War. War never changes. I’m not a fan of cheesy and overused quotes but I was living it. War is horrible, there is no true winner, the losing side gets raped and pillaged into submission little by little and the winning side suffers losses of its own, they become arrogant and complacent, they believe they’ve already won, that belief only gets stronger and stronger each time they sack a city, or win a laughably mismatched battle, they never suspect that the battles were too easy, or notice the conspicuous absence of soldiers on the walls of the ruined city. Sure, the toll war takes is significantly less on the “stronger” side, they have more food and wine and significantly less death and suffering, but they lose something- the most basic aspect of the human spirit. They lose the resilience and tenacity that has embodied the human race since eons ago, when my ancestors were still living in caves and crude dwellings and their idea of highly advanced weaponry was a sharpened piece of rock flimsily attached to a long stick.

As with most wars, what sparked this one was stupid, childish and just plain retarded. The King of my country Markus the third had pledged his daughter to the son of the king of the neighbouring, bigger country King Kein. This was supposed to be a plan to help my country avoid a war with their much stronger neighbours. Unfortunately, this pledge was the very thing that started it. Princess Annabeth, pretty in form but short of wit managed to get pregnant with the child of one of the stable boys at the royal castle ( who seemed to disappear shortly after he was found out). Understandably, old Kein was not pleased at this, saw it as a slight against himself and his family (which it was) and incomprehensibly saw it fit to mobilize his army and start a war that so far had killed ten thousand people and ruined a thousand more lives, all this because some filthy stable boy could not keep it in his pants.

We were losing this war. We were losing badly. First off, we were outnumbered four to one; second, we had the most incompetent general in the history of warfare. This man gave up the high ground numerous times, seemed to always be constantly flanked, and was most likely the sole reason we were getting walloped in every battle by the lazy, fat enemy soldiers. We had lost two cities, the enemy army was closing in on our capital and our army was confused or scattered, or in some cases both. A group of about fifty soldiers, me included broke off from the main army without the general’s permission, we were behind the enemy lines and as they marched forward to raze our capital we would rush towards theirs to do the same, relying on the speed our smaller size would afford us.

We got to their capital in a week. They had left their country largely undefended and although we had a few losses, we were able to reach the castle and in the dead of night set it alight. As people panicked and rushed to the castle to help, we moved through the city in small groups, setting everything we could get our hands on alight. We reckoned that in two days time, the king would hear that his beloved capital was in burnt ruins and start rushing back, we were confident and we celebrated our “victory”. We were too naive.

Turns out our coward king had surrendered long before we reached their capital, we passed the huge army on the way back and I caught a glimpse of him, in chains, in robes meant for slaves. They meant to drop him and the royal family off in their dungeons, then return to complete their victory.

“Captain” sobbed one of my men “Was all we did… for nothing?”

“Depends on how you look at it” I admitted “They won’t be back for a while, but they will most certainly be coming back, and whether we like it or not, we must get ready”

That did little to raise the spirits in the camp and it wasn’t intended to, I was just as confused as they were. Where do we go from here? What do we do now? Those were the thoughts swirling around in my head as we climbed a hill that overlooked the capital city. Through the smoke and the burning rubble we saw something that lifted our spirits, the people had already begun the rebuilding effort, old, young, it didn’t matter, everyone able was doing what they could to restore the buildings, to care for the wounded, to bury the dead, it was the most inspiring thing I had ever seen in my life.

“Men” I said, turning around “You see what I see don’t you? These people have suffered a huge loss, I reckon there isn’t a soul down there that has not lost someone within the last week, but they are standing up and moving forward, we are supposed to protect them! We are the soldiers! We will stand up and move forward! We will protect our loved ones and our country!”

The men collectively yelled and marched down towards the city. I had not meant for my speech to be that theatrical, but it worked so I don’t mind. We humans have overcome everything that has been thrown at us, and even now, we will overcome everything we can throw at each other, we will rebuild, we will restore and we will revive, time and time again, millennia after millennia. We will continue to struggle till the end of time.

 

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