Exercising Government by Means of Virtue

Some governments maintain a rigidly defined chain of command, rights and duties, from top to bottom – from a monarch, an autocrat, an elected council, or what have you, directives emerge and are complied with by the lesser strata of administration.

This is at best theoretically the case in the Empire.  While section VIII of the Imperial Charter does instruct the runér to owe fealty and duties to their superiors and receive them from their inferiors, it leaves what precisely these consist of unsaid, and specifies that they are owed to the Empire first and the Imperial Couple second before that; and in defining the duties of the runér, it requires subordination only in the command of local garrison forces, otherwise saying that their administration shall be “in accordance with their right of coronargyr and the Imperial Mandate”.

In practice, then, the Empire’s runér are an independent and fractious group, proud of their demesnes, and prone to vigorously defend their prerogatives and perquisites to govern as they see fit.  Such cooperation as can be expected as of right is limited to that enshrined in Imperial law and their letters patent.  Moreover, while the power of a runér to govern is strictly circumscribed by the Fundamental Contract and the Imperial Charter, most well-established or founding runér command extensive tapestries of properties, investments, easements, circles, pacts, favors, and reputation within their demesne which grant them extensive socioeconomic power and influence outside their formal command of justice, defense, and the public infrastructure.

Thus, the successful Imperial Couple or upper-stratum executive learns to avoid commanding the runér when possible; and when necessary, to apply persuasion, influence, incentive and leverage in equal measure.

– from the Scroll of Staves, fifteenth recension