Wash the sins, not only the face

Discussion in 'The World Stage' started by Pelasgia, Sep 11, 2019.

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  1. Pelasgia

    Pelasgia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    2,300
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    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.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019 at 4:28 AM
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  2. Pelasgia

    Pelasgia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    2,300
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    Propontis, Pelasgia

    The Grand Palace of Propontis was a majestic building by all accounts, impressing generations of Pelasgian and foreign visitors and onlookers alike. Unlike Gallo-Germanian palaces, which were often isolated from the general public, the Grand Palace was located right at the heart of Propontis, a stone's toss away from the Forum, the Cathedral of Hagia Pronoia and the Hippodrome of Propontis. Having survived centuries of unrest and bounty, both equally inducive to renovation and reconstruction of landmarks, the Grand Palace had seen many iterations, its latest being a product of Propontis' 19th century architectural revival based on the style of Neoclassicism. Extending for several blocks and surrounded by vast and blooming gardens, the Palace itself was largely built of marble, with Pelasgian pillars and pilasters, arches and domes, and large metallic and glass doors and windows scattered across it structure. Painted yellow where it was not white (though with many ornamental details of its marble elements also painted in other colours such as red, blue and gold) the Palace stood out in the midst of the Imperial Gardens' green expanse.

    Outside the main gates of the Palace stood units of ceremonial guards affiliated with the Pelasgian Imperial Guard. Among these was, almost always, a unit of Varangians and another unit of Pelasgian guards; both wore grey ceremonial uniforms, though the Pelasgians had black fabric details (such as collar markings) and the Varangians purple. The guards stood in perfect formation all day every day, guarding the Emperor of Pelasgia in His official residence, alongside regiments of ceremonial cavalry, and detachments of the Imperial Pelasgian Police's Imperial Bodyguard Service. The Special Directorate for National Security handled most real security these days, though the contribution of the Pelasgian military and police could never be understated. These guards usually stood in the square outside the main gate, between the large fountains of the Imperial Gardens and the actual palace compound. A small road also stood between the two parts of the complex, through where motorcades would usually pass. On this fine and sunny day of mid-September, one such motorcade of luxury black cars with Pelasgian flags came through.

    Exiting his armoured car, Prime Minister Themistoklis A. Notaras walked up the first flight of stairs from the small road to the marble square outside the main gates. A few steps in, he stopped before the statue of Emperor Valentian the Great, the founder of New Tibur (the city that would later become Propontis); on the base of the statue the simple words "In this sign, conquer" were written in Ancient Pelasgian, right below a Chi-Rho symbol. The Prime Minister bowed before continuing his trek to the Palace's main gates, which stood atop another flight of stairs. After climbing these, he entered the Palace through the large main gate, whose heavy green door was made of metal and glass, coming into the main reception hall. The tall ceiling and shining marble of the Palace never ceased to amaze him, as did the ornate frescoes, gold-coated and golden furniture and the crystal dome abode. A servant greeted the middle-aged statesman and nobleman with a bow.

    "Your Lordship is expected by His Imperial Majesty in the Privy Council room," the man stated.

    "Thank you, Kornelios," Notaras replied, received a bow before continuing on his way, up the stairs and towards the Privy Council room, through the Palace's wide and ornate halls. Once in the room, he found himself received not just by the Emperor of Pelasgia, but by the Imperial Physician, the Diadochos (Crown Prince/Heir-Apparent) and the Lord Privy Seal. Upon his entry, he saw the Emperor who was staring outside a window into the Palace's internal courtyard, slightly turn to speak to him: "Privy Councilor Notaras. Please, take a seat."

    The Emperor, Andronikos III Komnenos, was a man of rather tall statute, with striking dark features except for his pale skin. His fox-like piercing stare, which he even returned at over sixty years of age, had earned him the nickname "the Fox of Propontis", an epithet which fit his cunning wit and sharp mind. Dressed in the all-white summer uniform of the Imperial Pelasgian Navy, the Emperor tightly clutched the handle of his sheathed sabre with his left hand as he stood silent and motionless behind one of the room's windows. Around the oaken table of the privy council room, three other men sat. At the very left, the Diadochos sat in the olive-green uniform of the Imperial Pelasgian Army, similarly clutching his own sword with one hand. His cap rested on the table before him, revealing a face quite similar to his father's, though with a hint of his mother's slightly more pointed features. To the Heir's right were two elderly Privy Councilors, the Imperial Physician and the Lord Privy Seal, both dressed in evening dress and and with the sash and medal of some Imperial order of chivalry. Notaras himself wore such a uniform, with the sash and medal of the Imperial and Military Order of Saint Valentian the Great around his suit. It was rare indeed to meet a member of the Privy Council of Pelasgia who did not adorn some such garment.

    Obeying the Emperor's command, the Prime Minister sat down, shutting the door before him.

    "Dr. Kleomenous," the Emperor said, "brief the Prime Minister on the situation at hand."

    "At once, Your Majesty. My Lord Notaras, I have most unfortunate news. For a number of factors, it seems Her Imperial Highness, the Crown Princess-Consort has... been unable to deliver safely once more."

    The Prime Minister paused in shock, his mouth opening wide but with no sound, as his owl-like eyes spread open and stared at the Doctor, and the Crown Prince to his left.

    "So... another... it's a..." the Prime Minister mumbled.

    "Yes, Lord Notaras," the Diadochos, Alexios Komnenos, said. "Another stillborn. My little daughter has been deprived of a brother or sister yet again. Is it not true, Dr. Kleomenous?"

    "Well, I would never use that term, Your Imperial Highness, but... yes. Yes, indeed," the elderly physician explained, whipping his sweat with his handkerchief.

    "I see," the Prime Minister said. "A most tragic event. My deepest condolences, Your Imperial Majesty, Your Imperial Highness." His comment was accompanied with a long, deep bow.

    "Thank you, Lord Notaras," the Emperor explained, staring at the eagle on his naval officer's hat. "Did you have a chance to talk to the Patriarch?"

    "Yes, Your Imperial Majesty. His All-Holiness sends his warmest regards and blessings, both to Your Imperial Majesty and to Your Imperial Majesty's House."

    "And I take it he had something to say about the issue at hand, as always?" the Emperor asked.

    "Yes, Your Imperial Majesty." Notaras hesitated for a moment before reproducing what had been said to him. "he said 'wash the sins, not only the face'."

    The Emperor looked back up suddenly, with an angry expression. He kicked the wall before him forcefully, and took a few moments to calm down again.

    "Maybe His All-Holiness has a point, Father," the Diadochos said.

    "Yes, the clergy of the All-Mighty, All-Forgiving God always do have a point: how can one, even the Almighty, forgive one who has not asked for forgiveness?"
     
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