1319 A letter for the King

Beloved Master,

I write to you in this stormy night because of grim event that happened today. I came onto the battlefield too late to save Ildocian army from certain death. Forgive me on my terrible writing, because I do write from the carriage. My departure from the battlefield holds no other meaning, except to warn you that Godless men have fallen. I have no reasons to stay down there, because there is not one Ildocian that draws breath. Snows have already covered their bodies, and Marauders have looted everything that could be lifted. Zarian army celebrates tonight among torches and tents, and tomorrow, the red banners will continue their march towards the black walls of our beloved city. They have cut many heads of Kotadar sons and decorated their spears with it. They place them along the road like poor slaves, while they throw their bodies on piles to burn. This morning I saw two swords stuck into the icy ground with Ildocian skull in helm placed over them. I have come across a few wounded soldiers in camp that talked me through the battle. Fearfully they plead and begged me to run as far as I could, because Zaria is on the move. I have left them to wait for painful death and continued to follow the bloody trails in the snow. Cries came from a far between the trees, while Zarian drums called for charge.  They have left us none of horse-lion to rescue our wounded and transfer the dead. The Devil has waked in them and gave them no sleep until the last… (section needed)… They steeped in blood and illusion that they became unstoppable. Massagers were intercepted by fiery arrows, and reinforcement never came.

A force came down upon us and spilled venomous fear over hart, from the wrath of Zaria, while sky turned black, out of rabid siege contraption fire. Golden banner with green outline in hands of a warlord, which name sounds not familiar, took light hard-shelled camels charge down hill into our flank and broke our army in half. Heavy infantry dripped from the forest side into our left flank, while from the top of the hill, archers rained poisonous arrows towards our charge. They strapped their horse-lions beast in broad shields and steel wire that cut through the Ildocian flesh. They came cutting limbs with sabers to those wounded that laid on the ground, and greeted those that felled back with webs and took them as slaves for gold mines and galleys. Bloodthirsty hunting horned-dog beasts were released in the wood to feast upon drifted deserters while they followed their advance with hasty horse-lions. Our valuable swords are melted into horseshoes they nailed to their horses so they can lose them in disgusting alleys, and from shields they made fences so that camels may scratch on them. In our silver decorated helms, they drop feces and then give them to slaves to eat. Winter doesn’t frighten them nor slowing them in advance, as they made a pact with Gods to defeat us. They stomped the battlefield and accede on our soil so ardently and defiant, like spiting to our face and… (section needed)…, …(section needed)…

Fear drives me to warn you about angry mob of butchers that presses towards our fields, washed with life. They march and sing along the road while war drums eco in the mountain peaks. They will not stop until a red banner doesn’t flutters around the top of your tower, and until our women and daughters end up in adipose boot merchants harems. They will treat our children worse that their horned-dogs and old folks will be tortured for entertainment… (section needed)… They come in vast numbers, and behind them, a great cloud of dust rises, even in this snow. Our villages are set a flame with broken military flags rammed in manure. They even kill fly’s in blood for coming from Ildocian lands, and cattle’s been whipped out with legs tied up, not giving them last freedom as they die. Everything that walks, fly and swim in Ildok is been awaited with a dagger, saber and spear. Only desolation and smoke stacks are left behind them, there, where houses of your loyal subje… (section needed)… dark smokes from the east… (section needed)… searching quarters in mountain caves… (section needed)… Baleful night has fallen tonight and has let me escape falcon-tures that seek sinewy meat and boiling soldier’s blood. They have scouts at every meaningful road and elite guard lurks in every bush.

I beg of you Milord, at these late hours to pray to Kotadar and fortify the city. Prepare men for the force that runs at us and house the beggars. Open your door to poor and open your treasury to merchants, because a long winter under siege awaits us. To every vassal, give a sword in hand to defend the city, and to every woman give a knife to cut hers throat should she save herself from ill destiny of living inside cheap brothel. Children, you send in other cities, forests and mountains, because they will be safer in jaws of the beasts that the hands of Zaria. Save, what can be saved, Zaria is coming.

 

With respect,

 

Your faithful servant, Lancer of First Order

Of Honoree Royal Ildocian Guard          

Ser Potos nok Dus                        

letter-for-a-king

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1278 Sons of Bitches

I was born in a poor Konian family on mountain edges, between sharp cliff and snowy tops, at the age when war raged among Ildok and Gratna. When I was twelve years old, my father sold me to medium Zarian merchant for a bag of Gratian silver. Just when I leaved with a caravan into the desert, father realized that merchant deceived him and instead of silver, he placed polished Ildokian iron. I enchanted gazed at hard-shelled camels and awed at spacious sandy desert through which we rode. When I got in the magnificent Zarian city, music beneath the tents awaited me, where men gathered to speak and smoke, merchants on the street and beautiful colors of silky veils which joyfully played over us on the wind. Never until now have I ever seen so many people at one place with wide smiles over tanned faces. They leaved me a brand over hand and gave me to work house chores. Among the servants were many children and old folk which probable ended up the same way I did.

– From where do you hail? – I asked one old lady which franticly grasped the broom.

– Shut it, girl, and work as commanded. – she spoke in unexplainable fear towards the master.

They rarely fed me, and master came to visit me more frequently in late hours to fornicate with me. He gently spoke all sorts of twisted fantasies into my ear, while forcibly held my face in soft pillow and furiously penetrated in my young womanhood. Son of a bitch wanted to use me until I get my first blood, because he didn’t wanted to risk pregnancy for which the Council of Whispers would make him acknowledge the child. Mistress knew what was he doing, she even saw us once by carved window while she held a little boy face between her legs. I was just another pale, dirty little girl to them, which came down from the mountain into the civilization, to whom they can treat her like a bitch. When the old Master noticed the same, they had a fight, and young merchant had to sell me. I switched masters and lived as his personal slave whom he enjoyed to torture. A month later, some bandits killed the son of a bitch because of debt, and threw his body in manure where it belongs. They threw me out on the street to take care of myself among the other beggars and thief’s where I lived from the little gold coins I could to beg for and find in muddy gutters where Zarians threw filth when sweeping the streets.

Tea maker picked me up and gave me crumbs of bread in hands as a job of waitress. His gorgeous daughter paid me some attention and turned me into a real woman when I was fourteen years of age. I started to live lighter, sweeping tables, learning how to behave in company of men, flirting with customers while dancing on their laps beside which was always my hand gliding for extra coin. One night, a fat Zarian have let him self too freely and leaned towards Masters daughter which stood as remarkable beauty, bound for a good marriage, so I opened him with a meat knife from beard to the waist. A commotion occurred, insufferable noise, because that son of a bitch was commander of cities guard battalion, disguised in a civilian robes. Master thanked me for saving his daughters honor, but I still got thirty whips over my back and eternal residence in most repulsive and horrid brothel which Zaria had.

„Son of a bitch abandoned me as soon as he saw that his job might suffer. “ – were the words running my head as I walked out from huge noble court where Sultan judged me personally.

I hated them all with fire of hundreds of Sundars, because they treated me like some horned dog drifter. They made us drink bitter tea every morning so the seed won’t stick and smoke hookah from which we would lose strength to fend ourselves. Sweaty, fat, stinky stable men and drunkards were my regulars, until a war broke with Ildok, then a young soldiers from surrounding villages which didn’t knew better came to me more and more. Months were passing silently, and a frightening amount of familiar faces had left my arms as a crowd by the tables grew in wounded boys that poured kumis over their sorrow. I sensed the morbid situation, when soldiers came to fuck me weak and don’t stand hard enough for me to please myself. Other girls complained at the same thing, although they generally had a problem with bad stench of blood and death that spread in the object. As war passed through, scared boys picked me at night out of anger they had to relief over the enemy.

– Whore! You Idocian scum! I’ll kill you all, so help me Kotadar! – a drunken soldier hit me, naked and hairy.

Cattle men liked to squeeze me by the neck, slap me around, kick me while making love. My pale face, they confused with Ildokian which decimated their ranks and burned villages in which they were brought up in. “They deserve no thing better, those ugly Zarian bastards. “ It didn’t bothered me, that rude behavior, because I went through a lot for ten years here that twelve among the Konian mountains. For the first time when one of the soldiers beaten me bloodily, I thought I would die, but my scars drew them even more in my bed. „Mistress, that sick bitch, only cared for profit and nothing else. “

I even tried to understand them, in urge of wrath, and even more got interested in commotion outside of the city walls. Ildok was taking everything it could over their trip towards Zaria, and what it couldn’t pick, it have left in flames. Caravans of my people were equally butchered, because Konia cooperated with rich Zaria. People inside the walls came more restless, falling into despair, because the war was coming to knock on their doors like lava, slithering from the cliffs of Ildokian volcano towards azure coast. Zarians snatched food on the streets, ran to shelters to hide from war. Criminal rate spiked and thief’s got their fortune over greedy civilians which fought each other for a place in shelter. A month later, they closed heavy stone gates and mobilized all of the guards in state of readiness. This week brought us scant profit; even the drunkards went home sober where fat wives and noisy children waited for them.

I laughed in full lungs and almost choked with a grape, when one of the inflamed balls fell on a palace of my former Master and blew it in smithereens. At the eleventh night, Ildocians came through the city and started terrorizing the streets. There was no tent, house, villa nor a palace in which the bloody blade didn’t go through, slicing everything that moved inside. They burned the shelters, left wild beasts in them to crawl in tight spaces where knights couldn’t go through. They siege the Sultans palace with great siege towers with rough edges which were possessed with skillful swordsmen. They destroyed the city with passion in anger which I haven’t seen before. I hated sons of bitches, but not as much as Ildocians. They killed men without mercy, and raped their misses and daughters, leaving them on cold floors to bare their bastards in their wombs. Those young beauties, they snatched and took them as slaves to finish up in perfumed brothels and prestige villas of warlords that led the armies. Every whore from these obnoxious houses they treated differently from other Zarians. They paid us deepest respect and gave us valuables they took from civilians. When they stormed the palace and stole everything, they have left the city as fast as they could, like they feared the counter attack. They have left Zaria in black smokes that could be seen from the smallest peaks of Konian Kingdom. All of whores, they took with them into the stone made city of Ildok at the other end of continent and there, they welcomed us as heroes.

– We are so lucky, the war started. – huge smile decorated my friend while flower petals fell over her face, dropped from the highest balconies in tight queried streets.

– By Kotadar, we are… Just not need to see those sons of bitches again. – I commented while observing dreadfully dark city where were less than few colors.

They placed me and my friends in giant tent where we have continued to perform our duties, just strictly among soldiers. Tree nights, one of the same young man have visited me and slept. There were no hookah and anti-pregnancy herb teas which we took regularly, but instead there were big amounts of various food and women that took care of us like we were some Mistresses, shrouded in veils of silk. I felt pleasant and content because I was saved by Ildocians from those sons of bitches. I was noxious of all the suffering I had to grow trough into a woman. I was disgusted by sweaty and fat Zarian, and their twisted sexual fantasies, and the most, that deceiving kindness beneath monsters hide. I can only think of ill about Zaria, and about Zarians, nothing more than shits that are bound to be exterminated. I am glad they left it in flames, may Kotadar take note and leave it like that forever.

