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Sayara thrust in her sword, leaning back to narrowly dodge his attack. The swords clashed together with a high clink and an array of sparks shoot over his face grit with concentration. She jumped back and he lunged forward, but as he did she dodged and he fell. She put the tip of her sword on his back, brushing her sandy brown hair from her sweat filled face.
“I win.” she let him up and smiled. The world melted around her to reality, with wooden practice swords and her father.
“Yes, good job Sayara.”
“I know you let me.”
“No I didn't! Youre a wonderful warrior.”
“No, i'm going to be a healer and save you idiots throwing your lives away.”
“We’re keeping you safe. Besides, youre only 12, you have plenty of time to make up your mind.”
“War is stupid. Why both getting hundreds of people killed?”
“Sometimes people have reasons.”
She huffed. “I don't see why the Ravenfeild armies have to attack.”
“You will someday.” they went in. her training kept up, despite her complaints that it was stupid. Soon, her dad, a soldier, had to report back to the battlefeild.
“But dad- why do you even have to go?”
“It is my duty, and because I need to protect you and the rest of Avyrs. Protect your mother while I'm gone.” he kissed her forehead, gave her his spare sword, and left.
2 months later they recieved word he was killed on the battlefield. She knew what he would have expected her to do. Weep and wail. When she and her mother recieved word, her face hardened. Her mouth set into a stony, grim line and she stood and left. She sat in her room and didn't come out for a day.
Why? Why was this war necessary? What land or power was worth innocent lives? And what money was worth it for brave soldiers to throw away their lives? She hated war! She hated Ravenfeild for starting the war, and she hated Avyrs for sending her father off to fight. She would heal, and she would do her best to stop war and save soldiers. When she walked out of that room she was different. She didn't cry and she didn't show emotion. She threw herself into the art of healing.
Three years passed. She kept up her fighting practice, if only to defend her mother, who had become sick with grief after the report. Nothing she did helped, but she tried to defend her and take care of the house and such. They rarely spoke, and when they did her father almost always managed to come up, and her mother became deeply ill again.
She kept up her practice because she had promised him. She hated the sword she held. It stood for war. She couldnt practice her healing yet, the coin she managed to make from odd work all around was only enough to keep them fed and the lord happy. Next year she could apprentice to a healer and the money from that could keep them alive. She was close with the village healer, it would go well. She was more like a mother to Sayara than her mother.
She walked into town to see what she could do for a spare coin, the village took pity on her, if they had something broken or needed some help they would often hire her for what they could afford. Sh heard the thunder of hooves- the lord was in town, or one of his army. She glanced up at an unfamiliar soldier in half armor, his face exposed. He drew his horse to a halt and she stopped, staring curiosly. He waited and the crowd grew, maybe that was intentional.
“Hello, good people. I come from the king with news.” he mind flashed back to a messenger from the king- with news. Of course, he wasnt from the king directly, the king didn't care enough about one man.
“There is a wonderful chance for any of your not employed by your lord with training in arms to showcase your skill and gain money.” something didn't ring true, but she stepped forward all the same. A few others did, and the crowd behind murmured.
“You are all trained in swords?” the woodsman, who could use his axe to kill a bear, stepped back. There were just 3 of them left. He tossed down his sword to another, at whos feet it landed, embedded by the tip in the groud.
“I need to varify that you are actually capable with a sword.” the man picked it up and awkwardly slung it around. He clearly had never used a sword before. The village laughed, as did the man of the horse.
“I think we’ve seen enough. Sir, go home.” the man walked back dejected. The other man had similar results. The horseback man glanced at her skeptically. She knew why. Two men had failed, how could a 15 year old girl do any better? She met his gaze and lifted the sword from it's graceless position on the ground. It was heavier than hers, but that was ok. She went through her standard rountine, allowing her muscles to kick in.
“Well then. How did a peasant girl learn to use a sword like that?”
“I'm no peasant. My father was a soldier.”
“Well, I hearby conscript you in the name of the king to be a soldier in the kings army. You will leave with a portion of your lords men at dawn, and you will recieve a paycheck to be delivered to your famliy.”
