A Short Story
The icy wind rushed through the open window of the King's study. Circling the room and affecting all within it's reach. A collective shiver ran through the members of the court now assembled. Numbers dwindling in the past 24 years, and those that remained wore the passage of those years in their eyes. Eyes filled with purpose and understanding, framed within the aged faces and white streaks of hair that was the most common of denominators for most of these, his most trusted servants. Truly those sand white streaks and the lines on their drawn faces combined with their desire to see Punt to it's rightful place among the kingdoms of Hyboria, could very well be the only things any of these men and women could call common. Indeed the more Malowi considered it, the more he felt like laughing.
"Can any of us aged folk think to live to see what we dare to dream ?" he thought. It was a question he had asked himself more and more often of late. They had discussed the coming campaigns for most of the day and all had been laid out in preparation. It was an end to the many months of talking, and this would be his last chance to deal with them all together. One last chance to remind them who they were, and who they could be. "No..., who they must be." This thought too was another of those he thought so often in recent days
Malowi Lalibeha was not one to use words over much, but he knew how to draw great affect when needed. This was one such time. A time like no other in the whole of Puntan history. They stood on the brink of greatness, and now was the day for words. Words that would be used as a spear. To drive home his desire and make it their will.
"Here and here, is where we must strike." Malowi declared, pointing at two separate points of the map unfurled upon the center table. He had made this speech a hundred times to himself, practiced in every word and gesture. The pointing was done with but a single hand, using both the main pointer finger, and also the smallest of his right hand. Curling his thumb around the two that remained. He raised his voice a notch, barely audible to the untrained ear, but it drew them in. Grabbing their imaginations, just as he had planned. He must unify these, his trusted, beyond that to which they already were. "They both shall fall before our spears, and the world will hear our drums of victory. That shall be another beginning for Punt. The days of Empire are here."
He turned from the map and clasping his hands behind his back, he faced the window. Making sure to stand to one side so that they too could see the world, and imagine what he envisioned. He had chosen this room for this meeting because of that window. It held a view northward through a massively huge opening in the white alabaster wall. Desert sands lay just beyond those distant hills. Sands he would send them to claim. He lit a fire to his words.
Pronunciation was important, he thought briefly
"The more important of the two will bring us to that stage of Empire. No longer shall those northern peoples look down at us and call us savage and uncivilized. No longer shall we as a people be overlooked in our obscurity." Another change this time in tone, a slight touch of urgent anger to drive home his will. "It is us..., we few, that are left to make it so. It is you..., My Trusted," he emphasized those last two with just a hint of reverence, to bind them to his desire, "that shall be the hands of Punt, in this our most precious time." Turning slightly so they could see his face yet still looking out the great window, adding a far away look to his eye, daring them to dream his dream. Lowering his voice to just a hair above a whisper, "The world awaits our coming with halted breaths..., for the time has come for Punt to set itself at the fore, unchallenged. It is time for our own remaking, and with that the remaking of Hyboria. It is time to live out what has been fated for us."
He turned to face them then. He was pleased to find those aging eyes filled with fire once more. Though none parted their lips their eyes screamed to him in unison. Saying more than any amount of words would ever be able to declare.
"We are one! We are Punt! We are ready !
He saw, and he accepted that pledge, and spoke the words aloud that their eyes were screaming to him. All of them nodding as if they wondered how he knew their thoughts.
"Go now, see to your houses and prepare. For war is upon our door steps once again. Destiny and Empire await us. "
Malowi was pleased with the result of this his last meeting before once again pursuing the path to Empire and Glory. He was pleased with the resolve of his subjects and counselors to do what was neccessary to stay true to that path. As he watched them leave, the wind picked up and snowflakes began to descend from the heavens. A portent of promise he thought to himself. He watched the flakes fall ever so slowly, only to melt upon their chosen resting places, before retiring in peace for one final night of fitful sleep. Come morning he would depart to join his troops now in Zembawei.And so it was that he dreamt.
**Winter had indeed come to the Southern lands. Not the harsh ice and snow covered winters one would expect should he come from the north, but the refreshing repast from the south's seemingly endless heat. A more perfect time for bloodshed could not be asked for. Armies would move further and faster in this repast from the normal weather patterns prevalent to this part of Hyborea.
The armies of Punt would fight again. He would lead them into these battles, and he would be triumphant. There were many things that could go wrong, but once identified, he knew in his heart that all would fall into place.
For 24 years, he planned and he worried. He worried for his soldiers. How many that carried the spears would not return come spring ? He worried about those kingdoms allied to his great nation. Could they continue to thrive as he once promised them they would ? He worried about those that struggled to find ways to derail his war plans. How many enemies of Punt had yet to declare openly their hatred and jealousy ? He also worried for the future of the once goodly people of Ophir. Did any race of people deserve to be led by such a despot ?
For years these questioning worries plagued his dreams. They sat just beyond his hopes during the waking hours of his life.
Now with the preparations finished and his forces on the move they seemed to melt away into a minor annoyance. Thoughts better left to a mad man like Ludovic. Yet Ludovic probably held no worries inside that deformed brain of his. His madness was driven solely by his own desires, not the good of his people and nation. Malowi often found himself pitying the crazed ruler of Ophir, and sometimes envying his wanton abandon. How sweet it would be to give in to baser instincts and rule solely for his own pleasure.
Yet those thoughts too, faded with each marching step of his Warhorse. A familiar feeling sweeping through his soul and senses. Battle was what the gods had built him for. Leading was what they destined for him. Letting go of else, he freed himself. He felt alive. He felt a purpose. He felt the blessings of the gods upon him. He washed in the glow of that blessing, and he rode to war.
An explosion of light carried him from that time and space to the distant past. He stood before his dying brother, and King, filled with anger and regret. A promised made on the Oath of Blood. Another flash, and a sweeping change. He stood upon a dais addressing thousands upon thousands of faceless souls. He watched himself, helplessly caught up in the emotion, and conviction of the words of war he spoke to the faceless warriors. Flash -He soared upon the winds and from high above the world he watched as the Puntan flag spread across the lands. Flash - rivers of blood flowed around him. Raging as he stood motionless upon a lone rock. In the distance he heard the loss songs of the women and children of his enemies. Flash - He was surrounded by a peaceful fog, and his brother stood by his side. A thunder stroke awoke him, and upon rising he looked to the window, the sun was rising over the horizon in a brilliant display of color that chased the storm clouds that were now departing. It was time.
© -The Snowdog~