War Bound – Part 1

Courtesy of Ringling College

Courtesy of Ringling College

Ben Feuer, Lead Creative Writer

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The morning sun shone meekly, only dimly shining across Borus’s face as he awoke from a deep slumber. He was a married merchant in the southern kingdom of Malissea, with a small family consisting of his wife, daughter, and himself. They lived on a farm, and while very poor, lived a happy, secluded life.
Borus changed into thick clothing, for it was winter, and went to the house’s kitchen to greet his wife.
“Good morning, honey,” she beamed.
“Morning,” Borus replied. He was feeling unwell, something akin to either depression or a nervous stomach ache. The weather outside was melancholy and ominous, and he wondered if that was somehow linked to his mood. It was winter, and all of the trees lost their green. Snow covered the ground outside.
“Breakfast is on the table,” his wife said, now retrieving their daughter’s breakfast from the kiln.
“You don’t have to make breakfast every morning. You work too hard,” Borus observed. “Do you need any help?” “Oh, please,” his wife giggled. “Don’t worry about me. The hard work I do is a meaningful type of exhaustion. Besides, I am almost done anyways.”
“Fine, but promise me I can help you with everything else today,” Borus said. She smiled at him, and he grinned back, soon taking his eyes off of her to eat his meal. Hearing footsteps in the hallway, he stopped eating. Borus noticed his young daughter, with a ghastly pale and frightened face, enter the room. She held a red letter. Borus ran to her, embracing her, followed by his wife.
“Aramis, tell me, what’s wrong?” he asked, noticing tears in her eyes.
Aramis gave him the red letter. His eyes widened in shock, for it was a draft letter from the legion. Borus was just recruited for the war effort against the northern kingdom, a death sentence.

There was no doubt about it; the draft letter was for him. It had his name next to that of the sender. Opening the letter, he read:

“Ye are required to attend the capital of the kingdom of Malissea in compliance of a draft. Rejoice, for ye has been selected to give thou’s life for thou’s country. Ye who avoids this draft and flees, be it by land, sea, or air, is subject to the highest crime administrable by the court: treason. One who avoids this draft, along with their entire immediate family, will be hunted down and killed by the members of the king’s crimson skull guild.”

“Father…” Aramis whimpered, soon beginning to wail. After placing the note in his pocket, Borus gently embraced her, kissing his only daughter for what might be his last time. Grabbing a somewhat rusty, yet sharp, broadsword and shield mounted on a wall, he made his way outside to the stables, his wife running after him. He was about to mount his horse when his wife entered, screaming.

“What are you doing!?” She cried.
“Epsione, please, I-”
“No! You can’t just leave without saying goodbye!”
“This letter was supposed to be delivered a week ago. Most draftees are already at the capital.” Borus’s eyes were as tear filled as his wife’s.
“B-but”
“If I postpone this anymore, I then risk the guild coming after Aramis and you. I cannot let them take away my only meaning of life.” He began to break down. His voice stammered. “The crimson skull guild is a group of soulless monsters willing to do anything for money. I must keep you two safe…”

There was a long pause, and Borus held Epsione at arms distance. She began to sob as the two embraced.
“I love you,” Epsione gasped between the streaming tears running down her face and onto Borus’s shoulder.
“I love you, too,” Borus, a burly, grown man just slightly past his prime, whimpered as he cried alongside her. He would probably never see his wife again.

Borus rode at a breakneck gallop to the capital. It was well past noon by the time he entered its massive marble gates, and the legion was already mobilizing. There was a massive roll call taking place, and he was lucky that he made it in time to save his family. Borus dismounted his horse and noticed that well over a massive amount of men were in the plaza. It was a sea of militia, with only few well-trained knights sprinkled within. Dragons flew in the distance, near the king’s massive castle, which was still under construction. Giants toiled, working on building presumably all day and night. After roll call, the high king, a tyrant in his own right, gave an “inspirational” speech, repute with lies, dehumanizing the enemy. He explained that he planned to use the gathered force to lay siege to the capital kingdom of the north and that its king, his “mortal enemy”, must die. As the sea of militia cheered after every couple of spoken sentences, Borus could not help but feel lost both physically and spiritually. Armor and weaponry were passed out, and the entire army, including Borus, marched out of the cities gates through horseback. Despite the sense of unity and brotherhood, Borus knew there was only a slight, if any, chance of surviving in the battle to come. He was prepared to die in the name of a false king.

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