When the day came we were ready. Our forces were spread out on the hill overlooking the mist-shrouded valley. The air was cold, almost frosty. The grass was damp underfoot as we stood together, both wrapped in my heavy fur cloak.
We had spent the night together under that cloak; even then the cold metal of her charms and bracelets had felt cold against my naked skin as we moved together for what could so easily be the last time.
It is always the same on the edge of a battle like this, none of us knows what chance, mishap or even fate – for those who believe in such things – awaits us out there on the field. As the death of my father – the old king – showed, even victory does not necessarily mean survival. Torval, one of my oldest and –sometimes – wisest advisors was short of an arm from the same battle. A loss that cost him dear, far more than the agony of a lost sword arm. Still even now he looked haunted by the battlefields of his past, whether he wanted to return to them a whole man once more, or whether he wanted to flee I was not sure. Sometimes I doubted if Torval himself knew which he wanted. Still, though, he was loyal, as devoted to my service as he had been to my father when they rode into battles side-by-side and drank long into the night side-by-side too. I knew that without him I would not be here today, even though I did not want to be. But war is always inevitable, so we prepared for battle, all knowing it could be glory, or our last day.