“What? No, I didn't agree to this! My mother needs me, she cant look after herself!”
“The war needs you. You will go tomorrow and you will fight. Hire someone to take care of her, I don't care.”
“She’ll go mad with greif! Haven’t you already hurt our famliy enough?”
“Look, girl. It's not my job to care, it's my job to get as many soldiers as possible. Now go get ready.” He left her and her protests.
“Hello, mother.” her mother looked passed her, as if seeing her father walk home. Thats all she ever saw. That and his death.
“Mother, I need you to talk to me. This is important.” her mother looked at her.
“There was a man in the village today, a soldier.” her mothers eye filled with hope and she shook her head. “He was looking for pople who could fight, I figured maybe for a tournament, so I stepped forward… mother, I was conscipted.” she let out a cry of dispair and hatred and turned around.
“I’ll get a paycheck. I'm going to hire someone to look after you.” she walked into the village and found the healer. Her eyes told her sh had heard.
“Hello, miss Haviti.”
“I'm so sorry dear, I heard the news.” she tried to hug her, but she shrugged out of it. She wasnt looking for comfort.
“I need someone to look after my mother-”
“I’m terribly busy.”
“I know, but they’ll send a paycheck and I wanted someone I trust to manage it. I can find someone my age to take care of her directly.”
“Alright. Child, i'm so sorry.” she shrugged and turned, leaving.
Her mother was sitting up waiting for her when she got home, tears hidden away in the corners of her eyes.
“Mother, you’re up.”
“I'm sorry ive been like that. I should have been with you.” she shrugged an turned away, stoking the fire. She wasnt sure she wanted her mother closer, she didn't like what she became and she didn't want her mother to see it.
“I’ve hired a caretaker for you. You’ll live off the paycheck I get until I can come home.”
“I don't think I will.” it was a whisper, she wasnt meant to hear it.
“What do you mean?”
“Nothing, don't worry about me.”
“Well I haven’t got anything else to worry about.”
“Worry about coming home.”
“You leave at dawn?”
“I’ll take care of everything today.”
“Stay well as I’m gone. And if things go poorly on the battlefield, leave me in the past. Take care of yourself.” she had a feeling they wouldn’t see one another again. She didn't know if she would die or her mother would, but they both felt this was their last parting.
“I…” they sat in silence, her mother cooking dinner. It was far too grand, too expensive. But as far as her mother was concerned, it was her last meal.
“Go to sleep mother.” she would be gone before she woke up, the parting would be too hard for her.
She woke up in the quiet of the morning, before the grey of dawn crossed the horizon but with a few stars faded out. She stood and walked to her mother to whisper goodbye. The body was still. She had died. Sayara didn't cry or pause. She didn't have time. She just buried it deep with her father and the crimes of war. Another grievance against her country.
She stopped by Havitis house and informed her of what happened. She would arrange for the money to be delivered to her. She saw grief in Havitis eyes, but neither spoke about it. Haviti hugged her goodbye and she felt hot drops of water land on her neck but said nothing.
“I’ll see you when you get back, and then you’ll be my apprentice like we planned, yes?”
“Yes, ma’am.” she didn't think she would. She didn't know how she would change- if she got out alive.
“Goodbye.” she nodded and left for the lord’s castle.
She was met by a portion of his troops. The man in charge of them told her to march with them and she would be dropped off at a training camp. She fell in at the end of the line. Nobody paid her attention, and when they made camp the most she got were judgemental stares. She ignored them and took the moment to box away her mother. She didn't grieve, she just took it and poured it into her hate and anger as fuel.
So, she was an orphan now. And a soldier throwing away her life to prolong war. Sent off to feed the beast. Nobody would win, both sides would lose. Even if the war ended in one sides favor, it wasnt worth the price. These men were being sacrificed to the awful, ugly east that was war. She was too. She was going to kill. Break families. Send messengers to inform the heartbroken people who stayed home.
