Understanding Genocide Part 1- a Civ Story

I was proud of myself – I was watching the final stages of. construction of a building that would inspire people in the Russian Empire to great, new heights, as if they didn’t already have enough inspiration from the huge collection of ancient works I had acquired, or the giant calender that had given my people insight into the workings of the seasons, giving them more time to devote to governance and other understandings. My few loyal troops were far from the capital, meeting new smaller states and putting down barbarians that had plagued them. They had met a few other greater states that later sent envoys to us, but I thought nothing of them, concentrating only on the finishing touches of my new greatest building. I should have known better.

When the envoy came from Siam, he brought a declaration of war. I scoffed, sending him away as if his people were no threat to me. I even pondered leaving my men in the field, letting the walls of my fair city, Moscow defend us. When the first hints of an army came forward, I had second thoughts, and recalled my troops, but as the rest of the army came pouring forth like Raskolniks, I knew it was too late.

But my troops returned home anyways, even as Moscow was enveloped in a sea of Siamese warriors and bowmen. My men died brave deaths trying to kill the vulnerable archers. I spent as much gold I could to levy some troops to break the seige, but those men died too, right at the gates of the city. All told, my men had killed and wounded a disproportionate number of enemy soldiers for their small numbers, but nowhere near enough to stop the enemy.

I snuck out in the middle of the night, ashamed of my failure to protect my people. I didn’t even look back to watch Mosco burn, as I was too busy scurrying towards the coast, to the small village that I had built as a second thought, accompanied by a small, battered contigent of spearmen that had somehow survived the battle at the gates. I couldn’t look them in the eyes as we moved through the forests that blanketed the coast; they were in this condition because of me. They were running because of me. It made me want to just give up and become a fisherman’s wife.

Then we reached Smolensk, and it all changed. I swallowed as I sat in my carriage, afraid to face my people, but as I was girding my courage, I heard a voice boomed out, a voice I had come to know rather well as the sargent of what was left of my army.

“Hear me Muscovites! Catherine is hard-pressed to face us now, because she sees our suffering as her fault, because her vision was too far out, and couldn’t see the enemy close at hand, but I say neigh, it wasn’t her fault. We failed her, and we had shed blood to redeem ourselved in her eyes. We should have seen the enemy coming and warned her, but didn’t.

“Not that it mattered to her, because when the enemy knocked, she answered, not on hands and knees, but with sword in hand, even if she didn’t have the strength to lift it. She gave everything she could to save the city, paid anyone that could possibly save us from our enemy and ourselves, and only when the cupboard was bare, when it was obvious the city was to burn, only then did she leave the city.

“But we will return to Moscow for her, and we will return to our place in the sun, even if we have to pile the bodies high enough to reach above the clouds.”

Then a chant raise up outside. It started slowly, but gained steam until it was obvous they were chanting over and over, “Catherine! Moscow!” Another person would have been jealous of his speech, one I should have been making, but right then I was on the edge of tears from pride, and I’m certain my eyes were red as I stepped out from the carriage to the roar of my remaining people. They were so few, but they would be enough. They had to be enough.

Finally, the roar ebbed, as voices gave out one by one, and in the resulting quiet, I finally could marshal a couple words past that lump in my throat: “All of Siam will burn.” Since they couldn’t scream anymore, they stomped. I crooked a finger to the sargent, and chose a mean hut as my new palace, vowing to repay whoever had owned it later (although I knew at this point that they would have given it to me for free.) The stomping didn’t peter out until much later.

“I never learned your name during our retreat to here.”

“My name is Vasili, my Lady.”

“You called me Catherine out there, so you can call me it here, and ever after. I need someone to lead my troops in the field, General Vasili, and I can’t have him bow and scraping to me.”

He gave me a crooked grin, and nodded.

“Why did you give that speech? You could have blamed me for it all and became king yourself.”

“After watching you during the seige, I wouldn’t follow anyone else. Besides, I’m a sargent, and want nothing more. I don’t know if I could lead an army, much less a nation.”

“My thanks, but I think you are destined for greater things now. And we’re going to have to learn together if we want the body count you promised them. We’ll have to start small…”

We started to plan our revenge.

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