One Walked To War
The strangest thing has happened. Men of the stars wish to hear one’s tale of how one walked in warfare behind bold Samuel, the famous Lord of Light.
Famous to ourselves. Little known beyond our planet, but yourselves would hear the tale of Tad the Neo-Primitive. And will give to my people a House of Healing, so one will gladly tell.
The Lord of Light is most polite, but one knew not his heart. One was a foot-soldier who knew best how to swing a mighty halberd. Once, long after my adventures on the bridge, one hewed off the arm of a bold swordsman, and made dispirited all of his men. Himself died, and one was not glad of that. Better than himself had joined us, even one-armed, as many others did.
Lord Samuel, being star-minded, showed ourselves how to be an army; not an armed mob. Oneself learned how to make firm ties of friendship with strangers. To be not just part of the mass, but one of the people.
So, about the bridge. Bridge across some river: who cares to know the name? One does not fish in it or swim in it nor need to cross it ever again. Ask someone who lives there. But on that day, the army must cross. And defenders were there.
It was a bridge with a roof, and walls also, so that our arrow-men could not shoot down the defenders. But boldly we surged forward, and oneself as Sargent thought to leap onto that roof, run forward and then turn to be behind the foe. Did so foolishly, being young and new in warfare. One thought not to see if one’s men followed, which themselves did not. Ran gleefully forward, not thinking that the enemy would mislike such tactics and might have made ready for them.
Trip-wires themselves had laid, and trip one did. Fell into the river with a mighty splash. Dazed, one grasped at an offered rope. Was pulled up before thinking that these must be foes. Thought to make the best of surrendering, but was amazed when themselves all knelt down and unto myself they did surrender. Begged mercy, which was play-acting since themselves had weapons, and good armour also. Oneself had lost one’s halberd in the fall and had but a knife.
Mercenaries they were, and few men wish to die for gold. Some did join us and became true warriors. But on that day, themselves had seen the swarming of our men. Also fire-boats that wiser heads than mine had set against them. Glad not to die. And so we waited until those ahead of us were dead or also surrendered.
Was one a hero? Not on that day. But one did better later on.