DeadLife Standstill, Part 2

The blue-eyed warrior clan matriarch sat in the cave at the feet of the other matriarchs. The fire flickered but gave no smoke as they were burning the sacred arrow tree wood; according to legend, the War God created it so that it wouldn’t smoke as it burnt so His warriors would be warm and odorless during skirmishes.

She was the youngest one there, and she made no direct, prolonged eye contact. As much as she yearned to see the faces of these amazing women whose tales she could sing from memory, she knew if she didn’t fully know their features she couldn’t be tortured into describing them.

 Although this was a war council, the mood was somber and no sound escaped.

 The oldest matriarch who was still a notorious skirmisher spoke: “You’ll have to burn the town.”

“What? Why? How?”

“You’ll get a sacred scroll at the right time. Follow its instructions.”

“This violates everything we’ve ever been taught. Nothing in the War God scrolls permits us to harm our own. This will decimate the town. There’ll be no trade. They’re not ready.”

“Child, don’t you think we know this?!? The thought sickens us. For centuries, we’ve built our lives and our culture on the importance of all life regardless of deity, the freedom and benefits of the War God, the idea that we should be mobile with a place that we call home for seasons out of warfare.”

“The War God doesn’t change.”

“We’ve found distressing old stories. They’re hidden from Temple of Peace scholars for fear their information will destroy all our hard-won cooperation and collaboration. In these stories, the War God destroys towns and regions and whole populations. Usually, it’s because He is no longer followed as He should be. Through our connection, we have seen the disturbing damage in the unseen realms caused by DeadLife Nightmare and those who use it. We must act. And we know that this town is the only population center in the region. They will be drawn to us, particularly because we have so enacted War God principles that even Goddess of No-Name God followers adhere to them here. Moreover, the entity with your little acolyte reported many details because you neglected the unseen realms.”

“I don’t know that I can do this to my neighbors, my friends…”

“Your service is immediate obedience when the scroll arrives.”

The blue-eyed warrior clan matriarch spit on the ground in disgust and gave the traditional response with a strong staccato: “It is an honor to serve my people and my God.”

She slipped out of the cave toward town; her eyes stung with tears she couldn’t shed.

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