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The Scales of Splendor- Chapter 5: Precious for the Market

by Skyler Saunders 2 months ago in Fantasy · updated 2 months ago
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The Hests survey the battlefield; Leola studies.

Captain Triakka pored over the digital data.

“Sir,” Chief Taylor Huntington called.

“Yes,” Triakka replied.

“We’re going to need more supplies for the wounded.”

“Indeed.”

*****

The battlefield looked like an open wound. Scarred earth and damaged vehicles, held dead bodies like a lacerated palm. Rifles occupied various parts of the field. The Hests took to their dead. With their limited capacity, they had the audacity to ask the Costerlys for help to bury their fallen. The Costerlys gave a graven and stern “no” to aiding them in any way. This was war and it’s bellicose not bella.

Demmings fell to her knees and looked at the ashes of a rose in the field. Tears streamed down her face as she shrieked in the sunlight. Hest looked at his wife and helped her to her feet.

“This war must not continue. We’re going to try to do everything, everything to start a new world without war. I mean we should still fight until the Costerlys are wiped out of history, but we should ban all wars after that.”

“You’re emoting, dear,” Hest said as the meager vehicles began to rumble further across the battlezone. “You wish to say that we’re going to demolish them, but how do we do that without war?”

“I want no more wars after this, because this is the declaration of the ways that we must not be.”

The couple surged forward in an armored vehicle that sped past even more people that had succumbed to combat. They didn’t go to their bunker. They traveled all over the place but all they found were Hests. The Costesrlys had already swept through the field with superior vehicles and methods to remove their wounded and dead. Actually, they had done it the night before when Aranand had scorched the frontlines and the rest of the Hest fighters had fled.

“If we are going to have a military, we have to strengthen our warriors. This is unacceptable,” Hest observed. They looked at the greenish and brownish swirls of color mixed with the red of the blood spilt.

Demmings looked down at her hands. Her palms matched her black skin still because of that scorched rose. “I don’t care what we have to do. We must be more sacrificial than ever. We must have more fighters lay down their lives. We must keep our target on those goddamn Costerlys.” She began wringing her hands.

“Not too long ago you were talking about a Delaware with no war. The dragons are too precious for the marketplace. They are worth fighting over,” Hest explained.

“I’m more concerned about our soldiers than you are,” Demmings turned to her husband. “You’re the one that commanded them to fight. You’re the one who put into motion a plan to take down these bastards. Dragons might be worth fighting for but if we keep dying, we won’t have our own people. You have to be a little bit selfish at least. There’s no sense in selfless self-sacrifice if all of our kids are killed. And they are kids.” Demmings looked out the window of the car and noticed a body. It was slumped over a small tank and could not have been a young man no older than seventeen years old. She bristled.

“What’s true is that we have to show more power as the leaders of this family. Costerlys are as acidic and toxic as any family could be. We must show the media that we’re the weak, lowly, and outgunned party here. All of the altruism that people hold will give us a boost. It will be a great lead for us. If we display how miserable we are, people will feel sorry for us and want to help our cause,” Hest said this like he had yellow eyes and teeth and breathed onions. “All of the support that we’ll receive will give us the commitment of those who have the true morality of not even being moral in the sense of selfishness. That’s too good. If people do it beyond altruism and find their actions to be of no benefit to them in any way, we should be able to capture the zeitgeist. This spirit should persist if we are able to grovel and cry. We must show the wounds of our dead and stir up enough emotion to get people to give, give, give and get nothing in return. That’s our way of life. The Costerlys love life. We love death.”

Demmings looked at her husband queerly. She squinted her eyes and allowed her tongue to roll over her teeth like an iguana lying on a rock.

“You say these things. I agree with you. Our message has to be to continue to demonstrate that we are seen as the less technologically advanced, that we are the meek and low. As long as we push that narrative, we will be able to keep the boat rocking. The news agencies will eat up our words like manna. We will be able to show how we are losing. As long as we lose just enough, there will be a day of reckoning that will redefine how the populace will view our plight. WIth the power on their side, they’ll be viewed as the oppressor and the strongman. If the race is given to them, then the people will revolt against them.”

The car continued to roll over the hills and the greenery, brownishness, and the blood-red. For all of the vehicles strewn on their side, the news vans and helicopters got the story of the Hest’s defeat in battle.

A woman anchor stood with a blue windbreaker and a microphone. Amigail Godders checked her microphone and straightened her brown hair. She looked directly into the camera. The live signal illuminated. “Good evening, breaking news tonight––The Costerly Clan has won another battle against the Hest Family. Their powerful dragons, which they seek to keep in the business field for now, burned through an entire line of Hest vehicles.” The video displayed Aranand’s mighty breath of flames igniting the vehicles and soldiers.

