|Settle the Issue
Permit me a long-winded rant. And then stab someone in the Emerald Hills.
I remember back when I was a newbie and I had a single-minded focus on a single-minded goal. It was all about Power to the People and fighting the powers that were, because we were pure and for the little guy and they were corrupt and kept us down. There was a bit too much youthful proletariat vigor in me back then, but the general idea has stuck with me since and it’s produced a commitment to sticking up for people who couldn’t stick up for themselves. From a structural point of view, this meant getting people to vote and forcing the authorities to be aware of the power of the young crowd. From a roleplaying point of view, this meant fighting oppression, evil dictators, and those bad, bad knights – and, yes, slavery.
What is slavery in Amtgard? It’s a difficult concept because we can’t really compel anyone to do anything, but it’s existed almost as long as Amtgard has. Auctions occur throughout Amtgard where slaves are sold to the highest bidder, although it’s more contractual bondage than institutional slavery – the slave is free to go when his service is completed, which is normally the course of a single camping event.
Despite the long history of the Saracens in Dragonspine, and the reign of an Amazon queen, slavery had been banned in Dragonspine by the time I stepped up as king – so my first act was to repeal the ban. I was caught up in the roleplaying of the day, in which my ally the Dread Prince Marcus the Mad was poisoning me while the kingdom was pushed into an insane and costly war. Things worked out pretty well, because we required all slavery to be licensed by the crown and people, instead of protesting the repeal, embraced it and began to look for someone to enslave. With intrigue, battlefield betrayals and the granting of Prime Nocta, that reign was one of the heights of roleplay in Dragonspine’s history. It ended on a high note, as Lord Kyran, my loyal general, overthrew the monarchy and had me imprisoned. I spent the feasts in chains. Slavery is still legal in Dragonspine, but nobody minds because the slaves are treated well, when and where they exist – and my old stance on slavery isn’t quite as rebellion-charged as it once was. Maybe I should take a new turn on power to the people. The people have spoken, and they want slavery.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because slavery is once again being dragged into center-stage and it’s time to settle the issue once and for all. It’s time to enslave the Emerald Hills.
I have examined, at length, the way each kingdom approaches slavery and I can safely say that every kingdom in Amtgard – except the Emerald Hills – explicitly or implicitly permits slavery. According to a certain interpretation of international Amtgard Law, that’s easily over the 75% of kingdoms necessary to create a change in the rules… and the BLBOD hasn’t vetoed that decision. If we allow for their tendency to disregard official channels and paperwork, we can construe their inaction as approval.
But let’s take this one step at a time.
The Kingdom of the Burning Lands, after suffering under the oppressive and stifling reign of King Raphael IV, has experienced a restoration of human dignity with the ascension of King Aramithris VII. E-Samurai fans may see that as a contradiction of terms, but the aristocratic and autocratic Aramithris has enforced a sense of dignity and pride in his land that hasn’t been seen for years. You might think this implies an anti-slavery stance in the First Kingdom, but you’d be wrong. This is, after all, the kingdom where Andralaine and her Amazons reigned. And the far-flung colonies of the Burning Lands, such as the Shire of Twin Lakes, actively supports and sponsors the auction of slaves. When you add in the revision without representation that the Burning Lands has imposed upon Amtgard, it becomes apparent – they are, without a doubt, a slaver kingdom.
Little is known about the quiet and reclusive citizens of the Kingdom of the Golden Plains, but we can safely say that Saracens prosper there. For how long have Sir Kamal and the Golden Plains been considered one and the same? Where there’s a Saracen, there’s a slave… and what secrets are being hidden by the long, long reign of King Euric? Still, we can’t say for sure what the official kingdom policy is so we’ll put them in the unknown category.
The Celestial Kingdom is a slaver kingdom. Of this, there can be no doubt. When you consider that that this land spawned Sir Zodiac and is watched over by the Amazon Queen Mother Andralaine, you just know. And there’ve been slave auctions spoken of there with dark whisperings that Wardancers may or may not be sold… and who can forget the Spearweasel expose, in which former Queen Aylia was revealed to be enslaving her populace through her oppressive taxation? Mark my words. These people are slavers of the worst kind.
The Iron Mountains has less of a stance on slavery because everyone there is a Duke. Even so, Emperor Belgarion reigns supreme over a realm not unlike the Roman Empire, in which citizens have rights and the rest of the people are owned by the crown. Do the poor citizens of the Empire’s eastern colonies have a say? No! They are traded like cattle at the Emperor’s whim. Ever since Belgarion was given dictatorial authority by his Althing – and it remains to be seen whether he will be a Cincinnatus or a Caesar -- things in the Iron Mountains have been quiet on the topic of slavery. And, when his armies crushed the Duchy of Pegasus Valley at Harvest War, he made no effort to repeal Pegasus Valley’s slavery laws – in fact, he demanded the Prince Regent of Dragonspine in chains! While nothing has been said explicitely, we all know His Majesty’s opinion that silence is approval, and his silence on the topic of slavery is deafening.
