User:Caelcormac/The Will of King Barak

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In the final years of his life, the brutal Vos Warlord Barak (who always referred to himself as a King) left to his sons the following; with the command that the seventeen of them were to fight to the death and the last one standing would inherit the armies of their father. He left this letter prior to his death because years before he had lost the ability to speak after an arrow from an Elven archer had pierced his throat. It should be known that Barak was a true Tyrant among the Vos people; but a cunning and educated man that had traveled to the lands of Anuire and Khinasi in his search for war knowledge in his youth before returning to Vosgaard to take control of first his family, then his tribe, then his entire kingdom before old age finally did what no other had been able to do: kill him.

[top]The King's Will

Allow me to remark on this subject many call the ?Art of War? to be used by a King.
There is no art in war, no justice, no long lasting testament to the glory of any kingdom. There are only some few truths that any man should hearken to if he plans to lead a nation and endure until death does claim him in his bed from old age as will happen to me soon.
First and foremost is the rule that ?He is best secure from danger who is on guard even when He seems safe.? Any monarch that trusts anyone is already lost. Myself, I would not even trust my own mother, the Gods save her soul, if she were still alive.
Second, and nearly as important is the fact that if a King does not strike first, he will instead be the first struck. Preemptive attack upon a foe, whether real or possible, is far better than building defenses in the vain hope that they will not be overcome. It is true that none can wage war on all fronts without exhausting both warriors and supply; but with proper prudence and judgment, a solid balance can be had that allows you to pick the right enemy at the right time.
Many say that the sinews of war are infinite money; I say they are fools. Money is no good to any man save as a means of barter. Instead say that excess men are the sinews of war; for having a constant supply of fresh warriors to replace your fallen is far better than to have no men to arm with the weapons and armor just bought with your infinite money! So make sure that you have the manpower needed for any task you set out upon; as well as a steady supply of recruits to replace the fallen. A careful balance of recruitment and expansion are needed to ensure that your generals have both ample warriors for their tasks and enemies that can be overcome without exhausting your manpower. Mercenaries are no substitute for your own warriors as they come and go as their whim demands.
So many ?civilized? monarchs, as well as others, remark that a King should carry himself with the utmost dignity and honor. Of course, then they go on to tell you that their notion of honor and dignity are the way a King should rule. I say they are fools. I say that to a true King, nothing is inconsistent which is expedient. Only the King of a nation should have the right to lie and deceive; for a King is responsible for the well being of his entire people and is not accountable to the mundane drudgery and restrictions that lesser men are held accountable to. In war, truth is the first casualty; and so too in ruling a nation. This does not mean that a King should lie and deceive at all turns; for such a man would soon find his Kingdom surrounded on all sides by foes seeking to crush him instead of fellow Kings that respect his rule. Simply put, a King should cultivate friendship with his equals, crush his inferiors, and feign subservience to those stronger than he until such time that the role might be reversed in the future.
It is a fact that men grow tired of singing, dancing, sleep and even love far sooner than they tire of war. It is the nature of mankind, particularly, to make war upon those surrounding him; so that his will is made supreme. Knowing this, always know also that even a peaceful neighbor will seek war against you if weakness is perceived in you. The saying ?a bad peace is even worse than war? applies in this instance as well; for even an enemy that has been crushed and forced into service to your cause will seek to rise against you if conditions favor it. Because of these things, learn to instill fear in both friend and foe alike. Let them hate you, as long as they fear you. A man fearful of his master will not raise his hand against him; because his fear will weaken him and keep him restrained against you more so than any shackles or forced tribute that might weaken him.
Once war comes to you, believe in the adage that He conquers who endures. Surrender is not an option for any King who wishes to ever have fear in the heart of his enemy. In war you must be fast, strike hardest and never show any signs of remorse, hesitation or doubt. It is far better to suffer numerous defeats and finally be victorious; than to never fight at all and thus be defeated by your own heart.
Many Kings know how to gain a victory, but few know how to use a victory to gain further conquest. Do not pause in your bloody works against your enemy once war is joined; a man defending his lands can do nothing against you in your own. Each time you gain victory over your foe, he should have little time to even consider countering your conquests because he should still be involved in defending yet another part of his kingdom against you or your confederates.
