by Pato Loco
Short little thing about a warrior who leads his men into their "final battle"
| Kaiden opened his eyes as he rose from his meditation. Looking out the window at the courtyard beyond his room, he saw the small army of 1,000 men bustling about to prepare for the upcoming battle. Looking at the sword that hung on his wall, he took it in his hand, staring at its gleaming edges long and hard. The sword once had a spirit and a name, Kalados. Since Kaiden's betrayal of Ariah, however, Kalados had withdrawn deep within itself. Since that day, Kaiden had lost everything. His honor, his pride, his respect; all were lost on the day that he gave his allegiance to the Dira. Now, all he had was 1,000 warriors who remained loyal and dishonored themselves to stay with Kaiden. Kaiden grimly decided that it was time to get his men their honor back.
Several men brought him his armor and laid it out on the table. As Kaiden looked upon its ornate decorations he became disgusted with himself. "Men...I do not fight as your superior on this day, but as your equal," he said with force and pride. The warriors looked at each other, smiling brightly as they hurriedly left to get an extra suit of armor. As he strapped on the gauntlets and kneepads he thought of the people he'd betrayed, the people that had died because of his lust for power. Now was the time to avenge them. He put on his shoulder armor and thigh pads, his face set in grim determination. As he put his chestplate on, he refused a helmet. "I wish for my enemies to see my face before they die, that they may know the face of a warrior." He knew his words were meaningless. He and all the rest were to die today, fighting for a land he'd turned his back on in return for power. He looked once more toward the sword, Kalados. With his heart he beseeched the sword to show its spirit once again. "Today I go into battle," he said to the weapon, "I wish for you to come forth and fight alongside me, but know that I wield your blade with or without your might." He waited for a response from Kalados, and, finding none, sheathed the blade.
Kaiden mounted his horse and rode to the front of the army, which was now in orderly rows. He now desperately wished that he knew how to give a speech, but dismissed the thought as it entered his head. He needed no flowery words to bring courage into the hearts of his men. There was only one word that could do that, and each and every one of the 1,000 men cried it out as they raised their swords along with Kaiden's, "ARIAAAAAH!"
Kaiden stood upon the hill on which the castle was built alongside his men. He watched the massive army of 5,000 Diran warriors approach. Their footsteps were like the beat of a war drum and their blackened hides made them look like a giant shadow moving across the ground. Kaiden dismounted his horse. He removed the saddle and reins and sent the beast into the woods where it could be free. He would not in any way stand above his men today. Drawing his sword and taking off at a run, his men let out an enormous battlecry as they charged down the side of the hill. Like a wave smashing against the rocky shore, Kaiden's men collided with the Dirans. Kaiden himself attacked furiously, slaying two the moment he met the wall of soldiers. He moved nimbly, dodging to the left of one blade and sending his blade into the visor of one knight. He kicked out to his right and caught a soldier in the stomach as he pulled the sword from the faceplate of the warrior he'd just killed. With a vicious slash he cut into the flesh of a charging Diran. He dodged incoming attacks easily and counterattacked with great skill, but all around him his men were falling. He, too, was becoming fatigued as the sword became heavy in his hand. He continued fighting, however, determined to slay as many as he could before death stayed his hand. He noticed a faint gleam on Kalados's blood-stained edge and heard a great roar of rage in his heart. Kalados had awakened. With renewed strength he gestured to a group of his soldiers and began wading through the ranks of the enemy alongside them. His men were skilled and brave, and their attacks always met their marks. Suddenly he heard the rattling of chains and his heart was stricken with fear. He turned to see a great warbeast lunge and smash two into the ground with its claws. It was inflicting horrifying wounds on all those that it struck, and it seemed as though it was unstoppable. Rallying his men to him he retreated back to the hill to rest. The beast gave chase, but was pulled back by its master.
As they fled, arrows rained down on them, cutting down more precious lives. Breathing heavily, Kaiden turned and looked upon the survivors. Just from looking he knew that he'd lost over half of his force. "We must battle on. Its the only way" he thought. He looked at the massive Diran army. He smiled slightly at the suddenly smaller number of soldiers in the masses. For each man that Kaiden had lost, the Dira had lost two, or so he guessed. He pointed and the men laughed hard and long. They were soon ready to do battle once again. Standing in front of the group, he waved for attention. "Do not allow your brothers to fall! Protect them and let them protect you! While we stand together, we cannot be defeated!" Wondering if his words were true, Kaiden turned and rushed off again, followed closely by his men.
Kairen battled hard, rushing to defend his men every now and again. They followed his example and destroyed many. Kaiden's blade now gleamed like a shaft of moonlight as Kalados unleashed its full power. Even so, the men began to grow fatigued. The beastmaster had loosed the warbeast, and was beginning to reek havoc upon the ranks once again. Kaiden began to call to fall back when suddenly an arrow flew over his head and into the eye of the beast. Turning his head, he saw a huge company of warriors rushing over the hill to the aid of his men. He laughed aloud. He and his men were saved. As he turned to tell his men of the good news, he watched the last man fall. His smile faded as he rushed to the man, hoping to save him, but it was too late. He cried out, enraged. He rose, his sword in his hand and rushed to attack. A stunned look spread across his face as a bolt pierced his chest. Looking down, he saw the fatal barb poking from his chest. His hand raised to it as though to take it out and he fell slowly to his knees. He'd known that this would be his final battle. He felt men rush past him, heard the clanging of steel blades, but his vision was slowly fading. He fell to the ground and saw Kalados buried in the ground. He reached for it as though to pick it up and renew his attack, but death stayed his hand. He'd fallen alongside his men, as he'd intended, and his honor was returned.