The Flight of The Draykes
Wearily moving forward, we made our way to the water source in the darkness of the night.
Seeing the palisade and ramparts in the distance, lit by torches, we almost cheered out loud but were silenced by Sir Galen who quickly gathered the remaining able-bodied men and women, and then we awaited the return of our scout.
Soon we made out a dark shadow that materialized into the body of the scout who, coming close, whispered a few quick lines that made Sir Galen frown and then relax.
Clearing his throat, Sir Galen spoke, “We have information that the camp has been laxly defended. The majority have fled and the remainder are all the affiliated helpers to the enemy such as cooks and such.
“They won’t be much of a trouble unless they’re disguised gold ranks which I doubt is possible but if it were, we’re screwed,” He continued, as grim laughter arose at his remark at the end.
Stabbing the butt of his spear onto the ground, He growled, “Our mission is to secure the fortifications and rest for the night. We have 27 men, out of which 15 will stay behind and a dozen will come with me for the operation. I want only the best of the best. No changes,” He said, forestalling the disgruntled warriors who were clearly displeased at being excluded because of their injuries.
Soon, a dozen men had assembled and like ghosts, they disappeared into the darkness.
Shortly after, screams and yells were heard which were silenced immediately, and then time passed by slowly.
Anxiously, I waited - as, despite my performance in battle, I was after all just a child who hadn’t even awakened.
Speaking of awakening, I was glad that the triggering of the warforce was becoming more natural, but worried because each time it did, I would feel this tidal force that threatened to consume me until I pushed it back down.
Shaking my head to clear it, I peered into the darkness alongside Sia who took my left hand.
Grasping it tightly, I relished the comfort her hand brought me. The feeling that in the pitch-black night, there was someone beside me.
Then with a start, I realized that at some point I had been surrounded.
My brother stood beside me with a frown and an inward-looking look on his face, Ares stood by my right shoulder, Damon had appeared some time ago and was standing behind me staring into the darkness just like me.
The teacher was on a raised stone, looking outwardly pale, and yet his brilliant white teeth gleamed as he flashed an apologetic smile at me and then raised his hands to signal me to stay where I am.
Sir Patrick, who I hadn’t seen before in the darkness, stood beside Sir Leonidas and helped him off the rock, and together they approached us.
Looking around, I saw that Sir Egon was approaching us too, limping all the way.
Silently, the 8 of us stared out into the darkness, each lost in his own thoughts.
Then a soft horn blared.
It blared a long note and then a soft note, followed by a medium note.
It was our signal.
Cheering quietly, We went to support the wounded, and then staggering, we approached the wooden gate of the Palisade where Sir Galen stood with a wide smile on his face.
“Welcome to our humble abode,” He cackled.
We grinned back at his feeble attempt at humor and then passing through, we found ourselves in the midst of neatly laid out tents, passing which you would find yourself in front of an old building that would have been the residence of the caretakers of the water source.
Waving his hands at the tents, Sir Galen said, “choose any of them except the 12 at the front. Those are for combat-capable personnel only.”
Nodding wearily, the wounded limped, stumbled, and tiredly walked to their new homes for the night and collapsed within with only a grunt and then fell deep into sleep.
Meanwhile, Sir Galen with a critical eye was noting the tents that each person had gone into and their injuries and once everyone was settled, he began moving among the tents and administering to the wounded with the supplies we had pillaged in the camp.
Moving to the wooden building, I found the advance party cataloging the items and supplies found while others quickly prepared pots and pans to make food, while still others were setting fires outside for the cooking.
Looking curiously around, I saw a tent in front of which there were Sir Galen’s two gold ranks who were standing guard.
Guessing that they were guarding the prisoners, I walked over and greeted them - receiving a friendly nod in return.
Gesturing toward the tent, I asked, “How many?”
“Seven,” The lead gold rank replied quietly.
“Hmm,” I said as I turned away, the smell of food making my stomach growl, an action that caused a fleeting smile to cross the faces of the gold ranks.
“Go child, you’ve fought hard and it’s time to relax. We’ll look after these people,” said the gold rank who had spoken before in a kind voice.
Nodding, I drifted away to where the food was being made, and impatient, I joined in the cooking and soon enough - delicious meat porridge with vegetable soup was simmering.
Grabbing a bowl, I was ready to ravenously dig in...when I stopped and gulping back my saliva, filled two bowls and walked toward the gold - ranks before handing the bowls to them.
Thanking me, the gold-ranks practically inhaled the food before one of them hesitantly held out the bowl again with an embarrassed expression.
Smiling, I took both the bowls and trotted back to refill them, and handed them over again.
Grinning at me, the gold ranks drained the bowl again and patted their bellies before thanking me.
Nodding back, I went and then started delivering food all over the camp along with the help of the others.
Soon we were done and I could eat.
But hesitating again, I grabbed Sia and Ares and handing them two bowls each, I balanced 3 myself and then walked toward the captives tent.
Quizzically looking at me, the gold ranks saw the food and the number of bowls and understood before they looked at each other and then relenting, stepped aside as they said, “Keep the bowls outside and let them take it from there. Don’t enter.”
Assenting, we did exactly that and then walked away before looking back to see people emerge from the tent cautiously and take the food away.
Blinking, I yet again wondered how trusted allies had to be cautious of each other in but a single week's time.
Scratching my head at the absurdity of it all, I finally started in on the food and it was at that moment that the people who were looking kindly at the boy - who had been ferrying food all this time - realized that the boy was in fact, a ravenous wolf!
For he devoured the contents of a whole pot in but mere moments.
Dissatisfied, he lit the fire again and began brewing an even more succulent porridge than before!
The people who had already eaten felt their stomach rumble and walking out of their tents, they lined up expectantly in front of the pot in front of the boy.
I was lost in my own world of saliva and drool when I looked up and jumped high at the long line that almost reached the camp’s gate.
Then I laughed as I increased the meat, water, and vegetables in the pot and began vigorously stirring.
Then I generously ladled out the porridge as it cooled down, all the while setting another fire for another pot of porridge.
Finally, the appreciative survivors bade farewell after waving at me and went back into their tents to sleep, and I was alone with my thoughts.
Walking around the camp, I gazed around and then looked at the stars for a long time before sighing and finding myself a tent to sleep in, Sia and the rest having slept long ago.
As I drifted off into sleep, I seemed to see the face of that wounded man that Chase had executed in front of me.
He looked at me accusingly and I looked back helplessly.
Then the vision changed and it was the feel of my dagger sliding across flesh and slicing it open during our escape in the castle.
The feeling of skin parting and the muscle fibers splitting was fresh in my mind and I tossed feverishly.
Then the vision changed yet again and I saw the soldier whose neck I had stabbed my dagger into. I watched as the stupefied man blinked his eyes slowly before looking down and dropping his sword, clutching his throat in panic.
I saw myself pull out the dagger in between the man's finger, Slicing one halfway and sending a fountain of blood into the air, some of which landed on me.
I remember snarling as the taste of blood filled my mouth from a fist from another soldier, and then the animalistic struggle that raged back and forth as he tried to strangle me until I kicked him aside and then drew my short sword and plunged it into his chest as he fell down.
I could hear his rattling gasps underneath my feet as I stepped forward on his body and fought yet another enemy.
Coldly, I saw myself in the dream standing in the second rank, advancing forward in the press of battle when a downed enemy tried clutching my feet.
I watched as my dream self looked down with callous eyes before stabbing the offender in between his eyes, draining the vitality away from him.
The dream twisted and turned, and the faces of the men I had fought came one by one and then I woke up, vomiting all over my underclothes.
Gasping for breath and choking a little, I sat up and heaved more and more as all the porridge came out.
Finally, I stopped, shuddering as the nausea receded.
Sitting in that position for a long while, I finally grimaced as I sat up among the soiled clothes and bedrolls.
Walking to the water source, I drew a bucket before carefully cleaning myself and then the clothes - for I had no spares and then still smelling foul, I waited as my clothes dried and I looked around at the quiet camp.
Then my eyes widened as I saw Galen, red-eyed and staggering along as he walked into yet another tent with a needle in his hand.
A long while later, he walked out, and waving away the emotional thanks of the person inside, he went on his way to yet another tent.
Respect filled me.
Calm, he might not be, even though he calls himself Galen the Calm.
But a Doctor he was - through and through.
Eyes stinging, I stood there emotionally for a long long time before I grabbed my dried clothes and walked back to the prisoner tent where I greeted the two gold rank guards.
“What are you doing here?” The older one asked me.
“I came to take over your watch,” I said as I smiled widely.
Laughing, the gold rank said, “Go right ahead.” and then he fell silent as he realized I was serious.
Looking at him peacefully, I said, “If you’re worried, one of you can exchange with me and a few hours later the other one can exchange with the one who goes first.”
Scratching his chin, the older man pondered before a smile split his face and he walked off to a nearby tent, “Thanks, young man.”
Waving my hand, I took up vigil beside the younger man who introduced himself as Faaris.
As we stood there in silence, my thoughts were peacefully quiet.
It was a long night. A long rest.
Not for my body, but for my soul.