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[Academy RP] 'A Letter to my Father' - a modern re-telling of the fall of Thafon


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"I write to you on paper, o father, in fear and dread,
My land, they have burnt, licking flames of red.
My people, they have gutted and bled truly dry.
My towers, they crumble before me, as the men upon them die.

"They came in the night, carrying nought but their knives,
Spears, swords, clubs and axes to take our lives,
My gates could not hold, and there was fighting in the street,
The traders and their wares lay red with blood at their feet.

"Only now, o father, does your subject call for aid.
I did not know for what purpose these men came to raid.
Yet I see now in the smoke, in the flame's reflection in the sky,
These men, these Gauli, mean for us to die."

The King placed down the rolled parchment upon his stone desk. The parchment had come for him late that very evening, tied with a black ribbon bow. The Thafonic culture and their complex system of tribute, treaty, agreements both on paper and not, had a fairly simple system of telling one what kind of news they would receive. A blue ribbon was usually regarding trade. A green ribbon for the harvest. A golden ribbon for official missives. Red ribbons were for matters of war. But a black ribbon? The King wished that he could return to the days of old, when military defeats were marked with red ribbons, when men returned to the city of Thafon to fight another day, perhaps to declare a truce with their attackers. The King had been told by an advisor early in his reign that defeats were a chance to fight again, to regroup for future victories. But defeats ought not be marked with black ribbons. 

The King scratched at his brow, pondering why it was his fate that he be left to deal with these invaders from Ges alone knows where. His city held a thousand years of written history, a thousand more of history he and all others would never know for sure, but it was his duty to deal with invaders who threatened, nay, even butchered their way of life? Where was the fairness and balance? Where was the profitable trade and bountiful harvest of his predecessors? Where were the men clamouring at his door for a share in his wealth, not a chance at his head? Why was he alive to see the fall of his civilisation?

The King picked up the letter. He tied the ribbon yet again, black, around the parchment, and placed it in a chest, amidst a pile of black-ribboned parchments and tales of woe that he had received. He stood from his desk and walked over to a pitcher of wine he had left on the table in the opposite corner. He poured himself a goblet full of the vintage - quality, from far away indeed. So too was the goblet he drank from, golden, inset with jewels. So too was the silk robe he wore, a gift from some ruler far gone, for a trade deal long since past, to a city which lay on the brink of destruction. The wine had the taste of opulence, the same opulence that served Thafon so well in its past. No longer did it serve the city.

These Gauli men did not care for opulence. They cared for land and power. They wanted to take what belonged to Thafon by force. And they wanted a fight. The King would happily oblige them that request, a last piece of hospitality for his guests. He would give them the fight they sought. 

Or rather, he would have. He opened the door to greet the already victorious despoilers. 

-----

'A Letter to my Father' is a entry into a Vostauc historical fiction short story writing competition by a Thafonologist. The stated aim of the competition was to bring about interest in a particular era of Vostauc history by writing a short story about the topic. The Thafonologist in question did take some creative liberties, such as the titular letter being written as a poem, slightly increasing the barbarity of the Gauli, and harkening to events which the King may not have known about. 

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