Little piece of joy entered my life when my belly started growing. All of the women in the tent rejoiced to the children, and one day I have heard why we are here. Sons of bitches have cunningly hid their true intentions from us. I figured; that from birth, Ildocians train army they used to conquer cities and that there is twenty year rotation between the cities. They needed us to bring them bastards, half-breed, sons of bitches to train and send to war. From our children they made, warriors, murderers, savages alike those that burned Zaria, and smokes, they were warning to Konia, that she is next in next twenty years.

sons-of-bitches

1977 Mrak

Već mesec dana sam čekao novi zadatak u jednom hotelu, izgrađenom u prošlom veku. Većina matočkih hotela je izgledalo ovako sem desetinu onih koji su veoma dobro zarađivali od velikog priliva turista tokom sezone. Grad Matok je bio pogodan za razvoj turizma i imao je najveću trgovačku luku od koje su obilato punili budžet poslujući s ostalim gradovima. Napadali su i branili se ekonomijom i bili su veoma uspešni u tome. Kad bi se Ildok spustio ovde, matočani bi ih dočekali kao oslobodioce i počeli da trguju sa njima. Tek posle nekoliko godina bi dominacija Ildočana opala kad bi se sposobniji matočanin našao da posluje u njihovu korist. Istiskivali su ih postepeno iz svih polja privrede sve dok nebi mirnim putem i poslednjeg Ildočanina prognali odavde. Ildoku bi na kraju postalo veoma skupo i zahtevno da svoje garnizone čuva ovde pa bi i njih vratili među drevne crne zidine grada. Ildočani, Konijci, Zarijci i ostali su ovde bili ravnopravni, svakom su ukazivali poštovanje do god je imao para da plati za usluge. Oko mene su se stalno bunili, jer nisam ličio na nikog od njih. Svojoj crnoj puti sam mogao da zahvalim vojvodama iz dalekih zemlja koji su ovde došli sa tirkiznim barjacima i osvojili Ildok pre nekoliko vekova. Danas sam za njih stranac, izgnanik, neko ko ne pripada nigde i đavolski dobar atentator.

Čistio sam svoj pulsni snajper stare generacije i gledao zastareli holo-emitor koji je jedva jedan kanal projektovao, i to je baš morao da bude onaj politički. Navukao sam žaluzine i pogasio svetla sem tog na stočiću. Nije mi trebalo svetlo, dobro sam znao svoje oružje da sam i u snu mogao da ga čistim. Emisija je počela tonom koji nikako nisam mogao da kontrolišem daljinskim ma šta god pritisnuo na njemu. Pojavio se jedan vojni komentator za kog su svi znali na kontinentu. Provokativno obučena voditeljka je stalno pridržavala slušalicu u kojoj su joj pričali šta da kaže, valjda nisu mogli da dopuste da ona vodi interviju, strahujući da će samo lupati gluposti. Na drugoj strani je sedeo taj bucmasti bledi, narogušeni čovečuljak odveć pijan jedva držao oči otvorene i slušao njena besmislena pitanja.

– Gospodine Kerion. Za Vas važi da ste veliki pobornik mira. Konstantno govorite kako je rat sa Zarijom i Ildokom bio greška stoleća. U Vašoj knjizi takođe citirate velike vođe Ildoka i stalno ih blatite gde ste ih jednom prilikom nazvali „Gomilom zaostale naduvane nedonoščadi“, a pri tom je i Vaše poreklo iz Ildoka. Možete li da nam pojasnite taj Vaš stav? – seckala je voditeljka u pocepanom signalu holograma.

– Naravno, lutko. Vidi, ja… nikad pulsnu pušku nisam u ruke uzeo, a govorim stvari protiv nje. Ha, ha, ha, znam zvuči smešno, je l’ da, ali moj stav se zasniva, ne iz gluposti kako je jedan general rekao, da ga ne spominjemo ovom prilikom, nego na osnovu iskustava i istorije koja je zapisana. Čovek nikad ne mora da bude bolestan, a jednim pogledom na nekog zaraženim kugom će znati da treba da ga se kloni, je l’ da? E, to je moj stav. – odgovori čovek navaljen u stolicu dok je gestikulirao šakom.

– Da, u redu. Niste mi odgovorili po čemu mislite da su ti međusobni sukobi loša stvar? Setimo se da je većina njih inspirisana osvetom koja datira iz davnih vremena. Ildok je nekoliko puta opustošio Zariju i Zarija je u nekoliko navrata činila genocide nad Ildočanima. Vi stojite iza toga da su to sve greške i uzaludna dela? – nastavi istim tonom voditeljka kojoj je malo falilo da ispadnu sise i vidi međunožje.

– Kako da ne, kako da ne. To je uvek loše, ali i dobra stvar. Svako ko reši da digne pušku na nekog drugog, zaslužuje da se protiv njega digne ta ista. Ja verujem da samo čovek koji je neuk, glup i totalni idiot, može da bude sposoban za tako nešto. Pametan čovek, dušo, stane i razmisli pre nego što krene sa agresijom na nedužni narod. Svim tim vojnicima su pune glave: Kako je čast dati život za Domovinu, kako, Kako je vojnik hrabar i gleda smrt u oči svaki dan kad se probudi. Dajte molim Vas. To su čiste budalaštine. Današnji ratovi su postali biznis da se pripitomi konkurencija ili stvore uslovi za novu generaciju naoružanja. Ne bi me čudilo da se u današnje vreme gradovi dogovaraju kad je dobro vreme da izbije rat. Ako jedna od tih strana ne vidi očiglednu korist od sukoba, oni neće pristati na provokacije. Sve je postalo transparantno, šteta što to obični civili ne vide kako treba, jer ih drže u mraku. – objasnio je gost uplićući jezikom zbog čeka mi je delovao po malo smešno.

– Da, verujem da se dosta naših gledalaca ne bi složilo sa Vama, jer je narod dosta propatio u svim tim ratovima i okupacijama. Ko je po Vama najviše kriv za takvo generalno mišljenje u narodu? Koga bi ste Vi držali odgovornim za ove ratove? – nastavi voditeljka ženstvenim glasom dok se nameštala u stolici krsteći noge.

– Pa… mnogo je njih. Evo, na primer, Zarijske trgovce. Zašto? Pa, kad god im se nakupe sirovine ili im zatrebaju sirovine, a one su skupe, oni u taj rejon zarate da obore ekonomiju i stvore crno tržište, a Ildočani žive iznajmljujući svoju vojsku gde god ima novca. Političari su samo glasnici, obični čobani koji kontrolišu ovce dok im gazda sedi u hladovini i zarađuje prodajući: vunu, mleko, sir, meso, kožu, kobasice, odeću od vune. To je sve postalo veoma jasno onome ko zna gde da gleda i šta da pita. Ildočani su na celom kontinentu najgluplju, jer je kod njih najviše oružja, to pametan čovek ne može da drži toliko dugo, a za njima je Zarija, jer oni nasedaju na svaku provokaciju koju im Ildok uputi. Matočani su najveća govna, jer od svakog sukoba oni najveću zaradu vide poslujući sa obe zaraćene strane. Sve se to obavlja u mraku, verujte mi. Jednima daju rude gvožđa iz Konije po jeftinoj ceni da prave tenkotopove i blastere, dok drugima prodaju medicinski materijal i ispomoć u hrani. A ovi Konijci i Gratnajci, oni su Vam, lepotice, maloumni pilići koji se uvek nađu između dve vatre i spuštaju standarde, a setite se da su se često ta dva grada pripajala ratovima iz sopstvene koristi. Prateći sve što sam do sada rekao, složićete se, Ildok je rak ovog kontinenta, jer odatle sve polazi, pa i sam grad im je skoro potpuno crn kao mrak, molim Vas. Kakav god rat bio, Ildočana čete naći na obe strane. To je teška gamad i treba ih pobiti sve do jednog bez milosti. – već je ljutitim tonom počeo da objašnjava čovek.

– Znači, Vi mrzite Ildok? Ceo Vaš stav je skoncentrisan na Ildok? – glupavo upita voditeljka.

– I Zarija. Nemojte zaboraviti na nju. Svakog zarijskog trgovca i Matočkog treba postrojiti i ubiti. Neko ko bar malo razume moj stav, videće o čemu pričam. Svi viđeniji ljudi u Zariji moraju biti mrtvi. Ali apsolutno svi. Njih će brzo zameniti neki drugi ljudi, i njih treba ubiti takođe. Mi se jednostavno nećemo otarasiti rata. Rat je naš neprijatelj i protiv njega se treba boriti, protiv uzročnika i huškaša, a ne da narod bije u narod. To je moj stav i o tome ja pripovedam, lepotice. Nemam ja ništa protiv normalnih Zarijanca i Ildočana, ali one sa vlašću i parama treba ubiti. – pojašnjavao je čovek dok je voditeljka pozirala pred kamerama.

– Imate zanimljiv pogled na svet. Hvala Vam što ste gostovali u našoj emisiji i želim Vam puno uspeha u daljem radu… – govorila je devojka.

– Nema na čemu, srce. Za tebe sam uvek tu. – odmahnuo je bucko raskalašno rukom.

– I za kraj. Imate li šta da poručite našim vernim gledaocima? – dodade voditeljka sa širokim usiljenim osmehom, kad se čovek uozbilji i navali na kolena gde je direktno pogledao u kameru.

– Pišem novu knjigu u kojoj ću pojasniti ko je odgovoran za sve ove ratove, znate, da se čuje u kog narod treba da upire prste na sledećim izborima. Predviđeni rok za izdavanje je godinu dana, a može se naći i na I-linku gde možete preuzeti svoj primerak. Držite se ljudi, narod će pobediti.

Ovim završnim rečima je holo-emitor utihnuo u šuštavom statusu ispresecanih linija. Nedelju dana kasnije sam u baru dobio dva pisma sa sledećim metama za odstrel. Povukao sam se natrag u sobu i otvorio ih pošto sam prethodno proverio da nisu minirana nekim smrtonosnim mehanizmom. Počeo sam naglas da se smejem ironiji. U oba pisma je bila slika čuvenog vojnog komentatora Keriona, čak je to bila ista slika samo u dva različita pisma. Obe koverte su stigle u isto vreme, ali sa različitih stana. Jedna je bila od Ildočana, a druga od Zarijanaca. Kerion je bio u pravu. Neko je rukovodio obema stranama i koristio ih kao ovce za sopstvenu dobit. Jebeno genijalno.

