The Side of HonourA Story by AndyJCash
Run. The only thing Zhuge could do. Run. Help would be on the other side of the river. For now, all he needed to do was run!
Clouds rolled in above him bringing forceful rain which made the tracks muddy and slippy. More than a couple of times he staggered and mud kicked up into his face. What a sad moment it was to retreat, but especially when the land itself was against you.
Fate wasn’t on his side either; there had been no winds when Zhuge had charged the enemies armoury and set it alight, but as he was slaying the fleeing foes a strong gale sent the flames behind him, blocking him off from his allies. Alone he stood and fought an onslaught of men, waiting for the fires to turn to embers or for help to arrive.
One important thing to know about Zhuge was that he was a skilled warrior and an unmatched swordsman. Battle after battle he would pull his fellow soldiers out of difficult spots or poke holes into the enemy ranks. It also meant though that the enemy sought opportunities to quell this menace once and for all.
The knowledge of Zhuge’s predicament reached the ears of the enemy commanders and not a second was wasted in dispatching any men they could afford. The news also reached a budding young warrior by the name of Cui-Den who had begun to build a reputation for himself in previous battles, some saying with a bit of cultivating he could become as good as Zhuge. Brooding confidence, being as good as Zhuge wasn’t good enough for Cui-Den.
After hours of holding off the enemy through fight and flight the weather took another turn and the rain poured down, extinguishing the fire. He took this chance to flee the armoury and attempt to retreat into his territory. Just as he set off, Cui-Den arrived on the field and called Zhuge back, wishing to fight him. Zhuge was a smart man. Fleeing was the smart option. Yet the enthusiasm that Cui-Den exerted reminded him of a Zhuge of a few years before, one who was excited to be involved with the fight and out to find worthy opponents.
So Zhuge stayed and drew his sword to Cui-Den’s. Cui’s men gathered around but didn’t dare to get involved in this fight. The clash of metal was loud and constant as both competitors put everything into it. Yet one side was lacking the power to make this a truly memorable match.
Cui-Den struck Zhuge’s blade into the ground and brushed it away with ease. His hands deep in the mud desperately trying to hold his weary body up, Zhuge consigned to defeat, saddened his death would come down to a change in the wind rather than a tactical genius by his opponent.
Cui had a different view, disappointed that he hadn’t faced Zhuge at his greatest might. If he killed him now, how would he ever know how he rated against this great warrior of the land. He told Zhuge to leave the field of battle and upon his return to seek him out first. Zhuge thanked Cui-Den, complimenting him on his maturity and ran.
Cui’s men were in shock and confusion, torn between whether to accept their general’s virtue or report his actions as treachery. Cui-Den faced a tough decision himself; risk the witnesses talking and being sent to execution or cutting them all down where they stood. It was a difficult choice...
So Zhuge ran, not knowing how the rest of the battle was going. It was quite possible resources were wasted to try and extract him, as much as it was his resistance carved an opening for an allied unit to break into the enemy bases. Strangely his mind kept wandering to Cui-Den. He hoped he wouldn’t be punished because he was already relishing another fight with the young man.
The bridge that connected refuge and the enemy was in sight; only a few more minutes. However as he approached the bridge, unfamiliar faces were there to greet him. In his absence, the base had been taken and his allies had been forced way back. While the flames had burned, the enemy had circled around the back waiting for him to arrive. Had Cui-Den known this all along?
One of the stronger general’s stood with a handful of men either side, grinning in glee at the tired state of Zhuge. Approaching slowly, the general spoke with a rough tone about how he wouldn’t make the same mistake as Cui-Den.
Is he alive?!
The general laughed in response and threw down a sword. Cui-Den’s sword. Anger rushed through Zhuge’s veins, but why? He had only shared one conflict with Cui and barely said two words to him. Why had his death caused him so much pain? It didn’t matter right now.
He picked up the blade and with renewed energy struck a crushing blow which was only just deflected away by the general. In Zhuge came again, raining his sword down to which the general was struggling to deal with. Suddenly, the weather had another impact on Zhuge’s life; the rain was heavier and the mud was tremendously difficult to get a foothold in as the general found, slipping under the pressure of Zhuge’s attack. In a swift movement, the general’s sword was swept away.
The handful of men who had been with the general cowered at Zhuge’s might. Running away in cowardice, the general stared in horror as Zhuge towered over him. Being a man of honour, Zhuge always analysed an enemy in the face of death. If he saw hope or fear, he would send them away...much like Cui-Den. On the other hand, if he saw venom and corruption...
Zhuge pierced the general’s chest with Cui’s sword. While the dying man choked on the fluids that ran up his throat, Zhuge pulled the sword out and watched the rain wash the blood off the steel. To think it could have been his blood on that sword...
He sheathed the blade and started to run again, hoping that his friends hadn’t been forced back too far. He wouldn’t be able to forgive himself if he found out he was the cause of another good man’s death.
© 2011 AndyJCash
Added on August 2, 2011
Last Updated on August 2, 2011
About18 year old who is still experimenting as a writer. I prefer writing fiction, especially fantasy fiction, but do try my hand at poems and short stories of other genres. Away from writing, I play footb.. more..
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