Stone By Stone – Short Story

War was hard won. Years of sword, cudgel, adze, tar and flame had etched themselves without remorse onto our lives and deaths. Yet we were always many and they were less and without us who would grow the wheat, who would tend the livestock, who would build the realm? At that final battle we amassed. From the valleys, the moors, the mountains, the fens, we came to cross the hills with the castle at their heart, the castle where the tyrant lived. For once the tribes of the realm were united in ending a common peril. We were endless.

Blades clashed, arrows loosed, shields shattered and catapults flung. The sound was more than thunder, ears bathed in battle and blood. Our soldiers screamed and their soldiers cried, horses squealed as they fell, yet when the tide of loss seemed high a new sound emerged. It was quiet at first, an echo of falling rocks, but it grew, louder and louder. A pulsing, rhythmic sound that issued from the deep wildernesses of our lungs. It ricocheted through the damp dark and out our nostrils to travel as pulsating air. We were humming and one by one the sound became more as we turned the tide. Then our enemy knew fear.

Victory was seeped in many deaths that day. Would that we could have had it another way but we earned our freedom in acts of ending. The hero struck down the tyrant, warriors culled their foes and we slew our enemies. But even then the war was not over for out the ranks stepped warrioresses, farmers, peasants and serfs. It was in our chests that the hum had started and we carried it with us as we crossed the bridge into the castle grounds. Weary heroes watched on as we climbed the castle steps to reach the turrets. Then we began. With our weapons we started beating at the seams of the fortress. Slowly, slowly the joins began to crack, the mortar veins of the stronghold snapped. Others joined us as we worked, humming. All our chests shook as we pursued the felling task until the sound was creature itself, a colossus incarnate of human voice and hope. That was the day we won the war as stone by stone the tyrant’s home fell.

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