Speech delivered by Viscount Connor Torrant to the gathered representatives of the Hundred House regarding the brewing conflict between Amalcross and its former vassal state Mard.
Honored members of the Hundred Houses, I come to you today not as a politician, not as a friend — though many of you are that — but as a fellow citizen of Amalcross beseeching you to hear a common plea. Though I speak these words with my own tongue, know that they come not from me but from the scared and angered citizenry of this city, echoing up from the banks of the Boern to the very marble walls of the Palace. I am but a mere mouthpiece for the true feeling of the people of this city.
And these are the words they speak, the cries of anguish they issue: The Riverlands are in chaos.
What was once the bounteous garden of our city, the fecund fields that supply grain and fruits and milk for our babes, is now beset by raiders from Mard! Yes, raiders; I use that word deliberately, though I see the corrupt among you shaking your heads. Mark me: Though Mard’s emissaries do not bear arms or threaten bloodshed, they come armed nonetheless — with writ and false pretense as sharp as any sword, issuing land deeds to the ravenous peasantry in exchange for their betrayal of our authority and the proper order of our world. The scratch of their pens roars like a cannonade upon those fruited plains. They spill ink like blood upon fertile soil.
And every day that we dawdle here in this august body, waiting on our Emperor and failing all the while to take decisive action, we surrender our hold on hectares of vital farmland. We won’t get it back. We in House Torrant have already lost a dozen farmsteads in this way, our landlords driven out by dirt-caked laborers who now occupy their houses and sell the bounty of our farms as their own. At each of these granges, the pennant of Mard now snaps unmarred in a fresh and rising wind, and the uncouth occupants now boast of “ownership,” waving false documents and false pretenses, signed and sealed by Mard’s agents, under our very noses.
And yet we do nothing to strike out these lies. Our own Emperor, Kaluan the Spineless, sits on his throne and repeats, repeats, repeats that weakest and most paltry of phrases: “The courts shall decide.”
Oh — mark me once again — I have no doubt those courts will one day decide in our favor, but only once a hundred years have passed, and by then the Mardian influence will have taken hold like a weed. Truth and the rule of law will choke and wither away. And for each peasant who sings the song of false equality today, a dozen more will rise up against us with murder on their lips tomorrow.
The agents of Mard write false deeds today — why should they honor true jurisprudence tomorrow when they have an army of lunatic peasants at their backs? Why must we await our day in court while at this very moment they steal the inheritance of our children under our very noses?
The citizens of Amalcross have had enough! A decisive blow must be struck. We must retake our lands, drive the traitorous serfs before us with flame and sword, back into the arms of their new masters. The Mardian influence must be uprooted. We must season the earth with black powder and the blood of betrayers. Doing this will be easy. But deciding to do it? This, I know, is the hard part.
I see you again, traitors, shaking your heads, grumbling away and mumbling, “the courts shall decide.” And why is that? Why do you utter such nonsense? Certainly it is not that your own affairs bring gold flowing into your coffers from Mard’s industry? Surely you are not yourselves corrupted by their wealth? But you can understand why some might wonder when you vote against the commonsense protection of our families.
Show where your true loyalties reside, what city you truly call home. Let us raise an army and free the Riverlands once more!