Another of my Six Form stories. This was written during a lesson about character perspectives and differing points of view as a narrative device. It was also an early flexing of my satire muscles. I think that I must have been reading some Pratchett at the time. The first half is pretty meh but the second part still makes me smile.
Two points of view from opposite sides of the same event.
It was raining. It lashed down in great torrents, whipping the faces of me and the men around me as we stood and waited. We were all sodden to the bone and could feel our strength seeping away with every second we stood idly by. To either side of me were lines of grim faced soldiers all awaiting our commanders signal to attack.
Then, as suddenly as it had started, the rain stopped. Through the clearing haze we got our first sight of the enemy troops. Misshaped figures faced us down a hundred yard opposite us. They looked to us like mutants, bulges and tormented postures looking dominant among their ranks. Shadowy shapes reminiscent of men hung back in the distance. The damned mist likely hid their main force, keeping us guessing at how innumerable their force truly was.
Only an old wishing well and several low growing rose bushes separated us from them and those objects would provide us with no safety from our monstrous foes. It had once been a shine to our god of luck so we were all adamant not to let anyone defile its sacred grounds.
As the haze cleared further the sight of the enemy commander met our weary eyes. He sat atop a horse of titanic proportions, towering above the men around them like one of the statues of long dead heroes that graced my home city. Unlike them though I was positive that no pigeon would dare venture within a mile of him. He stood at the centre of his forces unlike our own commander that led us from the safety of our rear flank. Majestic armour of white or lightest silver covered much of his body so that even without his mount he could easily be seen.
Their commander’s horse reared as it gave off an unnatural roar that would have been more at home coming from some terrifying predator than from a creature so beautiful and godlike as a stallion. The beast must have had a fearsome name that belonged in the demon world and caused children to cry upon hearing it. The sound had such anger and ferocity contained within it that many of my fellows couldn’t help but to shiver or jump.
The enemy troops had evidently seen this moment of fear as they laughed and taunted us, their arms waving around them and some even going as far as to roll across the ground like they found our lapse of discipline hilarious. This only served to raise the ire of my comrades and I though as we were now determined to pay them back for their mockery.
From somewhere behind me the order came to advance. We began our march with forcibly blank features and hoped that the enemy would not pick up our fear from our eyes. Our foes made no sign of moving as we approached. I had a horrible feeling that they were plotting something but there was nothing I could do because I was only a lowly pawn.
I muttered a prayer and flicked a spare coin into the depths as I passed the well before entering the sweet scented tangle of rose bushes. They looked so peaceful. I would take some back for my sweetheart if I managed to make it back I had decided.
Musings of my love ended abruptly as the first man fell a few men away from me. I expected that he had tripped in the tangle but when he did not rise to rejoin the march my mind became troubled. Every step more of my fellows fell but none rose again. Suspecting treachery I diverted my eyes from my feet to look upon the enemy.
Their commander was riding along their front rank waving his arms about in what I could only describe as some twisted pagan ritual to fell our blessed warriors. Hatred and fear bloomed within my chest as I watched him work his sorcery before terror set in as I realised that a large chunk of the first rank was gone.
A horn blared from behind signalling retreat. My heart was torn between disgust at running from the sacrilegious scum and relief that I would not have to face their demonic horde. More of my comrades fell as we pulled back but the gods had taken mercy on my soul and offered me their define protection.
It was raining. It always did in the time that surrounded events such as a battle, it was Gods way of adding tension. I was use to it, coming from marshland as I had, as were many of my men. Compared to the things the sky threw at us back home this was a spring picnic.
Or it would have been if we weren’t about to enter a pointless battle with a force that our scouts had reported as been double the size of our own. To counter this problem we had packed our front ranks tightly together while keeping a single line of soldiers well back just within vision so that we could hopefully fool any opponents into believing we had at least another rank behind, if they were stupid that is. I wasn’t hopeful.
Not only that but the new uniforms issued to my men were also a cause for concern. Our ruler was not known for extravagant spending and true to his reputation we had been given uniforms made of the cheapest materials and in sizes that ranged between too small or too large. It looked like I led an army of lepers, hunchbacks and cripples.
My own uniform was adequate as I was a commanding officer I had been allowed a bigger budget but the local pigeons seemed to hold some personal grudge against me. Many a time I had been compared to a statue of some valiant hero when I sat upon my trusty horse, Bruce, which was all fair and good for my ego but the damned birds seemed to have the same idea. My once brown armour was stained white and even the rain didn’t seem to be washing it clean.
Unlike back home, the rain stopped. I rather wish it hadn’t. Row upon row of red clothed soldiers solidified from the mists to face us. I couldn’t see a commander, just foot soldiers or footies as we called them. Most think that I am a valiant leader as I do not cower at the rear like so many nowadays but in reality it is cowardice and self preservation that keeps me away from the back. If an army is flanked or ambushed, the rear often is butchered quicker than the front. The centre is safe. Everyone else has to die before I even see combat, plus it isn’t bad for inflating my already fabled reputation by appearing brave and concerned for the average soldier.
Bruce reared up on his hind legs beneath me almost causing me to topple. His tail rippled as a loud reverberating foghorn issued forth from the steeds large behind as it relieved itself of a vast store of trapped wind. Luckily for me the air pressure was low but as I spied around me I could see many nearby soldiers gagging and chocking, some even writhing on the ground. I should really take him to the vet if we survive to get that little problem sorted, I thought to myself.
The red soldiers began to march towards us with a worrying look of determination on their faces. They moved past the old well that had been my goal, considering that it had enough coins within its depths to pay the full regiment, then entered the tangle of rose like plants that had consumed much of the area. They weren’t roses though. In fact, they were rather poisonous when in contact with skin but I wasn’t about to point this out the them. At least some would sleep through the battle now but that was still of little comfort to me considering their numbers.
Turning my attention from the advancing wall of soldiers I decided to address the men around me. “Looks like were screwed. Even with such steep odds though we will fight our hardest and either steal a victory from the jaws of hell or take as many of them there with us as we can.” In honesty I meant: hold them off as long as you can while I run. That wouldn’t do much for moral though so I continued speaking sugar coated bull.
Luckily for me, the men under my control were rather dense. They constantly ignored the meaning of my words but seemed to take the frantic waving of my shaking arms as encouragement. I wasn’t about to complain.
A horn snapped me out of my speech and private plans for escape. I rounded Bruce back towards the enemy and were astonished to see them fleeing like God was chasing behind them, giving each one a good kick in the ass as He went. You can be sure that I was rather confused over the whole affair but I certainly wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
“Well done men. You all fought really well and won us the battle with your valour.”
The sarcasm was, of course, lost upon them so they cheered merrily, believing my words over their own version of events. I was commander so my version was the truth, not what every other soldier could have sworn happened and everyone was happier that way. “Right, grab the money from the well and lets get home, we might just make it in time for dinner.”