Survival of the Desperate

“They won’t survive this.”

Mounted on my battle horse, I look over the landscape. What was once a prosperous province, has turned into a breeding ground for insurgency.

The Elves were the dreamers of the kingdom. Living on the eastern coast, their cities were gilded with silver and green.

Now they have become rebellious. For the last fifty years they have sapped the strength of our nation. Growing bigger and more harmful.

Refusing to be a part of our age of peace, they proclaimed independence. They sought to cripple my people by withdrawing trade and troops. With the Rams attacking from the north, the kingdom could not survive without the support of the Elves.

To make an example, we rode our horses to where I now stand, the capitol city of Reagalon. The height of their power resides in these walls. Stretching miles until it reaches the sea. Any direct assault would be matched until my army is desecrated.

I give the order and my battle wizards march forward on the hill overlooking the city. They etch their magic into the air. The ground illuminates as if reacting to their chants.

From the soil weeds grow. Grass and vegetation rip through the streets of the silver city.

A second wave of mages march forward and release their magic. They pull the very fabric of the sea closer until every inch of the streets are covered. They pushs the water down. Down into the bedrock contaminating every inch of the freshwater with salt.

I ride away from the new salt marsh, knowing full well that the Elves will never rebel again.

 

“He won’t survive this.”

After weeks of waiting I have found a way in.

Biding my time, I worked as a grounds keeper. Always keeping my ears and eyes covered.

I have kept his comings and goings through careful watch. My patience grew ever dim with each stroke of my hedge clippers.

The castle defenses are impenetrable, but the designers didn’t foresee one major flaw.

The vines that weave up to his quarters. Full and strong, the ivory is a perfect ladder.

Scaling the vines under the cover of darkness, foot by foot, I make it to the top. The window is waiting open for me, like a sign that my task is ordained by the gods.

Silently, I move through the chamber. I don’t even stop my stride to pull the dagger from its sheath. The blade sings for his death. Craving it more than I do.

I find where he sleeps and progress toward him. He is peaceful while thousands are dying elsewhere.

He is fat from the food he has taken.

His robe is made from the silk he has plundered.

I look at him through the eyes of everyone he has hurt. Through the suffering and pain that he has caused.

I will enjoy this.

 

“No one survives this.”

There is no light in the Elf’s tight cell. There is nothing to do but lie on the moldy straw strewn on the floor. He is wet from the drops that leak from the hard stone celling.

He deserves to be here. Dying before we give him death.

A lowly assassin. Hiding from the night. Stealing away to the dark. Trying to rid the land of me.

He will die here for what he has done.

He would plunge the land into chaos? He would see the people fall and die from the hands of their enemies?

For what?

For a grudge? For revenge? For someone who commands him?

I protect what is mine. I fight for them. I lead for them.

For this he must pay. Pay for his crimes against me and especially those against the kingdom.

 

“I won’t survive this.”

When he woke and alerted the guards before I could strike him down, I was taken here.

There was no mercy of the quick death I would have given him.

There was no consideration of the implied rules of war.

Straight away I was taken to the black. Out of the sight of the sun and all that it touches.

The only thing that fills the void is the screams. The endless screams that rip through my consciousness.

My memories and hatred keep the screams at bay.

My wife, killed by his mages.  Drown when they flooded my street.

My people, starved by his orders. Nothing but grass can grow in salt.

My children, killed by his war to the east to win his war to the north.

And I failed to kill him. I failed to free my people from his rule.

I am here to be punished for what I attempted to do to him.

The King lives, so my people will die. All because I savored the moment of the tyrant’s death.

I deserve the suffering. I deserve this constant onslaught of death without dying, for my failure.

 

“I don’t deserve to survive this.”

 

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