The senate Organization in Empire of the Covenant | World Anvil

The senate

Welcome to the Empire of the Covenant! In this federal empire, tensions are increasing between the Light and Dark political factions. Light Lady Annabelle is the target of the Leader of the Dark faction and in order to gain allies to protect her, she starts Courtship Rituals to make suitors compete for her hand—but then the Dark Lord joins in. Come read about Annabelle's Courtship and her world!
Introduction to the story | Lady Annabelle Alyssenne | The imperial nobility | Novel upcoming

Table of Contents

The senate is the ruling body of the Empire of the Covenant. All lords and ladies ruling one of the federal Estates of the empire have a seat in it and have the right to take part in the debates.  

The body of the senate

All lords and ladies of the empire automatically become a member of the senate by claiming their Estate. Nevertheless it is customary to announce their first attendance to a senate session and for a demand to be made for those against the presence of the new member to speak. Only contestations of the fact that the person actually holds an Estate are accepted. Once someone has been recognised as part of the senate, their vote there then carries an equal weight regardless of actual magical and political power.   Presiding over the senate sessions are two lords-consuls. The first lord-consul, currently Lord-Consul Xénophène Ylucianie, is a member of the senate in their own right and is elected by their fellow members to represent them and check the government's power. They are called Leader of the Senate. The second lord-consul, currently Lord Consul Gervaise Cracinesse, is not a member of the senate in their own right but rather a member of the imperial government elected by their peers to represent them in the senate. They are called Leader of the Government. Both of them seats apart from the rest of the senate and lead senate sessions. They are addressed as "lord-consul" and wear a special signet ring corresponding to their office.   In theory, the senate has absolute power over the empire, and all of their edicts become laws that are then applied by the imperial government. In practice, because of the magical link the rulers of the federal Estates have with their Land, it is very difficult to impossible to impose an unpopular law over the empire. As exemplified by the episode of the Flooding, more than a majority, a consensus is needed to pass laws so that all those in agreement will impose their decision by force on the other if necessary and have a good chance of winning the conflict.
A loud chime signalled the beginning of the session—no more than five minutes after the official time—interrupting Lady Annabelle Alyssenne's thoughts. The noise immediately settled as everyone turned towards the consuls.   "My ladies, my lords, if you please, I declare the session of the senate of the thirty-first of Aurial open," Lord Ylucianie announced grandly. "We are today welcoming back Lady Annabelle Alyssenne, Head of the House of Alyssenne. Any who are against her presence, speak now."   Silence fell over the room as everyone waited with bated breath.   Her discussion with the consuls must have satisfied all of the lords and ladies as no one spoke. After exactly one minute, Lord Ylucianie's magic made the bell chime again.

The senate chambers

The senate chambers are located in Arianie, the capital of the empire. The location was decided as a compromise after the peace treaty between the North and South Coalitions was signed and the empire was founded. The senate chambers are located in a magnificent building that also houses government offices and a library belonging to the senate.   The chambers themselves where the senate gathers are a theatre with semicircle of seats facing two central podiums on which are one throne-like chair each, bearing the insignia of the consuls of the senate. On their left at the back of the chambers is a platform that can be reached by a few steps. It has been warded to allow the members of the senate to appear directly there with a location pentagram keyed to the chambers. The platform is made of black marble and it is engraved with golden runes. The steps leading to the platform and the rest of the ground level of the chambers are covered in a thick midnight blue carpet.   At the very back of the room is a table on which the act of foundation of the empire is exposed under protective wards. It is customary for lords or ladies from a House that has not yet been a member of the senate to come and sign the act to signify their agreement with it.
Surrounding the centre was a semicircle of seats, each bearing the coat of arms of a House and diverse protective runes and enchantments that had been put there by the first members of each House to have been welcomed in the senate. The seats were ordered by the importance of the Houses; the lesser ones were directly on the floor and the founding ones at the top. As the Head of one of the Founding Houses, Annabelle had a vantage spot above the room and could avoid most looks, even if a few Heads were not above the ridicule of twisting their respective necks in her direction.   The Light Houses were on the left side of the room and the Dark on the right. Very few Houses had changed affiliation since their admittance in the senate, but a few uncomfortable lords sitting among their enemies could be easily identified. The rule obliging any Head wanting a new seat to start back on the floor level effectively prevented any House with a modicum of seniority from moving to the opposite side of the room. Who said that the lords and ladies of the empire were above petty revenge?

