He barely held his horse steady. The air was stained with sweat, blood and fear and the animal could feel it just as strongly as he did. His eyes scanned the battlefield beneath the hill he was on and he ignored the sudden urge to pray. God himself lost this war before the mankind even existed, he thought. He would be of no help now.
He gave the command when he was sure the last of his men was where he was supposed to be. With all their hope gone, they only had him to look upon, and they followed him blindly into every battle. But, this is different, he knew it as did they.
This might very well be their last battle. This one has only two possible outcomes – they will all die, every last one of them, or the enemy will. This battle couldn’t end with a draw, or ceasefire, or even a victory. Wounding the enemy is not enough. Defeating the enemy is not enough. Every last one of them must die, on one side or the other.
He looked at the forest, marvelling its beauty as he always did. It is the Faith itself that brought them here to fight this day; to the forest and hills he spent his childhood exploring. He wanted to think it was a good sign, an omen of Gods Grace, but he knew better. When its the evil itself you are fighting, there can be no good omen. In the middle of the valley was a big oak. He knew that tree very well, having spent many hours climbing it as a child. He knew its bark, every root and branch. He knew the tree was there and yet, it was invisible to his eyes now, buried somewhere under the sea of black mist that frightened his horse and his men… and himself.
He did not know what will come out of that mist, but he knew it was going to be his final test. He was a king for forty years now, and he was a good king. His people loved him, and he was just and fair. He build schools and used science to help the crops grow faster and richer. He build roads to the most remote areas and towns and their people, and he kept them all safe.
And yet, today will be the day he is remembered by. For better or for worse, this day will define him.
– Sire – someone said. He turned around, meeting the firm gaze of his knights. Those were tough men, the toughest this kingdom and countless battles could make through years of selection. He trusted them all with his life, and more.
– Men – the king shouted with a voice harder than steel – You are ready to die, I can see it in your eyes! You are ready to lay your life down for this country, and for me. You will give your best on this battlefield, because the lives or everyone dear to us depend on it. With this enemy there is no surrender. With this enemy there is no future for human race. Whatever comes out of that mist; whatever shape or form it comes out as, know this – it is the evil itself we are fighting here today! Look at it with no other thought. It is the evil itself, and we are the last wall that can keep it from spreading out and destroying the world and enslaving every last soul in it. Whatever comes out, it must be stopped, once and for all.
It will deceive us. It will use any means to defeat us. It cannot win. In this battle there is no retreat. To the very last man, we must prevail! Not for our own lives, but for the lives of everyone that is not here today. If we are to be defeated, they will suffer. We might lose our lives here today, but they will lose their souls.
The king steadied his horse and turn towards the black mist again. In perfect understanding, his knights approached.
– Breathe this beautiful air, my friends – the king said, lifting his arm – it is the very essence of humanity we fight for. Breathe it in deeply, and appreciate it as you never did before. As we ride down, thing about everything we’ve taken for granted, think about how much we were given. Nothing was ever asked of us in return, until now. Now, we fight for it all! Now we fight to deserve every day of our lives! Unleash the furry of men that comes from the love of Life!
His hand pointed forward and thousand men followed. The hills trembled under the weight of horses and determination of men. The wind swooped through the valley and the mist started fading away.