Ten Years Make a Millennium
by: Ken Williams
The twenty-second day of the third month was upon them, which meant two things for Prince Hydrops Watr: his birthday and the beginning of the Revolution Festival, a great celebration of the Hydrosian Revolution, which unseated Empress Hydria Hydros from the throne of the kingdom and instated Oldrui Watr as King. The twenty-second day of the third month in the year 0 AHR was the day that Oldrui Watr, Lord Darstromath the Black, and Irox the Exile took Hydros Citadel from Hydria Hydros and shattered that family’s rule.
Hydrops knew Oldrui Watr’s history well. Oldrui was the son of Queri Watr, Lord of the Sea Citadel and Warden of South Hydros. Oldrui had been a powerful psychic, rivaled only by his descendent, Hydrops II. Like Hydrops, Oldrui had been involved in Hydrosian politics from a young age, giving credibility to the Southern Independence Movement. The SIM had been attempting to liberate South Hydros from the rule of its northern counterpart since the independence of Ginir Atul three hundred years before Oldrui’s birth. In 10 BHR, Queri Watr died in a battle against rebelling Atular along with Axep Watr, the King of Hydros.
Hydria Hydros had gotten the blame for the deaths of the two great Hydrosians. The Southern Independence Movement called it a conspiracy against the Fountain of Life. Oldrui’s journal which was in the Sea Citadel’s archive called it “necessary for a new age”. Hydrops had been shocked when he found that entry. He had shown it to Nightshade Belladonne, his girlfriend at the time, who insisted it meant that the Watr family had no right to Hydros as a nation and he should abdicate to the Hydros family. Hydrops disagreed. The two hadn’t spoken since.
Even Hydria’s supposed murder of Lord Queri and King Axep wasn’t enough to bring South Hydros freedom. In 9 BHR, South Hydros declared independence and in 6 BHR, the Sea Citadel was run by Hydria’s sister, Azalea. After Oldrui’s crushing defeat, he allied with Lord Darstromath, who led the Atulan True Independence Front, an Atular group against Queen Versalle and her false promise of independence from Hydros. Together along with Irox, a Kakurl exile who had befriended Darstromath, they brought down Hydria’s rule and changed Gelondar forever.
Hydrops left the Sea Citadel in purple and green leathers, the colors of the coming Hydrosian Empire. He hated wearing his armor. As Hydrosians only had one major organ that could be damaged, the brain, armor was useless. It only showed status, and Hydrops did not enjoy flaunting his status over his people, especially not in something so uncomfortable. It would be a long walk to the Festival, but he enjoyed it. Hydrosians flocked to the city of Runadall for the Festival. Runadall was a maginificent city made of perfectly square runed stones. Oldrui Watr constructed it to be the center of his Revolution. Once the revolution ended, many Hydrosians wanted the capital of Hydros to be moved to Runadall, but Oldrui refused their demands, taking pride in his family’s ancient seat.
Hydrops left the city of Hydros and went into the forest. Most Hydrosians lived in houses in the treetops of Hydros. They mainly grew their own fruits and vegetables and hunted their own meat, or used to, before Hydrops’ great-grandfather decided that home-growing was unsafe and restricted it. A simple law changed a culture. Three new cities were formed just so Hydrosians deeper in the woods could be close to a city to buy goods.
Hydrops was so busy in his thoughts that he didn’t see a man walking in front of him. They collided. Hydrops in panic and shame helped the man back to his feet.
“I’m sorry, sir,” Hydrops said.
The man stared in shock. “High Landsponge Watr? What are you doing all the way out here? I would have expected you’d be in Runadall.”
“I am on my way there, now,” Hydrops smiled, “Will you be attending the Festival?”
He shook his head. “No, sir. I couldn’t afford a ticket. Times are tough for us right now. Things are better after the war ended. My son is back, but-”
“Get your son and all of your family.” Hydrops put his hand on the man’s shoulder. “I’ll not deny a good Hydrosian whose son fought with me against the Pyrosians a Hydrosian tradition!”
The gleam in the man’s eye filled Hydrops’ heart with warmth. Moments like this made Hydrops happy to be in his position. The man ran to his tree and brought back his wife and his four offspring. The eldest shook Hydrops’ hand. He was certainly young for a member of the Hydrosian military. He couldn’t be older than eleven years old.
“Landsponge, Nuit Sarphi, sir! It’s an honor to finally meet you.”
Hydrops smiled. “It’s an honor to meet you, too! Which battles were you in?”
“I was only old enough to sign up just before the Invasion of Pyros. To be honest, sir, that was the worst moment of my life. I remember the feeling of valor and glory as I fought off the Pyrosians… then the Black Atular troops turned on us… and I was afraid. That was when I knew that this wasn’t a glorious invasion toppling an oppressive regime. It was bloody. It was hell. Only two of us came back. Out of twenty. Only two. We’ll be fighting them again, won’t we?”
