13 - Calm before

Horns sounded in the distance. Arrows landed, short only a few dozen feet from where we now stood. Men on horses rode up and down the line, shouting orders as they waves swords- or flags. [Captains] or [Sergeants] were bellowing over the noise of men vomiting and praying: for ahead of them was death.

Death.

Yet, there we stood at the very front: spears in hand.

"We're on the far left flank, today!" Kepler yelled to us over the noise. "They like to pack your kind right in with the armor- but enemy cavalry is on the far right, so we're probably in luck!" He paused, as an arrow landed, not ten paces from where we stood. "There's no chance of a skirmish, either: Golden Wings has been pushing to retake the field and start building up defenses for the winter!"

"About fucking time!" Someone shouted to our right.

They were greeted with several "Aye!" scattered about the group.

Looking down the line, it didn't reassure me much. The small show of bravado was hardly capable of counter-balancing all the grim looks of terror.

"What's that mean for us?" To our center, Jones shouted back. "Retaking the field, I mean?"

"Us? Nothing, really!" Kepler yelled back. "Just thought you all might want to know what you're dying for!"

"Oh, this is so fucked." Shouting from the center of our group, somehow, among the girls, Mars, had started laughing. Turning to her, I could see the [Brawler] class aglow beneath the [Summoned Hero] text. Brown hair tied back, she laughed, while Cate dry-heaved next to her.

"Oh, we're so dead. We're so dead." Scott mumbled like a mantra, as the horns grew closer. An arrow landed, somewhere behind us. I heard that one earn a scream of pain.

"Ready!" A horse galloped past, [Captain] hollering as spears fell into the first form, down the line. Behind him, I could see figures were charging. Human figures, I realized. Densely packed, they were running at full sprint. No armor, no regard for safety- as the closest of them came into range, I could see [Berserker] repeating, again and again.

"Ah, fuck." Kepler cursed. "Of course we'd dodge the cavalry and have to deal with this, instead. Get those spears out!"

"I thought we were fighting demons!" Mike shouted.

"Demons?" Kepler turned, and looked at him with a wide smile. For the first time since I'd met the [Squad Leader] I'd never seen him make such an expression. "You thought we were fighting Demons?"

"Yes!" Mike yelled. "I thought we were fighting Demons!" Looking ahead, the men were even closer now. Behind them, archers were letting loose in full. Hundreds of shafts raining down like needles in the sky- returned by our own archers, somewhere behind us. "Not people!"

"SPEARS READY!" The Captain shouted. "READY! BRACE! BRAC-" A lucky arrow took the man through his throat, sending him tumbling down off his horse.

Blood mixed with the scent of urine was in the air, and I felt my chest tighten. The urge to run, held in check only by the entire army standing behind me: weapons already drawn.

"You really thought you'd be fighting Demons." Kepler shook his head, with an honest chuckle. "That's got to be the stupidest thing I've ever-"

Whatever else he said, I missed on account of the enemy reaching us.