This battle would be much more intense if both sides weren’t trying to lose.
“If we do not win for the glory of the emperor, we will be executed as criminals.”
“But we can’t win! The odds are stacked against us.”
“Have no fear! I have bribed the other general to lose to us. All we have to do is make sure that we don’t hurt his men.”
Meanwhile, in the other camp…
“The emperor told us to conquer his own army. That’s insane!”
“I know. I have secured assurances that if we don’t hurt his men, the general will appear to fight and fail.”
The next day…
emperor watched in confusion from the hilltop. Both armies, supposedly fighting for his honour and his birthday, were doing a lot of shouting
and swinging. But not an awful lot of killing.
“I’d heard that pitched battles such as this had the rivers flowing red with human blood,” complained the emperor.
“A poetic exaggeration,” said his advisor. He was sweating.
There were men falling. The emperor could see that. What was lacking was any kind of injury.
“Is it normally like this?” said the fourteen-year-old emperor.
“I couldn’t say,” hedged the advisor. “There’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ battle, sire.”
“Are they not sufficiently motivated? One had thought that the threat of death would inspire any man.”
The advisor smiled a nervous smile. “Most other renowned holders of the crown offered… much more generous rewards.”
The emperor stood. Cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted, “TEN YEARS’ SALARY FOR THE FIRST MAN TO REALLY DIE!”
“Sire… you don’t pay them,” said the advisor, a little too loudly.
And that was how the revolution started.