It is the twentieth year in the reign of His Majesty the Emperor Zan Sarl.
His empire is prosperous.
His empire is glorious.
May His Majesty live forever.
War is coming. Or so they say. The courtiers say that the emperor will lead his army to victory against any force that would come this way. Like his poorer subjects, they whisper something else. And to be caught whispering such things would be an insult to the emperor. To insult an emperor is treason. For which the penalty is death.
Yesterday, three farmers were caught. I do not know exactly what they said, or if there is much truth to such claims. Only that they were overheard by gendarmes patrolling the area. They were arrested and then beaten until bloody. Once out of fight they were stripped naked and towed behind the horses of the gendarmes through the dirt and the mud of the city streets. For all the people to see. As always the people were encouraged to make noise and curse the traitorous farmers, and their families, whilst pelting them with stones.
Once they had reached the palace gates and the commoners had run out of stones to throw, the two farmers who were still alive were further dragged inside and taken to the dungeons where they would await an audience with His Majesty, and be summarily executed.
The third farmer had succumbed to his injuries and died along the road. Many would die along the road, but not always. Perhaps he was an older man, or he had been hit too hard with rocks. Either way, once he was dead, the imperial guards took his corpse and strung it to a tall post in the square. I can see his body now from the window in the princess’s chambers. I can see children with clubs trying to reach the man’s cold limp feet.
My name is Jaraweth. I am of low birth. My mother died of consumption as a prostitute. And I never knew my father. I am a loyal handmaiden in the service of Her Majesty the Princess Zanna Karvas.