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New Kingdom of Mecca, Port City of Hensink, East Coast of the New World

Life was hard, at least for the villagers outside the city walls. The war with the Empire had rolled over the Kingdom of Mecca and its allies and under the occupation of the Imperial invaders, the people of Mecca had suffered as the majority of the common people were enslaved.

But with the death of the Emperor, the Imperial invaders took everywhere they could, from food to gold and even some of the enslaved people. With the sudden withdrawal of Imperial troops, the once oppressed citizens of the Kingdom rosed up against the Empire and declared themselves as the New Kingdom of Mecca after much bloodshed in regards to the succession of the Throne.

With the surrounding land ravaged by constant war, the farmlands, roads, bridges, wells and even orchards laid in ruins. The port city of Hensink managed to recover faster due to their mostly intact fleet of fishing boats surviving the war.

The bounty from the sea and the few farmlands beyond the city walls provided enough for the citizens living in the city. The city guards had their hands full dealing with bandits and refugees seeking safe haven.

It was just like any typical day, a small column of soldiers departed the gates to guard the farms, farmers toiled the fields, weavers spun thread and cloth, masons and smiths worked their trade and labourers sweated for their work.

The Lassie was a small simple fishing trawler that had been run by four generations of the same family of fishermen. The fishing trawler wallowed in the calm seas as its small crew of five tossed and reined in nets weighed with the catch of the day.

The youngest crew member, a small boy of ten summers helped hit the heads of the squirming fishes with a short wooden stick before kicked them into the opened cargo hull. His uncles and father finally finished bringing up all the nets and helped store the catch into the cargo hull.

"Father! We caught a lot of fishes today!" The boy grinned happily. "Mother will be proud!"

"Yes, son!" The father ruffled the hair of his son and looked up to the cloudy skies. "Looks like its time to return. Those clouds look like rain."

As the adults brought up the anchor, the boy suddenly called out. "Look, Father! What are those things in the skies?"

The men paused their work and up towards the direction the boy was pointing and saw tiny black dots highlighted before the clouds. "Some kind of wyvern or some wild dragons?"

But their curiosity so turned to surprise as the growing dots turned into some kind of flying objects as they came out of the clouds. The boy cheered and waved frantically at the flying objects as they flew over their heads, their large size blocking out the sun.

The men stood dumbstruck as they stared at the underbellies of the strange flying objects and prayed to the sea gods. One of the child's uncle said. "I- I think we better hurry back to the city! Those things... look like they are heading straight there!"

They quickly recovered their anchor and let lose the trawler's sails. After a while, the flying objects disappeared from their view as they travelled at a much great speed compared to their small trawler. It was almost sunset when the Lassie came in sight of the coast and the men stared in horror at the scene.

Thin wisps of smoke could be seen in the distance and an orange glow covered the city that was barely visible. "Is the city under attack?"

"What do we do now?" One of the men asked. "Those... flying things are some kind of invaders?"

"Our homes!" The father cried out in panic. "We... We need to find our families!"

"But to return now... could be very dangerous!" Another one spoke up. "We have to wait till nightfall when it is dark!"

The boy stared hard at the burning city, his eyes blinking in confusion as he did not understand what the adults were arguing about. "So... pretty!"

-----

A chorus of hymns floated down the streets of the city mixed with the clash of steel and screams. A phalanx of red and black coated soldiers donning insect like helmets marched forward relentlessly towards the city guards holding their ground behind a hastily erected barricade.

The red and black coated soldiers paused just beyond bow range and the singing behind from a group of red and white robed choir grew louder and stronger. A yelled order came from a soldier which had two thick white stripes over his right shoulder pauldron.

The lines in the front opened up as the soldiers each took a step to the right and another line of large sized soldiers that towered over the rest marched forward. This new group of soldiers wore red and gold vestments over their bulky armour and carried large metal barrels on their backs. In their thick gauntlet hands, they held a long thick copper tube holding an axe bayonet at the muzzle and had a leather pipe linking to the barrels on their backs.

They advanced forward towards the barricades without fear, singing and humming to the hymns along with the choir. The city guards loosen off their bows and crossbows at their advance, turning the leading invaders into pincushions. But that did not stop them as they pressed forward without care, singing and humming, trusting in their faith and heavy armour to stop the arrows.

When they reached a distance of roughly twenty steps away from the barricades, they pulled a cord linked to a friction ignitor at the rear of the copper tube several times, creating sparks which lit up an internal torch inside the tube.

