Nasty, Brutish, and Short
Evil Fiction by Patrick M. Tracy

Nameless, These Brave Ones

By Patrick M. Tracy

“Strange how quiet a big army can be.” he said. Under his helmet, it was difficult to see his face, but his eyes were piercing. Just like the rest, he held his shield and spear, looking downward from the crest of the rise. Down in the valley, the demon army milled around and fought amongst itself. Behind them, the Dorian city of Avsilda, then the coast.

The young man next to him shrugged in his armor. “We can hold our line, unlike the hoard.”

“How long do you think—before the order?”

The younger man smiled. His dark eyes sparkled. “Since I slept with his daughter, I no longer speak to the general about troop movements.”

“Well said, friend. Well said. We dance when the music begins, eh?”

“You came in with the third army out of Doria, yes?” the young man asked. “I haven’t spoken with you before.”

“Fourth, in fact. Thought I’d be done with soldiering years ago, but…”

“We are but men. It is not given to us to understand the turnings of this life.”

“I’ve heard that. A Phrygian saying, that is. You’re from there?”

The young man nodded. “From the Akavian valley.”

“The most beautiful place in the world, so my old man said.”

“So he fought in the wars of succession, a Jevinate Muluke?”

“Indeed.” The older man looked to his scarred shield, knowing it was an awkward truth. He hadn’t considered the words.

“No matter, friend. We are nearly at the end of fighting now. All the past wars are of no consequence.”

“Thanks for that.”

The young man turned, putting his mailed hand against the other soldier’s shoulder. “In truth, the most beautiful place I’ve know is the south coast of Cinder Bay, in the Aeolian lands. When the sun comes up over the ocean and burns the coastal fog away…when the morning-quiet sea turns to gold and brass, that is a moment of serenity in the life of men.”

“Mmm. Would that I could have seen such things.”

“I have seen many things. Some that made my heart sing, others that made me long for the darkness of death.”

“Missed your calling, my friend. You speak as priests speak.”

“Once, I was a priest. Now, my soul is darkened with blood. Soon enough, I will leave these ashes and go on to whatever the gods require of me.”

The older man looked down into the valley, at the endless, noisome vista of the demon army, at the smoke rising to heaven as if all the world burned. “Don’t suppose any of us will see the dusk of this day.”

A shuddering went though the human army. The younger soldier turned, clasping hands with the older man. “May you fight fiercely, may the pain be brief, and may you die well, my friend.”

“Aye. Let the weapon that spits you be held in the dying hand of the last enemy.”

The clarion call of the battle horns echoed out from behind the hill, three blasts. Full pace ahead. Like a swarm of insects, the men ran down to meet their doom. All faces were lost, smudged. Every one of them were shadows, dead men still striding the earth, heroes.

3 Responses to “Nameless, These Brave Ones”

  1. Vivid imagery of a soldier’s heroic resignation.Causes me to hope for a more optimistic outcome for these warriors. I felt as though I was eavesdropping on their pre-battle reverie. Well written!

  2. A powerful story. Facing ugliness with beautiful sensitivity. I felt an immediate bonding with these two warriors.

  3. Bobby-T–I think that your feeling about the story is spot-on. As for the optimistic outcome, well, it looks pretty grim. Glad you liked it!

    Doc–Glad you liked it!

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