Akatsuki13: All that is Left
A bowl of figs and a goblet of wine…
It never ceased to amaze him how such simple, simple things could still provoke emotion from him. In life he cared little for such trivial things. Figs were figs and wine was wine. All that mattered was they sated his hunger and pleased his tongue.
Yet now such little things consumed his waking thoughts. When not at war, he would always demand a bowl of figs and a goblet of wine. Wordlessly his servants would always carry out his command, bringing him the simple meal he desired. Why he would want such pointless things was lost even to him. But when he received the meal most times he would just stare at it, remembering back to time when such things were merely small joys in his life. There were rare moments when he could even recall the taste of figs in his mouth, recall the feeling of wine flowing down his throat. Now if he tried to consume the meal all he would taste is sand before the food and drink spilled out upon the floor through his exposed, desiccated chest. It taunted, showing how he could never enjoy such simple pleasures ever again. And as the food withered and rotted, it mocked him. Showing before him the very fate his body had it suffered.
It was always then that it returned. The one thing he could still feel within this world, one simple thing. It would always start slowly, burning faintly within the dead, dried out husk that was his body but would quickly grow into raging inferno. Screaming and curse he would cast the meal upon the floor, crushing the rotten fruit beneath his foot, smearing the once delicious wine across the stone and grinding the broken dishes into dust.
But in time that feeling would pass leaving him empty once more. Until he inevitably demanded another bowl and goblet brought to him, wishing to feel it once more.
When he first marched his great legions north into the lands of the savages, he pitied them. Living in huts of mud and sticks, carrying weapons of sharpened stone, worshipping their savage, false gods they were the lowest of men below even the slaves that labored tirelessly for the glory of the kingdom. Fighting with them was more akin to hunting game than true war though far more enjoyable. Even the most dangerous of beasts are but beasts, men however could be cunning and devious despite their crude and savage nature. Perhaps that was why he always enjoyed his ‘hunts’. One could never tell if fleeing savages were truly running in fear or merely attempting to lure one into a trap.
But time had seen their glorious civilization fall into the sand and death while the savages had thrived like never before. Their scattered tribes had been unified and forged into an empire by a single chieftain. Now they proclaimed themselves to be the greatest empire of man upon the face of the world. Yet they remained obvious to the simple truth.
The Empire was but a feeble imitation of their golden civilization. They divided their lands into separate kingdoms ruled by individual lords while the greatest of them ruled the empire from their grandest of cities just as they did in ages past. The kingdoms of Nehekhara were united into a single empire by the greatest of their kings so too were their little tribes brought together by a chieftain. Worse they in turn deified that man into a god. To elevate a man, no matter how great he was to the level of gods was gravest of blasphemies. Men were men, gods were gods. Not even the greatest of kings would dare tread upon the realm of gods.
Thinking of their arrogance and countless blasphemies only brought fire and fury to his withered breast. For those were not their own crimes. Countless northern men had ventured into their sacred lands to loot and pillage their tombs and cities. They held no respect for a true civilization beyond what they could steal with their filthy hands or mockingly recreate in their parody of an empire.
Now when his armies marched north into their lands and they came upon their settlements and towns he always gave pause before approaching them. Peasants milling about the streets and markets, merchants selling their wares, tradesmen plying their craft all under the watchful gaze of the town guard, just as his people once were. These children of savages had the gull to mock his long dead people in their crude heathen ways.
Always he would order his legions to attack these settlements regardless of whether or not they were intended target. Unlike in ages past when he fought these men for the thrill, these battles were fought for entirely different reasons for those feelings were long dead to him. These battles were punishment for their hubris.
Arrows blessed by Asaph and catapults loaded with skulls would rain down death upon many in the streets just before horsemen and chariots would ride in and strike down those that fought back. But not everyone would die. Only enough to break their resolve and force them into submission. Death by blade and bow was far too merciful for such…people
. His warriors would force then them from their settlement and burn it down. After that they would take great pains to keep them alive as they returned south, until they reached the sands of Nehekhara. Then they would march them through the desert without food or water or rest until the last man, woman and child dropped dead in the sand.
A fitting fate for those who dared steal from and mock their betters.
Once however as his legion marched their prisoners into the desert a man had the gull or courage to approach him. He had long forgotten what the man looked like but never what he said.
“Why?” he pleaded in his crude tongue. “Why are you doing this to us? What have we done?”
For what seemed like eternity he stared at man, seeking to put a name to the one thing he had left in this world, the one thing that gave him the strength to endure his otherwise empty existence.
“Once I lived like you…” he spoke. “I enjoyed the simple pleasures of life… But now that has been taken from me… All I have left is my hatred of you savages and your empire that mocks our glorious civilization… I will not rest until yours is like ours, dead…”