I woke up before sun rise and sat in my cot in the dark, sharpening my sword. Starfire had said that we were going to leave once the sun was up, so soon she and Tamwyn woke as well. Blaze walked in to the training center and made us coffee with out question. I took a cup grate fully, and took a long, deep draft from it, knowing I would need the caffeine.
Once we were up and fed, we finished sharpening our swords and put on armor that was a mixture of bronze, copper, and steel. It was ridiculously thick, but it was not heavy like you would expect it to be. It did not get in the way either, which was nice because I can’t really run with heavy stuff on my body. It felt like I was just wearing my usually cotton shirt and pants. I knew that the Earth tribe did not have as advanced armor as we did, so I was grateful for the advantage.
Soon, we were suited up and ready to go. We headed over to the lake, where we found soldiers already in lines, ready for take off at a moments notice. I took a deep, calming breath and stepped ahead of the crowd.
“Is every one ready for this?” I called over the crowd. They all nodded affirmatively. I took another deep breath. “Well then.” I said, more to myself than to any one else. “Here we go.”
We flew on for some time, and it was completely silent between our huge crowd. I am not going to lie – I was scared. Scared and worried. I mean, there was no way we could be out numbered – it is three against one. But they have better weaponry, and we can not afford to kill them all, so if they do not listen to us, then we will have to return home and prepare for the next time they attack. There will be no rest from this war if this battle turns poorly. We can not afford to lose. I touched my sword hilt lightly, feeling the smooth, cold stone. It gave me courage, some how, though not in the way Starfire’s sword had. But that was a much more experienced sword.
We touched down in front of the gates to the Earth kingdom, on the same land that we have fought them before. It was as silent as each time we had been here, and I wondered if the Earth tribe was actually going to show up.
Starfire took a huge breath and screamed out. “If you are not cowards, Earth, then come and fight us. If you are true Children of the Earth, then come defend what you have created. Do not be cowards; come and fight us!”
And one by one, from between the trees, appeared Earth soldiers. They kept building up and up, and soon I realized that they practically matched us in numbers. My fear grew.
They stood opposite of us, just standing there silently. Then one man stepped forward.
“You fools” he spat at us, but some of us laughed instead of being afraid. He glowered. “We are no cowards, and if you challenge us so, then we will kill you all. I will give you a second chance, a chance to turn back and run home. You have five seconds to turn around.”
“We are not going any where” I said loudly, and I even surprised my self in saying it. I cleared my throat. “We are staying right here, where we will fight you. We will fight you, and win!” Those on my side cheered and whooped and whistled appreciatively. The Earth man laughed.
“It is your own death wish, my friends. You want to fight us? So be it.”
He retreated back in to his crowd. I did not know what was supposed to happen next. My heart pounding insanely, I drew my sword. I took a breath and screamed “FOR FIRE!”
We charged them, and I heard calls for Water and Air as we ran towards the enemy. We met in the middle with a solid CLANG, hitting head on with the Earth people. I slashed and jabbed, blocked and parried, with Blaze on one side of me and Ember on the other. We slowed slightly, hoping to let the archers in the back on the hill get a clear view, but other fighters rushed forward passing us, and some how we were lost in the middle. The two groups melded completely together, and people were falling every where I turned. My mind was focused on one thing, and that was to take down as many Earth warriors as I could, and I tried so hard not to see their pleading faces, or the blood soaking my shirt as they fell. I tried so hard not to run away, not to cry, but to battle on, knowing that this had to be done, and that it was far too late to turn back. I refused to feel the pain of swords grazing my shoulders, of arrows cutting open my calves, or of shields being rammed in to my head. For one terrifying moment, some one knocked my sword right out of hands and I fell to the ground. I looked up in a daze to see a young looking girl with bronze colored hair and hazel eyes looking down on me with blood staining her cheeks and hate etched in every line of her face. I did not want to, but I set fire to her feet, which distracted her. I grabbed my sword off of the ground and ran straight back in to the fray, refusing to hear her screams as she desperately tried to put out the fire on her flesh. Every one was screaming, and I looked for ward to see who my next victim was. That was when I saw her fall.
A tall man lifted his sword high, and brought it down hard, right in to Ember’s shoulder. She screamed, and this time, for the first time in the battle, I screamed too, and I watched her collapse. The man left her for dead, but I knew that if I let that happen then Blaze would die too, and would never be able to for give him self for letting her out of his sight for even a second. I knew that if I did not get to her in time, Blaze would be destroyed, inside and out. I ran too her, just as Blaze got there. He was crying, and screaming her name, and I slapped him across the face to get his attention. He looked up at me, startled, tears streaming down his face, clutching Ember to him.
“GO!” I screamed in his face. “GET HER OUT OF HERE! SAVE HER BLAZE, SAVE HER DAMN IT!”
