Today we’re in Ascar again, where we have the opportunity to chat with Chief Councillor John Hastings. He has been in post for many years, and it’ll be interesting to get his take on high-level administration of the realm.
Situated within the Royal Compound, the Council building holds all the governmental records. It’s where administrative meetings are held and decisions made. There are also courtrooms and detention areas where investigations of a sensitive nature are performed.
After I report to the reception area—an impressive hall with a marble floor and busts of famous personages—a city guard leads me to Chief Councillor Hastings’ private office on the first floor. The decor is tasteful but understated, and the furniture of solid quality but well worn. This is obviously a working area.
Chief Councillor Hastings is a man of impressive build. Rumour has it he was a boxing champion in his youth before he moved into politics.
IC: Chief Councillor Hastings, thank you very much for allowing me the opportunity to speak with you.
JH: Not at all. It’s good to give citizens some insight into the role the Council plays.
IC: Can you please tell me what the Council does?
JH: The Council is the governing body of the realm. Rural settlements are encouraged to govern themselves to some extent—since different circumstances require different rules—but we oversee them all, and offer a helpful steer to keep them on the right track.
IC: Who sits on the Council?
JH: The Council is nominally headed by the monarch, although in her—or his—absence I would lead the Council in her stead. Chiefs of the major organisations within Ascar have a seat. For example, the scientists, historians, logisticians and security are represented. Other organisations may attend meetings if Council business concerns them. For example, the techne people and engineers, while nominally coming under logisticians, might have a particular interest in some matter.
IC: And, let’s see… the captains would come under security, I guess?
JH: Well, much of the law administration would come under security. And sometimes… the captains come under the scientists.
IC: Oh, that’s interesting. I thought the scientists researched the curse. I didn’t realise the captains were so connected with the curse too.
JH (reddening): Well, naturally, the captains’ roles include dealing with citizens who might be cursed, education and administration of laws within the settlements. They do represent the Council in the settlements, as well as on a less formalised basis within Ascar.
IC: You say the Council is nominally headed by the monarch. Is that a historical arrangement?
JH: It’s always been the case, as far as our records show. Certainly King Frederick, Settlers watch over him, regularly chaired our Council meetings. However, he didn’t always have the time. I believe it’s better if the chair is someone who can attend consistently.
IC: Such as yourself.
JH (nods): Well, certainly it’s a pleasure to do my duty.
IC: And what does Queen Eleanor have to say about this?
JH: She has expressed no objection.
IC: I’m sure she trusts you implicitly. How much power does the monarch have?
JH: The monarch has absolute power. Of course, only a despot would actually exercise that power against the wishes—I mean, against the advice—of the Council.
IC: Thank you for your time.
While I remember, I haven’t yet mentioned the security process involved in entering the Royal Compound: a process which I also had to go through when interviewing Louis in the Keep last time. They certainly take their security seriously!