The Journey Home

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To Make It Home

The trees seemed to step aside to grant me a clear path. I did not object, rather kept my eyes focused directly in front of me. Losing this path would be an unfortunate circumstance I wanted to avoid. Although it weaved and snaked, the path was clear of roots and underbrush, and I stuck to it. Most of the animals had hidden away for the winter, but an occasional snow hare bolted away from me. I did not have to fear any more wolf attacks, for if the wolves wanted a piece of flaming metal, I would give it to them. The one thing left I did have to fear almost shot me down with an arrow. I drew the arrow out of the tree and inspected the tip. It was none other than a Moor arrow, and that meant only one thing.

I tossed down my bags and hid Arthen behind a thick oak. My sword felt light and swift in my hand, and my shield reminded me of those I fought for. There were about thirty Moor soldiers, too many to be a scouting party, but too few to be a full regiment. They had already taken up formation against me, even though I was but one man. The Moor army had that one thing in its favor. Although it was a wicked army, trying to take a land not its own, it had discipline. No soldier disobeyed. No soldier questioned their orders. I heard the orders of this group sound from their leader, “Kill that man!”

The words pulsed through my heart and entered my bloodstream. They had seen my shield as a sign of my allegiance. They wanted me dead, and came toward me as a unit, though I was but one foe. For the first time, however, I noticed fear in the Moor soldiers. Why would they possibly be afraid of me? I discovered they were not staring at me - they were staring at my sword.

This revelation gave me the confidence to not view this as a one-sided battle, but to view it as a chance to cripple the fifth division. As what little training I had came flooding back, I decided to let the sword do most of the work. I simply had to never stop attacking them.

They were in a triangle formation, swordsmen at the front, and archers in the rear. Most of their soldiers had close-range weapons which helped my strategy take shape. If I got into a heated duel with the swordsmen, I could use my flaming sword to my advantage while keeping the archers from firing. They wouldn’t shoot their own men, would they?

All the shame and fear, bloodshed and tears I cast aside. They no longer mattered. Only family mattered now. For the ones I loved back home and for Arthen who was the brother I never had, I approached my enemy boldly. They stopped. Apparently, they wanted me to make the first move, so I did.

Right as the archers fired their bows, I lowered my shoulder and raced toward the swordsmen. The arrows missed, and I found myself right where I wanted to be.

I knocked aside a downward swing with my shield and stabbed the knight before he could parry. As he fell, the soldier beside him thrust his sword toward my face. I sidestepped this attack and completed an upward swing that sent him flying. As fast as I could, I spun to block an oncoming jab. I did so with such force that my opponent was disarmed.

Each time that I hit an enemy, he was burned by the flame, even if the damage was minor. Every minor attack became a major one due to the silver fire. Nevertheless, the warriors of the Moor army did not go without doing some damage of their own. Most of the times they hit me, their weapons barely grazed my back or chest, but one knight blindsided me during one of my thrusts and slashed open my right side. This only fueled my assault, remembering that this was the same place where Arthen had been so brutally injured.

With my sword flying about as if it had wings, the fire surrounded me like a whirlwind. In the heat of the battle, I learned moves I had never been taught before, and attacked every weakness I found.

None of their swordsmen truly had the capability of stopping me. They fell by my sword no matter what they did. The moment all of their swordsmen fell lifeless, however, the unit leader gave the command. It was the command I had hoped he would never give. “Fire.”

Moor shafts pierced the air, all with the ambition of leaving me lifeless. I ducked and braced my shield in front of my face, but it was not enough. Not all of the arrows missed or hit my shield. One penetrated my left leg around the thigh, and another hit the same leg below the knee.

I had to win. I had to be victorious. So, becoming increasingly angry at the damage I had been dealt, I broke into the best sprint I could manage. With a spirit that kept me going when most would have stopped, I plowed my way through the archers. They soon abandoned all loyalty to their leader and fled.

