Chapter 45 Conscription

“I am here live at the current location of a mob uprising. As you can clearly see the revolutionaries are being herded by the city guard. Shots have been fired and there are both casualties and arrests. Following the flow of the crowd I think it is safe to say they are losing energy and will break and disperse. This would mark the city’s first successful defense against the revolution located here in Fly District. This would have been the fourth district to fall to the revolution since it began. Perhaps a turning point in favor of the city of Eleaveer.”

“Thanks for the inside scoop Preya.”

“No problem, I’ll keep you updated here in the streets when there are further developments.”

“Alright Preya, stay safe. Chilling footage of the ongoing turmoil in the city of Eleaveer. But how and why did this all begin? To answer that, tonight’s special segment, documented by our very own team here at DialNews who have followed the story of the illusive and infamous man who began and leads this revolution. Of course we are talking about Lazulie and two years ago we have the very first footage of his declaration of revolution.”

Cue the intro music.

Lazulie’s Coupe

Deo pulled out the earplugs and rested the phone on his lap. He already knew the story of Eleaveer’s revolutionary, the city farthest in the north, led by Lazulie. Deo had followed the story since it began as well. The man was incredible. From scratch he had attracted a following which he transformed into an army. That army had already conquered three of the twenty-six districts of Eleaveer. Fly District will be the fourth, of that Deo had no doubts. As a bystander simply observing the events unfold, Deo had studied the tactics Lazulie employed. A man only a few years older than himself, and someone without an Aspect.

He understands strategy and psychology. A thesis paper in his college days reveals the inner workings of a mob, the mentality of a group of humans and most importantly, how to control them.

Deo had illegally downloaded and read the scholarly article enough times to memorize every point before it was banned by the university he graduated from.

Lazulie likened a crowd to the four prime elements.

Water, the people who simply ‘go with the flow’ of the group. They make up a majority of the crowd and therefore are integral to maintaining large numbers of people. Of course they are most impressionable and will fight or flee if they think that is what others are doing.

Earth are the members of a crowd who no matter what will stand their ground amid all chaos and destruction. These are the people most passionate of the crowd’s goals. The fighters who will never retreat except in the most extreme of circumstances, and even then it’s not guaranteed. Leading them properly is paramount in living to fight another day. If they over exhaust themselves or are killed the first day then the water will react with the air.

Air are the people of the mob who are there for social reasons, merely to be a part of a group. They are the first to flee in signs of trouble. Too much air and the crowd will melt in an instant. Maintain a balance, however, and the air will attract more and more people to the crowd for they are the most socially influential. Get them to believe and thousands more will follow.

Last is fire. These are the volatile members of the crowd who seek only to cause damage and chaos. They are violent and bored. Perhaps they believe in the cause or perhaps they don’t. Either way their role must be controlled the most expertly. The wrong moment of violence can lead to the crowd’s immediate dissolution, usually by the city guard or military force.

The right moment of violence can have devastating results in conjunction with the cause. Use fire, but use it wise for once it is unleashed it can be hard to contain.

Lazulie then went on to explain that the leader of the crowd must understand this dynamic and know when and how to balance each of the elements of the crowd. 

Deo thought again of the crowd at Fly District, broadcasted on the news channel, how Lazulie obviously utilized air in that mob so the water would be led by the guard to a corner. A corner that the entire defense force would need to barricade. 

It left them open for the fire. A significant, second mob, that would be gathered from behind the guard to collapse on them and bring bloodthirst to the crowd. Sure, the air would still flee, but the raw power and efficacy of the fire would entice the water to charge. 

Deo slid the earplugs back in after seeing the news change from the ‘Special Segment’ back to the live stream of the revolution.

“We are interrupting this segment to take you back into the streets of Fly District. Preya, talk to us, what’s going on?”

“The crowd of over twenty-thousand has been pushed into a corner and the city guard has a perimeter set, boxing them in. They are efficiently containing the crowd and firing pepper grenades in attempts to divide the crowd. The guard is sectioning off large groups and will continue to whittle down the crowd.”

“I hear some commotion coming from behind me! There is another mob that has gathered out of nowhere!”

Running and shaky camera footage.

“Come on, we need to get away!”

Panting and more shaky camera.

“We just… had to sprint… from the main park to safety…”

Catches breath.

“It appears there was a second mob that ambushed the guard from behind. The struggle is continuing but I can barely see any uniforms as the crowd sweeps through their ranks. What seemed like a victory for the city of Eleaveer has turned into a rout. We are going to leave the scene as bullets are firing everywhere and the crowd is beginning to riot. Fly District has fallen to the revolutionaries!”

Deo powered off his phone before the stream went back to the newsroom. He laid down on the bench and stared up at the sky.

Tensions around the world are rising. Garghent is being attacked on multiple sides, though no one has reached the city yet. Revolutions are taking place and the human casualties are reaching into the millions.

Hales is gone. Three months ago she left for her assignment. Now she is listed as missing in action on the registry with the likely possibility of being taken prisoner or killed.

Deo only went through his routine of finding dead plants for the mindlessness of it. A distraction to forget and pass the days with. 

