Warlord (2)

The warlord loosed a bloodcurdling cry and summoned his terrible army. They crept from shadows, they crawled forth from the dark places of the earth, they marched in sync to the beating of the war drum.

Nin called for aid, and the free rabbits of the earth came and gathered before him. They assembled into troops and legions and companies, all of them at Nin’s command.

Nin and the warlord stared at each other from across the great pit—the great pit of unfathomable distance, not the distance of space or time, but of irreconcilable differences.

They were dichotomies, Nin realized.

There was a great silence, as if the earth itself was holding its breath. Rabbits stirred anxiously on the precipice of war. And then the order was given, and the two armies crashed together like great waves, and mere anarchy was loosed upon the world.

The battle raged for months. They fought in the north, they fought in the south and the east and the west. They fought across worlds and between dimensions, places that no compass can point to, that no man can map.

It was a maelstrom of death, of clashing bodies, of tooth and claw, and in the centre raged the warlord and Nin, locked in single combat.

Nin looked upon the warlord and saw a reflection of himself. He felt only sadness. Had he not also practised violence? Had he not also had a violent youth? As a prince he had sent rabbits to their deaths. He had bared his teeth. He had chided cowardice. He had done these things for what he had believed to be good reasons—freedom from oppression and tyranny.

But this battle did not fill his heart with righteousness. It felt like a great and terrible failure. He was Nin the wise, Nin the clever, Nin the seeker. How had it come to this? Surely, had he been a better rabbit, he could have found a path towards peace. Some reasoned argument, some soothing words, some mutual understanding.

But no, there was only violence here.

The warlord sang a song of destruction and the great bears of the earth were roused from their eternal slumber. They raged across the battlefield, leaving naught but ruin in their wake.

Nin flashed his orange tail and a cavalcade of foxes assembled to defend the rabbit prince.

The warlord made strange gestures and summoned a group of lesser demons from the outer plains.

Nin presented his hawk-scar, and the great birds of prey gathered and descended. So thick were they in their multitude that their wings blotted out the sun.

The warlord tore his soul asunder and sacrificed each part in exchange for a new and twisted magik.

Nin spoke with a heavenly voice and summoned from the afterlife five warriors of god.

The warlord brought forth terrible winds and blood-dimmed tides.

Nin looked ‘round the battlefield, a rent a broken land, and Nin despaired. This wasn’t what he wanted. This wasn’t what he sought. But this was what he had found. At the end of all things, was this the ultimate answer? To match violence with violence, death with death?

The battle raged for a hundred and eight days until a raven, who had been sitting on the sidelines, quietly observing, sensed their opportunity. With the speed and precision of a surgeon he surged forth—and plucked out the warlord’s eye.

The warlord reared back in pain, exposing his throat to the rabbit prince. Nin struck, and the battle was over.

A great calm settled over the battlefield, like the gentle mist of a new spring morning.

And Nin stood in a pool of blood, his paws stained red, and all the animals of the world cheered his name and called him king and never in his life had he ever felt like more of a failure.