The Grim Ruler, Pt. I
Heavy is the head ran through with a blade, and she knows this. The worst things invariably happen to the best of people; not even Siro knows why. But it’s essential that you know this, mother, so my false accusations of betrayal are to make any sense.
The schoolmasters never told us about the Queen of the Heralds of Joy, for she was a good queen. She was selfless, and loved her people very much. It was long before our… your kingdom became to be known as Lilac that your home was perfect.
Her heart pounded and her head swam in a sea of blurred vision punctuated by air pockets of exasperated panting. She hated the man standing across the room from her, wiry and smug with his dreary gray suit and neatly combed hair. It wasn’t these things she hated about him (though even on a good day she’d be wary around a man of his disposition), it was that infernal pocket watch. He twirled it round and round like he was trying to amplify the hypnotic properties of the propaganda he was forcing on the children. The sound of that clinking and clanging chain dragged her into flashbacks of seeing her parents dragged in chains towards the palace of the very man her history teacher was praising like some false idol. She wanted nothing more than to shatter it under her hoof.
The long hours of silence didn’t bother her. Amaz was well acquainted with the virtue of silence in these alleys; but her serenity was broken by Phillis’s trot and soft voice, “Only two more days of this and we’ll be free.”
“You say that as if we’ve been raised as anything more than livestock for their wars.” It was painfully true. The empire had always been sycophantically kind toward the satyrs who they would soon thrust onto the front lines of a siege, caring for nothing but their strong bodies and fast legs.
“Whatever. The Counsellor said Mirz is planning another campaign into the eastern Savannah. As if there aren’t already enough of those running around here.”
Amaz just walked away, chattering her teeth. She couldn’t let it happen to the Felines too; subjugation in her mind was a cancer, rotting out the lives of so,so many.
She eventually came to her farm on the far slums of the city and flopped onto her cot in frustration. She got to work, slashing what she would salvage of another failed crop with her scythe. Lisha, a particularly kind Breaker captain, paid her a visit.
Lisha was a tall, slim Satyr with pale eyes and wiry legs who headed the Dawn Brigade, meant for claiming early positioning ahead of the pack for the rest of Mirz’s troops to flood into. She was content with her life as this slave, which angered our young girl. “Amaz! It’s good to see you. I’m getting word that they’re trying to relocate you; your quotas haven’t been reached in a long time.”
“They can’t. I’m a Primary horticulturist.”
“Actually, about that… you’re working for me now, in the Dawn Brigade.”
That was it. Amaz was not going to become the very thing she hated and work to end lives for the pale faced maniac. She had always had the pipe dream of one day leading a glorious rebellion against the empire, ending her people’s suffering once and for all. She now realized that she, though distressed by her new position, had a wide world of possibilities now open to her.
“That’s wonderful! Care to discuss matters over a cup of tea? I don’t have anything good, but it’s formal enough for a great captain if you believe it’s the thought that counts.
She led the officer into her house and put on a kettle. She excused herself, supposedly heading to the outhouse out the back door (which didn’t truly exist) and grabbed a sharp harvesting scythe from the storeroom. Stealth for her hooves wasn’t viable, so she opted to sprint as fast as she could into the room and harvest her crop; the head of this traitor who was so compliant to her oppressors.
Lisha didn’t have last words. It was quick. Amaz stood there in horror. It happened so quickly and when her adrenaline faded, she began to cry. Hours passed as she screamed and cried alone in her fields, wailing her lament at the necessary evil she had just committed. The sun then rose on a herd of satyrs in pale armor trotting down her winding road.
When the time for boot camp came, the meeting of draft was held in a small barrack. It was discovered across the Dawn Brigade that Lisha was missing, presumed dead. Hushed murmurs brought tales of joy that their slave driver had been silenced, but the question remained as to who would take over the brigade. The Counsellor entered, a bulky goat that held his chin high.
“As I’m sure you already know, you are left without a general. The Collector demands a race for supremacy. Each of you will navigate a course at dawn tomorrow, and the victor will be responsible for the brigade.” He walked out. The silenced room grew rather loud, and Amaz noticed her friend’s voice. Phyllis was leaned over a counter, speaking in a flirty tone to a knight in cerulean armor. He looked confused, and Amaz approached her.
“I need you for a moment.”
“Oh, Amy! I’d like you to meet Lancey!” The knight nodded. Amaz simply dragged the goat to the side.
“I killed her.”
“I killed her.”
“Why? You— what? You KILLED her?”
“Help me win the race.”
“Absolutely not! I am not going to allow a murderer to be in charge of me! There are so many more qualified—“
Amaz placed her hoof on the a stool and stood.
“Satyrs! Listen to me! Our oppressor’s tool was broken by me, Amaz Hearld! This brigade is free. We will be a bastion of freedom for our people among these wolves, here!”
The room erupted into cheering and the one knight, lance, along with Phyllis looked on in horror. They both attempted to sprint out of the barrack; the knight was immediately outpaced, surrounded, and lynched. Phyllis timidly remained, blending into the crowd.
The following day, all the satyrs allowed their new people’s hero to win. Whether that be tripping on purpose or adjusting their pace, they all made sure to present Amaz as the clear winner; and Phyllis as a clear loser. Over the next years, Amaz grew her brigade. They would never produce real results, always fabricating their reports of successful strike missions and providing false intel to their commanders. One day, it was announced that the emperor would be attending meeting of each brigade. Her heart leapt. She convened with her brigade, and it was settled what had to be done.
They all sat, nervous. The manic ruler entered on a slithering throne, flanked by massive brutes of men; the Veterans of War.
“My pets! Hear. This coming year, you will be the star players in this game of war! Those felines are fast, but have you ever seen a cat out run a goat? You have claimed all that’s theirs before they can even think! Isn’t it exhilarating to know of your first taste of true victory?”
It was now that the Satyrs were to be freed.
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