His eyes are piercing. His gaze, unbroken. His face is decorated with a stray cut on his forehead, a stream of dried blood dried between his eyes. His cheeks are bronzed by dirt. His lips are cracked.
He doesn’t know fear, but fear knows him. It calls his name; he doesn’t hear it. It chases him; he doesn’t hide. He rides and the ground trembles beneath him. His fist clenches tight around his inseparable companion: a sword. Splinters from the hilt threaten to pierce his skin but lose every time. His skin is tough and worn, like a piece of good leather that softens and becomes more pliable but never looses its seal.
A sliver of light breaks through a barrier of dark clouds and finds a shiny spot to reflect on his sword. He looks at it and remembers a day when the entire sword would turn to gold in the light. That day was short lived. A shiny sword costs nothing. A dull sword with splinters that’s caked in red and brown costs lives – in particular, his own.
He pulls the sword from his side and raises it to the sky. The familiar feel of splinters jutting into the palm of his hand brings a calm to his mind. It’s time for battle. He opens his mouth and releases a roar. Soldiers gather around him. They, too, raise their swords. Fear is in their eyes and he commands it to leave.
Before them is a staggering army of countless barbarians, savages, defenders of all that is evil and cruel. At a distance, they are specks. Is there a thousand? Ten thousand? One-hundred thousand? Half a million? No one can tell.
He looks to his soldiers. They amount to a few hundred. He rides to the front and looks them square in the eyes. “Does anything restrain the LORD from saving by many or by few?” Their response is in a rumbling roar. They are ready.
He grips the sword tighter. Casualties are inevitable. They will drop around him. Some of his own soldiers will be snatched away. But this sword will never leave his hand. He will fight through death and ice and blood. He will fight until his arm grows weak and his very hand becomes frozen to the sword. He will not set it down for anything. Not even his own life.