"Fall in! Fall in! Fall in!" On the front line far to the north, commanders on both sides cried out to their soldiers. They stood shoulder to shoulder in formation, staring across the battlefield at their enemy and soon-to-be ally. The land between them crackled with electricity and magical discharges, scars left over from before the ceasefire had been called. The treaty talks had taken all of two months. As impossible as the idea of a treaty sounded, Emperor Riordan had asked for one, called for it. His cry for peace had seemed genuine and, as it seemed, the Queen of Mistlord agreed.
Now the two sides stared at one another in their dress uniforms. Their boots were polished, guns at the ready, but not a single bullet or magazine to be found. There was a rift between them, but as soon as the treaty was signed, that rift would close instantly.
The wounds would still be fresh for years to come and though that gap would be bridged now with the treaty, it would take time before they truly considered one another allies or even for Mistlord to truly feel like part of the Riordan Empire. They were the Mistlords. An identity like that does not disappear so easily.
- - -
Emperor Amell Riordan stared at the trio before him. Mistlord Royalty, one the official Royal Tactician who had been countering all of Riordan’s advances, and two others. Twins. One was rather large, he thought. Not in a bad way really, but she appeared to be as tough as she was beautiful. The one next to her was almost sort of mousy. Her hair had been put up in a fancy bun, but a shock of purple streaked through it, marking this momentous occasion with more color than he’d expect of royalty giving up their power.
Of course, he knew these people, at least as much as one political figure can know their peers after their people had been waging war on one another for the last eight decades. Princess Rosalia seemed a cunning warrior. Princess Althea was poised, elegant, quietly charismatic even, but hiding something? Perhaps holding it back? He couldn’t say, not without actually talking to her. Then there was Laurence. He was a good man. His work in drafting the treaty was impressive. The speed and quality with which he wrote no doubt played an immense role in the completion of the treaty. Perhaps it was his words that were most important, both on paper and in a monarch’s ears…
Amell got to his feet and raised his hand into the air. The crowd before him instantly grew quiet. Althea turned her head towards him and her eyes narrowed aggressively. She nudged Laurence and nodded towards the table before them. On it sat a thick, leather-bound document containing the entirety of the treaty and all of the provisions necessary to reform the Mistlord Kingdom into the Mistlord Republic. Next to it was a single sheet of impressive looking cardstock. She asked, “Ready to be president?” Laurence appeared nervous, shaky even, but he nodded all the same.
“I’d just like to say a few words before we begin.” The Emperor stood at a podium to the left of the table, close to the three Mistlord royals. “As we all know, I am what some would consider a young emperor, having taken my place 15 years ago.
“It’s because I became Emperor so young that I called for this treaty. After so many wasted years, decades, and centuries, I could see no reason as a young man why we could not end this conflict for good. Though it took more time and lives than I’d care to admit, we have accomplished this goal. Now, after two months of peace talks, we can safely say that we have saved our world. We have saved our own lives. My father, though I love him and always will, did not have the best of intentions when he was crowned Emperor. He lined the Empire’s coffers with stolen gold. As soon as he died, I knew it was my time to change that. This experience has only served to humble me and made me more aware of who I am as an emperor, a man, and as a citizen of the world.
“It is for this reason that I formally announce now, at this treaty signing, my intention to empower the Mistlord people. They have always had faith in their royal leaders, but the time for power to be in the hands of a few has passed. Just as the many states and countries of the empire have governed themselves, so too will Mistlord as a republic.”
Amell stepped towards the table and picked up a pen, specially designed to represent Riordan. The pen itself was made of a rich, dark wood and a gold design inlaid twisted from the tip of the pen to the top, leaving space for a silver ‘R.’ He turned to Laurence, Althea, and Rosalia.
“Well?” He held the pen towards them before pausing. He could feel their disapproval of him. It made sense, of course. Amell turned back towards the table. He was no longer close to the mic, but his voice carried as well as it had before, if not better, no doubt assisted by magic of some sort.
"With this pen, we end the bloodshed." Emperor Riordan breathed deeply and signed the paper. "Please, Mr. President. Let's end this once and for all." He handed the pen to the President of the now annexed Mistlord Republic. With shaking fingers, Laurence took up the pen and… waited, just for a moment. He breathed deeply, centered himself. His eyes took on a bright glow and something about him seemed elevated, brighter. It was hard to see what it was that had changed, but he now cut a far more impressive figure for the cameras than he had all day.
He placed the tip of the pen on the line waiting for his name and almost seemed to watch in spite of himself as it glided across the cardstock. He had done it. He was now the leader of his own country, him, a man. He wondered how mother truly felt about that.
“Sisters.” Laurence turned to them as Amell had earlier, his arm outstretched with the pen pointed out.
Althea grabbed it and, in spite of all her decorum and lessons in manners, angrily swiped the pen out of his hand and put it to paper. In a moment, she had signed as well. Rather than handing the pen to her sister, she dropped it on the table and walked off the stage. She had given up her own future for this. In a way, she was glad. In another… well.
Mistlord was officially annexed with the heir’s signature on the treaty. All that waited was for Rosalia to sign. It was time to see what came after the war.