The two kingdoms, one small and the other larger, had now been fighting over some long-forgotten issue since a time that no one cared to remember anymore. The larger kingdom, ruled by a just and wise king, was winning. But too heavy a price had already been paid for this. Too many men had been lost on both sides and too much money had been poured into the war for any of the parties to be able to back out now.
The oppressive king of the smaller kingdom passed a new order, making it compulsory for all able-bodied men to enlist in the army and join the war to bring victory to their king. The order was met with meek voices of protest from the scared residents of a small village of that kingdom. Everyone knew that victory was out of the question. Going on a war against the technologically superior armies of their enemy kingdom was like going on a suicide mission. No soldier who had gone from the village till now had returned. All the young and healthy men in the village had become martyrs to the whims of their king. The ones left were old, unenthusiastic and feeble. They had neither the strength nor the will to revolt against the king, which meant that the order had to be obeyed. And to ensure that everyone obeyed the order and no one was left out, the king had even sent out an officer to each village. So everyone knew there was no other option; yet, no one wanted to accept their helplessness. No one ever wants to lead on the path of death.
The peasant was on the farm when the royal messenger proclaimed the new order. He was just an assembly of bones; weak and frail. He hadn't had much to eat in the past week. He had a wife and four children, waiting at home with empty stomachs. He saw the reaction of other men in the village. They were not ready to accept that they had no choice. But the peasant knew there was no way out. He might be week but he still was able-bodied. He accepted his fate. What the villagers saw, silenced them all. They stared in astonishment as the frail peasant dropped his plough on the field and walked up to the officer. He was ready to go to war. The other men in the village, silenced due to their shame at not having had as much courage as the peasant, marched up and join the waiting officer. He had accepted his fate. The people mistook it for Bravery. Needless to say, he never returned to his family but for generations to come, the people talked of the peasant as the bravest of the men who were born in that village.
In the meantime, the king of the larger kingdom was faced with a situation. His army was in need of fresh batches of troops to be deployed on the frontier. But he didn't have to force men to enlist. He hoped that there would still be enough young men left, who would be willing to lay down their lives voluntarily for their motherland. He passed the order: the kingdom needed them; all those who wished could join the army.
When the announcement was made, many a men volunteered – mostly people who were experienced; either blacksmiths, who were used to dealing with weapons or men who had participated in wars sometime in the past. No one needs second telling on the path to glory. As soon as the youth heard the news, he ran towards the town center, where wagons were being prepared to leave with all the enlisting men. Hoards of people had crowded around to cheer them up and wish them well. The youth ran up to the place and jumped into one of the wagons. The people were astonished to see this. He was the son of the richest family in the town and was to inherit the family business. His marriage was scheduled in a week’s time. He had all the things going for him. Yet he chose to leave all this behind and go to war? He had no experience of war. He was from a rich family and had never even been in a street fight in his life. He wouldn't last a single day on the field. Yet they were struck by the fearlessness in his eyes, by his determination. So they said nothing. The youth had made the decision of his life. He just did not believe that anything could happen to him. He would be victorious and would return home a hero. He was not ready to think about death yet. He still had a long way to go. Everyone thought he would die, but he knew he won’t. He denied his fate. The people mistook it for Bravery. Needless to say, he never returned to his family but for generations to come, the people talked of the youth as the bravest of the men who were born in that town.