Edit: Arguments of Humanity.
All I could see; blood.
I slashed the head off a horse, it came clean away, falling to the ground with a faint thump.
Or at least I thought it would, if I could hear anything but the screams of the dieing and the clang of shields blocking blows.
The rider fell forward and toppled off his mount, a spear protruding from his head.
I moved onto my next enemy.
Today there was no shortage of those.
I felt a tapping on my mental shield. Lex was trying to gain access to my motor skills, but my shield was too strong, my training paying off.
Another guard tumbled into my sight, bloodied and tired.
An easy kill.
I lunged forward, plunging my blades into his chest…
Commander Hell stalked up the interlinked network of trenches, assessing the damage that the opposition had inflicted.
Her real name was Helga, but no one ever called her that, preferring the pet name favoured by her troops. ‘Never be fooled… Hell’ll get you…’ was a phrase commonly used to scare the novices, it was a favoured past time for the seniors in the troops. It was also mostly true.
Hell’s troops loved their commander, no matter how hard she pushed them. They all knew it was for their own good; those who can not survive the training have no hope in a war.
Lex glided up to her, impassive and cool.
“Afraid not, Lady.” was the calm reply.
Hell sighed. Ever since this horrid war had started, no one could gain a foot-hold in the oppositions minds, it had never been like this before, not in times of peace.
“Report to the Citadel, the Queen would like to hear of the progress, or lack-there-of, you have made.”
Lex let a wicked grin shatter his pretence of impassiveness, as he saluted and swept away.
Hell shook her head. What was she going to do about that boy?
Lady Krissa loped up to the platform that Hell stood on, looking grim. “What’s the news, Commander?”
Hell relayed the news of their draw with the enemy. She shook her head again. How was it that they could break through every defence that they had set up? More importantly, though; how could they hold them back when they did?
As Krissa left, Hell felt a sense of unease, a premonition. What was going to happen to them all?
I was tired, though that could be an understatement on my part.
We were all exhausted, beyond weary. Many of us didn’t make it to the tents, they fell asleep on the ground, unconscious.
I walked to the mess tent. My Mam always told me to eat before you slept, as you never know when or where your next meal is going to come from. So I ate. I think I may have fallen asleep halfway through, though, as when I woke I had bread in my hair and I was stiff from sleeping on the wooden benches.
Feeling like a zombie I stumbled towards my tent. I had to hurry; the next attack was in an hour.
A bugle sounded, not for the first time today braying a retreat to the surrounding countryside.
I beat a hasty track back to the main body of the army, careful not to turn my back on the evil, deadly enemy.
“FOR THE PEOPLE!!” the war cries erupted from all sides, drowning out the yells and screams from the injured and dying. From the little I knew of the enemy’s language, I heard that they had the same battle cry as my people, strange… I wondered if they know that they stole it from us? Or has the government spread the word that we stole it from them?
Disgust flooded through me, disgust for the culture, the people, the ruling body and anything else that my enemy stood for or held.
Our battle cry filed my throat and burst from me as I hacked at the foul scum that had taken my peoples land.
“RETREAT! RETREAT! LIVE TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY!” she screamed at the drummers and her troops alike as she ran.
“Lady!” Lex called, running too. As he caught up to Hell, he paused to catch his breath. “ Lady- they are planing… to…to…” he started to say, but he started coughing. He finally caught his breath. “…they are going to use canon on our troops, Lady! We must hurry! It wont be long, only a half hour or so… we have to take over the cannon before they can seriously damage us!”
Hell considered the alternatives, always looking for something to spare more of her soldiers. She couldn’t think of anything better that could save more lives and could also be used effectively to be used in their favour. Sighing she gave the orders to move out, and surround the intended cannon site.
Ann-lee was making the Queens supper when the evacuation orders came in.
Scared and panicked she ran to her mother.
“Mama! What are we to do? Where are we to go? What is happening?” her voice rose several octaves before she had finished the sentence.
Her mother had just looked at her.
“Mama?” Ann-lee whispered, desperate now for an answer.
Her mother just said, “Goodbye. I love you…” and walked out to the courtyard, where the other refugees were waiting to be organised.
Ann-lee shook and cried as she was taken back to the kitchens. Back to the Queens supper. Back to the besieged city, to help pack food for the Royals, so that they could leave before the rest of the people.
Joseph dodged a blade that was aimed at his throat. He lunged back at his foe, his blade biting deep.
The woman dropped to the ground a gurgling scream coming out of the new opening in her neck, as well as her mouth.
Joseph had not chosen this life. But he was good at what he did. One of the best; a killing machine.
Joseph was reaching the end of his military career, he was fifty four and getting tired more easily. If he didn’t retire soon, he would be forced out of the army. Permanently.
Joseph dodged the filthy savages as they tried to land lethal, desperate blows on his body. He was in charge of a company of one hundred and fifty six trained cannon personnel. Though he was not one to use cannon, he couldn’t’t say ‘no’ to anything that involves fighting on the front line.
Laughing, he missed the red-headed commander come up behind him, his laugh cut off with a choking noise, strangely sounding like a drunk snoring after a long night drinking his friends under the table…
He saw no white light.
He heard no angelic music.
There was only silence and the dark… Permanent.
Hell yanked her scimitar out of the life-less body and swiped at another of the fleas.
