by Max Barry

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Kalidora

Eudos , Capital of Kalidora
"If power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, then this corruption must manifest in increased ageing" Arcadius the Fifth thought as he was looking at himself in the mirror. 4 decades. He had sat on the throne for over a generation. The Erudites had elected him when he was but 25, when the fires of youth still drove him. Now, at 67, he looked like a ghoul, a spirit that had walked straight from the underworld.

His mind turned toward retirement as he put his robe on. Perhaps it was time for him to move on to Elysium. Leave all these modern problems to a modern mind and focus on wine making, as his forbears had. Not a simple trade, wine making, but certainly simpler than rulership.

The imperial palace, the Méga Palátion was as splendid. Despite its glory and beauty, like the man at its head, it was in slight disrepair. Aracius had his mind on other things, and had let the jewel of Eudos fall into an impoverished existence. Gone was the purple silk that covered it's illustrious walls, gone too was some of the paint on many of the statues that adorned its noble halls. Arcadius didn't even notice this. He was caught up with the dream of retirement, the fervor to leave and have a humble life again. "Herias was right, I shouldn't have picked this life. I need to move on I want to preserve my dignity, kleos be damned!", and with that the most powerful man in Kalidora got to work.

The Erudites reuineted in a diet to debate the Successor of Arcadius. Those representing the natural sciences wanted Homer, who had been a strong voice in climate reform and increasing the domestic technological development. "A more just and wise man in Kalidora does not exist" They proclaimed. Those closer to the arts and human sciences favored Isidoras, renown poet and philosopher, known for her work on Kallistos, a hit play, and his political treaty, The state of man and government. "What we need now is passion and courage. The rule of the wise and just is fine, but we should turn our attention to the other virtues often forgotten." Neither block would really move on their positions. The Erudite of Philosophy and Ethics was one of the few that did not fit clearly into these cut out political entities. Kypros of Corfu was his name, and what he had in age he also had in craft, rhetorique and wisdom. Although the candidates outlined were virtuous, and would make for fine Erudites, the fly of Samos believed that the next Basileus had to be more balanced.

After about three weeks of long and hard debate, Kypros made his move

"My fellow scholars, we have gone back and forth in our usual tug of war over definitions, terms and ethics. Though I find the whole ordeal entertaining, particularly when the Erudite of Physics said the Erudite of Theater knew as little about governance as he did about dramatic irony. However, we can't keep bickering like this. I propose a different candidate: Philon of Serres. Their candidature shows an incredibly embodiment of the 5 virtues, and even more." A murmur was heard as the portfolio was passed out. Philon has completed their odyssey in multiple nations, including Tiaremotu, Mokuno-Kun, Avalonia and Tortula and Saint Kokomo. Alongside this, Philon had served some time in the 303 regiment, participated in several public katos, and finished a masters. It was one hell of a resume.

Kypros' tongue was sharper than any knife, and he quickly outlined why Philon should be picked. It was brief, effective and stunning.

On the fifth week, Philon was picked as the next bassileus. The Erudite of Language, Grammer and expression was not happy about having to come up with a gender neutral version of the historic title, but she accepted it as part of her duties.

The Scholar's Script
New Bassileus?
Several weeks ago, Bassileus Arcadius announced his retirement. In a brief address to the nation, he addressed that his age was begging to get in the way of rulership, and that "Modern problems require modern solutions. Solutions which someone more in touch with said problems could understand"
The Erudites have finally confirmed the pick, and in a stunning announcement. The coronation will align up with Kalidora's 2000th anniversary. Much is planned, celebrating over 2 thousand years of history!
The future Basilium has sparked already much contraversy by inviting foreign leaders to the event, as well by simply existing.

Kolakretai's Kollage
Is Kalidora ready for a non-binary ruler?
We all know that Kalidora is a bastion of acceptance, with no problems whatsoever when it comes to equality, but is Kalidora really ready for a non-binary head of state? What will other countries who do not have our great qualities think of us if we present this weak, gender non conforming leader? What kind of image would we be presenting? Read more on page 12

To: All Foreign Ministies/ Heads of Stat
From: The Basileus of Kalidora
Encryption level: Pythagoran

Dear Foreign dignitary,
May this message find you embraced by the beauty of the eternal creation,
In two weeks time Kalidora will be turning two thousand years old. On top of that, the coronation of a new Basileus will be taking place. Such a coincidence of events is rare in our history, and we would be most honored if you would come and grace the event with your pressence.

The Workers Union for the Proletariat, Tiaremotu, Tortula and Saint Kokomo, Mokuno-kun, and 2 othersShikito, and Avalonienholm

Tiaremotu

25.5°S, 39.8°E - Somewhere, in the middle of the Ocean

Tiaremotu's delegation could have arrived by the air, like most delegations would probably. But, perhaps because of the geographical proximity of the two nations, or Tiaremotu's fascination with seafaring, it was a 180 meter long yacht that was now making its way to the legendary city of Eudos. To be fair, the delegation had had time to prepare.

Five weeks for an election? How can they be so long when they have so few people who are actually allowed to vote? 'Oleloia ranted, for what must have been the seventh time tonight, much to the silent exasperation of her secretary, who took advantage of a second where the President of Tiaremotu had her back turned to briefly roll his eyes. He knew that 'Oleloia had only been elected Peretīteni a few months ago, and this was her first international visit, which was cause enough for stress. It was just unfortunate that his boss' stress always came out as periodic vents, and repeating herself forever, as if her words were emulating her mind's constant beating around the bush.

Do please brief me on who will be there the President asked, for, of course, not the first time that night. Controlling his desire to slam his notepad in her boss' face, Polū'hū complied.
"Of course, the centre of the ceremony, the new Bassileus, Philon of Serres. Apparently they are a well-travelled individual and a stunning polymath. Besides, their non-binary identity has caused some trouble in the millennia-old nation, that is actually celebrating its second Millenium of continued existence."

