This story is meant for the Dark humor story challenge. If anyone else is interested, details are under my profile. I'm going to try to keep him in character, but…no promises. And now I will do something that is very common in my author's note: beg for reviews. Please review! I like getting input on stories. I'm not sure if this will be my best work, but I hope you like it! (This is before the war in RD.) Italics are flashbacks.
The Dawn Brigade. We are a small group dedicated to the rebirth of Daein. The Begnion soldiers call us thieves. The impoverished of our homeland call us heroes. This is my second week among their ranks. My logic tells me that we are heroes because we free our people from oppresion, but with every life I steal, I start to think more and more that maybe some of those enemy soldiers have a point. If only a little.
It seemed like we walked continuously to get nowhere. Somehow, no matter where we were, conflict found us. It wasn't enough to help the people. It was our job to fight for them. I always hated violence. When I joined, I knew full well that I would have to take the lives of other living beings. I had never thought that it would be as difficult as it was. All that had to be done was shoot an arrow through them, right? Until you have to look into the man's eyes.
It was the first time that I joined them in battle. It was a small affair compared to many that they handled. There were a few Begnion soldiers who were bullying the village we were staying in, during the night no less. We had to chase them off. What else could we do?
"Aw, man! These Begnion soldiers just don't give up! Couldn't they wait until morning?" Edward yawned as we entered the streets. He looked ready to fall back asleep, his eyes lids still drooping even. I didn't know how he intended to fight when we couldn't find the strength to fully open his eyes.
"Everyone is awake in the morning. They took us off guard."
"Stealing from a poor village! That's just low!" He let out another loud yawn. "Time to take some of these louts out!" I watched as he charged at the first one he saw come out of a cabin. He had no hesitation, no regret. He dodged the man's spear with one quick sidestep and thrust his sword through the soldier's stomach, pushing it downward until it looked as if the man would be ripped in two. As if it were nothing, he pulled out his blade, letting the once living human's blood gush onto the street in one giant pool. He had no regret.
I stood still, as if I were only a statue, a spectator meant to observe and nothing more. A thrust of Sothe's dagger. One fell. A swing of Nolan's axe. Another fell face first, cold and dead into his own blood. A wave of Micaiah's hand, and a third collapsed lifeless into the streets. Even our leader, as peaceful as she was, thought nothing of striking down her enemies. Then there was me. Bow in one hand, an arrow in another, but with no action. What the soldiers were doing was wrong. I knew that. I wanted them to pay. I felt that anger yet no matter how much I wanted it to overtake me, it wouldn't. I wasn't sure if I was capable of it. I watched the scene unfold before me and could ask myself only one question; could I become a killer?
"Leonardo! Look out!" Micaiah's voice called from a distance behind me. I awoke from my trance, seeing first hand what a mistake it was to view a fight as a spectator when in fact I was apart of it. A Begnion soldier ran towards me, sword drawn. I had to….
Instinct took over. My hand raised the arrow to my bow. It pulled back the taut wire and released it, all before I could think for myself. Before I could blink, the man fell at my feet, directly on top of my feet, dead. The impact from hitting the ground forced the arrow through his chest and the head stuck out from his back, the tip and edges red and dripping. The worst part of all was nobody acknowledged it. Neither his teammates or mine cared. He was dead, so he was no longer an issue for them to be concerned with.
The world continued around me as the body of the man I killed lie bleeding. It was hardly visible in the dark but something about it's presence made me aware of it. I felt it percolate into my shoes, wetting my feet. I froze, an odd twisting running through my stomach as my soles grew colder and colder.
I dropped my bow, crossing my arms in front of my face and grasping fists of my own hair. My knees began to shake as I began to realize all that had happened. I killed someone. I took his life. I, too, had no hesitation to take the life of a man who lived for years. Whimpering. I was whimpering. Everything spun around me until I fell to the ground like all the Begnions. The man was still at my feet. And he was still warm.
Nolan grasped me under my arms, pulling me up onto my feet, "Are you all right?" I had no response to give.
All of it had been a week ago. We had found ourselves in minor situations since then. Begnion soldiers seeing us and giving pursuit was all it amounted to. All we had to do was run. As long as no innocents were being harmed, we would not put them in the path of danger. If they were not being attacked, we would not fight.
I couldn't forget that first battle. Could I kill? Yes, I could. Could I control my killing? It happened without me doing anything, or so it felt like. My body moved on its own accord needing no consent from my brain. Was that what battle was like? Was that how the others fought? It couldn't be. Their style was too calculated. It was just--
"Hello? Leonardo, ya there?" Edward nudged me with his elbow. "You're staring at the wall again. Really, it isn't that interesting.
"Oh, sorry. I was… thinking." I find myself doing more and more of that as of late. It wasn't the first time during that meal that someone had commented on me seeming absent.
"Are you thinking of that battle again?" Micaiah looked at me compassionately. Those eyes of hers always held so much kindness and concern. Even her voice was soft and timid. Listening to her speak so normally, so calmly after watching men fall by her hand almost made me feel that killing was all right. If done for certain reasons.
"No…" I lied. I didn't want to be a liability to the group and I certainly didn't want them to see me as one. "I go into a daze a lot. Please don't mind me."
"If you can't deal with seeing a battle you have no business being here." Sothe's comment didn't surprise me. In fact, I'm surprised that he hadn't said it sooner. He didn't strike me as the type that could withhold his judgment,
"I'm fine, really. I'm just slow to adjust. There's a lot of traveling involved with this, isn't there?" I decided to get off the topic of battle. My brooding was enough. Speaking of it wouldn't do any good for anybody.
"Goes with the job." Nolan picked up his cup and took another sip. "Never know where the next battle and the next group of people who need you are going to be."
Still it led back to battle. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't escape that thought. Still, it was the way he phrased it that made it better. "The next group of people who need you." That was why I learned how to use a bow. I wanted to protect those around me.
The bow could help me do that. I could save so many lives were I to become strong.
But it took lives, too.
To keep going or to quit, no matter what I do, I'm the same.
I'll be a murderer.
"Yipes! What was that?!" I jumped up with Edward but for different reasons. I didn't even know what he was talking about. All I knew was that it was another interruption to my thought.
"Soldiers again? Why don't they leave the Daein people alone? The villagers aren't their slaves." Nolan got up and took his axe from the corner. He was so nonchalant. It was that common of an occurrence for him. His face was so blank that if I didn't know better, I would think that he was going to do some basic chore. "Well, let's go show those Begnion dogs that Daein is not theirs to torment, shall we?"
"Man, these guys have the worst timing. Before when we were sleeping, now when we're eating… They keep disturbing us in the middle of my favorite things!" Edward, too seemed very comfortable with the lifestyle. It was strange watching him pull his sword out for battle. He was so confident and very comfortable with what we did. We were the same age. Why was it that I couldn't get passed it?
It didn't matter now. It was all going to start again. My doubts would have to wait until later, for better or for worse.
And that's the end of it. Please, please, please review! I love both compliments and criticism! (Just please don't give me the type of criticism that consists of saying "you suck" and nothing else. That tends to put a damper on my day.) Any comments or suggestions on the story are appreciated and I'll be truly grateful for them. Anonymous reviews are welcome, too. So take the few seconds to give me some feedback. Then I won't have to feel like a loser.