by: Ken Williams
After the Battle
Hydrops woke up weakly, his head filled with pain. He moved slightly in his bed, and he heard a voice say, “Welcome back.” At that, Hydrops sat up, wondering who was in the room. He saw two men and a woman in the room with him. He recognized them, they were his top officers. The man who spoke was Hyran Deep, his best friend and second-in-command. Beside him was Hyr Belladonna, admiral now? Hydrops thought he had replaced Guilon, but couldn’t remember. The woman was Moss Stone, one of Hydrops’s most trusted commanders. She was the best Hydrosian with a spear that Hydrops had ever seen.
“What happened?” Hydrops asked through his pain.
Hyr Belladonna spoke up, “Lord Glarigas betrayed us. He sent three assassins for each of us, all dead, except for Nima Helzen, who came for you, was the one who shot you. She ran away after she fired, not even checking to see if you were dead.”
“That’s some good news at least.” Hydrops shifted to put his feet on the ground. “Is that all of his betrayal?”
“No, sir. Lord Glarigas targeted specific squads of Hydrosians to be wiped out. He sent a thousand men at each target. None of them had more than five hundred come back. Most of them were sent at the Uigel family. They took a base from the
Pyrosians and set to defend in case we were pushed out, as you ordered. The thousand men ordered to attack stormed the base and fell. The other squads followed suit until the Uigels ran out of ammo. The entire family was slaughtered. “
“What was the death toll for the attackers?”
“Reports say one thousand, six hundred forty-two people.”
Hydrops smiled, he finally had the energy to do so. “A worthy sacrifice for the Uigel Family! They deserve a great memorial in Hydros!”
Hyran cut in, “Obviously, Mrdinar lost far more on this gambit than we did. We pulled out after the betrayal with all the dropped weaponry we could take and destroying as many of their military bases and watchtowers as we could. The Black Atular kept fighting, they were pushed back and now the entire Burned Peninsula belongs to Pyros.”
Hydrops nodded solemnly. “Did we burn Sharret Port to the ground?”
“I did it myself!” exclaimed Moss, “The Pyrosian Navy is no longer a threat to Hydros.”
Hydrops stood up then and hugged the three. “In that case, leave me. I will discuss briefly my next move with Lord Flagrane of the Pyrosian Dissidence then return to bed.”
“Um, Hydrops” said Hyran nervously, “Rose wants to come in.” Rose was the last person he wanted to see then. “Tomorrow.”
Hyran protested, “But she demands it. The Princess says she won’t leave until she sees you. She wants to be sure you’re okay.”
Hydrops sighed, “Let her in.”
As the three left, Rose came in. Rosianna Flowrs was a month younger than him. She was a stereotypical princess with long stems for hair which she let fall straight. Positioned in her hair was a red rose. She wore a green dress made from dyed fur. She hugged him.
“I was so worried, Hydrops!” she cried.
Hydrops pulled away. Being doted on filled him with distaste. “Stop!” he yelled, to which Rose flinched back, sniffling.
“Why are you so mean to me, Hydrops?”
Hydrops sighed, “I’m sorry, Lokel, I just want to rest.” He rubbed his betrothed’s shoulder gently. He stood up and looked into her mind. She was genuinely concerned for him, but he did not feel the same for her as she did him. If there was anything Hydrops loved, it was his independence from all others and his alone time. It filled him with sadness that when he became King, he would not get that luxury. All he wanted was to stay in his role, continue to be High Landsponge. He practically ruled Hydros anyway. King Hydrops the First was a highly unpopular ruler, who spent more time eating than ruling. He was a fat Hydrosian, which was rare and hated by Hydrosians. A fat King is hated more. A rebellion had even occurred during the rule of King Hydrops I. Hydrops remembered that time, he could feel the electric wires thrust through the filmy
substitute for flesh he had and the shocks. The shocks hurt. They confused him. He couldn’t see. He could barely breathe. He tried to fight the rebels in the electric chair.
“No! No! Stop!” he screamed aloud. Rose looked at him in fear. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Get. Out,” was Hydrops’ reply. He scowled at her. He never told her about what happened in the Purple Wave’s meat freezer turned torture chamber and he never would. Lady and Lord Flowrs taught her to be a princess, a queen, a wife of older times, but no one could teach how to be anything for Hydrops. Rose left with tears in her eyes. Despite how annoying she was, Hydrops did have a fondness for her. She was a sister to him, in the Old Hydrosian Tongue, a Lokel.
Hydrops rested a while longer before calling Lord Flagrane on video. Lord Flagrane was a cold man, despite the heat of the fires which covered him and his kind. The leader of the Pyrosian Dissidence was tall and thin, with small black eyes. He spoke fluidly, scowling, but threatening a smile
“High Landsponge Watr, your invasion failed. The Queen should be dead and I the new King!”
Hydrops recoiled, almost hurt by the words. The Invasion of Pyros was his first defeat in battle. “Blame Lord Glarigas! He betrayed our cause for a hit on my people!”
Lord Flagrane smiled, but Hydrops could feel his anger hidden away. “In that case, I want your people to stay away from Pyros. We can handle ourselves now. Our people have bled enough.”
Hydrops understood that better than most of his people. He wondered if a Pyrosian noble boy was in Lord Flagrane’s custody, being tortured daily. That boy may not be as lucky as Hydrops. Hydrops had a savior, and she died for it.
“Very well, Lord Flagrane. We will cut ties with the Dissidence so long as Pyros can no longer attack Hydrosian ships.”
“Of course they can’t! You blew up all of Pyros’ naval bases! Can we still buy weapons from you though?”
Hydrops’ brow rose. “Why do you want our weapons?”
Flagrane’s smile grew wider. “In order to create peace in Pyros, we must be able to take over the Pyrosian Citadel and then hold it. We need your weapons for that.”
Hydrops crossed his arms. “If they will be used to end this war in Pyros, then I will approve the sale of arms to the Pyrosian Dissidence on a smaller scale,” Hydrops voice then turned lower, more threatening, “but if you so much as give a hint at using those weapons on us, we invaded once, and we can again.”
Flagrane’s smile completely faded. He seemed afraid. Hydrops Shekal Watr the Second was known as a Hydrosian to never anger. As High Landsponge, he had the best record of battles of any High Landsponge in Hydrosian history, even with his defeat in Pyros. Hydrops bid the Pyrosian farewell and turned the communicator off.