Monday, February 15, 2010

A bedtime story!

For those of you who are generally confused about what I write, well, today is your semi-lucky day! Rather than post my 'Grand Goblin Gold Getting Guide' I'm going to throw up a story of mine that I wrote for a class. So without further ado, text:

“Drop into formation and prepare seventh drill. Mixed weapons, jaguars first rank, eagles second, vipers take third. MOVE!”  
The soldiers quickly arranged themselves as commanded- two groups arrayed against eachother. There were fifteen rankers in each row, with a sergeant on each flank for the first two and the lieutenant of the group behind the atlatls in the third rank. Quickly, the men in the first rows dropped to their hands and, in seconds, there were fifteen inky jaguars in their place. The warriors behind them, covered with eagle feathers and wearing a runed talisman around their necks readied spears over the backs of their four-legged comrades. In the final rank, the each soldier grabbed a blunted two meter arrow, and, with practiced ease loaded them into their atlatls. The arrows fit snugly into notches at the end of weapons, with a quick flick of their wrists they launched the arrows farther than a bow could shoot them. 
 When the shafts struck their foes, the soldiers mimed death and fell to the ground shrieking in mock agony. Following the initial volley the forward ranks advanced to the middle of the field and each jaguar spearman pair began an intricate dance with the opposing teams. With the melee embroiled with combat, the vipers launcher their remaining spears at targets of opportunity. When their ammunition was exhausted, they too changed forms into their spirit animals and joined the fray, spitting acid and the brawlers. As jaguars began to fall in fake death, their companion spearmen dropped their weapons and, upon touching the runes on their necklaces became eagles who took to the sky and swooped down into the fray landing blows wherever they could. Conversely, if a jaguar lost his teammate, he would launch himself into the enemy ranks, causing as much havoc as possible. Both sides were equally matched and when drill seven finished, only one viper warrior remained standing, but still acting wounded.   
“Endex! Endex!” shouted their commander, calling for an end to the exercise, “You've got ten to clean yourselves up. Debriefing in second barracks.” Finished with his commands, the officer walked quickly away, going around other practice fields where battalions were still embroiled in combat. The warrior he left behind began to peel themselves from the ground, and hoist up their friends. Once everyone had gotten up and had been checked for serious wounds, the soldiers searched for their weapons, cleaned them and placed them in their proper positions on the racks at the side of the field. Even the jaguar warriors checked their obsidian blades for damaged, even though drill seven did not call for their use. Basic maintenance completed for their weapons, they checked their talismans for any possible damage, these were what gave them the powers of the spirit animals and if they were damaged, physically or magically, they would have to requisition new ones from the temple priestesses- a process that could take months. If they did notice small faults however, they could get them repaired by the battalions war-priestesses fairly quickly.  
The war-priestesses had a unique relationship with the soldiers. The temple priestesses, and occasional priest, avoided the military like rain avoids a desert. The war-priestesses had been brought up with the same training and the same beliefs, but for a different purpose and so dedicated themselves to different subjects. Rather than taking on the task of a complete understanding of all of the gods' wills, the war-priestesses focused on Marzuka, Terronk, Beligiza and Vitronkal, the gods of death, creation, war and life- the first two generations of the gods. They mastered the art of contracts with the gods and could wreak havoc among common foot soldiers with their powerful magics. Because of their study of creation and life, they could adapt themselves to become battlefield healers, and bring the fatally wounded back from the realm of Marzuka. Because of the lack of attention they gave to the younger, third generation gods, the temple priestesses considered them heretical and consequently avoided their allies in the military. 
 Once the checks had turned up nothing significant, the warriors only had a few minutes remaining to clean themselves of the sweat and stains of battle. They raced each-other to the canal bordering one side of the practice field. Diving in they quickly washed dirt and blood away and let their muscles relax in the cool river water. Re-donning their pelts, feather capes, and snake hides the soldiers jogged over to the sturdy barracks. They naturally fell into standard marching formation and they reached their destination, a low, long adobe and limestone building. Inside, the cots were folded up and stacked against a wall. The captain of the battalion was already there, seated on the floor with water pouches, corn bread and roasted meat scattered around in a circle. The soldiers dropped into place, and grabbed their fair shares of the food.  As 
they began to eat, their commander began to speak, “You all know this is the last day of training. Tomorrow you will be tested by the veterans. You will suffer, you may very well die. But I like you enough that I do not want you to die yet. When the time comes for you to be sacrificed to gods, you will go, and I will honor you, but for now, I would like it very much if you stayed alive long enough to stick the Melacan baby-eaters with your spears.” he grinned a looked around at them before continuing, “You performed drill seven well. Not as well as the masters, but good enough, for you to pass an observational exam. What you need are nerves of obsidian. Cold, sharp, unbreakable. You have faced each other, knowing that at the end of the day, you will be able to sit down and talk to your friends. Even in the most trying of your tests so far, the priestesses could bring you back if you fell. Tomorrow, or in the future fighting the Melacan, if you die, you die a true death, and you will not be able to return to our company. You have yet to face an entire army of screaming lowland barbarians, numbering in the tens of thousands. More spears than we have soldiers. When they send the dark shadow over us, respond with your superior training, your superior discipline and your superior skill. Nor have I faced the hordes. I have no more experience than you do. When we face the Melacan, we will face our fears together. Now, because this is our last day, I offer you a choice. If you so desire, I can call off training. The rest of the day will be yours. You can relax, gamble, pray, visit your families. Or you can choose to continue our endless drills and improve your thrusts and parries.”  
Never before given a choice in this matter, the soldiers all responded in general agreement with one another, “More training, we wish to make the gods proud, and to make our sacrifices worthy.” Not one dissenting voice was raised among the century, not one wanted a break from the relentless training that had consumed their lives for the last two months. They finished their food and drink, stood and headed back out into the noonday sun to train, and to become true Warriors of the Gods.

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