A shout from atop of the walls alerts you of the giant boulders flying straight over the walls. The very ground shakes as the boulders strike the keep directly. Around you, peasants and serfs alike are scrambling for shelter from the attack.
"They're at the gates!" shouts one of your men, from the walls.
Splinters fly off as the gate's wooden doors buckle and shudder from the force of a ram.
The war was a mistake. Your lord, in his pride and vanity, believed he could conquer them. His men, led by those haughty nobles, marched to battle as if they had already won, that they only needed to stroll to the enemy and claim their prize.
Those men are not here anymore. None lived to return to tell, not even the scouts.
"Move, barricade those doors!" you shout, as your men rush past you to block the doors with that they can but it was futile. The ram was making short work of the rapidly deteriorating doors.
You look behind you to the rest of your men, fresh recruits. Young men who've been forced into the army after that disastrous attack. Men, who've been given spears and training to stay in place. Inexperienced as they are, you'd rather have them than the militias.
One of the last orders your lord gave was to form a levy from the peasants who worked the land. The militia stands beside your men armed with what they could get their hands on. Faces filled with fear and desperation. These men are neither soldiers nor fighters. They'll break and be cut down at the first sight of battle.
Behind them, are your veterans, what's left of them that is. Armed with a sword and shield, in plate armour. They can be relied on, you will at least stand a chance against them, you think to yourself.
You hear shouting and panicked cries, as you see the ram's head peek through the crack of the gate. Your men at the gate try hold the gate in place in order to buy more time. You move to the back of the lines. You’d rather fight alongside your men at the front but as the only veteran commander left after the disastrous attack, you have to make sure the line holds altogether… if it can hold.
As of your lord, where is your lord? You think to yourself. After giving you your orders, he disappeared without a trace, his face a mix of anger and desperation. He was abandoned by his tribe and abandoned us in turn.
The doors finally give. You hear a deafening war cry from outside. The men at the gates tried to run to you before they are cut down by the horsemen rushing inside, their spears catching the backs of those who run. Those who were mad enough to stand in front of a cavalry charge are trampled by the horses, spurned by their riders to charge.
The militia breaks at the first charge of the enemy, as expected. The enemy horsemen find their backs easily as they try to run to the safety of the other lines. You look to see two of the village smiths attempt to fend off an axeman with their hammers, attempt. One of them was quickly brought down, as the other attempted to flee as soon as his partner fell. A horseman rode him down shortly.
To their credit, the recruits stood their ground. The first few enemies to charge were met with a ragged wall of spears. Horses slowed and brought to a halt, panicked at the sight of the spears. Those who were pressed forward by their riders are impaled, their riders flung off their mounts to be stabbed by another.
Yet, more of them pour in to the gate and for every one of them to fall, four take their place. You look on as one of your own impales an axemen; only for two more to appear and strike him down. Your men slowly pull back and stand to the last line, your veterans.
Your veterans stand firm, holding the line and killing the occasional bastard who was reckless enough to push too far and alone. But it is useless, the sea of endless enemies are ultimately whittling down your small island of soldiers. Your men begin to waver; even the bravest soldier can only fight for so long and not begin to fear for his own life. Their sheer number is slowly creating cracks your lines. And soon enough, it does.
You see your center line snapping like a twig. Left and right, you see your men cornered and picked apart like lambs. You're brought back to attention when a horseman gallops straight for you, spear raised. You need to move.
Too late, you realized as you hit the ground hard. Your whole body aches, refusing to get up or move. You feel your hands over your chest to find a broken spear deep in your chest. You taste blood in your mouth, your blood. You’re bleeding out, dying because of some lord’s ambitions and failures.
This has always been the cycle, you’ve realized, a cycle of war and death. Until a single tribe stands alone on top of a mountain of corpses, it will continue. Whether it’s here or some other village, this cycle of this Tribal Wars will continue.