She nods slowly. "Very well..."
"We, the Kylan of the Kingdom of Ngua Nam, are an old people, living in the mountains, valleys, rainforests, marshes and shorelines for a thousand years, a vassal of the Empire. We warred sometimes with the Khmare and the Empire, to be sure, and faced typhoons and famine and raiders from far away, but by and large we lived peacefully, with ourselves, with our neighbors and with nature. For though we had little of the more modern industry and technology, we wanted for little. We learned how value order and tranquility of mind over abundance and passion. The belief back then was that the outside world could be, and should be kept out, and that we fare best when left alone. None believe that now, but that was how things were in the old days."
She pauses, slowly breathing out as if in an imperceptible sigh.
"Then the outside world made its way in. The first incursion came when the Storm King's armies attacked. There was not much fear in our lands as there was elsewhere. We felt ourselves secure in our forests and bays... they had not been breached by the yetis 500 years before, and they had only so many airships. They could not burn our houses, for we Kylan build of brick were we imitate the foreigners, of stone where we are wealthy, and of cod where we are poor, and these things do not burn. So they set up garrisons in our lands, and demanded to be paid tribute. For the Prince, this was no matter, as our diplomats have centuries of experience of ambassadors of the Empire. He simply paid them. When they demanded more, he obfuscated and dissembled, and pulled tricks that would not work for a moment on an Emperor, but that the Storm King, so far away and so overstretched, would have to accept. That is how Kho Củi and the cities of the coast responded. Inland, in the countryside, the situation was very different. With no cities to bombard, and forests and caves to hide, in, the peasants resisted. It started in the lands of the Khmare, then made its way to our eastern provinces. At first it was a disobedient lord or two, then the peasants themselves organized. Took up arms. And so they resisted for years, bleeding his army dry.
Then one day we received news that the Storm King was killed and his Grand Army lost in a far away land. The Prince declared war after three days, and the peasant militias did not wait that long. The invaders were expelled from our soil forever. But the peasant militias did not put down their arms. At first they demanded lower taxes, replacement of unpopular local rulers. All of these things could be agreed upon. But then they demanded more radical demands. Land reform, end of clergy privilidges... But that isn't where it ended. For what was not understood was that an invasive seed took root.
The Storm King's armies were far from the only gift of the outside world to make itself felt on our lands. As when we fought the Storm King, we did not do it alone. Crates filled with modern weapons and ammunition were clandestinely shipped to our ports, given false papers by administrators, and shipped in boats up the river. It was guns at first... then they started to send little booklets, little red booklets"
She moves her hooves together as if to give an idea of the physical dimensions of said booklets
"And then they sent live ponies. 'Military advisors,' they said, to teach the peasantry how to fight modern war. That is not all they taught them... They told them of modern industry, of wholly different ways of living, of ideas they had never heard before.."
Now, she definitely sighs
"And finally, came a pair of ponies to the Kirin Grove up north. They told the Kylan there, err, 'Kirin,' not to seek tranquility, but to embrace the passions. This was a revolution in their lands. In ours, it was the start of one. As the Great Vehicle and our customs teach to subdue passion beneath reason and will, and to seek to not desire rather than to be sated... these ideas were sparks to light a fire, to burn away centuries of moral teachings..."
A short pause, and she starts again,
"And so, a movement began. It is lead by a Kylan whose assumed name translates best to Ponish as 'Bright Will,' or perhaps 'Light Bringer' is a better alternative. I've heard conflicting stories on where he came from, but I know he went to school abroad, and came back with the pony advisors during the resistance, and he was an accomplished partisan. He told of a great Equestrian pony by the name of 'Steel Stallion,' who he said had lessons for Ngua Nam, to turn it from what he calls a 'pre-industrial feudal state' into 'a Modern Nation-State.' His movement seeks to industrialize the nation rapidly and by force. They seek liberation of the passions over tranquility and triumph of the spirit. They seek a universal 'empowered' peasantry over monastic, merchant, and landowning classes. They believe religion and belief must be replaced with 'Science.' And they believe all tradition, customs, and other symbols of the past to bring out this future they seek.
And so the rebellion began, seeking not merely to replace the Khoe Dynasty, but every aspect of society. The temple on the mountain by Kho Củi has withstood many Earthquakes in its time, but I do not know if it, or the walls of the great city, will withstand this one. They stand strong against it, I do know that, and they stood still when I left."