Dve nedelje kasnije sam se ukrcao na poslednji brod za Petros, jer je ceo kontinent bio u zatvaranju. Keriona je progutao mrak kad sam mu napravio krater u grudima i nestao kao duh ostavivši Ildok i Zariju da se prepiru ko ga je ubio. Ildok je kao i uvek napadao Zarijance da su uklonili Ildočanina, jer su ga mrzeli, dok su Zarijanci osuđivali Ildok da je saseko jednog od svojih kako se istina nebi pročula u njegovoj knjizi. Jedno je ostalo sigurno, Matočani će se u okrilju mraka obogatiti prodajući sirovine obema stranama.

Mrak

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1977 Darkness

For over a month I have waited for the new assignment in one of the hotels, built in the last century. Most of Matoks hotels looked like this, except a dozen of those that made a good profit from the overflow of tourists during the season. City of Matok was perfect for developing truism and it had the biggest trading port which was used to fill out the budget with dealing with other cities. They were attacked and defended by a strong economy, and they were very good at it. Whenever the Ildok would descend here, Matocians would welcome them as liberators and start trading with them. Just few years later, Ildocian domination would decrease when more capable Matocian came along to make deals in their behalf. They slowly pushed them out from all of the branches of the ongoing busyness, to the point where Ildocians are peacefully banished away. To Ildok, it will become too expensive and too demanding to keep garrisons in Matok, so they would leave in calm. Ildocians, Konians and Zarians were equal here; they all got their respect as much they had money to pay for it. Matocians made noise about my kind, because I didn’t look like any of them. To my black skin, I can thank the warlords from the lands away that came here with turquoise banners and conquered Ildok centuries ago. I am a stranger today, outcast, someone who doesn’t belong anywhere and a damn good assassin.

I was cleaning my old generation pulse modular sniper and watched holo-emitor which barely projected one channel, and it had to be the political one. I put on the blinds and turned off the lights, except that one on the table. I didn’t need light; I knew my gun very well so I was able to clean it in darkness. Show started with a tune I couldn’t control via remote whatever I pressed. A military commentator appeared, for whom everybody on the continent knew about. Provocatively dressed hostess was constantly holding the earpiece in which they were telling her questions. I guess they couldn’t allow her to lead the interview, fearing she would drop down some nonsense. On the other side was that chubby, pale, bristling little man, drunk for a quite the time, incapable to keep his eyes open and listen to the pointless questions.

– Mister Kerion. You are known for passionate talk about peace. You constantly speak of war with Zaria and Ildok, as ‘the mistake’ of the century. In your book, you also quote big leaders of Ildok and drag them through the mud all of the time, where you have even called them once, quote: „Bunch of retarded, drugged premature infants“, and by that, your origin is from Ildok. Can you further explain your point? – host shivered in broken hologram signal.

– Of course, doll. Look, I… have never taken a rifle in my hands, and yet, I speak against it. Ha, ha, ha, I know it sounds ridicules, doesn’t it, but my standing is based, not on stupidity as one general have said, let’s not speak of his name, but on the experience and history which is written. A man doesn’t need to be ill to know, by a glimpse on a sick person, that he should stay away from somebody who has been plagued, isn’t it so? You see, that is my point. – man replied, leaned in chair, while waving his hand in gesture.

– Yes, all right. You haven’t answered me why do you think that these international conflicts are a bad thing? Let’s not forget that the most of the conflicts are inspired with vengeance, dating from the ancient times. Ildok has annihilated Zaria several times, and Zaria has, in few attempts, made atrocities like genocide over Ildocians. You stand behind the opinion that all of it was a mistake and the lost cause deeds? – she added with the same tone, trying to keep her breasts inside the dress and not show too much of her private parts.

– Sure I do, sure. That is always bad, but a good thing in some cases. Everybody who picks up a rifle at somebody, deserves the same gun to be picked against him. I believe that, only uneducated man, dumb and total idiot could’ve be able to do such thing. A smart man, my dear, stops and thinks before he advances with aggression on innocent people. They fill the heads to these soldiers like: It is an honor to lay your life for the Country, like; Soldier is brave and looks at death every day he wakes up. Please, those are complete bull-crap. Today’s wars have become busyness to tame the competition or create new conditions for weapon development. If one of those sides doesn’t see the obvious use from the conflict, it will not buy into the provocations. Everything became transparent, too bad the regular civilians don’t see it as they should, because they are being kept in darkness. – the guest spoke mumbling, trying to control his tongue which made him appear hilarious at times.

– Yes, I believe that the most of our public would not agree with you on that, because the people have suffered enough in those wars and occupations. By your humble opinion, whose fault is for that general impression in the country? Whom would you hold responsible for the wars? – hostess continued in feminine voice while adjusting her perfectly nurtured legs.

– Well… a lot of them. In fact, let’s take on Zarian merchants. Why? Well, when raw materials pile up, or if they are in need for new materials, and they are expensive, they make war in certain region to knock down the economy and form black market, and Ildocian live by renting out their army to whoever has enough money to pay them. Politicians are nearly the messengers, plain Sheppard’s that control sheep’s while their masters sit in shade and make profit by selling: wool, milk, cheese, meat, sausages, and woolen clothes. All of it became clear to those that know what to look for and what to ask. Over the continent, Ildocians are the dumbest of all, because they mass the most of the weapons. A smart man, can’t hold on to it for long, and behind them, there is Zaria, because they take on every provocation that Ildok addresses to them. Matocians are biggest shits, because they, from every conflict, make the most of the profit, dealing with both sides. Everything is being done in darkness, trust me. They sell iron from Konia by cheap prices to make tank-cannons and blasters, while to the other side, they sell medical supplies and food aid. And these Konian and Gratnians, they are, my gorgeous, half-witted chicken which can be found in-between two fires as they pull down the living standards, and have in mind that those two cities often took sides in war for their own gain. Following all that I’ve said, you’ll agree, Ildok is the cancer of the continent, because everything spawns from there, even their own city is black as the night, please. Whatever the war is, you’ll find Ildocians at both sides of the trench. They are the menace that should be killed to the last one of them without mercy. – Kerion came to explaining with ever more raging spirit.

– So it appears, you hate Ildok? Your complete point is concentrated on Ildok? – hostess questioned somewhat dumber.

– And Zaria too. Let’s not forget about that bitch. Every Zarian merchant and Matok tradesman should be lined up and shot dead. Anybody who understands my reasoning will see what am I talking about. All notable people in Zaria must end up dead. Absolutely all. They will be soon replaced by other men, and they must be removed too. We are not simply going to get rid of the war. War is our enemy and against it, we must fight, against the causes and the warmongers, not let civilians clash civilians. That is where I stand, what I preach, gorgeous. I have nothing on the normal Zarians and Ildocians, but those with power and money, should be whipped out. – a man explained further while hostess posed before the cameras.

– You have very interesting insight on the world. Thank you for coming to our show and I wish you a lot of success in future works… – girl spoke.

– You are welcome, darling. I am always here for you. – chubby sighed and freely waved.

– And, for the end of our program. Do you have something you would like to say to our spectators? – hostess added with a forced smile, when man turned serious and leaned on his knee to look straight at the camera.

– I am writing a new book where I will clarify who is responsible for all of the wars, you know, so it would be heard at whom the people should point their fingers at, in the next elections. Estimated deadline for publishing is in a year from now, and it can be found on I-link where you can download your copy. Hang in there people, the country will prevail.

With these final words holo-emitor went silent in rustling status. A week later, I got two letters in the bar, holding new targets for elimination. I redrew to my room and have opened them after checking for lethal mechanism. I started to laugh at the irony. In both of the letters was a picture of the renowned military commentator Kerion, it even was the same picture, only in two different envelops. Both of the envelopes came in the same time, from opposite sides. One was Ildocian, and the other Zarian. Kerion was right. Someone handled the sides and used them as sheep’s for gain. Fucking genius.

Two weeks later, I boarded the last boat for Petros, because the whole continent was in a lock down. Kerion got himself eaten by the darkness when I made a crater in his chest and have disappeared like a ghost in the night, leaving Ildok and Zaria to fight over who wanted him dead. Ildok, as always, attacked Zarian, accusing Zaria killing the Ildocian, based on the hate speech, while Zaria condemned Ildok for cutting down one of their own, so the truth would not be heard in his book. One was for sure; Matocian will, in  the shade of darkness, make a lot of wealth, selling raw materials to the both sides.

Mrak

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8. 06. 12 560 Prigušeni krik

Borbena Krstarica je lebdela u stratosferi čekajući sve kohorte da se ukrcaju i krenu na daleki put ka osvajanju teritorija. Skoro je osamsto godina od kako naše snage ratuju udaljenim sistemima, a mi im dopremamo svežu krv. Samnom u bataljonu zaduženom za granatiranje plazma topovima su bili momci iz Zarije i Konije. To su rmpalije, jako motivisane da stupe u krvoproliće sa vanzemaljcima u beskrajnoj tami univerzuma. Ima nas na hiljade i hiljade, skoro dvanaest kohorti, što je deset puta više od prve Krstarice koja je poletela u prazninu.

Učili su nas osnovama astronomije i astrofizike kako nam sve tamo gore ne bi delovalo suviše apstraktno, dalja obuka je u hibernaciji. Svakodnevno smo trenirali motoriku, automatiku pokreta, rukovanje opremom. Biologija nije mogla da se hakuje u potpunosti. Krv nam vri od uzbuđenja dok čekamo poslednje minute do odbrojavanja. Juče sam prošao zadnje provere pred put i završio tretman koji nas je spremao za život u tišini svemira. Stigao sam da ostatak dana provedem s porodicom. Ćerkica me obožava u uniformi svemirskog putnika, zato me je i grlila toliko pred polazak. Žena je te noći pristala i na seksualne fantazije. Idem na put mirne glave, jer znam da će biti zbrinute do kraja života kada budem otišao, to je bilo u ugovoru, komandir mi je sve natenane objasnio.

Gore na svemirskom brodu su već članovi posade sa majstorima i inženjerima, pripremaju brod za naš dolazak, a kada se ukrcamo, platforme će se odvojiti i onda će put početi. Moje mesto na krstarici će biti omanji borbeni lovac presretač i bočni top na zadnjoj levoj gasnici, tačno na oplati koja gleda u zvezdanu izmaglicu. Radovao sam se poziciji nišandžije na najvećoj i najboljoj borbenoj Krstarici koja je ikad napravljena. Imam i njen hologramski poster sa regrutacije iznad kreveta spavaone, tačno pored slike žene s detetom. Plavim slovima piše „I.B.K. Kotadar XXI“, a na sredini papira, moj brod pluta oko planete, hrli ka novim pobedama. Kada sam dobio obaveštenje da se javim u 42. Paramilitarnu artiljerijsku legiju, izveo sam ženu na večeru i nazdravio boljoj budućnosti. Čudo kako godine brzo prođu.