Avyrs had taken her to be pitted against the victims Ravenfeild had picked. She wished she could fight the war itself. She wished she could take back the stolen lives. She wished she could take back her father. Her mother before it happened. Herself before she was changed. She wished she could fight for peace.
She was woken by an awful horn. She packed her stuff and they kept marching. Every step she tooked she imagined stepping down her impossibe dreams. Trodding down peace. Burring the fantasies and stepping towards her death in the jaws of war. Going to empower a monster, and if she were lucky, maybe survive.
What memories would she take if she survived? Grunts of men she knew she killed, their eyes filled with their famliys. Was it worth surviving if she had to take that away? Was it even worth surviving as she was now, in a half life, her every breath being labored by the war? So many useless questions with no answer.
The march was 8 days. They reached the training camp and left her, marching past without pause. She walked into it silently and reported what was happening. She was assigned to a room with all the other women- less than ⅕th of the overall troops, and with more arriving it was looking like it would total at 1/10th. She had 2 days toget settled in, at which point it would be assumed all the new recruits had arrived that were going to arrive.
Of the few women, there was only one girl her age. Sayara was setting up her few things on and under her cot when the girl approached her.
“Hello, whats your name?”
“Nice to meet you, I’m Satriya, but my friends call me Triya.” she waited expectantly. Sayara continued what she was doing.
“So, how come you’re here?”
“We were all conscripted!” Satriya laughed.
“Yes, I know. No idiot would be here if they had a choice.”
“Some would, but then they’d already be in the war. I was asking how you learned to fight to get here, and how they got you to tell them.”
“My father taught me. They came in and implied they were looking for fighters for a tournament or something, with a cash benefit. I was the only one who was actually competent.”
“What about your da?”
“My father was a soldier. I was going to be a healer. My mother was happy. No use dwelling in the past.”
“I'm sorry, Yara.”
“Don't call me that.”
“Ok…” Sayara finished and sat on her bed. Satriya looked hopeful she might better keep a conversation.
“So I know someone else our age, shes a lot like you.”
“Why are you so grumpy?”
“I wonder. Might have something to do with my conscrition. Or my mom dying. Or my imminant death.”
“I'm sorry. When did she die?”
“The night before I left.”
“Ouch. thats terrible.” Sayara shrugged but didn't respond.
“So do you want to meet her?”
“No. You’ll probably drag me over anyway.”
“Yep!” Satriya pulled her across the room to an out of sight area with an angry looking girl with straight black hair and eyes in shadow sat.
“I told you not to call me that.”
“Sorry, Tavadi.” she and tavadi glanced at each other. She could tell neither wanted to be meeting each other
“Are you going to talk?”
“No.” both said.
“Well, this is Saya.”
“Don't call me that.”
“Oh you’re no fun. So, lets do icebreakers!” Sayara glared at her. She felt the energy of Tavadi doing the same.
“So, we already know each others names, lets go in a circle and tell one intresting thing about yourself. I’ll start. I’m the bakers daughter, but I learned to fight because my brother got drafted an trained as a soldier. When he came home he taught me.”
“Lucky he came home.” Tavadi said.
“I know…” Satriya whispered. “Well, Sayara next!”
“Urgh. heres something: i hate talking about myself.”
“Oh, that doesnt count! What are your dreams, or your favorite animal? Your full name?”
“Sayara Kahana. I was going to be a healer.”
“Great! Tavadi next!”
“I hate this. I don't have dreams.”
“Ok, how did you learn to fight?”
“I watched boys practicing so i could come to the war and fight someday. I wasnt ready yet.”
“Wow, you want to be here?” Satriya said.
“Of course. If i fought maybe the whole thing will end. The Ravenfeild war affects every life. I was going to stop it. I guess i'm going to try now.”
Sayara glared at her. “No! Don’t throw your lie away! War is evil, you’re just prolonging it!”
“Yes, war is evil. I'm helping.”
“No, you aren't.”
“Hey hey, calm down. Your both helping the way you can.”
“I cant stand by and let some idiot willingly rolong the war.”
“None of us are here by choice, thats what she was going to do.”
