Blood. It covered him. That was nothing new. Combined with sweat, it ran in rivulets, dripping off him. That was nothing new as well. He was a soldier, with blood and sweat the byproducts of his trade. He had been at war in one way or another for over a decade, shedding his enemy’s and own blood often enough.
He took a deep breath. The adrenaline high of combat was fading, leaving the cloying smell of blood, sweat, and steel. Heat, as well. In stories they never made mention how even in the coldest battles a soldier quickly sweats and overheats. Not very heroic, dying of heat exhaustion, or hypothermia after a battle.
Of course, hypothermia would not be a concern today. Today is hot, as it should be in June. The heat helped, dragging down heavily armored and lesser trained soldiers. It sapped them, whereas he kept going. He would never admit it, but the lethargy of exhaustion allowed him to kill more than his own skill did. Not very heroic.
He glanced at the sword rested on his shoulder. It was pitted and chipped from the clashing of steel, wood, and bones. He would have to take care of it again tonight. He wondered how much longer it would carry him through.
Eventually all steel warped and failed after repeated combat.
A plain blade, it had seen much. The runes on it were the only thing that set it apart. A rare sentimental moment where he cast his feelings upon it. Those were rare then, and rarer now. Most of his emotions had been burned away in the flames of war. Outside of it, he was left cold. He grew colder as the years and battles went by. He would grow cold one day when his odds or body ran out. Not very heroic at all.
He surveyed the field again, the professional soldier in him checking for any new threats. Sometimes enemies feigned death, only to spring away later. These did not; would not. They fought like fanatics; they were fanatics. But that did not making cutting them down any easier. Nor harder, for that matter. Cutting them down was simply what was. He wondered at that. Colder indeed.
He glanced at the last warrior he slew. Not a soldier, but fought like a warrior. She was old; too old for this mess. The professional in him disdained the drafting of such into a fight. They should only fight in a life or death situation. But to them it was, and showed their thought. The inner professional disdained it, but the Warhound felt nothing.
Warhound; it’s what he called himself. Some called him a Dog, and perhaps that’s how they saw him. But he was made in war, forged in it, and no dog was. He was a beast to unleash at enemies; no pity, no remorse, no fear. Just the cold calculated butchery of the enemies, and his objective to accomplish.
He looked at the bodies of the old, the children. Perhaps it was time for the Warhound to put up his weapons. To kill one’s own was a terrible thing. He thought it should affect him; it should affect him. But he only saw the danger. Danger if it should happen again. Danger that it could happen again. The Warhound had no way to stop it. All of his sword and skill could not stop it.
But perhaps that wasn’t what he should do. He was a Warhound, was he not? A relentless beast that kept going until victory? Perhaps he just did not have the right weapons to fight this fight. Perhaps he needed new ones. Weapons of guile, and lies, and charm. The weapons not of a soldier, but a politician. An aristocrat.
As the Warhound made up his mind, he felt something. He could not explain it, but it felt as if something had been lost. He shrugged. The Warhound would win, regardless. That was what he was, and that is what he did.