The Great Walls of Ulliah

“Let us Go Greet Our Guests” (Episode 2 of Uprising — a six-part serialized story)

( Need to catch up? Read Episode 1 )

G’uthu Meptchal had lost her smile.
She looked around.

A few pits remained empty, like yawning mouths awaiting their morsels.
Most rows had already been covered, the ground swept and stomped by horses. No trace of the children remained. The G’uthu walked briskly to the keep. Inside, she climbed the stairs with haste, and readied herself for a confrontation. The Night Queen stood with her back to her, watching her city fall.

“Well?” said the Queen.

“Your Grace, we can’t bury them all,” said G’uthu Meptchal. “There is no time; the walls will fall by noon.”

“Then tell them to dig faster!” snapped the Queen.

Meptchal glided over to the Queen, held her hand, and gently turned her away from the window. “Your Grace, the thing is noble, and merciful. But we’ve done what we could. We’re our own masters no longer.”

The Night Queen reached for her chainmail.

For city-states that rose up against the Red King of Sargathos, one fate was known: Even if its citizens came forth bearing cups in submission, the city would pay with its children. His great war machines could shatter any walls. Once the walls failed, his soldiers and mercenaries would swarm into the city, find all the young, flay them, burn them alive in great pyres. The Night Queen, Mother of all Ulliahim people, had hoped to ensure her children would never be so defiled. Most of Ullia’s young now lay beneath the city’s soil.

Meptchal spoke. “The ones that remain may yet fight. They’re maids and men, more than girls and boys. Full of spirit. Bodai Reb’Mantu has outfitted them as archers.”

The Queen spoke bitterly. “The great walls of Ulliah.”

“Your Grace, they held for two moons. Two moons they held. Against war machines.”

“We were too haughty,” said the Queen.

“I shall not live under Sargathian rule,” Meptchal said bluntly. Almost cheerfully. “A pox may befall them all.”

“A pox has not befallen them in two moons,” said the Night Queen, buckling her chestplate straps. “And our walls have failed us.”

“As long as we live, the city stands,” said Meptchal. “And some of us will. We must now go and greet our guests.”

The Queen finished donning her armor. “Yes. Let’s greet our guests.”

They emerged to a scene of chaos. Hundreds of citizens were hurrying down narrow streets.

“The outer walls, Oh Resplendent One, they’re nearly breached!” shouted a Reb’Mantu — an officer — as he ran towards her.

The Night Queen’s strode to her war horse, stopping only one moment before deftly mounting the beast. She turned her mount and addressed the crowd.

“Free peoples of Ulliah! My beloved free citizens!” she shouted. “We will now defy the dogs of Sargathos one last time.” The roar was deafening, rising louder than the thunder of war. “There are ten for each one of us. Kill ten dogs each, and our city lives! As long as just one of us lives, the city stands!”

“There are ten for each one of us. Kill ten dogs each, and our city lives! As long as just one of us lives, the city stands!”

She spoke no more, and the shouts and cheers would’ve drowned her out had she gone on. “Ulliahdamara!” they shouted; “Ulliahsadara!”
Ulliah Beloved, Ulliah Forever.

The Night Queen led them forward then, surrounded by her black-garbed Queen’s Guard. Her twelve most trusted Reb’Mantos followed, and dozens of Reb’Sellesins rode behind them, each of them leading a hundred riders. The mass of the city’s dwellers walked after them, each carrying a sling, a stick, a makeshift spear. Ten Sargathians for each of them.

The Ulliahim were people of commerce and the arts, but four years of their youth was always spent in military training, and they all remembered what they learned. They had buried their children, and soon the city would burn. There was no turning back.

As she rode on, she held quick council with two trusted inner circles. Her TaLyrrah, the chosen six veterans in her Queen’s Guard, surrounded her. They were prepared and ready for their role. Next she called for Luadh’i, a young but promising Reb’Sellesa, and her carefully selected cadre of four riders.

“You know your mission. Fail me not.” Luadh’i gave a graceful bow and an impudent smile. “To the Flatulent King,” she said, in the sibilant Sargathian tongue. She then rose on her horse and feigned a loud fart. Everyone laughed — a welcome release.

The Queen turned to the cloaked figure by her side. “It’s time,” she nodded.

G’uthu Meptchal joined Luadh’i, and the six riders galloped forward.

Activist. Public speaker. Writer. Community Organizer. Mom. Creator & Host, Empowered Trans Woman Summit. Managing Editor, EmpoweredTransWoman.com

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