His account made Hydrops solemn. “Yes, we will, most likely. We’ll be ready at any time in case, but I hope we don’t have to for a long while.”
Hydrops hugged the young man and then led the way to Runadall. Hydrops entered Runadall and was immediately swarmed, but in the chaos, the family was able to get in with no one checking on them. After answering a number of questions for the press, Hydrops was directed to his seat. It was where Oldrui Watr had sat when he gave talks to his Revolutionaries. He often read from their holy book, the Asuine. Hydrops would not. As nobles and common people alike sat wherever they could, Hydrops prepared to give his speech.
“Hydrosians, my people, today is a day that has been long remembered for three milennia!” cheering ensued, “Three thousand years ago today, Oldrui Watr changed the world we live in. His Revolution shaped the millennium he lived in and we are still subject to the effects of his actions. Now, his Revolution started ten years before he did. Why should I bring this up, you may ask. Today is special for another reason. Today I reach the age of ten, the age of adulthood. Like Oldrui, my actions have shaped the coming millennium. The day of kings is over. Soon, I shall become an Emperor, but not to rule over as a tyrant and some emperors and empresses have in the past, but rather, I shall become an Emperor subservient to a greater power: the people. Last month, the great men and women you elected took office and we are already seeing legislation going through. From deregulation of home gardens to worker’s rights, we are seeing change happen. I could not be more proud.
“Sadly, as we are reminded of our past glory, we must also be reminded of our past horror. After the Revolution, the tyranny of Hydria Hydros was ended, but a new power formed. I speak of the Demon Empire. Under Lord Darstromath the Black and Daemon Scareye, the Atular were split into four nations and Darstromath’s nation created new demons and summoned ancient ones. This war devastated our world. Now Scareye has returned again. We must band together now and we can not fall. We are Hydros! We will stay strong! We will endure!”
The crowd cheered and Hydrops smiled wide. With final words from his father, the King, the Festival began. Hydrops spent most of his time silent, just watching his people enjoy themselves. This is what peace looks like, he thought. He was interrupted by Admiral Hyr and Nightshade Belladonna. They were the last people he wanted to see. Hyr was good at his job, but almost completely emotionless and very useless for peacetime. Nighshade he thought had left Hydros. Apparently he was misinformed.
“High Landsponge,” Hyr said in his monotone, “I must speak with you about the upcoming war. We-”
“Later, Hyr, we are not at war, and I do not intend to go to war for some time. Bring it up when next our council meets.”
“Yes, sir,” Hyr replied obediently, but reluctantly. He made his leave and Nightshade stepped forward, nervous. It was rare to see such a fiery, passionate soul as her nervous.
“Hydrops… I’m leaving. I can’t live in this country anymore,” she put her hands on his, “I must go. I promise I won’t tell anyone anything about what I know about you or anything about Hydros or the Empire. Please don’t stop me from leaving.”
Hydrops waited for a moment, he went into her mind just enough to see if she was sincere, and she was. Hydrops nodded and Nightshade smiled.
“Thank you.” She said, “Good-bye.” She then kissed him on the mouth. She started to walk away then turned back, “I’m sorry that things between us got so bad.”
Hydrops almost wanted to say, “I am too,” but he couldn’t. His mouth slightly hanging open, he watched her leave, never to return. The only woman he could ever slightly imagine he had romantic feelings for was walking away.
Hydrops returned to watching his people and was filled with joy again, until someone even worse came up to him, Saron Tarkes, Admiral Guilon’s brother.
“Happy Birthday, Hydrops!” he shouted. Hydrops rolled his eyes. Saron pulled a stick with a sausage on it and put it on a plate in front of him. “Sausage?” He asked, as if he was going to let Hydrops refuse the offer. “And I have a note too… hmmm,” He pulled out a note from his pocket and handed it to him. It read,
It’s been so long since we’ve last spoken. I thought you’d want to know that I caught a certain someone for you. Tinit Tinit was on the boat you had me on. Who knew? Since you sentenced me to death, I can’t exactly give him to you, so you’ll have to do without. Well I guess I can’t say I can’t give him to you at all, there’s a bit of him in every bite. By the way, tell Blossom I said “Hi”.
Admiral Guilon Tarkes
Hydrops looked up and saw that Saron was gone. He looked at the sausage and it made him feel nauseous. Guilon made a sausage from Tinit Tinit? This was a new low for the ex-Admiral. He laid his head on the table in front of him and Rose came up to him. “Hydrops? Are you okay?”
“Umm, are you going to eat the sausage?”
Hydrops didn’t respond, so Rose took it and started eating it. That made him feel more sick. Rose is eating sausage made from a smuggler. Hydrops decided to go inside for a while.