Sunday, 20 March 2016

First Morn

Black pine forests bowed and lulled toward the decrepit fort. Within the frozen field of dead purple heather and silver mist, the rotten wood palisade held as an island against the eternal tide of winter. Under the heavy snow the tall pines barely stood, bent and crippled, in the new morning. The far off rustle of a tree snapping under its unbearable weight could be heard every now and again from behind the black and blue tree line. From the twisted walls of the wooden fort the world looked desolate, a frozen hell-scape from which only the lost dead could wander. 

That morning had been one of the calmer, least bloody of the month due to such a heavy winter. The sun was seen but for moment and the steel, shield wood and heavy mail draped hastily over the men, women and boys felt lighter than usual. Swords were strapped close to the waist, shield shafts were cut with dull blades to bear a greater grip, and leathers were woven into armors so as to apply further protection for the deathly blows waiting them. Everything that could be patched, sharpened, hewn and straightened was so; for it was known all too well this day was the last the owners of those weapons will be using them. Every act of preparation was performed with the sincerity and poise of preparing a fallen loved one for the final journey to their gods. Every small and seemingly meaningless act was owed meditation upon all supposedly meaningless acts one had collected throughout his or her life, be that life long and well filled, or short and all too swift and passing. The company of men, women and children woke to the silent morning without speaking; only the slightest nod of thanks for shared breakfasts and warm mead. All two hundred and thirty resided within the decaying and battered pine palisade circle that had housed them for the winter, then came the first sun of spring, after months of starvation and squalor they were ready to leave the only way they knew how. Swords were to be shattered, shields splintered and spears snapped. Blood was to be spilled, sprayed and sent to the gods of the earth they stood on, the ocean they came from and the grass they would become, for the enemy they had fought since their fathers’ fathers fell to them. The old gate that was barred months before was to be collapsed with as loud a cry as possible, the enemy that sat in patience was to be called forth from the green seas of Albion, the last of the cornered rats were to be free and fall before the gods as was expected from them.
                Before the final call, before the gates fell, before the drum and horn were heard for the final time, an elderly man stood on the last boxes of food that survived the deathly cold of the winter. He leant against a spear out of sheer fatigue, his long silvering hear writhed and knotted around the spear’s iron blade, with his long green cloak loosely tied around him with leather belts, the thickest and strongest of which held a modest, chipped long since bloodied sword to his waist. His name was Ada, the elder, and it was his fault two thousand families now lay in the frozen earth leaving behind the handful that lived beneath him, and he knew it was for them that it must be he to die first this final day.

No comments:

Post a Comment