Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the second part of a brilliant story from enderandrew. It is entitled
The Green Rogue Volume II
Told by Joorus the Scribe
Background music “The Dark Amulet” by Matthew Pablo at www.matthewpablo.com
“Do not look down, young Alex. You must keep your eyes up,” Sir Greggor insisted.
Alex didn’t need a reminder of how dangerous these lands were. He couldn’t stop thinking about it. He saw troops return from battle all the time, screaming in their hospital litters as surgeons shoved their guts back in, or sawed off limbs not fit for saving. Their screams haunted him every year of his youth. These were brave men when they left, and they returned screaming in pieces. Some did not return at all, and Alex always wondered if their fate was worse or better.
“I’m too young to die”, Alex muttered. He looked up, but kept pulling at his gloves. His hands weren’t quite large enough for them, and he felt his grip on his blade wasn’t secure enough. His armor was rushed for the occasion and his body wasn’t quite the full size of a man, though his father sought to prove he was.
“As are we all. No man knows the length of a life, but they all end too soon. You will not speak of such things again. That is how we die, being distracted by fear. Courage to conquer that fear comes from being mindful of what you love, what you are willing to fight for. Think of home and how you wish to return. Think of what you must do today to accomplish that task, and we will both return home alive. I promise you that.”
Sir Greggor’s armor was well worn. The smithy smoothed out each dent, and repaired each hole as best they could, but any trained eye could see that it was not pristine, especially the artisanry of his father’s crest. An artisan may take great pride the first time they emblazon new plate mail with their art, but a smithy takes less care in repairing anything that isn’t needed for functionality. Sir Greggor fought the Kobolds on dozens of occasions. He was not afraid, and Alex’s father trusted him with his life. Alex should be reassured. He was not. He wondered if the very same words were spoken to the countless men who did not make it home alive. If so, what good was that promise?
Alex had never taken a life, nor seen a Kobold up close. He had been educated on them and their tactics. He had been trained for this moment, but he did not want it. He could not help being born the Lord’s son in a Kingdom full of war stretching back centuries since the Fall. Each new year passed and more men lined up to prove their courage against Kobold armies, but secretly Alex wondered if maybe this war stretched even longer. What if it started before the Fall? What if neverending war is what lead to the cataclysm? What if he had no desire to define courage in the amount of blood his sword spilled?
It was too late. Sir Greggor deflected as much of the blast of the fireball as he could with his shield, but Alex felt the singe of burning flesh. It was his poorly fitting gloves that made him drop his sword he told himself. He saw Sir Greggor besieged by a full squad of Kobolds clawing their way past his armor. He swung furiously in defense, but Alex feared it wouldn’t be enough. But it was the bloodlust.
Alex looked one in the eye, and he saw a desire to kill that he did not share. He knew that Kobold would not hesitate. He would blame the bloodlust, but he had no real excuse. He fled, hearing Sir Greggor’s screams and the Kobolds’ laughter behind him. He ran and ran. He never really stopped running.