“Fine.” Sayara spit. They moved on and kept doing the stupidest icebreakers, Satriya carefully avoiding the war.
“Alright, i'm going to go grab some food, you keep talking.”
“Fine. Goodbye, Satriya.” Sayara said.
“I don't do nicknames.”
“No.” Satriya left, dejected. Sayara turned akwardly to Tavadi.
“I don't think she’ll leave us alone.”
“You don't seem so bad.”
“Thanks. Who have you lost to the war?”
“My family. I had 3 brothers. They and my father all went off to war and died. My mother left when my father and 2 brothers were dead to try and bring back the third. I never saw her again, and got word soon that the last was dead. What about you?”
“I was an only child. My father was a soldier, he taught me to fight, to defend myself. When he died, my mother got ill from grief and I closed off. I took care of her since i was 12. When I got conscripted, she couldnt handle it. The morning I left, she was gone.” Tavadi nodded. Sayara smiled a little inside, glad she didn't try to apoligize or comfort her, she just understood.
Satriya came back with some rations for all of them. “Hey guys!” her blond hair danced over 3 bowls of rations she carried. Neither responded, just watched her.
“Were you keeping up the icebreakers?”
“Both of us hate that.” Tavadi said.
“Aw, but how do you get to know each other without them?”
“We talk. Like normal people.” Sayara said.
“Ok, then we can talk…” Satriya dominated the conversation, and she and Tavadi only had to say a couple words in response. But she got the feeling Satriya wasnt so bad. Maybe she was just like that to guard against the war. Like Sayara, but the oppisite.
“It's dark. I'm going to bed.”
“Aw, so soon?”
“Hey, look at that, it is dark. Do i get left in peace to sleep?”
“Fine, i can take a hint…” Sayara and Tavadi exchanged glances. No, she really couldn’t. They dispersed and wet to sleep.
Sayara was woken up by Satriya.
“What?” she moaned.
“Morning. Come on, you’ll miss breakfast.” she followed Satriya to a mess hall with long tables and benches, lined by scared women who clearly had a lot of experience. Satriya dragged her over to a seat with Tavadi in a relativity unpopulated area. Tavida rolled her eyes. Sayara glanced at her apologetically as she was pushed into a seat.
“So, once everybody gets here, theyll test us and put us in categories. The most advanced of us will head off to battle immediatly, and the rest will get training and besent off in groups after a certain amount of training. I hope we’re in the same group!” Satriya said.
“How’d you find that out?” Sayara asked.
“I talked to some people in charge, i don't know if they were trainers or guards or what. They were really friendly!”
“They were?” she said, mostly to Tavadi. The look she got back agreed. They went back to their cots, Satriya went off to explore. Sayara got up and went over to Tavadis cot.
“Well look at that, shes not being dragged! Whats the occasion, somebodies birthday i missed?”
“Well i figured id talk to you, without… happy girl. You seemed cool.”
“So, whats your plan out there?”
“I only plan to las a day. I'm going to go right into the center of them and kill as many as i can before they take me down.” a fire entered her dark eyes. Sayara turned her face away. There was no need for conflict here.
“I never got any real training healing. Ill try my best to help though. I’ll only kill if i have too. I don't know what would count as have too though, i don't know i have anything to survive for. Maybe to save another.”
“Don't be weak. We’re here to kill. Don't you want to do your duty to your country? Defend it?”
“You sou d just like my dad! Look where that got him! A broken famliy and a grave on the side of the battlefeild!”
“Stop.” they turned to see who was talking. Satriya stood there, a grim expression on her face.
“Thats not the point, Sayara.”
“How would you know?!”
Satriya met her eye strong, serios. It struck a nerve, the diffrence from the normal girl.
“Quit being selfcentered. You think the war didn't affect me? My best friend died too, i know exactly that youre talking about. Youre just adding another line to divide us!”
“Thats not the same, you didn't lose famliy!”
“I meant my brother. My best friend. But you don't see me asking for pity?”
“I never do!”
“Oh really? You just dragged him into it to help your point. How is that respecting his memory?!”
