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Two vast armies stand facing each other across the empty field. The invading army, smaller in numbers, must rely on its superiority of experience to win the day. The sight of the invaders standing proud and singing brings cold shivers to the backs of many of the defending army’s younger volunteers; the older, more battle-hardened raise their own voices in song to counteract the psychological blow.

The defending nation’s army mass 30,000 or more, the invaders only 10,000, but the odds between the two are not decided by sheer weight of number alone. For one, this is home soil, and the very nature of war means that he who is furthest from home fights with the saddest heart; but the lives of so many are not decided by their own actions, but by the decisions of their leaders.
Finally, the standard bearers take to the field and meet between the two camps. The invaders wear red – to symbolise the blood they intend to spill on the enemy’s soil. The defenders wear white – to represent the virgin daughters that they will die to defend.
The priest stands between the two groups of standard bearers – dressed in black so that none will attack him in error. He has beside him two curates and two novices, all sworn before God that they will perform the Lord’s work to all of God’s children, whether they wear the white or the red banner.
The priest says his words to the two captains and asks them if they will observe the laws of warfare in a noble and godly way. Each swears that he will show prisoners due respect, will not use torture or violence against those captured, and will let the wives and children of the defeated leave without hindrance.
The priest raises his sacred talisman – a silver disk of metal to represent the sun-disk – which he duly tosses into the air for it to receive God’s blessing before catching it and turning to the captain of the defending nation’s army, speaks the sacred blessing “Your call; heads or tails?”
The two captains return to join the other ten strongest, bravest, most noble of men that their nation has to offer, and they all wait for the whistle to sound for the battle to commence. Each of the eleven standard bearers (and their designated substitutes, if and when required), will do battle on behalf of their gathered armies, so that no blood need be shed, but for that of grazed knee and broken toenail. ————————————————————————————–

Creative Commons Licence
Two Vast Armies by Victor L Machin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Categories: Short Stories


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