- MAJESTIC HILL, border of Adarian and Hadar
The battle raged ferociously on. Screams and the clang of weapons filled the dark night sky. Men and women fell to the ground, shock registered on their lifeless faces. Arrows soared through the air and swords slashed through the darkness. The King stood on top of a blood-stained hill, despair reflecting in his pale green eyes. Slowly he raised his young hand and a horn bellowed throughout the valley. Shouts rose in an instant and the soldiers dressed in scarlet increased the rate of their retreat. The blue clad soldiers gave chase, weapons raised high above their heads, many already shouting their victory. The king, sitting on top of his black stallion, watched as his army pursued. He stared at the wreckage this battle had brought. Sighing warily, he turned his horse and rode swiftly over to his general.
"Kenneth, please search the ground for wounded. Both our own and Hadarian. Bring me news of your dear brother and his wife. I am afraid I lost their faces in the battle."
Kenneth inclined his head, "Yes, my lord. I too have not seen my brother." His face was pale and his mouth was set in grim line. He mounted his horse swiftly, calling his men toward him. He gave another curt nod to the King and turned around. He urged his horse through the bodies, carefully pulling the reins so he wouldn't crush any lying on the ground. He gave the order to search for wounded. Men began fanning out in every direction. They pulled the still forms up and checked the pulses in their necks. Too many were gently laid back down.
The King watched this for a few moments before dismounting himself. He searched bodies near him and nearly collapsed in agony. This was too much. His kingdom of Adarian had been at war with the neighboring realm of Hadar for so long now. He couldn't even count the number of peace offerings he had tried. But no, Morlex had refused every single one of them. 'Damn him' Owen thought. He fell to his knees dropping his head into his hands. Black hair clenched through his tight fingers. Would it never end?
"Your Majesty," a voice called from above him.
Wearily Owen, the King, raised his head. " Yes, Sabier?"
The soldiers chest swelled in pride at being addressed so formerly by the King. He continued, bowing his head low, "My lord, General Kenneth requests the honor of your company. He resides currently at the bottom of the hill."
Owen stood up, brushing dirt off his lap. He felt dread. Why would Kenneth need to see him now? His heart thudding painfully in his chest, he mounted his horse and rode down the hill. Kenneth was such a good friend of his. His brother, Cymeda, was a noble of the city Alya. Owen had been friends with the brothers ever since they were but young lads, running through the fields to play. Kenneth had always been a powerful battle leader. Owen had asked him to become his general and Kenneth had never hesitated to agree. They had always kept in close contact with Cymeda and he often dwelled in the Royal Palace on visits.
Owen, King of Adarian, now feared the worst. It did not comfort him when his soldiers bowed him past, each one of them pale, mud streaking their faces where tears had fallen not long before. He saw Kenneth sitting on his knees in the distance. He rocked back in forth, holding a hand devoid of color with both of his palms. Owen felt his chest turn to ice. His heart thumped madly, almost frantically, against him as he jumped off the horse and ran to Kenneth's side. He fell to his knees when he saw Cymeda and his wife Rannelth, lying on the ground. Rannelth had died some time ago and Cymeda was now hanging on only by the sheer force of his will.
"They. . .they. . .were stabbed, my lord." Kenneth struggled to get out. Tears fell down his face like waterfalls. He gripped his brothers hand as tightly as he could, as if he would never let go. It was too much for Owen to take in. He slowly moved his hand and placed it on Kenneth's clamped ones. Owen was at lost for words as tears made their way down his cheeks. This is what the war had brought. The death of his father and now the death of his dearest friends. He was weary beyond words. Weary of fighting a war that held no meaning. Discouraged by losses, not even joyous in their victories. It was all the same: death, despair, and destruction. A sudden choking sound brought him back from his dark thoughts. Cymeda was spitting up blood, his chest heaving painfully at every breath he brought in.
