His Last Battle- Sequel to Rite of Passage

by Michael

"Damn it all to hell!" Wispered Xander feircly under his breath. He didn't want to be here, he didnt want to be doing this. Everything had gone wrong. In truth, he actually regretted becoming a knight. For most of the five years after he had been inducted into knighthood by passing his test, he had done nothing glorious, or exciting. It was mostly routine guard duty and patrol's, but this was a bit more excitment than he had hoped for.

About a year ago, the barbarians to the north had invaded his homeland. They had done a lot of small damage, but nothing too serious. They had been easily warded off. After losing a few small skirmishes, they fled like cowards back into the mountains of the north. This had displeased whateever cheif or shaman they listened to, so less than a month ago he had returned with more troops and weapons than Xander thought possible from barbarians.

Nonetheless the pillaged and destroyed everything that wasn't inside the castle walls. Unfortunately this included all the peasants. Even more unfortunately, that included his mother and the small farm he had earned through knighthood, and all the serfs tied to that land. Everything that he had ever truly cared about burned with the farm house, and was murdered with his mother. This made him a very, very dangerous man. At least he would be as soon as the inital grief wore off. Right now he was about as emotionally stable and a three year old who has just been scolded by his father.

Going back through these memories hadnt made him want to cry, like they usually do. This time around, they brought nothing but rage. It was their fault he was alone now except for the few friend she had in the military. It was their fault his mother was dead. It was their fault he was here now, lugging a huge pack full of bolts and arrows, and helping to push this huge cart over the rocky terrain towards the mountains.

He wasn't even the only man in his position. Hundreds of others wept and mourned the loss of loved ones, and unresolved arguments. This made then one of the most deadly armies ever to march across the northern plains. This was the only army in the world that had absolutely nothing to lose except their pride, and even that was unimportant.

Hours later, when the sun had finally began to set, they had come within a five minute march of the base to the mountains. They kept just out of range of any projectiles, yet close enough to make an effective charge. Whoever the commanding officer was had blown into a large brass horn and called the troops to a halt.

The order was given, and six hundred some odd men began to set up camp. Tents began to pop up everywhere. Soon small fires joined them. The men had been ordered to fend for themselves for food, and so many had brought what they could get. Xander had a small pack full of dried meat and some nuts and berries.

He went about setting up his tent aloing with everyone else, and sat down just outside of it. He didnt really feel like socializing, so he just sat and thought about the events of the last year. He remembered how he had spurred his horse into a gallup as fast as he could as soon as the battles were finished and rode to his farm to check on his mother. He remembered how he had found it in a heap of smoldering rubble. Then he remembered how he couldnt find any trace of her inside. He had dug through everything, and eventually given up. Then, he noticed something hanging from a giant pole in the middle of where the barn used to be.

He prayed it was just a dead pig or some other livestock, but deep in his gut, he knew what it really was. He ran up for a closer look and discovered he was right. His mother had a metal rod stuck through her temples and was hanging from it on top of the pole. A river of tears burst from his eyes, falling to the ground where they mixed with the blood and ash. Her neck had been slashed, and her breasts and inner thighs were all red and briused from where the barbarians had taken advantage of her.

He immediatly smacked the pole with his mace, and it came tumbling down. He was so lost in his grief that he didnt know what he was doing, but somehow he managed to gather up a large pile of unburned wood, and layed his mother on top of it. He put a few more peices over her, and kissed her bloody lips before throwing a peice of burning wood onto the pile. As he watched the blaze grow higher and higher, he contemplated throwing himself onto it so he might join her in the afterlife, but he just turned and left on his horse. The smell of death was heavy o nthe air, and both he and his steed were eager to leave.

He was pulled out of his deppressing nostalgia when another soldier (he wasnt a knight, but probably a peasant who joined out of necesity) nudged him with his foot. "Hey, i know it hurts, but we've been ordered to check all our weapons and help set up the catapults."

Xander looked at him a moment while he let the information process. Then he said, "Alright, i'll be over to help in a few minutes. I just need to take a piss." The soldier nodded and hurried off to do what he had been ordered to do. Xander had no intention of helping. He just wanted to sit and wallow in his own misery. He knew that if he didnt get moving quick, he would get in trouble, so he decided to swallow his pride and go do it anyway.

He picked up the huge bag of arrows that he had been ordered to carry and walked over to an area where there were several long makeshift tables to sort on. He dropped the heavy bag, and the flimy table wavered a bit, but held strong. One by one, he pulled out arrow after arrow and checked to make sure none were broken, or seriously bent. He only had to discard three arrows out of about a hundred or so. Two were broken and one was bent. He tossed them back into the bag and left it near the pile to show they had been sorted and then walked back to his tent.

Once back to his area, he pulled his weapons out of his tent where he had stashed them and began to idley sharpen his blades as he thought more about the horrors of the past year. Night was soon totally upon them and the only light came from the sparse fires. He thought he shoudl probably get some rest, but they would be raiding the mountains in roughly three or four hours, which wouldnt provide much sleep, only time to drown himself in his pain.

Time passed agonizingly slow, but eventually dawn came. Slowly, the soldiers came out of their tents and ate what was left of thier food, of there was any to begin with.Then they dropping into formation and slowly, almost reluctantly began their march on the mountain realm of the barbarians. They had been told that they outnumbered them, and out armed them, which meant that this would be no big feat.

They began the ascent up the slope. Some of them climbed up over smaller rocks, grabbing what they could for leverage. Others managed to find a small trail, and went up that way. Absolutely no one could see what was to happen next.

When most of them were at elast onto the slope, boulders rained down on them from above. Wicked laughs and yells came down quicly after. Men were crushed beneath the rocks. Others were knocked off, falling onto their brethren. The mountain was now slick with blood. Xander had managed to dodge them somehow, but he saw many of his friends either destroyed, or knocked loose.

This was more than he could take. He went into a blind rage and pulled his bow from his back. He sent arrows up into the air. Several other survivors followed suit and muscled mountain warriors fell down from the hieghts. He loosed shaft after shaft up towards his assailants, but they had stopped falling. He slowly began to climb up the mountain again, hoping to somehow avenge his mother. The others followed.

When he heard the climbing behind him, he assumed that it was just another of his fellow warriors, but he was wrong. The sharp end of a javelin pearced the back of his skull, and came out the other side where his nose was. He was unnaware of anything except pain. The world began to go black as he choked on his own blood. The thing that hurt the most was that he had let his mother down. He hadnt been able to avenge her. It was at that point in time when his whole world came down on him. He hoped his sould burned in hell for what he had done- or mor for what he hadn't done. He was glad he was dying. In the few seconds before he finally died, the scenes of finding his mother dead kept flying through his head. He didnt remember any of the good times. How much she loved him meant nothing. The onyl thing he thought about was how bad he had screwed everything up...He loved his mother.

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