You ask what I want people to know of us, as if I can speak for all of us? As if I would, even if there were not centuries of strife arisen amongst ourselves? I may only teach you what my mothers and fathers taught me: stone is water, frozen in time.
When you are in the stone, you think as water, do as water does, you flow where the water directs you. Fighting the current of stone will only trap you. But never forget: the stone is water. At any moment, the stone, the cave, the mine, the mountain, will all flow, stepping with the unending dance of Gaia.
There’s a reason we stay here, unless the need arise: water travels downward, and so we follow. We gather where it does, amongst the stone and great caverns that hold steady the pillars of Gaia herself. I know not what you seek to find here, nor words of wisdom or generalities to provide. Merely the lesson that water is life, and none, save the strong, can find its roots.
I wish that had been the end of it. Caesar had driven us to the brink in her hatred of the Bull, and as much as we all hated him, we should never had pushed so far across the river. Their army had us surrounded, and over the course of three bloody days, we lost forty and a thousand.
By the end, the bodies of my comrades, my charges, were used as barricades between the marble columns, dead limb and lost life bolstering our fortifications. Unable to rest, and starved out of rations, we would take and drink the blood of our wounded to satiate our thirst. We were driven mad, driven down to the lowness of animals.
The Bull broke through with his guard, and he struck her down. She screamed like anyone else. And then she, like a fish on a line, rose limply to the sky, and using her like kindling, the Guardians rained white hot fire upon us all. Unable to die, we burned.
I, Gerald Goodriver, am no braggart. I do not traipse about, telling the tales of my trials and tribulations to the tantalized ears of travelers. No, I do not deign to stoop to such a lowly stature as that of the tavern tussler. I fell my marks with honor, and honor is quiet.
For my deeds speak for themselves. Criminal, monster, and schemer alike: none are a match against the honed edge of my blade, the strength of mine shield, the sureness of my heart, nor the tactical cunning of my mind. I have found prize and treasure where others find their doom.
For I am Gerald Goodriver, a name none other can claim. I am known throughout the land as the humble protector of the people, as I should. No harm shall befoul my beautiful charges, each and every one. A life of quiet gallantry and courageous deeds I have lived, and will continue to, unwanting of reputation, recognition, or reward.
Allow yourselves a moment to see one thing whole, so it be clear to all ye who accuse me of the crime of the most foul which you lie to proclaim. Murder? Your words hold no meaning. For what else is the purpose of war, the machination of battle, other than killing?
When two soldiers meet on the field, and shields crash, and spears break, is it murder? I find it folly that I stand before this court today, pleading a case of one such as this. If you are on the field, and you take up arms, you are no bystander.
No, civilians I did not kill, but soldiers who would have taken my life if I had not taken theirs. I see not what their stature nor age has to do with it. Would I give a goblin the grace of mercy because it lives a small, short life? No, for like it, life is brutish, and with brutality it must be won. If this court deems it, cast out thy judgment as thou seest fit. But mine life is mine to protect.