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Edwin Sharar

Those who desire peace must prepare for war.

0 · 198 views · located in Sunset Village

a character in “Seeing Double”, as played by Resurgam

Description

Name: Edwin Sharar
Age: 20
Picture: Image

Description: Tall and comely, Edwin cuts a distinctive figure as he strides around town with his dirty-blond hair and captain's uniform. When off-duty, he dresses in formal, old fashioned clothes. He is rarely seen without his full ensemble of shirt, vest, trousers and long coat, and sometimes gloves, scarf and hat as well. He prefers darker, drabber colours, especially browns, greys and blacks. Partly it's because plain clothes make him less conspicuous, but partly it's because he doesn't trust bright colours. He worries they make him look like a clown.

Personality: Edwin is an old-fashioned young man with maturity beyond his years who values honour, courage, duty and courtesy. Sensible and responsible, he can always be depended upon to follow the proper course of action. As he is quiet and soft-spoken, people often make the mistake of assuming that he's not paying attention, but in fact his highly intelligent mind is constantly racing furiously, assessing each situation. Being polite and considerate with a strong sense of loyalty and justice, he is well regarded by his subordinates and superiors. He knows how to make charming conversation with people of his social class, but he can be nervous and shy around young ladies, particularly "modern" girls. He doesn't quite know whether to treat them as delicate, dainty things or just one of the boys. He worries they might be secretly laughing at him because he's making a fool of himself.

Equipment:
- A custom automatic pistol with inlaid ivory handle, engraved with vines
- A sword and dagger on his belt and two knives in his boots
- Ballistic vest
- compass, matches, canteen, army-knife, mini-binoculars

History: He was raised in a small village by poor but educated parents who wanted him to be a scholar. His studies were interrupted by the invasion of his village by the tyrant's forces. Drafted into the army at a young age, he was forced to serve the man who'd ruthlessly crushed his people. Despite his reluctance, his natural abilities soon attracted the attention of his superiors. He was steadily promoted and was given special permission to resume his studies, especially in the areas of military strategy, technology, economics and politics. Over time, Edwin's loyalties shifted towards the tyrant; after all, Edwin had been given opporunities and he felt he should be grateful for all the favours the tyrant had showered on him. Despite his sense of duty to his master and his willingness to carry out orders, Edwin is too intelligent and endowed with too strong a conscience to not have private doubts about the war. Those doubts have been supressed for the moment...

He is second-in-command of the forces at Sunset Village.

So begins...

Edwin Sharar's Story

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Dear Mother and Father,

I pray this letter finds you in good health.

A month ago we succeeded in liberating Sunset Village from the forces of imperialist dogs. The people here are overjoyed to be under the benevolent rule of our Glorious Leader. I have been given vice-command of the village under Colonel Jaromir. My duties are: to ensure the welfare of the people, to maintain security, to prepare the village for exploitation of its resources, to investigate and put down rebels, and to oversee new recruits into our military.

I am concerned that Col. Jaromir, who is a hard man, may be treating some of the villagers with unnecessary force. However, it is not my place to question his methods. Our Noble Leader has put his faith in Col. Jaromir for a reason, and I must trust that all will turn out for the best. I am also concerned that some of our new conscripts, who resent our presence here, will attempt a counterattack. In time they will come to accept the rightness of our cause, but at present they must be watched carefully for any sign of disturbance.

Sunset Village is appropriately named, for the days here are short and nights are cold. I have received the scarf you knit for me, Mother. It reminds me of home and is often a comfort on cold night patrols. I am in fine condition and have sustained no injuries yet. All this training in the cold mountain air is doing wonders for my constitution and complexion; you would hardly recognise me! I hope that we will see each other again soon.

Your loving son,
Eddie (now Lieutenant-colonel; yet another promotion)


Edwin read the letter a final time, searching it for any subversive comments that could get him in trouble. No, he had mentioned the Glorious and Noble Leader and his benevolent rule. He had criticised Colonel Jaromir and called him "a hard man", but the Colonel would probably take that as a compliment. The letter was safe.

