Torstein am Varia
    ???...|
    ??..Mayla Torstein am Devoy

    Unfortunately, many of these families didn't appear to be doing well. The House of Tolland was down to 2 people, while the House of Hasil had been broken entirely. The House of Aelir was down to a single person, as Glorius had known from ex-Commissioner Davian Lamington. The House of Lunde was also down to a single person, a Mr. Byran Lunde am Eliander.

    "Yes, I am a descendant of Eliander, maybe the last, my last known relative died three years ago. Eliander is known to have had a wife and children, but their names have been lost to time. They are known to have existed and to have died of a terrible disease so rare that science has no name for it. Eliander had it, which may have been the source of his visions. While his lineage can no longer be proven through DNA testing, it can easily be traced through the disease, as it matches no other illness known to man and has never been discovered in any other family line. The only descendants of Eliander who don't die from it, die of unnatural causes first. I am dying of it rather spectacularly and don't know how long this can go on."

    Glorius didn't really know what to say, but Lunde was perfectly content to keep talking, a lot.

    "Oh, please don't look at me like that. God will take good care of me. I have started adoption proceedings to keep both the families of Lunde and Eliander alive, while taking this disease with me to the grave so it will never again afflict anyone."

    They entered the sanctuary. While smaller than the National Cathedral, it was much more ornate.

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    Suddenly, Glorius felt some sinister presence in the area, a nameless anxiety that couldn't be pinpointed.

    "They say that the Emerald Lady is among the most haunted places on the planet. That is partly due to a mass suicide that occurred here, and ill-timing when people have visited. I get incredibly violent seizures that can go on for hours, the kind where you are just screaming in pain the whole time. The sound is quite terrifying and when transformed by the acoustics in this building, doesn't sound human. They can strike at any time and there is nothing that anyone can do, so I prefer the place is empty when I am working down in the Archives. Plus, any one of them could kill me, so I'd rather not have anyone bear the guilt of seeing it. But, not everyone knows this, and they find out in a hurry, but never venture down into the Archives, so they never know what in the world the sound is. Thus, the reputation of the cathedral."

    They walked up to the altar.

    "The entire Delaenist leadership committed mass suicide on this very spot, about a decade before the end of the War Among Brothers, during a low point when everything was thought to be lost. The war is listed in the Book of the Wars of the Lord as the 400 Years' War and the history is full of holes in the official account. The full story was lost when the Emerald Order intentionally collapsed the entrance tunnel, sealing the Emerald Lady off from the outside world.

    The Laatzenian emperors were radical Catholics at that point in time, not unlike the modern Crusader terrorists. This, coupled with the sheer ferocity of the war, is why many believe the war was religiously motivated, an all-out assault to wipe Delaenism off the face of the Earth. During the Unification, this stuff was written out of history, in order to help heal the combined nation.

    Of course, this only made the discord worse, as the Delaenists accused the Catholics and their own sect of a cover-up. The victims of the war were never given closure and while many swore to never forget, you'd be surprised what a thousand years can do to one's memory. The 6 martyr families cared a bit more and most still know what happened to their ancestors. You don't even want to hear what Acwellan thinks of the Catholic Church. He's intelligent enough to know better, but blames the whole faith for producing terrorists, in that millennium and this one. Even my good friend Brandeus, his far wiser brother, is unable to make him see reason.

    The Devoys weren't even originally involved. They were just ordinary people, living in Hasilthec when the war broke out. Laatzenian emperors reserved special hatred for Hasilthec and burned it to the ground. The founding Hasil family was executed in public. This is when the Devoys snapped and lashed out in the Battle of Devoy Circle. They were a large and strong family with many friends, it took days to pacify Devoy Circle. To make an example of them, the emperor had all the survivors of the family brutally executed, I don't even want to describe what happened to them. Only Alereus Devoy was spared, having not been in the city at the time.

    If they only knew the truth, that it was indeed religiously motivated, but not the Catholic Church's fault. The emperor alone is to blame, the way the modern Crusaders are to blame for terrorism, not the entire church. Anyone can form their own interpretation of a religious text, the Catholics don't purposefully manufacture terrorists.

    The Laatzenian people did not want any of the brutality and their opposition to the emperor's methods is what really won the war in the end. The Laatzenian Army burned every city they took to the ground. The Duxburian Army refused to loot even a single horse and left all Laatzenian cities as they were, minus the defenses. Delaenist respect for the enemy almost cost this country its existence, but it did work. The Laatzenians eventually sided with the Duxburians, rose up, and forced their own emperor to end the war and unite with the Duxburians as one nation. The Laatzenian Uprising has been completely forgotten, as its historical documents are all thought to be lost. People think the Duxburian Army forced the victory, a sore point with Laatzenians for the usual military pride reasons.

