The air was thick with the battle cries and screams of charging soldiers, the shriek of metal on metal as swords clashed, and the whinnies of frantic horses. It was a magnificent morning, with a brilliant sapphire sky. A heated battle was raging in the deep valley below the walled town, while I waited anxiously behind its walls. Outside, I knew it was a sight to behold, with luscious green grass and a small lake to one side of the valley. Now however, I could not see out of the walls around me. From our scouts’ reports, the valley was being overrun by hundreds of soldiers on their steeds, fighting for control of the small town, which was situated at the entrance to a pass through the mountains and into the four kingdoms that lay beyond. We were defending well, with the enemy slowly getting weaker.
I knew that any moment, I would be called to defend my kingdom. As soon as an opening in our soldiers defence was formed, we would charge forth. But for now, my comrades-in-arms and I had to wait; otherwise the valley would become too crowded for our men. It was my first time in battle, and I was excited! I would finally see the glory of battle I had been trained all my life for. My stallion paced beneath me, and I checked my sword nervously for the fifth time in as many minutes. ‘Come on’, I thought, ‘what are we waiting for!’ Finally, we were called into ranks. I was in the middle of the first rank, with my friend Joel was to my right. I turned around and winked at him before placing my helmet over my head. I was ready to face anyone that would dare stand in my way!
Then the call: “Chaaarge!” The iron gates were opened and I spurred my horse down into the valley. But what met my eyes was not what I had expected. It was chaos, carcasses littering the foot of the mountain, and even as I watched, an enemy’s arrow hit the man to my right in the unprotected part of his neck. A lucky shot, but a chilling warning. I realised this was not how we had been told it would be. An arrow struck me in my chest plate. It didn’t pierce, but I was winded. I’d barely gotten my breath back when we reached the fighting. I pulled out my sword and the remaining defenders pulled back to give us room. Joel was now on my right, and I watched out of the corner of my eye as Joel lost an arm to sword stroke. He fell from his horse and was trampled into the dust. War was cruel, not anything like I thought it would be. I knew Joel would not survive, and it was all I could do to keep myself striking at our enemy. Even though we won that day, I felt like I’d lost everything. Everything.