The word coward was one Mark hated. He knew he wasn’t in a strong position to argue against it, as he fled the scene of his dying companions, but it felt like a hold over from a bygone era. It was said that the lives of our ancestors were nasty, brutish and short. When you were likely to die by thirty and had polio since you were five, it was easy to see giving your life for a cause as an aspiration. It may even seem like a relief. But now – or rather, just before right now – when the average Joe could have a relatively long and enjoyable life, he had so much more to live for. Laying down your life for abstract concepts like loyalty or king and country was a much costlier proposition.
Personally, it seemed like a con invented by the royalty or whoever else was up top. They seemed to surrender and be ransomed a lot of the time, if Mark remembered his history. Hell, the term ‘a king’s ransom’ wasn’t borne out of nothing. There was no such mercy for the foot soldier. It was easy for them to demand you died for their whims.

Mark disappeared into the trees, the last sounds of feasting from his former camp dwindling behind him. The darkness closed, and he tramped onwards through the quiet, unyielding forest.