Curse of the Crimson Throne
Clarion #9 - Hide Your Daughters
There is a popular song the Varisian folk sing about a terrible highwayman and his band of thugs, who often assaulted traveling caravans on the road until the day they were outsmarted by a young man who pretended to be a woman to sneak into their camp. One of the verses goes something like, "Hide your daughters, hide your wives / pack your houses and run for your lives." We never thought we would be telling this to Korvosa, but this particular line of the song now applies greatly to all of us. Hide your daughters. Hide your wives. Hide your sisters, nieces and lovers. Because if you do not, you are now likely to lose them to the Order of Grey Maidens.
The Chronicle issue of Arodus 19th, having been published yesterday, reported on plenty of disturbing news: the political tensions rising as the Peerage Review begins to deliberate on the empty fifth seat, more scuffles involving Grey Maidens that no witness can back up but will (under fear of prison) and the passing of a prominent figure of Korvosa. What they did not report on, however, was the Royal Edict passed on Oathday last. It appears as if new Royal Edicts are passed every week now, and usually they are freely presented to the public. This particular one was only communicated to the Korvosan Guard, so most of us have not heard about it. It grants the Order of Grey Maidens the right of conscription indefinitely – or rather, until the sitting monarch determines that order has been restored, which is very much the same. At the Throne's pleasure, the Grey Maidens can now enter your home and take your wife, daughter or sister and whisk them away into their barracks. It is very unlikely that you will see them again after this happens.
On one of our previous issues, we published the experience of a woman who had volunteered for the Order and went through a controversial and suspicious triage before being ultimately denied entry. We went from careful selection to conscription. What happened? We offer you the following: twice did the Chronicle publish pieces urging able-bodied women to join the Order, offering a very attractive pay and benefits. Many Korvosan women willingly accepted recruit – some wanted to genuinely serve the Throne, some wanted to escape hunger and poverty, some thought they may yet make a good life for themselves there. We even believe some thought the armor was gorgeous. But as time went by and it became obvious this was not like any other armed force of Korvosa, and that often these women would not return home or appeared to have suffered gross injury in recruitment, volunteers stopped showing up. When the Chronicle's second urging to join the Order went completely unresponded, the Order realized that they may not grow as a military force, and would eventually diminish and disappear. To counter this, they petitioned right of conscription. And they got it on Oathday last.
Now, there is precious little that the women of Korvosa can do to keep away from that gorgeous armor. So far, the Order has steered clear of women of noble birth and members of the clergy. They do not recruit expecting mothers or the elderly. They do not recruit children under 18, the sick or the lame. But everyone else is a potential Grey Maiden, from young mothers who may be forced to abandon their babes, members of other military forces like the Korvosan Guard, women with no military inclination whatsoever – even foreign women who may be in Korvosa for business or on holiday. Usually, their families and loved ones will find them amiss, only to receive a message from their spouses, sisters and nieces explaining how they have decided to join the Order and urging any female members of their family to do so as well. We know of a few cases in which relatives and friends have assured us this would not happen. Some of the conscripted women were fiercely against the Order to begin with.
If you are outraged, you are rightly so. But before you fly into a fit, calm down and ask yourself a more important question: how did this happen?
Let us think back a little on something we wrote above: there are Royal Edicts coming out every week now. Our Most Radiant Ileosa now has more Royal Edicts passed and approved in three months than King Eodred II had in all of his years of rule. This does not mean that King Eodred II hardly ever decided to pass Royal Edicts. It means that of all the edicts His Majesty posited, some were not approved. A monarch in Korvosa does not simply sign a document empowering his whim. Any new law or edict a monarch wishes to pass must be approved by a council of seven arbiters – people who have spent years studying the fine nuances of our law, and who must analyze and dissect any new proposition before it is approved. These seven arbiters vote on approval, and must acquire at least five counts of yea. Otherwise, the proposition is simply dismissed, and the monarch is denied his edict or law. If the Order of Grey Maidens has gained right of conscription, it is because five out of seven arbiters in that council thought this was a good idea.
Before being arbiters, the seven are also citizens of Korvosa: they have wives and children, parents and relatives, friends and lovers. And they are not above the laws that they are oath-bound to enforce. This means that five out of seven arbiters have decided they would willingly forego the women in their lives if the Grey Maidens should knock on their door. But what if they don't have to? What if they are so terrified of the proposition that they chose to approve it under promise that their own women will not be conscripted? What if they approved the proposition under duress? We take the opportunity, incidentally, to send our condolences to the Tann family, who lost the Head of their House to alleged suicide. We believe magister Garrick Tann was having several issues in his professional life, especially in what concerns the many tax raises we have recently been subjected to. It was widely known magister Tann believed these raises were unjust, and that he had become very upset at the prospect that taxing may become a task delivered to the Throne treasuries and not to the Bank of Abadar. Another proposition currenly under discussion before the seven.
So hide your daughters, Korvosa. Hide your wives. Hide your sisters, nieces and lovers. For their own sake, hide them well.