Hodam svečanom paradom i posmatram svetinu koja se skupila kraj puta. Sa balkona nam bacaju sveće heroja i slave naš polazak. Mašem šapkom prolaznicima koji se osmehuju kada ih dokači tirkizni odsjaj zvezde na mom ramenu. Nepoznati ljudi me srećno dozivaju „Neumirući“ i nude me voćem, a ja se s velikim zadovoljstvom krećem ka terminalu za prebacivanje u Krstaricu. Mladi regruti me čvrsto pozdravljaju iscrtavajući kružnicu oko prsa ukrašenim krznom dok odsečno žurim u hangar s kog se uzdizao transparentan plavi antigravitacioni zrak. Uleteo sam unutra i sa svojim saborcima, kraj kapsula za transport, zauzeo položaj da mi dronovi sastave odelo za let. Oseća se onaj miris junačkog žara kako tinja u mladim vojnicima žednih slave i pobede. Strpljivo čekaju svoj red da se popnu gore i rasture nešto u paramparčad. Robot mi je dao injekciju za dug san, jer je putovanje u svesnom stanju opasno. Po poslednjim informacijama koje sam čuo, let do portala će nam oduzeti do sedamstodvadeset godina, a na drugoj strani se nezna tačno koju daljinu moramo da prevalimo do prvih borbenih linija, samo znam da našim momcima treba pomoć i to brzo. Probudiće me pred samu bitku, gde moram odmah da se pokrenem na borbenu poziciju.

Hiberšot injekcija je već počela da deluje. Smestio sam se u korito kada se pred mojim zamagljenim očima kapsula zatvorila elektronskim uvijanjem. Kurs je bio podešen i letelica se otisnula uz pratnju fanfara i Zarijskih ratnih bubnjeva. Dok smo mi zarobljeni u podsvesnom stanju sa ostalim vojnicima i oficirima, kompijuteri i operateri sa matične planete upravljaju IBK Kotadar-om, a na drugoj strani preuzima auto pilot i odabrani operater za krizne situacije. Poslali su devedeset operatera da upravljaju letelicom, to je devedeset puta više od prve Krstarice. Naša spremnost je trenirana svakodnevno preko programa za kontrolu vitalnih funkcija i mozga. Na drugoj strani ću biti iskusan kao da sam vojevao sve bitke u istoriji. Slike taktika ratovanja, vatrenih sukoba, rodoljubivih i patriotskih pesama mi lete pred očima u dubokom snu. Svaki vojni poduhvat mi je predstavljen i svaki osećaj znatno pojačan kako bih postao ubilačka mašina. Sve više se razumem u nebeska tela i svemirske pojave, ali me hvata strah da se ne probudim. Moja ćerka se do sada udala i ima svoje unučiće. Možda jednog od njih dočekam s one strane da jurišamo zajedno u boj rame uz rame. Oh, to bi bilo tako lepo. Za nama možda plovi nova Krstarica sa duplo više vojnika, do sada su već stigli da je naprave. Kako li izgleda i kakvu li su novu tehnologiju i oružja napakovali u nju, pitam li se? Da li ćemo biti u mogućnosti da komuniciramo sa njima? Mora da su mnogo napredni.

Crveni alarm se oglasio. Svetlo je treperilo ispred mojih sanjivih očiju dok čujem tropote vojnika kako se raspoređuju i zauzimaju svoje borbene stanice. Kapsula se otvorila, gledam na plutajući kalendar, piše 4. 11. 13 286-a godina putovanja. Alarm trešti, pod napadom smo, vrti mi se u glavi, dezorijentisan sam. „Šta se dešava?“ pitam ljude oko sebe, ali mi niko ne odgovara. Nezgrapno sam se teturao ka zadnjem delu sa mučninom u stomaku. Godine iskustva u borbi su me nagonile da se dočepam topa i pokažem im kako se na Ildoku ratuje. Tako mi Kotadara, oni neznaju s kim imaju posla.

Prišao sam metalnim vratima i ukucao šifru, a ona se širom otvoriše otkrivajući sedište sa sigurnosnim trakama. Opasao sam se što sam brže mogao i lupio o taster kada se vrata hermetički zatvoriše i vakum me odbaci na predviđeno mesto nišandžije. U sekundi sam se našao u kupoli gde se samo crnilo videlo oko mene. Bilo je čudno, jer sam uvek zamišljao da će biti i neka zvezda u praznini, ali je nije bilo. Vatra sa pogonskog gorionika je delimično osvetljavala cev od tri nazubljena pipka koja su se rasklapala kada sam pokrenuo odbrambeni sistem u pozadini Krstarice. Informacije i izveštaji su se nizali na hologramskom viziru kacige, a trougaoni nišan krenu da se ispunjava svetlom spremajući prvi proektil za paljbu. Svi sistemi su na maksimalnom nivou. Moj rat može da počne. Tiho je, u svemiru je uvek tiho, ali ne ovoliko. Teški muk se širio oko mene. Slova se ispisuju na ekranu, Krstarica je prepuna ljudi, ali ja ništa ne čujem. Kod nogu sam ugledao vatru u daljini. To je neprijatelj. Mislio je da ga neću videti, budala. Malim pokretom se top zarotirao prema plavičastom plamenu, a zatim je još jedan uleteo blizu njega. Ovo je invazija. Čekali su nas da dođemo, ali ovakvog neprijatelja nisu imali do sada. Sve ćemo ih pobiti u ime Kotadara i Ildoka.

Drugi brod neprijatelja je znatno veći, ali moj top će ga smanjiti u mikrone ako treba. Cimnuo sam ruku i top se prebaci na veći vasionski brod. Kreću se dalje od nas, beže. Znao sam, kukavice, i ja bih se plašio kada bih video silu kao što smo mi. Treći brod se pojavio iznad mene. Ova klasa je bila naširoko naoružana oborenim cevkama koje su nišanile dole. Zašto ciljaju svoje? Još jedna letelica je narušila naš bezbedonosni prostor. Potražio sam zahtev da pucam, a naređenje je izostalo. Sve komunikacije su prešle u tišinu dok ne ustanovimo s kim se borimo. Hteli su da stupe u kontakt sa našima ako su u blizini. Da nas nije portal prebacio u pozadinu neprijatelja?

Svetla su gorela jarko na četvrtoj letelici otkrivajući prekrasna slova IBK Aramon preko trupa koji se sijao u sivom tonu legure od koje je sastavljen. „To!“ – pomislio sam, – „Stiglo nam je pojačanje. Šta ćete sad, propalice? Snage su nam izjednačene.“ Nemaju gde. Plutaju tromo u svemiru, udaljavaju se. Zašto? Zar imaju tako malo hrabrosti i poštovanja prema sebi i svojima?

– Napadnite, budale! Dajte mi povoda! Šta čekate, kog đavola?! – urlao sam manito.

Još tri krstarice su nam došle u pomoć, a Intergalaktička Borbena Krstarica Kotadar XXI zasvetle od zraka obižnje zvezde. Još stotinu letelica poče da se sjaje u mraku pored nas. Tako su ponosno plovile u beskrajnoj tišini kao veliko krdo kitova ispod pučine okeana. Mogao sam da sagledam oblike neprijateljskih letelica u svetlu i potražim im slabu tačku. Sreća nas prati u pobedi.

Hteo sam da vidim odakle dolazi ta veličanstvena svetlost pa sam okrenuo prednju kameru kada mi se ukaza živa slika komandnog mosta prepunog naučnika i oficira. Ispred nas je pucala Super Nova koja je gutala mrak oko sebe. Delovala je smrznuta u vremenu, a onda sam okrenuo top ka prvom letećem brodu neprijatelja. Slova su bila na njemu, pisalo je IBK Kotadar I ispod tirkizne zvezde kraj kokpita. To je bio prvi brod koji je lansiran pre hiljadu i četristo godina. Vremenska diletacija nas je sve bacila u momenat kada je prvi ildočki brod prošao kroz portal. Ova Super Nova je usporila dešavanje i zaustavila svoju eksplozivnu ekspanziju, što je moglo da se desi samo ako je detonacija bila milion puta veća od stvaranja portalnih crnih rupa. Što je veću silu ulagala u svoju eksploziju, to je većom reaktivnom silom sebe uzdržavala da se ne rasipe unaokolo. Prostor oko nas je sve više bio ispunjeniji vojnim Krstaricama, a pojedine su krenule da se sudaraju uz plamen koji se širio tišinom. Komadi broda su leteli kao komete na sve strane, a mesto ljudskih tela su plutale crvenkaste fleke. Raspukli su se od prevelikog pritiska u vakumu i stvorili ružičastu izmaglicu. Gorionik jedne krstarice se nekontrolisano rotirao veoma blizu svog ležišta kao blinker policijskog auta sa komadima konstrukcije koji su šamarali brod. Komunikator je brujao u vapajima za pomoć, kuknjave i tihih bespomoćnih jecaja sa stotrideset vasionskih brodova čiji se broj rapidno uvećavao.

Milion vojnika je zajedno samnom gledalo u svoje poslednje trenutke. Gravitacija nas je povukla ka užarenom aršinu. Uzalud je bilo pokušati da se izvučemo nazad. Sila Zvezde nas je vukla ka sebi. Moja obuka, ovaj brod, ovo oružje, ovaj let, put, rat… sve je bilo uzalud. Sa duge strane nije bilo neprijatelja. Ovde nema bitke koja donosi slavu. Ovde ničeg nije bilo sem nas koji umiremo u prigušenom kriku za spas kog smo svesni da neće biti. Raskopčao sam pojaseve i sklonio ruku sa obarača i top presta da zuji nabojom energije. Sedeo sam tu i posmatrao u veličanstvenu flotu kako ponosno hrli ka svojoj smrti i pustio suzu niz obraz.

Prigušeni krik

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8. 06. 12 560 Muttered cry

Battle Cruiser floated in stratosphere, awaiting all cohorts to board in and blast off on long voyage to the conquest. Almost eight hundred years passed as our forces wage wars on distant systems, and we supplied them with fresh blood. In battalion, directed for grenadine with plasma cannons are boys from Zaria and Konia. Those are big guys, strongly motivated to step in bloodshed with aliens in the endless dark of universe. We count thousand upon thousand men, nearly twelve cohorts, which is ten times more than first Cruiser that went into the void.

We were thought with basis of astronomy and astrophysics so things wouldn’t seem abstract up there; further training is in the hibernation. Daily we train motoricty, automaticity of movement, handing the equipment. Biology couldn’t be hacked completely. Our blood boils of excitement while we wait last minutes until countdown. Yesterday I came through the last checks before the departure and finished treatment which prepared us for a life in the silence of vacuum. I managed to spend the rest of the day with the family. Wife even allowed me some sexual fantasies. I’m leaving the planet so calmly, knowing they will be taken care off when I go away, it was in the contract; commander explained it to me in detail.

