|The Power of the Throne
This is a bit of a meandering rant, so bear with me.
I always hated it when kings expressed how relieved they felt when they stepped down. It was just something I couldn't figure out, no matter how many reigns I witnessed. I was never sure whtether the kings suffered a real sickness or just a fraying of the nerves, but they would all seem sort of weary as the end of their reign approached. Service is in my nature, so I swore I would never become like that. "Any king who is happy to be stepping down failed as a king," I confidently told my friends.
At first, I was sure I was on to something. I ran for office and served enthusiastically, and I wasn't ready to go when it was time. My good friend Kyran became king, so it wasn't a feeling of being cast aside by the populace that made me sad... it was more of the realization that this duty that I had grown to love was no longer mine. The feeling sunk in immediately when I stepped down and realized I couldn't give someone an order for doing something good. All in all, it was depressing.
Then my second reign came and went in a blink of an eye, and I found myself looking forward to leaving office. Well, I wasn't exactly leaving, since I was merely stepping down into the position of regent, but I wouldn't be king anymore and I was pleased with that fact. I wasn't sure why and felt bad about it until I realized I was just excited about who the next king would be. He was an eager newcomer and his potential performance was something I really wanted to see. My thoughts were confirmed after serving six months as regent and finding myself happy to be leaving office again -- and once again, there was a new person running and I wanted to see how he would do.
Over two-thirds of Dragonspine's kings held only one office before taking the throne. Half of them only served as champion or held no office at all. I noticed that other kingdoms often recycle their leaders, but we have a tradition of rebellion here. We rebelled against the Burning Lands when they hurt our young players and mistreated our people. The young generation of rulers embodied by Sir Phocion rebelled against the old guard that had made us a kingdom. After Phocion left, his successors changed and became the new guard, and they served honorably until they were themselves rebelled against.
Politics isn't slow-moving in Dragonspine. When things change here, it's like a revolution, so we're used to seeing new faces on the throne. And each successive rebellion is less radical than the last, as we incorporate new ideas with old traditions. As a result, rebellion today isn't the political earthquake that it once was; today's rebels work side-by-side with the old guard they succeed.
I'm not so sure it's a bad thing, either. I've seen kingdoms where every officer is a knight and a duke. There are others where the throne is traded between people who've been king three, four, or five times each. From my rebellion-minded perspective, this seems to be a sign of stagnation, or worse, corruption.
Which brings me back to the topic at hand. After realizing that my eagerness to leave was merely an eagerness to welcome the ideas and enthusiasm of the new leadership, I realized kings shouldn't pray for their reigns to end. Instead, they should set lofty goals for their kingdom. They should see the end of their reign not as a release but as a reckoning of what they accomplished -- and, more importantly, what they didn't accomplish. Kings should realize that perfection for their kingdom is an unattainable goal but seek it relentlessly anyway.
Burned-out kings who see the end of their reign as a release only discourage people from running for office. They engender a fear in potential candidates that they themselves may not be up to the task, when the reality is that the throne is a crucible that turns good men into great leaders. The throne shouldn't destroy you. It should bring out the best in you. It should leave you proud of your service, sad to be going, content with what you accomplished and optimistic about the future when your time to go is upon you.
In the end, I think I was wrong to condemn kings for being ready to leave the throne. There's no shame in knowing when your time to serve is over, and a good leader would do better to act as Cincinnatus than to become Caesar. The important thing is knowing why you are happy to be finished.
And as for me, my faith in the power of the throne only grows. I have no fear of who will become king -- their politics don't matter. As long as they are good people, the duty and burden of being king will bring out the best in them and produce a monarch to whom we can all swear fealty with honor, dignity and pride. And if someone isn't up to the task and burns out, it is not their failure but ours. The worst failures of good men exist only for want of a little faith.
I vow to make sure every king of Dragonspine ends his reign a little sad to be going, but happy to see his successor stepping up -- and I vow to never, ever let another king suffer so much that he is only happy because he is leaving office. If you love your land, you will swear the same. The power of the throne and the will of good men is all we have, but that may just be enough to move Amtgard one step closer towards the perfect, unattainable dream.
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