“Untitled” by Kay

I’m dying.

Yeah, I screwed up. The bleeding won’t stop, and I’m feeling a sensation I can’t put my words on. Guess this is what the process is like. And these guys, they won’t stop fucking yelling. Can’t they give a dying man a break? Oh, Merrvan just fell too. Truweiss is coming up next. The last two, the rookies, are still out there. I hope they make it through.

This is what becomes of idiocy and bravery. When the young lord gave me the order to march, I knew it was a stupid idea, we all did. But of course, when a man has his seat far behind the lines of battle, with the fates of men strung along as collateral in their climb for power, it’s only natural that the chaff gets it. I’m not mad. Just disappointed; Myself of course.

I—I don’t think I have much time left. Estimate a minute or two. Unsure if the staunching attempt is even helping. The sensation on my fingers is like in-between the moment of cleaning the night’s catch or deep in a lover’s cache. Both of which I don’t have the appetite for.

Pain spreads wide on my back as whoever started dragging me has no sympathy, or even awareness that I’m still alive you ugly cunt. For now, anyway. But if I had a little more strength, you’d have another enemy on the field to contend with.

It sucks, really does. It was one missed swing, and a failed parry and here I am. Must be the age. Must. Regrets? None. Weird. Let me stop there, that was a lie. If somehow, I had a chance, that little shit would be getting his neck rung and his ribcage playing the ‘Whiteback’s Dance’ for my ear. Why run a suicidal offensive? Why? Harbor’s Legion was dug so deep in that it would take years of continuous stratagems to break their grip. The boy has spirit, I guess. But the line between boldness and arrogance is a string.

Eleven years of service and it ends like this. Unsurprising, but I assumed after the fourth that I was just special. Maybe the luck ran out, or maybe I just got ahead of myself. Or, or… it was all of it. I can’t…feel…much anymore. Can finally get to question whether there is something up there. The priests tell me that a warrior for the state can never enter their eternal paradise. But who do they speak for? I have a simple wish, concerning the one who got me like this. I don’t wish any misfortune upon him, I hope somehow, somewhere I’ll be able to speak to the man. And tell him that my death was part of an unfortunate circumstance. Perhaps he’ll understand what it means to follow idiotic superiors. I guess. Darkness robbed each sense by a layer. My sight was first. Now I see no longer. My nose brought me nothing, filth around unburdening me forevermore. My mouth of copper warped from flavor to flavor, malfunctioning like an engine at the end, it was a short experience as in the end, it was nothing too. My skin told me nothing, numbness pervading into an everlasting cold.

It’s the end for me. My hearing fades, giving me a reprieve from the chaos in the darkness. I waited for so long in this, this ennui. I had some little thing of faith that great warriors, or those dutiful to the greater nations would find themselves in a paradise up high. It was no less cold now than from my first step through the door. Nothing was here, and nothing would come. I died at the age of thirty-two.

Muffled screams, shuffling feet. Snapping trees and thunderous booms shaking the land. It was a most disturbing awakening. I see men running in groups towards a smoked-out horizon, a cadre of Calvary in formation as they marched to the same destination. I had no decorum with my stares. Eye was no less sharp than the axe who carved out a mighty dent in a man’s armor. I’m sweating and my toes feel like they’ve been submerged for a week. I feel like—

“Captain!” I feel like doing something. Or going somewhere, why do I feel this way, it’s so strange. I took a step, just one until someone shoved me. “Where the fuck are you going?! Are you deaf or pretending to be?” A sword is only but an inch from my heart. It’s wielder a man—No, a boy a head’s shorter than I. An actual one stood behind, with eyes of ferocity behind his faceplate. Sword halfway out. I’ve gone stupid, I think. No, I’m the Captain.

Yes, I must be. My mouth moved with words I did not think were mine.

“Apologies my lord, I’ve been out of it.”

“Am I supposed to care? How is that an excuse for your blatant disregard for your Lord? I should have you stripped of your rank immediately, shouldn’t I?”

My knees didn’t wait for instruction. “I beg you, please forgive this servant. I had a lapse in concentration.”

The little Lord looked from up high, his guardian moved silently behind. With just a finger, my life would end here. He twitched his lips in his thoughts. If his maturity reflects him I will without a doubt die here. A finger hung close to me, and without a word he jabbed it in my cheek. His faux intimidation is only an echo of his father, my King, who I’ve seen before. The boy has much to learn.

“This will not happen again. Are you in agreement?”

My head pushed even lower. “Yes, my Lord.”

