Chapter 16: With The Ocean At Our Backs
Copyright© 2015 by Allan Kindred
With every pump of Thunderheart's wings they pick up speed. With every flap of awesome power they go towards a dark destiny. With the ocean at their backs, Allan's love becomes further and further away from him. Allan is born for war, but Emma has shown him he can love freely, too.
It is wonderful to know that one's self is lovable, but it makes risking all harder, because before all he had to lose before was himself and those around him that chose the same kind of life. Still being pragmatic, Allan knows there is a time for love and a time for fighting. With the ocean at their backs they have no choice but to fight. Will Allan's steel be as strong as his love? Allan thinks so.
"It is once again time for the blood of many to flow, so here we go again."
Lost in a dream
Back to death
Back to horror
Very little makes sense
When war is at your door
The ring of battle
The strength of steel
It changes nothing
Because it just is
"Listen up, soldiers, since we are the only ones with magic arrows, therefore the only ones with a good chance at stopping or holding off the demon dragons to give our other forces a fighting chance, we are not going to fight as one cohesive unit like we trained for. We are going to split up into one hundred groups of four each. We will disperse at equal intervals, and position ourselves just behind the main lines.
Our one goal is to keep the enemy dragons at bay. While our magic arrows are hurting and confusing the dragons, our wagons that we built the giant crossbows into will try and deliver the killing blow. If we cannot hold off the enemy dragons our lines will fall in a matter of hours. Is that understood? Good, now get to your group and head towards the front lines."
Thunderheart flies Allan straight to his division. If any of them think less of him for staying behind for as long as he could, none of them show it. In fact, all he sees is genuine gratitude and excitement that he showed up at all.
With his former division broke down into patrol sized groups and dispersed, Allan is left alone with Thunderheart. "It is going to be a hard fight." Thunderheart says, wistfully.
"Yes, in truth I believe we can only hope to hold them off long enough for reinforcements to arrive. I'm hoping that the knowledge that the ocean is at our backs and we have nowhere else to run will make the people fight all that much more effectively."
"Do you think Stephen is dead?"
"The thought has crossed my mind, for I cannot imagine another reason as to why he has taken so long to rally our friends. Stephen is such that if our friends spoke as if not to willingly come, he would force them to come. More likely he would force them to see that this war will eventually come to them anyway. I believe I would feel it if Stephen was dead, but I have been distracted of late."
"My brother, I have never seen you as you are with Emma."
"As much as her memory will strengthen me, I must put her in a safe part of my mind, because I do not want to picture her grace and beauty when I am covered in hate's blood. I have discovered many new aspects of myself, and it is all because Emma loves me.
"Luckily, or maybe not, that dark part of me still exists and is eager to come out and play. Sometimes it even unnerves me, but very soon I will be glad for it. We have sacrificed much, my Wayfarer brother. Do you think that the very people that we fight and bleed for will ever truly understand why we do what we do?"
"For most, I believe it is not in their nature to understand. Though many are grateful, there are those that will willfully say it was other than what it really was. Those folks make me both mad and sad. The dragons have seen so many wars between you other races, that most of us believe the world is better off without us."
"But not you?"
"No, not me, little brother. I see, and will always believe, that if one action affects one person it affects us all. That is why I fight. That is why I bleed. Though it has been many of your lifetimes since us dragons have entered into a war where our presence won't necessarily turn the tide of battle. I fear the coming war is something other than what it appears."
Allan rides his horse through the night and Thunderheart walks alongside of him. Every once in a while a patrol of soldiers will ride up to them.
From one such group Allan tells them, "Ride forward and find Rax to let him know from where I am coming."
Allan can feel deep in his bones that a huge storm is coming, but it is as of yet holding off. Throughout Allan's life he could sense things beyond the normal, but sometimes the feelings and thoughts were not of this world, so he never truly knew what kind of storm was coming. Is it a storm of nature, or is it a storm of something so unnatural that no matter what defense they post it will make little difference?
Allan can see in his mind's eye the enemy lined up before their forces, and they dwarf the Allies in size and hatred. There will be no banners and standards flying for the Alliance Forces of Light. Although it is better to fight for the love of something rather than hatred, there are moments in battle where you must be able to bring forth such rage as to get you through to the next second, when all sanity and sense of the known worlds is screaming at you that it is time to die.
Many people before a coming battle look back on their lives and wonder, "If I were to die today, would I be happy with how I lived my life?" Or some just reminisce about better times. Allan is no different. His mind wanders and contemplates.
"There was a time in my childhood, not long after Stephen's and mine father was killed in battle, that I was not sure who I was meant to be. I knew almost from the beginning that glory in war is mostly to be found in poems and songs. True war is and always will be dominated by loneliness and fear. I remember mom, always the cheerful girl, would go through times of such loneliness that I would not have judged her if she sought outside attention while father was away at yet another conflict, but she is a woman of honor, and was proud to be the wife of a warrior.
"Now I know who I am and I have my own wife with a child on the way. Do I really want to put Emma through that same loneliness that mom lived for so many years? For me it was hard to tell if mom was lonelier while dad was away or after he died. She was sadder for sure, but I think she thought it necessary to raise us boys without any interruptions from another man, so she never remarried. I don't know if she thought she was honoring my father's legacy or what, but after this war is over I think I will try and find mom a man to live out the rest of her life with.
"With Emma in my life, I see things in so many different ways now. Many of the ways are wonderful, but some make even my heart ache. Can I give up who I am to be Emma's husband? More importantly, I have come to realize it is just as important to be there when I'm there. It is the same for battle. The greatest respect I can show Emma and the world is to be me wherever I am. To understand that no matter where I am or what I am doing, I am the sum of my past, present and future, but not defined by them. I know, it sounds confusing to me also. Especially the future part, but the truth is, our dreams of who we want to be also affect who we are.