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Tears Perchance for Blood - By Galm

"Tears Perchance for Blood"
(Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 4)

King Benetram of Aspinia wearily rested his head in his hands, his normally bright sapphire eyes dulled by the exhaustion and sorrow of the recent war. Although it could not officially be called a war, the conflict between Aspinia, Destonia and the Bulzome Sect had cost them all dearly... with Aspinia paying the highest price of all. Unlike Destonia, the Republic of Aspinia did not have much in the way of stored resources to fall back on. The Republic had never been rich, but this year's poor harvest combined with the devastation caused by the war could spell disaster for the fledgling nation, as King Benetram was all too aware. And then there were the added costs of rebuilding the capital city of Aspia and the town of Storich...
Benetram had remained stoic throughout for the sake of the people of Aspinia, but the truth was that he had suffered the most of anyone. He had lost so many friends in this fight... Lord Conrad, General Fafhard and his son Braff, General Tybalt, Lord Brutus, General Varlant... the list went on and on. The Republican army was in shambles... of all of the generals who had initially fought alongside him, only General Produn and General Edmund remained. The treachery of Brutus, Tybalt and Braff hurt him almost more than their deaths. Where had he gone wrong? Was his leadership so lacking that they felt Aspinia would be better off if it were re-annexed by Destonia? Why were there so many questions, but no answers?
The sound of laughter issuing from the courtyard caused Benetram to lift his head. Synbios' battalion was staging a mass snowball fight outdoors, using the fountains and pillars as shields. They seemed so happy... it was difficult to believe that these were the same soldiers who had fought so fiercely less than two months before. The bonds between them were unbreakable, and Benetram envied them that. Although he was loved by the majority of the people as a kind and fair ruler, the truth was he had very few true friends. The Aspinian army may have lost its best leaders, but Benetram had lost his best friends, a loss he felt all the more keenly while watching Lord Synbios and his friends together. Alone in his chambers, Benetram finally let himself do something he had needed to do for a long time: the king buried his head in his hands and wept.

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