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Pre-Storm Calm -- FWG Flash Fiction for 5/28/2022

Can a villain be sympathetic? Even a destroyer of worlds? I've never written a sympathetic villain. Every character should have flaws, though, right? Is a conscience in a villain a flaw?

Pre-Storm Calm

From his vantage point high on the mountainside, the town looked like a museum tableau or a miniature railroad setting. He savored the quiet before the storm--the storm he was about to rain down on the poor, innocent folk below. "All is ready, Sire," Tiger, his Field Marshal and principal military advisor said. Emperor Goichi stood stock-still, not acknowledging Tiger by word or muscle. He knew his slightest movement would signal the beginning of the attack, and he wanted, no he needed, this moment of mental solitude, of a singular aloneness, even though he was surrounded by thousands upon thousands of his loyal and bloodthirsty warriors. A flinch or raised eyebrow and the final battle of his conquest would commence. This beautiful village, though soon to be obliterated by cannon, sword, and fire, would live forever in the history books his scribes had yet to write. This hamlet, that he tried his whole life to forget, would become a destination for the pilgrims who would chant his name with religious fervor long after his bones had crumbled to dust. This he saw as clearly as he saw the doomed town below. "Sire?" his Field Marshal asked with the slightest hint of impatience.

Goichi would have left this valley in peace, a vestige of the republic his armies had lain waste to. But Tiger insisted that no sanctuary for the inevitable insurgency should be left standing. No cancerous lesion of freedom or democracy could be left to fester and infect the surrounding, sterilized country.

So, Emperor Goichi took his advice as he always had. After all, why spare his hometown, his family and childhood friends? Those who had laughed at his dreams and never rallied to his banner. He sighed and nodded, keeping his gaze downcast as Hell was loosed.

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