Senate session


The senate gathers every 30 days the last day of every month to discuss matters of concern and law proposals. There is no obligation for all members to be present for every session, but most lords and ladies do as it is a great occasion to socialise together. If they do not choose to assist, each ruler has a far-seeing pool in their manor that is magically linked to the walls of the senate chambers. They can use it to observe what is going on even if they cannot assist to a senate session. The only languages officially allowed in the senate are Northern and Southern, but the use of translation magic is also accepted.   A session of the senate starts with one of the lords-consuls opening it and declaring the agenda of the day. After this, each point is debated in succession until the agenda has been covered. If the senate is running too long, the lords-consuls can take the decision to postpone the rest of the debate until the next session. In exceptional circumstances such as a war, they can also decide to have that session take place before the official date.   During a session, any member of the senate is allowed to take part in the debate regardless of the relevance of what they have to say—though if they abuse that right, they do run the risk of having their fellow lords and ladies take revenge on them later. Each seat in the senate chambers comports a crystal on their armrest.   When touched with magic, the crystal glow and call the attention of the room to signal that the someone wishes to speak. Permission must then be given by one of the lords-consuls before that person is allowed to do so. Some lords-consuls have been known to be petty and to refuse that right to individuals they do not like. However, if they do that for unwarranted reason, they are unlikely to stay in post for long.   It is also possible to use the crystal in the seats to share documents with everyone. Indeed, inside the crystals there are location pentagrams that can be activated with magic to make document disappear and reappear in the office of the lord-consul Leader of the Senate. Once a session is finished, they will take care of having the document copied and sent to all members of the senate as well as publishing its content in the official gazette of the senate.   At the end of each session of the senate, all members have the opportunity to share news of import with their fellow lords and ladies. This can concern personal announcement regarding the start of Courtship Rituals, their bonding, or the birth of an heir, or more political matter such as declarations of war or trade matters.
Peace treaty by Wikimedia Commons
The act of foundation of the empire by Jarmoluk on Unsplash
location pentagram
Location pentagrams, by AmélieIs, made with images from Vecteezy
Annabelle went on, "As a second notice brought to the attention of the senate, House Alyssenne would like to declare the opening of Courtship Rituals directed towards its Head and to make public the ordeals chosen."   She sent a quick impulse of magic towards one of her rings to activate the small pentagram it was carrying; the scroll of parchment it was linked to immediately appeared in her hand from the desk in her manor where she had left it. She touched the tip of the scroll to the crystal of her seat and it disappeared in a flash of light thanks to a similar pentagram engraved there. Later that day, an exemplar would be sent to all members of the senate and it would be published in its official gazette.   That done, she was able to look around her and to take stock of the reactions to her announcement. The predominant one seemed to be confusion, but it was slowly starting to turn into jubilation, the magics buzzing like annoying insects. Good. She would not be lacking in suitors and some of them were bound to offer new trade deals and political alliances to placate her. If she had to welcome all those strangers and enemies in her home, she would be loath not to receive some kind of compensation out of the scheme.   Keeping up with the Rituals for a whole year would be bothersome, but she had to see it for the respite it was; and despite what Laurent or Adrien might say about the importance of forging a strong alliance, nothing would force her to choose anyone at the end if she did not feel like it. She would not lower her standards because of political expediency, or her House would be the one to suffer. Her future spouse would be a true equal and partner capable of holding their own against the enemies of House Alyssenne. Maybe the Rituals would reveal a suitable partner, but she had high doubts…

  If you want to read more about Annabelle's story, you can go here:  

Cover image: Annabelle Alyssenne and Véridice Lyrienne during her Courtship Rituals by AmélieIS


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