    However, those members of the Emerald Order who chose not to commit suicide kept careful records and saved the full history of the war in scattered locations. When the Emerald Cathedreal was rediscovered, all of the data was reunited in its Delaenist Archives. Finally, the truth could be revealed to the world.

    However, the Council of Deons relied on its own library for information and didn't want to take the time and effort to fact check against the massive amount of data that had been reunited. Having been raised in this cathedral, I was able to access the Archives at my leisure and discovered the truth. When I came of age at 15, I joined what was left of the Emerald Order and volunteered to read and interpret the Archives. I knew the material was good enough to rewrite history and restore good relations, even friendship, between Delaenists and others. Delaenists hate Jews because of what they think happened to Jan, Ansley, and Leanna the day Christ was crucified. They hate Protestants because they refused to help during the War Among Brothers, among other ideological disputes. And of course, they reserve special hatred for Roman Catholicism.

    But, all of this can be fixed with the archive data! If only the right people would read the evidence!"

    After a long staircase, they arrived in the hall of the Delaenist Archives.

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    Lunde continued to dominate be the conversation.

    "This is where I spent the past 14 years of my life, mastering the Archives. Only two other people cared enough to help, Brandeus Devoy and William Nyquist. Brandeus couldn't be here often, but he wrote us programs that helped translate, group, organize, and analyze documents much faster than any humans could possibly go through it all. William took care of me after coming out of seizures and tackled the raw documents with"

    Byran flinched mid-sentence and stopped talking.

    Glorius looked around, but there was nothing there.

    He flinched again and looked furious with himself.

    "No, not now, I must be stronger?I must?"

    He spoke again, with clenched fists, in a dead serious tone.

    "President Glorius, you are a champion of peace, willing to take on the region's problems, seeking the best possible resolutions...

    ...No, I must?

    ?You get people to put aside their differences and see the beauty in all humanity. Eliander's love, Jesus' sacrifice, runsss strongnnnjjjer in yyyyyy tin mos perzi taai haz,

    ?NO, I MUST!?

    Will you please take my work and reconcile the religions and correct history the way it'ssss suuuuppossssed to be? William cannot do this, Brandeus cannot do this, but you would actually be able to achieve this. I have wawaited my entiyyyre lifffffor tih momenza?"

    "Of course I will!"

    Glorius cut Byran off, unable to bear hearing any more of him starting to struggle to speak.

    "Graz yo, Iulia Gloreus"

    Fighting to stay composed, Lunde ran over to a desk and procured a pair of flash drives, which he gave to the Aurean president with trembling hands. He still looked furious with himself.

    "Ne, ai muz, ne, ai muz, ne, ai must?no, I must?

    ?This is my life's work, Brandeus has the backup, if you need help find him, otherwise everything you need to know is on this drive?and on that one, the entire archive, 8 terabytes of text, organized, eayassy terr arrrread?"

    ?Plez taik ti," Lunde took off the necklace and ring he was wearing and handed them to Glorius.

    "I?I?cannot take these from you," she responded, once she really had a good look at them.

    The necklace bore the emblem of the House of Lunde etched in silver, highlighted with Duxburian whitestone. The ring was studded with whitestone, with a centerpiece bearing the valkyrie-based winged cross etched into Delonaean firestone. Whitestone was incredibly rare, but firestone was priceless - it only came from one place on Earth - deep inside Mau Delonaea, and only before the Duxburian Unification.

    But, Lunde was persistent and finally she relented. Satisfied, his facial expression changed to one of utter blankness, with no emotion at all.

    Then he snapped back into reality, something clearly still needing to be done.

    "Yo reskel Nyquist, reskel Nyquist"

    His English was gone, so he tried to use hand motions pointing to a bell on the wall, then up to the ceiling, and then to his hand.

    Glorius rang it loudly as Lunde collapsed to the ground, still fighting it.

    Someone came running in, a man older than Lunde, dressed like he'd hastily been woken up. Confused, he looked at the Aurean president, then down at Lunde, then at the things she was holding.

    "Please, can you help him!? He kept repeating "Yo reskel Nyquist" and pointing to that bell, the ceiling, and his finger."

    "There is nothing I can do, he will slip into a serious seizure at any moment now. But, I think I know what he wants. We must go, right now."

    Glorius wanted to stay and help him, but fought the instinct and was able to run with the man back up the stairs, through the sanctuary, the main hall, and back up the tunnel to the gate.

