When the time comes, we will know. That’s what they say.
Until then, we wait here. We wait for the sign that will take us forward into the unknown.
None of us know what they are waiting for. Our leaders are as unsure as the rest of us. They, the leaders, have tents, while we lie here on the bare ground and wait. The camp stretches around as far as the eye can see. Although, as Radge said the other morning, ‘The eye can’t see very far here.’
The valley below the hillside is growing thick with smoke from the campfires. The stream at the bottom of what was once a pleasant valley is now little more than a churned-up mud track. Now, it’s more the memory of a stream than the stream itself.
Meanwhile, up on the brow of the hill, each morning and each evening as day and night exchange places, the priests gather to await the sign. We all watch as they go about their rituals. None of us really knowing what it is they are doing. Or, if – as increasing numbers of us mutter under our breath – they have any idea what they are doing themselves.
Most of us ordinary solders were farmers until a few weeks ago. Folk like us never have much time for the priests and their rituals, especially not these city priests. In the cities they have time for the luxury of religion and all its chanting and rituals. Out there in the fields, gods are only useful as a curse when the plough breaks or the wolves come down from the mountains to tear the lambs apart.
It seems here too, out on the battlefield, although we are supposedly fighting this war in their name – there aren’t many gods. If there are any around – which I doubt – then it appears none of them care enough to give us the sign we wait for.