Does anyone understand the elections going on? I just saw something about a “caps lock key” and how that mean the current president had to go. Ariel, you are from here, what is going on? Indigo, you understand politics, please? Wolf?
Uh, err, so Michael, what is it like to be a prince, but to know you earned it through your own merit alone?
What? That’s not the case. It was not my merit alone.
But the princes of the Elachi are selected by merit, aren’t they? Not like things were when I was raised in what they now call the dark ages. How does it work if it is not your merit?
Wolf. Think. For just a moment. Take the Amber’s new baby brother. If he was in consideration, do you think he could lose?
Why not, it is pure competition, isn’t it?
Wolf, think of a child trained by the lightwalker. Would he have training no one else could have? Think of the heritage, of the naming gifts he would have. Perhaps a small colony of elementals, ten thousand, woven into a cloak? You know that unbound, they prefer large numbers, but think of ten thousand, each lending only two percent of their strength to the cloak. That would give him the force of two hundred elementals? Should Ariel not marry me, I would, of course, die childless. I might well give him my sword.
At that point, who could match such a child in skill, power and ability? With the role models he or she would have do you think they would have greater knowledge and wisdom as well?
Now, the families of the princes are not quite so blessed as such as a child would have, but they have heritage, skill, knowledge and connections. Training, heirlooms, special knowledge and family members that provide training and insight at home that few can match.
More importantly, there is a heritage. The call is one of service and duty. I have my fathers before me and their fathers to show me a way of acting, values, history. I have a name that I value, family whose values matter to me. To take bribes, to turn away from duty would mean to abandon family, the commitment of over a thousand years of my forbearers, would mean a disgrace and a turning away.
Wolf, there is nothing I value more.
So others have no chance?
No, there is a possible chance. There are those with drive, desire, who put in time and effort and whose families back them. Then, some are taken in and nourished by the houses, becoming their wards and folding in to their lines. I have a brother who came into our home that way.
But I have no illusion that it is by my virtue alone that I am a prince of the Elachi. I am very much aware that I rest on inherited merit, not my own.
Oh. Guess it is like that, only easier for Parakyle, who is a prince of the blood.
Err Wolf, I’ve been listening. I wouldn’t say so. Of course I inherited the kingdom, but our kings stand for election. They can lose their place and standing from the voice of the people, and once lost, it is rarely regained.
Parakyle, you stand for election? Like the Norse kings, kings like Harold Hardrede?
Wolf, I don’t know how they did their elections, but upon elevation, the voice of the people is called for. If they reject a prince, he is not confirmed as a prince, and another is called. So, by birth and primogeniture, I stood for confirmation, but the people could have rejected me.
Ok, Parakyle. So, once you are confirmed, is that it?
I wish. As a Prince, I have duties. Mine, at this time, are limited, we expect the princes to fulfill many duties much like the Elachi do. You could say at this time I am one of the Prince-Champions and am in the time of trials. The people are secure. But I am open to challenge, should I not follow the hero path or should I not fulfill other duties.
We generally have brother princes who serve. My brother serves as law giver, a sort of equity judge and administrator, I serve as champion. But the moot could be called, a challenge issued and if the voice of the people turned against one of us, and if we failed, the one who failed would be removed from his or her place.
Wolf, it can be stressful. It is why the princes generally do not have expansive agendas. The counsel of elders legislates, our judges judge according to our volklaw. The princes administrate, “law giver” is how it translates, but a prince rarely gives laws, though the details of administration creates the real meaning of laws. Hmm, chief of police might almost be a better description. Perhaps “law deliverer” – the one who delivers the law – that might be better for what he does.
The champion-prince is a war leader, if there is a war, but, again, he would rarely make the decision to go to war, but instead would have the counsel bring the matter before the moot of the people and then implement what is decided.
As long as a prince is not corrupt or stupid, as long as they do not step outside of the narrow role, they are unlikely to be challenged and it is unlikely that a challenge will succeed.
But to be confirmed at first, the people have to know you, respect you, and not see a better opportunity clearly available. That means a prince-nominate need be prepared better to serve than those likely to rise up in challenge.
Parakyle, are princes challenged often?
Of course not Wolf. A challenge looks like an act of pride and vainglory unless it succeeds. The princes are trained from early age and our house keeps and nourishes its alliances and always has. In making the decision the moot looks to the house, its tradition, its history and alliances. The alignment of the houses is always important. Marriages, fosterage, cadet lines, history, we are a long lived people.
Now, a house member might challenge, there was a time some thought to raise up my sister in a challenge, but she turned away from that as the war waxed hotter. Someone might be disabled, and not acknowledge it and need to be removed. Another might let power and authority go to their head or seek bribes to corrupt justice.
Does that happen often Parakyle?
No Wolf. But we are not the only people of the snow dwarves, our steddings and holdt are not the only one. The moots are found in more than one continent, more than one world. There are those who have been thrown from their places, sometimes by the force of arms of the moot. Everyone knows the tale of Sirrian Bentlaw or Elinias the Crooked and that of Smirri the Feeble.
They will not tell such tales of me.
But, answering your question, it is not easy, but it is not hard. It would be a weak candidate and a solid challenge, supported by many houses, rarely would such a challenge arise without warning. The shift of power and of authority would be felt in the tales of the people, in the market and in the houses, in the stedt moots and they prepare for the folkmoot. It would probably be heralded by failures in the training and challenges of the prince-candidate as they trained and prepared.
So, Parakyle, do the princes always have to win every contest?
No, Wolf no. But they have to be respectable. A champion must do well in the contests of strength, a law bringer must do well in the contests of knowledge and judgment. And a Prince might be careful of just which and what kind of contest they enter. I would never enter the sprinting contests, but no one would care to face me in a trial of live weapons with the axe. My brother has the gift of truthtelling, and the eye of the north.
You can guess that he always can tell the truth when it is told or not. No one would expect a contest to allow him to enter, the others would walk away. Someone could equal him, perhaps, but it would be like a math contest with one of Ariel’s computers. Not to mention, some rituals follow the blood lines in a stronger fashion.
As long as the people might need the heropaths and rituals, to draw strength from history, myth and magic, a prince will always provide the people with a benefit, an advantage.
It is a balance between peace and times of trial, risk and trade, ability, skill and inheritance.
Do you think humans could live like the lightwalkers do?
I doubt it. Our society lives on its princes and the ability to see the truth. Your society needs layers in this world to protect from fraud and to find criminals. Mirrors would probably kill many humans. I don’t know, but I can’t see anything but anarchy. The houses have a great deal of autonomy. Our laws are fairly simple.
Princes champion the weak who do not have houses to support them, they discern truth, they view the light of others, they track wrongdoers. They hold court and judgment between outsiders and the houses when there are claims or embassies.
The houses are like clans and septs and great houses. They have their own traditions with the force of law within them.