How is death different from life? Fjor asked himself. He had his eyes closed. He could hear a running stream of water nearby. He could feel the warmth of summer on his face, smell the polished wood around him. He was not in the Carsanion Senate anymore. He was back in the alley of The Burnt Market, back to the place that mattered to him the most. He followed the sound of the stream of running water. “Gaspare?” he shouted. “Gaspare?”
There was no answer. He must have gone to deliver the wood in the market, Fjor thought to himself. No, a stronger voice said. No, he isn’t here. He will never be here anymore. Fjor started to tremble, but shook his head violently from side to side. “No!” he said, to no one and everyone. He said it to the society, to the council of Carane, to his own fate, to the stronger voice that was commanding him. The voice ignored him. How is death different from life? It asked Fjor.
Fjor played deaf although he knew the voice too well. He diverted his attention instead. The boy was good at survival, he told himself. He nodded to that thought for several seconds. He had survived before, hadn’t he? Fjor remembered the famine and the riots in the boy’s village before the boy had come to Fjor.
The hurricane had torn apart all of the fields in the village. The hunger had brought along with it evil and ill minds. The people had started rioting in the streets, fighting against one another, fighting against society for the injustice that nature had done against them. The boy had survived all of that. Fjor still remembered as the boy had told him. “I woke up to fires everywhere. The farmers were burning everything down. It didn’t matter whose home it was. They just wanted it all to end. Mother pushed me out of the house. She screamed and yelled and threw sticks at them. They didn’t see me escape. She told me to go find you, told me that you were my grandfather. I ran until I couldn’t. I was about to die of thirst. Carane’s Protectors found me and brought me here.” the boy had said. The forces of Carane had saved him once, Fjor thought. Surely, they would let him survive again? Surely, they would not…? He couldn’t find the strength to finish the thought.
Gaspare had given a new meaning to Fjor’s declining life. Fjor had tried to explain his actions to Gaspare, he had needed the validation. The validation that his actions were for the best of the country. That they weren’t for his own ambitions, for his own demons. Gaspare had always given him that justification, had always agreed to Fjor’s visions and plans. He was an obedient child, Fjor thought to himself, tearful. Naïve…I should never have agreed to take responsibility for the attacks… If only I had listened… The thoughts felt stranded and confused to him, as confusing as his own ambitions.
The shot from The Burnt Market rang in his ears. He saw the girl dead. He had not fired the shot during the procession. But the order had been mine. Had he believed in the cause? He had thought so. Had society not done it’s share in helping him through the years? The time to lie has passed. It didn’t matter now. There was more to it than he would ever admit. Why then was he so adamant on fighting this battle? Why did he still obstinately defend his misplaced sense of egalitarianism? Because, death needed to be different from life, came the answer from deep within. What was it that the Sovereign’s dog had called him? ‘A failure… Attempting to be victorious at least once in your life…’
Fjor laughed, not the laugh of a sanguine mind, but of a person resigned, bowed down to life and its will. He recalled the various deaths he had orchestrated. The three councilors had been charred to death. Fjor looked at the stream of water in front of him. He hurriedly reached out to it, taking the water in his palms, throwing it to the side. “This should help” he nodded to himself. “This will help fix things”
His hands continued to shake with the motion even after the stream had disappeared. He was fading in out of consciousness, back now in the Carsanion senate. They were all standing, all alert, all worried that he might harm one of them next. They needn’t have. It doesn’t matter anymore. Fjor was swaying uncontrollably.
They say that in death all things become clear, but it was even hazier for him, all the more difficult to let go. Just one thought emerged from the abyss, and Fjor opened his eyes once more, as the silhouette of the frightened Gaspare came before him. Behind him, he saw the Sovereign. He should have been happy to see Gaspare. He is alive. The forces of Carane shall protect him. But then he reminded himself of his own actions. The girl that had died in the procession was no older… He did not address Gaspare. “Please don’t punish the boy… Please… Please don’t kill him..” His eyes desperately searched the audience for a sympathetic face. They found Stizlam Tepalmi. He had survived the attack. I am not responsible for all the deaths. He could stop all this. They could forgive me. The actions of an old man….
