Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Second DiffyQ Exam in the Style of Henry V

Before an exam I always update my Facebook status with the quote, "Once more unto the breach, dear friends", a line from the Shakespeare play Henry V. Henry uttered the words as he and his men were beginning another battle, breach referring to a break in the defenses he was attacking. I just took my DiffyQ exam, and so this morning I again placed that as my status. This time, I'd like to continue it into a story of the exam itself, in the form of that quote. So I present, My Second DiffyQ Exam in the Style of Henry V

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends", I yelled, and we charged. My troops were trained as if to a polished sword from weeks of drilling, and I was confident my ability to win the day. We swept through the breach and into enemy territory, but things were eerily quiet, and I felt a nagging sensation in my gut. It lasted only a moment before the first arrows swept through the fog from our right, slicing mercilessly into our unprotected flanks. "Damn", I muttered, as we'd trained over and over for a front facing assault, and now things were being thrown at us from the side, completely unexpectedly.

I called out orders and we tried to react, but movement was sluggish as we were still shocked from the first blinding losses. One thing I've learned though is that no matter what, always keep moving. If you get bogged down facing one problem, the rest will close in and you'll never finish off the enemy before time runs out. We kept moving, barely.

Suddenly we ran into their forces, and our training started to pay off. 1, 2, 3 ranks we ploughed through almost easily, my spirits started to rise. The keep was before us, the last large bastion of resistance. And then suddenly the whole world exploded in flames. They'd laid pitch [pitch is oil that is laid on the ground and then lit on fire] all over the inner courtyard! We troops didn't break, but were stalled, spending time trying just to stay alive, all forward progress stopped.

After what felt like forever but was probably only 15 minutes, I ordered a retreat, we skipped past that keep and on to less important areas. Slowly painfully we worked through them, and finally ended up at the keep again. Our losses had been terrible and still the keep resisted us. With timing running dangerously low, I called a general retreat, and with heavy heart we fell back, leaving so much meaningless death.

Will they call it a victory? We leveled most of the place, but couldn't finish the job as time ran out. And we debatably didn't even do a good job on the parts we did complete. It was all the unexpected challenges that kept getting thrown at us that really caused the problems. Nothing in the earlier smaller battles could have prepared us fully. So will they call it a victory? We'll have to wait and see.

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