Dawn of Death

A lone soldier stood upon a hill of green clover died red in the blood of war. The sunset sprayed the field in golden white light, undaunted by the hideous sight of tens of thousands of dead bodies. “So many. So many dead. For what purpose?” The young man asked the air.

“They died for their country. A nobler death there could not be.” An old man strode up the hill from behind, resting his hand on the young man’s shoulder. “In tragedy there is retribution…”

“In retribution there is justice.” He finished the old saying, but the words had little impact upon him. He had been given the most important task of carrying these men through alive, yet so few had survived, even fewer remained uninjured, with none unscathed.

The old man shook his head then paused, as if contemplating what to say. He spoke his words slowly, deliberately, speaking with concentrated thought, “What will you do now Kar-goth?” He spoke using the formal title for his commander.

The young man said nothing, he only silently shook his head. “Words,” he paused searching for meaning despite an overwhelming sense of purposelessness, “Words, lack consequence when they fail to describe emotion. Words cannot describe what I am going to do now, for words know not what I feel.”

The old man pulled back, troubled, “Kar-goth San! Surely you don’t mean this?”

The young man ripped off an ornate stitching from his shoulder, taking the old man’s hand and pressed his fingers over the emblem. He did this without ever turned to him. “Marcus, my second in command, my Kay-joth San, I relinquish my command as General of the Fourth army of the Setting Sun Empire, and I relinquish my title as heir to the Dowfanger.” He paused, allowing the impact of his words to hit his comrade. “I name you the new Kargoth San of Virilium and Warrior head of the fourth army of the Setting Sun, Heir to the Dowfanger. Lead your troops in honor, and never forget courage. I trust you shall need it wherever you go.” The newly ranked Kargoth San shed a tear in shock.

“But sir!” he made to speak more but the recently retired commander held up his hand, “In tragedy there is retribution.”

Marcus stifled a tear, holding his posture firm and proud. “In retribution there is justice.”

He looked forwards, unwilling to look behind himself, the direction in which lay the carnage of his doing. “May the wind always be to your back Marcus, and may it ever spur you on towards dawn.”

The old friend nodded solemnly at the impact of his words. Such a farewell was only ever spoken to the closest of friends when it was feared, nay expected that they should not greet each other until the next life. “And may the stars greet you well on your journey long.” He ended the millennia old saying with a twinge of sadness. The young man turned to descend the hill.

“Goodbye Marcus, you have been a loyal friend always, despite my failure in leadership.”  He started walking down the hill.

“Pollux, it wasn’t you fault.” The young man stopped momentarily, accepting his friend’s words with a slight pause, and then continued on. He didn’t know where he was going, he only knew he needed time to think. It was time to bury his sword and pick up a plow. It was time to stop strategizing and start worrying about rain. It was time, it was time to be done with war.

Marcus stood upon that hill for a very long time, watching as his friend slowly grew smaller and smaller amidst the rolling hills, against the Gallegan Mountain range backdrop. He made an attempt to smile, but was unable to. He wished his friend all the best. He hoped he would find the peace from war he sought, but he doubted it would be easy. “A man born to war dies to war.” He spoke the words softly, as if he were afraid of startling someone. He turned his head away; Pollux was no longer distinguishable against the landscape.

Marcus descended to the camp at the base of the hill from where he had come. He saw a foot soldier standing at attention. “We make for Telora at dawn. Notify the officers.”

“On whose orders shall I give Kar-joth?” the orderly, a short burly man inquired.

“On the order of Kar-goth San, Marcus.” He held out the emblem to the orderly. His eyes noticeably grew.

“Yes sir.” Marcus watched as the soldier hurried off. He knew what needed to be done, and he would do it. This was why he had been Pollux’s right hand man for so long, and that was why he had entrusted him with command. He would not fail his friend.

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