The Stone Hammer Riots
Statues are something that people erect to those they wish to revere and a culture’s attitudes, morals and government can be read in the countries presentation art. Statues have, not only a monetary cost, but a moral and ethical cost as well.
One must consider who pays for its initial construction, and why – both official and unofficially. Who pays to have it maintained. Who or what is chosen to be depicted. How they are depicted. Who protests it. Who vandalizes it. Is it a focus for controversy, or even riot?
For instance, during the reign of Boras the Terrible, 132 Last Age, toward what would prove to be the end of his reign, though he had truly not won any battles at the head of any rejin of Arko, he had a statue commissioned showing him and his immediate bodyguards, all on the back of Griffons, rampant upon the bodies of Arkan enemies.
To fund the statue, Boras Aan plundered the temples of the fessas Gods in the outlying provinces, and the major road construction and repair budget was cut to the bone. The immediate results were that goods and services coming into the city either slowed to a trickle or what goods did come were inferior, as the fessas displayed their displeasure in the only way they could.
There are records of letters of protest and objection from nearly every fielded general, complaining of the difficulty of moving troops on deteriorating roads, and complaints from the Drovers, the Couriers, in fact all of those dependent upon the roads to move their goods. Despite all protest, the statue continued being built but because the artisans were fessas the work proceeded slowly and the site, near Sword Road on the Avenue of Statues was for some reason,, the most disaster prone in the city. Shipments of stone did not arrive to the carvers, blocks were dropped and cracked, someone ‘accidentally’ left the barrier gate open so that when the streets were washed, the site was flooded, scaffolding pieces went missing, and myriad other, smaller annoyances.
Ultimately Boras attempted to put solas overseers to watch over the work that the fessas did and the work quickly degenerated into a confrontation between fessas marble workers and solas of the First Sun Rise Rejin and Sereniteers, becoming the first of the ‘Stone-Hammer riots’.
The Stone Hammer generals, whom the fessas saw as being on their side, ultimately overthrew Boras, before the statue could be completed and General Orthas Liren became regent for the Spark of the Sun’s Ray until he successfully attained his majority ten years later and was accepted by the Gods as rightful Imperator.
The remnants of the ill-fated statue are still extant in modern Arko, four of the lesser Griffons tucked away on the Lake Board walk, where the current government is proposing to set ‘Solas Muster’, albeit without riders or any other sign that they were once part of a greater work. The rest of that statue was pulled to bits and used as rubble in other building projects around the city.
A statue cannot truly be forced on a people, if they truly do not want it, even if they live in a tyranny and are not allowed their vodae. No power on earth can protect a hated image that is meant to symbolize oppression. If they cannot pull it down openly, people will often worry it to bits over the years, requiring that it be guarded, repaired, cleaned, or even repeatedly replaced, adding to the initial expense of its construction and thus the resentment accruing around it.
A statue has not only a cost in chains, but in emotion and any government is wise to take the people’s wishes into account for its public art works.
I wrote that in a single evening, going on my memory of Ailadas’s lectures on those riots and when Gannara and Ili came back from their mysterious shopping trip, I showed it to him.
“Terren will never publish it,” he said, looking up at me.
“Probably not, but I needed to write it. And I might send it anyway.”
“So that Imperator got deposed because of a statue.”
“Oh, there was lots more than just that statue. There was a reason he was called “The Terrible”.
--in a post office box, Number 4589—
We regret to inform you that your most interesting article does, unfortunately not meet our current requirements. Thank you for submitting, and please try again!
While your bedtime tales for children titled Ili and His Magic Donkey, are both well written and entertaining, we regret to inform you that they are, perhaps, somewhat gruesome for the age range you submitted.
We will be pleased to reconsider this manuscript, should you decide to rework it and ‘lighten it up’ somewhat.
Your horror story ‘Going to the Lock’ is certainly visceral! Unfortunately our line-up does not include space for a story of this type.
Have you considered turning this into a play?
