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Part One: The Emperor's Grand Proposal

01

Imperial Proclamation: Project Cosmic Hope

OFFICIAL IMPERIAL PROCLAMATION MLXXIV

We, Emperor Ladantine VII, on this twenty-third day of the month of Elohian in the year of Our Holy Empire five hundred and forty-two, announce that it is Our Will and pleasure to proclaim, for the people of the Empire, the unveiling of Project Cosmic Hope. With the support of the Imperial Star Council, We do proclaim and ordain that the Holy Empire shall heretofore embark on a Most Holy mission to expand Our influence over and beyond the Cosmic Planes of existence to reach the Supra Plane and thereby further empower the Empire and Her People to heal the Basin of Life. We do hereby beseech the Imperial Protectorates of Gaudiguch, Magnagora and Hallifax to offer aide in this Most Holy Mission to Our Ambassador, who is also Our Most Glorious Daughter.

Our Proclamation will go into effect at noon on the day following its issuance.

02

Magnagora Chronicle: Empire Announces Project Cosmic Hope

Celest, Crystal Sea - 23rd of Elohian in the 542nd Year of the Imperial Empire - This morning His Most Divine Grace, the Emperor Ladantine VII, unveiled a new planar research initiative that could potentially expand the Holy Empire's scope and reach beyond even the higher planes of Celestia, the Continuum, Shallamar, and the Vortex. Grand Vizier of Magnagora, Rushdam d'Murani, quickly offered his support to the Imperial pronouncement.

Planar experts were amazed and cautious as His Most Divine Grace presented documents detailing in-depth analyses of advanced planar theories and practical applications. In Magnagora, Ghani n'Rotri of the Master Prophets stated that the Emperor is "guided by the Light of the Holy Empire" which would shepherd this project to its conclusion. Not all experts were so optimistic. "Though theoretical planar physics allows for what we experts term a 'supra-plane'," opined Professor Lars of the Hallifax Matrix Institute, "the research His Most Divine Grace has conducted goes far beyond theory and could indeed pave the way for actual exploratory expeditions into the 'supra-plane'. I should hasten to add, however, that it would take decades to reach a point where such an expedition could be safely undertaken."

But the Imperial Star Council, at the behest of His Most Holy Emperor, do not plan to wait decades, and announced the goal to launch an expedition as early as the end of the year. "What my lucidian colleague, Professor Lars, fails to take into account," stated Grand Cipher Tlochaka Chum of the Illuminati in Gaudiguch, "is the ambition, precocity and divine grace of those of us supporting this venture. We will succeed in meeting the Emperor's deadline and we will bring great glory to the Empire!"

His Most Holy Emperor made his pronouncement before a full meeting of the Imperial Star Council in the Holy Capital of Celest, representatives attending from Gaudiguch, Hallifax, and Magnagora. At His Holy Grace's side was his daughter and High Celestine, Princess Marilynth, who expressed her support for the initiative. Also in attendance were honorary members from the Alliance of Forest Conclaves, some of whom expressed grave misgivings. "The Empire has already plumbed the vast reaches of the cosmos," stated High Priestess Rowena of the Gloriana Preserve, "and has more power than ever dreamed of by mortalkind. The land is still healing from the abuses of the past, so why not be satisfied with the power the Empire already possesses and join us in the restoration of all of Lusternia. Why must so-called civilisation continuously tamper with the fabric of creation?"

Though the other members of Alliance of Forest Conclaves seemed unified in their opposition to the initiative, the Imperial Star Council made assurances that every conceivable caution and safeguard would be taken to guaranty a safe and cautious expedition to the 'supra-plane'. "What our cousins in the forest fail to understand," stated Emperor Ladantine, "is that the potential for power is beyond anything known even during the Vernal Wars. And with this power, the healing of the lands would be accelerated at a rate where it would not be future generations that would see a healed land, but today's generation. Glory to the Light!"

Celebrations are scheduled throughout Magnagora this week to rejoice in the continued providence that guides the Empire in divine glory and grace.

03

Diary of Rowena Nightshade : The Task of Mother Night

Summer Solstice, Year 542: Sitting beneath the Great Ravenwood Tree under the darkness of Mother Night, I contemplate the bright shining stars and this Emperor’s latest proclamation to plumb further into the hidden dimensions of our cosmos. Oh, Mother Night, what does it mean? Is it folly that those of mortalkind who choose the path of stone and mortar, of buildings and constructs, to always pursue this vainglorious lust for knowledge and power?

