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#9479087 May 07, 2014 at 12:46 PM · Edited 8 years ago
21 Posts
"Be proud," they told me. "Be bold and be thankful. You are heir to the great traditions of the Firran people."

The great traditions of the Firran people. Hah! you want to know what being a Firran is all about? Dust. Dust, dirt, ash and more bloody dust. Pitching up a gods-forsaken crappy tent in the middle of some howling wasteland and looking pleased about it. Desperately looking for water for hours, only to have it filled with, you guessed it more dust. Grubbing around in the - oh look, more bloody dust - for something edible. Riding a tired and hungry snowline through heat. And dust.

"Be proud," they told me. Bite me, I says.

Pride. Honor. Valor. Big, lofty ideas made up by big lofty humans in big lofty cities to keep people like you and me in dust. Yeah, fair enough, maybe one day we were kings. Warriors and gods amongst the living and all that. When you're a major player you can have all the pride, honor and valor you can carry, right? I mean, you can afford to. You know where your next meal is coming from. You can drink water that doesn't taste like something's already drunk it first. But when you're like us, these are dust words. They keep you in your place. Keep you low. In the dust and dirt and ashes grubbing and scavenging and pretty-please begging for a little bit of favor from the posh bastards in their la-di-da real-stone cities with their fruit and fountains and cakes and bloody opera.

"Be proud," is what they told me. What I heard is "know your place. Down there. No, further down. That's right, keep going Shovel that dirt, boy, go on."

When I was small, I remember some big feast was going on in our village. Well, I call it a village. Some tents and a bit of a mountain's arse you could spit across. And I call it a feast, it was mostly dust in the name of... Oh, I dunno. Some god, probably. Or how generally spiffy it is to be Firran and aren't we all glad we've got all this yummy dust to eat.

But yeah. village feast. Me all small and wide eyed and innocent. Don't look at me like bloody that, I wasn't born like this you know. And in comes this visiting official. Harani gent. Him and his little mob of assistants and servants. I thought he was a bleeding king, right? Well fed, clean. Brought his own tent with him and I thought it was the finest silks. Wasn't, of course, it was cheap dyed cotton, but I had no idea back then, did I? You'd think he didn't know what sweat was. Clothes that weren't bits of brown stuck onto other bits of brown. Just some minor district official come to give the official sanction, right? But back then that man was the richest thing I'd ever seen. I mean you'd think that flowers would spring up where he broke wind. And he comes with this tray of sweets. I dunno. Cakes? Fruits? Look, I was a kid who'd only tasted food that made dust look like a treat. You wanna hear this story or what? Oh yeah? Sit down, son, you'll poke your eye out with that knife. Yeah, yeah, love to your mother. Come on then, if you think you're hard enough.

Where was I? Right. Sweet things.

He's handing em out. Treats. And we were all so grateful.. Kids scrabbling over each other mewling "thank you mister" and adults all happy to see us happy and I took one look at that, and you know what I saw?

Leftovers for the dust people. Little treat to show 'em who's boss, know what I mean? Little sweet to say "be good and behave and maybe I'll bring another tray next year"

And I knew. Right there and then. I knew what being proud of being a Firran meant. Who I would become. Another grey and brown and dusty bone-dry shell scraping up behind that mob and thanking him for any leftovers he might throw behind him. I knew it then. Yeah. I could be proud and hold my traditions close and that. The great Firran people and our noble heritage. Valiant and good and proud and obeying the law and dust, dust, dust. Be good. Behave. Be nothing. Dig down further.

I could see my whole life stretching ahead of me. Every dust-ridden footstep. And I wasn't having any of it.

Set fire to his bloody tent for a start. Tried to steal his Leomorph too. Oooh, I got my first taste of justice that night. Burn down a rich man's tent and try and ride off on his ride? Nah mate. Now, set fire to his city and kill all his livestock, then you're a bloody duke. That's the difference between those stone people and us dust people, right? We think too small, so what we do are crimes. They think big, so they get shiny bloody medals. Yeah, I got to see the rich man's justice that night. Nice little taste of the belt, yeah?

But it didn't matter. It was already too late. I knew the secret, right? I knew that staying in the dust was a choice. A stupid, scared choice. I knew that pride was just slavery without chains I knew that tradition was knowing your place. You can't beat that out of someone when they know it. All you can do is seal it in.

I learned a bit since then. Next time I set fire to his tent, I made sure his bloody assistants were bleeding in the dust outside and that he was tied up in it. That was a good 15 years later, of course, and to be fair he was an old man by then. But still, I think everyone learned a good hard lesson.

Pissed in his cakes and all.

So yeah. I know I'm a thug. Not the sharpest. Brighter pennies in the fountain and all that. But I ain't saying thank you for sweets thrown into the dust no more. I ain't beholden to know one. And yeah, I know the difference between right and wrong. and I know that only people who are really, really sure about where their next meal is coming from or if someone's gonna try and cut their throat in the middle of the night give a damn about that kind of thing. And no, I ain't got pride. Ain't got a use for it.

I have my eyes open now. I was born in dust, so I'm gonna play dirty. I'm the lowest of the low and that suits me JUST fine. I'm unbound, me. And I'm lovin' it.
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