Empty Victory

By Joey Wheeler

The dust started to settle, after a long and gruesome battle.

I carried my spear on my shoulder as I heard the trumpets, championing our victory. Some men could be heard somewhere amidst the fog. They were shouting something or another, though I couldn't see anyone.

In the middle of the battle, one of our units had found a way to penetrate the enemy lines. I was right besides the man that had broken them, and who had been the one to lead the charge. The battle swayed to our favor in that instant, and we made quick work of the disoriented enemies.

They collapsed under the pressure of our charge, and their formation broke as we entered their ranks. The first couple of lines tried to put up a fight, but the others weren't expecting an attack.

The battle ended in an instant. There was a fight for a while, but the enemy scrambled in a retreat formation soon after. It had been a quick encounter.

As the dust settled, I found myself in the opposite side of the battle. There were bodies all around, and the blood soaked the armors so much that I couldn't even say friends apart from foes. Here there had been no glorious charge. The enemy held, and seemed to have even pushed back our forces. Banners laid broken amongst the corpses, with arrows, swords, and any other kinds of weapons buried into them.

Among the corpses arose a man, clad in the silver armor of the enemy. He had his sword in hand, but had taken his helmet off. He looked at me, but immediately looked at the floor. He looked at both his sides with a pained look, and then looked back at me. His look was not filled with anger, but with sadness.

One of his sides had a wound. The left side of his armor had a cut, and blood was trickling down from there. He looked down again and turned to walk away, using his sword as a cane and trying to keep his balance. He collapsed a few feet away from me.

I heard steps coming from behind me, but there was no other sound. No talking, no shouting, no celebrating. It was not the moment to celebrate. The sight of the batlefield was not one of honor. There was just loss. Loss of friends, family, comrades, and even fellow men from both sides. 

The dust finally settled, and the field of death and loss was in plain sight. The victory left us all silent, searching for useful things for the rest of the campaign.