OiHeinmen marched in perfect unison with the drums orders, as did all 200 of the other men of the 297th Veilmeer conscript legion, A platoon. Each footfall sounded like the ground was shaking, loud enough to mute the sound of artillery, and as fearsome as a bull. The flag even furled in time with the rhythm, each proud wave denoting this unit as property of Garmaria. These were the sons of Garmaria about to set out on their right of manhood: first battle.
Around him, other platoons from the 297th conscript legion marched forward, but had to give the lead to the greatest platoon of them all. Behind him, a battery of artillery sung their hearts out, lobbing righteous death upon the foes of their fore fathers. Ahead of them, a company of fusileers was poring volley after volley into the enemies. OiHeinmen was a little mad that he couldn't see the enemy, but was content with the situation as it was. After all, they would soon be slashing their foes to-
"Platoon, Halt!" Ordered the drums.
The platoon obliged, but with a noticeable air of confusion. They were a mere forty yards away from the fusileer's company, and it became apparent that all of the legion had stopped. OiHeinmen felt confused: wasn't their duty to stop the enemy at all costs? Why aren't they deployed ahead of the fusileers, where they can use their swords? Looking at the sword resting on his shoulder, OiHeinmen noticed something else odd: a fusileer regiment was digging in behind them.
No one had time to ponder the implications of this, for it quickly became apparent that the fusileers in front of them had given up on volley firing. The regular rhythm they had come to expect was now nothing more then men firing whenever they pleased. OiHeinmen was on the verge of going over there and teaching them a lesson when he started to hear screaming. It was faint at first, but it tripled in intensity every second, and was overlapped with bellows of increasing rage, strong enough to shatter mountains and to freeze the blood of a mountain. Then the 297th conscript legion saw their first Troll.
That is not to say they hadn't seen Trolls before, it was just always as woodcuts in the Garmarian Review or The Daily Codex, or as pictures at magik lantern or picture reel show. The real Troll was much more terrifying: standing at seven feet tall, gripping an axe the size of a horse leg, with three yellowing tusks (one of which went down in the middle and was splattered with red at the end), pointed ears as sharp as knives, and blue skin popping with veins and muscles. It was clad in old leather, covered with rusting scraps of metal, and a helmet that used to be a human. But, they didn't immediately notice all of these qualities. The first thing they noticed was that he had decapitated a man in a single swing.
A ripple of fear traveled through OiHeinmen, and the platoon as a whole. Some of the men from one of the other platoons even threw down their weapons, and began to run away. Somebody shouted something OiHeinmen couldn't understand, and the fusileers behind the retreating platoon opened fire. Needless to say, they set a very good example. Still, OiHeinmen considered running when-
"Raise, Shields!" The drums demanded.
Following his breeding, OiHeinmen raised his shield from his left side. Because he had no other orders, he looked forward and saw about a hundred more Trolls hacking through the fusileers with the same ease as the first. They were still putting up a fight, but even their guns wouldn't block a Trolls attack, being dispatched with the same ease as its owner. A few of the men even had shields like the one OiHeinmen had, but these proved to be as effective as blocking with the bare arm, and one man's arm was even jarred from its socket on impact. OiHeinmen winced as the man, clutching his useless arm, was silenced by the same Troll, who's laughter mocked him.
OiHeinmen was now furious. That man had died for Garmaria, and all that Troll could do was laugh? What right did these creatures have to mock the sons of Garmaria, who were the rightful masters of this world? What right did these creatures have to live? NONE!
"Ready, Arms!" Sounded the drums.
By now the feeling of fury had spread to the platoon as a whole. How dare they mock Garmaria! They all took their swords from the resting place on their shoulders and went from cupping the hilt to squeezing it. They knew what their duty was, and they knew what they had to do. But they were still those who were scared.
Then someone began singing a child-rhyme. They all knew it by heart, and, despite the imaturity of it all, they all sang:
Oh my mother, cry not for me.
Oh my father, cry not for me.
I go to war for the sake of you, mother.
I go to war for the sake of you, father.
I go to war for the sake of everyone.
If I die on the fields of war, cry not for me mother.
If I die on the fields of war, cry not for me father.
For I died for your sake, mother.
For I died for your sake, father.
For I died for the sake of everyone.
Everyone sang this, except OiHeinmen. He sung a sung only he and his father had known:
One more time to the maw of Limbo,
One more time to the heart of the storm.
One more time to the heat of battle,
for this is the last great battle I shall known.
And then the drums gave the last order OiHeinmen would ever know: