Most men can ascertain the pain of war, a virtuous man knows the rhythm of war. War be a bloody thing, limbs scattered like cut grass across a meadow. Most high class men wrenched at the thought of bloodied bodies, rotten and decaying. The worst thought for a high born was the thought of a freshly dead corpse, ripped into with many slashes, slashes that cut deep, making it hard for them to be recognized. The worst was when the crows would come to pluck the eyes, it was good to be dead before they came. I hated the nobility. They let noble hearty men fight their wars. Wars they started for their own greedy ambition. Be it for gold or crown, be it even for a woman or man. All war was repugnant, but unavoidable.
I loathed the nobility, that held true, but I played the game, same as them. The game of crowns and thrones. The game of lies I guess you could call it. A lie here, a lie there. There were no friends in the game, only allies. My father was a high lord, he was principled when it came to the game of crowns, he knew the game better than he knew anything else. He knew how to whisper in the ears of many women and men. He could make a woman hear fantasies of being on the throne, so long as she could grant him information on a warring player in the crown game. My father had spies and money for his spies, he knew which noble had which whore or which noble dipped their toes into high born ladies.
My father was even better with noble men, telling them what they wanted to know. They called him “father of mystery.” He knew many things about others, but people barely knew my father. Well at least they knew nothing that could scorn my fathers reputation. His secrets were left in the open, if he slept with a whore, you knew it, if he slept with Noble, you knew it. Everyone knew he was a drunk, but a wise drunk, not a fool, never a fool. My father loved drunks, easier to trick into doing his bidding.
Father was most vile when it came to his children, forty of us to be exact. I was his bastard son. I could say one good thing about him, he laid claim to all his children, even those he let get birthed from the streets. My mother was given a parchment of birthright when the first slap hit my backside. I was Nobility from birth. God I hated my mother, always telling me to impress my father, her own greed for power, using her only son to become a noble woman. I wanted to tell her she was trash, like I was trash, father cared for none of his children or his pleasure women. She was born trash and would die being trash. But even trash can love its own trash.
I became suffocated by my life. I was miserable, I thought of taking myself to the gallows or the axe men. Either hung like a criminal or cut down like a dog, both were better than to live a life of misery. I decided on neither, why die a swift death when I could die slowly and unexpectedly. I thought myself a mad man or maybe I was sane and the world was mad and depraved. God knew the depravity, they saw it with their own eyes. I know I saw it, if I could see it, God knows they could also see it. I decided to leave my family and their depraved nature and joined a new one, one that didn’t try to hide it’s depravity. I joined war. I could hear it’s rhythm, the thumping of their hearts. They sang louder than any song I had heard before. So loud I became deafened by it.
The plains of battle lay the foundation of a true man's heart. A man could be himself on the field, killed who he wanted, never a brother though. A brother was the only friend you had, other than your sword. A brother could save you, when your sword failed you. I saved a brother and was saved many times by my brothers. In the brotherhood title meant nothing and I never told them I was of royal blood. I kept it from them, why tell them, I left to be treated differently and on the battlefield I was a man, not a royal.
I had many brothers, Jalun was a close brother, his blood Jalfan was brother of mine also. The duo reminded me of my father the way they drank. The similarity stopped there, while my father was wise; The duo brothers were fools, through and through. Fools they may have been, but they were virtuous men, men of passion. They knew how to please a woman, and smooth talk them.
Other brothers were rough, like Feldon. I loved all brothers, even the vile ones, because they showed their true nature. You knew a brother better than you knew your own family. Feldon knew what he wanted and would have what he wanted. Most men in the brotherhood were like Feldon, the rarity was to find brothers like Jalun and Jalfan. In the war I met many women. A woman was lucky if they were found by the duo of blood, unlucky if they met Feldon. Women were claimed by those brothers that found them first. I found it vile that the powers that be allowed for such nature, but I accepted it, as it was true in nature, no contradictions.
As the war raged on, so did the stakes, we would lose brothers by the day. Our numbers dwindled. We began the war with ten thousand, as the war met its fourth year only half of us remained. For every brother we lost I wrote their name, so many lost I filled my journal, to the point I had to buy a new one.
The last battle to end the war was to be easy, like cutting butter. After four years of war I should have known it to be lies. They told us we would fight a legion of men, five thousand at most. An army to match ours. They told us the men were young men, not trained in the art of war. They lied and I hated lies. The battle came at us from surprise, we were trapped in a valley, surrounded on both sides, ten thousand men on both sides. My heart thumped in excitement and fear. I craved death most of all, but I was scared to die. I knew I was mad to be frightened at my own desire.
We fought hard, but not hard enough. The last of us was Feldon, Jalun and Jalfan and myself. “Any last wishes?” A man told us, the man came from horseback. I knew Feldon was vile, but he was the worst of all the nobles I knew. He was a coward.
“Spare me sire, for I have wife and child.” Not only a coward but a liar. He had no one but his whores. I almost burst with laughter as the swordsman cut off his head. As I turned to Jalun and Jalfan I assumed they would die the virtuous men they were, with a noble death, but they groveled on the ground like dogs. They begged for their lives, as they looked up the swords were already cleaved into their heads. At that moment I realized a fact of the world.
“And you?” The man told me. I told him to allow me to leave a letter. The man accepted my request, but told me to make it quick and I did. As I finished he asked me one thing. “Any last words?”
“Only that I see the world in all men the same. We are all hypocrites. I thought war would show me the true face of man, but men always wear a face of lies, lies that we cannot escape. I die today, but death is only a blessing as death is better than living in a depraved world.” I looked at the executioner, smiling. As the sword came down, I felt peace and silence.