The cruelest fates in war are those left to the vanquished. Some face annihilation and others are brought into slavery, but the cruelest of all things is a fate far worse than death or slavery. For in death there remains honor and pride, and in slavery the dream and in some cases, the plans to attain liberation. The cruelest is that of a folk brought to the verge of death, and kept there.
The great statues and buildings of the old Teferrin stood for hundreds of years. Made by the hands of Teferrin ancestors, they lined the streets and brought a pride which towered over gates and squares. They bore silent witness to daily life, unmoved by the changing of the seasons and unable to bring back the days of old so many came to pray for.
So strong and confident were they in the days before the war, that those individuals inside and out who spoke out against them and called. They called for their hosts to be destroyed were ignored as crazed or beaten and thrown from the home of the folk they so claimed to hate. Yet time and time again they came to proclaim that their hosts belonged under their rule.
There were armies and mercenaries in waiting to fulfill the dreams those crazed individuals held, as they were only one small part of a larger plan to take hold of the old Teferrin kingdom. They were there to cause issues within the kingdom and recruit the very folk of Teferrin to destroy their kin and aid the foreign armies which would come. Traitors who thought their hate of blood and kin was for a greater good.
Battles came inevitably as a war was waged on every front. From inside and out the invaders fought and sabotaged, having no honor within them as a folk. Their first act showing how ungrateful they were to their host, many silent helpers had made their way into the city guard and quietly conspired to have their plans set in motion when their numbers were greatest among the guards.
In the evening night the dagger sang, finding its mark in the king’s back. Not even the courtesy of the assassins face would be given to a king who protected all under his reign. The city guard swarmed as wasps, many taking their turn to stab the king again even after his body lay limp on the path made by his father’s hands. The call was raised, the blame was set and the trials made in silence, far from the eyes of the people, where the words of those found guilty shared with one and all once they were made more favorable to the cause.
When the last hangings had occurred, many figured were missing from daily life. Supporters of the king, claimants to the throne and even well regarded lords were gone. The folk were held under a new rule of more heavily armed guards, all imported from the isles off Teferrin’s coast, the same place which these new rulers came from and where Teferrin riches now head. The old city guard had been purged of Teferrin folk and all replaced. And all of this was done not against the folk of Teferrin, but to ensure the kingdom would not be threatened by folk outside — Or in.
The demand for coin and goods grew, and more guards came in from the isles, all to ‘aid’ the folk of Teferrin to produce and pay more. It was all to fix problems made by the former’s kings and folk of Teferrin, problems which only the Islemen could fix. Problems which the folk of Teferrin could only ever make worse. To ensure that these unnamed problems would be fixed, it became punishable by public shaming and the whip to question the intentions and actions of the Islemen, whether they were the acts of one of the new rulers or of the new city guard.
In a period of months, an honorable king became the greatest evil, more so with each retelling of the story of murder and the new ‘liberation’ of Teferrin. The old ways of honor and folk were to be despised and spat upon, as now all would devote their lives and daily efforts to making the Islemen wealthier and more powerful. The only way it seemed to appease them for past wrong doings, aside from hating those of their own folk.
Years passed in these conditions. The sympathizers teaching their children to welcome the Islemen with open arms while spouting hatred for their own kin. Such fervor would be rewarded with higher rations in an effort to bring more folk to the ‘generous’ arms of the Islemen. But in the taverns and cellars of homes, the folk of Teferrin gathered in illegal ways, meetings where only the folk of Teferrin could attend. Meetings where the folk wished to be ruled by their own without the interfering hand of the Islemen, the infection of treasonous sympathizers, or any other for that matter.
Years continued to pass, but the folk of Teferrin were not inactive. The slowly gathered their arms, and appeared each and all to be the very model of citizens who accepted the control of the Islemen. Until that day where they stood in force against the ruling invaders. For their blood and kin on the sixth anniversary of the murder of their king, they rose in the hours of the dawn. And busy about the guard’s quarters where the guard would be changed, they slaughtered great portions of the city guard as the sun’s light kissed the city’s rooftops.
Blood ran that day, when Teferrin took itself back from the Islemen. The agony of invaders echoed throughout the streets and from every hall as not even the heavily armed guards to halt the rage of a folk subjugated and forced to hate their own. Those of the Isles fled when they could by land and sea when they saw what was happening and knew it could not be stopped. As a folk with a purpose cannot be held back by threat of pain or death.
The Islemen would swear to return and subjugate the Teferrin once more. To punish them for their wrongs in the history which the Islemen made for the Teferrin. But the folk of the Teferrin remained as one after they came to their feet. Creating from the ashes of treason and subjugation an empire which even the later Kreessen would fear to cross. An empire whose streets once bathed in the blood of Islemen and their sympathizers alike.
To the victor belong the spoils, including the histories which they will write. And to the defeated, all fault and shame and all manner of evil which could possibly be attributed to a people, no matter how absurd. How fortunate it was for the Teferrin that honor remained remembered, bonds of blood and kinship held fast and the will to remember what their ancestors built pushed them to slaughter the invaders. There are those who would not have had the strength or will or pride to have done the same.