“The king is dead! Long live the king!”
Jonathan shouted in the midst of the throes of battle. His cry could be heard by every man despite the clamor; sparks shot from the edges of the thousand swords striking swords and helmets and shields and breastplates. Volleys of arrows still exchanging from behind the front lines, though to say there were lines is a fallacy. The confusion was too much, brother was turning against brother and friend against friend, and the mourning of the metanoctilucae was overwhelming so that once valiant men nearly collapsed to their knees as their hearts wept long before their eyes. Battle cries were drowned out by moaning and sobbing, yet the fighting wouldn’t soon cease.
A glint of swinging steel caught Jonathan’s attention long before reaching its target. He parried the blow with ease, and with a flick of the wrist, pried the weapon from its master’s grasp. He welled with a sorrow and guilt that nearly stayed his hand, and for a moment the world froze as their eyes met, gaze locked in gaze, a battle in search of compassion. Knowing his opponent wouldn’t have stopped the onslaught even if he claimed victory, Jonathan cried in anguish as he thrust his sword straight and true between the gentleman’s ribs, twisted his wrist abruptly, and caused a violent crack that he could feel through his arm to the shoulder a moment before revealing his sword once again, blood-stained and ravenous.
Tears streamed down his cheeks as he repeated the damnable action over and over again, leaving smitten brothers, sons, fathers, and friends in his wake. The battle surrounded him on all sides, and no matter what progress he made in any one direction, he could not seem to find the edge of the conflict. He desperately wiped his eyes of the grime and tears between the voracious opposing soldiers, hoping beyond hope there would be some sign of an end to the violence, and a place where he could direct his now befuddled troops. With the king laying in he bloodstained mud, he knew his direction would be the only assurance of victory, but only if he could gain a vantage point that would allow him a general oversight of the field. Still, in all the action, every step he took was forward, never once putting a foot behind the other.
Finally, he saw an island in the midst of the raging war. A boulder, smooth on the sides, and no doubt woefully impossible to climb, but with the aid of slain compatriots and opponents, he was sure to reach the top. Seemingly waist deep in corpses of good men, Jonathan strode towards the looming precipice and scrambled up, still deflecting blows and reluctantly delivering death. Once he was finally standing, his heart sunk further and he retched. He saw all manners of disarray and discord, the fighting now no longer containing any sort of sense, and as far as he could see ad hear, the sorrow closed the eyes and hearts of the men so that they struggled against one another purely out of grief.
“Fall back to me!” Jonathan bellowed, still avoiding the strikes of enemies at his feet. But there was no response. As if he could no longer be heard, the battle continued on with the same grievous disorganization. Louder still he shouted, “Fall back to me!” now tasting the blood in his throat and feeling his vocal chords give way. All was hopeless, and he stood there above it all, a failed leader.
Just as he was about to allow the rage inside overcome him and rejoin the mass-homicide, an ear-splitting explosion resounded over the field, followed by a violent tremor, startling every man into absolute silence and trembling. The sorrow within each of their hearts maintained the whimpering, and though the battle had ceased, they felt evermore distraught.
Then, the unimaginable. The ground beneath every man, living and dying and dead, collapsed into oblivion. The day star no longer shown, and one by one, the night stars were extinguished. Wailing would have been heard if it were not for the lack of air and atmosphere. Jonathan was once again at peace as he was swallowed by the blackness, grateful the fighting had finally come to an end.
It is remarkable… How the crescendo of hopelessness can bring an end to all sound.