One evening late summer, while the entire Lapisulion Peninsula was submerged deep into subdued adoration of the Holy Trinity, a young man wandered a distinctly isolated road stretching away from the shining port city of Adatha. The man was of fine and swarthy appearance, and was humbly dressed in nothing but a dun toga and equally dull sandals. The scenery without the road was one which might be seen anywhere in the Empire, dusty and weathered by insurmountable use, and bordered by sparsely dotted hedgerows that hid all sorts of chattering wildlife. The man’s tufted footfalls were straight and, while shambolic, true of purpose; he was heading to that gilded city of Lautia: the Imperial City. The man’s Lautian face was angular and proud, though the humility with which he bowed his head, crooked as if it were a wilting flower, displayed more than a hint of piety. And well he did behave pious, for today was a most auspicious day for the burgeoning Empire.
Within every city and town, and every hamlet and village, the chiming, ringing, tinkling sounds of church and cathedral bells sonorously assaulted every avenue of Lautian consciousness. Hushed humming and mumbled mutterings of prayer were filling each place of worship to the brim, and it was close to impossible to find a family that did not have at least a single member currently prostrate, supplicating their mortal lords through prayer. Some, of course, epitomised the divided nature inherent to the Empire, wandering deep into secluded forests to sacrifice and pour libation to old gods and forgotten masters; far from the centres of civilisation, they were also far from the minds of those of the Church, and so were largely ignored, tolerated presently like one might graciously ignore a light headache. The reason for such decorated devotion was the decision by the Imperial Synod to establish a three-day celebration for the new beau of the Empire: Marcus Verus Dignus.
Dignus was the very same Lautian as the one wandering towards the white-ringed city of Lautia, and it was with no small amount of satisfaction that he saw its towering spires of churches and cathedrals and palaces thrusting like imposing spears into the horizon, skewering the skyline with all the ambition of Lautia. He was late to his own celebration, by an entire day, but such problems were not wholly rare, and the Imperial City enjoyed without him, as peasants made themselves merry on the free-flowing wine that, through an articulate method of transportation, was carried through the city’s vast public sectors, gloriously inviting to all, while the food offered at ridiculously cheap prices made the poorer populaces look upon the state not with loathing for the time being, but with unadulterated affection. Prayer and celebration were woven together masterfully in the Imperial City, and it was the pride of the Hands that they could bring the two side-by-side so beautifully.
The celebrations and adorations were for Dignus, and there were none in the City who would not know what he had done. Messages scrawled with official handwriting, and signed by godly signatures were distributed to churches all across the City and Empire, and those who could not read the list of almost superlative successes of the Lautian beau were read to by priests and the learned who could read the classical tongue of Old Livoniianoi: the tongue of all Imperial record. Dignus’s brilliance was flaunted throughout the Empire, with many boasting of his magnificent defeat of a slave rebellion beyond the Jut, and of his manning of the God Fence against a band of at least six thousand barbarians. Claims of his rise from a simple son of a farm in the provinces to his role in sieging the City of Nallus were as astounding as they were engaging. Perhaps the only truth to soar higher than the acclaimed brilliance of Dignus was the falsehood and over-exaggeration which came with it. He was astute in military, this was true, but the details of each of his battles and adventures had been greatly exaggerated through fabulous games of whisperings and rumours. Where he had fought off a small band of six-hundred barbarians, it became six-thousand; where he had struggled to put down a slave rebellion, he had simply defeated a larger, but far less equipped and trained, band of arguable inebriated slaves who were unused to the tactics of Lautia. His crowning achievement was sieging the City of Nallus, far to the North West of Lautia, which had closed its gates to Imperial Forces, and terrified refugees told grizzly stories of how all good Lautian people were being routinely massacred by the Nallian people. This was one area Dignus’s achievements were not inflated to godly status, and truly were remarkable, as he managed to recapture his army’s standard when his Legate was killed, and, preventing a rout, had donned his Legate’s cape and helmet and ensured that the ladders and siege towers were finally put into place.
Nallus had been punished for its insubordination nearly as much as Dignus was now about to be praised, and it was as he came to the Imperial City that the entire sense of fulfilment truly struck the up and coming soldier. Heart flickering, he entered the City, and joined the pageantry with elation.
Summary: Dignus is introduced. He is on his way to the Imperial City for the prayers and celebrations regarding his astounding military victories across the Peninsula.