The General

Standing tall he surveyed his troops, they were in fact local countrymen, not soldiers at all, this made what he was about to do feel much worse. The problem with Government is their innate hatred of the common man, despite their supposed leadership of said people, they cared less about them than they did their dogs (dogs were considered more important than even the Government so this is a slightly skewed comparison).

The General was somewhat at a loss, the desire to try and save these poor men was strong but the consequences would be abhorrent, he would have to try and make it as easy as possible on them, their inevitable deaths would come sooner than they knew, he saw the betrayed look on their faces, it was the hardest part of his job. The warrior programme had never been completed, by anyone other than its creator, this meant that there was a matter of pride for those who were chosen to apply, what they didn’t realise is that it was used as an alternative to the firing squad, the course was so gruelling and treacherous that few made it even a quarter of the way round. The course was just the start the training that followed after had broken many men and some women. It all had to be completed, at the end was a simulated full scale war, for those who made it that far it was usually the last straw.

The group of men in front of the General had all been collected from the same province, a mixture of honest and criminal tendencies, there had been no particular reason other than a whim from the High King. All they knew was that they had been summoned, no more no less, they had heard of people being summoned before but never returning, it was unfortunate but it surely wouldn’t happen to them, right? If they had known what it entailed half of them would have probably absconded and gone into hiding, if you were called there was option, you couldn’t politely refuse the offer, you left that night, no goodbyes just disappeared. How hard could it be some thought, they had no idea, their simple lives had never extended beyond bar fights and the odd clan invasion.

Gesturing towards the beginning of the course he shouted instructions to the men, who at first confused then started running towards the start, some didnt even make it to the start line, crushed in the hundreds simultaneously trying to get to the front. The pistol shot rang out and a mass of bodies started moving towards the first hurdle, it was horrific to see, the trail of broken bodies left behind continued round the first two sections. As the group grew smaller it was now survival of the fittest. They ploughed on they could see what they thought was the finish line in sight, The General continued watching knowing what was coming. Impressed that there were still 100 men there he wondered if this time it would be different, maybe there were warriors out there and they just didnt know it?

The end of the first course saw 75 remain, an astonishing amount considering previous trials. The next two stages removed a couple more but by the final challenge there were still 35 or 40 the General had never seen such resilience, these men didn’t seemed to be phased by anything, the completed the challenge and stood waiting at the end, out of breath and broken but there was still a spark of life in their eyes. They were lead to a banquet which had been laid out for them, they gorged on the feast that lay before them and rested well that night. Morning came and they were brought back to the High Kings presence, odd to think they had actually made it through, none of them could quite believe it neither could the High King quite frankly, declaring them all warriors they started their new lives in the High Kings Court. Still entirely unsure how they managed to get there.

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