Distant Reaches - BONUS SECRETS: The Justice of Vigorix

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BONUS SECRETS: The Justice of Vigorix

BONUS SECRETS: The Justice of Vigorix

An excerpt from A History of the Ancient Kings, by Harold ‘ja Ioannis

And thus, Vigorix the Dread looked upon his gathered war chiefs.

His ember stare fell upon the ranks of warbinders and mages most powerful. His fireborne eyes pierced the hearts of his gathered legions. And then, with a burning ray of anger, he fixed his gaze upon those betrayers bound in chains before him, and spake these words:

I know what you expect of me and why. You expect dread vengeance, for time and time again you have witnessed how I deal with those who oppose me. And do these groveling fools not deserve the same?

Should not I demand them drawn and quartered, their heads cleaved off and their remains fed to the dogs and the vultures, their fetid entrails left to rot until naught remains but sun-bleached bones? And, lest they go to the grave thinking this an honorable death, should not their families suffer as well? Should not their ancestral fields be tilled with salt and their dusty bones cast upon the lintels of their homes to be found in the morning by their mewling babes or bereft husbands and wives? Should not my wrath be visited upon them ten times over for the wrong that they have dealt me?

Indeed, these would be most fitting punishments for traitors such as these.

Yet still I see the doubt in your eyes. I know amongst you — Voxius most of all; I see you, you cur — there are those who believe it would have been better for them to succeed in their plot to unthrone me. But you are wrong. Had I not struck them down in their tracks like bolts of thunderous lightning on the mountain, they would have struck you down instead.

These men and women, all fine warriors in seasons past, plotted to murder me. And not just me, but my sons and wives and lovers too. And know they would not have stopped there. All our chieftains would soon have felt blades at their throats. These traitors conspired to fell me and my family tree — root, trunk, and branches — in one blow. They sought to subvert our laws of succession.

And how did they do seek to do this?

When we gathered here to form up the war bands, to strike the encroaching Rilk’gar and their Subaten masters, they saw this as an opportune moment. They had in their possession these knives —

[Here he tosses a bundle of knives wrapped in red fabric onto the ground before him.]

— which you see bear the stamp of the Subaten seal, wrapped in cloth of Rilkish origin. They snuck into my great tent with the intent to kill all within and to leave these murderous blades behind. Thus, they would pin blame on our mortal enemies, concealing such deceit and plot that originated from within our ranks. But it is fortunate that I am a greater warrior than any ten. I struck them down with my bare hands, that they might stand in shame and infamy before you now.

Yet I ask: Had they succeeded, could you still face the invading hordes?

No! Nothing weakens a people more than traitors within their ranks. For if they would strike me down, who else would they strike for personal gain? Who could trust such insurrectionists? Who could trust those that incited them?

[He points now at Voxius, standing opposite him amongst the gathered war chiefs.]

This is the flint of the matter: These men and women were incited by your former king, war chief Voxius. With his poison words, he dealt in contagion. Who forgets his cries of victimhood when he failed to win the throne in single combat against me? Who forgets his whining that our contest was unfair, though all saw it blow for blow? Who forgets those times he mused openly that his followers — those who still considered him king within their hearts — should rise up and restore him to the throne in violation of our laws and our traditions?

There is only one real criminal here, only one who deserves the searing totality of my personal wrath. And it is Voxius.

I shall visit my dread vengeance upon him and him alone. Seize him, that my dogs may feast upon his bones.

As for these scraps, these little betrayers in chains, I leave them to you, to the council of war chiefs, to do with them as you see fit. Execute them, exile them, pardon them. See your action is in line with his or her own unique crimes, but see they are a threat no longer.

And let all of you gathered here know: This is how I act with leniency and compassion. They will suffer, but neither by my hands nor from my anger. The people, true to our customs and laws, shall mete out their punishment.

And now, by the Law of the Blade — by my unique right as king — I shall execute my judgement.

Voxius! Approach that I may strike you down. Or flee, that I may overtake you and drag your corpse behind my horse through a hundred thousand miles of dust and rock until it has disintegrated, as your legacy will in the eyes of our people.

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