He nodded, tears streaming down his face. He hoisted her up off of the ground and began to run with her. I grabbed the shield of a fallen Earth warrior and ran with them, using the shield to cover Ember from further harm, using my sword with my left hand to fend off attackers while Luke used his right. Together, we made an amazing team, and we ran off in to the forest where we knew emergency healers stood by anxiously waiting for some thing like this to happen. We ran as fast as we could and soon people converged upon us. For one paranoid moment, I nearly be headed one of them, afraid that they were not the healers but more Earth warriors here to finish Ember off.
I was breaking through the enemy lines, taking down one man after another, feeling nothing but cool and calm, not letting my self hear their cries, or see the look on their faces; first awe, that I was an existing creature, then fear, as I raised my sword to strike them down, then pain and sorrow as they died. I marched forward, sword flashing left and right, unfeeling, unknowing, and not caring.
Luke placed Ember on a blanket and the healers went at her with needles and herbs and some strange purple liquid. They poured water over her face many times. Blaze punched a tree repeatedly, while I stood there gasping for air like a fish out of water. Please, Ember, don’t die, don’t die, don’t die. You can not leave Blaze, you can not leave Blaze, damn it! Please wake up, please…
Just as Blaze’s tree toppled over, I heard a splutter and a gasp and saw Ember crying and screaming but very, very much alive. Blaze nearly toppled one of the healers over to get to her, and the second he got to her his pressed his lips to hers. It did not occur to me to turn away and not watch them, so I did watched them, breathing a sigh of relief. He pulled away from her, still crying but smiling too.
The screams and battle cries were enough to make any one’s head spin. The noise was so deafening, even I could not block it from my mind. I realized that Blaze, Ember, and Flame had disappeared. I assured my self that they were fine, where ever they were.
“Blaze…what…what is going on?” she asked, looking dazed and confused. She had made no attempt to move but looked in to his eyes deeply.
“You nearly died!” he cried, almost sounding angry with her for getting a sword shoved in to her shoulder. “What made you think you could leave me like that?! Damn it, Ember, I love you! You can not do that to me ever again, damn it!”
She smiled weakly. “You love me?” she whispered.
His expression softened as he realized what he had let slip. “I – yes. Yes, I love you, Ember. Ever since we were kids I have loved you.”
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, and then opened them again.
“Blaze, may I ask you some thing?”
“Anything.” He whispered.
“Did you seriously not notice that I have always loved you too?”
And before I knew it they were both laughing and crying and hugging and kissing and for a moment I thought of nothing except that I was genuinely happy for them. But then a miss aimed arrow went whizzing over our heads, and then I remembered that a war was going on, and that people were dying and that I needed to get back out there and save the world, and that there was not enough time to have this kind of moment.
“Blaze, I am really, honestly sorry, but we need to get back out there and fight, and Ember needs to rest and heal. Come on man, it is time to go.”
He kissed her one last time, and the healers converged upon her again. He looked at the tree he had pushed over, and looked down to see that his knuckles were bleeding. He looked at them, mildly surprised.
“Kind of wish I had not done that.” He said, and laughed shakily.
I sighed heavily.
“We don’t really have time to joke around here. Come on Blaze, we have some Earth ass to whoop.”
He nodded, and we ran right back in to the onslaught, hoping against all odds that we were not about to die. Right on the edge of the fight, Blaze withdrew his sword and shouted “FOR EMBER!” and ran right in to the battle, ramming straight in to an Earth warrior head on. Blaze killed him with a single slash of his sword, and ran farther in to the fight, where I lost track of him with in a second. Then some one charged me and I really lost track of things. I sliced his shoulder and ran, hearing him shouting behind me, calling me a coward and other rude names I could not hear. I did not care, and just ran as fast as I could to catch up to Blaze, Starfire, and Tamwyn. I only lifted my sword to defend my self, and did not kill if I could avoid it. Some times I could not, though, but for some strange reason I did not even think any thing of it. It was like I was impervious to my surroundings, like I was there but not really a part of it, which is funny because some how, but just existing, I play an important, almost vital role in all of it. I just wanted to reach Star and Blaze and Tamwyn, though mostly Blaze, to see if he was fine and not completely round the bend. But the fighting got rougher, and more wild, and before I knew it I was fighting three on one, three huge burly men all with short, iron swords. But their aim was weak, as was their armor, and I quickly killed them all. Why is it suddenly so easy to take the lives of people I never knew? Why is killing so easy now? It should not be like this. It should not be, but it is. I hate this so much. But it is to far in to try and turn around now – we have to see this through.
Thank god, I finally found them. I ran forward, knocking a sword out of some Earth warrior’s hand as I went. Starfire did not stop fighting with the man before her, but when I killed him for her, she turned in surprise and breathed a sigh of relief upon recognizing my face.
“Oh thank goodness, I thought you and Blaze were dead!” she hollered over the uproar. “And then Blaze came back and did not tell me what had happened to you, I thought it was certain that you had been killed!” she slapped Blaze on the shoulder for not telling her where I was and what we had done.
“Ember was badly hurt.” I explained. “We took her to the healers, and yes, nearly died in the attempt.” I stabbed a man who had been sneaking up behind me, and then turned back to Starfire and continued the conversation as if nothing had happened. “She is fine now, and Blaze and Ember have professed their undying love for each other, blah, blah, blah, and now Ember is trying to sleep and Blaze has turned in to a crazy killing machine. So yea, that is the gist of what happened.”
