The Roses of Deathby MogMaster
Chapter 8The days passed more or less eventless. Periodically, Siegfried would spear an animal on the plains for some food, and they would eat. Every now and then they came across a river, and so they would drink. Other than that the days passed in silence as they wandered aimlessly across the plains. Siegfried had no clear notion where it was he was going, and Terra seemed rather dead inside. Siegfried wasn't the inquisitive type so he left her to her demons, and she to his. Entire days would go by without a word being spoken, and it seemed as though they were both just fine with that. At nights he would sometimes wake up to hear Terra crying. As curious as this behavior was he still didn't push the issue, as he more or less simply did not care. It was on the seventh night that he dreamed again. It was the same dream he had every time; the roses, the bridge, his master. However at the end this time he found himself somewhere else entirely.
There his father lay, dying in his dark chamber. It was the uppermost part of their slowly disintegrating castle. As Siegfried could recall it had been one of the few times he had actually seen his father at home, as he had been at the capital most of his life. Now he was here and his brother was there, taking up the reins as though he had owned them all his life. Siegfried himself recalled getting the pigeon with the news five days prior. He had hoped the entire way home that he would make it on time. Vaguely he recalled home being much as he remembered it, the same and yet completely different. The servants had all more or less been sent away save for a few attendants who mostly sat around smoking and gambling all day; stopping occasionally to make sure the old man was clean and taken care of. Even in his dreams the sickly smell of a blooming garden of roses and the death assailed his nostrils, as different as the sun and moon, or as it was life and death. His mother had died while he was very young, but as he looked out the small tower window he could still see her grave next to a large recently dug hole. They both knew what the hole was for, yet neither of them could bring themselves to look at it. Siegfried walked into the room as quiet as a ghost, yet his father still seemed to hear him, if not sense his presence.
"Siegfried... my son."
He gasped through shallow breaths.
"I have returned, father. My training is complete."
His father narrowed his eyes at him
"I have told you how I feel about your ‘training.' I will ask that you do not bring it up on my death bed, lest I go in disappointment."
Siegfried stiffened at the words as if slapped.
"I had hoped your brother would be here..."
"He never disappointed me... and now look at him... haha COUGH"
A coughing fit over took him at this time, yet as Siegfried moved to help him, he put a hand up as if to ward him off.
"Stay away from me, you disappointment. You could have been something COUGH... Threw...COUGH... your life away COUGH..."
Siegfried could feel the anger boiling up in the back of his neck.
"Haha, I can still read your face. COUGH. Anger is it? Hahaha, look where it's gotten you. Nowhere, that's where. You were COUGH always angry. Yes yes... I could never find a match for you, no I couldn't. The other COUGH lords COUGH all afraid for their daughters. Dangerous they called you, a time bomb, if you believe it. Haha and look at you now. A sword. That's all you are. A sword. The very picture of anger. COUGH you can go now. I hope that I should die with some other image in my head than your disappointing self."
Siegfried turned briskly and began to walk out the door...
"Don't do it"
His conscious mind screamed. Yet all the same he saw himself turn again and face his father.
"Stop it. Please no. Wake up damn you!"
"You were the disappointment..."
The reality seemed to get hazy
"Always away at..."
The world seemed to skip a beat.
" ...YOU SHOULD BE THE ONE ASHAMED!"
His conscious mind screamed, yet all the same it came.
With one fluid motion, his sword was out and his father's throat was cut. He made a noise similar to that of a pig being slaughtered, but the look on his face was one hundred percent human terror and amazement.
And so he awoke. The sea of grass still endless before his eyes, yet as he scanned the eastern horizon he saw the black shape of a town silhouetted against the rising sun, just a small dot in the broad range of vision.
Sighing, he collected his things together and probed Terra with his boot. She had been crying the night before, but he pretended not to notice her red eyes and the wet marks on her cloak. She abruptly turned around and rubbed her eyes before getting up and shouldering her small bundle of things.
"We're going to that town,"
Was all Siegfried said the entire morning as they were walking. Terra barely dignified him with a response other than a curt nod. He judged it would be a good day and a half of travel at their current pace. The way he saw it, it would be worth the walk just to get some real food he didn't have to kill himself. Squirrel lost its appeal rather quickly he found.
It wasn't until that night that Terra spoke. They were sitting around the fire; both of them seemingly deep in thought as the flames and shadows waltzed together.
"Where are we going?" she asked plainly.
By then Siegfried knew. He had always known secretly, but last nights dream had convinced him. It was still none of her business though, and he intended to ditch her at the town.
"The town over there," he said motioning in the direction which they had been walking all day.
"That isn't your final destination, and you know it," she said indignantly, her eyes gleaming slightly.
"She can read me like a book."
He thought bitterly.
"You might be right, but it is yours," he growled.
She glared at him stone-faced with her jaw set for about ten seconds without saying anything before bursting into tears. Siegfried felt simultaneously awkward and ashamed.
"Well... I umm...," he stammered taken aback.
"I've got nothing to go back to," she said through tears, "the soldiers came, and oh god, they killed them all. I...I just sat there...still weak from the loss of magic... and then...Mobliz...all gone even the baby. .."
She trailed off crying.
So war had touched her too, he reflected stoically. He had heard about the rape of Mobliz of course at the port before he had set sail. In the night the Tzen soldiers had come and raped the remains of the town, convinced they were harboring Albrook soldiers. As illogical as it sounded, (Mobliz being by all accounts a shell of buildings run by three adults and a score or so of children,) Siegfried had reflected that there was no right or wrong, and first and foremost, no logic in war. The innocent died, and the ones with the swords were called hero. Life was not fair, he thought, not for the first time.
His conscious mind and inhibitions seemingly put on the backburner; he quietly sat down next to Terra removed his mask, and dropped his hood. She didn't seem to notice until he grabbed her face and move it parallel to his own. She saw a roughly thirty year old man with hard lined features and a dashing face that was somehow familiar. He was something approaching handsome, but care lines had turned his face hard. He had a large hooked nose that was rather appropriate with the rest of his face, and a muzzle of black hair peppered with gray around his jaw. The hair on his head was much the same, which he kept tightly cropped to go no lower than the back of his neck. As she stared into the obsidian that was his eyes, she fell silent.
"Life will never be fair. War is a man made innovation, and it causes the inner most being of us to shine through. Children die, families die. But you must recall, we will all die," he said only slightly above a whisper.
She only shuddered and threw herself into his arms, crying. He recalled holding her for what seemed like an eternity while he swam in an ocean of emotion long suppressed. In the morning he would wake up in the same position.