"My. . .m. . ." He struggled to talk, gasping for words. Owen looked down at the black knife still protruding from his abdomen. He made a move to pull it out, but Kenneth's rough hand stopped him.
"It would kill the few minutes he has left."
Owen nodded and moved to stroke Cymeda's damp brow. Cymeda coughed and blood spilled down the front of his tunic. His body convulsed in agony and he began violently shaking. Owen didn't know what to do. He had to help him. His reason desperately told him to do something. He knew it was helpless though. The best healer in Adarian could not save his dear friend now. Cymeda's fearful eyes turned to the two men weeping above him.
"My. . .Daughter. Please. . .I-" He was cut painfully short by another round of bloodstained coughs. Owen quickly tore a piece of his shirt and wiped the blood spilling from Cymeda's mouth. Kenneth could do nothing but weep, pale face defined in agony.
"Do not fear, dear friend. Your daughter will be well taken care of. She will know of her brave mother and father. I will raise her myself. She will grow into a beautiful young woman and I will make sure she marries into a respectable family. Always, her parents will be close at heart. You will again, be reunited with her. By the Gods, it will be so." Owen said, gripping Cymeda's hands.
Cymeda's face twisted in agony and dry sobs escaped his blood caked lips. His eyes filled with sorrow and at the same time with gratitude. A single tear slid down his cheek.
"Tell her- tell her I love her. Tell her I will be there for her. Tell her she will always be her father's little girl." Cymeda whispered so low, the two men could barely hear his words. "I wish. . ." his voice trailed off, the sound of his tense breathing filled their ears.
"I will." Kenneth promised his brother. He could barely choke the words out of his mouth, the pain all too evident in his voice.
Cymeda's head nodded once. His hand slowly moved and gripped his dead wife's cold fingers. He slowly turned his head so he could see her lifeless face. He took one last, shuddering breath, then he breathed no more.
Kenneth roared in anger. His head dropped down onto his brothers chest. Brown hair fell across his shaking shoulders. Owen, fell back, stunned. He was gone. Just like that. He would never see Cymeda's laughing face nor hear his deep voice again. The two friends, King and General, mourned the loss of their companion. Neither spoke and none interrupted them for minutes that seemed to span centuries. Finally, a small soldier walked up uncertainly.
"Your majesty, I am sorry. Should we not get the wounded back to the castle? Many are so near death. I fear. . ." His voice trailed off doubtfully.
Owen sat there for a moment. Almost as if he didn't hear him. His green eyes lifted after a moment and looked up at the soldier standing unsure above him.
"Yes. Place the wounded on stretchers."
"It has already been done, my lord." The soldier answered back. He talked slow, as if the King couldn't understand him. The soldier, among others, was certainly shaken up. They had never seen their King so unsure before. He was so sad. Pain filled his words, his voice. The general was more of a shock then anything. He was always so impenetrable, so controlled. He now wept openly upon the hard ground.
"Then we must ride out. Gather stray horses and give them to those who are able to ride. The strong will carry the wounded back. You are dismissed, soldier." The soldier bowed, then retreated back.
"Kenneth," Owen said, turning to his distraught friend, "Come, it is time to leave. I will have someone carry them back. They will have a proper burial."
"I am not leaving them," Kenneth replied, his voice raspy.
"You must go get Katrina. Surely you will do as you promised him. He was so worried about his precious daughter. Do not let his wishes die with him." Owen replied softly.
Kenneth sat still for a moment, then stood up. He let his brothers lifeless hand fall to the ground. He took a deep breath to compose himself and turned his red-rimmed eyes to Owen.
"You are right. I must leave immediately. Please take them back." Kenneth said wearily. He nodded to Owen once then jumped onto his horse. He turned it around and galloped as fast as his horse was able. His brown hair flew behind him and soon all Owen could see was dust in the distance.
Sadly Owen made the order for his dear friends to be put on stretchers and carried back to Castle Cintyras.