The battle has ended, the crash of metal and the pounding hooves gone, replaced by the more sinister sounds and smells that remind us that it isn't distant enough. Men screaming from the ministrations of the physicians or moaning their slow death on the battlefield. The smells are worse still, and I will give you the courtesy of not providing detail. But if any man says that the sound of battle is sword on shield, then it must be said, that man has never been in battle. If ever a sound could be attributed to war, then it would surely be that of feasting crows.
Before this day, I would have told you that I wanted the glory that battle provided. Proving I was brave enough to face and conquer my enemies while fighting to protect my way of life and that of my family.
I know now that I was living a dream. I swung that sword, not for any way of life. I swung it because I wanted to live and others were trying to kill me. I took men's lives this day to save myself and those of the friends that I've made in this army. The protection of my family is an after thought. After the battle, when I'm alone with only my visions of blood and pain and death.
There is only pain for the dying, and the dead have only that glory which the living provide them. I doubt they would think it enough. But we tell these stories and give the dead their honor, not for the dead, but for those still living. It is for the ones that must face the battle ahead that we talk of the glory of battle, for those men still have need of their courage.
In a short while, I will walk out to the small group of men whom I command, and I will laud the deeds of our fallen brothers. I will speak to them of the gallantry with which these men fought, tell the living that the lives lost bought another day of freedom for those we cherish.
And when my half-truths are over, I will return to my tent in solitude. I will wish that I was still a youth, brandishing a tree branch instead of this wicked instrument of pain. Sparring with the butterflies and insects of a peaceful field. Dreaming of the noble honor of battle, not regretting the price I paid to have it.