“I wasnt- you said your brother came home.”
“Only once.” Satriya looked down. When she looked back up, the hardness was gone from her eye.
“I'm sorry, that was hippocritical. I dragged my brother into it while scolding you for the same.”
“I didn't know.” Sayara whispered and touched Satriyas arm. Satriya brushed it off and smiled at them.
“So, want to go see the place?”
“Sure, Triya.” she and Tavadi nodded at each other discreetly. Triya smiled.
“Yay! Can I call you Yara?”
“Aw, ok. Tavadi, you coming?”
“Yeah, sure.” Tavadi rolled her eyes privately. Triya dragged them around the base, and several vetran men who got dragged back to the battlefield glared at them. They returned to their barrack and sat around doing nothing. Mostly because of triya. She could have been thinking or practicing, but they had to make useless small talk.
“So, what group do you think you'll be in?” triya asked. Both shrugged.
“There are 10. Group one leaves immediately, group 10 leaves in maybe a year. I hope we’re in the same group.”
“Well ive been practicing every day for years. You only briefly learned the basics. How long have you been at it, Tavadi?”
“Years. I managed to get a real sword, too, though i couldnt bring it, it's not mine.”
“Well, you'll probably be better than both of us then, i trained primarily for defence and she only trained a little.”
“I only started using an actualsword when i was 13.”
“How old are you now again?”
“I'm 14.” Triya said.
“I don't think ill actually do my best when they test me though, id rather get in the extra training.” Sayara said.
“Hm, that might be a good idea.” Tavadi said.
“Hey, maybe you'll be with me!” Triya said.
“Yeah, maybe.” Sayara responded noncommittally. She didn't know how she felt about the idea.
“So lets go practice, i guess. Sayara, can we use your sword?”
“Sure. but we might want to get you swords from them, so we can duel each other.”
“Good point.” they spent a good deal of the remainder of the day practicing.
“Alright, tomorrow they test us. I'm going to do my normal best.” triya said, somewhat nervous.
“Ok. goodnight.” Sayara said. It was returned by the others.
The following morning they reported with the rest of the barrack, which did make up a minority but was enough to fill a barrack… with a couple extra cots(this is based on mediveal times. Don't get after me that theres a gender disadvantage, i am massivly stretching it to have women being conscripted at all.). They were told to file into orderly lines based on where they stood. She followed Tavadi as instructed. They stood together toward the back of an intensly long line, fortunately, Triya had been doing something else when they were called out an was in a different line. She would have loved to talk their ears off all day.
“So which group will you aim for?”
“I don't know. Maybe 7, plenty of time to hone my skills but i can still get out there. You?”
“Probably the same, i don't want to be stuck here forever.”
“Is that sword your fathers?”
“Yes. he gave it to me before he left for war and told me to defend my mother. I kept my promise, which is why I'm here.”
“Do you want to go home?”
“What do you mean?”
“I wonder what we’ll take away if we get home. Is it worth it?”
“I think i can do the most if i go for it. I don't expect to survive day one.”
“You could at least try to not kill for a few days, to guage the battlefeild.”
“I guess.” they lapsed into silence. They spoke intermidtantly until early afternoon, when it was tavadis turn. Sayara could tell she was holding back, but only because she had seen her fight before.
“Month seven. Next.” she dueled him, purposefully letting him best her repeatedly. She was nervous, she couldnt tell if she was doing too well or too poorly.
“Month seven. Next.” she relaxed inside and followed Tavadi to the barrack, where Triya already stood.
“Hey. did you get 7 too?”
“Yes. what about you guys?”
“We’re all 7s. So he said 7 months, i think thats how long we train.”
“Well yeah, of course. Didn't you know?”
“Uh no, i didn't.”
“Ok, well i'm glad we’re in the same group. Can either of you write?”
“No.” both Sayara and Tavadi said.
The next 7 months blurred together. All of them saw solid imrovements, but they were worried about Triya, who was still behind. Well, she was at the standard place for sevens, they were just ahead. They also became good friends, though she and Tavadi remained closed and showed little to no emotion.
