The battle had been won, but the body count was much higher than he’d hoped would be.
Every few yards a lifeless heap, covered in armor that doubled its weight lay waiting for a brother or a friend to claim it and place it in the ground.
Thank gods for the frost. He preferred these late autumn battles, where cold mornings kept the flies and the stench at bay. Thirty years on the field and he had never been able to hold his stomach when the heat turned the dead.
He heard his men over their campfires, drunk and mourning, telling one another stories of their fight. They would be drunk for days, now. At least until it was time to move out. By this evening, whores would have made their way to the camp and the men would be doing their best to forget.
It was as it should be. They were willing to give everything, and for what? He often marveled at the willingness of men to carry out his orders, to throw themselves into the arms of death by his simple command. They left behind women and children who would mourn them all their days, and for what? What was this battle for?
Borz thought back to the conversation he'd witnessed between the High General and His Majesty. The two of them laughed like boys at the prospect of a battle against the sworn enemy of the crown. Borz had warned them that it was not a good time. After a decade of war, the people had spent the last year settling back into their lives. Rebuilding their homes. Their crops. Their loves.
To pull them back onto the field now was cruel. Their hearts would not be in it.
“Hearts?” Scoffed the young king. “Their hearts belong to me.”
Indeed, this was the way of the world. To live and die for the crown. What higher calling could there be?