    "This is what Byran wanted," the man said, pressing his finger to the reader and revealing himself as William Nyquist am Haladrian, clearance level: A1.

    "He is a remarkable young man, truly a son of Eliander. He's down there, about to slip into a terrible seizure that could take his life, and all he can think about is finding someone who can open the gate for you, so that you can return to the surface. He's probably still holding it back so you don't hear what happens next."

    Glorius felt sick.

    "Please take these, he gave them to me, but I?couldn't," shoving the necklace and ring at Nyquist.

    "He gave you the ring too!?" Nyquist looked very concerned, and without another word, he ran back down the tunnel, without taking the items.

    Glorius could not go back down, for she was now a couple steps on the wrong side of the gate.

    There was nothing to do except return to the National Cathedral.

    Acutus noticed that she was upset about something, but Glorius could not confide in her yet, she wouldn't understand. After what Byran Lunde said about Acwellan Devoy, she wasn't sure if she could even raise the subject with him. However, she would have to tell him at least something, for he was highly trained in counter-intelligence, and could see that she was distressed.

    The Duxburian religious representatives were talking about something, but she could barely listen while the weight of what she'd just experienced sank in, not to mention the priceless objects in her pockets. There was still one person who might be able to help comfort her and return them to Lunde. Lunde's other friend was named Brandeus Devoy. Odds were, he would be at the secret state dinner that night. If not, she still had time to seek him out.

    Back on the train, Acwellan Devoy asked what happened during her individual prayer, concerned.

    "I got into a deep state of relaxation and meditation. While in this state, I thought I saw a ghost. You know how the mind can play tricks with you?but it appeared to be a real person. Do you know a person by the name of Byran Lunde?"

    "Byran Lunde? He used to be a good friend of my brother. But, nobody has seen or heard from Byran in 14 years."

    Devoy was puzzled.

    "He came to the National Cathedral with misquided ambitions about challenging the history of Delaenism and vanished without a trace. But, this must mean that he's alive and still in the cathedral. You talked with him? What did he tell you?"

    "I could not understand him, it was all in Kendrelaatzenian and in a pretty thick accent. It became apparent that we couldn't communicate properly and he gave up."

    Glorius never usually lied to anyone, but she had to be careful with this for a reason other than politics: Lunde and Nyquist had A1 security clearances while Devoy had A2. "Off the reservation" probably meant that neither Councillor Devoy nor even Aelir Dehn had intended for her to learn the information.

    "I was upset, because he clearly had something very important to say and was unable to express it. There was something about his work, a ring, the Deons, it was hard to make out with my limited knowledge of the language."

    Of course, this couldn't be farther from the truth, as Lunde had native-level command of English and didn't shut up, but Devoy didn't appear to know this.

    "Byran Lunde had all these grand plans about "fixing" history and changing the Church. You either need to be a Deon on the Council, which can take a lifetime to achieve, or have some other means of commanding the Church's attention in order to even raise the possibility of editing the Delaan. One of his goals was to find the legendary firestone ring of Eliander, as it supposedly empowered the bearer with the will of the prophets.

    This isn't as far-fetched as it sounds, as very significant people in Delaenism have owned it. Eliander am Canaan, the maker and original owner, willed it to Deloneus am Delon, who passed it though his family line. At some point, it was gifted to the Gospel Ansley, who then gave it to Jesus am Nazareth, who returned it to Ansley before the crucifixion. After Ansley was also killed, it was rescued from the Jews by the Gospel Jan, who gave it to the Cosil am Deoni. The Council then passed it to Lir am Kedallt, who willed it to Kyle Nyquist am Haladrian. But, no one knows what happened to it after Nyquist's death. That thing has been lost for over a thousand years. No one has even bothered to counterfeit it, as genuine firestone is a matchless mineral."

    The rock in Glorius' pocket seemed to weigh a thousand pounds now.

    "I outright refused to support these wild schemes, so we went our separate ways. We never really saw eye to eye about the past, either. Byran was so paranoid, rejecting the entire library of the Council. I mean, it's the most authoritative record of Delaenism we know of, if you can't trust the Deons, who can you trust?"

    While Glorius would have loved to learn more about the Councillor's point of view, she didn't want to push her luck any more. Devoy would eventually read her body language and be suspicious if she kept going. She was genuinely shocked at what he didn't appear to know about his own religion and his own history.

    She tried to shift focus to economics, as this was the next leg of the summit. The train would be taking the delegation to Kligenberg Castle, but Glorius still couldn't get her mind out of the Emerald Cathedral.

    Continued in part 2

    *******


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