It was a bitter statement to hear. Worse, there was truth in those words. No matter how Jaeke looked upon their predicament, he knew that he would need a miracle if he was to safe this day. This day. Everything had led them to this one single day, when all would be decided. Not even a day would decide. Jaeke knew that in the battle, it was a single moment that decided it. A moment when time itself seized to exist and a lightning fast decision was needed. No, not a decision. An instinct. Everything in the battle happened by instinct, everything happened as the heart willed it. The head knew the forms to make, it instructed the arms to move this way and that, the legs to move forward and back. But it was the heart that led the dance. Every true soldier knew that. Surrender yourself to your heart and walk forward into the battle.
Now the battle was lost. This battle, the battle that marked the climax of all things. Jaeke had never meant for it to happen in this way, but some how, everything had conspired to make it so. Life was like that it seemed. You could try to keep it at bay, try to push it back, to take one thing at a time, but when life decided, everything came at once. The dam was broken, the waters rushed and surged forth, the torrent that changed all things, and nothing could stand in its wake.
Jaeke looked up at Daughtry. He was a good man, a strong man. Both of them had fought together in this fight as brothers. In truth, they were brothers. They had shared drink, food, women and blood. They had shared the fight. They had watched friends fall by the wayside. They had shared pain and doubt. Didn't that make them brothers? Didn't that make them more than brothers? Perhaps we do not share the same mother and father, but I would die for that man, thought Jaeke as he saw the tiredness that was etched around the eyes of his friend. Would this really be the end? Right here, in this godforsaken hell in which they had found themselves.
Jaeke stood up and placed an arm around his old companion. He wanted to reassure him, to give him some of his own strength, well, what little of his own strength remained. He would spare some for this man. Share one last thing with him at least. Jaeke looked about him. He saw the darkness of the ever oppressive clouds, those clouds that pushed down on a man, as if they willed him into submission. He saw blackened skies, as the dark tendrils of smoke that rose up from the fires of the battlefield fed the bleakness above. He saw fallen soldiers, mutilated bodies of men, of dogs, and of horses all alike. He saw a barren, lifeless, scorched earth, that had once been full of trees that reached for the skies, endless fields of grass, and flowers that had bloomed in the springtime warmth and sun. How long ago was that now? Yes, he decided, it was all lost. And worse, he felt the whisper of despair, "We have lost." His hand, with fingers wrapped around the hilt of his blade, wanted to loosen its grip, to drop his sword, to give up the fight. There was nothing that could be done now. There was only darkness, there was only the deep abyss. It would be so easy to step into the nothingness and end all of the suffering.
Jaeke looked across the battle field one last time. The sight of it threatened to overwhelm him in grief. He raised his eyes to the skies, he wanted to shout "Why?" and then it happened. For a brief moment, the darkness parted, the smoke rolled back, the clouds split and there, in that tiny gap, there was light. And what a glorious light it was! In the beat of a heart, it was gone. But it had been enough. Jaeke now knew the answer.
"Daughtry, my old friend. We have not lost. There is and there always will be hope. And to that we must cling. The light will always exist, and if the light exists, then so too does love, because love is the light and the light is love. If you can still draw a breath, then there is hope my friend! This may be our final moment together, we may never leave this field, but I'll tell you this: we shall go out fighting like we have never fought before and we shall make fear pay a heavy price for denying us our dreams!"
Together, they rejoined the battle. Together, they raised their swords and that day, they slew down the enemy. In a time that would come later, a song would be sung for the heroes of this battle. But it was not this day. This was the day, when the light of hope vanquished the darkness of fear. And so it has been ever since.