“Please stop this” Fjor said to him, “Please protect Gaspare” he spoke his dying words with a hope beyond certainty, and collapsed, falling into a death no different from his life…
I hear the birds fly by, the rush of the mountain breeze
A distant rumble of voices, onto my ears roll
But only faintly, for my sanctuary has swallowed me whole
It seems like evening, although I cannot be sure
Time seems to have been suspended here, broken by this haven pure
My mind at ease, breathes in deep
An air pristine, makes demons seep
I tread without purpose, a walk slow
I am wandering now, drowning in my thoughts’ flow
Devoid of destination and of pain, I tread
My mind feels anew, ignited
I remember the future as I remember the past
I see the explosions, that had shaken the war last
I remember building my sanctuary, pulling it together from shards numb
And I remember a far-off future, where ashes it will have become
Troubled I am, by this unreal loss
But for greatness and welfare, into the realm of unknown must one cross
Protect my sanctuary I must, as long as my existence
But also let go I should, and progress for scaling the distance
For life goes on, unpredictable and fleeting
And onward one must march, a valiant heart beating
Dated: Hydrean: 7 of Monolith 36 Ennead Year of the Calyce
Author’s Note: It’s poetry this week ! This post marks another form of experiment in the Sovereign’s Saga on the blog. First person narrative from the Sovereign’s point of view albeit in ‘poetic’ form, as he records his journey in his journal that has since become lost in the sands of time. For more from the Sovereign’s Journal, you can check out: The Lost Journal: The Chains of Time. Next post: The next time we meet, we continue our journey of ‘The Burning Market’ series as the Sovereign and his team pit against the dark forces of Fjor Manar and an unknown enemy in Part II Ep VI: The Shards of Life. Find the journey till now: Part II Ep V: The Last Arrow
The philosophers of the destroyed world had been wise beyond measure, or so I would like to believe. They would have immensely respected the Cogitari and its function. I, the Sovereign of Carane, am blanketed in the cobalt energy of the Hydrean as I write this today. The thirty-six columns of the Cogitari surround me from afar and disperse the silvery sapphire illumination throughout the circular chamber. The Empire of Carane remains, as always, in a shared state of restlessness and peacefulness. It oddly mirrors my own state of mind. Or maybe it is I, who is mirroring the state of my empire.
Today is a day to reflect. The state of the nation is such that I can afford to be meditative about seemingly far-fetched thoughts. ‘Seemingly’, I say, because in reality, these are critical for the growth of an empire. Survival requires focus but progress requires an unconstrained mind. I can feel the force of my thoughts as I close my eyes. Their color is similar to the sapphire of the Hydrean. I see them emerging from the abyss. Their source, the core illumination pulsates in the vast blackness, firing each thought in its own trajectory and lighting up various parts within, an empire far greater than the Empire of Carane.
The thoughts are in abundance. Plans, ideas, strategies. Concepts for uplifting a nation. But I am not convinced. I don’t think any of this will be enough. The true test of these concepts would be in execution. The fragility of the ideas would be exposed then and the strong sapphire glow of many of these would be extinguished. That doesn’t bother me, however. The core illumination continues to pulsate, assuring me of its presence. What bothers me is the nature of time. As I watch my thoughts burn bright, the immutable temperament of time increasingly troubles me. Most of the thoughts are nascent, I see. Some of them are fully formed and some of them are behemoths. But even for the most colossal thoughts, I realize that none of them can escape the truths of time: that the thought can turn into reality only when time allows it and no one can force it to fruition sooner.
I realize that any lasting change from any of these thoughts would take years, decades even. By ‘lasting change’, I mean the kind of change that would uplift a nation exponentially. The idea has to take hold, the issues in the execution need to be ironed out, the plans need to be validated through the implementation and course-corrected when required. The ‘behemoth’ thoughts would require a much longer cycle for each of these phases.
Reflecting back on the destroyed world, I think I can safely say that no great monument there was built in a short time span. Indeed, it took the generation of a ruler to create one wonder for the rest of the world to see. I understand the patience behind those and I practice it too. And yet, there is a restlessness in my mind, when I see more and more of the ideas surface from the abyss and I realize that it would be a lifetime’s work to make them happen. It isn’t cynicism even; it is a restlessness to do good.
Is one supposed to be a slave to time? Is life supposed to be gradual and unhurried? The more I see life the more I tend to witness it in its leisurely pace. But I do not understand the need for such a deliberate march. All of my thoughts feel shackled, constrained by time and by life. A price, so it seems, that I need to pay. But I cannot stop planning ahead, for Carane needs me to. And even if the chains of time are a price for it, I will continue to pay the same. But I must persist, I must aim to charge ahead, regardless of the issues. I look around at the Cogitari, bathed in its sapphire glow, and reflect on the purpose I had constructed it for. Knowing predates Being, come the long lost words. I nod solemnly to myself. I am confident that my actions will yield results. The results may take longer than I anticipate today, but I will have accomplished my purpose in this life of mine. It is blind belief, I realize, but a strong one at that. Carane will continue to prosper, I promise. Carane will continue to soar.
Dated: Hydrean: 5 of Monolith 36 Ennead Year of the Calyce
Author’s Note: This post marks a new kind of an experiment in the Empire of Carane series. This is a first person narrative from the Sovereign’s standpoint as he writes his journal and is different from the third person point of view chapters that you usually see on this blog. This way you really get to be in the Sovereign’s “head” as he deals with the challenges of being a ruler. Hope you liked it! You can share your thoughts in the comments below.