Onti-Ono um Mondriana, 1504
Four days have passed since King Manarkane was last glimpsed in public and the crowds thronging the plaza grow thicker each morning, drawn by that unnamed sense that makes humans aware to moments of great importance. To see the King's frail and shaking limbs must have been distressing to his subjects, but to look upon his face is a more harrowing thing. The formerly vigorous ruler of proud Zestra now looks like a feeble bundle of sticks, and his expression is fretful, agonized, and exhausted. He is eager to expire due to the very labor of breathing and the suffering each moment inflicts, yet reluctant, nay, terrified of death, struck in fear for his country and his soul.
Though strong allies, the Zestrans are barbarians, and Manarkane a heathen king, but I pray for him nonetheless. Memory of his former strength and liveliness bring me to lament my own enfeebled humanity, and I am thankful that the occasions when I must glimpse his misery are now rare.
The crowds have gone from concerned agitation over their ruler's life to a morose silence. Some have taken to lighting black candles as the imminence of his death is sensed. Likewise, I no longer pray to Ecospor for his recovery, but turn my supplications to Arcanudo, so that He might guide the King to repose.
My prayers grow longer and more wearisome, for I plead for peace, in fear of the Northern onslaught that quietly waits upon the border for Manarkane's passing. This, too, is something the crowd senses but does not speak of. Everyone in the palace here knows it for sure. The air of Orcahund is thick with the terror of the Hangriti; the fury of their first invasion has become legendary. It is a thing not even worth mentioning that Zestra, alone, cannot possibly stand against the united North, but can even glorious Arqualan repel them? I am no longer so confident; the swift victories of Saint Pactra's Crusade do not put me at ease anymore than the Lequeme is lulled by the limping of the alard.
The extent of the threat is worse than anyone in our half of the world knows, save perhaps for divine Ionomîs and the Optolecti. Today, I witnessed Mistress Ambarazino receive a coded dispatch from the commander of the Conestanz theme. She did not relate its contents to me, but I needed only to observe her momentary loss of color to guess the gist of it. Whenever Manarkane expires, I fear none of us will long outlast him.
- Selsibrielo Amprugo Saldoda