As my only source of warmth, I rode my steed through a night of blinding snow and blistering cold. We traveled as ordered in single file, each hoping that the one before us did not lose the trail. As the sun rose, the wind and snow bowed in obeisance and bothered us no more. Our approach did not silent the winter's Jay and I took comfort in the new day.
We rode over the crest of sparse wood revealing tall pines stabbing at the sky. The sound of anxious riders sounded with coughing and snorts. I stood in the stirrups to lengthen my spine as the Captain signaled us to form ranks. Seven men and horses wide and ten deep, we took to the hill top.

Captain Josephus Moore liked to quote from books and poems and authors known and unknown to spur us on.

"Now this is the Law of the Jungle
as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper,
but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk
the Law runneth forward and back
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf,
and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack."

No one was sure what and the hell he was saying. I didn't try to figure it out. I just liked the way it rolled off his tongue with such authority and prose. He always seemed satisfied that his recital fulfilled his task. In some strange way, I had to agree.

"Upon these kinsfolk meeting for battle, my limbs go weak and my face withers. Trembling comes upon my body, and my hair stands upright, my bow falls from my hand, and my skin burns. I cannot stand upright; my mind is whirling. I see evil. I see no blessing from slaying kinsfolk in battle."

"Know who said that?" said the Captain one night around a low fire "A king who lived hundreds of years before Jesus. War is always with us and our responsibility as soldiers will never change!"

We looked down the hill with our kinfolk lying but five hundred feet below us. The Captain readied us with his glare. In a brief moment we would be a parcel of hooves and shot delivered to their front door.

There were two things that took my notice and will forever be branded upon my memory and will alight my mind's eye. A large Raven stood not seven paces away upon a lone stone outcrop of ragged boulders. As my head turned his way, my eyes became fixed upon a blue cloud that wormed it's way through the branches of a ragged evergreen. It was the report that followed that awakened me and we looked to Captain Moore for the order to charge.

Captain Josephus Moore sprayed the snow white hillside with a deep contrast of red. If he intended to give the order it had morphed to a cough of propelling proportions, as if a deep clearing of his throat would allow him to do so.

The pack was no more as the Captain fell unnaturally backwards and his horse ran broke back for safety. A barrage followed and the warmth that coated my neck revealed a loss of my right ear. I did not feel anger nor did I feel fear. My duty was duty. As the Captain had said, "Ours is not the reason why, ours is but to do or die."

I drew my broadsword and made contact with an officer cutting a new smile only inches below the old one. My pistol stopped an approach on my left while my right heel was as effective on my right. Moving on instinct, I began to daydream and disassociated my thought from my actions. Enveloped in smoke with a palatable taste of metallic, I leaped from my horse. Broadsword met broadsword. I countered with a sweeping undercut and followed with my right leg acting as a scythe reaping a late summer hay.

I smoked a pipe of a fine cut tobacco and sipped from a jug of good whiskey. The leaves turned themselves in anticipation of a mid day rain.
I felt neither good nor bad. I watched the day unfold and thought of Captain Josephus Moore.

Miserabilis ephemeral natio nationis , liberi of chance quod tribulatio , quare operor vos vis mihi ut dico vos valde res quod is would exsisto plurimus quaestuosus vobis non audire? valde optimus res est radicitus ultra vestri pervenio : non potuisse prognatus , non futurus , ut exsisto nusquam. Vero , alter optimus res vobis est : morior nunc.

Comments

The Phoenix said…
If I would've lost my right ear, I would've screamed and run home to my Mommy.