I hope you enjoy this piece about trench warfare in a fantasy setting. Next Friday, I’ll be participating in a ‘blog chain’, so be sure to check it out for my plans for National Novel Writing Month!
Shoot. No, Lucius didn’t really want them to notch their arrows and take aim at him, as they had been doing for the past three hours. No, he was really cursing his current position in the trench, utterly surrounded by enemy archers and wizards, who were ready to blast him on sight. He knew. He had stuck his helmet out on a stick, lowering his arm when he realized it had been utterly annihilated. This was such a tricky position to be in.
It was only a matter of time before the infantry came marching in to finish him off, and any other pour, unfortunate souls stuck in the purgatory, or hell, that was the trench. He was aware of at least one other survivor, but had left that man because he wouldn’t shut up about how much it hurt him to have lost both his legs. Honestly, didn’t he have any perspective?
Lucius certainly did. He knew that being captured by the enemy Venefici was much worse than losing one’s limbs. In fact, it was probably better to have one’s nails ripped off, be skinned alive, delimbed, castrated, and then cooked in a boiling pot of oil while receiving a bloody eagle than be captured by the Venefici. At least, that was what Lucius’s sergeant had said, and after seeing their ferocity in battle, he wasn’t inclined to disagree, although he had difficulty conceiving of worse torture. Maybe they would serenade him with a large, pompous men trying to perform love poetry. Ugh. The very thought made him shudder.
However, his thoughts were paused by a voice that echoed over the battlefield and into the trenches.
“Surrender!” said the voice. “The battle is lost! You cannot win! So why incur our wrath further by persisting in this foolish fight?”
Foolish fight? That was good. Well, Lucious was fixed to fight until he was finished or he finally fled to freedom. He raised his head over the trench.
He quickly ducked down again as half a dozen fire blasts connected at the place his face had been moments before, creating a large lack crater by the trench. Shoot. He really needed something to do this for him, rather than his silly sword. Why had they even brought swordsmen to the trenches? They were just utterly useless against all the weapons the enemy had. Oh, well. There was probably some big, intelligent explanation from the higher ups, but those kinds of things never got down to normal soldiers.
Above, he could hear them marching to the trench. Now he knew they meant business. He hurried away, crouched low, toward a better position. He still needed a better weapon. Now why didn’t they have anything like what the Venefici had?
His best bet was probably to follow the trench until it ended, where he could hop out and escape. Granted, since he was surrounded, the enemy probably held at least one of the flanks, since they were also behind him. He was in quite a pickle, that was for sure. He didn’t know how he had managed to enter this hellish vegetable, but he needed quite a can-opener to get out of it.
He was vaguely aware that the enemy had entered the trenches finally. He was only made explicitly aware, though, when one of them popped up in front of him. Lucius smirked at the boy, who had bright, shiny armor, evidence of a rookie. Why did they need fresh troops? Maybe they preferred cucumbers.
Lucius made quick work of the rookie. He then set about plundering the corpse. After all, what was a corpse going to do with a suit of armor? Especially one that nice? He rapped the metal, impressed by the sound of it. Why didn’t his country have smiths this good? Maybe they just didn’t get payed enough. Maybe, if Lucius became king, he would give the blacksmiths huge paychecks so they could make better armor.
As he stood up, he heard a voice above him.
“Surrender!” said the voice, which was revealed to come from a man standing above the trench, pointing an enchanted staff right between Lucius’s eyes. The nerve!
“You surrender!” replied Lucius.
He took hold of the staff, pulling himself up to the soldier’s level, giving him a good headbutt. He really hoped it transferred knowledge, since this soldier could use some on dealing with enemies. Of course, it might be a waste to transfer that knowledge, since he knew how to deal with enemies: counterclockwise, one card at a time. Or was that how to deal with cards? Wasn’t the way to deal with cards to cut them?
Either way, the soldier was dead, his staff in Lucius’s hand. Really, it was just what he had needed. He could feel power in the wooden staff, like when one suddenly realizes one has a straight flush in cards. It makes one prone to maniacal laughter.
He continued down the trench, this time blasting away any soldier that came in his way. Wouldn’t they ever learn? But nope, they just kept coming to him, one by one. Lucius had to amend his previous analogy. It was more like having a royal flush when his opponents had maybe a pair. Combined.
After a long while, he at last came to the end of the trench. Climbing out, he found the place swarming with Venefici. A good thing he had switched armor. But that way was no fun. Well, perhaps making up stories and lying to them would be fun. Impersonating a soldier would be fun. But, if he were caught, he really didn’t know if it was worse to be an enemy prisoner or a deserter. On the one hand, they probably had their sergeants sing “Happy Birthday” to deserters, but on the other, those poor, tortured souls probably also got chocolate cake after that.
Now that was tempting. He could suffer anything for chocolate cake. Even a chorus of generals singing an entire concert, as long as they had cake.
Nah. It would be much more fun just to blow away the enemy with their own staff.