Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Soldiers moved in troops on the streets far below, rifles held over their shoulders. Some wore shining emerald uniforms; others were less cohesive in dress. The two sorts tended to stay a safe distance away from each-other.

"Looks like negotiations have broken down," I noted, pointing to the city square, where the commanders were withdrawing from the large tent placed there.

"Like they ever really had a chance," my brother opined. "I thought all this was settled back when the Duke spat in the King's eye at Gilahad."

"Oh, come on, the newspapers made that up," I replied exasperatedly. "No-one spat in anyone's eye."

"Royalist," my brother snorted. "But - still. There've been a bunch of battles since then. Why are they meeting now?"

"Honor, I guess," I said. "Gotta make sure everything is done with honor."

We were quiet for a little while, watching the soldiers march.

"Guess they're going to have the battle in the central square," my brother said, observing the situation.

I nodded.

After the battle-lines had formed, the commanders began calling out. "Three!" we heard, faint with distance. "Two!"

"They're counting down before they fire?" my brother asked, startled. "Like this was a game!"

"Seems pretty dumb, yeah," I agreed.

A wave of crackling came from below. Screams followed shortly thereafter.

"What I would do - " I began "- if I were there, in the front rank - would be to fire, right after the big guy says "one", and then drop."

"Drop your weapon?" my brother asked.

"Drop to the ground," I clarified. "Then they'd all be shooting over my head, and I'd be out of the shooting, unless I got pretty unlucky."

"Doesn't seem too honorable," my brother said. "Don't think the big guy would look kindly on it."

I thought about this. "If I gave out a big scream when I dropped, though," I said, "It'd seem like one of their guys shot me, to anyone who wasn't looking too closely. Then everyone could blame the other side and it wouldn't really be my fault."

"Guess that'd work," my brother said.

A particularly piercing scream cut through the air - then, slowly subsided.

"I'm glad they didn't take you," my brother said slowly. "For the army."

"Me too," I said. "Me too."