The Prosperous North had long been influenced by the philosophy of the One, so named because when asked his name or his nature, he would always reply “I am but one of many.” The One held that human suffering was caused by emotions born of the flesh–desire, hunger, thirst, and the like–and that by overcoming those emotions, one could enter a higher and more blessed state. Dothan Vou was, like his forefathers, a devout follower of the One and at each stop along his river journey, he sought out the wisest men he could, followers of the One all, and asked them what he should do for his people.

The answer Dothan Vou received, invariably, was that suffering was caused by emotions born of the flesh. The people of Vaaj would only know happiness and prosperity again by denying themselves and entering a higher, more blessed state. To each of them Dothan Vou replied: “That is all very well and good, but my people will die if they are not sustained by water or food; what am I to do?” The wise men could only repeat the strictures of the One again, which left Dothan Vou unsatisfied.

At each stop, hunger and privation took their toll on Dothan Vou’s traveling companions, and his party dwindled from dozens to a mere handful, and eventually the prince himself and a single retainer. At the tiny port of Qasile, that last companion died of starvation, having secretly given all their rations to the prince to keep him sustained. At that town, Dothan Vou found the wisest man and asked him what he could do to stop the drought, expecting the same answer. Instead, the man pointed a finger at Dothan Vou. “It is your desire to save them that you must give up,” he said. “Your emotions, born of the flesh, must be overcome.”

“If I do that, my people will die,” Dothan Vou replied.

“Death is a part of life, for cities and nations as well as men and women,” was the reply. “The time has come for your city to die, and only by giving up the desire to preserve what was can you proceed.”

“Many could not leave even if they wanted to. I will not condemn them to a slow death by starvation,” Dothan Vou replied.

“Then you know what must be done,” the wise man said. It is thought that he was speaking of allowing those people to die, as part of a natural cycle. But Dothan Vou took quite another meaning from the old man’s words.

He drove his sword through the wise man’s heart, killing him. The people of Qasile, seeing this, attacked him. But they were not warrior, and they had not the fearsome control of the Art that Dothan Vou possessed. He slaughtered the inhabitants to a man, woman, and child.

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