The archers gone and the swordsmen lifeless, I was left with only one foe. I knocked him to the ground and he scrambled to get away. His retreat sent him straight into a tree. He no longer tried to run, but held his hands up as if he could block a strike if it came. I decided that though I probably should have given him no mercy, he could send a message for me. “Tell the Moor army that they had better abandon Tres Sylfur while they can, or they shall have to face the knight of the silver flame.”

“You are just one man,” the captain said while lowering his hands. “How do you plan to defeat hundreds if not thousands?”

“I am not as alone as you might think.”

I raised my sword as if to deliver the final blow, and the captain rocketed away. I was fairly certain his face would never appear in Tres Sylfur again.

Before I did anything else, I rushed to the place I had left Arthen. He was not there. My mind spun. How could I have lost him? Where could he have gone? Then, as the crushing weight piled upon me, I felt the tip of a sword touch my shoulder.

I tightened my grip on my blade and quickly spun with the intent of killing my attacker. When I met his eyes, however, I ceased immediately. “We will have to work on that,” Arthen said.

My guard lowered when I heard his voice. “Arthen. You scared me beyond death. Never do that again.”

He laughed. “I can’t promise that. Only, be ready next time. You do understand what ‘we will have to work on that’ means, right?”

I could not help but smile and wrap my arm around his shoulder. “Thank you for all you have done for me. I could not have done what I did today without you.”

Arthen rested against the tree. He did not disagree, but rather said, “It’s not over yet. I may be good enough to walk, but you’ll still have carry most of the weight. What do you think it will be like back in Sanctity?”

“Marvelous. Simply marvelous.”

Before I could continue on, my inflictions had to be treated by Arthen. I found he was much more of the medic than I had been to him. He masterfully removed the arrows and bandaged me until I felt trapped under all the cloth. In the end, I found I had just enough maneuverability to lift my precious belongings. My mission was not complete, and it would not be till every home in Sanctity had been told the story of my fellow warriors’ valiant stand.

I returned to the battlefield this time as a victor and as the brave soldier I had once dreamed of becoming. Since they no longer had need of it, I obtained enough food and water to last us the rest of our journey. Arthen and I had no need of their weapons or their armor, but I made sure to obtain any information on enemy whereabouts that I could. This war might be a long one, and Sanctity’s forces could use anything they could get their hands on.

Two more days of travel left us stronger instead of weaker. We were fortified by our friendship, and found creative ways to overcome our injuries. The fire of my sword brought us warmth, and we had enough supplies to fill our stomachs. We spoke now of the future instead of the past, because the future was finally looking bright. When the war was over, Arthen hoped to propose to the woman he had loved for some time. He wanted to start a family, and I knew he would be quite the father.

I did not yet know what my future held. The only thing I could count on was that I no longer desired to be a lumberjack. I had seen enough of the forest to last me a lifetime. I did not have anyone who I wished to marry, but seeing my parents again would be a blessing. Only God knew what my future held.

“Arthen, come quickly. There it is!” I shouted to him.

“It is absolutely beautiful.”

We could not believe our eyes. The tranquil snowfall blanketed the roofs in white, and golden candlelight beamed from the windowsills. Dirt roads were hidden for the night, but awaited the footsteps of the coming morning. The peace of the farmer’s spirit made the village look like one that would never have to know war. The majesty of the simple town was perfect.

This time, I allowed the tears to stream. “What is the first thing you are going to do?” I asked Arthen.

“Help you honor the memories of those who protected Sanctity. They were my friends as much as they were yours. I would be grateful to bring them the respect they deserve. Besides, no man should have to do that alone.”

“I am glad I have you to count on. Without you this task would seem impossible. Now it only seems hard. It is a good kind of hard, though, the kind that makes you stronger.”

Arthen and I had made it home, but I felt that there was much more in store for us in the near future. The Moor army still towered above us, threatening to snatch from us what little we had left. I would be there to stand against them with whatever forces Tres Sylfur could muster. I thought of the words of my commander, ‘It is up to us to make sure that our home is safe. We cannot afford to lose, lest our families be in grave danger. I am confident that we shall be victorious.’

I too am now confident. I know that Sanctity shall rise and vanquish the wicked. Sanctity shall triumph not because of its size or power, but because of the honor and bravery it holds dear.
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