Up there, on space ship, crew members, engineers are setting the ship for our arrival, and when we get settled, platforms will detach and travel will begin. My position on the Cruiser is smaller jet fighter interceptor and flank cannon on left burner, right on the plating that watches on the starry mist. I looked forward the position of spotter on the biggest and the best combat Cruiser ever made. I also have her holographic poster from recruitment above my dormitory bed, just next to the picture of wife and daughter. It said on paper with big blue letters IBC Kotadar XXI, and right in the middle was my ship, floating around planet, ready for blood match. When I got my notification to answer at 42-nd Paramilitary Artillery Legion, I took my wife for a dinner and saluted to better future. It’s a miracle how years fly.

I am walking in glorious parade and watch the crowd along the road. From the balcony are thrown heroes flowers in celebration of our mission. I wave with my hat to the bystanders that smile when turquoise reflection of a star on my shoulder hits them. Unfamiliar people call me happily „Undying“ and offer me fruit, and me, I’m moving pass them with pleasure to reach transferring terminal. Young recruits salute me firmly shaping circle on their heroic chest, while I’m moving with picked steps into the hangar where transparent blue anti-gravitation ray beamed to the sky. I stormed in the facility with my comrades, stopped near capsules and took position so the drones can easily thread the traveler’s suit on me. That battle flame could be smelled among us, burning in harts of these young men, thirsty of glory. They patiently wait in line to get up there and blast something into dust. A robot gave me injection for long sleep, because traveling in conscience is dangerous. According to the last information we got, flight till the portal will take up to 720 years, and on the other side, it’s not known how much we need to leap in the void until we find first battle lines. The only thing we know for sure is that our guys need help out there. They will wake me up just before the battle, where I need to grab my position as fast as I can.

Hiber-shot injection kicked in. I placed myself in the cavity, then before my hazy eyes, capsule closed along with electronic stretch. Course was set and ship pushed away, followed by the sound of fanfare and Zarian war drums. While we are trapped in subconscious state with other soldiers and officers, computers and operators run the IBC Kotadar from the motherland, where on the other side of the portal, auto pilot take over with designated crisis operator on board. They have sent twenty operators to drive the ship, and that is twenty times more than the first Cruiser. Our readiness was trained daily through the program for vital function control. When I reach the other side, I will be experienced like I waged every war in the history book. Pictures of war tactics, fire fights, and country loving and patriotic songs fly in front of my eyes as I dream. Every military achievement is shown to me and every feeling considerably amplified to make me a killing machine. I understand more and more about space objects and phenomenon, but I have a fear of waking. My daughter got married by now, she probably has grandkids. Maybe one day I will greet one of my bloods on the other side so we could charge the enemy shoulder to shoulder. Aw, that would be great. Behind us is new Cruiser traveling, holding twice as more soldiers than us, they must have made her already. How does it looks like and what kind of new technology and weapon did they put in, I wonder? Are we going to be in ability to communicate with them? They must have been too advanced for us.

Red alarm sounded off. The light shivered in front of my sleepy eyes, while soldier’s steps hoofed as they took battle stations. Capsule opened with a hiss, I am watching a calendar, and it said 4. 11. 13 286-th year of traveling. Alarm blares, we are under attack, and I am dizzy, disoriented.

– What is going on? – I ask around, but no one answers.

I walked clumsy to grasp the end part, feeling sick during falls. Years of experience drew me to reach the cannon and show these bustards how we war in Ildok. So help me Kotadar, they don’t know with whom they are messing with. I approached the metal door and typed in the password, door opened wide presenting a seat with safety strips. I belt in as fast as I could, smashed the button when door closed and vacuum pulled me to estimated gunners place. In a second I found myself in a dome where only darkness was visible. It was strange, because I have always imagined seeing a star in the void, but it wasn’t there. Fire of the burner was partially illuminating the tree legged muzzle that unfolded when I started defensive system in the Cruiser back. Information’s and report lined up on hologram helmet visor, and triangle crosshair came to load, readying first projectile. All systems were active. My war can begin. It is quiet, in space was always quiet, but not as much. A heavy silence spread around me. Letter wrote the monitor, Cruiser is stacked with people, but I don’t hear a thing. Near my feet I saw fire in the distance. That is the enemy. The fool thought I wouldn’t see him. With a little tap, the cannon rotated toward blue like flames, and then another ship revealed itself near the first one. This is an invasion. They waited for us to show up, but they haven’t had this kind of enemy. We will kill them all in the name of Kotadar and Ildok.

Second ship was respectably larger, but my cannon will shrink him if needed. I drew my arm and cannon settled on the bigger space ship. They are moving away from us, running. I knew it, cowards, I would be afraid too if I had to face the force like this. Third ship appeared above me. This class was widely weaponized with cannons pointed down. Why are they aiming at their own? One more ship disrupted our safe zone. I demanded a go, but the orders didn’t come through. All communications went in radio silence until we determine with whom we are fighting. They wanted to make a contact with our boys in vicinity. Did the portal throw us behind enemy lines?

Lights flashed strong on the fourth ship, presenting beautiful letters IBC Aramon over the bowl which shined in grey tone alloy he was made from.

– Yes! – I thought, – Our reinforcements have arrived. What you gonna’ do now, bums? Our forces are equal. They don’t have where to go. They only float lazy in space, forcing distance. Why? Do they have so little courage and respect for themselves?
– Attack, you fool! Give me a reason! What are you waiting for?! – I screamed passionately.

Tree more Cruisers came to our aid, and Intergalactic Battle Cruiser Kotadar XXI, outshined in rays from nearby star. More than hundred new ships began shining in dark that consumed us. They glided proudly into the endless silence like a herd of whales beneath the sea surface. I was able to scout for shapes of the enemy ships and search for a weak point. Luck follows us in victory.

I wanted to see from where does this magnificent light comes from, so I moved front camera and saw live feed of command bridge filled with scientist and crew members. Before us was a Super Nova blast that sucked dark out of the vacuum. It seemed frozen in time, and then I moved my cannon at the first enemy craft. Letters on him said IBC Kotadar I under turquoise star near cockpit. That was the first ship we launched for thousand and four hundred years ago. Time dilatation has thrown us ALL in the moment when first Ildocian ship went through portal. This Super Nova slowed the action and stopped its destructive expansion, which could happen, only if the detonation was million time bigger from creation of black hole portal. The more force she deposited in the blast, that more reactive force it held itself not to fall apart. Space around us was filling with ever more Battle Cruisers, when some of them came in collision with fire bursting in silence. Pieces of ships flew like comets in the pink mist made of busted human bodies. They snapped from great pressure of vacuum affected. Burner of long Cruiser broke away and rotating like police car blinker slapped the plating of its ship. Communicator buzzed in shouts, cries for help and teary mumbling from hundred and thirty trapped ships.

Million soldiers with me stared at their last moments. Gravity was dragging us to the glowing center. In vain we tried to pull up. Force of the star wasn’t letting us go. My training, this ship, this flight, war… all of it was for nothing. On the other side was no enemy. There is no battle that gives glory. There is nothing, but us who die in muttered cry for salvation, aware it will not come. I unbuttoned my belts and removed hand from controller, made cannon stop whir with compiled energy. I sat there and watched the magnificent fleet as bravely runs to its demise with a tear slid down my cheek.

Prigušeni krik

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1282 Neznani vojvoda

Već godinama se kroz ulice Ildoka provlači priča da će izbiti rat sa Zarijom. Niko od Ildočana koje znam nije brinuo u toj meri koliko je narod Zarije strahovao od užasa koji je trebao da usledi. Gomilaju svoju vojsku i iščekuju katapulte i baliste pred vratima grada oivičenom debelim peščanim zidovima, panično pripremaju zalihe i skloništa. Vladar Ildoka je veoma pametno dopuštao da se neprijatelj pripremi za rat, a onda bi pustio vojsku da se obruši na grad i natovari se plenom do sledećeg sukoba. Ildok je živeo od toga. „Čemu borba oko šačice žita i gutljaja vina, kada bi mnogo više dobio od pripremljenog grada?“ – je bila rečenica koja bi se iznova ponavljala u krugovima „prepametnih“ pijanaca.

Jedva sam dočekao da izjašem sa gospodarom iz crnih zidova grada i uputim ka pustinji koja je delila dva grada. Mesecima smo patrolirali dinama i obilazili pojilišta kroz koja su često prolazili karavani sa dragocenostima. Lagodno smo živeli gosteći se konjolavskim mesom i prevrelim mlekom kozoroga. Kad – kad bi se počastili Zarijskom devicom i ženama vodiča koje su bile skrivene velovima svile. Mačeve smo oštrili o kosti Zraijskih vojnika i čuvara koji su nam stajali na putu. Sejali smo strah da bi žnjeli pobedu. Jahač u lakom oklopom nam je došao jutrom sa porukom od uglednog Zarijskog trgovca. Glava mu je završila na koplju, ali je poruka preneta gospodaru. Spakovali smo se i uputili na kamene lukove Zarijskih vrata. Trebalo nam je dva i po dana u punom kasu da stignemo do našeg odredišta. Ulogorili smo se uz sama vrata i držali strane trgovce podalje od zidina čime smo dodatno unosili strah među Zarijce. Kao nevaspitana deca smo vitlali sečivom pred bradate beduine i slali ih nazad u vrelu pustinju. Mnogi su se bunili ovakvoj drskosti, ali bi vladar Ildoka pozdravio ovakvo ponašanje. Nedelju dana kasnije su otvorili izrezbarene kamene ploče ispod kojih smo do tada pišali. Počasna garda ukrašena zlatom nas je sprovela do prelepe palate Zarijskog trgovca i tu smo se ponovo ulogorili. Postupali smo uljudno sa Zarijancima koji su nas dočekali očima u kojim je trepereo strah. Pristali smo čak i da predamo oružje na kapiji, mada uvek uz međusobno šaketanje. Dva dana kasnije sam prisustvovao večernjoj gozbi u čast prošenja treće čerke Zarijskog trgovca. Gospodar mi je podario svečanu odoru kako bih izgledao dostojanstvano pred ostalim gostima, jer nije hteo da se krećem u dronjcima koje sam do tada nosio.

– Dobro ti stoji. – prokomentarisa saborac na mojoj strani čije su oči šetale po mom novom odelu.
– Hvala. – rekoh.
– Šteta što će se ubrzo pojaviti rupa u njemu. Onda će postati bezvredan. – pričao je skot kome sam hteo bodež da zarijem u grlo, – Zašto ga ne daš meni? Tako će ostati ceo. – smeškao se sa ostalima koji su očigledno uživali u tom vojnom humoru.

Zarijska venčanja prati glas da su ogromna i dugotrajna. Hrane i pića je bilo dovoljno da prehrani brigadu vojnika. Konjolave su nam negovali sa najvećom pažnjom kao da su njihovi, a sluškinje su nosile pojase nevinosti, za svaki slučaj, da ne bi pokušali kakvu neprijatnost i uskratili im dobru udaju. Trgovac se pobrinuo i za te potrebe koje su imali vojnici. Namirisane Zarijske kurve su nam dolazile noću, a odlazile pre svitanja kada bi neko mogao da ih vidi.

