posted on Dec, 1 2021 @ 05:59 AM
The King closed the door to his keep and crunched through the icy mud of the castle bailey towards the main gate. Scrambling up the frosted wooden
stairs to the battlements above the barbican, he stood sweating in his great bearskin coat, trumpeting plumes of condensed hot breath ahead of him.
“The archers! Where are the archers?” he bellowed.
The Captain bowed, cold and exhausted, but respectfully. “Sire, but these are all we have. Our army is to the east with...”
“I know where my army is!” the King interjected sharply, “Get more archers. Fill these walls!”
“Yes, your Majesty”, knowing there were no archers, and even if there were, there were no bows to arm them. The Captain shouted orders to his men
and made himself look busy while the King made his way back down the glistening steps. Before descending he glanced briefly out onto the plain outside
the walls, grunting before making his way back to his hearth where his breakfast was cooking.
The Captain had already placed all the archers he had above the great door of the barbican, mostly boy recruits and men who were archers by name only
– too old or too weak to battle with a sword. On the wall flanking the Great Gate were two simmering iron cauldrons; one of water mixed with honey
and the other of oil and butter, ready to be poured onto the heads of the enemy. Children wrapped in heavy blankets manned piles of rocks, rubble and
iron slag from the forge. Each huddled over their hoard, carefully tending it and nervously peeping over the ramparts. Below on the lower bailey
behind the gate stood 120 men, all reservists or walking wounded pulled from the infirmary. This was our army.
Across the river in the distance, the snow-white fields and pastures were filled with the rank and file black dots of several battalions and their war
machines. The lung-burning cold air of the cloudless sky belied the beautiful yellowy-blue dawn, casting long shadows before each menacing black dot
making each seem 20 feet tall. As the captain watched both in despair and in awe, they began their march toward him.