I write this address upon the first anniversary of my ascension to the throne, even against the recommendation of my closest counselor, Karasin Stragos, because my experiences in Revma have indicated that speaking directly to the people of Braelin might help to assuage their fear of me—to make me human in their eyes.
It is likely by now that you have already decided, in your heart, to believe that I am or am not worthy to sit upon the throne of Braelin. But even the stillest lake will show the ripples of a stone tossed into it. So I hope it will be with my words.
Not long ago, I was living in great contentment among my family and friends. As winter turned, I cleared the cobwebs from my home on the banks of the Hasumi River and bid farewell to the old year. But when the spring mists rose up into the sky, the word of the God Who Reigns possessed me, and burned my mind with the command that I was to go away from Caprina’s shores to rule in Braelin.
I will be honest: I did not want to go. Though I boast no exceptional skill, my work as a tekni was consistent, and I found joy in it. I had never ventured more than two days’ walk from my home village of Chonburi. What did I know about ruling a strange country across a sea which compatriots far worthier than me had never crossed? Why would the God Who Reigns burden me with such a task when surely there were those in Braelin better suited to it?
But it was as though a fever had gripped me. I could not concentrate on anything. A vision of the moon hanging over Revma was already in my mind. If ever you have felt the voice of a god, you will surely understand.
I knew it was unlikely that I would see the silver waters of the Hasumi or the cherry trees of Chonburi again. My closest friends, gathered together the night before my departure, were already strangers to me. My heart was overwhelmed by the prospect of the vast journey ahead.
When I first arrived on Braelin’s shore, Karasin Stragos and I found lodgings outside of Revma. The innkeeper there must have been surprised to greet such unusual guests, but they merely introduced themselves and assured us that we could sleep that night with our minds at ease—that they would allow no one to bother or attack us. I observed the innkeeper carefully and saw that they were indeed a person of stubborn honesty: strong, simple, straightforward. I found their purity of heart most admirable.
That night, I listened to a performer reciting a country ballad from Blacknall to the accompaniment of a lute. It was not like the stories of Caprina, or our traditional dancing songs. They were singing in the room right next to ours, and I found their voice very noisy as I was trying to rest.
But as I continued to listen I realized how good it was that such fine customs exist in this land. Here was a country that had endured more than a thousand years. I felt such a sudden connection to the Braelinese people that I became certain that I had lived as a Braelinese citizen in the past, and that, therefore, this was my homecoming. For a short time, I forgot the hardships of the road, and laid aside the twin burdens of loneliness and doubt I had carried with me across the sea, and was moved to tears.
Since that moment, I have not felt myself an exiled Caprinan, but a Braelinese citizen. You may think this has made my destiny lighter; but it has merely served to double the sense of responsibility I feel toward this country and its people.
As monarch I have tried to seek virtue and wisdom for all before considering my private interests, and to look to the state of the people of Braelin before I look to the interests of the state. When I arrived, Braelin was wracked by war; its cities were broken and burned, its enemies threatened on all sides, and its people were sick with wounds of body and spirit.
It is said that war is a curse: it should be resorted to only when it is inevitable. And so I dedicated myself to bringing peace; to healing the injuries the country and the citizens have endured; to rebuilding homes and families; to forging bridges instead of destroying them. I sought not only to protect my new home, but to make it better for those who live and will live here. If I have failed you in this, I beg your forgiveness as one who never expected to rule.
Perhaps a different person would bring prosperity and peace to Braelin. Perhaps a different person would be better suited to rule here. But the God Who Reigns did not select a different person; it selected me. And so I believe that, while a different person might give the people of Braelin the illusion of happiness, I will give you the reality of it.
Thus I hope that you believe me when I say that I take my duties seriously, and that I have no intention—as some have suggested—of occupying the throne of Braelin as a foreign conqueror. Rather, I wish only to protect and better the country on behalf of the people—and as one of them. Should any person or persons seek to undermine this country, as many Braelinese seem to fear, I will make every effort to stop them. Should those persons be apprehended, they will be condemned to the Burning Death, so that their evils cannot be perpetuated in future generations. This I vow by the God Who Reigns.
All that is from the gods is fated. Thus it may be that the God Who Reigns always intended for me to fail. Who can claim to know the will of the gods? If that is the case, I will abide by my destiny. However, as one human to other humans, I will humbly request this: if I do fail, and it comes to pass that I must forfeit the throne, I ask to be shown the mercy of death rather than the strictures of exile—for I know in my heart that the death of the body is no evil, while to live in prison or to be forced once again to leave my home—Braelin—would mean the daily death of my spirit.
I thank you for your patience in bearing with my inexpert words. I will finish with one final item for your consideration. It is a parable that an iketis taught me when I was very young, and which has lived in my heart ever since:
Danas Paristos, at Busawan Iketis’ yu, decided they would take good care of their old teacher’s health and give Busawan Iketis only fresh miso. Busawan Iketis, noticing they were being served better miso than their pupils, asked: “Who is cooking today?”
Danas Paristos was sent before the iketis. Busawan Iketis learned that, according to their age and position, they should eat only fresh miso. So the iketis said to the paristos: “Then you think I shouldn’t eat at all.” With this they entered their room and locked the door.
Danas Paristos, sitting outside the door, asked their teacher’s pardon. Busawan Iketis would not answer. For seven days Danas Paristos sat outside and Busawan Iketis within.
Finally in desperation another paristos called loudly to Busawan Iketis: “You may be all right, old teacher, but this young paristos here has to eat. They cannot go without food forever!”
At that Busawan Iketis opened the door. They were smiling. They told Danas Paristos: “I insist on eating the same food as the least of the paristos here. When you become the teacher I do not want you to forget this.”
As signed and sealed by Jintaru Riga, monarch of Braelin,
in the Autumn of the year 1217.