The Book of Rahl – Chapter Thirty-One

The Book of Rahl – Chapter Thirty-One:
Of Thin Ice, Thin Lines, and Soldiers on Tightropes

Tonight marks the fortieth year of my command. Forty years, and once again we face all the same struggles. One would think that there would be some manner of progress – that some of these battles and wars would be won by now, but that does not seem to be the case.
The Society remains on stand-down in the city of Jhelom. The men are bored and restless and it’s beginning to show. This is further complicated by the fact that over the course of the last year it seems every petty agitator and fanatic in the world has decided to take pokes at us. Most of the men are tired of simply ignoring it, and there have been incidents – some minor, some quite severe that will require careful diplomacy to resolve, and an even gentler touch to resolve while making the haughty bastards admit they were wrong as well.
In another time and place these things would never have been a problem. We earned our respect through blood and perseverance, and I earned my station because I got the job done. This Britannia that has evolved from those who first fled Minax’s invasion does not seem to care. They do not seem to remember. Even in a city like Jhelom the men have to tread lightly for fear of some mongrel running to the near-nonexistent Tribunal with cries of assault or worse (and asking the men to stay out of trouble when they’re off-duty and bored is a trial in and of itself). In Trinsic even vigilante justice has been outlawed, yet few if any people with real authority walk the streets to uphold it.

A city of evil festers in the heartlands of Britannia, yet they all seem too swept up with the political two-step to care. They barely take notice of an orc raid anymore – though those have become fewer and fewer as the orcs seem to have become lazier and lazier as time carries on. Even the Society, for lack of purpose and direction, has faltered.

My world has been given to the weak, the conniving, and the blind.

And thus, I find myself at a dangerous crossroads. One path leads to attempting to affect change from the inside. Our operations in Jhelom have been set in motion, but the Tribunal has remained out of sight since the proclamation, so there’s been no action taken to proceed. This city is a gold mine for martial resources, one that the cities would do well to tap, but without a voice there is nothing to influence those in power. I have always wished to leverage the Society for loftier purposes. Sadly, those who we wish most to serve seem contented to poke, prod, and otherwise try my last ounce of patience. Which brings me to the road less traveled.
This second path is the one we would walk were our patience and restraint to fail. For thousands of years of our history, the Society marched where she would regardless of what was politick. For thousands of years no one dared to shove us around like these people have done of late. No one dared. With a nod of my head the men would rally and take what they feel they’re owed, and they would hold it with the vehemence of a street cur over scraps of meat. They would form alliances sealed with the blood of the wicked and would lay waste to those that would plague the land. It would be a storm of righteous fury. Sadly, storms tend to be somewhat uncontrollable; and furthermore, those who are in power do not relinquish it easily, nor do many of them age at all. Their memories are long, and the pedestals they’ve placed themselves upon prevent them from seeing that we are driven to such things by their own lack of vision. Doors would be closed, perhaps permanently.

I can only assume that every military commander has had these musings in peacetime. The frustrations that occur when soldiers mix with ungrateful civilians must be documented somewhere. At some point in the three minutes that passed between Corporal and Captain there was probably a manual I was supposed to read with that in it. I feel very much how Elendril must have felt, suddenly faced with a world of people with incomprehensible motivations all screaming for his blood over the death of a criminal. Sometimes I wish I had his bull-headed stubborn pride to fuel my own internal fires. People who just know they’re right all the time no matter what the circumstances must sleep well at night. Britannia seems to be full of well-rested people these days. Pity, a dose of introspection and self-doubt injected into these righteous sods would probably be a big step towards making the world a better place.
Unlike Elendril I do not have the luxury of retreating behind my own borders.
I do not have a kingdom with walls to raise to keep the insanity out.
I have a large, masterless, alienated, and dejected company of elite, rough-and-tumble, pissed-off killers.

I wonder what I can do with that.

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