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✠Without a Title, yet not without a Purpose✠ (1 Viewer)


Just some ghost
Patron 7

"Do you feel it coming? The end? Like the final chapters of a good and long book, finally at its' closing climax."


Within the servant quarters of the White Palace there came the echo of a yell, a screech of panic. Then there was long silence, followed by the footsteps of servants outside the chamber of the Butler, coming to investigate the noise. After a moment of hushed whispers, the door opened and out stepped the tired yet seemingly calm Johannes Fisher. With some quiet words, he sent them all back to their night responsibilities or back to bed, and then he himself returned to his own.

He did not fall back down to sleep, however, but sat there upright on the edge of the bed, thinking, his eyes drooping with weariness.

{You'll be fine in the morning. . . it was just a dream, nothing more.}
He thought to himself, as his hands came moved to cover his face, and his thumbs pressed in against his eyes.

The next day he was indeed fine, though obviously tired, the dark bags of sleepless nights showing under his eyes. But he performed his duties just the same as he always did, with as much precision and timeliness as he could afford. Tea at this particular hour, certain guests to be greeted at the door and brought to the seating area, the silver cleaned, supper and dinner ready at the exact time so that the food was warm and at its' best- and so on, and on.

When he retired to bed that night, the same dreams that had been haunting him, ever since he received the Lord General's letter, returned. And he awoke at the same hour, during the same trial of the nightmare, in a pool of his own cold sweat- though at least this time he did not yell, and no one came to investigate.

He tried to forget the vision of what he had seen and return to sleep, but the haunting words "If you were half the man He was, you would've been here. You would've done something, but no, you left me here to burn." Then there was fire, and screams- and then he would open his eyes, gasping for air as if the imagined smoke had truly been choking him.

Sometimes he would find himself waking, yelling his panicked responses. "I'm sorry!" "I am no soldier, I couldn't have!" "You gave me no choice!" "I didn't know!" "Don't go." But only darkness and silence remained when he awoke, and no one to hear or answer his cries.

He then recalled a part of the letter he had received in answer to his inquiry about his mother, something about returning and serving his country. A call home, an expectation. Of course such was warranted, he was nineteen- already a year past the expected age of enlistment. But he had not been called when he turned eighteen, for the world had been at peace and seemingly would remain so forever. And so he did not heed the tradition of every Hestark to serve their country for a time before returning to civilian life. . . he chose to go to a foreign nation and find work instead. But now that had changed, and war was at the gates of the Fatherland.

{And because of this, you weren't there for her.} The thought came to him like a knife to his back, his own conscience betraying him. {How could I have known?} He responded to it as if he were in a conversation with someone else. {Does it matter? You should've been there, and you were not.} Then his eyes were wet, and his throat felt very dry.

He rose up on the bed, and reached for the glass of water that resided on the nightstand beside his bed. But as he held the glass close to his mouth, it slipped from his grip- and with a panicked movement, he fumblingly grasped the glass, the water spilling out onto the floor and on his sheets, the glass saved but his drink wasted. As he went to place the glass back on the table, he noticed his right hand was trembling, and after he had let go of the glass, his left hand came to grasp it as to stay the shaking. {What am I afraid of?} He thought, mouthing the words silently as he grew more conscience and aware.

{It's not fear, it's shame.} He heard himself think, the words sour and painful. {And now, as the heralds say, another city will burn soon. And you will not be there, as were not there when Altenach burned and your mother with it.}

"What could I do so stop it?"
He said, this time aloud. "Who am I? I am not my father. . . perhaps he could've done something, but I am not. . . I am not a hero."

{No, you are not. But even if you were simply to burn with the city, then burn is your duty.}

"What worth is a soldier who's only purpose is to burn and die?"

{No more than what you are worth.}

Silence then as Johannes dared not respond to his own mind's taunts. His eyes closed and he meditated a while in haunted thoughts of burning cities, and soldiers following orders as they ran into the flames and were never seen again.

But then came the thought of something his father once told him. "A worth of a man is measured not by their wealth or title, but by their willingness to do what is needed. You, Johannes, have the purpose in life to do what is needed doing at any cost. That is the way of the Hestark, or at least what it should be." He had been told that when he was only five or six tsels old. Barely able to grasp the many ideals his father tried to teach him. He hadn't thought about this one in a very long time, perhaps not since he was first told it- and yet here the thought emerged, like a whisper from the past.

"I'll do what is needed. . . for you father." The taunting of his inner thoughts ended as he said that, as if they were a final blow to some devil playing tricks on him. And he was no longer shaking. He fell back down upon his bed and closed his eyes, and fell asleep. He had the dream again, but this time he was watching it as if he was afar off- and in his right hand he held a sword, and in his left a shield. And he was no longer afraid of what he saw. . . even as the world burned.

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