Chapter 13: The Road Home Is Always A Long One
Copyright© 2015 by Allan Kindred
It is true that Allan could have Thunderheart fly him straight to the coast, but no man of honor would leave his men behind to wonder and suffer. Their fate will be the same as his.
By now Allan is on another horse from one of his fallen soldiers, and they are making an easier time of it. Allan sends Thunderheart out to find Rax so they can reform their forces and once again become the strength of nations. It takes Thunderheart several days to find them, especially since he is still wounded, but eventually he does. It will take another day for Rax and the remainder of his group to rejoin with them.
They spend very little time telling of each other's exploits. There is no need, the missing men from their ranks tell more than they would ever care to. They will not wait for the other groups to catch up to them. They know they will have to find their own way home. The remaining Allies point their sore and scarred selves north and trudge along.
With any luck, and with no interruptions, they will reach the coast in about two weeks. If Allan's calculations are correct, the enemy will be as much as ten days to two weeks behind them by the time that large of a force travels that great of a distance.
They are riding along in silence, and Allan looks to his left and sees the majestic mountain range glitter with its first severe snowstorm. The sky above them is blue for now, but the wind blowing down from the mountains holds an ominous overtone to it.
Allan points, "A day maybe two at the most, and we will be getting wet."
As they are riding along, Allan looks ahead to the horizon and it comes to life with a myriad of colors. Allan has seen many wondrous things in this world, but now with Emma in his life to show him that he can be loved, everything takes on new meaning. It takes them two more hours of riding before what Allan saw to come into focus enough to see clearly. It is a field of flowers. A field of flowers that glitter blue, violet, purple, red, orange, yellow, pink and white. If man laid this field it has long ago grown wild, but it is even more beautiful for that fact. It reminds Allan of his earlier vision.
In the deafening silence, Emma comes into Allan's mind. She rides with him and consoles him for the great losses they have suffered over the last week. She is once again riding in front of him and he has his right arm around her waist. Allan whispers I love you into her ear. Allan closes his eyes and he is back at his cottage in Scotland. The chill of winter has yet to dampen the summer glory. A wondrous warm breeze blows in from the ocean up the cliff face and into the village of the Clan Crag.
Allan is standing on the edge of the precipice looking out into the void of a world that he has given much of his soul to. Allan closes his eyes and takes in a deep breath to experience the salt air tinted by the smell of wild flowers that grow everywhere in the region of the Rock Clan.
Allan is lost in thought until he feels an arm come around him and clasp him tight from behind. He smiles truly and turns around to look deep into Emma's eyes. He brushes Emma's errant hair from her face, tucks it behind her ear and gently kisses her lips. The sun, as it is known to do, reflects off his wife's eyes, and a glittering myriad of rainbow colors spring to life. It once again, and he hopes for always, takes his breath away.
Allan holds onto her as if he lets go he will find it is all a dream.
She smiles up at him knowingly and tells him, "Dinner is ready."
Allan watches her walk back into the cottage, this time not ashamed or embarrassed that he watches her every sway and tender movement. She smiles over her shoulder and gives him that last little movement that she knows drives him crazy. Again Allan inhales the essence of life, and as he starts walking into the cottage he yells to the kids to get cleaned up for dinner. They appear from around a rock outcropping that he himself had spent many childhood dreams playing on.
"Our son, will he be a warrior like me? Our youngest Katie is a spitting image of her mother."
It is always amazing to believe in Karma, but it is far more amazing to see it coming back to him after he has given so much to this existence.
Again Allan takes a deep breath savoring every second of his moment, and when he opens his eyes to see it once more, Rax is riding beside him. He is not saddened, because he hasn't woken from a dream, but he smiles because once and again he has seen the future. Even though Stephen is the true master of magic and the grand wizard of all the guilds, Allan also has moments of magical clarity.
Rax sees him smiling and smiles himself.
"We have been brothers in The Wayfarers for many years. I stood at your side on your wedding day. I saluted him when your son was born, and I mourned with you when your wife died of that horrible disease. Rax, I am once again honored to fight at your side."
"As it is for I, brother. As it is for I." replies Rax in his deep guttural voice.
Sometimes, no matter how much grace and magic you have on your side, there is one constant to all life, and that is the older generation must move aside so that the future generation can have their time. Death, however sad for the missing of that person, is precious as it signals the elevation of creation. For many, some of the beliefs of The Way are hard to grasp, and even harder to understand when it is your most precious loved one that has gone, but the universe is such that you do not need to believe for it to believe in you.
