Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language and violence.
Let me paint for you the mural that is a silent field of war seeing dawn's first light after a dark and moonless twilight.
Let me streak with golden rays that kiss at the smoldered grass, once green, now only grey.
Let me splotch with blackened reds of dried life as the blood crusts on iron and cloth.
Let me splatter around arms and legs, horses and men, like they were nothing more than unwanted excess still clinging to the brush.
Could you tell which side had won? Could you meander the maze of bodies, dodging the flags still hanging by threads from spears thrust through chests, stepping over faces that show every emotion felt at the last moment of life…and could you know what purpose these men had for ruining by the sword?
I doubt even if you had the time to count every lost soul, and compare the numbers, you could not.
War rarely has any true victors.
“Bring him down! Bring him down!!”
The violent screams of a commander signaling his men to maintain their focus could barely be heard over the obnoxious raging of battle. Just the sound of swords clanging on armor, arrows sinking into shields, was enough to drown out all else, but the droning hum of the enemy’s war horns were deafening in the valley.
Amidst the tightened formations, a small break had ruptured where one assailant, nearly two feet taller than the rest, had stepped forward clad in a robust suit that deflected every weapon thrown or thrust at it. Wielding a massive hammer, he had crushed a hole in their defenses and was actively pressing it wider.
Gaermund the Bear, that is what he was called. The Myrians were famed for their long lineages of giants. Though much smaller than the fables of past times, they still dwarfed any normal man, and their strength went beyond anything possible.
“Don’t just stand there, swarm him!”
Still in shock at the pure power that was this great beast of a human, the surrounding soldiers clung to their shields in some hope that it would protect them, but they had just witnessed a dozen of their comrades pulverized by the sheer weight of his weapon. Metal would bend and wood crack regardless. But these were no common foot soldiers, they were the Azaralie Protectors, and within moments of this newfound threat being tossed into their ranks, the front line closed back together, reforming their tightly bound defense, and those within reach of Gaermund launched themselves at him, dropping shield and sword and instead driving at his trunks of legs. Unprepared for this move, he found himself suddenly lifted from the ground and onto his back. With ten men bearing their weight on him and pinning his limbs, he could do nothing more than struggle and roar like the wild animal he was.
It was high noon now, and the sun was glaring down at them, peaking between the shriveled clouds that had teased them with the thought of shade, but now only laughed as they all melted in their armor. Already men were passing out from the temperatures. Just an additional struggle of it all.
The left and center brigades had advanced halfway through the valley, pressing back the enemy. Myrian war tactics were often rudimentary, and despite still holding the eastern shores due to some incomprehensible victories, their armies had slowly dwindled into packs of mercenaries and farmers.
But the right flank was struggling to maintain their foothold, as the band of oversized soldiers posed a rather difficult threat to manage.
Commander Brexton had a few tricks up his sleeve, though.
At his command, four horses were brought forward, spaced a distance apart, dragging between them a large netting of metal bands with sharpened hooks laced every few inches. All at once those men that had jumped on Gaermund to subdue him released their captive, leaping aside as hooves took their place. Winded by the effort of trying to throw off so many ironclad bodies, the Bear instantly found himself locked underneath this net, and as he flailed his arms and legs in futile attempts at throwing it off, those barbs linked into the edges of his armor, effectively pinning him in place. The more he struggled, the more it closed in around him, soon binding him in a contorted ball of smoldering anger. His great breath could be heard echoing in his dungeon-like helmet.
“You bastards!” He screamed.
The men laughed and cheered. They had caged the beast. The rest would follow.
Forward at the far left, another commander was leading a cavalry charge that had proven too much to handle for the Myrians. Their lack of coordinated spears left large gaps in their lines, through which horses wearing thickened front plates simply marched at full speed, tossing aside anyone unlucky enough to be in their path. Trained from birth for this very task, and angered by aggressive flogging from their riders as well as mildly drugged with a special blend of alcohol and Wyrm’s Bane, they were a crazed wave of trampling aggression. Wielding clubbed lances, the Azaralie Chargers began turning the tide of the battle, shattering through the second and third ranks, and suddenly breaking into the rear archer formations that began fleeing towards the forested hills surrounding them.
Without support from their artillery, the foot soldiers would undoubtedly begin to succumb to the ever marching wall of shields pressing at their center. And without the cavalry to match, it already seemed a lost fight, despite only having begun at the first light of morning.
Their leaders were certainly not expecting such a large force to be sent so deep into enemy territory, but the Azaralie king had plans for taking control of certain fortresses that would cut off supply lines to the outer regions of the territory, and provide them a much easier task of expanding their dominance.
Tried and tested blue flags, adorned with the white dove, fluttered ever higher, slowly towering over the inferior Golden Crab. Odd, it was, that for so many hundreds of generations fishermen of the east, so skilled at naval warfare, had chosen to confine themselves to glade and glen, where lack of watery battlefronts would be their demise.
Commander Brexton sighed.
Not because they were losing the fight. And not because his orders weren’t being executed with exactness by every soldier in his brigade.
But because…because bloodshed was no more to the politicians than a game of Coins. He longed for the days when kings fought at the head of the march, and would fight to the death, one on one, purely for the sake of honor and to save the lives of their men. Now they fought off wanton women, and the disease that comes from gluttony.
- some concept art for your enjoyment -