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Chapter 13

It is over the next hill that the knight finally found him. On his knees, clothes torn and dirty he is holding a sword, his sword, by its blade in front of him and praying in the old way. The knight paused a second, recognizing the prayer, knowing that it would soon be over. 1242 spoke in a clear voice although it sounded different from the last time that the knight heard this man speak that prayer.

When the prayer had reached its conclusion the knight spoke, “You’ve come all this way, violated this places memory and for what? A prayer of forgiveness? What purpose could this possible serve?”

1242 pushed the blade into the ground and used it as a crutch to push himself upwards and onto his feet. Turning to meet his visitor he started, “Do you remember the day of your knighting?” He asked as if he hadn’t heard the knights comment.

Taken aback the knight responded, “What!?”

“The day you entered the order. I remember. Mother and Father were so proud of me. It was the day my father finally told me he was proud of me.” He says, looking out over the fields at the gently waving grasses. “I thought it was the best day of my life.”

“Pretty much every day after that has been a good day. I never wanted to be anything more than a knight. To serve and to meet our enemies in honorable battle was all I ever hoped for. Everyday was a blessing from the gods. And then one day everything changes.”

“You have the brotherhood,” he began again trying to simplify his explanation, “You have structure, discipline and order, but what if one day you awoke and realized that enough weren’t.”

The knight just stands there dumbfounded.

“It’s like being blind all your life, then getting your sight back only to lose it once again. You don’t know about color, because without that sense you can’t miss it. But once you’ve had it and seen the world, how could you live going back. It’s better to have never known love at all.” He then falls silent into an inner revelry.

“You were the best of us. The most honorable.” The knight says his voice thick with misery at having found his brother in this state.

“Aye, and then one day it wasn’t enough.” 1242 responds.

“Not enough, Not enough!!” We serve the people. We protect. This is the life we have chosen. No one made you take your oaths.” He yells. The anger he has felt rising to the surface.

“I can’t explain it myself. I only know that once I saw her I knew that I needed to be with her. I needed more that the brotherhood could give.”

“Bah!” The knight dismisses the rhetoric with a wave of his hand and turning on his heel he begins to walk away.

1242 grabs his upper arm and spins him around with a strength and force he was unaware this broken visage of a man still held.

“Don’t you think I’ve wrestled with it night and day? Don’t you think that I tried to find everyway out that I knew how? I went to every priest, shaman, and druid I could think of hoping that maybe she had placed some spell upon me and that there was a way to break it, but to no avail. It got so bad I couldn’t sleep because she would haunt my dreams.” He says the frenzy in his voice evident. “They would be the sweetest, most vivid dreams I have ever had and then I would awake and realize that it hadn’t been real. I would sit there and cry.” He says sounding disgusted by his behavior, “But I could do nothing. I was enthralled by her and knew only torment when I wasn’t by her side.”

The knight just stood there. He hadn’t counted on the depth his brother had felt. True he didn’t understand what had happened to him to so profoundly affect him, but it was obvious that he had little control over it.

“You could’ve come to me.” The knight said.

“And what would you have done? You would have told me to see a healer or our superiors. They would have reassigned me to an outpost and I would have gone mad there. At least when I was able to see her I was ok. I could function.”

Silence envelopes the men as they stand there on this old battlefield. Dawn has just about broken and the signs of life are beginning to awaken.

“You know what the best day of my life was?” 1242 asks, turning to watch the sunrise. Silence from his companion gives him his answer.

“The day I confronted her and found out she was just as miserable, just as desperate to figure out what had possessed her spirit as I was.” Turning once again to face his friend, “That was my best day. Finding out that the love of my life was just as tormented as I.”

Dragging his sword across the ground he makes his way to small hill overlooking a large plain.

“Four months, six days, three hours and thirty minutes we were together and it was the best time of my life. Now that you know what my life was like with her. Can you imagine what it’s been like without her?” He asks. “I no longer dream like a used to. I eat only to keep strength in my body. Even the air is foul.”

“The worst part is this voice in my head. It weeps constantly. Doesn’t moan or cry out, just weeps. No matter what I do I can’t silence it. That’s what I’m here for.”

Driving the sword into the ground he points to the field.

“This is where the bloodiest fighting took place. I know that you were coming around that small hill on the left and met the battle in mid fight. We came over this very hill to a volley of fireballs, pointed shot and immolation spells. I don’t know how I survived the first wave, my only thought was to find her and make good my escape.” He turned to face the knight.

“We had argued on whose banner to follow. Hers or mine. Both arguments had equally strong points. In the end she came up with a solution and an ultimatum. Turn my back on the brotherhood, she would do the same with her magic and we would leave together and start a new life somewhere.” He smile ruefully in the new morning light and the knight notices that even in the chill air, he is sweating quite a bit.

