One "head of the Presidency", to whom the title would go on to be applied more specifically as a grisly joke on the circumstances of his death, led the Homeworld before the War in Heaven. After his death following the Faraway Declaration, his severed head was known on Earth as the Poenari Relic, and it later delivered the First Message from the Enemy to the Great Houses.
The 412th President of the Great Houses took office 95 years before the beginning of the War in Heaven. Unlike his predecessor, (PROSE: Crimes Against History) Romana III, (PROSE: The Shadows of Avalon) the 412th President trusted the interventionists to neutralize any threats to the Homeworld, so he regarded the coming War as an impossibility. (PROSE: Crimes Against History)
76 years before the start of the War in Heaven, a fearsome renegade forced his way into the head of the Presidency's quarters, killing three Presidential guards, to deliver a 15-minute warning about the upcoming conflict. This terrified the President, who refused to heed the warning, even after the renegade convinced the rest of the ruling Houses.
When the renegade returned to the Homeworld a third time, 45 years later, the head of the Presidency had him immediately arrested and restrained at a public trial. At the trial, the President delivered the Faraway Declaration, announcing a plan to personally start a new Homeworld colony on the supposed enemy base of Faraway. While the President was away, Umbaste was to serve as his temporary replacement. (PROSE: The Book of the War)
As the Poenari Relic
The Poenari Relic was the severed head of a Caucasian male wearing a frozen, horrified face and a large black mustache, preserved in a substance similar to honey. It was kept at Poenari by the Order of the Dragon. According to their legends, it belonged to one of the "first warriors" who stood at the gates of the city of Ubar at the start of time and was killed by the s'tanim. The Order believed that, if they guarded the Relic until the end of time, it would be returned to Heaven.
In 1476, after the Sultan requested Vlad III's severed head on a stake as evidence of his conquest in battle, Ottoman soldiers brought the Poenari Relic. It was then put on display in Constantinople for a century. In reality, Vlad survived the battle and died in 1973.
First Message from the Enemy
Five days later after the delegation left for Faraway, the President's severed head returned to the Homeworld. Based on its levels of piryon and anti-piryon radiation, the head had apparently travelled the entire lifespan of the universe, from 3500 years after the Big Bang to within five years of the Big Crunch. For most of this time, the head had been kept alive; it only finally died within a century of its return to the Homeworld. Between its teeth was a slip of paper bearing the First Message from the Enemy. (PROSE: The Book of the War)
We are not amused.
Eventually, some Academicians like Minkosa believed that the First Message was conveyed by a "talking head". The story of the Seven Prophesied Heads of Severance spread the idea that, after six further severed heads had spoken, the War in Heaven would end (PROSE: The Brakespeare Voyage) and "the true War" would begin. (PROSE: Head of State)
Behind the scenes
- The title "head of the Presidency" is a joke about this President's ultimate fate.
- The gender of the President is kept ambiguous throughout the entries concerning his role on the Homeworld. It is only as the Poenari Relic that he is identified as male.