He nodded to himself, folded the letter and placed it in an envelope, which he slipped into his breast pocket. Sadly his parents' village was too small and poor to have access to computers or even phones. Besides, writing letters had a more personal touch.

He sighed, ran a hand through his hair and stepped out onto the street.

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As he walked the streets, Edwin kept one hand on the handle of his pistol and paid close attention to his surroundings. The town was unnaturally quiet. The distant rumbling of machinery and the heavy tread of boots echoed through the streets, but the sounds of chatter were conspicuously absent. A dim, dismal air hung over the place. Occasionally, squads of soldiers would march by on patrol. They would salute Edwin, and he nodded to them in return. The Colonel had organised the patrols so that the new recruits were divided into different squads. It wouldn't do for the Sunset Villagers to spend too much time together, as it would give them an opportunity to talk among themselves. They couldn't yet be trusted. For that same reason, their armouries, stores and other vital buildings were guarded by trusted soldiers.

The few defiant villagers Edwin saw were grey and worn-looking, being herded along by soldiers. They would be put on work gangs in the factories and mines, provided they cooperated. If they resisted, they would meet a crueller fate.

He noted with unease the empty buildings now standing unguarded throughout the village. Their first priority was securing the perimeter, but as soon as they were able, they would need to search the buildings and put guards on them. It would be too easy for fugitive villagers to take refuge in them.

After delivering his letter to the communications office (it would be at least two weeks before the next caravan left for his village), Edwin changed out of his uniform and into his street clothes. Lying himself down on the couch in his tent, he took a few volumes from a nearbly shelf, opened the nearest one and began to read.

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Edwin scanned the maps again, making notes. He could see why the Leader had chosen this village for a major military base. Geographically, its position was ideal. The village was bounded on three sides by difficult terrain, making it difficult for an enemy to assault them. To the west was a mountain range they could mine for minerals to be processed in their factories. To the north, a forest provided a ready supply of timber. The plains to the south were fertile and capable of producing enough food to feed their forces for some time. All they needed was the labour, and the villagers could be... persuaded to fulfil that function.

But why did he get the feeling there was something else going on? There were many villages along the coastline that were suited for their purposes, but the Leader had marched them long and hard to take Sunset Village. What was so important about this place? Was there some rich resource here the Leader didn't want them to know about? What was he looking for?

Edwin frowned and absent-mindedly tapped his chin before reshelving the books and making his way out of the tent. It was time he took a walk around the village and checked on how things were going.

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"Sir!"

Edwin stiffened as the soldier called to him, his right hand instinctively going to his pistol.

"What is it?" he asked, turning to the man, his eyes flicking from left to right.

"We caught another four trying to escape."

Edwin frowned. He needed to get to these people before the Colonel did.

"Take me to them immediately," he ordered. The soldier saluted, turned and jogged swiftly away. Edwin followed at his heels.

They passed through the grim silence of the town, their boots drumming loudly on the streets, until they emerged into the open, flat space bordering the southern plains. A circle of soldiers were pressed around a small group of people.

A family, Edwin thought ruefully.

They were a pitiable sight, thin and hungry-looking, their clothes reduced to little more than rags. The youngest was hardly more than a baby. The two children were crying, the adults staring blankly into the distance.

"What shall we do with them?" one of the soldiers asked.

Why are you asking me? You know what we must do with them. Will you make me say the words? Are you trying to rub this into my conscience?

"The Colonel has commanded that any who try to escape must die."

Click-click. The sound of a rifle being cocked.

"Not yet," said Edwin, his ears beginning to burn. He knew he was on thin ice now. The Colonel already disliked him. The only thing keeping him alive was the Leader's favour. "I will execute them personally. Take them to the cells to await their sentence."

"What's this?" a cold voice asked, sending chills down Edwin's spine. Swivelling on the spot, he saluted smartly. The other soldiers did the same.

"At ease." Colonel Jaromir's hands were clasped behind his back as he advanced on the little family, walking in his deliberate, upright military posture. "Kindly explain what is going on, Lieutenant-colonel Sharar."

Edwin swallowed and cleared his throat.

"These villagers were apprehended in the act of fleeing the village, Sir," he said, keeping his voice level with some difficulty.

