Looking back, I begin to understand the horrors that were perpetrated. At the time, back when I was in the thick of it, that was not something that I could allow myself to think about. The only thing that I could let my mind dwell on was the next task at hand, the next order to be attended to. I write this now as a last testament to the power of the regime I worked for, and so people know the price that must be paid in order to achieve law and order.
One of the most vivid memories I have of my time working as a Lawbringer is from early in my career. Lawbringers, at the beginning of their tenures, would typically seek employment from a regional Ruler, and upon working in the employ of a Ruler long enough in order to learn the trade, would often go into self-employment; a far more difficult path, but one that allowed for at least some sense of freedom. While I was not quite fresh meat at this point in my career, I was undoubtedly new blood, and as such, I still worked for a Ruler. This Ruler was something of a dual edged sword, at least in the sense of the people that he was supposed to be serving. In essence, there were two types of people that a Ruler was supposed to take care of – the people that lived in the lands that he ruled over, and the Lawbringers in his employ. Now, as someone working in the employ of Ruler Jonessia, there were very few people in the world, regardless of their wealth or status, who had a more luxurious lifestyle than I did. This, however, was not nearly the case of the people subject to Ruler Jonessia.
Some Rulers looked upon their subjects as children in need of care, some Rulers saw them as potential dangers that needed to be taken care of with caution in order to protect themselves and some saw the people outside of their strongholds as nothing more than a nuisance to be ignored as much as possible. For each and every Ruler, there was a distinct way of managing the people in their care. For Ruler Jonessia, it was quite brutal. Jonessia saw his subjects as a means to an end – people were the means to the end of wealth.
There is something that I should mention, in order to dispel any ambiguity that may be present in my statements. While people born into the role of serf were forced to stay on the land they had been born on, those who were blessed with the role of Lawbringer were given the ability to choose which Ruler they would like to work for. Some of the people born into this position chose where they would begin their careers based on the Ruler who oversaw the lands, some based upon the beauty of the land itself, some based on the cultural peculiarities of each land that they might have an affinity for. (Some other classes of people had rights similar to this – merchants could choose which Rulers to strike deals with, Armorers would work for whatever Ruler could guarantee him safety and wealth and the Priestesses would work with the most superstitious Rulers).
This should dispel the notion that I worked for a ruthless Ruler because I had to. No. I did it because I wanted the benefits that he guaranteed to his Lawbringers. Wealth, comfort, and success at the expense of others. Now, don’t worry, I wasn’t constantly exploiting others for my own sake. Sometimes I would even sacrifice a bit of my own self-comfort in order to make the lives of those serfs a little more bearable. But the story I am about to tell is not about one of those more altruistic moments of mine.
After being in the employ of Jonessia for a few cycles, I had earned his trust – he knew that, as long as I was guaranteed recompense, I would do what was asked. This was important to establish as a new Lawbringer working for Jonessia. There were more than a few men who had come to serve Jonessia believing that they would have no qualms enforcing brutal and draconian rules if it meant that they would live in luxury, only to find out that they had weak stomachs and could not performs the duties expected of them. Well, now that I had at least a fledgling trust placed in me, I was given my first task that was not just brutal, but was important as well. Often, Jonessia would have his Lawbringers engage in brutal practices just for the pure joy of the brutality – if his serfs were brutalized enough without reason, then they would certainly never engage in activities which would cause the brutality to have a reason.
At this time, Jonessia had a bit of a spat going with one of the other Rulers whose land bordered on his, Ruler Kasparak. Now, Kasparak was about as different from Jonessia as one could ever be. Kasparak saw it as his duty to foster the success and happiness of his subjects, allowing them to achieve as much as they could on an individual basis. Kasparak prided himself on the motto of his lands; “Aequalis Potestatam.” This message, written in the language of those long dead who valued such things, simply meant “equal opportunity.” This meant that anyone, whether born onto the land or an émigré from another land seeking fortune (if they were lucky enough to be allowed to), would all have the same chance at success and happiness in life. While this was obviously a good situation for those born without the privileges to seek new lands and opportunities, it even seemed to draw people from other lands. To me, the lands of Kasparak were where one went if they wanted to diminish the power of their birthright, but there were still people who came, from all the different regions, to participate in Kasparak’s experimentation of libertarianism.
Well, as one would assume, the clashing ideologies between Kasparak and Jonessia did not lead to cordial conversations and cooperation. While Kasparak had been engaging in his libertarian policies for quite some time, his ideas were just beginning to spread to other regions, and both the amount and quality of fortune seekers drawn to his land was quickly increasing. Because the lands of Jonessia bordered on the lands of Kasparak, the obvious happened – the people who had been used as a means to an end began to hear of the opportunity just across the border, even though Jonessia did everything in his power to contain any transfer of information, or as he called it, propaganda. Well, with people hearing about a life free of brutality and filled with more freedom than they had ever known, there began to be an exodus of people from the lands of Jonessia. If the classes of people who were born into privilege had been emigrating, while it would have been frustrating to Jonessia, he most likely would not have done much to stop the exodus, for plenty of those in the privileged sections of society sought to be employed in his system of exploitation. However, it was the people that Jonessia relied upon for exploitation that fled to the lands of Kasparak. This is where I came in.
Like I said before, there were many cases where Lawbringers, like me, engaged in pointless brutality just for the sake of keeping the serfs docile. However, now that I had a reason, I began to get creative. I booby trapped the borders, tortured the families of escapees just to make a statement to people thinking about leaving. Everything was going according to plan, until one day when I was in the middle of chasing a family who had escaped my investigations and were able to get a head start on me.
Now, once a group crossed the border, I had no legal right to capture the people who had escaped – however, I often disregarded this if they were still close to the border. Well, in this particular instance, I was far too confident that I could capture this family before being spotted by the Lawbringer’s loyal to Kasparak. After getting reasonably deep into the territory of Kasparak, I did begin to get nervous, because even someone as cocky as myself gets nervous when the possibility of capture and torture begin to increase in likelihood.
As soon as I began to contemplate the possibility of being captured, it happened almost immediately. I was shot in the arm, and taken by the Lawbringers on the other side of the border. Now, even though I had heard plenty of the propaganda that had come out of Kasparak’s lands, and had even seen pictures from the his lands, my understanding of what would happen to a captured Lawbringer would be analogous to the way that I had been treating the people under my rule for the past few years. I could not have been more wrong. After being brought into custody, I was given medical treatment for the wound in my arm, which was absolutely mind-boggling to me. Under the care of Jonessia’s Lawbringers, the wound would have been allowed to fester, perhaps to the point where the whole limb would need to be removed, just for the sake of making the life of a prisoner a bit worse (and for the sake of not wasting resources on an enemy). After receiving treatment, I was put in a cell, albeit one with basic accoutrements, such as a toiled, regular meals, and even basic entertainment. Currently, I am writing this from my cell, and have even been told that I will be allowed to publish my writings, in their entirety, without censorship from those in power. I cannot imagine someone being allowed to write, let alone publish under the rule of Jonessia!
While I will most likely live the rest of my days out in this cell, and I now truly believe that I belong in this cell, perhaps my writings will help those seeking to make a life for themselves, whether from the privileged classes or from the bottom of societal ranks. I do not ask for forgiveness for the crimes that I committed under the guise of Law, but I do ask that my words not be dismissed simply because they come from the mouth of a criminal. Consider not only the rewards that you seek to reap, but the price that others must pay for you to reap them.