(The swordmaster Moor is explaining to his student Daniel the factors that brought him to Asulon )
“Though new to Asulon, I had heard much of it in my travels. In Asulon a man could make his own destiny, no matter what his birth; in Asulon all men, rich and poor, high and low, obey the same law. I put my faith in that Asulon before I came here; the same Asulon your father remembered from his youth. But in this generation he could see a change coming, a change led by men of wealth and power, men whose gold came from Asulon, yet who hated Asulon. Men who thought none wiser than themselves, and believed they deserved to rule all, men who spoke of loving ‘the people’, but who did not trust those same people to govern themselves.
“Your father set himself against these men and their plans for Asulon. Your father strives to protect Asulon, but not just the country, the idea that a man, no matter his birth, lives free to choose his own path, to rise or fall, prosper or fail, build or travel or buy or sell, all on his own, and no other man–be he captain of wealth or king of the land–may tell him otherwise. This, then, is your father’s Asulon, a land where all men stand equal in the eyes of the law.”
Animated now, Moor rose from his chair and walked over to the sand table, picked up a wooden stylus and began to draw in the sand.
“Your father spoke to me about the genius of Asulon. How the founding laws set a balance between freedom and safety.”
Daniel saw that Moor had drawn the four points of the compass in the sand, each marked with its respective direction.
“Your father called this theory ‘Asulon’s Compass.’ On this compass the four cardinal points, West, East, North, and South, represent four types of government,” said Moor, pointing to each.
“To the extreme West lies the land of Anarchy . Here each man rules himself and does what is right in his own eyes. Nothing in this land protects the weak from the strong. In this land of pure democracy, the majority rules,” Moor’s eyes glinted in what served him as a smile. “But, of course, in a pure democracy, you often have five wolves and one sheep taking a vote on what to have for dinner.”
He thrust the stylus into the sand at the eastern end of the compass.
“In the extreme East we find the land of Absolute Monarchy, where one man rules over all. The people here have nothing to fear from a king perfect in wisdom and goodness, but a foolish or evil king can make this realm hell on earth. Whole clans can be slain if one of their members displeases the king.”
Moor then moved the stylus to the top of his compass.
“In the extreme North lies the land of Unchanging Law . A law made here cannot be changed. This may be good when a law is well made, for it allows men to keep their heads in times of trouble. Not all the laws here will be perfect though, for men make laws and men are not perfect. An evil ruler can run afoul of his own law in this land and so takes care in what he orders, but even bad laws cannot be corrected here, no matter how flawed.”
He moved the stylus again.
“In the extreme South lies the land of Ever-changing Laws. Engaging in any activity here means a daily gamble. In this land, men live in fear that they may do something illegal even though their actions were legal the day before. Men spend all their time trying to predict the ways the law will go, as a sailor in uncharted seas spends all his time predicting when a reef will appear. So they go forward slowly, if at all.”
Moor lifted the stylus from the sand and began to circle it over the table.
“What, then, to do? Where shall people live and have both freedom and safety? Go too far one way and the strong shall have freedom, but the weak shall live in fear. Go too far another and the people shall live safely for a time, but as slaves under masters who ‘know better then they’ how to run their lives.”
Moor now thrust the stylus into the very center of the compass.
“Here, your father explained to me, in the center of all, lies the course between these extremes.
The Elder Laws of Asulon sought to take this middle course, to hit the target at the very center and so strike a balance between safety and freedom, progress and stability.”