The Desert Serpent
By a concerned Maj'Dulian
An unusual political treatise that some suspect was written by an outsider to stir up trouble within the city's walls.
There are few among us today who can truly appreciate Maj'Dul for what it originally represented, in contrast to what it now represents.
The Dervin Empire was once the powerful desert serpent, winding itself about people and geography. The change from that once noble position should have been evident years ago.
One need only review a page from the diary of a young barrashar who has spent a good deal of time in Maj'Dul.
"It is a strong city. Though its people seem resolved in their ways, it isn't until one learns how unstable their ways are that this resolve falls short."
Let me underline that the fifth word used in this description of Maj'Dul is "city." We were once an empire birthed from every pore in the desert.
Perhaps we should rewrite our own history: "Dissatisfied with the lot of his people, Ahkari set out to build a small city."
One must wonder, then, how an empire became merely a city in the eyes of a foreigner.
Are we not desert-hardy to the last? Do we not protect ourselves from the battering rams of advancing cultures? Do we not hold power over the region?
We are all of what we once were and we are also nothing of what we once were. We have lost not ourselves as a people, but ourselves as an empire.
And if the barrashar know this, then so must the desert have known long ago.
Perhaps you will question whether or not this is a real problem. For, if it is merely barrashar talk, then what has it got to do with the real Maj'Dul, the real empire?
I point you in the direction of our disgruntled citizens. The poetry in "Of Maj'Dul Am I" is a perfect example of the suppressed, yet evident, cry for change. Read that, as well and see then if you do not agree.
Why are we lost?
Due to improper leadership, we find ourselves now without purpose or direction.
Look at our city life and ask yourself: in the midst of a cultural invasion, why is it our focus lies still on the Games? Why have we allowed the continued existence of the Rujarkian Orcs?
Why do the lands once called ours contain enemy tribes, goblins, orcs, harpies, any number of nuisances that threaten not empires but people?
The Games as a means by which to govern a people must be abolished. My livelihood and your livelihood should not compete for each other.
Most especially, we should not gamble on who should prosper and who should not. The Games provide - and should continue to provide - entertainment.
Government, however, should come from the intellectual elite. To weigh and pit laws against each other is to seed revolution and we must take that bait, or we shall surely fail as a people.
Our leadership situation is stagnant. What was once a temporary measure - to restore power to its rightful owner - has become instead a distraction.
Dukarem, Ishara, Neriph: all three worry less about the people of Maj'Dul than how they might gain control of them.
Their petty games afford them a temporary power they covet, but none has the leadership needed to take what they consider theirs.
Consider Mudeef, wielder of the supreme power. It is with relief that I can say Mudeef does not preoccupy himself with the Games as do the true sons of Maj'Dul.
But it is with sadness that I say nobody knows with what Mudeef occupies his time. What has Mudeef changed for the better in Maj'Dul? In fairness one might counter: "What has Mudeef changed for the worse in Maj'Dul?"
If the answer to both of those questions is "nothing," then he is no ruler.
To promote stagnancy is not a virtue. Some argue Mudeef stands as a barrier between an empire and a cliff, preventing us from flinging ourselves off the edge.
What is scarcely discussed is what lies at the bottom of that cliff. It is not the rock-hidden waters we are led to believe.
At the bottom of that cliff lies our identity as a people, dropped there long ago and forgotten. Through no malice of his own, Mudeef is preventing us from regaining our empire's soul.
Where, then, lies Maj'Dul's future?
It is simple: the future of Maj'Dul is found within its people.
Are we, as a people, content with stagnancy? Does the lure of the arena prevent us from seeing a future - nay, present - in which Maj'Dul is a city and nothing more?
Or, do the Games merely open our eyes to that vision through tinted glass in which it is acceptable?
Neither answer is sufficient, if Maj'Dul is to survive.
A simple revolution is all that can save Maj'Dul. And as citizens, revolution falls under our jurisdiction.
When our leaders do not make safe our lands, we must do so ourselves, and force conflict upon our people.
The Rujarkian Orcs we once thought defeated; this is not so, they hide within their crags. No near-defeated race - and orcs are not merely animals, they are indeed a race - can let defeat stand. They will return and they will return in force. We must preempt this.
The well-known of Maj'Dul must be ousted. It is clear enough to those who learn our history on who the rightful leader of Maj'Dul should be (indeed, I had a barrashar lecture me on this point once).
Right of ascension is acceptable in times of prosperity. As it stands we must cut all lineage. Our three sons do not represent Maj'Dul any more than Mudeef, and none of the four succeed in growing or stabilizing the empire.
Interim governments must be shattered and new power must arise.
We must put effort and money into strengthening our empire, letting not orc nor harpy nor goblin nor any other force keep us from our sandy homes.
This process must start slowly; we can dot the land with outposts.
Through trade and war, the process will sweep across the desert, leaving nothing but the Dervin Empire in its wake.
Finally, we must find our serpent head. And in swallowing its enemies - political and military - it shall grow the desert serpent of Maj'Dul.
Once again our empire shall coil itself about the desert regions, striking at all who would threaten us. Once again our empire shall protect and encircle its children.
And once again our empire shall own her desert home.