The two armies, on the brink of exhaustion, marched ever on in the light of the blazing sun. One moved west and one moved east. They moved in the one direction they knew to be the most dangerous. Their speed, no less than the men could endure.
The grass under their feet yellow, burned by the ever present sun, dried by the never faltering heat.
“Captain! We have spotted the enemy army” Deep breath. “They show no signs of surrender.”
Captain Karmeik stopped examining the map in front of him and raised his gaze to the young scout in front of him. He was standing just out of shadow’s reach.
“Why don’t you step out of the sun and report to me in proper fashion here in the shadow of the tent.” Captain Karmeik said wiht his deep voice, scowling at the scout’s face trying to make out who it was, the sun giving him a hard time.
The scout hesitated only for a moment before his heavy legs made their way under the tent’s protecting roof. As he stepped into the shadow karmeik observed to his great annoyance that it was in fact the little redheaded Tickter, coming to report. Karmeik had never liked Trickter, his dirty face and the sweat trickling down his forehead and cheeks didn’t make Karmeik’s annoyance grow less. Trickter wore a green vest, sweat making a dark path down his chest. His pale brown pants were covered in dirt and dust. He looked more like a farmer than a scout, the captain observed.
“I spotted the army during my scouting far to the east. Because of minor problems on my way back to camp the other army is now close to a day’s march away.” Trickter reported, trying to slow down his breathing.
The eyes of the captain litt and an almost insane smile forcing its way on his lips made Trickter, as unnoticeable as possible, surrender a step or two.
“Finally!” The captain roared out in sudden joy.
“So we are finally getting close to them?” It was really more a statement than a question, as the messenger in front of him had already made his report.
“Yes, sir. Only a day’s march to the west.” The messenger standing as straight as possible staring at the other side of the tent, refusing to meet his captain’s gaze.
“Very well. It has been a long trip and I am glad it is finally coming to an end.” The captain, by the name of Griffer, said to the air in front of his rather big nose. A little nod from Griffer made it clear to the messenger that he was dismissed. He turned around on the spot and emerged out of the tent. Griffer watched his back disappear as the messenger took left outside the tent.
“Hoohoo! They are closing in on each other.” A merry voice stated. “This might get interesting, what do you think Roshat?” The same merry voice asked.
“But please Mr. Founberry, you can’t possibly believe that after all the money I’ve spent on equipment, you’re army has still got a chance to win.” Roshat said as if explaining something very simple to a child.
“Oh, that’s what you’re thinking my lad. I’m must say though all your fine weapons your army has no experience, what so ever, in using them.” His voice perfectly calm. “I on the other hand bought the finest instructors in the world to train my soldiers.” Superiority not to be mistaken beaming out of Mr. Founberry.
“We will see about that. Just remember that when this is all over I will be in possession of you finest horse.” Roshat took another sip from his wine.
“I would not think so, Roshat. When this is over I’m afraid that you will be the one to give me that nice little house at the beach that you agreed to take into the bet. And of course I will be keeping my horse.” The last words radiating with the meaning; That’s the way it’s going to be.
The two rich landowners kept arguing like that for a while.
“Captain Karmeik, may I ask you why we are supposed to kill the other army?” A boy in his early teens curiously asked.
“You know very well that you may call me father when there are no others present.” Karmeik answered, avoiding the question smoothly he thought.
“Yes father. But why are we going to confront them in battle?”
No good way to avoid it now. The captain sighed before starting to speak.
“We are here because our commander has told us so” He answered gravely.
“Does our commander wish us to kill and get killed?” The boy’s voice was pure and innocent.
“You have to understand my son that in this world we are just tools for a greater god. Someone much wiser than us, wiser than the one who commands us knows; this has to be done.” Another deep sigh. “By doing as we are told we hold on to our dignity.”
“But doesn’t the other army think that way too?”
Karmeik’s face twisted in concentration for a second or two, then answered.
“I’m quite sure I heard one of the priest telling me that God is on our side, which means the man commanding the man who is commanding us is the one who is right.”
The boy felt there was no point arguing. Though he was quite sure the priests in the other army were just as sure to have God on their own side.
One and a half week later Mr. Roshat and Mr. Founberry made a goodbye toast and Roshat left for his own villa riding a new very beautiful, black mare.
Ten minutes after Roshat’s departure, Founberry was allready digging himself down into paperwork. Calculating the costs and time it would take to get himself a new army, a greater one this time. He had lost himself well over 25 000 men the last week and he felt the need get himself a quick start, so that 15 years from now he might just have got himself 30 000 new soldiers. He couldn’t help it, a vicious smile grew on his lips as he thought about the revenge he would take on Roshat.