Address to the People of Braelin

The good and loyal subjects of Braelin are presently united in celebration upon the joyous occasion of Their Majesty Darien Odell’s return to the throne of Braelin. According to the twofold dictates of duty and fate, it is my privilege to welcome them back to their rightful place as ordained by the God Who Reigns. I readily join with the people in their rejoicing that Their Majesty Darien Odell is alive and well.

I believed, when Their Majesty Darien Odell first entered the throne room in Revma, that my responsibilities as monarch had come to their conclusion. I stated in a previous address that the mantle of the God Who Reigns has always rested heavily upon my shoulders; that I felt unprepared for the weight of ruling when I was called to do so; and that my arrival upon the shores of Braelin was the cause of uneasiness and concern among much of the populace, rather than of acclaim and welcome. My time upon the throne has been fraught with difficulties. Thus I wondered if the God Who Reigns, seeing my unfitness, planned to release me from its service.

Yet the light of the God Who Reigns has not been removed from my person. For this reason, and in consultation with Their Majesty Darien Odell, it is my conclusion that I am meant to succeed Their Majesty Darien Odell when the time comes that they either choose to step down or are led from the Ephemeral Realm by the God Who Waits.

In the meantime, I believe I am supposed to learn from Their Majesty Darien Odell, who has agreed to act as my guide, mentor, and instructor. This, in turn, means that I no longer have the right to the title of riga. Therefore, from this moment forward and until such time as I am asked to take Their Majesty Darien Odell’s place once more, I ask to be known only as Jintaru Paristos, a humble apprentice and learner.

During my reign as riga, I have sought to safeguard and maintain the integrity of Braelin. My goal has not and never will waver from that, even as a paristos; but it is my hope that, in time, I will come to re-earn my place as monarch not merely in the God Who Reigns’ sight, but in the wisdom of true experience and in the hearts of all the people of Braelin. Let the entire country continue as one, and devote our common strength to the construction of the future. Cultivate the ways of righteousness, foster nobility of spirit, and work with resolution, as I will do in my position as paristos.

With sincere thanks for your patience and attention, I will finish with an iketis’ parable for your consideration:

            When one goes to the Western Shrine in Jia they see carved over the gates the words The First Principle. The letters are unusually large, and those who appreciate calligraphy always admire them as being a masterpiece. They were drawn by Kasem Epmos three centuries ago.
            When Kasem Epmos drew them, they did so on parchment, from which tekni made the larger carving in wood. As Kasem Epmos sketched the letters, a bold paristos was with them. The paristos had made several gallons of ink for the calligraphy and they never failed to criticize their leader’s work.
            “That is not good,” they told Kasem Epmos after the first effort.
            “How is that one?”
            “Poor. Worse than before,” pronounced the paristos.
            Kasem Epmos patiently wrote one sheet after another, until eighty-four First Principles had been accumulated, yet still without the approval of the paristos.
            Then, when the youth stepped outside for a few moments, Kasem Epmos thought: “Now is my chance to escape their keen eye,” and they wrote hurriedly, with a mind free from distraction: The First Principle.
            “A masterpiece,” pronounced the paristos.

 

As written and signed by Jintaru Paristos, apprentice to Their Majesty Darien Odell,
in the Summer of the year 1218.

Address to the People of Braelin

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.

Tuesday Tales, Part VII: “A Brief Recounting of the Life of King Darien Odell”

His Majesty the King Darien Odell was born the elder of two children into a minor noble family in Wayhaven, Caxton.  His sister, Her Royal Highness Princess Valencia Odell, is six years younger.

As a child, King Darien’s buoyant personality and natural tendency to earn the trust of those around him seemed to indicate a bright future as a public official; by the time the young Darien had turned fourteen, the Right Honorable Count Matthias Hakebourne had expressed himself “very well pleased” with the boy’s development as a soon-to-be vassal within his county.  However, it quickly became clear that young Darien was intended for something much greater.

Shortly after turning sixteen years old, the boy was laid low with a sickness that had spread throughout the duchy of Caxton.  Although most victims of the illness suffered only from fatigue and a fever, young Darien was much more strongly affected.  Despite the efforts of several renowned healers and herbalists, the youth’s condition continued to deteriorate and, over the course of six days, he died six times.  On the seventh night of his illness, the boy bade his parents farewell and closed his eyes for what he knew would be the last time.  The fever lulled him into a pleasant, calm sleep as his family and friends stood weeping at his bedside.

The next morning young Darien awoke, restored to the vigor and health he had displayed before the sickness came.  His parents, amazed and thankful, praised the White God for safeguarding their son in his time of need; but after another week had passed, the true reason for his recovery became apparent when he awoke to discover a purple light emanating from his body, signaling his position as the next monarch of Braelin.  Word spread swiftly and soon the entire duchy of Caxton was celebrating the arrival of their next king, a Caxtoner by birth.