Non binary, you say?, 'Oleloia asked, raising her eyebrows. Now, it looks like those sages actually made an interesting decision. Perhaps she was wrong to have classified them as boring old savants. To break 2000 years of tradition definitely took some courage, and 'Oleloia respected that. Maybe something fruitful would come out of this visit in neighbouring Kalidora, despite their insistence for not letting their people decide of anything. If her years of experience politically brokering with delegates taught her one thing, it's that you could agree with the people you share the least in common. Some would call it hypocrisy, a Tiaremotuan would call it politics. And surely, if it worked within the Confederation's borders, it had a chance of working outside.

And others?

"Representatives from all nations were invited. The Ariki for Foreign Affairs, having noted that we should be open minded, has flagged Tortula and Saint Kokomo and Carmor as states that value democracy and freedom, and could be good interlocutors. We should also keep Uvlagiaq in mind, as a staunch defender of environmental affairs, as well as Shikito, for its mere trading potential.

Thank you, Polū'hū. You should sleep now, tomorrow will be a big day for you too.

As Polū'hū was making his way out of the terraced Presidential suite, 'Oleloia continued

I hope I was not too irritating tonight. It is just...that I do not know if this will be like partisan negotiations. I can sit fellow Tiaremotuans in an office and negotiate for ages. But what about a leader who is elected because they are one of the smartest people alive? Remembering her stature, 'Oleloia ceased, and simply ended You have my apology

"You have it too, Madam Peretīteni" Polū'hū said. "I might have shown my irritation tonight, but this was inappropriate to someone of your mana, and inconsiderate of what you are facing. Accept my apology as well."

So be it. O le upega e fili i le po, 'ae tatala i le ao

And with that, the pair parted. 'Oleloia spent some more on the upper deck, peering into the starry sky above. Perhaps it was those very stars that had led her ancestors to explore the Tiaremotu archipelago, centuries ago. It was a strange feeling to be making this journey the other way, now. She certainly hoped that what she would find on that other shore matched what her ancestors had found: a future. 'Oleloia was so absorbed by those thoughts that she omitted to make her way in the suite, and fell fast asleep on a pool bed on the yacht's terrace.

After receiving the letter from The basileus of Kalidora, a heated debate ensued over if a delegation should be sent. Pragmatic workers argued for sending a delegation by enumeration the benefits we would receive from cooperation with Kalidora. The purists argued that this would legitimize a wholly unjust system of governance, and any gain received would be small penance for the sacrificed morality. Others argued that exposing Kalidora leadership to our way of life could help improve the material conditions of the workers abroad. The delegation should not be just to Kalidora, but to every other attending nation as well.

In the end The Workers Union for the Proletariat had decided to send a delegation to the coronation of Philon of Serres. This delegation was made up of Senna, a professor of communications at The Academy of Education, and Yfke, a farmer and knitting enthousiast. As is custom, the delegation brough two wooden boxes with gifts in them. The first box, engraved with Some problems are nails, contained a hammer, this symbolizes the tendency for academics to overcomplicate simple problems. The second box had the engraving For when hunger strikes and contained a sickle, a reminder of the essential labour done to uphold any civilization.

After Yfke and Senna arrived in Kalidora, the delegation got a warm welcome and made themselves acquainted with their living quarters. After unpacking their luggage, the pair made their way to the free lunch buffet. There is no free lunch Yfke quiped. Indeed Senna replied, Even this comes at the cost of the humble labourer. But we should keep our heads down, capitalists tend to get quite violent if their way of life is critiqued. We shall keep further politics to ourselves until the coronation, where we will be treated as if we were affluent. Yfke noted. Especially since we might cause a diplomatic incident with the likes of Shikito.

Kalidora, Tiaremotu, Tortula and Saint Kokomo, and Mokuno-kun

"So who's the new basileus anyways?" asks prime minister Grantley Adams on his way to Kalidora. His assistant starts to correct him, but before he could finish, Adams interrupts him. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know it was a woman. That makes her a... Basileia? Basilissa?" The assistant correct him again, "basilium, non-binary". Adams looks visibly confused. "Just... Don't say he or she and you'll be fine," advises his assistant.

The next day, Adams woke up too late to make use of the free lunch buffet. He seems to be in a bad mood, even more than usual. Perhaps he's angry at himself for missing the lunch. He invites his assistant into his room to discuss the goals of this visit. Besides the ceremony, this coronation is the perfect time to talk to some of the world's leaders. "As long as I don't talk to those bastard from Shikito, everything is fine. Having big companies in Tortula and Saint Kokomo is great, but we we can't have a full-fledged government setting shop at home. We don't wanna turn into some kind of fake republic, do we?" "Way too risky," the assistant agrees, "I'll try to keep them away."

Kalidora, Uvlagiaq, and Mokuno-kun

Tiaremotu

Off Eudos, Kalidora

'Oleloia was suddenly awoken by a tantrum she could not explain. Slowly coming to her senses, it took her a few seconds to remember she had fallen fast asleep outside the suite. But what on earth was this noise, a combination of running and loud screaming?

It was when she saw the lower deck that she understood. The crew and staff had amassed at the bow, excitedly pointing at the horizon, where the contours of the Legendary Kalidoran capital were slowly drawing themselves, as if the city was being built before their very eyes. Towers, statues, rooftops, and gardens mystically started emerging at the junction between sky and land.

It took less than an hour for the 200 meter long vessel to make it's way to the head of the river. The Captain ordered the Tiaremotuan flags to be raised as the ship glided past the colossal bronze statue that guarded the entrance of the river, a clear symbol to any arrived that they were entering the heart of civilisation itself.
As the ship continued making its may through the river, the banks were now clearly visible. Crowds of Kalidorans and Foreigners had amassed, tending to their everyday activities, from commuting to trading to visiting. It is as if the streets were about to burst from the sheer human numbers.

"Do you think it is always crowded like this? Or did the coronation bring so much of this nation to its capital?" 'Oleloia daydreamed. Next to her, Polū'hū merely shrugged, though 'Oleloia did not see that.