Zakoračio sam kroz teško platno u prostranu sobu pod kupolom. Sa centra plafona su se spuštale trake provezenog platna i preplitale se delimično sakrivajući oslikanu tavanicu. Uvezali su ih oko kamenih lukova uraslih u vinovu lozu koji su držali arhitektosko remek delo. Znam da je jedan od vojnika neukusno prokomentarisao, kako bi bilo lepo da ovde prošara užarena lopta sa katapulta. Svuda po podu su bili razbacani jastuci okupirani senkama ljudi koji su sedeli na njima. Naš gospodar je seo na jedan položen pred njegovim nogama, dok smo mi staloženo stajali iza njega i čuvali stražu. Trbušne igračice su ga bojažljivo posmatrale ispod velova na licu. Nisu skidale oči sa narogušenog vučjeg krzna preko njegoveg plašta. Obukao je za ovu svečanost pokrpljeni pločasti oklop sa elementima brnje čija se crna boja presijavala na svetlu uljanih lampi. Hladno je posmatrao spektakl koji je spuštao vilice i budio seksualne porive dok su ostali vidno uživali u gostoprimstvu trgovca.

Bradati trgovac je u krilu držao svog unuka od svoje prve kćeri, a oba sina su sedela sa strane koji su takođe bili iskusni trgovci kao i on. Nosili su plemićke čalme i ako nisu pripadali plemstvu. Odeća im je delovala raskošno i imućno, sa skupim sabljama koje su im visile iznad glava dajući im nadmenost u grupi zvanica. Jedna od ovih sablji je mogla kupiti karavan sa sve tvrdokrilnim kamilama i oružanom pratnjom. Zlatnici su svetlucali u sanducima oko trgovčevih sinova sa kojih se prelamala svetlost nejake vatre i osvetljavala im lica. Zurlaši sviraju vesele pesme Zarijskog naroda u pratnji momčića sa tarabukom i fesom na glavi kraj kojih su plesačice mamile ostale zvanice. Osam mladića su sedela u krug oko centra prostorije i svi su bili iz stranih gradova. Prepoznao sam nošnje iz Gratnaskih polja, princa Atanava iz Matoka sa gardom, heroja Hanuma Štitoloma koji je jednim udarcem razbio glavu slonozona u jurišu i još par nepoznatih osoba. Svako od njih je nekako dobio ime i slavu, a moj gospodar je jedino bio poznat među krčmarima i kockarima. Tgrovac je načuo da se okolo vrzma nekakav vojskovođa, pa je hteo da ispadne pošten i pruži mu jednake šanse kao i ostalima. Njegova ćerka je bila skrivena iza velova na balkonu sa kog je mogla da vidi svakog udvarača. Oko nas su pronosili velike poslužavnike sa mesom i voćem u koje smo uronili poput zveri. Par zvanica se veselilo, par njih je kratilo vreme uz devojke koje su ih hranile, a ostali su takmičarskom mržnjom posmatrali jedan drugoga. Naš vođa je hladnog pogleda, odsutno, gledao direktno u valove balkona. U Zariji je bilo veoma neumesno zuriti u mladevestu, ali on je to mahinalno radio. Bio je neuk što se tiče protokola i običaja, ali je znao za sram i red. Muzika se utišala, a onda je trgovac rasterao prelepe devojke i pregovori su mogli da počnu. Hanum je po svojoj herojskoj naravi prvi počeo da viče.

– Dajem sve što posedujem! Tvoja kćer će uživati kao kraljica, daš li je meni! – grmeo je dubokom glasom taj široko izvajani džin.

Trgovac je zamišljeno posmatrao udvarača dok je u kolenu klackao svog unuka čije su oči krišom posmatrale našeg gospodara.

– Svi znamo da živiš u pećini na kraju sveta. Ako tamo ode, biće jedina žena na hiljadu jutara, ali ako pođe sa mnom biće prava kraljica. – podizao je prst princ Atanav dok je pompezno jeo grozd.

Hanum se besno pridiže osećajući se uvređenim, a garda isuka sablje. Trgovac mahnu rukom ka obema stranama i oni polako krenuše na svoje mesto. Njegovi sinovi su bili vidno uznemireni ovakvim divljaštvom, a Gospodar nije čak ni trepnuo pri ovom ispadu.

– Šta fali pećinama? – uvređeno se oglasi Gratnaski vlasnik najvećeg rudnika srebra dok mu se mast slivala niz prosedu bradu, – Ja Vam blagorodni kalfo nudim tri tovara srebra, najfiniju svilu moje kuće, najbrže konjolave moje ergele, najvredije robove mojih rudnika. Šta vam oko zaište, Vaše je. – duboko se klanjao bucmasti Gratnasijanac.
Starac je klackao svog unuka i namrgođeno klimao glavom razmatrajući njegovu ponudu. Okrenuo se ka sinovima, a oni lagano oboriše glave odobravajući sve što se skotrljalo niz usta debeljka u haljinama.
– Presvetli kalfo, moje kraljevstvo Vam je na usluzi. Konijanci će dočekati vašu kćer kao rođenu sestru. Moja porodica je jedna od najstarijih među vencima Večnih planina koje nas okružuju. Savez sa nama bi koristio Zariji u odbranu protiv Bezbožnika. – ljutito je obarao glavu ćelavi mladić s narogušenim krznom oko ramena koji je zurio ispod obrva u mog gospodara.

Starac se trgnu, a onda se nakloni ka Konijcu, a sinovi kalfe se pogledaše prepadnuto među sebe očekujući reakciju gospodara. Konija je najmnogoljudnije carstvo ovog kontinenta među kojima su živeli žilavi divovi. Ubrzo počeše svi da se svađaju između sebe i nude što smeju i nesmeju dok je Gospodar netremice gledao ka balkonu iza kog se krila devojka. Nije ga pogađala buka niti leteći sudovi kojima su pokušavali da ućutkaju jedni druge dok ih je straža razdvajala. Kalfa je namršteno okretao glavu ka udvaračima dok su njegovi sinovi pomagali gardi da obuzdaju Hanuma u mahnitom ponašanju. Sa balkona zazvuča slatki zov zvona i gomila se stišala. Svi su bacili pogled ka devici iza lepršavih velova od svile. Njeno zvono je prekidalo nagađanje i biralo muža. Ukoliko bi se njen otac pogodio sa novim zetom, ona je morala da zazvoni i složi sa njegovom odlukom, a ako ne bi, njen otac bi to učinio umesto nje. To su bila pravila kod običaja prošenja u Zariji. Momci su se mirno vratili na svoja mesta i držali oči visoko podignute ka skrivenoj devojci.

– Oprostite mi draga gospodo. Primite moje najiskrenije izvinjenje. Jedan od Vas se nije izjasnio. Želela bih svakog da saslušam. – umilim i nežnim glasom se oglasi mlada devojka našarana ornamentima Zarije preko lica s koje pogled gospodara nije skretao ni trenutka.

Hanum je zadihano stajao spreman za boj. Životinjski se okrenuo ka mom gospodaru prema kom su sada sve oči bile uprte. Devica je pokušavala diplomatski da uveća imetak svog oca. Očekivala je tovare blaga i oružja u zamenu za njenu ruku. Drčno sam grizao poveći batak u medu i zbunjeno zverao naokolo kroz neprijatnu tišinu. Gospodar odlučno raširi ruke, a sa tavanice se obruši vod naših vojnika isukanog oružja na ostale ljude u prostoriji.

– Nudim mir. – sablasnim tonom se oglasi gospodar u čijim očima je buktao oganj.

Čak je i Hanum bio zatečen ovim prepadom. Bio je opkoljen najveštijim mačevaocima Ildoka oko kojih su kružile legende i ubrzo svima postade jasno s kim imaju posla. Plemstvo Konije i Matoka je kukavički tražilo spas iza počasne garde dok je Gratnasijac sleđeno sedeo u bari sopstvene mokraće koja se slivala niz jastuk. Video sam užas u njihovim očima. Strah im je oduzeo zvuk i ukopao u jednom položaju gde bi se na samo drhtaj sečivo našlo u njima. Saborac kraj mene se jezivo kikotao situaciji kojoj smo prisustvovali.

– Kakvo je ovo ponašnje?! – planuo je trgovac, – Gosti se ovako ne ponašaju! Straža! – besno je vikao.
– Uvaženi kalfo, straža Vam je otrovana, neće doći. Moji ljudi su se postarali za to. Posmatrao sam ove trgovce i junake oko sebe, ali ni jedan nije u stanju da zaustavi rat sa Ildokom. Vojska ne poklanja, ona uzima. Mnogi su došli pomamljeni Vašim bogatstvom u želji za moć koja može da se kupi njime. Ja sam došao po Vašu kćer, bogatstvo me ne interesuje. Ako svoje darove namenjene njoj velikodušno ponude Ildoku, zaustaviće krvoproliće koje Ildok tako dugo priželjkuje. U zamenu ću ih pustiti da se vrate svojim gradovima. – govorio je gospodar, a kalfa uplašeno potvrdi.

Ujutru smo izjahali napolje sa trgovčevom kćerkom koju smo držali ispod oštog sečiva. Nedelju dana kasnije su karavani prepuni blaga počeli da stižu pred kamena vrata Ildoka. Pojedina kraljevstva su htela da odbiju dogovor, ali su ih Zarijanci ljubazno zamolili paleći Gratnasijska polja trskokreta, harajući Matočke luke, minirajući Konijske padine sve dok se nisu složili. Vazduh je smrdeo oporno na rat. Gradovi su pljačkali jedni druge, a Zarijski trgovac je dao dobar deo svog bogatstva da ostavimo njegovu kćer živu. Gospodar je oženio devicu u tajnosti kada se vratio u Ildok, kada su karavani prestali da stižu na naše kapije. Kraljevstva su isplatila svoj danak i strasti su se smirile međ vladarima i gradovima. Gospodareva žena je već nosila svoje prvo dete, kada su se Ildočka vrata ponovo širom otvorila. Kralj je prvi izjahao u pustinju, a iza njega je bila armija koja je ritmično marširala napred. Rat je konačno počeo. Nakon dva dana sam srećno sedeo na obodima zidina i doručkovao usoljenu ribu, a ispod mene je i dalje vojska marširala ka daljini.

Warlord

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1282 Unrenowned Master

For some years, the streets of Ildok are filled with a rumor of a war breaking out with Zaria. No Ildocian I knew was worried about it, unlike the people of Zaria that feared the horrors which will ensue. They are pilling their army and await for the catapults and ballista at their city doors, framed in thick sand walls. Panic actions of preparing shelters with supplies are under way. Ruler of Ildok was cunningly allowing the enemy to ready themselves for war, so he would unleash the army to fall over city and take the loot until the next encounter. Ildok was living from this. „Why fighting over a handful of grain and a sip of wine, when we would get much more from the city prepared?“ – was the word which was repeatedly spoken in circles of „wise“ drunkards.

