The Birth of an Empire

June 22, 2022
Hildstan’s Apartment
Krzysztofmiasto, Zachodnipaństwo

Hildstan woke up in a cold sweat. He had just woken up from a nightmare about the war. He had nightmares every night since the end of the War of Independence, and he doubted they would end anytime soon. They were all relatively the same, he would watch his friends and family die before dying himself and waking up.

Hildstan looked around the dark room. It looked like your average hotel room in any developed nation. The nation was crippled and didn’t have enough money to spend on frivolous things like a fancy bed. At night this room scared him, it was desolate, free of any furniture other than the bed. He decided that instead of scaring himself further, he would just try to go back to sleep.

The rest of the night was filled with restless sleep, he couldn’t escape from the nightmares. Eventually it was morning and Hildstan got out of bed. He opened the curtain and looked outside his window. The city was filled with rubble, the scars of a war. He saw people walking down the streets, well, if you could even call them streets. The streets were filled with holes from the mortars that had hit them.

He decided that rather than staring out his window all day, that he should get dressed. He walked over to the closet before remembering, he was meant to give a speech today. He grabbed his best looking suit, and walked over toward the bathroom. He turned on the shower and got in. The water was ice cold, just the way he liked it. He stood there in the cold water for about an hour before turning off the water. After drying himself off he looked in the mirror. He looked different everyday. He slipped into his suit and left his room.

Hildstan’s daughter, Sæswið was sitting at the dinner table, eating breakfast. “Morning dad,” she said, waving at him.

“Good morning Sæswið,” he replied, walking straight towards the fridge. He opened it. Nothing. Sæswið must have had the rest of the food. Now he had another thing on his checklist of things to do. Though he didn’t mind, he wasn’t hungry anyways, his daughter should always come first.

“I need to get going, I’ll be back tonight,” Hildstan said to his daughter, now facing her.

“Goodbye dad, I love you,” Sæswið replied, a smile on her face.

This caused Hildstan to smile as he opened up the door to leave, “I love you too sweetie,” he replied before he walked out the door.

Hildstan shut the door, walking to where the car that was to take him to his speech should be. Little did he know that he had just lied to his daughter, and he would never see her smile again. For there was someone special waiting for him at the town square.

[CW: violence and blood]

June 22, 2022
King Square
Krzysztofmiasto, Zachodnipaństwo

Hildstan sat uncomfortably in the back of the armored car that had brought him to King Square. He looked out the thick bullet proof glass at the crowd that was forming in the square. There was a podium situated in the middle of the crowd on an elevated platform, so that everyone in the crowd could see their leader. Everyone loved him, he was the one who liberated them from imperial rule, he drove out the Korćettans with sheer force of will, but he never actually did any of this. During the war Hildstan just sat in a bunker in the capital of the nation, cowering in fear, while the citizens of his nation were fighting for their lives, including his own daughter. Now everyone in the nation saw him as a hero. He had to hold up this face for the sake of everyone.

Hildstan let out a sigh and opened the door of the vehicle, where his security was waiting for him. Each of the guards was holding a gun, empty of course, at Hildstan’s own request. Hildstan just wanted to scare potential enemies, not harm anyone. As they approached the podium, Hildstan began to feel an uneasy sense of dread deep in the pit of his stomach. All these people under his rule, he never meant to be a leader, he never wanted this. As Hildstan got to the podium he straightened his tie and looked at the cameras that faced him. These would broadcast to everyone in the nation. The thought of millions of people watching Hildstan caused sweat to bead on his forehead. He reached to grab his handkerchief, which he couldn’t find. As he patted himself down, he got more and more frantic. Things can’t go wrong now Hildstan thought to himself, as the crowd started to grow restless from this show of mental distress. Eventually one of Hildstan’s guards approached the leader, “Here you go sir, I found it on the seat of your car.”

Relief washed over Hildstan’s face as he reached out to grab his handkerchief, “Thank you… what was your name again.”

A smile crept onto the woman’s face, “The name’s Arleta Kazimir.”

“Well, thank you for your help, I was getting a little nervous back there,” Hildstan said while taking his handkerchief from his guard, but she wouldn’t let go.

Then, as if the world had gone into slow motion, Hildstan saw Arleta slowly raise her gun to point at his chest. “Long live Korćetta,” she said before squeezing the trigger and firing two shots in Hildstan’s chest and one into her own head.

As the shots rang out across the plaza, the people went silent for a moment before turning to total anarchy. People ran out of the plaza, trampling over others, trying to get as far away from the travesty that had just been unraveled before their own eyes. Hildstan’s guards quickly surrounded the wounded leader, one of who picked him up and headed towards the armored car that had brought them here. The others called frantically on their radios, trying to make order of the mess that had just happened. Throughout all of this Hildstan couldn’t make out a single word. All he could focus on was the searing pain running throughout his body and the warm feeling of blood soaking his clothes. As his vision began to fade, he managed to catch one word spoken by his guard, a name, “Sæswið”. Sæswið, he thought, what a beautiful name.

June 22, 2022
Hildstan’s Apartment
Krzysztofmiasto, Zachodnipaństwo

Sæswið sat on the old, torn leather couch in the living room of her father’s apartment, staring blankly at the TV sitting in front of her. A shattered glass of watcher laid at her feet, soaking into the wooden floorboards. Tears were streaming down her face, as her eyes were glued to what was unfolding in front of her. That was fake she convinced herself it had to be fake. Sæswið saw as her father, drenched in blood, was carried away from the view of the camera. Suddenly, there was a loud knock at the door that caused Sæswið to jump up from where she was sitting, lodging the small pieces of broken glass in the sole of her left foot. As she moved towards the door, ignoring the pain shooting through her foot, she grabbed a knife from the kitchen. As she cracked open the door, the face that met her was a familiar one, Hipolit Cichosz, her father’s advisor. He looked at her with a grim look, “May I come in?”

Sæswið didn’t say anything, but slowly opened up the door until there was enough room for Hipolit to come in. Hipolit was a tall, bald man, he had a big, white mustache that covered most of his mouth, with a big pot belly to pair it with. He walked in and as he did, closed the door behind himself. He pulled himself a chair at Sæswið’s dining table before sitting down. “Come, take a seat,” Hipolit said, motioning to the chair at the other end of the table.

Sæswið slowly walked towards the table, trying not to put too much pressure on her left foot. She sat down and stared down the man across from her, tears still glistening in her eyes. “I’m sure you saw what happened,” he said, keeping eye contact, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Sæswið opened her mouth, “H-how did this happen,” she managed to squeak out.

“One of your father’s trusted guards turned out to be a Korćettan in disguise,” Hipolit said, in a monotone voice, free from any hints of sadness or any emotion, “We believe that they gained his trust by pretending to be one of our soldiers during the war.”

Sæswið didn’t say anything, she just stared down at the table, wishing for this all to just be a bad dream, for her to wake up in bed and to find her father in the kitchen making breakfast. As she was sulking, Hipolit continued to speak, but what he said fell on deaf ears. Sæswið didn’t intend on listening to anything that this man had to say, especially so soon after her father’s death. Although, one thing managed to catch her attention, “You are now the leader of this country, you need to show the strength your people need from a leader, especially in these times.”

Sæswið slowly looked up to face Hipolit, her eyes red and bloodshot. The leader of this country…? The leader of Zachodnipaństwo…? were the only thoughts that ran through Sæswið’s mind at that moment. She opened her mouth and tried to conjure up something to say to this man who had just declared her the leader of her country, but all she could do was nod.