“Good. Now on to it then,” My possible executioner is a trained one no doubt. He was back at his master’s side before I raised my head again. Talent only mined from the Academies. Another battalion marched past, the Bannermen redirected their path over and around so smoothly the shape above would be a perfect teardrop. The irritating sound of metal on metal at a slow drum.

Again, I don’t know what’s been happening to me. It’s all a haze and fog as to the moment, but it’s as if another person is directing me along. Telling me what to do, what to say and how to act for now. A faker in decorated armor with a fancy sword.

I haven’t fully remembered my role here, at a guess I’m the captain of some forward operating division. My memories compete for comprehensive attention with my Lord’s incessant talking.

“…Father has given me plans, and now I will act on it ahead of schedule. You are to pull your vanguard off standby at the front and begin advancing.”

“A—Advancing? My Lord, the Dragoons of my command are underequipped and unmanned for such an undertaking, to push ahead now would be—”

“Frivolous excuses. I’ve been here long enough to see it,” His nod was so self-righteous the disgust nearly peeked on my face. “I will admit that you may have some… shortcomings into the design that I have asked for, but it is not in any way an out for your undertaking. What I ask for, Captain Rowe, is for the start of a new beginning in which our people will prosper with newer lands to till and explore. Are you saying you would deny your people, the ones behind you, to the side of you, and directly ahead this future? I’m not going to sugar-coat it; You and I both know the reality possible for you and your men. Anything worth has a price Captain.” He waited for my answer.

I did not realize until now that there was a group behind me. Silent and proud, my eyes scanned through a line of men who’re only the first from what I can see. Some eyes spoke and told me how foolish this was, others betrayed themselves and let exactly what fate they’re fearing, and the last ones who I am worried about, are those men who have nothing but courage. Whichever one I identify with the most I don’t want to even answer myself.

My sluggish tongue gave it up, “As you command.”

As I watched the lord move on, a different sensation emerged. As if a plugged fountain was loosened only enough. My fingers grazed my hilt, invisible to all but myself. I stared at his back forever so long that only until his back cut around a corner did I let up. This is a familiar thing, yeah. It’s anger, and a whole lot of it, it’s a new one though. Never have I felt this way towards a superior. All my life I’ve had dumb orders, rimming at the edge of insanity, and still I pulled out.

It’s a feeling of… Murder.

I returned to my tent in that late afternoon. Letting the men have their fun in the city was the right thing to do I suppose. Given the atmosphere after he left, I may have been the one feeling the wrath. Oh well. When I walked in someone else was there too, a woman I care more than anything else, sat.

“It has been a long time since I saw that face,” Jess said. Her face was always in a questionable haze of sarcasm mixed with insipid humor. But that’s what I like the most about her. She laid a hand on my cheek. “What’s wrong?”

“Everything.” I take a breath. In brief I summarized the boy’s attention-seeking behavior. Whatever the boy’s circus logic he has running to let men die for approval is something I don’t even want to theorize about. At the end of my tale Jess was horrified, shocked, and had a circle of emotions that made me sick to observe.

Jess reached below her dress and when her hand pulled out, a beautiful rosary was beheld. It had a noble presence to it, announcing itself in the torchlight. “You must take this.” My mouth was open, and I stuttered. “Jess I can’t, this is—” Her almighty visage put down my refusal. “I can’t promise this will return.” Jess smiled. Her palm closed my hand. She leaned close, so close her maiden’s breath tickled hair ends. “One way or another my love, you will return. I believe it with all my heart.” If only I shared the same sentiment.

The next day, in the uninspired march we had to the frontlines. My soulless calm was the only thing keeping my sanity straight. I’m not sure if that’s all the way true, though.

The battle began and we charged the line. I made quick and snappy directives to keep our own line intact as we began our ‘Advance’. We did well for the most part, better than I would have thought at first, and maybe even believed, a little, that we had some sort of a chance. Making it in this first skirmish means I will have another opportunity to convince my Lord of the best possibility to win.

I saw an opportunity, a chance for a breakthrough for an early victory. I forced my way through with a sword that bathed in violence. My shield was lost in the scuffle, no matter. I will not call for my men until a safer path has been lifted. In there, a stronger opponent challenged me in the widening gap. He was the one who cut me down.

As I was dragged back within formation, through muddy legs and mystery fluids, an item was in my hand as my senses failed me, again. I peeked down at it and there it was, a beautiful rosary. Huh, weird.

Wait, again?

Memories from nowhere came from the rear and punctured my soulless calm before the darkness overtook me, again.