The Descent of Grace - The tinkling sanctus bells sung their timeless melody - Naganaka Akari raised her eyes and beheld the descent of the Pancreator unto His holy altar as the priest whispered the holy words. And she wept. Oh how great a mystery, how great a sacrament and how great a mercy that the Pancreator in his infinite goodness bestowed his grace upon poor wretched man, which so many times had gone astray from His Law. As the battle sisters in black habits, who safeguarded all the major figures of House Li Halan, bowed their heads and murmured their devotions Akari prayed and pondered the ineffable doctrine of the descent of grace. Indeed as the Church taught, while the Pancreator's grace flowed forth unto mankind for the salvation of souls through His Universal Church and most particularly through his sacraments and was sufficient in itself to redeem all men and restore the fallen world, its efficacy in the lives of men was only active so much as man was disposed to receive it and was prepared to cooperate with the graces obtained. Furthermore, Akari remembered from her childhood lessons, while all men were granted sufficient graces others were granted superabundant graces gratuitously by the Pancreators holy will, be it because they were fore-chosen to be amongst his elect or appointed to achieve some purpose of his in their earthly sojourn. So it was that the Lord ordained a hierarchy amongst men, with fathers having charge over their sons, nobles charge over their serfs, and highest of all the great nobles to whom God was well-pleased to give dominion and authority had charge to rule above all in matters temporal, to complement the Church's imperium in matters spiritual. This was why the rule of the nobility was right, for the Pancreator had ordained it by his Holy Will while republicanism was a great and unspeakable heresy. For the foul doctrine that upheld that popular will could determine the right to rule was nothing more than rebellion against the divine will, and led inevitably thereby to every vice and the great mystery of iniquity that led to the fall of the Republic as the Pancreators chosen, the ancestors of the great houses, together with Holy Church, overthrew the apostate republicans and established the present era of enlightened rule. Alas then that so few of the noble lord in the present days cooperated with the Lords grace and fell into vice. Surely it was this truth, this renewed iniquity amongst those whom the Lord had favoured that has resulted in the corruption of heresy in the spiritual realm. Surely it was a sign that the Adaezite incarnates festered in the realms subject to House Hawkwood and House D'Glace, who represented (to Akari's mind) the dangers of pride and lust amongst the nobility respectively. For the former House had always gloried in its honour and noble credentials while the latter was infamous for its decadence. She mused that examples such as these manifested the necessity of corporal mortification of the flesh, for without a strict watch the flesh led man inexorably to untamed lust or foolish pride. Only by scourging the flesh for its sins might humility be entrenched and purity maintained in the soul. - "Go, it is the Dismissal". The priest finished the concluded rites of the Divine Liturgy and departed in procession to the palaces sacristy trailed by acolytes and enshrouded in a cloud of the finest Herbertian incense. Naganaka Akari refocused her straying mind and went through her usual devotions of thanksgiving and petition, giving thanks to the Pancreator for all he had provided and petitioning Him that his will might be accomplished. She arose and exited the Palace chapel, a fine edifice of star-spangled vaults and stained glass into an antechamber decorated profusely with scenery of Holy Terra in all its idyllic splendor. "My Lady" A courtier bowed before her, emerging from a waiting throng of minor relatives and court functionaries. "We must make haste to visit the construction site for the clinic in the Satomura district as was scheduled last week, further Lord Li of Yu-Bao requests an audience this evening regarding the his recent proposal to facilitate the use of an emarai device in the clinic scheduled to be constructed in his fief." Akari smiled, the work Her Gracious mother the Duchess had charged her for the sake of the commons filled her soul with joy. For indeed being struck with horror at the rising heresy in Uyish (and to a lesser degree Akari suspected by the long-standing presence of heresy in Awroth) she had decreed the construction of a network of clinics that the sufferings of the people might be alleviated through faith and (to the surprise of many) technology sanctioned by the Church. Indeed many in the House had argued that such technical resources were better utilised elsewhere and that the commons did not merit such lavish attention. Yet her mother had resisted saying "We rule by the Grace of God, so must we show grace to those subject to us". "If you say so, make ready the aero-plane, it should take a tenthday or so to reach the Satomura district from Bashengshi yes" "As you request My Lady" So had Akari laboured visiting clinic after clinic, managing construction from the capital Bashengshi and the great royal palace of House Li Halan, toiling tirelessly dawn to dusk. Yet she felt only satisfaction. For every time she donned the traditional white gown of the physician to personally attend to the sick who had come to a newly opened clinic, groaning as they did in fever or voiding their bowels as one might do when infested by an Assimovian Parasitic Vespimorph, or donned the stifling attire of a noble princess when addressing the commoners or attending to the trifling engagements of the local nobility she found solace in the knowledge that she was doing so for her people, for her house and ultimately for God. For grace was given from on high to be passed on to others in service, this was the message drilled into her by her mother since she was a child. So it was that on yet another day Akari attended to her people, and prepared herself for the time when she would be Matriarch of House Li Halan.