“Right. 7s, it's time to march off to war. Now you already have the training you need, so your to follow me to the battlefield. We’ll join with some more soldiers on the way.”
“See? War is so unsustainable, imagine where they got those soldiers from? There's too much death.” she whispered to Tavadi and Triya. They both ignored her. The march was 5 days. She tried not to see the camp in front of her, starved men, wounded, with haunted eyes. She couldn't help it. She swallowed hard and tried not to see her father as one of those men. But too many looked similar to him in the uniform.
She swallowed, and some fragment ofwhat she saw must have reflected in her eye, Tavadi gripped her arm and kept her up. She composed herself, pretended to be ok. Like always. She didn't know how but they got to a camp. They were going to be part of the same group, all the 7s. They were the only girls, so they shared a tent.
They spent a week learning their way around the camp before their first fight. She tried to wipe her mind of some of the thing she saw, people returned from the field, death in their eyes. She felt it weigh heavy on all of them, but none vocalized it.
Then the awful day arrived. Tavadi held herself different, straighter, more focused. Her eyes shing sightly, and not in the shadow of her hair. Triya wassmiling and being as annoyngly perky and optimistic as ever, but she could see fear hidden just behind it. Sayara was grim and determined, barely saying a word.
They were sent out, stayed at the back of the ranks where they were safest to get a feel for it. Sayara saw to much though, and she could only iaine what Tavadi saw at her height. Men rushed at one another from each side in rows, throwing themselves at each other, and then they heard an awful sound of clanging swords and chaos and blood. Men threw themselves to their deaths for nothing.
They returned at dusk, and none of those from the battlefeild took a watch. But she didn't sleep all the same, visions of the battlefeild played over and over in her mind, and she was afraid of what she might see if she were to close her eyes. The seed of hate was growing quicker, up and up in hr towards her heart and throat, to crush her heart and strangle her.
She rolled over, refusing sleep, but the solitude was almost more terrifing. Any evil could lay in the lonly shadows. Tavadi and Triya were awake too, she heard Tavadi fake snoring, which she never did normally and she was doing a terrible job of faking it. Triya whimpered slightly occasionally, but her still, huddled form made it clear she didn't want to be noticed for being awake.
At some point she just sat up. She couldnt feel so alone anymore. They took that as permission to sit too.
“I thought you were asleep.” Tavadi whispered.
“No, but at least I'm decent at faking.” she sighed. “Are you guys ok?”
“No…” Triya whispered, as if to not be heard. Sayara leaned in and hugged her. She felt her relax slightly. Tavadi hugged her too. Sayara drew a little comfort from them, knowing they all felt the same. They broke apart and sat huddled in a circle. Sayara lit a candle to disperse the shadows, but the dancing shadows cast by the small candle were almost more terrifying.
She clearly saw their eyes, now. War danced across them, followed by fear.
“I don't like this war… it's not what i thought.” Tavadi said.
“I don't like war. Did you see them throw themselves on each other and die? For nothing?”
“Not nothing. Next time we go, i'm going to do everything i can to end the war.”
“No, not end it. Prolong it. Feed the war more blood, more fuel, prolong it.”
“No! I'm going to kill them and you wont have to worry about war anymore.”
“What about them? What about the men who will never go home? What about the fatherless children? The starving widows? They have families, waiting, hoping that they'll return. Families you want to shatter.”
“What about us? They shattered our families!”
“How many lives have been lost?”
“Well, on our side maybe-”
“No, how many lives? It's ot about sides it's about lives, not land, not war. Human lives, human families, human blood, human love. Broken. Thats the point! Not ending the war for one side or another. We've both lost already. Why keep killing?” sayaras voicesteadily raised from a whisper, though no angry shouts broke out. Tavadi didn't reply. She wasn’t angry, Sayara couldn’t quite read her, actually. Triya didn't reply either, but she hoped she agreed, that was what she chose to get from the expression.