She was now concentrated on the buildings, some of which whose stones were older than Tiaremotu itself. It was humbling to even start imagining the amount of history that had taken place at evcery one of these locations. To think that these sinuous streets, paved roads, and picturesque storefronts were standing here a thousand years ago... 'Oleloia felt guilty to come barging here with her yacht. Who was she to trouble those millennial waters and add to the skyline of a city that had stood the test of time more than any place she had ever seen? The place had an undeniable capital of mana, so much had been done there that it had its own clout, and it had its very particular way of imposing this truth on the new visitors, who watched in awe as a villa made place for an archway, to a temple or a colonnade. All that enclosed in stone and marble, as if the city, under its own weight, had fallen from the mighty skies themselves.

Entranced by what she saw, 'Oleloia had not even noticed that the ship had come to a halt at the historical docks, where a welcome committee was already present. More than ever, she was mindful of what impression she would give. How many leaders like her had stepped on the stones that formed the docks? Would her arrival leave any trace in the vast flow of history that, like the river that crossed Eudos, mercilessly flowed and carried the sediments of humanity? 'Oleloia would have much enjoyed to reflect on those questions, but the doors of the yacht had already opened, and under the rising sunlight of Eudos, she stepped on the dock.

Kalidora

Megas Limani, Eudos, Kalidora
The sun gleamed on the historic port, it's tall cooper statues adorning the entrance. Nereus God of sea, travel and fortune greeted all foreign ships making their way in and out, spear in one hand and bag of pearls in the other.

On such an important day, Aratus was counting feet. So many feet. Some might even say he had a foot fetish. There was such variety, such grace and style, these old harbours were a source of genuine inspiration. There was the classic Iambi trimeter, the controversial hendecasyllable and who could forget the molossus, breaking all convention. Simply put, Aratus was attached to feet, both literally and figuratively. His mind drifted into the never ending void of poetry. His last sonnets had not gone well with the local audience. Perhaps he should stick to Omiltis, his wit had always been better anyway. The struggling poet barely registered the arriving ship. As Mankas Omiltis, He had been asked to greet the foreign guests, something which he was interested in, but not as much as feet.
Aratus quickly made sure no particle had accumulated on his purple Chiton. He was wearing the Basseleus' colors and did not want to bring such dishonor to the noble throne. He also ensured his headband was well in place, keeping the ball of fuzz he called a haircut in place.

"Ah most honored guests, may the eternal creation shine in it's eternal splendor. Welcome, to Kalidora, birthplace of philosophy, theater and war." He exclaimed as the foreign delegation made it's way to dry land. "I am Aratus son of Oedipus of Argolis, the Mankas Omiltis, at your service" He bowed, "I'm afraid the rivers no longer run with wine and honey. Eudos still stands tall to welcome you though. I'll be taking you to your temporary residence for the celebrations. We will be passing through the historic center before sliding our way through the city".

As Yurishiro Hashimoto leaned back in his leather seat, he closed his eyes and thought about the upcoming celebration. The government jet was extremely quiet due to its sleekness, yet a quick glance at one of the monitors confirmed the supersonic speed the jet was cruising at. This made sure that little time was wasted, as every working hour was generously compensated. Having gathered his thoughts, Hashimoto looked around, spotting his secretary and head of security — Mike. He was traveling without his other executives, but the jet was anything but empty.
"Any last-minute updates?" he asked his secretary, who shook her head.
"No sir," she responded.
Just then, the intercom sounded.
"Mr. Hashimoto, sir, we are on final approach."

As the built-in ladder extended from the jet, Hashimoto stepped down and into the armored limousine which had been transported there beforehand. While the convoy made its way to the reception, he once again went over his calendar. This was one of his first international visits as the CEO of Shikito (his appointment was relatively recent) and he did not want to let down his shareholders. Confident that everything would go according to plan, the 38-year-old looked out of the tinted car window to the approaching building.

Entering the lobby, the delegation received a relatively warm welcome. Nations being suspicious and jealous of Shikito was nothing new, so Hashimoto shrugged it off. He was hoping to improve relations, at least with Kalidora. After pleasantries were exchanged, the CEO motioned for two agents to present the pair of gifts, as giving in pairs was tradition. One was a beautiful curved sword, with a surprisingly dark color.
"The blade is made with a graphene-reinforced steel," Hashimoto explained. "An ancient tool and technique augmented with state-of-the-art technology. I hope that you can appreciate that."
The second gift was a rather heavy model of a guiding hand.
"While the first gift shall protect you from physical danger, may the second guide and protect your economy."

With that, the delegation excused themselves to their rooms. It was still quite early, and lunch would not be served for another 2 hours.

After his protection agents had swept the room — especially for bugs — the CEO made a few phone calls.

At precisely 13:00, Yurishiro was ready for lunch. Stepping out of his suite, he was greeted by his secretary and head of security. After inquiring if anything of importance had occurred during the short time he had been making calls, they made their way to the buffet. Shortly after, they spotted the representatives of The Workers Union for the Proletariat walking in.
"Damn commies," Hashimoto muttered, though too faint for anyone but Mike to hear.
The delegation from The Workers Union for the Proletariat seemed about as pleased to see them.
"Well, at least the feeling is mutual."

Seeing some of his agents tensing up and subtly moving in between the delegations, Hashimoto quickly and covertly waved at them to stand down. This was no place to assert dominance, and he really did not want this simple visit to include a fight. The relations between the nations was cold enough.

The buffet was quite nice, though Hashimoto did miss his personal chef, who made excellent gyoza.

"Lets hope that this whole ceremony is worth it. We don't want all that money spent to have been for nothing," Hashimoto quietly told his secretary.
"They do have a very nice capital city though."

