The column marched forward, staring at the huge black gates of Ildok, that opened before us with the sounds of war drums and cheerful shouts of the crowd. Soon the flower placentals came down raining on tired soldiers and ecstatic energy flew bathing the firm repetitive stomps of boots. We moved slowly but steady. Our king placed the young ones at the top of the line, which were the most rested troops, agile and ready to return to combat at the moment notice. War banner danced in the wind, followed by a scent of fried meat and sweet perfume of whores that stood on the balcony, bare tits presented. Parade moved in joy, but absent on the veteran faces.
– Look at these ungrateful bastards. – comrade spoke with disgust and dragged his feet uninterested to show pride, – I bet they don’t even know we are 40 000 men lighter that when we left. They show gratitude, only because they will receive plenty portions.
– Well, Zaria did prepare for war like it will last for ten years. That’s 40 000 mouth less to feed. You should be happy because you’ll get more than we did the last time… By Aramon balls, we did loot the city and took all of their crops. – I said looking at smiley faces that hurled to hug us and give us drinks.
– I bet our king planned to thin out our lines, so he would make himself look great in civilian eyes, but what they know of horrors we committed? They see this as triumph, as a glorious return of heroes, not a broken army where 10 000 deserters fled the battlefield over hunger, thirst, plague and death. Dumb goat keepers. – he continued with same anger and emptied the glass in one swing.
– “Army takes, doesn’t gives away”. – I said our maxima in absence of adequate words, but that only made my friend more angry.
– That is our general problem. We are raised as bastards and cutthroats. We expect respect for showing none. There is no glory in disemboweling the Zarian children, just because they didn’t want to let go of their plates.
Army stepped even harsher on the paved streets where our steps started to echo and bounce from the walls. I enjoyed the spirits of the crowd that many of us have seen dozen of times before. Feast was made in honor of the Ildocian army and its sons that saw fear to ripe victory. Two days later, we were deployed in several squads with a simple mission to hunt down the deserters and bring them to justice. Surrounding villages got emptied in fear of incoming butchers, because they knew we will look for runaways in their homes first, and we wouldn’t ask nicely where are they hiding them. Anyway, that would present another triumph and a little less hungry mouth to feed.
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