Your words continue to haunt me, those words you set upon my tongue as I channelled your wisdom to the coven during our equinox ritual. “My gown of dark night hides many secrets, secrets that should not be uncovered. Teach those who seek to dwell behind the walls of civilisation that there are rhythms of the natural cycle. For, lo, there are times when it is wise to leave the earth unchurned, to let the field be fallow, not to throw stones into the placid lake.” And so you left me, standing with my brothers and sisters, with the Crown of Gloriana growing cold upon my brow, a bad omen for the summer rites.

I am the High Priestess of the Night Coven, known for wisdom and quiet reflection, but Mother Night has set an unwanted task upon me. Brennan, my Summer King and High Priest, comforts me and makes me strong, and I have word from our sister coven of the Moondance that they too have been charged to curb the Empire’s rapacious quest for power. Have they not learned from their previous failure that drove the mugwumps from the Balach Swamp?

But will the Empire listen to the forest communes? So powerful this Empire has grown, their nexuses of power filling them with such strength and such arrogance. But Mother Night has given me my duty and I shall not shirk it. Tomorrow I leave to visit the great cities of the Empire. And tonight I pray to Mother Night that they will listen.

04

Hallifax Minutes : Partial Support for Project Cosmic Hope

MINUTES OF THE HALLIFAX BOARD OF GOVERNORS

I. MEETING - CALL TO ORDER:
The meeting was called to order by the Vice Chair on the 25th of Elohian, the 542nd Year of the Imperial Empire at 9:00 a.m.

II. RECOGNITION OF MEMBERS PRESENT:
Cririk Adom, Chair of the Board and Chief Executive
Hieli Goldfeather, Vice Chair
Lilali Skysoarer, Secretary
Professor En’oonki Lars, Member
Minister Sweeloh Sunfar, Member
Minister Ieck’co Shevat, Member
Minister Ke’kix Oolin, Member
Minister Tooli Goldfeather, Member
Minister Chia Cloudwalker, Member

MEMBERS ABSENT:
None

INVITEES PRESENT:
Princess Marilynth Ladantine, representative of the Imperial Star Council
Tarrawen Falgirn, Dwarven Ambassador to the King of the Mountains
Brennan Stormcrow, High Druid of the Gloriana Forest Conclave
Rowena Nightshade, High Priestess of the Night Coven, Gloriana Forest Commune

III. APPROVAL OF PREVIOUS MEETING MINUTES:
Secretary Skysoarer moved that the Shakinar 1st, 542 C.E. minutes be accepted as amended. Minister Oolin seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.

IV. STAFF COMMENTS:
Minister Lars, of the Matrix Research Institute, updated the Board on the cosmic energy levels of the nexus, which currently were at satisfactory levels. He also submitted for the Board's review a report prepared by the Monitor Panel. The Board reviewed the report and found it in order.

V. OPEN FLOOR:
The Board opened the floor to several matters brought by visiting dignitaries.

The Board recognized Tarrawen Falgirn on behalf of the Mountain Kingdom. She presented a report of complaints against certain Hallifax Companies allegedly infringing on certain mining claims of the new Angkrag mining colony. Chair Adom accepted the report and moved to table the matter until the next meeting for review and investigation. Vice Chair Goldfeather seconded the motion, which subsequently passed with 8 yeas, 0 nays, and 2 abstentions.

After the vote, Ambassador Falgirn recused herself.

Princess Marilynth presented the official Imperial request from the Star Council for the Board's assistance in research and development of Project Cosmic Hope. Specifically, the Empire seeks access to the Matrix for certain planar experiments and collaboration from the Matrix Institute to conduct certain feasibility studies.

The Board recognised the delegation from the Gloriana Commune. High Priestess Rowena Nightshade strongly objected to further planar research and urged the Board to withdraw support from Project Cosmic Hope in an emotional appeal regarding cycles of nature and vague statements of prophetic "times when fields should remain fallow". Minister Shevat pointed out that the prophesies of the great nature spirits are rarely authenticated by the Magnagoran House of Prophets. High Druid Brennan Stormcrow made more logical appeals, stating that healing the Basin of Life is best served through utilising powers currently in possession rather than looking for potentially dangerous sources of unstable power and citing possible 'reality denigration' from opening worldgates so far from the prime material thread.