Tiaremotu

Eudos, Kalidora

President 'Oleloia reciprocated the stranger's greeting, taking note of his dressing. A man wearing the colours of the Basileus could really be anyone, from a paper pushed to a high Minister. The best was to assume they had great mana until proven otherwise. But how to greet him?
Considering a traditional Tiaremotuan greeting, 'Oleloia rejected it. If he ever came to Tiaremotu, Oedipus would be entitled to a powhiri, with a full haka and promises that he would be massacred and eaten. But 'Oleloia realised that insulting and threatening her host, while a very good thing to do, was probably not going to be received very well. "Better keep that for another day" 'Oleloia thought, pledging to herself to compensate for her impoliteness if Oedipus travelled to the Archipelago. Instead, she reciprocated Oedipus' greeting, announcing

"Aloha! I am 'Oleloia, Peretīteni of Tiaremotu. It is an honour to accept your welcome, Mankas Omiltis. We had a very flattering view of Eudos from the ship, what a nice capital you have. I hope you do not mind if we open the lower floor of the yacht to the public. We brought a few of our traditional statues for the inhabitants of Eudos to visit. A temporary floating museum of sorts. "
Now, 'Oleloia was not exactly sure what a Mankas Omiltis was, but she soon decided she liked her host. A very talkative fellow, just like her, this was perfect. Besides, she was delighted at the opportunity to see the city from inside. A historic centre, for a city two millennia old, had to be impressive. And indeed it was.

A Daedalus of Houses, Temples, Stores, and Taverns former the city centre, and more than once 'Oleloia was grateful that she had Oedipus as a guide, without what she would have been lost in this labyrinth of a city. It's not that Tiaremotu did not have big cities, but your chances of getting lost on the concourses of wood on pilots were not comparable to the odds of never exiting this artwork of alabaster marble and cerulean roof tiles. But if the inanimate was already impressive, it was clearly not the star of the show in the city centre. The people themselves were probably Eudos' most fascinating curiosity.

It started with a quarrel of an intensity that made 'Oleloia shudder. Two Kalidorans were very loudly bickering over a subject 'Oleloia could hardly imagine, but from the little knowledge of Kalidoran language she has accumulated before coming, she thought she understood something about one of the parties' mother. Even if she did not understand the words, 'Oleloia could feel their indecisiveness, as if each of these foreign sounds was a knife piercing through her skin. Whatever this was, surely this ghastly argument and insult sharing would damn these people's mana for their lifetimes. So what was her surprise when she later saw them laughing with each other on a terrace, each holding a generous serving of Ouzo, obviously not their first that day. What was even more surprising was that nobody seemed the least bit bothered, until Oedipus told her this was nothing but a contest of wits.

'Oleloia wondered, how could one know if one was being really insulted, or simply challenged to a contest? Maybe she should have showered Oedipus with insults earlier on, then. She did not have time to wonder or long, for, at another terrace, another even intrigued here. There, among the tables and generous bowls full of charcoal and emerald coloured olives, customers were now having a less cantankerous, but no less wordy, conversation about the meaning of life. The young ones were passionately arguing, clearly showing bravery and passion, but moderately and wisely. Around, the audience was either cheering or nodding in either approval or disapproval of whatever the last speaker had uttered. "Another battle of wits?" 'Oleloia asked. Apparently it was a philosophical debate about the origin, or the existence, of existence itself.

Philosophy was however only a small fraction of Eudos' seemingly inexhaustible capital of anthropogenic decibels. On the narrow streets, strangely consumed peddlers were advertising the latest comedies and tragedies to be played in theatres, featuring gods, heroes, and everyday folk sharing one same floor. Other vendors were a tad less honest, such as this man who was selling tutoring classes, and swore on the Lady herself that he was Phillon of Serres' tutor when they were a toddler.

"Well if that were true perhaps you'd know something about their assigned gender, rather than making unsubstantiated claims like you did yesterday, Amathés" one voice called out.
"Listen right here you piece of..."

"Is Amathés his name?" 'Oleloia enquired to her host
"No, and don't call the Basileus this when you see them" Oedipus answered. Clearly, Amathés was not a name, or a compliment. Even as they left the centre's sinuous streets, 'Oleloia could still hear their debate, and the capernaum of Eudos' lively citizenry.

Polū'hū had left 'Oleloia with Oedipus. She was right to assume that he was high in the Basileus' esteem, and honouring one's host was paramount. As such, it was he who was sent to the buffet on behalf of the Tiaremotuan Government. Though he was no head of state, Polū'hū was well aware that the key to getting anything was to work from bottom up. It was incredible, the number of people who rudely dismiss secretaries and assistants as shadows of their bosses when, having their ear, they are at least as influential. Polū'hū, a secretary himself, would not commit this mistake.

While PM Grantley Adams sleeping in resulted in him being nowhere to be seen, Polū'hū saw one of Adams' assistant and, walking to their table, asked
"Pardon me, would you be so kind as to allow me to share your table?".

"Would you like some more Champagne sir?" Līlīlī asked. She didn't care for the answer, really she would throw this bourgeois pig's champagne to his exploiting face if she hadn't already struggled with the Union network to get hired here.
Līlīlī was in Eudos, like everyone else who mattered in Dione, apparently. But she was not here as a diplomat, at least not an official one. Send by the Kanaka Party of Tiaremotu, by far the most communist political party in this semi-direct democracy, and certainly one of the less successful ones too. It was not Kanaka's fault if the People did not know what was best for them.

Oh, but when they heard that some delegated from The Workers Union for the Proletariat were there, they made sure to get an informant to plead the party's cause, and Līlīlī got the job. Of course, the network and money the party had wasn't great, so a waitress at the buffet is the best they could do. Good, at least the delegates were less likely to think she was a bourgeois diplomat, and actually give her a chance at explaining her, and the Kanaka Party's, situation to the only people on Dione with the clout, power, money, and hopefully willingness to save them from their otherwise unstoppable electoral demise. If anything, the fact the Overton window had moved leftwards was indeed catastrophic, for, instead of replacing the reactionaries with Kanaka, Tiaremotuans had voted for 'Oleloia's pathetic coalition between Talofa Lava and the Green Liberals. Yuck. Now everybody thought the government was left-wing, when in truth it was only an inch less reactionary. The delegates would understand but...

