Hooves drummed the loose-packed earth. Arrows whizzed overhead. Somewhere, the sound of another man dying. Arcien turned to see he was no longer being pursued by the mob; instead they’d stopped a distance back, obviously distracted by something else. He drew back the reins, jerking his horses’s chin to its neck with an objecting snort as it halted. The dust cleared around them as he turned the stallion back the way they’d come.
The sun hung low in the bleeding sky, warning of impending darkness which would bring the battle to another standstill as forces separated and returned to their respective camps. Blood was not permitted close to the city walls; this was no-man’s land. Parched ground was grateful for the warm moisture of red seeping over swollen cheeks and bruised arms. Rigid fingers still clasped their valued weapons.
Curious, he urged his horse back towards the battlefield at an easy trot, slowing as he drew near.
They’d circled around a single man who cursed, covered in sweat, as he flailed his horse, which lay there on the ground. The poor animal was obviously dead. The mob fell in at last, carving hunks of flesh off the great beast’s side with their crude daggers and swords.
When one of the scrawny aggressors looked up and caught sight of him, Arcien kicked his horse in the ribs to ride away. The war was never about land. The opposition was made up of nothing but starving men.