The Kingdom of the Mystic Seas has no slaves, but they have a lot of serfs, and really, what’s the difference? Their famous oppression of their people, much publicized by the anti-slavery Sir Forest Evergreen, is worse than any Amazon auction could ever be. At least the lands ruled by Amazons give their people a vote… and, unlike subjects of the Mystic Seas, the slaves get to go free.
The Valley of the Silver Rains is a dark and mysterious kingdom, and nobody knows what they really do up there. They did try to ban Annihalus, which suggests an anti-slavery policy (and the Mystic Seas, just as predictably, protested)… but, upon closer inspection, they are just as much a slaver kingdom as any other land. After all, how could they be called freedom-loving when they tolerated a servant auction in the Barony of the Mithril Hills, not far from the heart of the kingdom itself? Sure, sure, they disguise what they’re doing by calling it a servant auction, but a sold person is an enslaved person, no matter how much the secretive people in the northwest pretty it up.
The Kingdom of the Wetlands, known for heresy and radicalism, should be a place where slavery is banned, but sources in that realm say quite the opposite. E-Samurai has learned that slavery comes and goes at the whims of a capricious monarch – and, let’s face it, few lands are as capricious as the Wetlands. Further digging reveals the enslavement of a woman by Sir Kabal many years ago, whom he then married and took to the Golden Plains! He was, no doubt, afraid that that the next king would ban slavery and wanted to move somewhere where the practice was more protected. To be kind, though, we’ll say that the Wetlands policy is unknown.. although these revelations move the Golden Plains back into the slaver category.
The Kingdom of Neverwinter seems to be a free kingdom, but that’s all a deception. Slavery was scoffed at and rejected in lands such as Dragon’s Keep, back when the noble paladin Sir Goldcrest was in town, but worse things are afoot in the sunny realm. The aptly-named Darkwater East has a stable of women, and it auctioned these ladies off so they could have lunch with clients! That sounds like an escort service to me, which is little more than glorified prostitution. These pimps and criminals are worse than slavers, and their kingdom is not the bright and pure realm you’d think it to be.
Goldenvale is a slaver kingdom, clear as day. The knights beat the squires with their own belts, dozens and dozens of shires groan under the yoke of a far-away king, and slavery is so commonplace that the people of the eastern kingdom consider slavery to be a form of charity. Someone even gambled his own freedom on a game of chess, which he lost in four moves! Like I said, it’s clear as day.
The Rising Winds may not support slavery, since it was raised by the Kingdom of the Emerald Hills. We have to wonder, though. Dame Andralaine, corrupter of at least three other kingdoms, makes her home in the Rising Winds and her servitors are favored by the new kings. Can slavery really be banned in a kingdom that lets this women roam free? Perhaps, perhaps not – but we’ll be fair and declare the Rising Winds to have an unknown stance on slavery.
Dragonspine, as I've said, supports slavery.
That leaves the Emerald Hills. As typified by Sir Forest Evergreen’s war of liberation against the Amazon Armies at Clan, this land prides itself on its history as the Free Hills and is against slavery in all forms… or so they say. Sure, sure, they raised the newest kingdom and let them go, and sure, they give everyone with a quarter a say in their land, but when it really comes down to it, who rules the Emerald Hills? Corsairs. Yep, that’s right, Corsairs. These people have their maggots, who, like good little fraternity pledge cult members afflicted with Stockholm syndrome, insist that they aren’t enslaved and can leave any time they want. And two more words: Nevron Dreadstar. No, these people claim they hate slavery and act like they ban it, but we all know the truth.
And the truth is their hypocrisy must be crushed. At least nine of the twelve kingdoms permit slavery, and the Burning Lands Board of Directors has tolerated this majority vote for years. By international law, the Emerald Hills is required to permit slavery in its kingdom (or at least have the decency to recognize that it permits slavery already). And that makes Sir Forest, King Bone, and all the defenders of the hills international criminals.
The Emerald Hills already won the first round of this battle when they scattered the Amazons at Clan. Amtgard should either accept that victory and abandon slavery altogether or put its money where its mouth is and act.
I call upon the kingdoms of Amtgard to declare war on the Emerald Hills. I call upon everyone to take up arms in this crusade against the “Free Hills”, for order rests on the assurance of justice and the knowledge that no-one, big or small, is outside the law. All kingdoms must band together to defeat the rogue “King” Bone and his minions. Forest must be imprisoned so that his heretical voice cannot be heard by the masses. Then, and only then, will Amtgarders truly be free… free to buy someone pretty at an auction without fear of oppression of hatred.
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