Mayflies live for an average of 5 minutes.
Humans live for an average of 50 years if they’re lucky.
People living in the Cloudy Stronghold can live until 30, unless you’re lucky enough to be born noble, in which case the slow process of starving to death becomes slower and you’re given the mercy of violently tearing at meat that you don’t know the origin of.
It is an ugly secret. One you don’t speak of, for fear that one day, the prince- at the young age of 14- will hear about it, and stop eating entirely.
You don’t tell him about the disappearance of those working in the castle, you don’t tell him about the fact that you’re well aware you will leave soon and thus be unable to protect him from the ugly truth.
Adults are wretched. Yourself included. It’s detestable what you do to survive.
There are those who were unfortunate enough to do the deed of preparing still-warm meat themselves. Some people don’t cook it, cooking takes too long, and hunger gnaws on every part of you.
One day, a child stumbles out of her home covered in blood, and collapses outside.
Nobody tells her what happened when she wakes up, and asks where her mother went.
Forgetting is a mercy. You wish you could forget a lot of things, but you’ve long since outgrown running from your sins.
Somewhere, by the edge of the territory people are willing to explore, you hear rumors about dragons.
Nothing can be done. People are too hungry to investigate.
Days later, the price of ignorance is paid, several people end up dead. Their bodies ripped into shreds.
You cannot identify them. You can’t even be certain they were human- people disappear and die every day. It is a part of life.
One of your subordinates elbows you and mentions that you have somewhere you need to be, and that she can handle the rest.
You know exactly what happens next. You leave, grateful for the fact that you don’t have to be the one delivering “rations.”
By the time you reach the age of 30, the average cutoff for even high-ranking officers, you aren’t there. You reckon that there’s enough meat on your bones to feed half of the remaining people in the Cloudy Stronghold.
But you can’t be of use to them in that way anymore.
Somebody passes you by. If you didn’t know where he was supposed to be, you could have sworn he resembled one of your old subordinates. The child next to him stares through you.
You hold back the urge to vomit.