Lords, Ladies, and Concerned Parties,
Firstly, I make no presumption to guess at the internal workings of the vaunted Praetoria Excubitoris Imperialis. I imagine this decision was neither easy nor made in haste, but again, I can only offer speculation. Regardless, the escalating tensions are palpable and I pray that no further acts of violence against innocents are considered necessary by any concerned party, terrorist or otherwise.
As Lord Adjutant of the Cerra Holding, it is my responsibility to take the necessary precautions to prepare the Holding on the anniversary of the Crimson Harvest. Cerra Cathedral, as many of you may know, was the final resting place of Doctor Arkon Sarain, who famously convened the Pakhsi Peace Conference. Lady Shalee Lianne Cerra considered it an honor that she was able to provide such a place for one who was committed to peace.
Although his tomb was regrettably destroyed by Blood Raiders when the cathedral was sacked while over fifty clergy members were executed, the Cerra Family has maintained a memorial not only to his efforts but also to the martyrs made throughout the Bleak Lands those three years ago. The memorial includes some of the belongings of those who sought refuge within the cathedral before and after the event and while I was making my final rounds, I came across a child’s storybook. The cover has long since been lost and if any should recognize the following story, I would be most grateful for the title of the complete volume.
I believe its message, though simple, should resonate given the current situation.
By His light and His will,
Lord Reginald Sakakibara,
Lord Adjutant, Cerra Holding, Huola VII
In those days, there were many who possessed a martial spirit and sought to use their talents in the service of the Lord. A number of these became Crusaders who vanquished many enemies and Reclaimed many lands for the Lord and even took in a child, who had once belonged to a tribe of the vanquished, whom they raised in the Faith. With them, the Lord was pleased, and through His Emperors and Empresses, bestowed upon them many titles and honors.
As time passed, the Lord grew so pleased as to say, “Surely their Faith cannot waver. I shall test them.”
And thus, the Lord empowered many who also possessed a martial spirit, but among these He lay a bloodthirsty nature—a propensity to spill the blood of innocents. However, these too, Reclaimed many lands in the service of the Lord. Together with the Crusaders, they fought many enemies from without.
The Lord then said, “I shall provide for these a great victory and they shall see how the others act. They shall see them slaughter innocents and they shall rebuke and purify them with the sword in My Name.”
When the time of the great victory arrived, many of these brought forth their slaves and sacrificed them upon the field of battle; blood poured out in torrents so as to be like an ocean, the field and streams ran red.
The child, upon seeing this, exclaimed, “How can this be the will of the Lord, that so many be slaughtered without sense nor mercy?”
The Lord waited for the Crusaders to take up their holy swords and condemn the wanton bloodshed but instead, they stayed their hands, saying, “What are the lives of a few slaves to the strength of these mighty warriors? Come, let us make merry, feast, and celebrate our victory.”
The Lord was displeased, but for the sake of the child, withheld his wrath.
The Lord then said, “I shall test these Crusaders a second time.”
And thus, the Lord raised a mighty host to join the Crusaders and those who possessed a martial spirit. However, among this mighty host were heretics, blasphemers, and apostates. These latter ones committed many atrocities beneath the banner of the Lord’s Emperors and Empresses.
The Lord said, “Surely, they will not suffer those who sully My Name, the names of My Emperors and Empresses, and the Holy Scriptures to live!”
But as the mighty host swelled and overcame many of the enemies from without, the Crusaders did not take up arms against the enemy from within. The heretics, blasphemers, and apostates grew ever more numerous and their skill in battle was formidable. In time, they came to outnumber the Crusaders.
The child, upon seeing this, exclaimed, “Do we not defile our cause by consorting with these heretics, blasphemers, and apostates?”
The Crusaders said, “Better to glorify the Lord with victory by allying ourselves with such as these than to keep the Faith and be defeated!”
The Lord was displeased, but for the sake of the child, withheld his wrath.
The Lord then said, “Twice these ones have chosen bloodlust over Faith, convenience over duty. I shall test them once more, by allowing the Deceiver himself to find root in my creation. I shall also make him strike against one of their own children, for surely if not for Me, they will rally around one they have tutored and raised and in doing so, the Faith will be strengthened and they shall find salvation.”
And so it was. The Deceiver was loosed into the courts and halls of Holy Amarr. With false promises and his connivances, he found a candidate to carry out his plans, and thus cloaked himself in the likeness of a Holder who held much influence and who was favored by the Emperor. Using his disguise, he convinced the Emperor to bestow upon the Crusaders more honors and titles, to commemorate their many acts of heroism in the name of Holy Amarr. So too, did it come to pass, that the child who had been brought up in the tradition of the Crusaders and been counted among their number, was set upon by the Deceiver.
Fooled not by the disguise, the child exclaimed, “Strike at me, Deceiver, and I shall strike back!”
Undaunted, the Deceiver struck and thus the child struck back at the hand of the Deceiver. But though wounded, the Deceiver was cunning and blinded the other Crusaders with his disguise as one of the Emperor’s favored.
When it came time for the child to be judged for their act, the Crusaders said, “Are we not sanctified by the Emperor? Are not our ways proven to be faithful by our many titles and honors? Therefore, we cast you out! You who would strike the Emperor’s favored are no child of ours. Begone! You are dead to us!”
At this, the Lord grew angry.
When the time of Judgment arrived, the Crusaders arrayed themselves in all of their finery, wearing their titles and honors upon their chests, carrying themselves before all of the faithful. But the Lord rebuked them and said, “You who claim to fight in My Name but feast with murderers of innocents, who consort with heretics, blasphemers, and apostates, and who perform the work of the Deceiver, I do not know you.”
The Crusaders cried out, “Lord! What of the lands we reclaimed in Your Name, of the enemies that we vanquished, and of those we raised to live the Faith?”
The Lord said unto them, “What good are lands watered in innocent blood? When enemies who defile My Name yet walk in your midst, you claim victory? And even after you cast out your own child, you raise them up as proof of your Faith? You have become drunk on hollow victories and have grown prideful and arrogant, putting more stock in trinkets than in the Scripture of Holy Amarr.”
The Lord then turned and said unto the child, “But you who did not waver, who saw evil and wrongdoing as they were, I shall raise up.”
The child, who had been wandering in the desert, responded, “Lord, I ask that you have mercy on those who raised me.”
At this, the Lord was pleased.
The Lord then said unto all those gathered, to all of the faithful Emperors and Empresses, to all of the faithful Holders, to all of the faithful serfs, “Lead all children to the light of God, for Heaven is theirs to inherit.”