“We are receiving reports that some six hundred Hests died and eight hundred were wounded against the fifty-three Costerlys who fell. We interviewed a soldier in the fight.” The video then jumped to a package of carnage and then a microphone under a soldier named Cormac Husser.

“I just did what I could. I wanted to save my comrades and myself, too.” The telecast then went back to Amigail. “That was the response of a warrior in the field and his position. As this war rages on, we will cover even more details and breaking news to feed your minds. Good night.”

Demmings and Hest looked at each other. “We must not allow that soldier to stay in our Family.”

“Maybe we can indoctrinate him. We can press upon him to lose his limbs or life for others and not reap any good from it. We must find that soldier and tell him that our whole goal is to die for our cause. Costerlys must die as well as Hests. We can take the necessary role of leading them to fight for the sake of death itself. This must be our goal.”

When the vehicle circled to Husser, the Hests left the car. Husser snapped to attention. The couple stepped to the young man with another soldier named Portlick Reyo.

“You made the news, my boy!” Hest bellowed.

“Yes, sir,” Husser responded.

“You said your own words, didn’t you?” Demmings asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” he replied.

“You won’t say those things anymore,” Hest stated.

“Sir?” Husser said, worry creeping into his voice.

“Reyo, shoot this soldier,” Demmings commanded.

“Yes, sir.”

The bullet entered the young man’s skull and he dropped like a market in a recession.

Into the car, the Hests were far away from the cameras to capture this atrocity on their own side.

*****

Leola cleaned off her battle gear. She paid close attention to the diamonds. Each one was flawless. The blackness sparkled with a luminosity in the light that emboldened her. She wanted to keep her mind focused on the fight even if she was destined to stay cooped up in her castle. She studied not just her gear but battle plans. Schemes and strategic plots to outnumber and outgun the Hests ran through her mind like a stream of information and floating on the current were facts. She researched and combed through electronic documents to bolster her resolve to keep her morale up to the fullest.

She also thought about Triakka. She saw his profile. His rigid brown jaw line and mini Afro enticed and she had to refocus on her task of being a warrior. If she could remain in the fight against the Hests and keep her mind devoted to her ideal man, she thought she could break through the chains of ill-thought. Her parents had barred her from the battle realm but she knew that she must forge on in a way no one expected: by showing that she was a once wounded veteran. Had Aranand not given his life for her, she would have been buried along with the fifty-three others. As she knew this fact, she never scurried away with the truth about her family. The Costerlys did not parade or beat their chest at victory. They could, but they didn’t. Their confidence levels rose far above the fray and did not permit them to flaunt their wins. They knew that war is not about glory but about guts and blood. They knew that a daughter could find herself in the heat of combat and be spared not because of some mystical voice hushing the siren of death but because of precious dragons and totally advanced medicine.

When she had ensured she knew her studies of battle and war and that her battle gear had looked polished and new, Leola knew she could “fight and die upon a hill” of thought, selfishness, and free markets. She felt a bit testy. She cursed herself for wanting to contact Triakka. With the power of the emotional center of her brain and the soul of her rational mind, she felt she could overcome the urges. Pangs came to her in waves. In the world where she knew that he was busy working on the worst injuries and able to use the dragon scales to address them, she still wanted to reach out to him. There was pain in her mind, nonetheless. There was a stinging and a ringing in her thoughts that was like a peal of a bell that broke against her consciousness. This was the fight within her spirit. Still, to ease the tension raging in her mind, she studied more and more.

The idea of Scorched Earth Theory entered her thoughts as she scrolled the floating display. Her brown eyes widened. She took in the information like water. The point of this method of war was to cut off the enemy at the psychological level. Leola looked at the reports of the nineteenth century and how the American South was demolished and the War was curtailed. This all led to the preservation of life and property. She kept drinking data. The Costerlys had used most of these tactics already. What intrigued her the most were the burnt homes, the destroyed munitions and uniform factories, and the rails heated and tied up into metallic bows. During all of this research, she became even more excited that the civilian population had been so mentally wounded that the opposition was forced to surrender. The photos of Southern states ablaze reminded her of Aranand. A brief wave of depression coincided with the elation she felt discovering more content. Again, it was brief. She cared dearly for the dragon but her thirst for delivering a decisive blow to avenge his death aided with her slight sadness.

Displays vanished in the air. She hopped off her chair and bolted towards the door with a fury and intent that bordered on madness.

Fantasy

About the author

Skyler Saunders

I am a forever young, ego-driven, radical hipster from Delaware. Investor. Objectivist for life. Instagram: @skylerized

Twitter: @SKYLERIZED

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