I couldn’t wait to ride out with my master. We ran from the black stone made city walls like ants from pyre and headed towards the desert which divided these two cities. For months we patrolled the dunes and lurked the water places where caravans were passing with goods. We lived easily, feasting on horse-lion meat and fermented milk of horn-goat. Sometimes we would treat ourselves with a Zarian virgin, or guides wife, covered in silky veils. We sharpened our swords from Zarian soldier’s bones that stood in our way. We saw fear to harvest victory.

A rider in light armor came to us by dawn, holding a message from respected Zarian merchant. His head ended upon the spear, but the message was passed to the master. We packed and start riding for the stone arches of Zarian doors.

We needed two and a half days in full gallop to reach our destination. Encampment was raised against the door, close enough to disperse foreign merchants away from the entrance and cause fear among Zarians. We swung our blades like insubordinate children in front the bearded Bedouins, sending them back into the burning desert. Many opposed this savagery, but our ruler would greet this sort of behavior with praise. A week later, they opened carved stone plates on which we used to piss on. Honorary guard decorated with gold led us before the beautiful merchant’s palace where we built a camp. We treated Zarians with respect, but fear danced in their eyes. We even agreed to give them our weapons at the gate, although always in mutual fist fight. Two days after, I attended the feast in honor of the third merchant’s daughter matrimony. Master has given me noble robe so I would look decent before other guests, because he didn’t want me moving in rags that I wore before.

– It looks good on you. – fellow soldier added, whilst scoping my new clothes.
– Gratitude. – I spoke.
– It is a pity for a hole that will appear on it soon. Then it will become worthless. – the bastard I wanted to install my dagger in spoke, – Why don’t you give it to me? That way, it will stay whole. – he had a smirk on lips, laughing with others that enjoyed bad military humor.

Zarian weddings are followed by voice of magnitude and long lasting. Food and drinks were enough to feed a brigade. They treated our horse-lions with outmost care, like they were theirs, while palace maidens wore virginity belts, just in case, we would dare trying some rude deeds and rob them a chance of a good marriage. Merchant took care for that sort of problem that frequently followed soldiers. Perfumed Zarian whores were coming to us by night, and left before dawn, so none could’ve seen them exiting respected house.
I stepped through heavy cloth into wide room with a dome. From the ceiling center, colorful ribbons were falling and hid a fracture of the painted top. They tied them for the stone arches, grown in vines that held architecture master piece. I know one of the soldiers commented distastefully: How it would be wonderful that some fire made orb scribbles through here. All across the floor, pillows were casted, occupied with shadows that sat on them. Our Lord sat on the first beneath his feet, while we stood at his side, holding guard. Belly dancers gazed at him with slight fear behind their veils. They were unable to remove eyes from his gorged wolf fur on shoulders. He wore his stitched lamellar armor with black chain mail elements that glistened when touched by oil lamp light. He monitored coldly, this spectacle that lowered jaws and recall sexual urges, while other invitations had a great time.

Bearded merchant held his grandson on the lap, and both his sons sat on each side, also skilled merchants like him. They had noble turbans even if they were not the noblemen. Clothes seemed luxurious and wealthy with expensive sabers hanging over their heads, providing needed domination over the guests. One of these sabers was able to buy a whole caravan with hard wing-camels and armed guards.

Golden coins sparkled it crates, placed around merchant’s sons. Their faces were partially illuminated by the weak fire in the corners. Merry Zarian folk songs roam the space following a wee lad with drums, dancing round the girls that lured guests. Eight men were sitting in circle at the edge of center of the spacious room, and all of them hailed from foreign cities. I recognized robes from Gratna fields, Prince Atanaw of Matok with royal guards, hero Hanum Shieldbreaker which has bashed in the skull of a charging buffalo-phant in one strike, and few more unfamiliar personas. Each one of them was renown by name and glory, but my master was only recognized among gamblers and tavern keepers. Merchant has caught a word, speaking of some unknown warlord wandering around, so he decided to invite him too and avoid accusations of unfair wedding. His youngest daughter was hidden behind the long veils on the balcony, from where she could see every contestant. Huge silver plates with meat and fruit passed us, where we dived in them like animals. A couple of guests enjoyed the spectacle, few of them got entertained with belly dancers who gently fed them, and the rest of them stared at each other with competitive hate. Our Lord, with cold expression in eyes, absently, held his view at the bride. He was untrained in protocols and customs, but he knew for some shame and order. Music became silent as the merchant scattered scantily dressed girls and gave the signal so the negotiations may start. Hanum, by his heroic nature, begun to yell.

– I am giving all that I have! Your daughter shall live like a Queen, if you give her to me! – that wide sculptured giant thundered with his rough voice.
Merchant looked at him, deeply thinking about it, whilst see-sawing his grandson on his lap. Little boy furtively glowered at wolfs fur on our master.
– We all know you live in a cave at the end of the world. If she would ever go there, she would indeed, be the only woman in thousand mornings, but if she comes with me, she will be the real Queen. – Prince Atanaw was raising his finger along with the grapes he ate so pompously.

Hanum rose in wrath, feeling insulted, when guards draw blades and kept staring to his trembling muscles. Merchant waved his hand at the both sides and they slowly fell back in place. His sons were obviously shaken with such savagery, but our master didn’t even nictitate at it.

– What do you have against caves? – Gratnian owner of the biggest silver mine asked offended, while fat run his cheeks and ended in grayish beard, – I, my lofty journeyman, am offering tree loads of silver, the finest silk of my house, the fastest horse-lion of my paddocks, the most hardworking slaves of my mines. Whatever does your eye spots, it is yours. – chubby Gratnian bowed gracefully to the floor.

Old man seesaw his grandson and nodded frown, considering the proposal. He turned to his sons to see them bowing in consent to whatever rolled out the fat mans mouth.

– Bright journeyman, my Kingdom is at your service. Konia will greet your daughter as their blood born sister. My family stands as the oldest among the garlands of Eternal Mountains that are around us. Alliance with us would serve Zaria in defense against the Godless men. – angrily the bold lad nodded, holding his snake eyes under the thick eyebrows that were pointed at our master.

Old man drew back, and then bowed towards Konian, when merchants sons looked at each other with scare, awaiting reaction of the Ildocian warlord. Konia in most populated Kingdom of the continent, where the most vibrant fighters have lived amidst the rock and frost. Soon after that, all of them begun bickering, shouted and threw offers they can and cannot give, while the Lord gazed at the balcony, trying to see a hidden beautiful girl behind silk veil. Noise and flying dishes bachelors used to silence each other, didn’t bothered the Master, even when guards jumped in to divide angry mob and stop the fight. Merchant was just looking, turned head left and right at the violent guests, while his sons helped the guards to restrain Hanum from manic behavior.

From the balcony, a sweet call of bell spread and the mass came to quiet. All of them started looking at the virgin behind flattering veils. Her bell was deciding on a husband. If so, her father made a deal with his son in law, she had to ring the bell and agree with his decision, or if she would not ring, her father would do it for her. Those were the rules in be wedding custom of Zaria. Men calmly reached their posts and kept their eyes high at the hidden gem.

– Forgive me, my dear gentlemen. Receive my most honest apologies. One among you hasn’t stated his offerings. I would like to hear all of you. – with a gentle and humming voice, lady spoke, covered with Zarian ornaments, at which my master didn’t take his eyes off.

Hanum stood there, taking breath, ready for battle. He rotated like a beast towards my Lord, and now, all eyes were on him. Virgin tried to use diplomacy in order to magnify possession of her father. She expected cargos of gold and weapons in exchange for her hand. I was greedily biting on big chicken leg glazed with honey, and confusedly observed the uncomfortable silence. Master spread his arms, and from the ceiling, a platoon of soldiers fell with blades shown to people in room.

– I offer peace. – a Masters grim voice boomed along with raging fire coming from his seers.

Even Hanum was taken by surprise. He was surrounded by most skillful swordsmen of Ildok, on whom legends traveled, and soon it was clear to everybody with whom they are speaking. Nobility of Konia and Matok was cowardly looking for salvation behind honorary guards, while Gratnian tradesman sat frozen in his own piss that leaked from the cushion. I saw terror on their faces. Fear took their sound and dug them in a pose where a slight move would stuck the blade in skull. My comrade giggled creepily at the situation we were in.

– What is the meaning of such behavior?! – merchant yelled, – Guests don’t act like that! Guards! – he searched for reinforcements, but nobody was running down the hallway.
– Respected journeyman. Your guards are poisoned, they shall not arrive. My people took care of that. I have observed these merchants and heroes around me and not one of them is able to prevent the war with Ildok. Military doesn’t give away, it takes. Many have come here, attracted by your riches and foolish hope of seizing power that can be bought with it. I have come here for your daughter, wealth does not interest me. If they gracefully offer their intended gifts to Ildok, they will stop the bloodshed Ildok so craves. In exchange, they will be allowed to depart for their cities. – master spoke, and merchant confirmed with mortified, long face.

We rode out in the morning, with merchant’s daughter we held close to sharpen blade. A week later, caravans stacked with gold begun coming to our stone made doors of Ildok. Some Kingdoms wanted to decline the agreement, but Zarians kindly beg them not to do it, by torching down Gratnian sunny canes fields, raiding Matok harbors, mining Konian mountains until they all came to same terms. Air had a nasty stale stench of war, spreading with the wind so ominously that birds cried their songs. Cities looted each other, and Zarian merchant paid a good portion of his riches, so we would leave his daughter alive. Master married the virgin in secrecy when we came back to Ildok, and then caravans have stopped coming to our gates. Kingdoms paid their blood tolls and passions calmed among rulers and cities. Our Mistress was already with her first child, when Ildocian doors opened wide again. The King rode out first into the desert, and behind him was the whole army that marched forward in rhythm. War has finally begun. After two days I happily sat on the edge of the wall and had a salted fish for breakfast, and beneath me, army was still marching in the distance.

Warlord

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1293 Dread Guard

By punishment I’ve been assigned to serve a Mistress which has been taken as a prisoner ten years ago, during the conquest on Zaria. Her husband, which name haven’t traveled from mouth to mouth with admiration and awe like of the other warlords, was spending his time in barracks with common soldiers where he gambled and drank. That kind of behavior didn’t suit well the commander who had right to wear fur on his cape. He would visit her only when battle qualms tortured him, and usually he have left her in bruises and tears. He has two sons with her, and three beautiful daughters for which I was ordered to  follow decisively through gardens and take them in long cruises on water, where battle galley were anchored.

They glared at the city walls and boats braided in ropes while I watched over them with a pride. I felt sorry for the Mistress which had to suffer brutality of her husband for the sake of the children she had with him, but, alas, that wasn’t any of my business. If she would have came forward to me with a complaint, it would be my grand pleasure to slay that savage man and relieve her from this misery, and then I would proudly walk in court to defend myself with the Protectors code, bestowed on to me to serve and protect my Mistress.

