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On the Trail, Are We Truly Here V

Barken, History of the Midlands, Midpoint in the Beginning  II

                       Out in the open
                Dread plans to rule the day
                      End begins it’s play.

The Wanderer’s Story - the Wounded Man, part d

                     Discipline crumbles
               No happy songs will be sung
                Grim deeds have been done.


‘I could tell it really bothered the old man 
To tell me this part of his past...

Evidently he dispatched many good people
That really did not deserve such harsh service.

And it only got worse
As he continued with his story…

As quality of life and living dissipated
People began moving away from most cities
Even from the capital on Eagle’s Beak.

It seemed most were moving further south
And with this, the Nine felt even more threatened...

Believing more and more, the South could soon invade 
Into the North, storm the city, and end their rule.

Taxation was already heavy, and a serious issue…

Plus the City Guard Protectorate was down 
Dwindling in numbers, and weak...

With women enlisted, then drafted, to fill the ranks.

Though most soldiers know, in real war...
Few are as vicious as a wild male
Turned loose in unrestrained anger.

As in a few skirmishes it became clear
Men soldiers versus women
Well, we were quickly overcome…

Anytime we were destined to meet on any field of battle
Even in careful skirmishing
Our Southern border would disappear more into fragments.

It was only a matter of time...

Men knew this, I knew it, and tried to warn them
Yet the Nine didn’t want to believe it.

Then... a Peacekeeper arose from outside our inner ranks.
And it was she, that wanted to being a few men into the Nine 
As equal advisors, needing their guidance, and balance.

Even I was approached 
And after a few years, saw their point as being valid
What else was there to do?

That was when a deep undercover agent
We had spying on the Dread, found a tactical plan in place…
Soon to be unleashed...
Having been preparing for some time
On conducting a huge invasion of the Eastern lands.

Into the Plains and Forest, and further South 
Into our Midlands proper they would go…

With none left standing.

In whose lands targeted, was even the Eagle’s Beak 
Which then included destroying Prudentia

And of course, in that meant, destroy the Nine.

The Nine however blamed the Peacekeeper
And her followers, for all our ills.

If not for her…
She however, was long away on a secret mission 
So, with no real surprise, I was instead given an alternative list.
A list of twelve people to dismiss from the living... 
In quick order.
What could I do?

Any arguments I made fell on deaf ears
Though inside, I was outraged by what I knew was to come...

However, still, I did as told.

The howl that quickly went up
From even our supportive, surrounding society 
Was fierce and very threatening;

People’s friends and acquaintances 
Had been openly silenced.

The Nine’s answer?

 Was to call me urgently into their meeting 
Still with physical blood on my hands…

Ordering me to find, and immediately, kill the Peacekeeper
Quickly, openly, with no reason other than self-preservation.

It was if scabs fell from my eyes.

More killing... Why now?
What was all this?

Where were we headed? 
To what great purpose, more of this same?

It became very apparent to me…
They were blood lust crazy… we had gone too far.

An already very shaky line had been crossed.

Prudentia had slipped into a self-directed horror
And it didn’t take a genius to see, how this would end.

I slowly looked around the room at the Nine...
Many arrogantly smiling in their power

Confident, smirking, comfortable in their elevated positions
Thinking they were so right;

After all... they were the Prudentia
Controlling history.

And they had me.
I saw, and realized... truly what had to be done.

Kill the Peacekeeper, or…

I turned and locked the door, pulled out my weapon 
And quickly, outside of any conscience, killed them all.
All nine.

No cries for mercy were heeded
No promises of riches. or swearing to change…

They all died quickly by my hand.

And then of course, I too fled the city.

Turmoil was rampant
Though quickly the Peacekeeper was given rule
And she immediately re-formed the government.

In days she was preparing an Army of Defense
Calling on any, and all for help.

Many who before wouldn’t…

Came out gladly to help from hiding, in goodly numbers 
From the countryside and other safe quarters.

Still, it wasn’t soon enough, or on time.

The Dread surprise-attacked our border days later 
Hitting hard on two main fronts 
Preceded by a feint.

Their feint was to the farther South 
Which in fear had the Midland people
Enclose themselves within their city’s wall protections.

So, nothing South would, could, come north to our aid

We were alone without allies
It was brilliant.

One main thrust of the Dread then attacked 
East, and northeast to the Plains and Forests...

The other headed straight for the Eagle’s Beak.

All the villages emptied, people joining up with the Peacekeeper
Or leaving in fear, going off to hide in forest places.

 In the Plains, the Giants and Elves quickly allied…
Banding together to hold against the Dread onslaught.

The Wizards in the Swamps, left alone… did nothing
There, it remained curiously quiet.

Intense battles raged throughout the lands for three days
No quarter given on either side.

In the Plains, over half of the Giants were killed.

The Elves themselves, though valiant as ever
Still had been driven back in shrunken numbers...

Into age-old holds to lick their wounds.

When over, with most city’s empty…
Finally the Dread pulled away.

   (to be continued)

Copyright © Brian Rusch