The Flight of The Draykes
Hefting Teacher up carefully, we walked back to the battlefield and placed him comfortably on the ground.
Following Chase’s beckoning, we began searching through the battlefield for fallen allies, living allies,...and living enemies.
The living enemies were dispatched by Chase who refused to let us do the dirty work - something we were thankful for because there’s a difference between coldly executing people and killing them in battle.
A hair-thin difference but still a difference.
Today had been the first time I killed someone and then moving on in the same day, I had reaped more lives than a serial murderer would have.
Pushing back the bile that rose in my throat, I continued to walk amongst the dead while involuntarily, the features of the fallen engraved themselves in my head.
Then I heard cries of pain.
Swinging around, I traced the source of the pained cries to an enemy soldier, who must have been my brother’s age. He had a sword cut to his knee and his chest had a bloody wound that had stained the ground where he had crawled from in a bloody trail of red.
Standing above him, I stopped for a long moment.
The soldier below sensing something turned to look toward me with a frightened gaze that slowly turned to despair and then acceptance.
The soldier then turned his head away.
I watched in confusion for I had not made any movements to frighten him nor harm him.
But then I realized who those expressions were intended for as Chase walked past me, and kneeling asked the soldier his name and family.
Then he softly pressed a dagger to the soldier’s neck, the soldier who was crying now and looking up at the sky helplessly.
Then he sliced it across and the land was watered again with the blood of man.
Laying the gasping soldier on the ground carefully, Chase wiped his dagger before standing up and looking at me.
I stood with clenched fists and squeezed out the words, “What is the difference between us killing him now and Galen executing the gold rank?”
“An honorable death,” Chase calmly replied.
“How?” I spat.
“That soldier would not have lived. He would have lain here alive as the crows and vultures pecked at him. He would have felt every moment of the torture, unwilling but helpless.”
“Would you want that for him?” Chase asked expressionlessly.
Paling, I gritted my teeth at the absurdity of it all.
A few minutes before, I was struggling to fight against that man and his allies.
I would have done anything to make sure he died.
Yet now that he has after the battle, I feel pained and conflicted.
Yet I knew the answer to the question that Chase posed.
He knew it too.
But I remained silent.
For that is a daemon that I would confront later. Not today.
Today, I need to live. To live, I must fight. To fight, I must steel myself to cause harm to another. All this, so that they don’t cause me harm first.
That’s all there is to it at its roots.
Survival of my world against your world.
My family against your family.
My loved ones against your loved ones.
My future against your future.
My life against your life.
That is all war is about.
An exchange to see who lives to fight another day and who dies to live another day and whose world will shatter first.
Shaking my head, I muttered, “Falka watch over us all,” before turning away.
I don’t know whether Falka was watching over us or not but the reality proved her to not only be overseeing us but actively helping us.
Of the 82 soldiers who had gone into the fight, we had 27 left.
The remainder, barring 17 deaths, were all wounded who would recover without any lasting sequelae were they to be given enough time.
Of the people that I cared about the most, Only my brother had fairly serious injuries with his internal circulation parts affected by his overuse of his warforce.
He would recover in a few days but till then, he was part of the lightly wounded.
It was a mark of how badly we had been battered around that even then - he was counted amongst the 27 fighting men that we had left.
Ares had made it through with more cuts everywhere but he was alive.
Sia was like a lady blessed by luck as most of her wounds were superficial and her belief was that the shield would automatically defend her whenever she was truly in trouble.
I didn’t know whether that was true but I fervently wished it was so and thanked the shield in my heart.
Damon had a scar on his cheek, left from the crossguard of a silver rank knight's rapier as he stabbed forth with the sword - only to miss and leave the scar that looked like a brand.
Sir Leonidas was still asleep. I would have been worried but he was breathing peacefully and Sir Patrick who had lost the use of one arm temporarily was watching over him carefully.
As for Galen, His expression was dark.
Of his original 6 men, he had only 3 left.
His 2 silver ranks had laid their lives down in battle while one of his gold ranks had passed away after sustaining too many injuries in succession after the first battle.
This was despite Galen exhausting himself over and beyond what he could have done.
That was the first time I saw true emotion on the man’s face. It wasn’t a nice emotion to see.
After we had salvaged what we could and treated the wounded who required battlefield first aid, we dismantled the carroballista into its components and used it for splints and crutches, before the most critically wounded were laid carefully onto the cart itself.
Then we ate as much of the rations as we could, drank all the water we could, and staggered away in a line, toward our new destination.
The water source.
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