They had taken over the cannon, but the ammunition had been set off by some brave, if somewhat suicidal, surviving enemy troopers, and though it had not killed many of her soldiers, she was still disappointed that they were unable to take over any of the cannon.
The enemy sounded a retreat. That was the forth time that day.
Her troops were heartened.
Hell made her way back to the walls of the city, needing sleep and food…
Tomorrow would be another day.
Ann-lee was resigned. She was to stay here and prepare food for the troops and commanders, and if required, to serve it too. She was assigned to serve and prepare the suppers, lunches and breakfasts of two of the prominent commanders.
Ann-lee tried to pass off one of them, the most feared Commander in the Kingdom, as she had been told of the great and the terrible that she had done in her life. But no one wanted to do the job, as they felt the same… terrified.
She made her way, hesitantly, towards the Commanders quarters, shaking.
She knocked on the door.
“Come in. I don’t bite that hard…” an amused voice called.
Ann-lee hurried to open the door, not wanting to keep the Commander waiting… in case she decided to punish her.
Commander Helga looked up from the romance novel she was reading, not looking that frightening… but still…
“Child, you are shaking, here come sit down…” the Commander got up from her chair, concerned for Ann-lee.
Why is she worried about me? She wondered, I thought she was supposed to be tough and uncaring… like Lilly told me… Ann-lee continued.
“Drink this, it will calm you down,” Commander Hell gave her a cup of tea, but it tasted strange. Ann-lee realised that it had something considerably stronger than tea in it.
She gasped as fire raced down her throat and into her stomach.
“It does have a bit of a kick to it.” Murmured the commander, amused. “Do you feel any better?” she asked with real concern.
“I-I’m fine.” stuttered Ann-lee, still shocked that the fearsome, aloof commander of the Royal forces was not so…so… well human.
“Well, off you go then… get some sleep. I believe that you have to be up early in the morning to prepare my breakfast.” the commander said firmly but gently, as she guided Ann-lee to the door. “I shall see you in the morning, then. Goodnight.” Then she was gone.
Ann-lee wandered down the hallways, still wondering and in awe.
I walked up to my commanding officer, pretending to have lost my rations tickets. He and I were drinking friends back in school, and we knew each other well.
“Sure, Gabe. Here, this’ll only last you a few days though…” he said, unsure. If he was caught, we would both hang.
The bastards had taken over our cannons and taken out half of our army this day. The army was demoralised. The gossipers were spreading rumours that, maybe, just maybe, the land that belonged to our ancestors wasn’t ours to fight for. Not ours to take back. That the thieving bastards that had taken our rightful inheritance ,all those centuries before, had a right to the land. That they had a claim.
They were found and hung this afternoon.
But it got me wondering.
What if that held some truth?
What if they did have some unspoken claim?
Don’t we have enough land back home?
Why were we really here?
My head whirled with questions. But I found no answers…
Angela, a conscript from down south, was a tall, well built woman. Strong enough to hold a shield wall, tough enough to break one.
She didn’t’t want to be here. Only months before, her son had died. He had only been seventeen had just started to work.
He was originally the one to be pulled out of the conscripts hat, but as he was killed before he could start his service. Angela was sent in his place.
She hoped that she would soon find her son again.
Her Government was the one who killed her son in her opinion. Though she couldn’t’t prove it, she knew it was true. She hated her Government, just as she hated the devils who took her ancestors lands.
“Bloody bastards.” was all she ever said these days. The company all thought her quite mad, and she was... Mad with grief… Both sides the enemy.
Who cares which wins? They’re both evil… to kill is still to kill… a life is still a life…
She never saw the cannon ball coming…
Hell grabbed a torch and ran. She saw the mound of gun powder ahead, ready to be made into deadly projectile launchers. She saw the opportunity
to save her people. To save her troops, to save the lives of the enemies who would be unnecessarily slaughtered.
She threw the torch.
She could not run anymore.
She couldn’t’t run fast enough, even if she wanted to.
She sent out a silent prayer- save them… save them…
The flame caught.
She was only aware of a girl beside her, the one from the previous night… Her name was Ann-lee…
“Where are we?” Hell asked the little girl.
The little girl replied, calmly, like she had been waiting, waiting to be where ever they were, “We are dead. The good. The bad. We are all dead.” she said this in a sing-song voice, a voice a teacher would use to help students learn a nursery rhyme. “Neither Good nor Evil… we are all the same… life is life… though the arguments still remain…”
Hell stared at her. Is she really a little girl? Or is she some angel come from heaven to bless them with wisdom?
Ann-lee just laughed and pulled Hell towards a better place…
A blast sounds, loud and thunderous.
I feel it ripping through my body before the flames come anywhere near me. But when it does, I scream. Scream, scream, scream.
Everyone is here. Everyone from my company, from my regiment, from my army.
As is the enemy, walking beside us. I see a woman with flaming hair walking with a little girl no older than ten.
I remember her from somewhere…
I hear the little girl:
“The good… The bad… We are all dead… Neither Good nor Evil… we are all the same… life is life… though the arguments still remain…”
Her words rang with a truth that surprised me… and then I wondered why. I knew I had always known this information… I had just been so caught up in the arguments of life. I had repressed it… fought it…
And now we are all dead…
hope you like it :P