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Rise & Fall

Soft fog fell over the southern hills; stars rose above the heavens as a gentle breeze blew the light smoke across the top of the mahogany pipe. Frigid air and piercing frost steadied the rustling leaves and there he sat, pipe in hand, staring into the darkness for answers. He was set in his age, his face like the rippling water. His eyes as cold as the very air itself and as majestic as the pearlescent moon hanging in the soft night sky. Dark black waving hair down to his shoulders gently rested over his face and covered in a black robe with a gold medal hanging upon it. Since he had last seen his home, it had been a year, yet the relentless essence of his soul pressed on. It had seemed that only a few days ago had he began this journey, yet no forthright had set a pace for time. Destiny had placed his people’s well being in his hands and he felt as if he weren’t the one suitable for such a task. He had decided to lead his army in a siege upon one of the greatest city strongholds that has ever been created. The only problem being that the winters were so fierce that only the inhabitants of that city would be able to withstand them. It was with this notion that he became elected as not only first consul of his great country, but he also even withdrew so much power from popularity that he was able to crown himself as an emperor. With strategy and persistence lingering in his mind he witnessed the sunrise slowly upon the pastel northern sky. As his soldiers began to awake and prepare to continue forth they waited for their leader to address them. He stood up and immediately placed his hand inside his jacket, holding his stomach and placed his other hand behind his back. He gazed upon the eyes of the soldiers he had assembled from not only his own country, but also the countries he had conquered. It was now that he began to speak words of encouragement, words of hope, and words of certainty. He spoke with a harsh cold tone, “So it is today that will forever be remembered. Those who have passed will look down upon this battle for it will be the greatest this world has ever seen. Now, we march, and forget not this day, for it will be the day that you all become great.” The soldiers began to equip their weapons and rise into the slight beacon of morning light that had ascended upon the western hills. Each soldier bore colors of blue and red in a representative manor of their flag. They all carried bayonet rifles in their hands and on their back, and the blade at the end of each rifle almost symbolized their ferocity and strength in numbers as the 600,000 soldiers marched in the name of their country, and in the name of their emperor.

After the sun grew high upon the white sky, snow began to shake on the Earth as the silent dawn was interrupted by a delinquent echo over the hills. The tremendous 600,000 feet began to draw closer to the great city in which searched for. The steady and constant beat of footsteps was enough to cause an entire city to evacuate. As they crossed over the many hills in which laid before them, the cities, farmland, and people were all but to be found. Even the cattle and water was poisoned, homes were desolated, and not a soul to be seen. With the earth scorched from their foes, and no food or water to be gathered, it was clear that they were far from welcome. A sudden realization of events to come brought a doubt upon the emperor’s effervescent mind. This also presented a problem by the fact that their supply line had faded and the soldiers were in no condition to endure such freezing temperatures. With starvation on the way he had come to a difficult decision, return to his homeland with his grand army, or continue with haste in hope to arrive at the great city before nature took its toll. Being persistent as he was he pressed on, and thus making the choice that led to his demise. Darkness crept along the stolid stars and illuminated a failure in his quest. He curiously looked around the vast devastation of the country in which he marched. The night was late and the soldiers were weak with hunger, disease, and exhaustion. The next day commenced with bitter cold and dry air as it became more and more difficult to wake up each day. The distance from the great city was not far now, and their foolish journey near in end. Several soldiers from the end of the 5 mile march line were being attacked and killed as the rest



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