Mirrored from Sythyry.
“Sythyry’s attempt to do something about the Vepri was about as successful as floating over their heads and tossing piles of späzle out of Kismirth upon their cities would have been,” was the general opinion. “Not only was it utterly futile, but, in addition, it made us look ridiculous.”
I couldn’t argue.
And I didn’t have any good ideas. Not that it was a topic I much wanted to work on. I mean — seriously? What am I supposed to do? I could build Holocaust War weapons, and start a massive hate-war, and, um, … then lots of people would be dead, and everyone in Ketheria would think that traff-folk were not just perverts but murderous perverts, and maybe I could hammer the laws of the Cities of the Trough into better shape by force but they probably wouldn’t be enforced very well. Or maybe I would just get killed, which would probably devastate my reputation less.
So I did other projects, and avoided the issue as best I could.
By the twelfth year of Kismirth, the city was half refugees from the Vepri: about, I think, fourteen thousand people, seven thousand from the Cities of the Trough. This is not particularly due to Kismirth being a wonderful place to live (though it is). It is due to the Cities of the Trough getting to be quite an unpleasant place for glates to live. Heen’s story, Niia’s and Chiver’s story — these were typical. I could probably have picked up about seven thousand similar stories from the newcomers. Beatings, enslavements, exilings, fines, degradations, and even the occasional insult.
The general principle of Vepri rule is that society should have certain classes: optimes on top, norums in the middle, glates at the bottom, with scluds particularly despised.
Now, that’s not so strange. We’ve always had a stratified society: nobles and the wealthy above the professional classes above the commoners, with slaves about equal to the bottom third of the commoners depending on the situation. I can’t defend this completely, not after thinking a lot about how similar the Vepri order is. But there is some reason to it. At the best, nobles are heroes who risk their lives defending cities and villages. (The typical nobles are the heirs of such people, who hire others to do it, which is less impressive.) The professional classes have generally studied more and do more subtle work than the menials, and deserve respect for their efforts, I suppose. Slaves are criminals or debtors most of the time, which cannot improve their respect. So there is some justification for the usual order, if not actual justice.
In any case, there is a certain possibility that one, or one’s children, can improve their status. It does not happen that often, but it certainly does happen. A brave person of any rank can become a hero and gain a title from it. An energetic and smart one of any rank can get a good apprenticeship and become a guildmaster. A beautiful and charming one can catch the eye of a noble, and get a nice concubinage or an excellent marriage. And so on. Or, for the other side of fairness, a sufficiently incompetent noble family can be stripped of their rank, and have their lands given to that brave new hero. A wicked guildmaster can be brought to justice. Or what have you. These things happen a few times a year in a typical city, or more or less depending on what you count.
The Vepri order has its own justification. In theory — Vepri theory! — it is based on generation of first birth, plus the theory that early generations were better than later ones. There are two flaws. Second, the theory that early generations are better is utter nonsense. First, even if it were the case, the Vepri are lying about generations of first birth. They give their supporters good numbers, their enemies bad ones, and it is all a matter of their convenience.
But — and this is important — the Vepri have two crucial points of law. First, that one’s original generation should determine their station in life. Second, that a great deal of society needs to be structured to restrain and repress the wickedness of glates. I suppose that if you consider half your population to be on the verge of the worst sort of thuggishness, criminality, brutality, ill-manners, violence, pomposity, viciousness, and flatulence, you will design your law codes and everything else to keep these dark urges under control. Indeed, you might be moved to thuggishness, criminality, brutality, ill-manners, violence, pomposity, violence, and perhaps even flatulence of your own to do so. The glates deserve no better.
And you exile or kill them when they are too much trouble. They cannot be rehabilitated. Education might improve someone’s morality if one accepts that morality is an act of will and intellect. Nothing, nothing, will change what generation someone is born in. The Vepri often said that they would be better off without any glates in their cities.
It is not surprising that the glates, in particular, found this new order unpleasant and undesirable. They had previously been in, often enough, comfortable social status: nobles and guildmasters were often declared glates and scluds, dropping them from the highest ranks to the lowest. And glates of whatever rank before had some hope of bettering themselves — hope that the single fixed number of the Vepri denies them completely.
So seven thousand of them left, over a decade or two, and came to Kismirth. Others went elsewhere: several thousand through Kismirth, stopping here for hours or months, with Niia among the more dramatic. Presumably some went to other places too; I wouldn’t know.
Now, many of those seven thousand were traff. I don’t know — seven hundred of them? But one does not need to be traff to live here. Between the teleport gates, the slow and fast districts, and the tourism and entertainment industry, and the vast time-distorted fields, there are livelihoods for everyone and to spare.
Still, with seven thousand emmigrants from the Vepri lands, there was a great deal of sentiment that We Should Do Something About Those Cursed Vepri. Half of us had felt their viciousness personally. The other half had friends who had done.
I have to admit that I was on the wrong side. My opinion was mostly, “Yeah — like what should we do? I got sent home with my tail between my legs last time.”
I hate when people answer my rhetorical questions so concretely.