Strong Incentives

Everyone in the bar was hustled out into the snow at sword point. The sober ones were tasked with bringing out those too drunk to stand. Soldiers, their faces hidden by shadow and helm, surrounded the bar’s patrons.

Outside, a fat man with more beard than face waited stiffly. The embroidery on his clothes depicted him as an officer. “You’ve all been drafted into the Apellian Army-”

Gerim spat. “I’ll be the worst soldier, you’ve ever seen.”

The fat man shrugged, putting a strain on his clothes. “Doesn’t matter to me. The training is mostly to keep you alive. My job is to make sure we field the largest army the world has ever seen. If one or two of you happen to turn out to be good soldiers, well that’s just a happy coincidence.”

“I’m not even from Apellia.” Reos whined.

“Unfortunately, all those from other countries will have to be put to death.” The fat man said, examining his fingernails under the light of an oil lamp.

Reos gulped. “I’m Apellian!”

The fat man grinned. “Of course you are. Everyone is.”

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