"And did I not make it clear that the punishment for such an offence was death?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Then why do you delay? Are you trying to intervene on behalf of the criminals, as you did earlier? I have already warned you, Lieutenant-corporal, that this village is under my command. The Leader placed you here to assist me, not to subvert my authority."

"Sir, my only duty is to serve you. I would never subvert your authority. I was merely - "

"No. No delays, no more excuses. Do it now."

"Sir?"

"I believe you wanted to do it personally? Well, now's your chance. Go ahead. I'm waiting."

Edwin nodded, stony-faced. He drew his pistol and pointed it. The woman started screaming and wailing, trying to shield her children. It took a great deal of effort to keep his hand from trembling.

"Start with the youngest."

Somehow he kept his face blank. He couldn't look at them, couldn't see the fear and the grey hopelessness in their empty eyes. It would destroy the last part of him that was still a decent human being.

"Do it!"

Edwin squeezed the trigger.

Bang!

"Now the next one," said the Colonel.

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At the last second, Edwin was spared the horror of firing any more shots. The Colonel decided the three remaining captives would make a better example if they were hanged and displayed in the town square to remind people of the consequences of disobedience. Edwin was glad of that. Not their execution, but the fact that he wouldn't have to be the one to finish them. He stared at the ground as the three captives and their dead child were taken away, his hands trembling so much he probably wouldn't have been able to fire a shot even if he'd wanted to.

The fact was that he didn't have the constitution for this kind of work. Killing had never been something he'd wanted to do to. That was best left to men like the Colonel, who took pleasure in other people's pain. Edwin didn't mind being in the army so much, provided he didn't have to anything too violent. He could study maps and develop strategies and let other people do the dirty work for him, meaning that he could think about war as a kind of abstract thing: he strategically moved a few troops here and there, redrew a few boundaries, gained a few territories, and if there was some messy, bloody action involved, it was mostly handled by other people so he didn't have to think about it too hard.

Even a shootout was okay. At least the people on the other side were armed, and in the heat of battle there wasn't much to think about except kill or be killed. But this? Killing unarmed civilians in cold blood? Children? Babies? Looking them in the eye, seeing their fear before pulling the trigger? No. This was not what he'd signed up for.

He couldn't get the image of the dead child out of his head. After he'd fired, his stupid eyes hadn't been able to resist glancing at it, seeing the wet redness dripping to the ground, the way its parents had clutched at, its blank, dead eyes. He would see those eyes again in his dreams tonight. He shuddered.

"You did well." The Colonel nodded at him.

"Thank you, sir." Edwin felt his blood surge with anger, but he was powerless. There was nothing he could do.

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The town square was slowly filling with villagers, pulled from whatever tasks they had been assigned. They were wary as the soldiers herded them along, no doubt afraid that something bad was going to happen. It was, but not to them. They were safe, this time at least.

Over the dull tramping of boots and the low susurration of whispers, the Colonel could be heard giving orders.

Edwin lingered by the edge of the square, watching with mounting unease as the gallows were set up. Around the raised platform, the crowd milled and surged against the ropes like fenced cattle. After a while Edwin couldn't take it any more, so he swivelled on his heel, pushed through the soldiers guarding the square's perimeter, and moved into the streets.

The lanes and walkways of Sunset Village were much emptier now, with most people in the town square. Edwin made a brief stop at his tent before walking the familiar path to the jail. He nodded to the two guards on duty, who saluted and let him in.

Sunset Village's small cells were crowded with several people each. They hadn't been built to hold such a large number of prisoners. Edwin slowly walked the length of the building, noting the depressed and malnourished condition of most of the occupants. The Colonel didn't believe in wasting precious food on enemies who were lucky to still be alive.

Edwin reached inside his coat and produced a few packets of biscuits. He distributed these to the three cells with the youngest children inside them.

"Bless you, sir," said Vivian, mother to a little boy called Cem. "And have you..."

"Sorry," said Edwin. "I've had no word of your husband or your daughter."

That was a lie. Edwin knew exactly where they were: buried in a shallow ditch south of town. But the woman didn't need to know that.

He continued pacing the corridor, lost in thought.