How the hell would she recognise her fellow comrades in this Ocean of Privilege? Just when she was about to give up and return to Tiaremotu, two figures caught Līlīlī's eye. They were barely nibbling on their food as if they were aware of the crime each mouthful represented. They were not haughtily standing and moving like the others. No doubt, these two had to be Yfke and Senna. Now, how could she make an approach that would not draw attention, but also signal the two that she was more than just some waitress? Her mind rushing at 100 knots an hour, she walked towards the pair and, with her most detested meek voice, asked: "Is there anything I can do for you two?". Whispering, she added, "Or for the Revolution?".

As they were about to respond, Līlīlī hurriedly whispered "Don't you respond like this! Do you see any of the others striking casual conversations with the working class like they are equals? Scold me for something, anything, just to get the eyes off us".

Ilono, Fifth of his name, chuckled as some ridiculous waitress offered him champagne. Little did the waitress know, he was not actually a diplomat. Of course, what could a working-class waitress know of pretending to be an ambassador? No, Ilono was an ambassador for no country but himself, unless you count Ilono Shipyards as a country. His multi-billion shipbuilding corporation was among the largest in Tiaremotu, but he could no longer trust the Government to negotiate on his behalf. When the centre-right was in power it was all good, but ever since 'Oleloia's extreme left communist borderline proletarian government took power, he has had to fend for himself. Sure, it took some money and persuasion to persuade the guards that Ilonoland was a country. Turns out that the working class really is not as smart as its leaders, including in countries where being smart makes you a leader.

Anyway, he was not here to reflect on the poor. Walking through most of the crowd, he sought the Shikito delegation, and after having found someone that looked like the kind of person he would hire on his board, Ilono made his move, approaching them and handing out his business card, asking if they could talk.

As Yfke and Senna were eating their lunch with a heavy hart, a waitress approached them asking Is there anything I can do for you two? in a tone of exaggerated submissiveness, followed by a whispered Or the revolution?. Before the pair could respond, they were interupted and warned about being covert. Fetch us more champagne! Yfke blurted out, despite barely a sip missing from her glass. Senna quickly grabbed a napkin and penned down their room number before sliding it towards Līlīlī, For your troubles they added. Līlīlī quickly snatched the napkin and disappeared into the crowd to avoid further suspicion.

It seems that despite spending more than five times as us on law enforcement, Kalidora can't properly vet their staff. Senna noted. And it's a good thing they can't. Yfke responded, Otherwise we would've never found sympathy in this bourgeois clique. I mean just look at all this opulence. Senna glanced around the room, Many don't even seem to be satisfied with their acquired wealth, judging by the fake smiles and joyless eyes. Some seem to be quite happy to participate in this theater of power and politics. Yfke griped. Senna answered, The acquisition of wealth does provide fleeting pleasure, and for these people the vault doors to unbridled power have just been unlocked.

Kalidora

Eudos, Capital of Kalidora
Aratus was about to directly take the foreign delegation to the hotel, when he realised this was a wonderful opportunity to display the Kalidoran wit and spirti to this foreign digintary. " President 'Oleloia, allow me to show you the honor and responsability that comes with the Mankas Omiltis title. He handed her the badge that adorned his chest. He prefered doing this a bit more incognito, as the prey had to be lured out. "Stay here and keep this. Soon you will see, or rather hear a traditional Kalidoran take down", and with that he approached the suspicious scholar.

Air rushed to his lungs as his stomach swelled. It was an ancient theater technique to project your voice. His voice cut through the bustling street.
"Praise be to the eternal creation! When it rained beauty upon all creation you sir must have discovered umbrellas. Or perhaps we should petition the Erudites for a new investigation into weaponising your voice to shatter glass." The noisy street became silent, as if those words had caught across a thousand conversations.

The fraudulant scholar stepped back, not expectin such a piercing attack to be made in daylight. "I stand by my claim. You may mock my apperance and voice, but as Eudecia told Bione during the Trail of Brass, "It is man's character that is to be judged". You'll find none so wise as me on theses streets." HE had taken the bait. "Oh wise?" Aratus said "Well then, perhaps you can help me with a simple conundrum I have been having. What kind of creature is a man?"The conman tought for a second. "Simple, man is a featherless biped." The street was quite, anticipating the reply Aratus would deliver.
The Mankas Omiltis made his way to on of the small sellers, tossed the seller a coin and took on the roasting chickens. "Behold Kalidora, the swindeler's man!" he proclaimed as he held the chicken up high for all to see. Some lauched, some applauded, others simply went about their day. Aratus was content with his demonstration, and went back to the president of the archipelago.
The two kept chatting until they reached the Méga Palátion, where all foerign diginitaries were being kept in the right wing.
"I've been informed that the Bassilium will soon be meeting with the foreign guests. I have other duties to attend to. If there are any problems with the acomodation, just speak to some of the staff."
And with that the party of two split into a party of on

Uvlagiaq

The sun peeked over the icy peak of the Aga glacier. Sedna looked out into the vastness of the ocean, and sighed as she watched her people carry the last few boxes of fish and seal hides up on the Sivudlerk, the fishing ship the Uvla delegation would use to travel south to the Kalidora coronation.

The ship was a sight to behold, truly. Its hull, the calming blue of the Uvlagiaq flag, broke the waves with a bobbing, rhythmic motion. Coiled rope and fishing nets decorated the bridge, and seagulls adorned the upper parts of the mast. The Sivudlerk was tall and mighty, bearing a string of multicolored flags with the insignia of all the tribes in the nation. Sedna felt an overwhelming feeling of comfort looking at the flags, as would any Uvla with some minimum amount of patriotism.

Sedna's thoughts about the ship were interrupted by a relatively short but quite plump man running around the icy pier restlessly, his eyes inquisitive. He seemed to be frantically looking for something else to do. He was dressed in a taupe jacket, lined with white fur, matching his boots.
"Maybe you should just take a break, relax, and have a cup of tea, Malik." Sedna shouted.
"I'm not sure how you want me to even think about relaxing, honorable Angakkuq - there's just so much that needs to get done! Have you even seen the box of herring? It's missing from the inventory. I just cannot seem to find it anywhere at all!"
"Ah, yes- the herring. I assume word wasn't sent out quickly enough. This year's supply was deemed of insufficient quality for our Kalidoran friends, so we will not be taking it on our journey anymore."
"Insufficient quality? How did that happen? Our fish is our pride and joy here in Uvlagiaq!"
"Well, I suppose one could blame the weather, or the fishing spirits, or one thing or the other - but rest assured that it does not matter. We have plenty of salmon and cod to please our new friends. I'm sure our many gifts will go a long way in setting up good relations with Kalidora. And besides, our goal is hardly to present ourselves as fishmongers. If there is a spirit of oratory and charisma - well, I hope she is listening..."
"I hope so too, esteemed Angakkuq. Very well then, I will proceed to contact your second in command, see if he has got any pressing issues or last minute remarks, otherwise we seem to be ready for departure."