Sayara stood and brushed aside the tent flap, taking a spare candle with her. She started searching for healing herbs in the light of the moon and candle. She took all she could identify in the camp, plants that were seen as weeds. She stayed in the camp, mostly because of safety and somewhat to avoid awkward situations of being acussed of deserting. Sh picked all that she knew what to do with and put them in a satchel to take to the battlefield. She would heal. She would die soon, but she would heal.
She returned to the tent. Tavadi was pretending to sleep again, triya was watching the tent flap axiosly.
“Do you know when they’ll force us out there next?”
“Yes. day after tomorrow.”
“I wish it was tomorrow. If they didn't give us time to think about it.”
“Maybe. What were you doing out there?”
“Getting fresh air.” she glanced at Tavadi, who was obviously not actually asleep.
“Lets try and sleep.”
“I don't want to.”
“Neither do I. We’ll be right here, I wont let you have a nightmare.”
“You need sleep too.”
“Lets set up a watch.”
“There are already guards out there.”
“I mean among us. We take turns and make sure nobody has a nightmare.”
Tavadi sat up. ”Good idea. Ill take first watch, Sayara can take second, Triya, you take third.”
“Oh look, shes not asleep.”
“I know you know i was faking. Go to sleep.”
“Ok.” she and triya said. She tried to, but mostly tossed and turned. Finally, she fell asleep and instantly saw death. Then she saw triya and tavadi fighting, dieing. Throwing themselves to be killed. She ran to them and tried to save them, but her herbs were missing. They were used, on the ravenfeild soldiers. She felt herself being shaken awake and looked up at tavadi.
“Sh. it's just a dream.”
“No. not for long.” she ignored any replies and told her to go to sleep. She woke up both of more than once. She didn't wake up triya to take a watch, she didn't want to go back to sleep.
The next morning they were all exhausted, dark circles under their eyes and a gaze holding nothing. Everyone ignored them. It was their first fight, it was expected, nothing wrong. Hate surged briefly, and the seed grew. Hate for war, not the people. It wasnt their fault. They had seen more bloodshed than her. They day was short. She kept collecting herbs, and that night her sleep was dreamless in her tiredness. During her watch, she woke Triya from nightmares twice and Tavadi once.
That night she woke Triya for her watch, though late. Triya needed sleep. Her sleep was peaceful enough, mostly so she would actually get sleep. Too soon, she woke up. She checked her medicine kit. It had everything she knew she could use, and some bandages she had made. They were dragged to the battlefield, but not in the back this time. They were 3 rows from the front. They were going to fight.
They stayed mostly silent. They all wanted to talk, to hear something besides shouts of pain, but none had the courage. The second wave of soldiers, that in front of them, surged out. She watched, sadly, her stomach churning. Then she saw a man, fallen, shouting for help. He had a wound that would kill him if it wasn't treated. She didn't look at his uniform, she didn't care about actual healers. She ran forward and dragged him to the side, ignoring his screams. He was ravenfeild. He thought she was going to kill him. She got out her healing supplies and helped him, ignoring what she was meant to do.
She finished and looked up. Her line had run forward. She saw so many dead men from ravenfeild, and in the center, Tavadi. Her heart dropped. This was Tavadis dream… she ran forward, but it was to late, Tavadi turned to kill another, but a man behind her plunged his sword into her back. She couldnt run fast enough, her legs felt like they were treading water, or air, or pain, and tavadi was falling, falling so slowly, but she saw the blood. There was no hope. She didn't care! She ran into the center of them, ignoring the blood and fighting on either side, and tried to do anything to save her. She looked up and saw Satriyas face, stricken. Satriya collapsed, not of a blade but of shock, and started screaming. Everything blurred together.
She kept trying to save her, her uniform and hands were stained from the blood, she knew she couldn't help. She looked back at triya and ran toward her, knowing she couldn't die, she couldn’t let triya deal with that. She tried to hug her and drown out the sound of the battle but she couldn't. She saw Tavadis blood spread onto Triya and couldn't, she couldn't put the blood on her. She backed away and tripped. They both just lay there, not able to think or feel or worry about getting hurt.
