Diplomacy between the city-states of Katria gives way to war.
President Ama Gen stood in her traditional position in the center of the Arlan Congress. She was making a speech, the gist of which was that the nearby city-state of Kel was evidently producing siege equipment. At the end of the speech she called for a review of defensive procedures in case of an attack, which evoked a powerful applause. The congress was finished, and she walked away with her husband, who wore a sheathed short sword.
“Do you think they will attack us?” her husband asked.
“Yes,” she said. Kel and Arla were city-states in the more general region of Katria. There were several other city-states, but those two were the most prominent. Arla was a democracy, in which the vast majority of born Arlans who were adults had the right to vote for the president of their choice. Kel was not.
They had never warred before. The underlying reason for the new hostilities could be found in the increasingly differing worldviews of the two cities. The fascistic and war-centered state of Kel despised the liberal policies adopted by its neighbour Arla. It had elected a woman, Ama Gen, as its president, and the misogynistic Kellians were up in arms.
It was only days after the president’s speech that war was declared by Kel upon Arla. The new war involved several other states: On the side of Arla, the cities of Peshis, Fan, and Wishul were ready to fight; on the side of Kel, the cities of Arikai, Oul, and Veck.
Ama Gen was a beautiful woman of thirty-five. Her hair was long and dark. She wore long and elegant dresses, usually of blue. She was of an aristocratic family of high standing in Arla.
She wore a golden helmet, gold-coated bronze armour, and a sword on her belt. She sat at a long marble table in a long room with her top generals and advisors. They all looked deadly serious.
“Peshis has fallen to Kellian forces,” an elderly man dressed in armour said to her. “The city was burned to the ground. There were not many survivors. Wishul is now discussing terms with the enemy. But Oul has fallen to the armies of Fan. They are now occupying the city.”
“And what is the state of our army?” she asked.
“We are prepared for battle. All Kellian forces are now marching towards us, relying on their allies to bat off those that we have.”
“And do we stand a chance of victory against them?” she asked.
“A chance, Madame President. We are strong. Yet they are Kel. Their forces were not much taxed by the war against Peshis. Our navies are stalemated. Perhaps we should hope for the same situation with our armies.”
“We must implore the people at all costs to join the army and to help construct defences,” she said. “I will make a speech to them this afternoon from the palace.
“Love is stronger than hatred. They may have superior training, but they have not our hearts, which are the hearts of a free and happy people, for they underneath it all are only deranged slaves. Go forth, then, and do what you can to prepare the defences today. We will meet again tomorrow.”
General Carl rode in the middle of his army, which consisted of a multitude of infantry, some catapults and ballistae, and a small amount of cavalry. All the soldiers were Kellians, as the rank of soldier in the Kellian army required birth and upbringing in the city of Kel. They were famous throughout the known world for their unwavering discipline and fighting ability, which they were first trained in as small boys. Compared to those of other states, the Kellian army was rather small, but was the most feared.
Carl’s blacksmith had affixed onto Carl's bronze helmet a cross of human bones which had originally been inside the body of a leading Peshisi aristocrat. Carl’s army marched on Arla from the ruins that were recently the city of Peshis, while a lesser general commanded a second army which issued from Kel itself.
Carl had himself fought bravely in the battle against Peshis alongside his infantry. He was a somewhat short man whose body was rock solid. He was balding, but had shaved off the remainder of his hair. He was the son of a Kellian merchant. He had become the leader of Kel as the result of a duel to the death with the fearsome General Wilt. That was five years earlier. Since then, no one had dared to duel Carl for leadership.
Behind him rode his three favourite slaves, who carried personal weapons and armour for him. They were themselves powerful warriors, and had served him for many years, although they were not Kellians.
Carl had no wife. In proper Kellian fashion, he reserved his amorousness for fellow Kellian men, especially soldiers. While many Kellian soldiers had wives, few cared for them, and they were generally neglected and left at home during the long military campaigns that Kel regularly underwent. They were left in the company of Kel’s massive civil service of slaves, who, while kept in abject conditions, were often allowed to fraternize with married Kellian women, as it saved their husbands the trouble of doing so and aided in the generation of the Kellian people.
The Kellians worshipped the god Belo, who was the patron of war, as well as certain individual Kellians from history who had particularly distinguished themselves. Victories were seen as sacrifices to Belo, who in turn enhanced the chances of more victories. Belo often took the form of a gigantic bull.
It was five days later. The previous night the torches of the Kellian army had been visible from the walls of Arla. It was the morning, and the enemy was assumed to be behind the hills that stood a few kilometres from the city. Ama Gen stood before the host of Arla on the balcony of a small tower that stood on the wall. Both the civilians and the soldiers had assembled to hear her speak.
“This is not a war for glory or for plunder,” she said in a great and loud voice. “This is a war of freedom versus slavery, of happiness versus misery, of light versus dark, of good versus evil. Our enemies are strong as ogres, and equally as cruel. They seek our utter ruin: They seek to sacrifice us to their bloodthirsty god. But our god, Andrew, lord of reason, must prevail. If not, all of Katria will be lost, including Kel. So raise your weapons against this vicious horde, knowing that you fight not only for Arla, but ultimately for the good of Kel itself, and for the good of all Katria, and all the world!” The crowd cheered.
Carl stood on the face of a knoll before his force. It was the afternoon of the same day, and the reinforcements from Kel had arrived early in the morning.
“Men of Kel, tonight we will strike against the feminine fortifications of the Arlans,” he said loudly. “The blood of their soldiers will fall into Belo’s cup, which is the earth, and he will grant us free reign over the world which is rightfully ours. It is an insult to deal on equal terms with the complacent and effeminate men of Arla; to deal on equal terms with their women is a blood challenge. Before the week is through, I will have Ama Gen as my wife, and she will bear my child, if she is obedient.
“These enemies before us are soft. While we were learning to strangle and to cripple, they were watching plays and concerts. Belo demands that the weak bow before the mighty; therefore all Katria and all the world must bow before the Chief General of Kel, who is the mightiest man of all. They shall be our slaves: They are Belo’s gift to us.” The army cheered.
That night the army of Kel, which had rested during the morning, attacked the Arlan wall with catapults and ballistae. From within Arla, catapults hurled boulders at the siege weapons of the enemy, which were mounted on distant hills. The walls were breached, however, and the Kellian army, well armoured and equipped with giant bronze shields, charged into the city. The fighting was fierce and protracted: The battle continued all of thirty-six hours. It was not until late in the morning of the third day that it became clear that the badly scarred forces of Kel were going to win.
General Carl stormed the palace in person along with his favourite slaves and other bodyguards. They went into President Ama Gen’s apartment, and Carl slew her husband in a duel. When Carl entered the bedroom in search of her she drove her thin and ornate sword through her own heart, killing herself immediately.
The city of Arla was raided and plundered, but according to the orders given by Carl it was not razed, nor were its inhabitants exterminated. One of Carl’s generals was made ruler of Arla.
The spring was not out before the neighbouring country of Dadio invaded Katria with an enormous army under the sensational King Ban. The invaders first conquered the cities of Fan and Arikai, and then quickly swept down into Arla, which they conquered without much defense offered by the Kellians. The Dadions then attacked Kel itself, where they dealt the first ever major defeat to the weakened Kellian forces and slew Chief General Carl. The city of Kel, which had cost the Dadion army dearly, was brutally sacked, and nearly all of the Kellian citizens (which formed a minority of the population of Kel and consisted mainly of soldiers) were killed.