The fighting continued to rage.
Yesterday, Chief Tom Benson ordered the obliteration of a village that was believed to be harboring agents of the evil-doers. Benson fighters, decked on in the cleanest and purest white, fell upon the collection of huts like avenging angels. Children screamed as they watched their mothers' mouths spew forth blood as their bodies were gutted. Hours later, the fighters left the village. Another mission accomplished. Another round of washing the fresh blood from their uniforms, caked in the brightest of reds.
Weeks later, General Tiri Yerr ordered a retaliation for the loss of the families of his people. Innocent life can only be repaid in blood, he declared. His best trained assassins were sent to the command center of Benson's forces. Hours later, the center was ablaze with fire. Desk workers ran screaming from their buildings, bodies aflame. Blackened corpses littered the premises. The assassins did not return. "Their sacrifice for their people will be honored for all time," said Yerr, "their valiant deeds shall not be forgotten."
It was year 43 of the Great Conflict. The population of both Benson's tribe and Yerr's city were by now a shadow of their former selves. Neither Benson nor Yerr had any family of their own left alive. Benson's last neice was tortured and skinned three years ago. They no longer had anything to lose. Vengeance gave them both a reason to go on - their only reason.
It was on the occasion of Yerr's latest attack that a young lady in a remote town under Benson's protection began to have visions. She claimed the Great Ancestor was returning. She said the Great Ancestor was unhappy with the state of the world's children and had decided that she would be the herald of the return. The Great Ancestor would bring forth a new Golden Age of peace, prosperity, and freedom. Her body would convulse with the visions every time they came. Her name was Johanna Baptiste. She claimed all who continued to engage in the killings on the eve of the Great Return would be condemned to everlasting banishment.
She was lying.
As news of the young lady's visions spread, similar visions came to other young women across the realms. Soon they had spread to Yerr's country. A recurring theme was clear - the Great Ancestor had ordered the fighting to stop, the Great Ancestor had ordered all the children, young and old, to treat one another like brothers and sisters.
They were lying. All of them. The young women formed the backbone of an unspoken conspiracy. Their friends and families supported them, tired of the killing, the burning, the destruction.
In the months that followed, both Benson and Yerr were forced from command. Their followers stopped listening to them. The killing abated - for the first time in two generations.
Years later, the lie continued. The realm was beginning to recover from the years of destruction. Former enemies worked together building a better life for all those involved. The young women became priestesses of the realm, wandering the countryside, telling of their visions and the behavior the Great Ancestor required of them.
Centuries later, the first young women were the stuff of legend, but their descendants lived on, and worked their lies. Then one day, the Great Ancestor really did return. The Great Ancestor had watched the developments of the children with great interest and had adopted all the teachings of the young priestesses.
A great celebration was held. The people cheered, not so much that the kingdom of peace and prosperity had finally come, because they already had it, but because everything that they had ever believed were finally validated.
Johanna Baptiste watched them silently from beyond the veil of time and cried tears of joy.