The Four Kings are a lie.
The legends that told of their prowess and their accomplishments are built upon tales told by men in desperate need for security. I admit that I am one of those men.
It is difficult at times to come to terms with your own realizations. I find more often than not, my darkest demons shadows are cast from my own body. Those sinister jesters are more threatening in the evening, in the times of peril. Where the light has shone them to be their most powerful, and as the sun descends… their strength grows overwhelming.
But there will always be a new day. Perhaps, a new day of which I am no longer a part of. The legacy of a king has so long been that of pride and power, to cast a grander shadow than his demons. Kings and Queens alike seem to glorify the creation of such dark creatures.
It is here that I’ve found myself, dwelling on the history of our actions and the ideas that we once held dear that I have found myself at a breaking point. My kingdom struggled, dwindling to nearly nothing as I watched in silence from the depths of my throne room. Attended to by friend and foe alike. Allowing them to parse through my mind and invade that which belongs only to me.
I have found since then, that what I have looked up to has been a terror of will. The heroes whom I have looked up to through the course of my youth are not the men and women I once thought them to be. Past Kings and Queens of this kingdom and others far away reach that place because of each of us. Their actions, their beliefs become something that we hold onto dearly. We idolize them and make them out to be these monoliths. Even unimportant government leaders can hold astounding weight within us. Our teachers and our friends, those around us who inspire change and hope, and even fear inside our bones.
I challenge each of you, consider this: I am no King, and yet, neither are you. We are subject to pain and strife, just as any man. We are broken by death and deceit. We are torn asunder by gold owed and received and yet we recognize ourselves in each our own right as the most important part of any kingdom. We live by laws we do not understand, and we so often act as if our laws are final. That we are the judge of one another.
I have come to speak with Cervus, and know that this is not true. Since the death of the late king, an attendant from his kingdom has sent forth with a message to me. Beside his attendant, I was met with three more. One from each of the fallen leaders. All of them with a final parting song for me.
There are kingdoms out there whose desire is merely to destroy you and I. Their hearts are filled with hatred. Their desires nefarious and selfish. It is easy to fight that with our own selfishness and anger. But if we are called to be Kings and Queens, we are called to so much more.
The weight of the crown is unbearable. The weight of another’s crown is unimaginable. Which is what has brought me to you today, and why I must away so soon.
The crowns of each King before me deserve to be displayed in the halls of their castle. Their acts on display, their lives should be celebrated, rather than cast into the sea. The sea is their resting place. It is no place for legacy to die. But as we search for the crowns of fallen Kings, as the tradition states, we seldom come up for air. Returning to the surface of the King’s Grave with no crown in hand, sacrifices your place on the throne. But I have found myself in a unique position. As I dove to the darkness and rooted through the mud for the mantle I had decided to bear, I returned to the surface with no fear of abandoning my future throne. I was free to peer into the histories of each King who had sat in that throne before me. In doing so, I came to see what each of them stood for. I was shown the rise and fall of their reigns and I came to know them intimately, unequivocally better than I had before I took the plunge.
Yet, I had no fear of returning to the surface and abandoning my place, because I am all that is left. This Kingdom has no one else to crown but me. My duty is unique to the people, in that no one else can offer what I can. There is no one more fit than I am for this position.
Do not think of this as a speech in arrogance. I do not mean to say that no one else is worthy. I mean that no one can think like I can, just as I have learned, no one thinks like you do. There are many Kingdoms beyond these walls, there are many places to see. My journey to meet what I thought were Four Kings, became something much more as illness befell me, and my perception of the ground outside our home has changed.
When I left you, I was a king burdened by the past. Eternally struggling to return to the glory days, begging to find the path to take me back to who I had set out to be when I adopted this crown.
But I’ve never told you the story of my grandfather’s crown, have I?
A man raised with love, whose childhood was pockmarked with struggle and arid dust filled his bones grew to become a warrior. He went to war and returned. After his service had come to a close, he found a wife and began his family, and soon thereafter was offered his chance to dive for a crown just as I had. In the depths of the King’s Grave, he had forgone tradition and emerged with nothing. As the stewards appealed to him to sink beneath the surface and return with a crown before the Justicar could see him, he knelt to the sand and plucked a handful of weeds. He knitted them together and created a new crown for himself, one held rigid by the straw hat he had worn since his youth.
When the Justicar returned and had seen what my grandfather had done, he regretfully appointed him to the throne, knowing that the crown he wore was not a crown that had been worn before. He tried for years to dethrone the man, but failed on each attempt as my grandfather overpowered his politics and his violence with love. With inspiration.
One of the first things that my grandfather ruled, was to abolish the differences of our sister kingdom. He brought the royal families together and with grace unlike anything seen before, he proposed that both sides of his family cast their crowns into the sea together, knowing that some tradition would never be abandoned. Years after this, long after his children had grown, he passed away and asked his children the same. To cast the crowns of each royal family into this sea. Each of them took this duty seriously, and behind me today there sits a sea of crowns that once rode atop the heads of many. My father, my mother, my uncles and aunts. Cousins of mine have come to this sea to take a crown for themselves and some have carried on the tradition, to emerge from the depths with a crown of their own creation.
When I dove within, I did so knowing that I was the only child of my family. With that, comes a great burden. With that knowledge, I emerged from the depths with a decided duty. To brandish the crown of my grandfather with all of the same grace and inspiration that he offered. Yet, here I stand today with his crown dangling from a pole, over the King’s Grave.
I am not him, nor am I my father or mother.
I was born to be a king in my own right. I will rule my kingdom as such, but as of today, I am in no place to be made a king. So, this kingdom will be ruled by a prince, for but a while longer. This decision did not come to me easily, nor do I know what the next step is.
However, I have seen in my travels, the lives of other kingdoms, smaller and less powerful than ours, yet they act as if they have the right to police their people with anger and violence. I have met with kings and queens whose proposed duty was to inspire fear or doubt within their people. I have known princes and princesses in my travels whose dream was to escape the rule of their King or Queen.
For them, I am abandoning this crown.
For them, I am not abandoning the weight that this crown holds, however. As this crown returns to the sea for today, I am reaching down with it to take the knowledge and soul of every ruler that has touched the lives of my family and I am going to hold them close to me as I continue to grow and to learn.
Their mistakes are not written in stone, and neither are yours.
I was born to be a King, but my crown will be one that I have built myself. A crown of kindness and joy, a crown of peace and love, a crown of understanding and laughter.
A crown that people do not see, but one that they feel.
But a king cannot be a king without two things…
Purpose, and love.
Cervus, with the Wisdom of the Stag, taught me to be mindful of every blade of grass. To heed the wisdom of the soil.
To be Wise, for the Future.
Panthera, with the Courage of the Lion, taught me to stalk the trees with silence. To lead my kin with glory.
To be Courageous, for the Fearful.
Fenris, with the Unity of the Wolf, taught me to howl into the depths of the night. To heed the echoes of my kin.
To be United, for the Weak.
Ursus, with the Power of the Bear, taught me to bear the weight of frozen hopes. To shatter them with the strength of my fangs.
To be Strong, for All.
Categories: Umbral Dawning