At some point the sounds of fighting died and they were retrieved, both uninjured. They moved like robots, unable to see anything around them. Apperently being shocked like that was normal, somebody made them eat and got her to the healer because of all the blood on her. It stained her, forever. Her hands would never be clean, no matter how long and hard she scrubbed them. Neither would her heart.
What she didn't see was the blood feeding the beast. Not the beast of war, a beast in her. Hate. it snaked up with every tear she shed and every engry thoughtshe harbored. She felt it being fed, but she thought it was war. It lied to her, protecting itself because she couldn't kill the war, but she could kill it.
The healer cleared her as fine and somebody took her back to the tent. She and Triya embraced and stopped moving. After maybe an hour they broke apart and her brain started to work again. She instantly whiped the confusion from her face and became grim and focused once more. It seemed to wake up triya. She tried to smiled, but couldn't.
Sayara turned to give her some privacy when she sensed the tears coming. She ignored the shuttering sobs and waited for her to collect herself.
“Yes. and we’re fighting again tomorrow. I'm going to go collect more herbs.”
“No, please. Stay with me. Especially tomorrow.”
“I have to save anyone i can.”
“You have to save me. Please.”
They survived the following week. And then month. They grew closer, and triya grew happier and bouncier every day. Outside, anyways. Every time she saw someone wounded or dieing she got brighter. Sayara knew what to blame. War. she hated it with every breath in her body.
The next battle was like most. She prepared ahead of time with herbs, she had to kill someone to protect Triya, and then she saw someone injured. He had a broken leg, he would be killed if he didn't get help. She ran to him and made a quick splint.
“Run, quick.” she said and helped him up. She turned back to return to Triya when she saw a blade fall. It plunged into her back, but this time would be different, this time she could help! She ran to triya nad draged her out, shaking. She tried her best, ignoring triya shaking her head.
“No, save it for someone else. You cant do anything…”
“No! Triya, don't leave me, please! I need you!” she shoke and redoubled her efforts, pouring tears onto her.
“Save someone else.” triya said, and then the blood slowed, her eyes rolled back, and she was gone.
“NO!” she screamed into the sky, ignoring everything. She shoke out her bag and tried to use everything, including stuff she knew couldn't help.she didn't stop, the rest of the day, she just kept roboticlly rearranging it. Again, a soldier came to collect her. It was a reapeat of when Tavadi… left. But this time, she didn't have triya to comfort her. This time, nobody stayed to chase away the nightmares, to save her from the shadows. This time she was alone.
That night she had nightmare after nightmare. Tavadi and triya blaming her, tavadi and triya dying, everyone she ever tried to help saying they died because she failed. She felt so alone. And it was because she had tried to help that man with the broken leg, tried to save him. She remembered his uniform now, ravenfeild. She had saved a man and because of that, she couldn't save her friend. Someone she said she would save when Tavadi was lost. She took off her medicine satchel and left her tent, like she had before to find herbs. This time, she found a fyre.
She threw the leather bag onto it, watching emotionlessly as it was consumed. The light of the flame flickered on her face, casting the shadows that had terrified her when she was new. She watched the bag consumed by the war, as she was consumed by the hate. No, she wouldnt save someone else. She was done saving someone else. She was going to destroy. She was going to destroy the war like Tavadi said. She was going to fight.
The next day she was in the battle, only a few months from the end of her conscription, she walked into the battlefield and took her place in the first row. She charged with them into the fray, threw away her life and ended the lives of others. Like Tavadi. A cry of rage behind her made her turn to see a ravenfeild soldier lunging at her, trying to plunge his sword into her heart. A man threw himslf in front of her, but the uniform shocked her. Ravenfeild. The soldier aiming for her killed him and he fell. She saw his face. The man she saved when Tavadi died. She gasped and paused, when she felt a sword pierce her lung. She fell and gave up.
Just then she felt something come out. Herself. Before her father never came home, before she was conscripted, before Tavadi and Triya. She looked at the monster of hate and war laying there dying and fell back in surprise. How could she have become so twisted, so warped? The last thing Sayara heard was the cry of a child- her.