The crowds before Brayand represented more than just a moment of celebration, the governor realized. They were a symbol of everything the Empire had worked towards: peace, unity, and friendship. Along with the citizens of Alden, people from Daelin, Seralia, Halslad, and the other Juriels had come to participate. Even the dwarves had remained, wishing to take part in the ceremonies.
A podium had been placed at the center of the public square, the place where Brayand now stood. Enchantments had been layered over it to ensure that his voice would carry across the multitudes gathered here. Despite the echoing voices of those gathered to watch, Brayand knew that his every word would be remembered this day. He swallowed hard.
Stepping up to the podium, he coughed slightly, then, from memory, began his speech.
“Today, we begin a celebration of peace. It has been ten years since our nation’s last war, and in that time, tensions have arisen that would threaten both of our peoples. But it is at this time, that we remember what brought us to this point.
“The decision for the Juriels to enter the Argantin Empire was not made in an instant, nor was it made under threat of war. The Juriels had long been allies with the Republic of Halslad, even before the discovery of the arcane. It was with the aid of Halsladian wizards that the kings of the Juriels ended their generations-long wars against the dragons of our lands. Through friendship, a new kind of civilization was born.
“But when the first wizards of Argantin came to the great halls of the Juriels, proclaiming a new empire, it appeared to some as an act of hostility. Such promises as they were making could not be trusted, they reasoned. What could be their true purpose? Did they seek domination? Or was their intent to use our people in war against our neighbors?
“High King Melisend agreed to the terms of the fledgling Empire. What guided him in his decision is not clear. But under the banner of Argantin, the conflicts that once plagued the Juriels have faded into the past. Centuries of conflict have ceased. Where once swords were raised, now symbols of friendship are shared. Peace had come at last to our lands.
“Perhaps this is what the High King saw. Fields of plenty now blossom across our valley, filled with riches far greater than gold or silver. That is why, today, we take a moment to remember that peace is greater than war, that cooperation is better than conflict. The varied voices of our nations have created a better World. Let us celebrate it.”
At his final words, fireworks were lit, exploding in the sky in dazzling colors. Magic filled the air, causing the lights to be clearly visible despite the noonday sun. The audience cheered, their applause echoing across the city. Brayand stepped away from the podium as the fireworks continued, returning to his place among the crowd of nobility.
Niel Rator smiled broadly as Brayand approached. “Good speech,” he noted. “I, too, am grateful Argantin hasn’t sought war against Seralia.”
Brayand smiled. “As am I. It would have made my speech less convincing.”
Niel nodded. “When will you convince the dwarves of your peaceful ways?” When Brayand didn’t respond, Niel smiled. “I know this is not the time, but remember that other lands do not enjoy the lives you live here. The war may be over, but my people still live in fear of dwarven armies marching across our lands.”
Brayand nodded, “I know this,” he said.
“Good.” Niel smiled. “Then my work is done.”