A brief scientific discussion ensued. Princess Marilynth disagreed with the Gloriana assessment, pointing out that research and study had not revealed any dangerous potentialities and the objections thus far raised were based on emotional fear rather than scientific scrutiny. Minister Shevat and Minister Oolin agreed with this appraisal. Professor Lars of the Matrix Institute stated that there was some scientific basis for caution as several planar theories postulated certain abnormalities in reality shifts. The Chair tabled further discussion for the Executive Session.

VI. OLD BUSINESS:
There was no old business.

VII. NEW BUSINESS:
Subject: Report of Impropriety of Certain Hallifax Companies Regarding the Dwarven Kingdom

Board Decision: At the request of Princess Marilynth, the Board re-reviewed the report, and Minister Oolin moved that, since this was an inter-imperial matter, the report should be forwarded through proper channels to Imperial authorities for mediation. Minister Sunfar seconded the motion, and the motion passed with 5 yeas, 3 nays and 1 abstention.

There was no New Business except for the request from the Imperial Star Council which would be heard in the Executive Session. At this time, the Invitees to the Board recused themselves.

VIII. EXECUTIVE SESSION:
The matter of the request from the Imperial Star Council was reviewed in the private, executive session. Professor Lars moved to decline any access to the Matrix until research and investigation proved conclusively safe. Minister Goldfeather seconded the motion, and the motion passed with 6 yeas, 2 nays and 1 abstention.

On the matter of scientific collaboration with the Imperial Star Council, Professor Lars moved to support collaboration into planar research. The Chair amended the motion to state that Professor Lars would be the head of any Hallifax scientific delegation. Minister Goldfeather seconded the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

IX. ADJOURNMENT:
There being no further business to come before the Board at that time, the Board meeting was adjourned at 3:04 p.m.

Approved this 25th day of of Elohian in the 542nd Year of the Imperial Empire.
By: Lilali Skysoarer, Chair Secretary

05

Gaudiguch Gossip : COSMIC HOPE PARTY!

OFFICIAL COSMIC HOPE KICKS OFF WITH FLAMING PARTY

Some ambassadors got more than they bargained for when they met with our most esteemed Illuminati to discuss Gaudiguch's participation in the Glorious Empire's new venture, Project Cosmic Hope. They got a party!

You guessed it - our own High Flame (and I do mean high!), Dr. Scuchidira Tliwx, not only embraced the project and promised the Gaudiguch's full support, but she rocked the skies with a pyrotechnic display to celebrate, setting off a series of revelries that turned the Great Pyramid into party central! Little did the ambassadors from the Imperial Star council, Gloriana, Hallifax and Magnagora realise that the new High Flame (let's again emphasise HIGH!) is known locally as Scuchi Mabuchi the Party Girl!

With her scales glowing with the absolutely fabulous new rage of emerald powder (recently imported from Newton), Scuchi caused quite the stir when she set the robes of Professor Lars, the Hallifax Ambassador, on fire (accidentally, I'm sure!) after the stone-faced lucidian was overheard to say, "Gaudiguch is a cesspool of illogical extremism." Go Scuchi!

After the Hallifax Ambassador made a hasty exit, the Representative from the Star Council (none other than Princess Marilynth herself) loosened up a bit and partook of our famous fire wine and was soon dancing it up with His Wisdom, Bhodifucius Xiim! Even the doom-and-gloom High Priestess from Gloriana, Rowena Nightshade, cracked a smile when she tried to convince the High Wisdom to influence the Illuminati not to support Project Cosmic Hope, and Bhodifucius simply said, "Consider the pugnacious rabbit who found a wooden carrot and broke its teeth, thus finding enlightenment." That's our Bhodi!

All in all, a great time was had by all. Even this reporter can't remember when she's had such a blast - it must have been over a week ago!

06

Aether Broadcast : Interview with Princess Marilynth

This interview with Princess Marilynth was broadcast live from Celest on the aether waves to each power nexus in the Imperial Protectorates on 3 Methril 543 by the then popular aether host, Globglob Mesherbrub.

ANNOUNCER: And now for your listening pleasure, we are pleased to present an exclusive interview with Princess Marilynth by our favorite mugwump…Globglob Mesherbrub! Sponsored by Orerl Platemail, the number one dwarven armor favoured by the Orclach ur'Guard.

GLOBGLOB: Helloooo loyal listeners! As promised, I have here before me the gorgeous Princess Marilynth to discuss her father's - and our Emperor's! - much talked about and publicised mission to saaaaave the Basin of Creation! Yes, we're talking about Project Cosmic Hope! How are you today, Your Highness?

