The king sends the boy ahead to look over the hill and come back with news of what he sees.
Do you hear the drum, the low rumble of a drum that sounds like it’s coming from beneath the earth, the low rumble of men’s voices lying in wait to crush all who come to them, send the boy ahead and let him see.
And so the boy without armor goes forward into the night and moves through the darkness, every footstep chosen carefully so he might not awake the beasts that surround him. The innocent standing between the desires of men, one army and another, though which is good he cannot recall, only that he is moving through the darkness to see what others are afraid to see and so they have sent him.
He climbs the hill and lays on his belly, moving inch by inch until he is able to see, but the ground is warm, the ground is trembling beneath him and he lifts his head to see no army, no lines of tents or soldiers huddled around campfires, only the open plain that stretches into the night, and so he stands and walks down the hill to the place they could have been camped.
But it’s the drum, the rumble, the fire heating the earth beneath his feet, that is what must be discovered, though suddenly he is not afraid. The boy without armor. There is no fear inside him though he is alone, because he is not alone, the stars above, the wind, the unseen creatures who watch him, the same creatures wondering what happened to the soul of men, why did they forfeit nobility in exchange for silly trinkets.
The roar that echoes all around him.
It is not the sound of an army but the sound of his own heart. Yes, it’s the beating, the fire, the roar, he is the one who stands in opposition to the kings of this age, the kings who devour rather than bring life, the kings who consume rather than plant, the kings who divide and create enemies between us rather than unifying us with the One True Story of who we are--it is the boy who stands in opposition. The army is him.
And there he stands on the other side of the hill, his hands growing stronger, stronger as he remembers that he is not a boy and that he cannot die.
The army of the king marches towards him and stands atop the hill looking down, and the boy calls up to him, “Whom do you seek?”