Clearing his throat he starts again, “I took too long making my decision. I had a hard time turning my back on my brothers and everything that I had known. I don’t know if she felt the same because by the time I decided she was gone. Gone to join her other magic users in their war against us. I didn’t see her again until I spotted her here,” 1242 gives a nod over his shoulder to the plain below.

Picking the sword out of the ground he walks slowly down to the plain. The air is cool, but warming quickly so he takes a moment to wipe his face.

“It was over here that I finally spotted her. Knights beset her on two sides. I choked for a moment, I didn’t know what to do. Then I realized that I couldn’t be without her. I rushed to her aid and just after her curse went off I faced off against my brothers. Quickly dispatching them I grabbed her and pulled her close to me. I told her we would flee this place and leave together.”

He grabs his sword and runs over to a large tree that had a sizeable chunk of bark removed from it. The wound has mostly closed over, but you can still see where the sap has oozed in to cover the wound and run down the side of the tree into the ground.

Out of breath he stops for a moment to get control of his breathing. Once calm he continues, “We had made it this far when the first bolt hit. It wasn’t a shadow bolt so that’s how he missed. By the time I turned she was already casting. There were spells going off everywhere. Once I realized who was casting at us it was too late. This time he used a curse then the shadow bolt. I turned just in time to see the bolt hit.”

Here he stops and stares at the tree. Tears gently make their way down his face.

“When I came to, I was told that we routed the mages. I searched for her, hoping that I was wrong, that she had made it out, but to no avail. I even went to speak with her old master. I left him the sword just in case she came back. After that, well you know the rest.” He stops.

“I’m sorry. I really am, but we have to go now. The sergeant at arms has ordered that you be captured dead or alive. I figured that you would come here so I came ahead of the party sent to find you. It won’t be long now before the figure out what I have and make haste to get here.”

“Is it Sir Givney? Sir Giblets” 1242 snickers.

“Now don’t disrespect a superior.” The knight half laughs as he scolds the prisioner.

Laughing, 1242 says, “Remember that fine two hander he had purchased from the dwarves and was going to have enchanted for protection in battle’, he snickers some more telling the story.

“Yeah, the gnome enchanter he took it to messed up the spell and shrunk the sword down to a quarter of it size.” The knight says unable to contain his laughter.

“He wouldn’t have anything to do with the gnomes for months. Didn’t even want them in the magic quarter.” Both men are laughing heartily now.

“You know he still has that sword.” The knight says.

“Really?” 1242 says, wiping his eyes from laughing so hard.

“Yeah, he uses it as a letter opener.” The knight replies.

Both erupt in a fresh fit of laughter ending with 1242 in a coughing fit. Once it subsides the knight notices that there is blood in his mouth.

“What have you done!” He exclaims, realizing that is wasn’t any normal fit of coughing.

“I should have died here. I should have died here and been lost among the dead with her. That’s what should have happened. The last ten years should never have happened.” He replies.

“What have you done!!” He exclaims again grabbing the man by his shoulders.

“I’ve corrected the error. I don’t know why I was meant to go on existing like this, but it’s a mistake. He growls, freeing himself of the knight’s grip.

“The gods will not forgive you for taking your own life. You won’t be permitted to enter the after life as a warrior.”

“Do you think I give a damn about the gods at this point?” He asks. “The gods are responsible for all of this.” He waves his arm towards the battlefield.

“As far as forgiveness is concerned, I’m the one whose forgiveness needs to be asked. I’m the one the gods have wronged. Who they’ve cheated and shortchanged. I’m the one they screwed over. And I want to know why they would do this to me. To us.” He wheezes.

“What did you use? Does it have an antidote?”

Shaking his head he replies, “No. It’s a little something that I got from a thief the last time I was incarcerated near Kalagin’s Cross.”

Sitting down under the scarred tree he says, “Whoo, I’m suddenly very tired.”

Kneeling besides his friend, he starts, “You’re not in pain are you?”

“No more than I already was.” He responds, his eyes getting heavy.

“You have to forgive them you know.” The knight says.

“I know and I will, but I want them to tell me that they’re sorry first.” He says drowsily. “Don’t leave me, ok.” He says snapping awake. “She wasn’t alone when she died. I’d rather not be myself if that’s ok.” He says slipping back into his drowsy state.

“Not a problem.” The knight says unable to keep himself from weeping openly.

Reaching forward 1242 thrusts his sword towards his friend. The knight knows what he wants, but is afraid because he may be unworthy.

“Don’t worry you’re an honorable knight and a good man. Take it.” He whispers as his eyes close for the final time.

Grasping the grip as his friends hand slowly drops to the ground he says, “So are you.”

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