Enlisting fools

You! Yes, you. Are you looking for a life of adventure? Do you want your name to live forever in history? Join the High King’s army today, and all that (and more!) could be yours! *the High King is not responsible for any bodily harm or fatalities allegedly caused by this message.

Another poster on a billboard littered with hundreds of them. The entire wall is covered with similar messages, the High King’s insignia proudly displayed in the middle. It’s a simple insignia for a man who is the most powerful in the world. Your neighbor to the east, Supreme Leader Fargrave, might not agree. Still, it’s your High King who is leading and profiting from expeditions to the New World, not Fargrave and the territory of Magda. Back to the billboard in front of you; another catches your eye. And yes, in the center is an upside down sword with a golden crown at the top.

The gunslinger’s life is a hard lonely road. The High King offers abundance in both food and comradery! Safety in numbers!

Not the most creative of slogans, or the catchiest, but something’s doing the trick. Your peers are enlisting by the thousands. At this point, it’s easier to remember who hasn’t enlisted rather than who has. And who wouldn’t join? There are countless stories of treasures discovered, battles won, and wealth sent back to families. The town crier wails every night on the High King’s victory in the New World, seeping his message into the very dreams of the citizens of Alteran.

Rumors are that the New World is even larger than the Old. The High King’s Alteran and Fargrave’s Magda take up about sixty percent of the landmass of the Old. The rest is littered with various republics and “the people’s blah, blah, blah.” Who even keeps track of those small territories? None present an actual threat in either trade, military power, or--well, that’s all that matters. Give it a hundred years or so and they’ll all belong to either the High King or the Supreme Leader (spit). You’ve never had the best of luck in the gambling den, but you’d put your money on that bet every time.

Fools. Some things are just too good to be true. The New World speaks to a man. It whispers tender secrets of possession and satisfaction, lining the message with a good ol’ fashioned appeal to man’s stubbornness. Come to me, it says. Your efforts will be rewarded. It’s a hard life, but the payout is well worth it. Or stay put. Live the rest of your life wondering “What if?” Men with no military experience sign up for the frontlines. For what purpose? To avoid asking themselves that very question. What if?

Fools. They can’t think for themselves, needing the High King’s expedition to lead them into a life full of adventure, putting their life in danger for material wealth and prosperity. And you? Heh. You’re the biggest fool of them all. You enlisted before the New World expeditions even began.

“Were you going to join us or do you prefer the company of the billboard?”

You turn to see Corporal Redding. The man’s scraggly beard, now graying, is stained with ale, the top two buttons of his uniform open. The High King’s military uniform. At times, it looks too proper for the messiness of war. Still, that’s how the High King governs, with a proper chain of command and regal attire. A long sweeping coat accompanies the uniform, reaching nearly to the standard issue knee-high boots. It’s a dark navy color, stitched with golden trim, seven buttons down the front, gold as well.

Redding takes a large gulp of ale as he expectantly awaits your answer.