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|The Governor's Capitulation|
The King's Decree
Zhu 07, 108 ASC
Your Most Righteous and Mighty Imperial Majesty,
It is a great weight that falls upon the shoulders of any man named governor. We are afforded the rare dual burden and blessing of being both a sovereign's representative amongst his people and in equal measure the people's representative before their king. I have spent a lifetime as governor, as my father before me and his father before him have, and in all regards I have striven to excel in these duties to you and the citizens of Kyoshi Island. I have done so gladly for the honor of my family and the peace of our land. The chaos of war has isolated our isle from the rest of the Earth Kingdom and in turn the Earth King, but I have worked long to mend this schism in the years after the second coming of Sozin's Comet. It is in this capacity that I write to you now.
First, I would like to apologize and humbly beg your forgiveness on behalf of all the Kyoshi Islanders. We know we have let our taxes to the crown go unpaid for nearly a year and have rebuffed your requests for young men and a regiment of the Kyoshi Warriors to bolster the ranks of the Earth Kingdom Army. These are unpardonable offenses for subjects to commit against their rightful ruler, but we still beg your forgiveness, Sire. We do not transgress out of malice towards you, our beneficent lord, or out of foolish greed, nor treasonous intent. Our crimes against the throne have been done out of necessity and no other reason. Even as I write this my excuses feel feeble and weak, but still I implore you to show us your immeasurable mercy. If, in your irreproachable wisdom, you feel that retribution must still be had, please let me bear it and not the blameless men and women who live here. These were my decisions and my responsibility.
We are surrounded by adversity, my liege. Far is the safety of the walls of Ba Sing Se when you stand on our shores and equally distant is the warmth and stability of your royal love and protection. From the north I fear we have drawn the wrath of the rebel Kshatriya, who would name himself lord of your lands. The Maharaja believes himself the soul of Chin reborn. Whether he is or is not, he has inherited the vile Chin's lust for conquest. That alone would be reason enough for his endless legions to look at us with the eyes of a hog monkey coming upon ripe lychee nuts, but he also blames Avatar Kyoshi's sainted defense of our people for ending his past life and I fear that he will hold us, her children, to account. On the mainland there are whispers that all his great gaja and his legions of slave warriors were brought to heel, in the west, by Khun Shan before they could even reach the first of his poppy fields and, at the Si Wong Desert, by the combined efforts of Kalipha Abu ibn Umar's armies and Nizari Alborz's assassins. It is a simple truth that the conqueror's heart only knows joy when a sword is held high in his triumphant hand and a foe's neck is beneath his foot, just as surely as it is a simple truth that no force is more deadly to an army than stagnation. They say that already Kshatriya the Cruel's covetous eyes turn towards the South Sea. If they were just rumors from across miles of water, perhaps I would not feel such trepidation. But it is more than mere words on the wings of messenger hawks. Mine own eyes have seen scout ships flying the Maharaja's dread four-headed lion and lotus on their masts.
When I look south, I see as much danger and violence intended for my people as when I look north. We have had conflicts with our neighboring islands for generations over everything from fishing rights, after the Inawese dogs wrongfully plundered our waters for octopus in my father's day, to my own great-great-grandfather marrying the most beautiful girl on Papuluku Island. Sometimes heated words lead to heated actions and swords and spears find rash hands, but that is not what I fear now. We have been receiving disturbing reports of wild men in Water Tribe longboats and Fire Nation derelicts wielding strange, impossible powers from the islands closest to the South Pole for years now. Perhaps these queer tales have even reached your royal ears. I am not the sort to tremble at mad, unfounded tales, nor are Suki or the Kyoshi Warriors, but the things we have read have shaken me to my core. Not even the Inawese deserve to endure the jigoku that I have read. Not a fraction of it.
One of our warriors had family in a village they say was attacked a month ago. She left immediately to see for herself what happened. I thought she was sailing toward her own death when her ship left harbor. I was sure when she did not return. Until today, that is. One of the villagers saw a ship on the horizon this morning, I ordered the Kyoshi Warriors and their sisters across the island to ready themselves for battle and the villagers to hide up the mountain in case my fears of Kshatriya's dire attention had proven true. I thank all the spirits my caution was for naught and I thank them again, because it was our dear sister who had departed in search of our family who they brought to us instead. With her, near dead, was a bald boy in the robes of an ascetic. An initiate acolyte of the Southern Air Temple in the Patola Mountains we would learn. Our healers labored through the day and into the night to save the monk. Due to their diligence the young man is still with us and on the mend. He is the only man I have ever met, perhaps the only man alive, who has lived in one of the horror stories the messenger hawks send north. He has seen the tales and they are true. The ships. Their love of blood and gold. The impossible stories of their bending. Their demonic, eight-legged chieftain. All true. You may not take the word of a wounded, half-starved beginner monk, so take mine instead. I have looked into his eyes. I have seen the fear, the pain there, and the anger as well and I am convinced that he speaks true. Even this brave young monk doesn't know the whole of what has happened at his monastery, but he is sure the abbot and most of the male monks are dead. He wept when he tried to speak of what might have come of the women. Pacifists, Earth King Kuei, they attacked pacifists and one boy who was fortunate enough to go unseen was the only quarter they left. I fear the mindless, merciless rage to our south as much as I fear the vengeful avarice to our north. I know not if we could survive the attentions of even one of these beasts, but if we have to protect ourselves from both I am certain we will be devoured.
I have spoken thus far of fears for the future. Fears that will likely become a reality, and sooner rather than later, but fears nonetheless. Fear is immaterial. It is nothing but an anxious mind casting shadows on a wall. Even if that shadow is an oni's, the shadow itself is of no concern. Fear is no excuse to shirk one's duty and it is not why I have done so. Keeping moneys owed to Your Imperial Majesty is a betrayal, and one I hope to correct. It was not done out of mere fear, but rather fact. The Southern Raiders, at Phoenix Queen Azula's behest, have become a fact of life for everyone within reach of the sea raven's pitiless talons.
The Phoenix Queen, like you, wants gold and men to reclaim a kingdom. I do not compare you to the mad queen out of disrespect, my liege, but only to show how ardent her desires are, which are matched by the Southern Raiders' fervor. All questions of legitimacy aside, which of course could never be cast upon your reign but nevertheless shroud the Phoenix Queen Azula's every proclamation, she sees the Fire Nation as her birthright just as the Earth Kingdom is yours. Whereas you have generously asked for soldiers from us and redrawn the bounds of leniency for our taxes, Azula would presume to take every able-bodied man and woman from us and every gold, silver, and copper with them. The sea ravens have come six times already over the last year. Suki and the Kyoshi Warriors have managed to fight off every raid so far, but even in a loss they will scorch our ships and farms to teach us the meaning of defiance. We have needed the money that was meant for you as a salve for these burns. Every attack brings more ships, every attack they destroy a little more, every attack we win by a little less.
My first reason for writing to you was to beg your forgiveness, the second is to beseech you to come to our aid. I do not wish to add insult to injury by asking your favor while holding your money, but it is what I must do. We can only hope that in your most harmonious sagacity you will find the patience and mercy to grant us the charity we need to make right our wrongs against you. No man could slight you for denying us as we denied you, yet I beg you to fight that natural inclination, not for myself, but on behalf of the innocents who will surely die here without your clemency. We balance on the very razor's edge, Majesty, and only your kindness and wisdom can save us now.
Your Eternally Faithful Servant,
Governor of Kyoshi Island
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