Propontis, Pelasgia The Imperial and Patriarchal Cathedral of Divine Providence (or Hagia Pronoia in Pelasgian) was the most famous and recognizable landmark of Propontis and of Pelasgia as a whole, on par perhaps only with the Acropoleis of the great and ancient cities of Old Pelasgia. Built in 537 AD by one of the most renowned Emperors of Southern Tibur, Sabbatius the Great, the Cathedral had almost bankrupted the Pelasgian state at the time, becoming the symbol of greatness of the Second Tibur. Through centuries and ages totalling one thousand and five hundred years, the Cathedral had withstood wars, rebellions, coups, sackings, plagues and all sorts of other calamities. Its walls been reinforced and repaired at every step, its impressive frescoes and mosaics restored at the smallest damage or crack, and its golden and other precious icons, furniture and treasures safeguarded or replaced with the utmost of care. The Hagia Pronoia, as it was even known among foreigners, was Propontis's jewel, and thus the crown jewel of all Pelasgia. As long as it stood, so would the Second Tibur, or so the local urban legends went. Surrounding the immense Cathedral was an equally impressive park, named the Gardens of the Metropole (after the Pelasgian term for an Archdiocese and a Cathedral). Scattered around the gardens were small religious shrines, artificial nests of clay for birds to take shelter in and be fed and given water, and statues and statuettes of various historical figures, including Patriarchs, Emperor, statesmen and scholars. Treading on the stone-paved pathways of the gardens, whose stones were perfectly cut and fit together to create an even, rectangular and flat path in the ancient Tiburan way, was a tall, somewhat thin man with pale skin and dark hair and eyes. His head shape was oval, and a prominent chin protruded, aligning with a sharp but straight nose at a relatively small angle with the face. A pair of delicate golden spectacles was supported by the said nose. Being the most prominent feature of the man's face, apart from an equally prominent widow's peak. Dressed in a dark blue to near black suit, with a white shirt and navy blue tie, the man stopped at the intersection of two pathways, which was covered by a metal frame around which various climbing plants had grown. The man turned and fixed his eyes on a small robin on one of the garden's trees, as it carefully nested itself there, preferring its natural habitat over the clay housing provided by man's generosity. He smiled at the sight of the tiny but lively creature; one third of September had already elapsed and yet the weather was still so warm and pleasant in the Pelasgian north that no sign of autumn could be detected by the untrained eye. The man, a native of the more agricultural regions near Akra, could see the signs of Autumn slowly creeping in the skies over the Queen of Cities. Soon, the rain season would be upon them. Soon, but not yet, fortunately for the little creature. The man finally shifted his gaze away from the bird and made his way to the Cathedral via one of the countless side entrances. Near the entrance was a small fountain, the likes of which could be found at every Pelasgian church. A beautiful, colourful mosaic of two peacocks joining their beaks, a Pelasgian favourite, could be found on the wall behind the fountain sink. Over the two peacocks was an inscription of an palindrome known to all Pelasgians, and many pious or educated foreigners: ΝΙΨΟΝ ΑΝΟΜΗΜΑΤΑ ΜΗ ΜΟΝΑΝ ΟΨΙΝ (NIPSON ANOMIMATA MI MONAN OPSIN), meaning "Wash the sins, not only the face". Following the sacred inscription's instructions, the man washed his face with water from the blessed fountain, quenched his thirst and then headed indoors. Like all Pelasgian churches, the Hagia Pronoia was largely dark and windowless, with window coming from small, tinted windows located far above the height of most people, principally around the base of the Church's dome, to give off a mystical and awe-inspiring feeling. Light was supplemented by thousands upon thousands of candles, lit by the faithful every day in small metal sites filled with sand around the church. Each candle was a prayer for the person lighting it or a loved one, and in a big city like Propontis, the prayers were countless. How many candles were in the Hagia Pronoia at any one time, the man had wondered many times. A thousand? Ten thousand? A hundred thousand? Only the Receptor of all those prayers could know. The man made the sign of the cross and deposited a four individual one-obol coins from his pocket into a small slit near the entrance of the Cathedral. He took six candles out and held them by his side as he started repeating another familiar process to any Pelasgian Christian: making the sign of the cross and 'kissing' all the icons placed around the Church, starting (of course) with the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ. Finally, after that duty was done, he took the candles and moved near one of the countless candle stands, lighting them from the light of other candles and placing them inside the stand's sand filling, before making the sign of the cross once more. As he turned around to make his way to the exit, he heard a voice calling from behind. "Lord Notaras," the voice said, unmistakably belonging to a clergyman through its amicable but commanding tone; "good day to you." Notaras turned around and bowed, kissing the hand of the elderly clergyman, receiving his blessing. "And to you, Your All-Holiness." "Will you be joining us for the vespers, my Lord Prime Minister?" "I'm afraid not, Your-All-Holiness. I must meet with His Imperial Majesty over certain matters of state." Notaras' response was cryptic, though the elderly Man of God knew very well what those matters were; as did any Pelasgian really, though social taboo would not allow the matter to be aired publicly. "I see. Four candles for Your Lordship's family, and two for His Highness, the Diadochos and his wife," the Patriarch observed, referring to the Heir Apparent by his Pelasgian title. The Prime Minister neither denied nor confirmed the assertion. "I might need Your All-Holiness' advice on some matters of state, in the near future. Would Your All-Holiness be willing to help me in this regard?" "The Great Church of Christ in Propontis is always willing to aid in the preservation and good governance of God's own State on Europe. Though for a certain matter I suspect, you already know the advice: wash the sins, not only the face." The Prime Minister had received a positive response, pithy as it was. "Thank you, Your All-Holiness. I must now take my leave." "Good day, my child. And God be with you," he said making the sign of the cross at Themistoklis A. Notaras. "And with you, Your All-Holiness." And with those words, the Prime Minister headed out of the Cathedral, onto the street, where his chauffeur awaited to the sound of an accordion player walking through the streets of Old Propontis.