Drums beat the pace as we stomp our boots, slowly closing in to the border with Konia, a city in war with Gratna. Zarian ambassadors were in the royal Konian palace, debating the peace treaty with the ruler of Konia. They wanted to end the war before Ildocians get involved and total chaos ensues over the steel made peaks of the Konian homes. Out there, in the tops covered with mist, snow, ice… The cold awaited us. Our generals had plans to draw fight to us, instead of chasing the hill regiments and connect with guerilla style fighting. Passions were rising every day, until our king decided to send a big portion of men to aid Gratnians. Konia had a lot of reasons to avoid our presence, and keep the war down low with the Gratnians. Tones of silver we took from them, and Gratnians invaded their Eternal mountains, a stone territory of Konians. War ragged for a few months with no winners, so we were summoned to give the upper hand in the fights.
After this marshy plain, we were about to step in the icy Konian turf, where death lurked at every hill side, at every unmountable edge, at every cusp submerged in cloudy mist. Landscape appeared abandoned and naked, with few darken dead trees, yellow grass and white crust over the ponds which crawled the uneven terrain. An odd chill went through my spine, made my fingers dance and hot steam to exit the mouth, but the march was on.
– Aees von suuur! – yell broke in the beat of drums and the army have stopped.
Silence stilled our breaths as time passed in waiting. Drums ended their barrage when a flock of crows flew above us.
– A good sign. – I thought, – It is always good to see crows.
I got relieved for a moment, thinking that we just might turn around and head home. A cavalry detachment broke off from the majority and dispersed in a weak spacious line. They rode two miles front and back. General was setting up a mobile camp, pulled out the map and placed ink over it, then he rolled it in and gave command to return home.
It felt odd and ecstatic in the same time. I was happy for not going up there, getting my nerves split out by night raids, ghosts in the mist and sudden attacks… However, the strange feeling pulled me to concern.
– Why leaving now? Is the treaty signed or not? Are we still in war, or just tactically taking the positions for the fast Konian attacks? – I asked myself slowly picking up the pace of the moving army, then I turned around and swinged my look over the shoulder.
Crows were flying in circle, falling to the ground like hunting. One of those black creatures opened its beak and startled me. The nasty bird had blood oozing from its black mouth. Barely visible specters blackened the pale air around the hill, mountain and steep edges behind us, waving their spears in relaxed position while looking us gaining distance. Grey mounds knocked the rocks from under them, presenting the pale skin of the Konian mountain elite archers. They were too many for us to handle. I was frightened for my life and yet I felt blessed by the Aramon for he has spared me. I was to live.
Two days in march home, a friend told us a rumor he heard from the cavalryman. He made sure we know from what we pulled away. The marshy plain had no ponds until that day, and it was covered in a forest of dead trees. Catapult projectiles flatted out that terrain and the arrows hurled to put the Gratnian army to grass. Plain slowly swallowed the corpses and heavy rocks, masking the atrocities that happened there.