Sedna stepped aboard the ship and took a deep breath, the salty air filling her lungs and the cold breeze chapping her lips. The chief engineer of the ship gave the green light for the technical check-ups, and the horn of the ship blared through the air three times, as customary for Uvlagi ships departing from the pier. She did not know what to expect of her first diplomatic mission as leader of Uvlagiaq, but the thought of it filled her with excitement.

"Ellam yua, weather be on our side," she thought to herself one last time before the ship started to slowly crawl through the icy water.

Kalidora

A few days before the coronation, Imperial Palace Eudos, Capital of Kalidora

Philon of Serres, soon to be the most powerful individual in all of Kalidora stood with their general staff. The nomad scholar has rounded up a crew of experts, euridtes, as well as heads of industrys and heads of diffrent branches of the armed forces. These would be the long arms of the Bassilium.

"Thank you all for gathering here on such short notice." the future head of state said. "We are here to plan out my future mandate, mostly internationally, but also domesticallly. I estimate I have a solid 20 years on the throne before begging to wither like my predessesors. Kalidora needs to be taken into a new age. The nation is almost 2 millenia old, and the days of glory are long behind us. It would seem the eternal creation no longer blesses us with the same conditions as Constatine the 5th and his silk trade, nor are our armies as strong as Phocas and her Amazon dozen. Simply put, we need to put Kalidora back on the map and at the forefront of international diplomacy. Let our word be backed by real muscle, weather soft or strong, and not by simple tradition. Eudoxus of Cidus please introduce the rest of the groups to our wine foreign policy."

An elder man, whose beard had more hair than his head got up and beamed a map for the group to see.
"The Bassilium believes the key projecting our power and influence is to invest into a special kind of soft power, namely education. I believe they have the right intuition. How can we claim to posses incredible wisdom when there are plenty of nations out there beating us at our own game? Simply put, we need to have more knowledge flow into Kalidora. The great library of Samos must once again flow with foreign knowledge. This is the first part of our policy which we shall dub wine, for reasons that become apparent later. We will negotiate this either one on one or form some sort of international organisation, taking on members and preparing exchange programs, civilian research etc. We need to make use of all positive tools at our disposal to make this happen. Museum exchanges, joint research, library programs, founding shrines to the eternal creation, and even trade agreements with riders. That's not to say this is paramount, simplicity that it is our mondu operandi."

Philion spoke up. "To contrast our wine policy is the vinegar policy, which will compromise all activities to placate nations and maintain Kalidora safe, secure and on the world stage. In some ways, wine policies with time become viniger policies. A recent reassessment on the potential threats to Kalidora will soon be handed out and discussed. Consider these to be a set of guidelines and information collected one each nation in order to have an idea of how the throne feels about them. If during your work situations change, notify us so we may update the statues of each nation. So far we have collected enough information for the following 4. As more nations make their moves on the world stage, dossiers will be drafter for each of them.

Threat Level: Medusa
Synopsis: The The Workers Union for the Proletariat has the potential to be a rogue nation, and ideologically challenges Kalidoran on almsot every front. The Union recently banned religion, including our very own worship to the eternal creation. They seem to view beleif and progress as being mutually exclusive, the opposite of us. Morover, they ideological zeal could very easily turn militant, though the country has a history of pascifism.
Notes by Acros of Armed Forces:
No armed forces could threaten us, but we have no idea how powerful or strong any espionage operations might be, though we pressume they can't afford it. However, if some sort of powerful leader clawed their way top, then we might have some problems.
Notes by Acros of the Economy:
Not likely they will grow much.

Threat Level: Kharybdis
Synopsis: Though dismissing these tattoed boat men as nothing more than fishermen is tempting because of the e "Tribal" aspects of their culture and way of life, doing so would bind us with doomed pride. Tiaremotu has a large armed force, and is geographically close enough to us to be troublesome. On top of that, their direct democracy is unlike anything in Dione and they could easily escalate any conflict between our nations as simple misunderstandings evolve into full blow ideological throw down. Placating and/or befriending them is preferable.
Notes by Acros of the Economy:
Given their large army, but lack of domestic arms indutry, this could be an excellent oppurtinity for us to make a killing
Notes by Acros of Armed Forces:
Their focus on peninsula warfare is very dangerous. Spend bullet money on gifts and spare us all the trouble.

Threat Level: Typhoon
Synopsis: Shikito is trouble. Their bottom line driven mentality can be a large threat to us all. Any small incident might be blown into something much larger by them and their ecstasy for gold. Keeping their arms industry at a low level is paramount. That being said, they specialise in many industries we don't, meaning our respective competitve advantages are in line. However, any deal strcuk might be rejected by labour movements and will be challenged. Thread the needle carefully.
Notes by Arcos of Armed Forces:
As Mikiavelo said in his famous treaty, do not trust mercenaries. If the gloves come off, it will be a long and hard fight, but we have the capacities to come out on top if need be. Soft solutions are preferable.

Threat level: Sphinx
Synopsis: A real riddle. Not much is none of Uvlagiaq. However, their public education is the strongest in the world, making them an ideal candidate for our Wine policy. The Open hand is preferable to the fist. Ensuring food security is also an objective. More investigation is needed.

The rest of the meeting went down fairly normally, with the soon to be Bassilium announcing some bold moves on the domestic front, including the slashing of some funding for law and order.

