He died with his pride gathered like a blanket around him, with his men fighting gallantly around him, and with the image of his wife in his mind. The sky above his still body was almost black, the clouds twisting shapes among the darkness.
The soldiers, dressed in the traditional Elvendell armour with the sword and the dragon emblem on the high right side, remained optimistic throughout the battle, even though their High Prince was dying and all hope was indeed lost.
Each man allowed images of home to weave throughout his mind, bringing silent comforts to them. The High Prince shifted on his back, searing pain stampeding along his side and spine. A young soldier, with a face smothered in blood and dirt stooped, his head bowed beside him.
“My Lord,” he whispered his voice hoarse from both the campfire ashes and the smoke from the blazing forest. “We are all going to die, aren’t we?” his voice soft unnervingly soft. The question was one that the High Prince dreaded. If he told his men they would die, what type of leader, war lord, High Prince would he be? And if he told them they would march back to Elvendell and the Islands with the Dark Prince’s head upon a pike and be re-united with wives, parents and children, he would be unfaithful.
“My Son,” he replied, “The next moments, the next years, they are all the future. You can change your future. You can die, here, now upon these fields or you can return to the beautiful valley where your family await and the horned birds will sing your praises. Choose your future, young man. Become a hero.” His voice ached and his lips were parched.
“What is your future my lord?” the young man asked quietly, leaning upon an unsheathed sword.
“My future is to be the Guardian of the High Queen. I have lived, I have loved and that love had been returned to me. It is now that I leave.”