Curse of the Crimson Throne
Clarion #7 - On Censuses
Censuses have been an integral part of Korvosa as we know it ever since its inception, and serve the governing forces of our City in meeting its necessities. After all, it is vital to realize population size if one means to construct a yearly budget to improve and maintain a city. Korvosa's censuses have often been mandatory, with calls for all citizens to present themselves at City Hall or at their local Guard Precinct in order to register themselves and their families as members of our society. This also gives our government a perception of who lives here, what their contributions are, what they need in order to thrive, and how they do business. For instance, a blacksmith operating in Korvosa with no registry might find it hard to obtain many profitable contracts such as making weaponry for the Korvosan Guard. In the same manner, if a given person is not contemplated in the census, she might find herself in trouble when calling for aid from the Guard or the Bank of Abadar, since by all accounts she doesn't exist.
So all in all, censuses – while time-consuming – are a necessary tool employed by the government to perceive who their subjects are. We should not be afraid of them. In fact, we should cooperate to the best of our abilities, in our own interest, with this process.
However, the censuses previously held in Korvosa were always a means to gain information and nothing else. In a normal census, citizens of Korvosa provide City Hall with their names, proof of residence and employment, their age, gender and race, the organization of their household, their religion if they wish to disclose it, and numbers relating to their earnings and what business they hold. That is it: a trove of information to be taken, digested and examined by bureaucrats, compiled, deduced on, built upon and ultimately archived. Never in the history of Korvosa did a census demand the citizens to roll up their sleeves and allow a physician to draw their blood. And while at first it may seem like a reasonable demand – we have had a plague event recently, as evident by the fact that Endrin Isle remains in a state of quarantine – we are bound to ask: why blood?
The event of blood veil has changed Korvosa in many ways, including leaving the population wary of anyone who would call themselves "physicians". Secular doctors and herbalists now often find their business dwindling, and not just because the disease has been eradicated or the populace cannot afford their services. The people of Korvosa have not forgotten, nor will they soon forget, the men in masks and leather aprons who bullied them out of their own homes and sometimes took them under custody by force for nearly three weeks. And with survivors providing more horrible stories of what happened to them in captivity, it is safe to say a doctor now has his work cut out for him in Korvosa. The denomination "physician" is now a dirty word, and many would rather take their concerns to a temple than a hospice. And yet, they are now being asked to trust people bearing this title, not because they are innocent in the plague event, but because our government demands a sample of blood from every citizen of Korvosa along with their information. To ensure that the plague has abated. Wouldn't it be easier on these people and their fears to send a cleric to see them? After all, clerics can also detect traces of disease and poison, and without the need to draw blood from their patients. The Bank of Abadar could have been hired to perform this service. The Temple of Sarenrae would certainly conduct it for the sake of the people. Even the Church of Asmodeus could go about it for a price. Even the Church of Pharasma. And we doubt that it would be more expensive than hiring secular doctors.
In the magistrate, they invoke the fact that clerics have only so many blessings per day. But how many clerics are there in Korvosa between our three largest churches? And why is it that, contrary to previous instances, is the government taking an entourage of people – bureaucrats, physicians and the ever-present host of Grey Maidens – instead of asking the people to present themselves at City Hall or the nearest Guard Precint? It makes little sense and seems more complicated than what happened in previous censuses.
But there is more. What about those that have – erroneously, but understandably – lost their faith in the healing profession altogether? Even clerics have become an unwanted sight in many communities and neighborhoods. Not because they had anything to do with the plague, but for their eventual shortcomings in solving the problem. We mean no criticism to these people: many of them have gone above and beyond in their duty. Yet, sometimes, they failed. And when they did, along came the physicians, who determined to take that patient under custody under pretense of doing further studies on the symptoms. More than once in our streets we have heard the same beliefs. Many who fall ill will not pursue treatment at all, thus increasing the possibility of disease surges in their communities. We may yet see outbreaks of smallpox, the flu or filth fever.
The census is mandatory – as always was – which means that those who refuse to comply and provide their information can be arrested and taken to the nearest Precinct for identification. This time, however, the Grey Maidens will also arrest anyone who refuses to provide blood, or hold down the person to take it by force.
And the question still remains: why is this census so different? Why are we forced to part with our blood? Rumors abound. Some claim the last surviving member of the cabal that made blood veil is still among us, and as a sentient undead he needs blood to subsist on. Some claim the Queen wishes to bathe in it – and while we are all upset at our current Queen, even we at the Clarion think this is far-fetched. Some people, more savvy in the ways of magic, believe it all has to do with the new court wizard, who quite clearly practices a form of blood magic. We have no evidence to back up any of these rumors, but we know there is much and more one can do with a person's blood.