Considering His Majesty the King Nicholas Everett’s advancing age, it was clear that the next ruler’s time would soon be at hand.  Then-Crown Prince Darien spent the next five years of his life shadowing King Nicholas, learning about the day-to-day affairs of managing the country as well as the responsibilities and dangers of ascending to the Braelinese throne.  Finally, in 1206, King Nicholas passed on in his sleep and Darien Odell stepped into his position as the rightful king of Braelin.  For the past six years, King Darien has ruled over a period of peace and prosperity.  Refusing—as His Majesty says—to remain “locked up in the palace,” he has pursued an active lifestyle and frequently visits the regions around Esos.  In his own words, the king has “made it a point to visit every duchy at least once per year to make sure all is well.”

Folkloric Fridays, Part V: King Shayne Kendrick the Conqueror at the Battle of Normont

The Battle of Normont, Springfall, year 48.  The Battle of Normont was more a battle of wits than a true melee.  Openly flying war banners, Shayne made a show of leading his army into the winding, treacherous Stilys nearby the northern holdings of warlord Esdeline Chernock.  Chernock, a highly esteemed figure in the region, saw a chance to strike out and potentially decimate the invading army before any damage could be wrought to the southern parts of the peninsula.  Given solid information from her own scouts as well as from several informants within Shayne’s army, she was finally convinced by the testimony of a captured herald, who broke down in interrogation and listed off specific numbers of soldiers, the current state of the army, and the field marshals’ intended route through the mountain passes.  Chernock rallied an army and set out to create an ambush along the mountainsides and valleys—a strategy that, had it worked, would indeed have caused irreparable damage to Shayne’s army and plans.

On the day of battle, however, Shayne never appeared; instead, he and his entire army looped back to Chernock’s fortress-home of Normont and surprised the skeleton crew that had been left behind to guard the holdings.  Easily overpowering them, Shayne and his soldiers seized the fortress quite handily.  Shayne then proceeded to hold Chernock’s mother and younger brother hostage until Chernock, returning, agreed to Shayne’s terms of surrender.  As soon as she yielded, Shayne knighted her, promising her the castle and a title if she would aid his war effort.  She agreed, impressed by his tactics; as the war continued, she would become one of his most loyal and ardent knights.

Folkloric Fridays, Part I: Queen Raelin and the Battle of Shadowhold

Queen Raelin Key, the “Great Queen.”  Born to a peasant family, Raelin Key is the first well-recorded god-chosen in all of Human history.  On the 31st of Summerfall, at age nineteen, she was tasked by the Purple God to create a center of safety and stability amid the chaotic, war-torn lands of the Dark Days.  She is said to have been very charming, with a steady mien, a pleasantly husky voice, and a gift for rallying others to her cause.  Historians of the time describe her as having masses of red-gold hair and keen blue eyes, and it is well-recorded that she almost never took off her purple light.  Despite her immense popularity, and a few serious liaisons, Raelin stalwartly refused to marry.

Raelin always resisted the title Queen, but she did require and accept oaths of fealty from her subjects, and she formed a judicial system based on the precept, “treat others as you would be treated.”  The result was a strong, fair, but often brutal judiciary process.  Certain opponents of Raelin’s went so far as to accuse her of bloodthirstiness.  Whether or not Raelin ever responded to these criticisms, no one knows; the historical record is silent.  Queen Raelin died peacefully in her sleep in the year 39, when she was fifty-eight years old.

The Battle of Shadowhold, 29th-31st Summerfall, year 0.  Raelin led an army of approximately 5,000 supporters, mostly foot soldiers and untrained peasants wielding farming implements, against the fortress of Shadowhold (now the site of the Royal Palace in Esos).  Its ruler was warlord Osric Cutteridge, who had never yet lost a battle, and Raelin’s forces faced a better-trained and far larger opposing army.  Her first attack broke against the curtain wall, with nearly half of her soldiers dying, and the army was driven back to the surrounding environs by a cavalry charge.  Many people, sympathizers and enemies alike, believed the young woman and her followers defeated after the terrible loss, but Raelin managed to rally her troops with an impassioned speech as they regrouped within the nearby forest.

The next day Raelin’s counter-attack pushed the defenders back inside the fortress’ walls.  Meanwhile, a small number of ships led by Raelin’s premier naval marshal, Richard Colt, had sailed up the Kordiso to besiege Shadowhold from the river-side.  Using the ship-led bombardment and Raelin’s frontal attack as both cover and distraction, a group of trap-makers and saboteurs managed to rig up a contraption that destroyed the southern tower flanking the gatehouse.  The attackers pressed their advantage to seize the outer ward, a maneuver followed by an all-out melee to take the fortress’ inner ward and keep.  The battle was over by dawn; warlord Osric himself knelt at Raelin’s feet and presented her with his broken sword.