The Wait

Early Winter by Serge Grechanyuk

The Snow Line they used to call it.  It was a border of sorts between the ice fields and glaciers above, and the timber lands below.  Henri had stood there in the same place ten years before when the Ice Hordes had struck downwards in search of food. The Woods Men had met them of course; and after nearly three days of battle the border had not moved.  Ten thousand brave men of the forest had perished, and an equal number from the heights.  And for what?  Okay, the timber lands had been preserved, and the ice dwellers retreated back to the mountain strongholds, but was holding them back really that important?

Henri remembered how Andre, his captain, had rushed forwards to intercept one of the fur-clad invaders before he could swing his large axe at the then young Henri.  “How could I have just stood there like that?”  Henri questioned as he once again began too berate himself.  He saw the mountain men swarming down pass, and he had just froze.  He didn’t raise his sword, or even take the shield off his back.  Andre saved him, and then was immediately cut down by two other members of the horde.  That was the last that Henri could remember of  it.  When he came to himself again, he was lying among the dead and wounded.  The battle had ended, and he was unscathed except for a walnut sized whelp on his head.

But now, ten years on the weather was again as it had been a decade before.  Harsh winds and early snow had ruined crops, and hindered hunting in the mountains.  Would they come again?  Would the men of the forest be able to once again resist them?  Was he up to the challenge?  All this was weighing on his mind, as he glanced back at rows of young forest men, to which he was now the captain.





Here the battle began…and here it ended. Years have passed, time and weather eating away at the memorial banners and even the metal on the blades that were once wielded in protection of these lands. Wielded by honorable men that once fought beside him. Years have passed, but in his mind, the battle goes on. How he managed to survive when so many of his brothers fell, is a bitter miracle he’s still trying to understand. He gazes into the distance, up into the snowy hills from where the enemy once crashed down upon them like a raging torrent. The landscape is quiet once again, but will it remain so? And for how long?

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