“I should go north and join Lazulie’s revolution. There’s nothing for me here.” Deo said to himself aloud.

He seriously debated this option in his head. Lazulie would need generals who knew his strategies to help maintain his revolution. The man inspired Deo. A living legend who was changing his slice of the world. A piece of Deo wanted to join that change, to fight the corruption that so plagued the city-states of the Sister and Brother continents.

But how much did Deo really care for that cause? In the end nothing would change, eventually ambitious people hellbent on abusing power would rise to the top and the cycle repeats itself.

Boredom is a more honest motivator in joining the revolution of Eleaveer. 

“Perhaps I could start one in Garghent. Revolt in solidarity with Lazulie and eventually form an alliance.”

Those are the fantasies of a child. What would I be able to accomplish? All talk and no action to back it up. But I lack the resources.

Excuses.

Garghent is under attack, civil unrest would only destabilize the defenses and allow for an easy conquest by the invading armies.   

The time isn’t right at all. 

“Eh, who cares?”

Deo got up from the bench and started walking. Just mundane thoughts to entertain oneself with. 

He turned his phone back on and found an audio book of classic literature. Scrolling through a wide array of books he chose a satyr about a man who experienced a hundred different occupations, complaining about each one even as he praised the next career as ‘the one’ for him.

Strolling through the city, Deo failed to notice the absence of other people in the usually busy streets. It wasn’t very late in the afternoon and the enemy wasn’t so close that life had to be put on hold.

Another hour and a half and Deo found the familiar road that led to his house. The book was just getting good when he had to shut it off because a man in a suit was at his doorstep, talking to his parents.

I’ll handle this.

Deo approached the man as his parents went inside.

“You are of this household, young man?” He was tall and looked like a government or military worker. 

“I am.” Deo said cautiously.

The man cleared his throat and repeated something he’d probably been saying for the last ten hours.

“Janiform Gemma, with the advice of the generals of Garghent, has declared a mandatory draft for all able-bodied citizens of Garghent for the defense and war against the enemy of our city. The contract is for two years minimum and details can be read on this document.”

He handed Deo a sizable packet. 

Deo was barely lucid. Forced to join the army of the very city he condemned? Forget going north to join Lazulie, forget the quiet but peaceful life as a flower collector. No more long walks listening to books and news.

“Sign this here.” The man pulled out another paper with hundreds of signatures and addresses, all pinned to a clipboard. 

The man pulled out a pen and handed it to Deo who didn’t grab it.

“I trust you know Garghent’s policy for evading a draft during times of crisis? If the good and well being of every citizen here wasn’t in danger we wouldn’t need every man and women fighting. You’ll be a hero to your city lad.”

There was no time to think or process. 

I can’t fight!

His hand moved on its own and signed the paper with his name.

“Excellent! Physicals and barracks assignments begin first thing in the morning tomorrow and you can find all the details in the packet. Get some rest tonight and good luck.”

The man left, on his way to the next house. 

Deo slowly made his way inside. His parents stood like statues. He wasn’t in the mood to talk and so left them there as he lumbered into his room.

He collapsed on his bed and tried to think the whole affair away. 

Maybe it’s fake?

A quick search on local news debunked that in an instant. 

There’s no way out of it. He wouldn’t be able to leave the city now. They have his name, face and address. Plus all outgoing traffic will likely have to go through screening, if anyone is allowed to leave in the first place. 

“What terrible fate.”

Refusing to join on the grounds of morals and ethics would not work in a city like Garghent, a city which has none.

Making a commotion at this point will bring more unwanted attention. Go with what everyone else is doing and simply blend in. Serve the two years and then leave the city forever. 

Odds are a majority of the service will be on the walls as a defender or guard. Easy enough without too much stress. That is assuming the enemy doesn’t tear the walls down and massacre the city.

Garghent’s lack of principle and honor has allowed its military to be one of the strongest in the Sister continent. But against half a dozen other cities?

Needing to order a draft is not a sign in favor of Garghent. It could be an overreaction. A scheme for the military to gain more power in the city by taking advantage of the circumstances.

That would be the best case scenario.

Worst case is that carnage ensues and Garghent is raised to the ground.

War is hell so it’s safe to assume that the result of the conflict will land somewhere towards the latter scenario.

The one where millions more innocent lives are ended.

And for what?

There is no sense to it.

No rhyme or reason.

“What fools the human race is.”

“I will not kill in this war.”

The more fool you then.

To not kill in a war is denying the heritage of humanity. The savagery born of a hundred thousand years as hunters.

The birthright of the human race. 

And you especially? You’re one to talk, o Aspect of Death!

“I am not my Aspect!”

Deo turned on his record player and found a vinyl of melancholic tunes. A piano and violin duet that he had been listening to most nights. It fit his mood recently.

Tonight would be the last time he would hear its sad reverie, born of a mournful bond between two artists that only music can express.

He broke into the cellar and found a golden bottle of honey wine.

“I will be in this war alone.”

He uncorked the bottle and drank deeply, but no flavor filled his mouth.

The honey tasted like water.