The council didn’t need to discuss the upcoming coronation, foreign affairs are always left to the International Councillor, currently Pia Antia. She was pacing around her office while her secretary, Gaius, was throwing out ideas for gifts. ”Maybe a finely crafted toga, or a proper hat befitting of a person of their stature?” he suggested. “A toga? That’s a little old isn’t it? And who wears hats these days? No, it has to be something that properly reflects our beautiful nation, but what?” Councillor Antia replied. “Maybe a beautiful marble sculpture of a goose?” “What’s up with the love of geese in this country? Yes it’s our national animal and an important part of our history, but the amount of goose related memorabilia is getting a little out of hand, don’t you think? No, a goose won’t do, but a statue just might.” she remarked.

Carmor had always prided itself on its amazing marble sculptors, who were able to make marble look and even feel like an actual person. “A statue is nice, but this is a big event, so a simple statue won’t do, we need something with a bit more impact.” Antia thought for a while, and Gaius, all too familiar with the Councillor’s thinking face, knew to stay quiet. After some more pacing and murmuring while looking at the floor, she suddenly stopped dead in her tracks, lifted her head and said “get every sculptor you can find, we don’t have much time, but I have an idea.”

About 80 sculptors worked all day for 8 days, but they finished it. It was a sight to behold, even while still in the warehouse they built it in. A giant cylindrical tower, with every Bassileum Kalidora has seen in the past 2000 years, with Philon on the very top, receiving a torch from Arcadius the Fifth. The tower was over 50 meters tall, so transport would have to be by freight ship. Councillor Antia followed behind the freight ship in the official state yacht, slowly on their way to Kalidora.

Kalidora

Eudos, Imperial Capital of Kalidora

Strategos Alcibiades, son of Cleinias, soldier and scholar awaited the delegation from the frozen lands. His traditional uniform complemented by a cape designating him as the Bassiliuses man. The port of the eternal city rumbled quietly into the night. In many foreign nations, civil and military duty might be seen as different, or even opposed, but in Kalidora they went hand in hand. It was the duty of the citizen to protect their polis, and it was a great honour to do so. In fact, every Kalidoran was trusted to keep their weapons with them even after military service. Alcibiades had been part of the armed forces for a while, reaching the rank of strategos fairly recently, due to in small part to his stellar work in the Peloponnesian War that had torn Kalidora in 2. For a minute, the son of Cleinias was no longer in Eudos, but back in the small village of Ithika, a place artillery shells wiped off the map. He remembered the gentle spring showers being drowned out by the sound of weapons of war. "May those that come after me live in less interesting times" he soberly thought as his sight returned to the port and his mind whipped back to the present.

The eyes of the master of strategy spotted a gargantuan ship making it's way to the docks. Such a vessel was more appropriate to see in a shipyard rather than a historic port. "These must be the khiṓn ánthropos" The ship was massive, displacing as much water as a Ketos class missile cruiser. As the delegation stepped down onto the floor, Alcibiades greeted them. "Praise be to the eternal creation! Welcome oh most honered guests, it is not often we see you come down from the cold."

Acliabiades mission was simple: to get more information about Uvlagiaq. From there, he had enough autonomy to decide if they should be placated or approached as friends.
"Though the Bassilium impatiently awaits to greet all guests, I think you might want to benefit from a tour of Eudos. There are plenty of interesting sights to behold and the Bassilium has ensured a place at the latest tragedy Cleon for your delegation specifically."

Lysandria of Atikka also happened to be at the dock. Part of the civil service since a young age, Lysandria had oriented her career towards international relations. This had been a terrible mistake up until recently. The old Bassileus and his war made foreign relations a very low priority. Lysandria even regretted taking that Carmoran language course. Seemed like a waste of colledge credits when everyone else had taken fun things like "Slam Poetry" and "Pedantic Questioning". After all, when most of the budget is going towards arming the police as much as a full phalanx unit, and the rest of the budget was guns, not much was left for the pen, it's might lost completely on the Bassilieus of old.
Now however, now there was hope. The new Bassilium understood that prestige abroad was prestige gained at home. A true embodiment of the five virtues.
Lysandria's hemtion veiled her in the purple of the sacred chair. Her eyes kept darting around the port, anxious to find the Carmoran boat that had made it's way across the Epimetheus' Sea. The connection between Carmor and Kalidora was not a new one, but it's freindship had not been kindled in a long time. It was Lysandia's job to light that fire once more.
After what felt like eons (it was only 2 hours) a monstrous shipping contained made it's way to port, followed by a luxurious yatch. They both bore the distinctive gear iconography of the continental Respublica and pulled to the dock.
"Ave Councillor, may the eternal creation shine in it's splendour. Welcome to Eudos."
The foreign delegation stepped ashore. "The Bassilium has arranged for you to view a the latest play from Cratinus the Younger. It will be held near the imperial garden where we can discuss in privacy if the need arises."
And with that the delegation made their way to the play. The problem of the statue's placement was transfered to Lysandria's boss, the Bassilium.

Uvlagiaq

Carmor

Councillor Antia had worked towards her current position, because she wanted Carmor to have better foreign relations, and she absolutely loved the diversity between countries. All the different cultures, governments, education and so much more! Carmor has done pretty well by itself so far, but could definitely do better, and she hoped other nations could help with this.

Her biggest priorities were culture, science and education. Carmor, despite its social progressiveness, has always lacked in its culture and design. Their architecture had not changed much in the past 2000 years, but during early industrial times many large and often visible additions had been made, leaving a lot of exposed mechanics like pipes and gears. Most were not in use, but had remained as removing them was deemed too expensive and complicated.

So shortly after her arrival in Kalidora, she already hoped this would be the first of many visits. Kalidora was magnificent, and she only barely managed to hide her excitement when they were told the Bassilium had arranged for them to view a play. While on their way to the theatre, Antia discussed the general state of Kalidora, trying to gain a better understanding of Kalidora, before starting with some more specific questions, already preparing for a more detailed political discussion later. After that, she went into specifics, eagerly listening to Lysandria’s answers, with Gaius behind them taking notes, trying to write as fast as the two spoke. “What are your scientific focuses? Do you think other fields will gain more attention with a Bassilium who’s less focused on war? And how progressive is Kalidora? A non-binary head of state is an amazing step in equality and representation, but how does the population feel about it?” She could go on, but they had already arrived at the theatre, where the play was ready to begin.

