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Dissonant Spirits

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Haven 9:41 Dragon, Entry 1

I can still hear the satisfying crunch of his nose caving under the heel of my palm. The cartilage crumbling; his head and body knocked back from the force. I'd been waiting all night to do that. Ever since waking up to a world of screams, shoved through snowy terrain with barely a scrap of decent clothes on me and unattended while others were given preferential treatment. Babbling surrounded me. Didn’t think much of it until I heard a twanged voice complaining about the “dirt shit cold” and that they weren’t no “dang ruski commie.” They spat and complained about getting tobacco. There was a tiny bearded fellow next to him who I didn’t understand. Sounded like Cantonese.

The game made it seem like less than a hundred people survived because the rest died in the Temple. But there were hundreds of survivors and this refugee camp barely sufficed, what with the addition of us. Crowded, under stocked, and unprotected, I’m surprised I survived. We were kept in packed tents until we were able and pushed out. Men were pulled into the line of soldiers, given a sword and shield. We were told we would fight, and in the same breath they would hiss knife-ear at us, jeer and cackle when some of us were too weak to hold up the old weapons.

It doesn’t matter the language, doesn’t matter the words that are spoken, but a slur is a slur by the tone - by how you say it. They could have said it in passing, with no inflection and I would have rolled on because that phrase meant nothing to me. It was their intent behind the word. Knife and ear used to hold no meaning, no power but here it held the connotations and intent of anyone who ever called me a nigger.

“Hey, Ser.” I called out to the soldier. I was as tall as he was slouching, taller still when I stood straight. This unnerved him, probably because he’d never seen an elf with this much confidence. I met his gaze, kept my head up. “I would appreciate it, if you didn’t call us that.”

A beat and they walked up to me. “What was that, rabbit?”

“I said. I would appreciate it-” Only I didn’t get far before there were repercussions for my back talk. The same repercussions I remember my grandfather telling me about the 60s. Knife-ears aren’t supposed to talk back. Knife-ears aren’t supposed to request to be treated with respect. Knife-ears are supposed to keep their head down. Knife-ears are supposed to say ‘yes, ser’ or ‘no, ser.’ Knife-ears are supposed to be obedient.

The other soldiers did nothing. Even the elven recruits. The few Templar knights looked away as they ground my face into the dirt. Said I belonged there because of the shape of my ears and the color of my skin. They tried to rope me up into the line of soldiers again but I let the weapons drop. It had nothing to do with the bruises or busted face and everything to do with principle.

It nearly killed me.