I remember it as clear as yesterday. The smell, the taste, the sound, the blood. I stand alone. Face smeared with ash. I smell smoke. I taste the coppery flavor of the blood. Explosions and screaming deafen me. That was long ago. The iron legion keeps trying to take the fort. They fail every time. But with every attack, we lose more good men and women. The general said we would get reinforcements. We did. Just not the ones we had hoped for. They were like me those many years ago. Excited, brave, bold and stupid. They came in the giant doors of the keep, smiles on their faces. They thought that they were ready. Fresh suits of steel. Polished lances. They wanted to hunt an awful enemy. They didn’t know how brutal the enemy truly was. A small group was given to me. Just 12 soldiers, ready for combat. I sent 7 on a patrol. Just a simple patrol. How hard could that be? You just walk around looking out for shady business. Only two came back. It was 3 days before they spoke a word. 5 to say anything coherent. I asked about the rest. Storn? “Decapitated” Oldren? “Left behind after a construct took out his leg.” Zythol? “Shrapnel.” Ernst? They stopped speaking. They looked at the floor. They didn’t stop. The bodies were as bad as they described. But the blood, death and decay wasn’t the worst part. It was the notes. Addressed to loved ones. Detailing their adventure. You can’t even look at their desecrated corpses after reading those. The next time they passed through the doors, they did not wear smiles, they wore nothing. It was a miracle that the two survived. It was an ambush. The rats laid dynamite on the road, and set it off when they passed. The constructs made quick work of the ones still standing. A week later more reinforcements arrived. They wore the same happy smiles as the ones before. And just like before, they’d fall.
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