They braced against the onslaught of arrows, their heavy armour managed to prevent most of the arrows from dealing wounds and squeezed the pressure level. Gouts of flames burst out from the muzzles and splashed over the barricades and archers hiding behind. Screams joined the singing of the hymns as dozens of city guards did the burning ritual dance and the red coated invaders charged.

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The New World, Protectorate Fleet, Flagship Aggressor

Rism, Inquisitor and General of the Protectorate Missionary Army, looked down at the burning city from the crystal windows of the flagship. He smiled as he turned to his aides and staff awaiting his orders and said, "This is such a prime land... fertile, rich, untainted by the other... infidel nations..."

"Our holy mission here... Is to bring these lawless into our fold!" Rism declared. "Those that do not see the greatness of our Judge, shall be sent to Him to be Judged!"

"Yes, my Lord!" His men echoed as they left to carry out his orders, leaving Rism alone in the viewing gallery.

He turned back to stared down at the bursts of cleansing flames cast by the Immolators against the resisting infidels and smiled again. "This land will be mine! All its riches mine! And all these glories shall belong to me and not to that third rate Mathias! Especially after I find the missing god artefact!"

-----

It barely took a day and night to pacify the infidel city. Hundreds of frightened people were forced into city squares were blood and remains of the dead were still present. Judges and scribes stood on erected stages spoke in the local's common tongue, albeit in a strange dialect and accent, but still understandable by the masses.

The Judges declared the city to be redeemable to Ramuh, God of Creation and Justice. Its people will be spared from heresy if they renounced their current faith and wholeheartedly accept Ramuh to be their one and only true God. Those that do not will be sent to be Judged by Ramuh himself!

The city's governor, city commander and many others were displayed hanging on crosses, their wrists and ankles nailed to the cross. The Protectorate soldiers stacked pieces of wood under the crosses and Immolators used their flamers to turn the crucifix people into screaming pyres under the horrified eyes of the masses.

The frightened masses all screamed that they were willing to renounce and take on Ramuh as their only faith and god. What came next was not what they expected, as they were led into rows, queuing for their turn to be baptised by whipping.

One by one the people were brought before a Redeemer priest who spoke of the trials and judgements one must take before they can be worthy of the Judge. The frightened people were forced to kneel down and the Redeemer priests holding nine tailed whips, flayed the backs of the screaming converts with mercy, be it the old or young.

Only babies and those children that had not come of age yet were spared. Blood flowed, as the Redeemer priests flayed the flesh off the backs, chanting prayers as they did. Those that tried to resist were dragged off and nailed screaming to crosses that were made from torn down houses to be burnt as heretics later.

Those that had been baptised, were allowed back to their homes but with the guarantee, they will returned to the nearest city squares at the first morning bell and the last evening bell for prayers. The people could only endure as much as they could for survival and agree to all the demands given to them by the new invaders.

As full control of the city was achieved, the support vessels of the Protectorate Missionary Fleet gently landed at the docks. Hundreds of Protectorate settlers disembarked and started to make this new land their new homes. The warships of the Fleet remained floating ominously over the city, like an executor axe over the heads of the people.

The new settlers with the help of the soldiers evicted anyone from their homes and businesses whenever they fancy the location. Some houses and stores were even torn down to be rebuilt into the needs of the new settlers and soldiers. New industrials and steam tech was also started up to support the Protectorate with their weapons and needs.

Temples, churches and shrines were torn down within a day, and new churches honouring Ramuh were built over them. Redeemer priests roamed the streets constantly, preaching and educating anyone they find to the greatest of Ramuh.

The people mostly remained in their homes in fear, only appearing to work and in the first morning bell and last evening bell to attend the mandatory mass held by the Redeemer priests. Once the mass ended, they either rushed off home or after buying what they need for their families.

During mass, they had to remember all the teachings of Ramuh or risked being interrogated by a wandering Redeemer priest in the streets and get whipped for failing to answer correctly, or worse, hang for being a heretic! They were even forced to learn the language of the invaders and had to bow to the soldiers or settlers where they met them.

The people were also forced to give up their wealth, all in the name of Ramuh, to build his temples and fund the great missionary work of the Protectorate and most of the times, the people were forced to work for free, restoring the city infrastructure. Food was greatly rationed and controlled and the people had to resort to ways to curry favour with the Protectorate soldiers or priests for some benefits.

And the people meekly followed the new order, as they in every war after losing. It was the way of life of the common people and they were powerless to do anything in face of total annihilation. That was the way of the strong and weak, the normal order of this harsh cruel world.

But in doing so, they can survive and people can always adapt to any hardship when there was a will to live on. This is the law of the strong.

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neo Koh

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