MARILYNTH: Very well, Globglob. Thank you for having me here today.

GLOBGLOB: Noooo, thank yoooouuu! And, listeners, I have to tell you that Marilynth is absolutely gorgeous, her skin is the loveliest shade of aqua I have ever seen! Your Highness, you must have a little mugwump blood in you!

MARILYNTH: (laughs) Maybe, Globglob, you never know! But I'd think father would have told me!

GLOBGLOB: Hehe! Well, would your father mind if you dated a mugwump?

MARILYNTH: (laughs) Are you asking me, Globglob?

GLOBGLOB: Hey, there's a fine lily pad just around the corner that serves the juiciest flies in the Basin!

MARILYNTH: (laughs)

GLOBGLOB: Your Highness, we really must get the scoop on the 'incident' last month when the High Flame of Gaudiguch literally scorched the Hallifax Ambassador.

MARILYNTH: Oh, I'm sure that was an accident. The High Flame is quite a character, she really is, but I don't think she purposefully breathed fire on the Ambassador.

GLOBGLOB: Hallifax and Gaudiguch always seem to be cool to each other - or, in this case, should I say hot?

MARILYNTH: (laughs) Oh, Globglob!

GLOBGLOB: But, seriously, why does the Illuminati of Gaudiguch and the Board of Hallifax always seem to disagree about...oh, everything?

MARILYNTH: Gaudiguch and Hallifax have core differences, Globglob. Each of their nexuses represent a totally different outlook on life. Gaudiguch is famously independent and freewheeling, with a ribald sense of humour and inscrutable philosophies. On the other hand, Hallifax is cautious, precise and logical. But, I wouldn't say...

GLOBGLOB: Excuse me one moment, Your Highness, but from that description, you'd think Gaudiguch would be the troublemaker - but isn't it true that Hallifax is the one that seems to get in trouble with other Imperial provinces? Isn't it true that there's some dispute over mining rights in Avechna Teeth with the Dwarven Mountain Kingdom over the newly opened Angkrag mines?

MARILYNTH: Oh, I wouldn't put much stock in that, Globglob. Imperial mediators are working with both sides to smooth things out as we speak.

GLOBGLOB: Your Highness, I must apologise. I interrupted you as you were saying something. What were you going to say?

MARILYNTH: Oh, I was going to say that despite philosophical differences, both Hallifax and Gaudiguch are Protectorates of the Empire and walk in the Light.

GLOBGLOB: Well said, Your Highness!

MARILYNTH: Thank you. Also, they don't disagree about everything. Indeed, both the Illuminati of Gaudiguch and the Matrix Research Institute of Hallifax have been working with the Imperial Star Council on Project Cosmic Hope.

GLOBGLOB: Isn't the Matrix Research Institute blocking planar experiments into the Matrix itself?

MARILYNTH: They are being cautious, yes. But they've contributed in other ways that have been invaluable. Simply put, the Institute holds some of the finest minds in the Basin that have been hard at work in unravelling some of the conundrums of planar physics. (pause) Also, we've had plenty of opportunity to conduct experiments through the other nexuses, including the Eternal Flame in Gaudiguch, the Pool of Stars in Celest, and the Stone of Truth in Magnagora.

GLOBGLOB: Is there any news on the progress, Your Highness?

MARILYNTH: Actually, Globglob, that's one of the reasons I'm here today. My father has authorised me to release to you -

GLOBGLOB: This is an exclusive, folks!

MARILYNTH: - that progress in Project Cosmic Hope has moved more quickly than we expected. In fact, I am proud to announce that our first expedition is planned to proceed by the end of the year.

GLOBGLOB: That's tremendous news, Your Highness! Is a date set?

MARILYNTH: Not yet, Globglob. We'll want to confer with the High Prophets of Magnagora before setting a date.

GLOBGLOB: Of course, of course. Now, the Alliance of Forest Conclaves - who have not been shall we say overly enthusiastic about the Project - have they had anything to say about this expedited schedule?

MARILYNTH: This is the first announcement, Globglob! I'm sure we'll be hearing from them shortly though!

GLOBGLOB: (laughs) You heard it here first! Project Cosmic Hope will proceed by the end of the year! Thank you, Your Highness, for your time and terrific news! May you forever walk in the Light!

MARILYNTH: Thank you, Globglob. May you never thirst.

GLOBGLOB: Now about those flies...

MARILYNTH: (laughs)