Your armies may march divided; but to your foe it must seem like your armies fight with single purpose and concentrated solely upon him to crush hope or aspiration for victory from his chest. As he sees you constantly on the attack upon his lands, while your own nation?s provinces bask in the glory of peace and prosperity, desperation only for survival will clutch at his mind. He will seek some great victory to rally his forces; and thus force his men into positions of little hope. His armies will not only be demoralized, but he too will see that his efforts are for naught and soon he will be defeated in his heart long before you slaughter the last of his forces upon the field of battle. The desire for safety stands against every great and lasting enterprise; including victory and conquest; while the outcome of war corresponds less to expectations than anything else. Be adaptable and ensure that no rigidity exists when you make war; either in your wide ranging assaults upon the enemy or in your own desire to be careful and make no mistakes.
Despite all these things, it is best to remember that the greatest events result from trivial causes. Be mindful of all news that comes to you. Find the heart of every matter and expose it to the light of truth so that you may know most clearly the intents of all your foes and friends alike. It is good to see your foe struggle, but it is best for your friend to struggle as well! He that is in need and on the edge of defeat is the ally that can be most trusted as he fears defeat and needs your strength to lean upon. Always come to the aid of your allies if you can spare strength to do so; but not in the defense of his lands. To defend an allies land is to spend your warriors without gain. Instead, make war upon the soil of your ally?s enemy in pursuit of conquest. This will force your ally?s aggressor to become a defender, and thus be defeated in his initial aims. To defend is to know defeat.
Make sure that your forces are ruthless; with little thought toward glory and honor. The man who runs away when ordered will fight again, while war spares not the brave; which I call the foolhardy. Even the bravest can be frightened by sudden terrors; but steadfast resolve and fear of failure are far stronger motivations than simple gallantry and honor. Even a cornered rat can kill its predator; but the strongest lion will flee insurmountable odds. So instead of courage, teach discipline through deprivation and structure to your forces. Few men are born brave; but fearless men may be created. A brave man may have a glorious death; but a disciplined and motivated man will have victory. Maintain the motivation of your forces in bloodlust and dreams of riches; simple ideology can be crushed from a man when his lands are being plundered and his women raped by the enemy. Your warriors should care nothing for the people of their own nation; but crave in their hearts the slaughter of their enemy. When one side has the stronger morale, whether from hatred or discipline; then the enemy, as a rule, can?t withstand them.
When your enemy is at last conquered, woe to them that stood against you and dared your wrath. Their lands should be plundered, their soldiers slaughtered, and their people enslaved, one in ten, to the will of your designs for them. Gentleness will instill hope within them; but a firm hand that is fair after the end of war will see them come to respect you. Instill in a conquered people that it is better to be now subject to the victor of war so that they too may enjoy such victory in the future, instead of ever giving a sign of weakness through some sort of apology or reparations for the faults of their former leaders. A defeated King should be dealt with in the harshest manner; his entire lineage erased from existence. Leaving a defeated foe alive only means that some day he will seek vengeance because of his humiliation. True victory is not had by simply defeating a man; you must kill him to make sure you leave no enemy behind, and stamp out his seed as well so that no pride may grow in the heart of any who might someday think they have the ?right? to gain vengeance upon you. Have all the blood of the defeated King on your own blade so that no upstart within your own ranks may claim that blood and rise later against you.
I say to you that these things are true; and only those Kings who have followed this path, or those similar to this one, have prospered and made their people great. So called ?Civilized Honor? is a weak principle instilled within the hearts of men who are too weak of mind to ensure their own safety; it is a principle of soft rule that is too easily exploited and broken. Instead, aspire to firm but fair rule; ensuring that you are respected, even if you are ruthless. Give no quarter to your enemy; but reward your friends and warriors handsomely and you will become the better in any comparison between yourself and some piteous King who seeks honor, chivalry and glory instead of lasting victory, power and peace. Only in final victory can peace be had; and only the obliteration and death of a foe brings true peace between two adversaries.
Whichever of my sons emerges as the victor amongst you, rule well my son. Leave no brother alive; nor after them, any enemy.
King Barak

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