This is the 44th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
The Wolf’s Time, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 14th January 2012
Word count: 586
Theme: futility, war, loss, destruction, politics, alliances, waste
“We’ll not stand for this,” those were the words my king uttered that launched us into a decade of warfare.
King Correstus was right to oppose the kingdom of Sowii’s threats, blackmail really, of annexing our Eastern holdings if we didn’t support them in a war against our ally the kingdom of Eglasia, not a single man of the court would disagree.
So the land of Casii readied itself for war. The army was enlarged in a wholesale recruitment drive, the nation’s blacksmiths went into overdrive to provide the arms we would require, (though as any soldier will tell you, the quality left a lot to be desired at times), farmers and laborers doubled their efforts to prepare to feed a significant portion of the population that would no longer be working towards the goal of providing sustenance or resources. Our less powerful allies were pressed for support in a variety of ways, and of course we contacted King Veron of Eglasia.
Two months later in a coordinated move the armies of Casii attacked the Eastern border of Sowii, while the armies of Eglasia attacked the Northern border.
It should have been enough to force the Sowii to surrender, but they had prepared for war too, and they had large companies of mercenaries to swell their numbers.
The opening campaigns saw the northeastern territories fall to our combined efforts, but in just a few months the Sowii had turned things around and pushed back into our border territories. Then the winter came, and the war ground to a halt, with no action but some cross territory attacks designed to make each sitting army as miserable as possible.
Then the spring brought renewals to the war. It ebbed and flowed across the borders, armies were moved, and moves were countered.
This went on for a decade with no sign of ending. Negotiations were oft becoming brutal, as animosity grew, the slaying of diplomats carrying unreasonable demands became normal.
Do I know why the Sowii wanted war? No not really, they’d had a couple of bad harvests maybe, and were envious of Eglasia’s golden fields maybe, or possibly their king had gone mad and they were crazy enough to follow him.
No one really won the war, the Sowii just stopped. Their mercenaries went home, tired of being unpaid, after ten long years the regular army drifted home to their families. The Sowii king, King Ferros died not long after, many suspected foul play, few looked into it, no one said it officially.
My king held the Eastern territories for a while. The Eglasia’s king had the Northern ones. In time they let them go, having no need of the ill productive lands.
Thousands of lives lost, millions spent on weapons and food, poverty and starvation running rampant over the people of Casii, and nothing to show for it.
The king have medals out, but no one was singled out as a hero of the war, no songs were commissioned to celebrate victors, as a people we practically choose to forget those years. We rebuilt, restocked, and cursed traders from Sowii that had the cheek to come to our fair towns selling their wares. In time, all of that was forgotten too.
The king was right to go to war, I tell myself as I remember my job back then, counter of the bodies. He was right, but I would never understand how he was right, what possible reason could their be for me to count so high.
There’s been a lot of war in my fics so far, though it’s not the only thing I’ve written (yesterday’s was a bitter sweet story of why a young boy loves the snow for instance), and I wanted to put right something. I’m not a war monger. I don’t particularly like war, there are times I recognise that it is a necessity, that there must be some form of defence against tyranny, theft, wholesale murder and the like, but I still don’t like it. So today’s fic is meant to illustrate not all war is glorious, in fact, sometimes it’s futile.
I’ll avoid getting political and liken it to anything in more recent years, nor do I want to disparage soldiers who do their duty, and put their lives on the line for safety, security, and way of life. If there’s a war that shouldn’t be, it’s on the people that made the war, not the troops.