That Zarian daughter spent her time locked up in a room where just few people visited her. I remember, once I have barged in on her, and found her in a foreign dance of daggers, where at first I thought she was performing a ritual suicide, but then I figured that was some Zarian custom, similar to belly-dancing. She even thought her daughters of this guided fluttering moves, resembling those of the bird’s wings fighting the wind. Smile was always present on her when around kids, despite deformities made by ungrateful husband upon tanned face. I was on sight when kids were involved, so my friends often ridiculed me, calling me a woman, because I have dedicated myself seriously to the bodyguard mission. It felt bad, because I was forced to defend my honor, courage and code, but I understood how silly did „Knight of Dresses“, sounded.

At one occasion, Mistress summoned me for a private audience, which almost never happened to a knight, to go at the chambers of a married woman, without husband and servants present. Beside the fact I was determined not to lay with her, I knew how swiftly my head will fall if just one pair of eyes would took my shadow entering. I walked in a room making a gap in a pearled curtain, when I became surrounded by jolly silky strips on a wind, and a balcony view through where a scent of sea was flourishing. She showed me to approach the spacious piece of furniture on which she was sitting and sowing ornaments onto strange suspenders. I set myself near her, more than confused, cause I didn’t knew what to expect.

– Ser Potos. I have heard in a verse that you were under the correction. Does shame bothers you, planted upon heroic shoulders? – She spoke to me in royal manner.

– My dear Mistress. Nor shame, nor weight does my punishment beats on me, and even if it did, what kind of hero would complain? – I replied dubiously.

– „What can a knight, do so badly, to greet such sour faith? “, I wondered, and mind my luck, you have been the most qualified to speak the word. – She steered conversation hiding her intentions, along with calming moves of a lady.

– Bad, was for me to speak the truth. – I answered.

– Does for the truth, a knight pays his tolls? – She asked cramping her eyebrows above what was still a girly face.

– Many have paid their tolls with their own head, my Lady, placing truth in wrong ears. – I responded as noble as I could while rubbing sweaty hands, expecting real question to hit.

– Why haven’t you spoke a lie or chastened you tongue so it won’t fly, rather than lust for glory and gallantry? – She fired upon me like Ildocian ballistas over the Zarian gates, and I grew more suspicious towards her intentions and where this conversation lead.

– Because, my Mistress, lie flies, but truth wins, and to hold my tongue I am untrained to perform, so I made amends with my destiny, to teach others where my path is misleading. – I was thinking how to forge words, when she smiled in please.

– My husband snatched me from Zaria and wed me in the temple of Godlessness, where death masters, but I haven’t turned to change my religion. What is a lie more, my life before, or this one? – She questioned absent gaze while stitching a leather strap.

– My Lady. In your search for lies, you forgot the truth. What is in your hart, is what the truth have left for you to remember her by, when air feels heavy with lies. For life in marriage, I hold no experience, nor destiny have given me one, cause I have been forever chained in Order of Dread Guard. My nature is in combat against my own kin, in honor of Ildok which took me inside its city walls and saved me from a hard life of a miner between the hills ingrown in sun canes. Customs of Gratna, from which I hail, didn’t stuck in my hart, because I was brought in glorified Ildok like a dog-horned calf, therefore I am unqualified to speak of my first life. – I confessed it all to her while she placed leather clothing on her and turned in place, slightly spreading her legs as a warrior.

– Enough Ser Potos. Don’t you understand we are the same? Both of us were dragged here beyond our wishes, and both of us have lived trough the horrors of captivity. I desire only one thing. How loyal are you to my children and me? – She surprised me with sharp tone in voice and a change of style, altering from a lady into a bitch, but she steel was my Mistress, and I had to obey.

– To the death, Mistress. – I replied in deep reverberating voice with a humble bow when she returned her daggers back in holsters.

– Alright then. – she said – , Then help me hide my husbands’ body. – she added, making me turn at her wonderstruck, and she rolled her eyes, – Oh, by the Aramons balls. I had to toughen up, because I was too protected in Zaria. This dog-horn shit thought me of deceit, military tactics, hand to hand combat, although I knew some myself… hence the daggers. You see Ser Potos, my adventurer spirit and ambitions surpass mere pleasure of being a mother, a woman, a slave, a whore to that bufalo-phant. I want much more than that, but they won’t give it to me, therefore I will take what I want by myself… isn’t that an Ildokian way: Army always takes, never gives away? – she spoke self-confidently while dragging late Master by his feet leaving a trail of blood on the ground.

Gradually she began to pierce though the ranks and military hierarchy until she developed new fraction inside Ildok. She climbed to the top with her sexuality and cunning warfare logistic, along with the help from ancient Order of Dread Guard, made from foreigners and for the first time in history from women for which it got heard far across the continent. She even included herself in temple of Godlessness to reinforce her domination and deflect assassination attempts that grew more frequent, where she even won them successfully and started offering death to those that restrained her rule.

She became first Dread Guardess which title and legacy have been constantly stocked by patriotic poems and warnings. Every bloodiest battle took place under her skillful leading hand, where our forces kept winning. She made sure that a good name of the elite Dread Guard remained unstained by foul voices. My punishment turned itself into honor of serving her and her children, which later on took the rule over Ildok through the storm of wars and appointed the new dynasty for many years to stay.

dread-guard

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1319 Pismo Kralju

Voljeni Gospodaru,

Pišem Vam u ovoj olujnoj noći zbog sumornih događaja koji su se desili danas. Na bojno polje sam stigao prekasno da bih sačuvao Ildočku vojsku od sigurne smrti. Oprostite mi na lošem rukopisu, jer Vam pišem iz kočija. Moj odlazak sa bojnog polja nema drugog značaja sem da Vas upozorim da su Bezbožnici pali. Ja nemam više razloga da ostanem dole, jer tamo više nema ni jednog Ildočanina koji još diše. Snegovi su već prekrili njihova tela, a Marauderi su poharali ono što se poneti može. Zarijska armija noćas slavi svoju pobedu međ bakljama i šatorima, a sutra će crvenim barjacima nastaviti svoj marš ka crnim zidinama našeg voljenog grada. Posekli su mnoge glave kotadarskih sinova i svoja koplja ukrasili njima. Ređaju ih pokraj puta kao ubogo roblje, a tela im bacaju na gomile i pale. Jutros sam video dva pobodena mača u mrzlu zemlju i lobanju u Ildočkom šlemu povrh njih. Par ranjenika sam zatekao u logoru koji su mi prepričali boj. Bojažljivo su me molili i gonili što dalje odavde, jer je Zarija u pokretu. Ostavio sam ih da sačekaju bolnu smrt i nastavio da pratim crvene tragove u snegu. Vapaji su dolazili iz daleka međ stablima šume, a doboši Zarije su pozivali na juriš. Ni konjolave nam nisu ostavili kojima bi izbavili ranjene i prevezli mrtve. Đavo se probudio u njima Gospodaru i neda im sna dok i poslednji… < (fali isečak) >… Ogrezli su od krvi i umislili da su nezustavljivi. Glasnike su presretale vatrene strele, a pojačanje nam nije dolazilo.

Sila je udarila na nas i raširila dubok strah od gneva zarijskog dok se nebo pomračilo od besomučne paljbe sa opsadnih sprava. Zlatni barjak sa zelenim obodom u rukama vojvode čije ime ne znam povede lake konjolave niz brdo u naše desno krilo i pokida nam vojsku na pola. Teška pešadija je potekla iz šume u levo krilo, a sa brda su strelci odapinjali otrovne strele prema našem jurišu. Konjolavlje zveri su opasali širokim štitovima i čeličnom žicom koja je sekla među Ildočki živalj. Ranjenicima koji su ostali da leže na zemlji su sabljama odsecali udove, a one u povlačenju su dočekali mrežama i oterali u roblje na galije i rudnike zlata. Besne lovačke psoroge su pustili u šume da se goste zalutalim dezerterima dok ih prate hitrim konjolavima. Vredne mačeve nam tope u potkovice i potkivaju svoje zveri da ih gube po svakakvim sokacima, a od štitova ograde da se tvrdokrile kamile češaju o njih. U naše srebrom ukrašene šlemove, svoj izmet puštaju i onda meću roblju da se gosti iz njih.  Zima ih ne plaši niti ih usporava u napredovanju, kao da su sklopili pakt sa Bogovima da nas poraze. Pregazili su bojno polje i stupili na naše tlo tako žustro i prkosno, kao da nam pljuju u lice i … < (fali isečak) > …, … < (fali isečak) >

Strah me vuče da Vas upozorim na besnu armiju koljača koja hita na naša polja okupana životom. Marširaju i pevaju putevima dok ratni doboši odjekuju po vrhove planina. Oni neće stati dok crveni barjak ne zaleprša povrh Vaše kule i dok naše žene i kćeri ne završe u haremima nagojenih trgovaca čizmama. Decu će nam tretirati gore od svojih pasoroga, a starce će mučiti iz zabave… < (fali isečak) >… Dolaze u masi koja nema broja, a za njima se po ovolikom snegu veliki oblak prašine diže. Sela su nam u plamenu sa polomljenim vojnim zastavama pobodenim u balegu. Ubijaju krvnički i muve, jer dolaze iz Ildočke zemlje, a stoku nam zatiru vezanih nogu, ne dopuštaju im čak ni da umru slobodno. Sve što hoda, leti i pliva na Ildoku čekaju na nož, sablju i koplje. Za sobom ostavljaju samo pustoš i zgarišta gde su nekada bile kuće Vaših vernih sledb… < (fali isečak) > … tamni dimovi sa istoka… < (fali isečak) > … traže konak u prećinama po plani… < (fali isečak) > … Mračna noć se spustila večeras i pustila me da uteknem sokolovinarima koji nadgledaju puteve tražeći žilavo meso i vruću krv vojnika. Izvidnica im je na svakom značajnijem putu, a elitna garda vreba u svakom žbunu.

Preklinjem Vas Gospodaru u ove kasne sate da se pomolite Kotadaru i utvrdite grad. Pripremite ljude za silu koja ide ka nama i udomite prosjake. Otvorite svoja vrata sirotinji i svoju riznicu trgovcima, jer nas čeka duga zima pod opsadom. Svakom podaniku dajte mač u ruke da brani grad, a svakoj ženi nož da sebi prereže grkljan ne bi li se spasla užasne sudbine življenja u jeftinim bordelima. Decu pošaljite u druge gradove, šume i planine, jer će bezbedniji biti u čeljustima zveri nego li u šakama zarijskim. Spasite, što se spasiti može, Zarija dolazi.

 

S poštovanjem,

 

 

Vaš verni sluga, kopljanik prvog reda      

Počasne Kraljevske Garde Ildoka        

ser Potos nok Dus                    

letter-for-a-king

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