Samna Fishwash got out of bed about a half hour later than usual, having had a late night the night previous finishing some financial paperwork for the temple of the unrisen.
After a quick shower she boiled a pot of tea and put some toast on the stove, then turned on the radio and sat down to eat.
“--from the Palace of Wings have focused on the splinter breakout, and have been largely unconcerned with this so called revolution, but our experts say this could mean trouble for the royal establishment. For those of you who missed it last night, here again is the statement made by the man being called the leader of the insurrection, which again followed on the heels of the largest splinter breakout that has yet to be recorded, including a splinter which has been measured at forty-nine feet tall. Here’s the man who according to royal spokesmen will shortly be tried in absentia by the courts of Avalon and likely sentenced to hang: Kai Fishwash.”
Samna spat a large gulp of tea over the front of her dress. She froze for a few moments, staring at the radio, then continued listening intently as she went to wash out the tea.
“Uh, hullo,” came her brother’s voice from the tinny-sounding old radio, “I’m uh, I’m Kai Fishwash. These radio guys wanted a statement from the leader of this thing.”
“Great opening there, Kai. Really selling it.”
“Well, I’m not a leader. And I won’t lead these people. But I’ve been asked to speak for them, and I will do that. I reckon there’s a couple questions are probably on peoples’ minds right now, and I’d like to try and answer them. First off: is it true we’re holding Haven Park? Yes, that’s true. Last night was one of the darkest nights Lower Avalon has seen in decades. We all saw what happened. The Lower Avalon Protection Force, when they saw how much damage was being done, told the people to head to either the Derren’s Alley Gate or the Watchrow Gate.
“But the Kingdom Guard had no intention of letting the people find haven past those gates. When we most needed to be protected, we were locked out, out of fear that if the people of Lower Avalon came to the higher layers, the splinters would come with them. This order, given directly from the Palace of Wings, was the latest of a long line of abuses, and the last which we are willing to accept. A government exists so that it can protect and serve its people. When it no longer serves that purpose, it has outlived its usefulness.
“So yes, we are in a state of open conflict with the crown, a conflict which officially began when we opened the Derren’s Alley Gate, and shortly afterward the Watchrow Gate, to the people. But we did not draw first blood. No god or castle can bestow the right to rule upon a king. Only his people can do that. They will call it treason. I call it taking back what’s ours.
“Furthermore, we think that, uh, well, just as every man is entitled to consent to his government, every man is entitled to the sweat of his brow. Thus the factories and other industrial businesses centered in Lower Avalon are going to be operated by, and have their proceeds returned to, the workers. I suggest that the surprisingly few people who have been living off their so-called ownership of these industries begin looking for real jobs.”
This last comment was met with general laughter and applause from the crowd.
“On that note, outstanding debts that are owed to these people by their former employees are void. And those of you who’ve been enslaved to these employers by debt, know that me and these people with me in Haven Park are gonna stand by that promise.
“It was the will of the spirits that we had the AFP and the man known only as the Masked Knight, as well as other brave civilians who took up arms against the splinters, with us tonight. I know all of these men and women want what’s best for the people, and I urge you to come to Haven, where you will be welcomed as friends to join us in determining the course of things from here on out. So, uh, AFP, Masked Knight, other people, please come. You’re all welcome here.
“So I think there are probably two big questions left on everyone’s minds. The first is: what do we want? We’re in the process of drafting an official list of demands, but at the very least, a democratically elected body is going to be the primary political power here in Avalon, and mobility between the rings is going to be drastically increased. The second question is: why now? This has been tried before and has failed. Why should this be any different? The answer to this second question is a little more technical, but I’ll try to be brief. Before the Last War, before there were even familiars, there was a race of people called the unrisen. Well they weren’t -- that is they’ve come to be called that. It wasn’t-- it’s cause-- they didn’t, uh, rise, see, when the rest of people-- uh-- we live in the sky, and--"
Kai violently sneezed into the microphone, then paused to collect himself.
“Right. So anyway these guys, the unrisen, forged an artifact -- a kinda proto-familiar -- of immense power. With far more potential than anything the Kingdom Guard has at their disposal, or even than the legendary familiars. An artifact which can only be used by someone with unrisen blood in their veins. We don’t know a lot about these guys, but we think they looked a lot like humans. We do know that they each had uniquely distinctive black markings on their arms. It was a genetic thing.
“So to answer the question of why this time will be any different, why you should join us and not worry about being crushed by the king and his minions. Why together we can stand up to the beast. Well, the answer to that... is this.”
Samna could hear flashbulbs snapping madly. Ordinarily she would have laughed at Kai for forgetting he was on the radio and making a dramatic visual statement, but she had a sinking feeling she knew what he was talking about. She rushed to the door of her small suite of rooms in the temple and swung it open. The morning’s paper was outside.
The front page was mostly dominated by a photo of a fifty-foot tall splinter, dead, the head of the Avalon Kingdom Guard posing in full armor with its headless carcass as though she had just personally slain the beast. The headline read “LARGEST OUTBREAK ON RECORD IN LOWER AVALON”. But Samna’s eyes were drawn immediately to the photo next to this one, under the headline “REVOLUTION -- NEW LEADER AND NEW WEAPON?” It was her brother, standing surrounded by microphones on the base of a statue. His arm was in the air, causing his coatsleeve to fall back and reveal his forearm markings, and he was holding aloft a mask of carven ivory.
“You son of a bitch.”