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How She Came To Umberlee

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1 How She Came To Umberlee on Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:36 am

Sithani hears the tale of the revolution in Revennik as a child. All nobles do. It’s a popular story among her class: the royal family vilely overthrown, brigands ruling from the palace, the young princess spirited away to safety until, grown up, she returned home and led the people to overthrow the cruel tyrant in his turn. Sometimes the chapbooks tell of a nobleman from Jewelness who, in disguise, saved persecuted nobles from the axe. These, unsurprisingly, are particularly popular.

Later she would learn the actual history behind the tales, but it’s the songs and romances that have stuck with her.

She remembered the stories when she saw hungry children in the streets. When she saw maimed people begging. When she heard of outbreaks of disease in the slums (which she’d heard of but never been allowed to visit, so in her dreams she imagined them as packed nigh-troglodytic warrens of filth) she wondered if that was why the rebels had been so angry.

She would ask, sometimes, why the poor suffered like this. “Who knows?” said Sharre. “Bad luck,” said Syra. “Laziness,” said others. “Divine disfavour.” Sometimes it’s “Cruelly used by the unscrupulous rich,” but always in a context where those unscrupulous rich are not the norm. But none of these answer the important question: why do poor children suffer when she and her half-siblings don’t?

The stories present the rebel leader as bitter, spiteful, envious, and gratuitously cruel. (In fact, his executions were primarily of political threats, only sinking into paranoia as the princess’ support grew.) Ugly, too, in the less subtle tellings. But the more Sithani thinks about things, the less she can disagree with his anger. And when story and history alike agree that the princess restored the traditions of her forebears, Sithani thinks she should have just sat back and enjoyed her exile.

She swears to herself that if she finds the spear they stuck the rebel leader’s head on, she’d rally people to it like a banner. (She is fifteen. It’s the sort of thing fifteen-year-olds do.) As she grows older she tones things down a bit; until her enlightenment in the Far Realm, cynical irony is more her style. The anger, though, and her respect for that emotion, doesn’t go away, and it’s this that draws her to Umberlee. And she never forgets that, regardless of how unpleasant, how embittered, a storyteller portrays someone, regardless of how unpleasant, how hostile, her peer group portrays them, regardless even of how unpleasant, how dangerous, they may truly be, they can still be right.
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