When at long last Allan finds himself in the middle of the field of flowers, he stops, gets down and picks several of them for Emma. He brings them up with the soil still clinging to the roots, and wraps a cloth around the roots and dampens it from his water flask and puts it in the saddlebag that is on the horse. For the rest of his life Allan will bring Emma flowers still alive and ready to replant, so that even if she isn't always with him she is there.
One is a beautiful red and white flower with five petals that is barely three marks across. The majority of the flower is white, but it is ringed in deep red, and has the same deep red coming out of the center of it and expands throughout the flower with intricate veins of beauty.
Allan lifts the flower to his nose and inhales deeply. Allan smiles and says out loud, "Thank you, Emma."
As you are of another world, and as the narrator of this story, I am privy to certain information, so I will tell you of the secret society known as The Wayfarers. At present time there are nearly two hundred and fifty members. The only requirements are the strength of your character in that you walk the walk, and have very little use for the talk. For sure, you must have above average warrior skills, but you must also have the ability to think your way out of the situations that you can. I guess in an off-handed way that is The Way. As to my understanding of the world, there are only a couple of the intelligent races of this existence that does not have at least one member in the society.
The dark elves are the opposite of The Way, and therefore cannot serve even if they wanted to. There are no trolls in their ranks, although they would not be opposed to such a membership if a deserving one came to light. Originally that was it, but now with the advent of this new race of dragonmen they make three. I don't know the specifics for sure, but I have very little doubt they follow The Way. The several Allan has had the displeasure of meeting spoke of a dark god, and he saw no kindness in their hearts. Now believing in a dark god in and of itself does not mean anything, for there are no gods embraced by The Way.
Believing in a god does not exclude one, because many religious people are good folk as long as they keep it in their heart and in their home. The Way looks at deity in that even if they are great and powerful, they are still of the universe and existence. Even if one is the creator of the universe and existence, it is of the universe and creation. The only issue The Way has with religion, is when people worship them as if they are above and beyond us mere mortals, which makes it seem like one thing is above another when nothing is. They have seen such blind beliefs be the cause of racism, animal abuse and planet abuse. The Way preaches, for lack of a better description, that all things are bound together for better or worse.
So, stemming from such ideas, the secret society of The Wayfarers was born. Dragons are the oldest of all the species of this world, but only two belong to the Wayfarers. Thunderheart is of course one of the members, and Kaleidoscope is the other. Humans by far make up the majority of the organization, but many proud elves and minotaurs are embraced as brothers and sisters. The handful of dwarves that serve, bring a strength to their world that they are blessed to share in. Believe it or not, they even have one ogre in their ranks. His name is Timid, though he is not, and he is from this very continent. Allan hopes he is all right, because very soon they will need his massive strength and sharp mind, which is kind of unique for an ogre.
I have no doubt by now that the word has spread and The Members expect to see many, if not all, of the brothers and sisters at the gathering. Very soon their very purpose will be made clear.
"Do you think we should be going faster?"
"Let's give ourselves and our horses another day of standard riding, and then we will double time it."
"I wonder how Stephen is doing with convincing the dragons and other races to come to our aid?"
"If I had to guess, I would say not very well, because the time has long since past that the dragons could have joined up with us. As far as the other races, hopefully we will find them with our burgeoning army." With that last thought, Allan wonders how the recruiting and training is going.
"How is your boy Thrawl doing?"
"I was with him in your village."
"Our village." Allan corrects.
"Right. He is nearly six now, and stands almost a pace and a half tall. I believe he will be a great warrior." Rax says with a proud smile.
Now when a minotaur smiles and you haven't been around them much, you might mistake it for a scowl or a warning to back off. As for Allan, well, it just makes him smile.
"You know, Rax, I haven't been home in almost two years."
"You have a wife now, and I'm sure very soon you will start a family, then you will come home."
"I often wondered when and if I did get a family, if that would make me stay home. You know, give up the life of a warrior."
"I had the same thoughts. Perhaps our stories are different, but I found that I wanted my family to be proud of me, and how could they be if I gave up on helping gentle people live without fear. It is true I make it home much more than I used to, especially since Marta died. Plus, I feel guilty if I leave my little minotaurs alone too long amongst only you humans. Could you, Allan, leave the women and girls of the world open to being suppressed by the old ways?"
"No. No way. I have fought long and hard, and have sacrificed much to make the world see that the best chance for this world is found in pretty, plain and sweet-hearted girls and the subsequent girl power. The only other thing with equal power is music. If the world is to have hope, beauty in all its forms must be embraced.
"So, Rax, my old friend, have you ever thought to send your kids to live with the minotaurs? You know, with your family."
"Yes I have, and perhaps when this is over we will go back for a long visit."
"You know, Rax, my old friend, the road home sure is a long one."
"Yes, yes it is, my brother."