Hidden behind one of the pillars of the ruined temple, Calthansian looked down at his blood spattered tunic. The droplets had spattered right across the image of the owl, woven into the fabric; fortunately, they’d not touched the tightly rolled piece of parchment, clutched in his right hand.
He’d seen so many wars, witnessed too much bloodshed, and closed his eyes against the sight of death, only to be forced to open them again. Death was his reason for being and he could not escape it.
Despite this, he’d never participated in a battle, or lifted a sword in anger. Armour had never shielded his body against blows from an enemy; all he’d ever done was follow in the wake of various armies and written it all down.
Judgement of those who perpetrated such chaos, bringing down on their people a life of hell and misery, was not Calthansian’s task. All he was allowed to do was record events for posterity. But it was hard – so hard – not to wish such warmongers a taste of the fear, hatred and loathing they generated, like a poisonous miasma.
“The pen is mightier than the sword.” The saying echoed through the scribe’s brain. How many times had his master, Dinithious, tried to make him believe it?
‘We offer mankind the chance to learn from their mistakes,’ the old man said, during one of his classes. ‘We record history, so it can be studied and valuable lessons learned.’
Calthansian’s lip curled in a sneer – learn? Never! History kept on repeating itself, over and over; all that differed was the time and place. Yet he was doomed to record it. He’d sworn an oath, donned the tunic, and by doing so, had gained immortality and a never-ending duty to follow in mankind’s bloodstained journey.
When he stepped from behind the pillar, his gaze fell on the fallen body of a soldier. A face so young that it made the historian’s heart clench, stared blankly back at him. The boy’s helmet had been cloven in two and a lock of bloodstained hair peeked out from the gap. His breastplate, battered and scarred, had been pierced by several arrows.
Regaining control of his emotions, Calthansian stepped over the corpse, and began to make his way to where the main battle would be taking place. He would not record the boy’s death, not as an individual anyway, he would become a number, a statistic… nothing more. The glory of victory would belong to the fallen soldier’s king; only the leaders received a mention in the annals of history. For the common folk there would be no such honour. They would fade from history’s memory and become lost to all but those who loved them, and mourned their absence.