By Sergio "ente per ente" PALUMBO
The warrior had got a name, even though weird to his people's ears, but no one did mind to pronounce it now. The severed head of the once powerful leader of the enemy cavalry (deprived of his - formerly - blue eyes,according to old tradition ) stuck on top of a blackened pole in front of King Genno exhaustively told him the battle was over at last. A bloody stream ran through the plain, overcoming crippled bodies and cut off arms. Burnt wagons, ashes in the air, clustering dead in the far distance. That was the last view the King had before going to bed in his ornate tent at the end of that long and bloody day. Victory was his, but Genno- by then a man of thirty-nine-felt tired, notwithstanding his tall body case- hardened and very strong in constitution
which had let him enduring many long military campaigns, he was not enough joyful to be really glad for his most recent achievement.He just needed to have a good rest.
Once he had been given a vision, a dream…and even that night he had it again.The King saw a future of peace and prosperity, happiness and good fortune for his people, after a very hard war… Everyone was free, the seaports and villages were beautiful and thriving, the streets of the towns were full of babies, no more battles, no more killing, no more enemies around…
When he had been awakened by his servants, Genno felt still thoughtful, attentive, but he was no more dubious. The war-priest had told him many times that it was his own beige eyes which let him have such visions of a future almost at hand. "It’s something you had got cause of your noble parents! Nobody else in the entire Realm had shown such colours of pupils before…Of course, that’s a sign of power, a feature linked to a Great Prophecy!” they had stated many and many times…Genno wanted to believe in it. He was the only one among his subjects possessing those eyes, which looked weird in comparison to the black ones everyone in his Realm usually possessed. That had to mean something, sure thing.
They had fought difficult battles almost on every kind of ground, from the far icy rivers in the North Peninsula to the warm orange deserts of the South Peninsula and, eventually, the green endless steppes in the East. It had been a long task to defeat all their several enemies- warlike tribes along the nearby coastlines, cruel raiders within the boundaries of the wastelands and courageous knights across the prairies over there- and it had taken many and many years, and a lot of lives in the process, too.But their opponents’ names were today lost, so were the civilizations they had created in the countries which had become part of Genno’s ever- increasing Realm.
They had called him in many ways: Assassin, Oppressor, Dictator. Of course, all the conquests had exacted a price and in return they had given a sort of temporary pacification. But nothing lasting enough to call it a real peace or, better, some final victory against all the other adversaries still daring him and fighting his own fleet of warships or his cavalry, trying to stop the advancing soldiers of the King.
But finally, the last enemies- the Straddlers, as they called themselves- were ready to be conquered, the big battlefield lay only one day ahead, the true hope of peace was now really at hand.
Maybe this time his dream could have proven realistic.
He deployed his huge army in the middle of the lowland, gave the orders to his generals, set good defenses in the rear and raised his sword so that every single man in his troops could do the same, ready to charge.
Genno was feeling good, confident in his fast warriors, he knew he was strong enough to lead by himself the first assault against his opponents set in formation on top of the hillside.
Maybe the following victory would have been the beginning of the desired peace. He really hoped so.
But,in the end, incredibly the battle was lost!
Genno’s soldiers were killed, his generals were imprisoned and every war-priest was forced to forget his own religion and to forgive his killers just before the bloody execution… it was something hard to explain in words, it turned out as an event nobody could have ever thought of before, something unpredictable…
The defeated King was put into a small prison- too little for his considerable height- and there he remained for a single night, sleeping only a little.
And, again, he was given the same vision, the usual dream…so that night, again, he saw a future of peace, prosperity and happiness for all, after so many wars…
When the guards fiercely woke Genno, he was still cautious, probably no more sure about the future ahead he had dreamt of for so long, unlike the King was the day before.
After that brief imprisonment, he eventually was taken to the altar for the final sacrifice, the sacrifice the winners usually did upon their enemies finally beaten. So he would have been put to death, that day, in a cruel way.
As soon as the Straddlers took him along the stairs, to the Palace of the God, where all the adversaries defeated- as he was- had been executed before, when they put him on the stone for the ritual killing, when they started wounding his body in several painful ways, as they kept closer and closer the sword for the final hit, then, only in that moment he was able to see an hope for the rest of his people, for all the men and women of his almost endless realm so far away from that cold lowland…no more wars caused by his will of conquering everything, no more dead in battles fought day after day all across the Peninsula, no more poor citizens in the streets because of the high taxes due to the many conflicts already planned by him, the King…no, after all, now a new sensation, a new situation, a new future lay ahead in the end…
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I'm an Italian public servant who graduated from Law School working in the public real estates branch. I've published a Fantasy RolePlaying illustrated Manual, WarBlades , of more than 400 pages.Some of my works and short- stories have been published on American Aphelion, WeirdYear Webzine and Another Realm Webzine. I am also a scale modeler who likes mostly Science Fiction and Real Space models, some of my little Dioramas has been shown also on the American site StarShipModeler, MechaModelComp and SFM: UK.
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