raising the white flag (a bit of Broken World history)
It was the simplicity of the flag that he liked. All white. From top to bottom, 100% white. No emblems or symbols. It seemed to represent purity, of both character and intent.
Plus it didn’t hurt that his country was covered in snow a full seven months out of the year.
Like many of the countries of the North, his was a warlike people. It wasn’t that they were particularly cruel by nature, it was simply that they preferred to take what they needed as opposed to produce it themselves. While it was true that his men occasionally engaged in some good-natured horseplay, raping and pillaging some of the weaker villages from time to time, he considered them decent folks.
Things were simple and made sense.
It wasn’t until he started to head further south that life began to confound him.
Having depleted his neighbor’s resources his people packed up and headed to new lands in search of much-needed spoils. Which is where the confusion started.
There were towns where he and his men would ride up, banner flying proudly above them, and the townspeople almost seemed relieved to see them. They would drop their guard and welcome his men with open arms. He would sit back on his mount, mumble a few appreciative words to his deity, and proceed to ransack the living shit out of the place.
And then, and this was the oddest part, his victims would actually seemed surprised by his actions. After their village sat a smoldering ruin and most of the men had been slaughtered, the remaining survivors took on an air of something he could not quite place. Was it… offense? “Did they not see the swords and flaming torches?” he would wonder to himself. “Are the horses not caked in blood? Do people get dumber and more oblivious to warning signs the warmer the clime?”
These questions would have troubled him more had he not a greater concern weighing on him; his precious flag.
How was he going to get all of the splattered blood out of it? It was no longer pure white and no amount of washing would get it clean. In fact, unsuccessful attempts had the entire flag taking on a pinkish hue and he knew his men would not ride under such a banner.
Finally he was forced to create a new flag, more in line with his group’s true disposition; skulls and flame and whatnot.
The first town they came to flying this new flag took one look and sounded the alarm. The battle raged for hours with plenty of casualties on both sides. Eventually, bloodied and bruised his men fell back. They rode silently back north until he finally spoke up.
“Well, at least that made more sense.”
His second in command nodded, coughed and said, “I think we need our lucky flag back. I believe the gods were displeased.”
The leader thought it over a minute and then replied “I think you’re right. White is my favorite color.”
“Actually,” his second in command noted, “White isn’t a color in and of itself, it’s actually the lack of other colors.”
The man quickly drew his sword and with one clean stroke created the opportunity for someone else to be his second in command.
Never use pure white; it doesn’t exist in nature.
-Aldro T. Hibbard, American painter, 1886-1972
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