Starfire whipped out her bow and arrows and shot three in quick procession, one right after the other, into the chest of a woman advancing on us. “How was she hurt?”
“Some big Earth guy stuck a sword in her shoulder.”
Starfire cringed. I noticed that even though she had small cuts and scrapes on her arms and face, she looked other wise unharmed. We began fighting the oncoming warriors side by side, but we kept talking to each other.
“How is it.” I shouted. “That you look practically perfect?”
She laughed loudly. “Flame, is that not obvious? It is because I am perfect. A perfect fighter, at least. Have you not caught on to that yet?”
I laughed too, while simultaneously shooting a tall man in the shoulder with a silver arrow. Some how, she was able to distract me from what was happening for the moment. But then we were separated, and I had to focus on the task at hand.
We were fighting. It was just like all the other battles, through all the other years, and all the other petty, stupid wars. I have fought in so many that they all just blend together in to one big blood bath. I can not distinguish one war from another any more; I have been alive for too long to tell the difference. There I was, with Flame on one side of me and Tamwyn on the other, killing one innocent after another, with no mercy and no thought, purely barbaric, like the humans we repent. We are no better, really. We are no better than those silly humans.
Every thing was going fine. Flame had disappeared, but I knew he was near bye. We were winning, and I knew that soon the Earth tribe would have to surrender and we would make our point. If they did not agree, we would have to leave them in peace, and feel like failures for not having saved the earth from an unfair fate.
Suddenly, the world slowed down. I watched the archer, so young and so foolish, shoot the iron arrow, with its lethal tip, watched the arrow fly.
And I watched it pierce Tamwyn’s flesh.
I watched him fall, as the universe crumbled in to a million pieces.
I screamed. I screamed and screamed until every fighter laid down their weapons, every warrior ceased their killing, and every child pretending to be a soldier suddenly grew young again. I screamed until they were all silent, I screamed until I knew they were all listening.
“Do you see now?” I shrieked, at an entire battle field silent as a grave. “Do you see how foolish this is; childish this is, petty and useless? Do you see how this war has been built upon silly grudges that have built up for thousands of years? Look around! Look at how many men and women you have killed! Look how many of your comrades have been murdered for a useless cause! Do you understand how hate has driven us all to murder? This is hopeless! This is pointless! You are not defenders of our planet, nor the protectors or the creators! You are the villains, the adversaries of peace.
“I refuse to take part any longer in killing those who are innocent for a war that is lacking a true cause.”
I looked down at Tamwyn, his lips still warm, just barely, and I felt the earth moving beneath me. My breath came in sharp gasps and I knew what had to happen next. Not only to save the world from a fate that was not meant to be, but because the only person I cared about, the only person I loved, was now gone, forever, and there was no way to retrieve him from the cold hands of death.
And they watched, as Starfire the Invincible took the arrow that had claimed her lover’s life, and plunged it into her chest.
And they watched, as Starfire, the fiercest warrior in history, collapsed next to her husband, blood pouring from the fatal wound, and grasped her husband’s hand.
And they watched as Starfire, the Fire soldier who struck down her enemies quickly and mercilessly, lay down gently, and took shuddering, long breaths, gripping her spouse’s finger tips, refusing to ever let him go.
And they watched as Starfire, the stuff of legends, the one gossiped about in fear and awe, the one they all aspired to be and wished to defeat, the one who’s name will live on for all of eternity, the one they all believed unbeatable, invulnerable, and immortal, smiled, and closed her eyes forever.
Silence. Absolute, utter silence, the kind that eats away at your very soul. The world was upside down, full of tricks and traps, like a giant maze, and suddenly I had lost the map and nothing made sense. I was waiting, numb with shock, for Starfire and Tamwyn to stand and begin to fight again, to tear the enemy down and win the fight once and for all. Nothing happened. Everyone was still as stone, like me, processing what had just happened, trying to understand Starfire’s words. I walked over shakily to her. She looked so peaceful, so serene, that I knew she could not possibly be alive. Their hands were intertwined. The arrow was sticking out of her chest, the feathers bent and broken. I pulled it out and wiped it off on the ground. The tip was lethal. I put it in my quiver, standing out clearly from the others. Something slid into place in my mind.
“Starfire” I said, my voice shaking. My face grew hot and wet, and I knew that I had not been part of Fire long enough to lose the ability to cry. “Star, I understand now. Sisyphus and the stone. There is a purpose, you know.” I was sobbing now, but my voice was audible, as everyone was still quiet. “I promise to never stop trying, Star! I will push that god damn boulder up to the top, and will fight until it stays there, because there is a purpose! Star, I promise! Star” my voice broke. I cried and cried, and no one said anything, for minutes, until another cry joined mine, and then another and another and another, until a whole battle field came to terms with what they had done, and cried for their loved ones, for forgiveness, for some thing and any thing. We all sobbed unashamedly, until the sun rose, granting us a new day.
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