Writing Prompt: Two thousand warriors drew their swords for a war they would not win.

I actually wrote this as a side story for an event that will actually take place in my novel. So I made some adjustments to the numbers of soldiers.

Kalden stared at the map splayed out across the table. His captains were talking amongst themselves as the scouts reported the number of enemy quickly approaching the garrison. Small markers representing his forces were arrayed across the wall and behind the gates. Two detachments of calvary were held back for when the enemy broke through the gates. And it was a matter of when, not if. 

Dozens of markers had been placed representing the enemy forces and still the scouts placed more. He didn’t need to count them to realize they were vastly outnumbered. Even with their superior defensive position there was no  chance of victory this day. 

When the scouts finished their report, Kalden handed them each a sealed missive. “Take these to Darinor. Find Captain Ryker and make sure he receives these, or all is lost.” 

The three scouts turned and ran out of the councilroom. 

For the next hour Kalden and his captains planned for the attack. At last, when no further planning could be had, Kalden dismissed his captains to oversee the final preparations. The door closed with a resounding thud, shutting Kalden alone in the room. He stood, unmoving, staring down at the map before him. This outpost, along with two others, had been built years ago to keep watch over the forest. Periodically creatures of the forest would venture forth and the garrisons would turn them back. But this. This was something else entirely. 

At last he pulled his eyes away from the scene laid out before him on the table. Although he wasn’t a religious man, he muttered a prayer to Order that some might survive the impending battle, then he made his way out to the door to join his men on the walls. 

Archers lined the battlement. Among their ranks stood soldiers carrying polearms and halberds, in case the enemy tried to scale the walls. As he made his way to the center of the wall, looking out towards the forest, he saw fear etched in the faces he passed. That was never a good sign. It was one thing for him to know the futility of what lay before them, but if the men were faltering before the enemy showed itself, he wasn’t sure how long they would hold.

Birds burst forth from the cover of the trees several hundred yards from the edge of the forest. The enemy would soon be upon them.

Kalden drew his sword in one smooth motion. The blood red blade glistened in the sunlight. It almost appeared as if the blade dripped in fresh blood. Which, in some ways, it had. When Kalden had bonded with the blade, the metal had been quenched in a mixture containing his blood. The resulting bond gave the blade its blood red color and black lines meandered along the blade. 

Whenever he held the blade, it felt as if time slowed down, but in reality, all of his senses were heightened. He could hear the racing heartbeat of the soldiers nearest him, could smell the sweat dripping off their faces. It was almost as if he could taste the fear, extruding from their very pores. The leather wrapped handle of his blade felt smooth as polished marble, perfectly molded to every finger. Magic had been used to forge every piece of his sword so that it responded to his slightest command.

“Today,” Kalden’s voice split the silence with an echoing boom, those nearest to him flinched at the sudden noise, “we do not fight the dreg creatures of the forest. Today, we fight a twisted army of darkness and Chaos. These creatures have nothing that matters to them. They know only destruction. But we, we fight for our loved ones. We fight for our homes. We have sent word of our peril and the danger that comes. But we must hold until help comes. For if we fall, there is nothing that stands between our homeland and the enemy that seeks our death.”

Every head was focused on Kalden, and their faces visibly changed at his words. The fear, though not gone completely, buried itself beneath masks of hope. This is what he had hoped for. 

“They come!” A lone voice shouted, as the first twisted creature emerged from the forest. 

Kalden stood on the parapet overlooking the horde flowing out from the great forest. His face a mask of calm. All the while despair stabbed at his resolve. He couldn’t let his men know the hopelessness that filled his chest. There was no way his small army would be able to stand against the tides of dark creatures. The most he could hope for was to hold them off long enough for Darinor to prepare their defenses. 

Most of the creatures were human-like in appearance, but they had been twisted and warped by dark magic till they bore a closer resemblance to the trees from which they emerged.

They didn’t come in any kind of formation, their lines were ragged. But what they lacked in leadership they made up for in numbers. 

Kalden raised his sword once more and six hundred swords, bows, and lances rose along with him. They knew, underneath their masks of hope, that this was a battle they could not win. None of them would survive, but perhaps, they could make the enemy pay in blood for every inch of ground they claimed.

Header Artwork by: Skaya3000 Deviant Art

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