from the bottom of my empty heart

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Smoke and Mirrors

A/N: This isn't a poem, but a short story, I guess. Hope you like it!

Ashes, kissing the bloody cement, like snow on a peaceful evening.

This is anything but peaceful.

Remains of a war, brutal and malevolent, litter the ground. Puddles of blood from blue-clad soldiers that fought 'till their death lay beside fallen swords of heroes that were brave enough to compensate for the cowardice of their people but not strong enough to overthrow the other side.

There is little sunlight, instead the air is drenched in the scent of death, famine, and war.

From afar the sound horses of approaching breaks the stillness. Four stallions trot forward, on each of their backs a royal advocate wearing blue suits with an intricately designed badge pinned on. The first soldier jumps off his horse and walks toward a body wrapped in once-beautiful emerald green cloth now unclean and ripped laying on the muddy floor. He kicks at the body's limp legs and scoffs.

"They ain't have much strength to them, those Green Warriors," he snipes to his companions, arching an eyebrow. "All talk, no game."

"Yes, that's exactly why Prince Julius sent us here," another soldier says sarcastically, turning to the first. "Sir Isaac, we were asked to bring one of the bodies to the palace for observation."

"Yes, yes, I know," Sir Isaac groans. "I just don't understand why. They're perfectly boring."

"Do not underestimate the prince," barks the second soldier. "You know he's soon to be the king."

"I know that too." Sir Isaac moves forward, pulling his horse's reigns along with him. The horse steps over the bodies as if they're nothing and stops when Sir Isaac does. He looks back at the other two soldiers and orders them to help them pick it up and put it inside the body bag they brought a fifth horse to carry.

The prince seems to think that the Green Warriors have some sort of magic to them, a force that allows them to stay alive even when millions of their kind are killed. Somehow they come back to life even after highly trained Amic soldiers, like Sir Isaac, personally decapacitate them. They don't die off and disappear, no matter how hard the Amic try.

For the longest time, there have been two sides of Amarelius, always at war with each other. The Green Warriors are the majority of the townsfolk, living in the outskirts of the kingdom, with hardly any money and little communication with the rest of the land. The Amic are the royal family and their subjects. The royal family consists of Prince Julius, who is almost eighteen and ready to inherit his ailing father's throne; Queen Romhilda, the stern but loving and viable mother; King Malik; and his loyal brother, the Duke Wellesley. Wellesley would seem like the type to envy his brother's role but he is actually quiet fond of King Malik, not his throne. He's never wanted to be the king.

The soldiers make their way back to the castle, away from the dry, barren, grassland. They arrive before the gates and a gaurd lets them in. They take the body bag to a locked room, where they will wait for the person to come back to life, then experiment on them. Then the Amic will finally figure out how to destroy the Green Warriors once and for all.

The prince comes in, a bodyguard by his side. "Have you collected the body?" Prince Julius asks, pacing around the room, wearing a golden robe stitched with the royal family crest.

Sir Isaac shows him the male Warrior, lying on a stone table, his wrists handcuffed. "Here he is, Your Majesty."

"Excellent." Prince Julius smiles. Sir Isaac breathes easier after he seems satisfied. Now all they need to do is wait for the Green Warrior to wake up.

Two days later, newest recruit Timothy Marin pads into the testing room, nervous and shivering- it's cold in this room. He goes to the Warrior's side. He is already awake, eyeing the equipment. "Where am I?" The Warrior says, staring at Timothy.
"You are at the Amic Castle, in Amarelius," Timothy replies warily.
"I mean what room am I in?" The Warrior is a young man, well into his twenties, with a dark head full of hair and visible sideburns. He looks like he just came out a bloody battle- but h did. "Why am I here?"
"The prince- I mean the king wants to observe you," Timothy says, preparing a syringe.
"What is that?" The man shrinks down on the table, his fists clenching.
"It's just going to put you to sleep, that's all. Don't worry. This'll be over soon." Timothy pauses with the syringe. "By the way, what's your name?"
The man is surprised but he smiles weakly. "I used to be Tobias."
"Well, Tobias, the best of luck to you," Timothy says, then plunges the syringe into his neck.
The next moment he thrashes around, then stops, eerily silent. His body is unmoving, but his chest is still rising and falling with each quiet breath. Timothy is equally still, but he quickly snaps out of it and moves to another table covered in supplies. He's done this before, but never with a real person, and never one who has seemed to vulnerable.
Tobias had a family before this, just like Timothy. He might have had a wife, a husband, or not even been married. But still, he had a life. And he chose, instead, to fight in the everlasting war between the sides. By doing so he was taken here, where he would be tested on rather than being with his family and friends.
But Timothy can't think like that. He serves under the Amic rule, and no one else. The day he disobeyed the Amic would be the day he died.
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