“You can’t kill them,” she said, hiding the way her nails sunk into the skin under her shirt. “It’ll do you no good.”
“Won’t it?” the leader questioned, eyebrows blended with her stained-raspberry hair. She’d said it was a tradition―how they ascended to the throne. A color meant power, it meant grace and leadership. Sometimes she tries to peer at the leader’s roots to see what color it was originally, but all she can see is a magenta field and scorching green eyes. Maybe that was rude. “I get rid of an ungrateful clan who will never respect me, that’ll… ‘do me,’ as you say, great.”
It’s true. Her leaders refuse to make deals with the raspberry-haired leader, so much so that a measly healer has had to travel three miles by horse to ask for forgiveness on behalf of her people. They’ve been at odds since the beginning of their two rivaling tribes, different religions, different strengths, different builds, different languages. The winter versus the sun. She knows about her struggle here, and she knows just how difficult this process would be. She just didn’t expect the leader to be so unwilling to make deals. All she’s done is suggest mass genocide to the healer’s tribe―no matter what she offers.
“My leaders―they don’t understand the prospect of war between us. I want peace.”
“That is rare, for your people.”
Sometimes she wishes she could smack the raspberry color right out of her hair. What kind of leader can only plan war, and not have basic diplomacy? She almosts asks it with a ruthless tone, but holds off when the leader briefly turns towards the exit of the hut. The hut is home-y, with a carpet made from cornstalks and tall, winterwood that pierces through the messy matching walls. She wonders if it’s the leader’s home, and basically snorts on the air that passes down her chest.
She needs to laugh at the powerful, war-wishing leader having a simple, basic cottage that looks like a maiden’s. Otherwise, she’ll see the leader as a girl―just like she is, and that’s not how diplomacy works. It’ll complicate things, leave her open for an attack, and make her too sympathetic to want things for her people.
She might be a measly healer, but she’s learned from her father and mother about these tactics―ones that the deceitful leader is sure to use. “Your people have slaughtered mine for centuries. They will continue to do so unless I force them not to.” she spits, her nose crinkling and the gap between her eyebrows falling. “The ones before me were afraid―blue-haired leaders who tried to gauge for peace rather than a battle.”
The healer chewed on the inside of her lips, eyes shut tightly. She remembered how young she was when the previous commander of the tribe had galloped into their village, carrying bread and wood. They dropped the burlap sacks full of supplies on the dusty winter grass and offered peace―a way to build their alliance and work together.
Her father, along with his most trusted generals, had killed the warriors and suffocated the army general with the same burlap sack the wood had came in. They left the terrified leader alive, forcing him to ride back to his clan and suffer the punishments of all of those who had died in the peace offering.
The healer watched as her father lifted the lifeless bodies and washed the color from their hair and burned away the tattoos on their body, erasing their culture and religion like it was dirt and mud.
(Oh, yeah, and the healer’s father is the war general and leader that murdered thousands of the current commander’s people in cold blood.)
(Maybe she should’ve mentioned that part.)