“Happy Birthday, Min! Happy Day!” I woke up with a start, mid-morning, as Ili squealed in my ear. The Haian had had mercy on me and freed my nose the evening before. I’d gone to sleep forgetting completely it was my birthday next day, both because I was just enjoying having my nose clear and from lack of Jitzmitthra clues. Even while I’d been with the Mahid they’d had Jitz, so I had nothing but the date to remind me, and I had lost track of the days.
I sat up to see Gannara and Ili grinning at me, with a stack of pancakes and whipped cream and fruit on a plate in Gan’s hands. Ili was holding two wrapped packages.
“What? No, my birthday isn’t till tomorrow or next day, isn’t it?”
“It’s today, Min! It’s today!” Ili handed one of his parcels up to Jiaklem on his head and the domoctopus wrapped his tentacles around it and flushed orange like the paper wrapping it. “Open my present first!”
Of course. That was why they’d ‘gone shopping’. Honestly, sometimes you’re an idiot, Min. I thought to myself. Gannara put my cake down on the night table and settled on the end of the bed. “It’s just a little token from each of us,”
“No. No, it’s wonderful, thank you! And whipped cream pancake cake! Thank you both! I just wasn’t expecting anything!” Gannara’s birthday was coming up soon. He didn’t know I’d asked his Haian before we left Haiu Menshir. I was going to have to surprise him, in turn.
“Open my present!”
“You wrapped it yourself?” I asked him. “I couldn’t tell if you’d gotten the vendor to wrap it, it’s so nice! I almost don’t want to ruin it…”
“OOOooohhh! Open it!” He didn’t try to smack me when I teased him but danced on the spot in sheer frustration, Jia bouncing and wobbling on his head, the second package waving up and down.
“All right, all right!” I ripped open the package and opened the little box and found a charm in the shape of a dagger lying in the packing paper. “Oh my.”
“’Cause what happened in Hyerne!” and there’s a ship too… all the travelling! You can put them on the chain with your donkey!”
“I will. Though if you keep doing this one day I won’t be able to swim because of the weight of birthday charms from my little brother!”
“Silly! You’re just being silly!”
“I got you something for that necklace as well,” Gannara said quietly. “You’ll have a whole rack of them from both of us!” It was a silver flower that grew only on Haiu Menshir. “So you don’t forget that you didn’t finish healing, got it?”
“I got that brother. Thank you.” I threw my arms around both of them and Jia slapped a couple of tentacles over my head. “Thank you. They’re the best birthday presents ever!”
“What do you mean I need to be a Dyer for a while?”
“Those thugs thought they murdered a scholar, right?”
“So let’s turn your oh so pale hair bright, bright blue. They’ll never look twice at you as if you’re the kid they threw off a bridge. I got a fake nose-ring for you as well.”
“A FAKE NOSE RING?” My hands flew up protectively over my nose. “The packing just came out! The swelling is just down!”
“Yeah,” he said calmly. “Instead of a real one which would hurt more.”
“But once we’re out of here the bright blue will wash out, won’t it?”
“I think so.” Now he’s teasing me. Ili is reading over in the window seat and looking up every time I raise my voice. “If not, when we change my hair colour again, we can bleach it out.”
“Wonderful. It’s brilliant. Just a little startling. It will make us all safer. No glasses for now and a poet/drummer/Dyer rebel!” I started laughing. “Ice Eyes would have an apoplectic attack and expire on the spot!”
“Now you’re starting to sound right. The Dyers declaim stuff like that sometimes, pull up a hood to hide the hair and vanish into the crowd.”
I stood up, testing for twinges that thankfully didn’t come, threw my arms wide. “Authority! Authority! Where everyone thinks they’d like to be! Power! Power! The flavor of the hour, the ring in the bell tower, the sting in a poison shower!--” He threw a pillow that hit me in the middle and my hands snapped down around it.
“Yeah, you can do it. Get your shirt off and your head over here. I ordered up some hot water for ‘washing’.”