Kalidora

Eudos, Imperial theater

Lysandria's discussion with the foregin dignitary was like a dance, cortious, elegant, a perfect back and forth between question and answers. She did her best to maintain a diplomatic composure amid the endless barrage of inquiries.
"What fields are most researcher in Kalidora? This is an interesting answer. There used to be a time when Philosophy was the Queen of all subjects, and I'm sure the old Erudite will argue till your ears bleed that this is still the case 'for there is Philosophy in every discipline' or something like that. However, in recent times, Engineering alongside biology and several sectors of sociology as well as urban planning have gained academic appeal. The vast increase in environmental consciousness has made any field related to it gain a much louder voice to the Basilius' ear. However, if you tune in to the Galactic Soap Operas that play every night on FONI you'll find ourosnauts and their journey across the galaxy has enamored the nation. Perhaps Kalidora's future lies in the stars." This seemed to satisfy Antia's interminable curiosity.

"Councilor, do not confuse the Bassilium's soft words for a soft hand. They are tacking over while a bloody civil war is still within popular consciousness. Transition processes are most unstable. As for non-domestic military operations, that remains to be seen. Kalidora will secure it's interests abroad, though bloodshed should be avoided as much as possible. We do not want another Syracusan expedition on our hands." This too seemed to quench the Carmouran thirst for knowledge.

The last question was most puzzling. "How progressive is Kalidora?". This reminded Lysandria of structuralism debate she once had in linguistic class. Words, and signs gain their meanings by how they are different from one another. Kalidora's progressiveness could be seen in similar light. Representatives from the Union might argue that Kalidora's progressiveness is a fluke. "More non binary war criminals" they would probably reply. Yet, compared to more traditional nations, Kalidora was a beacon of progress. "That's a hard question to answer Councilor. The Bassilium has almost divine authority. Challenging them openly is bad idea. Moreover, historically, Kalidora has not had traditional gender norms. The Gods of Old had plenty of homosexual and gender non conformity. That is no to diminish the ascent of Philon. I am afraid that's the best answer I can give, you'll have to find your own answers on that front."

And with that the delegation made their way to the play.

The Thespian Thinker
New Theatrical Troubles
Cratinus the Younger has prepared a stunning play, a re imagining of the Illyria, a great tale about hubris, humility and finding meaning in a chaotic world. The main character, Omeka comes home from his Odyssey to find his home in ruins. His mother is sick and bedridden, and his father has had to exile himself for slandering the gods, blaming them for his wife's failing health. From there, he uncovers a conspiracy between his siblings, each beleiving another responsible for the poisoning of their mother. In the original, Omeka faced numerous monsters, including the all seeing Triclops, and Phaea with his serpentine tongue. Omeka re imagines these as more ordinary, and in turn much more freighting monsters. They challenge Omeka's moral core on a way few stories ever try to challenge their heroes. In the end, Omeka is able to reestablish order in his life, though some sacrifices had to be made along the way. Audiences are sure to be left resonating with Omeka's struggles, as we can all identify with different moments of this character's journey.

Uvlagiaq

Sedna awoke from her sleep to the sight of dawn casting its first light over the city of Eudos. They were getting ready to dock, and Sedna was asking herself whether the coronation will go as expected, and how the diplomatic relations with Kalidora will go. She glanced over a picture of Alcibiades, the Strategos they were going to contact as soon as they would land. His gaze was cutting like an Uvla hunting knife, and in his eyes you could see how much he cared about his community and country. As the ship stopped in the harbor and she stepped down on for, Sedna heard a polite greeting from the man himself, and an invitation towards a city tour.
"We would be honored to accept, esteemed Strategos Alcibiades. We care about the history and atmosphere of a city as much as we do for politics and diplomacy. Besides, there will be plenty of time to meet with the Bassilium themselves later."

Kalidora

Kalidora

Eudos
A sly smile sneakily found it's way across the young commander's face. Respectful and patient.
"Well, I will spare you a lot of the wider brushes of history, as these strokes often paint over the smaller stories."
The Hero of Monastiraka lead the thickly clad delegates to an open vehicle that was waiting for them. It was an imported
The foreign delegation made their way out from the noisy port and into the more crooked streets of the Plaka district. It was more claustrophobic and lively. The echoes of laughter and music seemed to breath life into the old stones that held up the historic city.
"Welcome to Plaka honored guests. This once small neighbourhood was the birthplace of Dyanosia, mother of theater and tragedy. Her plays where incredibly popular, though few have survived the millenia. Nonetheless, her ideas and love of theater have thrived here, many seeing it as a Mecca for artists."
As the car inched it's way across the busy streets, the murals gradually take over the buildings. From tragic scenes of the civil war, to callbacks to earlier glory, to simple art. A sharp contrast between the colorful murals and the more traditional buildings was immediately apparent.

After a couple more blocks, where Alcibiades went over some of the more funny anecdotes of what happened in this neighborhood, including but not limited to: A Philosopher dying by tripping on his own beard and twisting his neck, an artist poisoning the water supply with lead paint and a bald poet getting killed by an eagle dropping a turtle on his head thinking it was a rock, the group arrived at an open air theater carved into the side of a hill.

The Thespian Thinker
Tragedy Strikes!
Cleon challenged us yet again! After years of his interpersonal dramas, and writing for Soap Opera Episodes, the tragedian has decided to write what most consider his magnum opus. "Cidon, the long seige" is a tale during two times: Ancient Kalidora and the Syracusan expedition to Tiaremotu and the more contemporary setting of the civil war. In both settings we follow how hubris, fear and anger lead to disaster. Cleon really challenges the five virtues, which will certainly ruff some feathers. However, the conclusion he derives is not to reject the system all together, as the protagonists of Ancient Kalidora do, but rather to understand it at a deeper level. Certainly will make some tears."

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