“They’re calling it the first civilised war, the papers that is.”
“Civilised,” Adrian let out a bark of laughter “evidently no journalists fought in this war.”
“Hmm” Torrid hummed as he scratched at the stump of his leg, the slight stump hung uselessly below his left knee.
Four storeys below them the Grand Royal Army of Kelland paraded through the main thoroughfare of the Capital. Their sky-blue uniforms resplendent, lacking the stained mud that had been the decoration for their uniforms on the Front.
“Where was our invite?” Torrid asked, he knew the answer already. But the bottle of whiskey the two veterans had been sharing had sent his mind wandering.
Adrian leant back on the crate he was sitting on and searched for the crumpled paper he’d thrown away a half hour before. His one usable eye locked onto the proclamation and he made a drunken attempt to reach for it.
“Let me” Torrid said as he reached with his crutch to drag his prize across the dusty wooden floorboards. He cleared his throat as he flattened out the paper on his lap, “All combatants of the Rominov, Salcmend and Red Field campaigns who were injured in service to the state are hereby excused from the last and least important act of this brutal war. Field Marshal Hammond…”
“Drink” Adrian grumbled as he took a gulp from the nearly empty bottle before handing it to Torrid.
“May I continue?”
“Yes, you may Sergeant”
“Where was I… Ah Here I am; Field Marshal Hammond has decreed that all men injured may be excused from the signing of the peace treaty and the formal surrender of our great adversary. Furthermore, those who are excused are to be allowed to turn in their uniforms and equipment so that they may go immediately to their families as repayment by the state for their valiant service.”
Both men sat in silence for a moment. They watched from their high window the beginnings of cavalry. Or the Remnants as they were known among the veterans, the cavalry was made up of groomed officers mounts, conscripted artillery beasts and the finer of the pack horses to have survived. Most of the real cavalry horses lay buried in the mud of the Front or in the bellies of the peasants whose homes had become the namesakes of battlefields.
“I bet the worst most of these men had were stubbing their toes in the mansions they commandeered for command centres” Adrian spat on the floor, his spit speckled with blood. The lung shot that had finally sent him home was, no matter which battle medic said what to him, a life sentence.
Next came the military police, the Provosts, who marched with their chins up. Their ranks had stayed mostly untouched due to their role behind the frontline. Unlike the regiments to have marched past beforehand, their ranks were filled with experienced men and very few of the young conscripts who made up the bulk of the army.
“We’re no longer needed, are we?” Adrian asked.
“I don’t believe so; the state has made its use of us” Replied Torrid.
The synchronised gunshots that echoed throughout the dusty loft was lost in the cacophony of the approaching military band. Whose position was directly in front of Field Marshal Hammond, his sky-blue uniform was laden down with new, shining gold medals.