THIRTY-THREE TALES OF WAR XX: THE TOWN CRIER
Civil war rages in the black-blooded nation of Kandrisev. Its citizens grow restless. They demand their voices be heard. These are their stories laid out in thirty-three tales of war.
WITH a solemn face, the Town Crier trudged to her usual spot near the grand stone steps leading to the Hall of Prisms, clutching a crumpled scroll in her trembling hands.
The entire city was silent. Neither wind nor birds uttered a sound. The Town Crier forced down the lump in her throat and quietly unfurled the scroll.
“On the ninth of Gods’ Tears, Year Two-Hundred-Twenty-Seven of the Second Age,” she read to the empty streets, “Our Rirah, Sofezhka Ïnna Ranov, Rirtsriya of Kandrisev, Ayrtsriya amongst Chobortsriya, Chobortsriya of Sosna Chonok, Radyatsriya of the Blue Army, Keeper of Sarona and the Allied North, and Oracle of Yav Vsevnyi, has been captured at sea by Charivi rebels.” The Town Crier bit back tears. “She is in custody at an undisclosed location where she will await trial. The charges brought against her are as-as s-such.”
Inhaling deeply, she read, “Treason. Usurpation. Tyranny. Unlawful imposition of religious doctrine. Prosecutorial overreach. Economic disruption. Illegal warfaring.”
Her eyes cascaded down the list. Ten further charges lacerated the page with rich black ink. Black, like her blood. The thought of granting an ounce of validity to these seditious claims by uttering them aloud turned her stomach.
She let the scroll fall from her hands. It fluttered limply to the ground.
So that was it. This was the end. She raised a hand to the back of her neck and traced the raised scar where a tattoo once stained her moon-grey skin; now a shapeless blob infected with a deceitful hope. Spreading news to the good folk of Sarona had been a wonderful dream while it lasted. Hunters would flood the countryside again. Charivi loyalists would jump at the chance to point them toward former nezhdoya. After all these years, she was no longer free.
Alone in the streets of Sarona, the Town Crier sobbed.
All she had left was grief.