This story is part of the Chronicles of Morshan short story series. If you have not read the premise of the series yet, I recommend you read the premise below before reading.
Seventy-three years ago, the land of Morshan was on the peak of a new golden age. Gunpowder had been discovered, new agricultural techniques had been mastered, technology was at a high point, the kingdoms of the land were finally united, and the future could only be moving upward.
Then the gods descended.
Each god began offering noteworthy individuals a promise: serve one god above the others and they would be blessed with powers beyond human reckoning. To some was offered power over body. To others power over mind. To others power over nature.
Few who were offered these powers refused.
And society fractured.
It turns out the old saying of Morshan holds true: power always reveals what a man truly is like. And the essence of man is not kind. Within a matter of months, the unified land had broken up into warring factions, each led by one of the “god-blessed” trying to claim power for themselves. Within a matter of years, those factions had themselves split up into fiefdoms and sub-factions, countless lives and technological advances destroyed in the bloody aftermath.
Now, the once-prosperous land is a shadow of its former self. God-blessed war with each other in the ruins of a past civilization of glory while most peasants try to keep their heads low, serve a god-blessed who will protect them, and mind their own business.
But hope is not yet lost. There are still some who wish to use their powers for good. In the center of the shattered empire, a small group of god-blessed calling themselves the Heralds seek to reclaim the ancient ideals of chivalry and heroism for themselves.
But the times are dark and would-be heroes must face many enemies.
Time will tell if this is a new beginning for Morshan or one last dying gasp.
“Alright, next dilemma.” Tobias tapped his finger along the table in thought.
Kristen couldn’t decide whether to sigh or not. His attempts to carry on a conversation were almost cute. Not that debating ethical dilemmas was how a girl wanted to be wooed. But at least he was trying.
She allowed a smile to break out of one corner of her mouth. “Hit me with your best.”
Except for the two people murmuring to each other on the other side of the tavern, they were alone. Usually the tavern was crowded this time in the evening, but Kristen welcomed the quiet. It enabled her to chat without being hollered at by a needy customer. She fingered the wet rag she’d brought with her when she joined him at the table.
He cleared his throat. “You’re serving tables one night when a family with young children comes in seeking refuge from Lord Felnor’s men. Feeling compassionate, you hide them in the basement. But, ten minutes later, Kornich enters with ten soldiers and demands to know the family’s whereabouts. If you don’t answer immediately, he’ll kill you. The catch is that Kornich has already set his tracker on the family. They’ll find them regardless. Do you tell or not?”
Kornich was Lord Felnor’s personal, god-blessed minion who could somehow trace people to their location. Kristen normally objected when Tobias brought the god-blessed into his ethical dilemma games. They always complicated the scenario and made it weird. This one was simple though.
“If Kornich is involved, I spill. No point dying for nothing.” Kristen crossed her arms, pleased with herself for answering quickly. Maybe he’d be impressed for once.
Tobias wrinkled his brow. “Really?”
Kristen snorted. “What—would you refuse to tell? They’d find the family anyways.”
“If Kornich handed you a sword and commanded you to kill the family or he’d kill both you and the family, would you obey? Would you slaughter a family just to save your own life?”
Kristen let the sigh escape from her lips this time. Why did Tobias have to be so interested in these ethical dilemmas and stubborn about whichever side he favored? The two of them rarely chose the same side. And each discussion ended with Tobias making Kristen feel guilty…
[While most of my short stories will be published in their entirety on this blog, the rest of this story is exclusive to members of my mailing list.
Sign up below to read the rest of this story AND get access to my entire short story collection.]