The worth of our lives is often measured not by what we own, but rather what can we do.

            In times of peace, our positions are defined by what we can possess. One looks at those who have a big house and say “that man must be powerful, look at the house he can afford!” The possessions are not important. Instead, it is the ability to acquire, hold, and in times of war, protect such possessions.

            And there is no possession more important than a man’s woman. To have worth, a man must be able to provide pretty baubles and fancy dinners for his female. Put her in the good house, warm and ready for children. Comfort her in the times of woe, celebrate those petty victories she considers important. And when the battle rolls, and the nights so dark that light will never come, you are worthless if you cannot protect your woman.

            But I am a woman. And those who follow me are women, and men, and children. They look to what was once a possession, and must depend on her for their very lives. For darkness is coming, and the cold light is the only one that still burns.

            I have worth. More than any who stand against me.


“People of the Valley!”

Vladisburg awoke. Windows were opened, doors cracked. The townsfolk roused themselves, and tried to find the source of the sound.

There they were. Nobles all. Those who dined on finest wines and cheeses. Living in golden houses, now walking on the cobbled streets. Seeing those who owned their lands, their homes, their lives, made the people wake up all the faster.

But the nobles were dressed…normally. Gone were the fine dresses and feathered hair. They wore simple clothes and pants. Worn leather shoes, scratchy socks. Several scratched at the clothes, unused to the cotton threads. But Canterwright had insisted they look normal, and Canterwright was normal. To the nobles at least.

The men from last night were there. A rabble, pre-made and pre-paid to be raucous. Already their ire was infecting the crowd, making them violent. Something was wrong, and they were here to fix it.

Canterwright stood outside the Serpent and Rose. He raised his hand high, looking to the sky in defiance.

“Listen to me! You have been taken advantage of. Abused, discarded by those who would call you slave. What was once a noble country, has been subjugated to servitude, and perversion by the very depths of Hell.”

Men and women muttered angrily. They knew where this was going, and quite agreed with Canterwright.

Yoric stepped forward, tears in his eyes. “I have seen my country torn aprt for the whims of one woman. She has allied herself with demons, taken their power for her own. She kills our countrymen, mates with beasts, and will drive us all to ruin.”

“Never!” A voice shouted from the crowd.

“We cannot stand by and let this continue!” A noble shrieked. “The White Countess is trying to kill us all, and we will not let her!”

“But we cannot do it alone,” Yoric said. “We are going to overthrow the despot. We are going to return the Valley to those who truly deserve it. The Valley will rise!”

“We stand for you!” Canterwright shouted. “Will you stand with us?”

The crowd roared its approval.

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

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