Status: Ever so slowly being updated.

Unending Trails

A Still Night

With the crescent moon peeking over the hills atop the ruins of the fallen town, I shudder at the thought of a colder wind coming through the training grounds and ruining the already chilly temperature. Though I can faintly hear Nierman's words over mine, I still chose to parley with myself on whether or not I should tell him.

'I should probably let him know to walk faster before the cold hits.'

Don't. He'll most likely think you as being weak for saying it.

'Probably. Though I bet-'

"Are you listening to me?"

I instantly get ripped from my thought, as I look up from where my feet would go next in front of me, and look at Nierman's face staring back at me.

"Oh what? Sorry, I was just thinking about what happened earlier."

'Hopefully he'll buy it.'

"'What happened earlier?' You talkin' 'bout when I slipped during the sword combat? I'm telling you, the soil was too loose," he exclaimed, putting emphasis on his words as if it would have any other difference. He continued on, "If you're going to train in hand-to-hand combat, at least do it where you can actually stand. I swear, the instructors don't care about actual training..."

Consciously, I faded away from listening to another of his rants.

Maybe it would've been better to just respond with a simple yes or no.

'Ya think?'

Before I went on, I was worried that he'd catch on to me again on not listening, and would criticize me for losing interest in his words a second time. Funnily enough, I came back to him being his usual confident self, putting the blame on something else other than his lacking-skills.

"...would be at least the number one rank here, if they gave me a chance and could see what I can do."

"Right, right," I say as we near the quarters in which we were assigned too. Truthfully, I zoned out on everything he had said and only took advantage over him not knowing.

Just the thought of getting inside and being safe from the outside and all of the commotion brings me to an unexplainable contentment. So much so, that it brightens my mood, and suddenly Nierman's rambling seems more amusing and pointless —and yet, I am now more willing to put up with it.

The broken-down wooden door makes the usual creaking sound as he opens it swiftly. A very nostalgic sound that I hope to carry with me until the day I die, or to remember this place by; but I know I'll likely forget it.

"I am so tired, I could fall asleep while standing," Nierman exclaimed right before stretching out his arms and loudly yawning.

"Well, I'll be sure to wake you in the morning if you do," I responded.

I follow Nierman into the comfy room. He walked towards his bed and let himself fall face-first into the sheets, rebounding back and forth with the wooden frame creaking as the bed tenses under his weight. He lets out a deep breath that is audibly muffled in his sheets, as even he was too lazy to even lift his face from the relaxing feeling of the bed after so long.

I make my way to my side of the room and turn to him to sit down. I had forgotten of the lantern that I had lit earlier in the evening and was surprised that it had still kept its flame —though granted, it was barely surviving and had dimmed considerably since I had remembered lighting it.

'Guess it's just one of those days. Maybe we'll have good luck for tomorrow since it lasted this long.'

Nierman turns his head sideways, laying it on his pillow, "Well I'm going to bed early. You should too, we could be doing something worse than what we did today."

I was surprised to hear this, as this wasn't like the mighty Nierman I knew. Though I knew if I were to question his desire to sleep this early in the night, he'd again magically form some lengthy argument to explain why he did the things he did, while also comforting his own ego.

He lifted his legs over the edge of the frame and assumed a more comfortable position facing the wall.

Sitting atop my bed, I stare at the wall with hands clasped together, as if I was anticipating something, nervously and anxiously. Though ironically, I was anticipating just the peace and solitude that I had remaining during the night. Enjoying the calmness, as the other trainees had just gone to bed, and all was still. I smirk a very gentle grin, watching him drift to sleep just across from me with his back towards me, staring at the same wall.

'Some ego you have, but you let your innocence through it. Maybe one day you'll get the number one rank. I'm sure of it.'

So it seems that life is what you make of it. For me, it was something abhorrent, yet beautiful at the same time. A forced ride of the goods and bads. I have learned to accept my isolation. Well... something like that more or less. Though it wasn't because of my conscious realizing that I should. It was because of my numbness and my "new" found ability to understand that whatever happens, just happens.

'You know, me losing track of time and being able to never enjoy what true and extreme happiness feels like —or maybe will ever feel like, seems like a prime way to live if I do say so myself.'

Do you realize how depressing you sound right about now?

'Absolutely, and does that bother me? Not at all.'

Of course. Also, who was the one who told you that?

'If you're asking that to suggest that I'll forget about him, I won't.'

Right... I'm sure you won't.

Be mindful of what you say. Before you know it, it will be lost in a day's time.

'Yea yea...'

Of course, I can't attribute myself to being entirely responsible for my numbness. That honor would go to Felix. Average on almost every aspect on the outside, but his true virtue lies within his outlooks. I can tell that he's just like me, only more optimistic. Though regardless of what he is, the least I can do is provide honor through my life of remembering.

I suddenly break my train of thought as I come back to my senses when paranoia strikes me of what could possibly happen tomorrow. I may take Nierman's words for granted, but he is right about what he'd said. I lift my legs over the shoddy bed frame and turn the dimmed lantern to a close, with the moonlight now the only thing lending me to see a portion of the room from the cracks and crevices in the wooden door.

'I'll be looking forward on the day when I'm sitting on the porch while my children are doing all of the hard work and my beautiful lover is cooking my favorite meal, and suddenly I'll think back to the past of how an unsuspecting man in the militia changed my life.'

You'd be more lucky to get mauled by a wolf in a forest in the middle of the night.

I sighed a depressing sigh, as my optimism plummeted into darkness, and all that was left in its place was doubt.

'Right. But some guy he is though.'

Maybe he'll become something greater than just a militia fighter one day...

'Absolutely. But I still wonder why he is even here in the first place. Seems like he can have an even better life in Erramōr.'

He's most likely here on the same reason we're here.

You'd think that his optimism would've at least pushed him to something new though.

He's been here longer than we have. The militia is probably all he has ever known, or at the very least it's his comfort. Either that, or he's just unable to move on with his life.

'Makes sense to me. Though, I'm grateful nonetheless that he sees something even in me. Glad I can at least think back in the future and remember that something nice happened to me in this wreck. Here in the training grounds, I choose to be isolated.'

No-no-no, you just say that to hide the fact that no one wants to talk to you. There's a difference.

A little too harsh, don't you think?

'Shut up and let me have at least one time where I can have my moment... alright? Now, where was I again?'

Training grounds and your sophisticated loneliness.

'Right. The militia is tough you know. Not for the faint of heart. Though how I managed to escape poverty, I will never know. I'm at least grateful for the trainers to do that much for me, even if they all have their strict rules and teachings. But I can't help but wonder what I would've done if things were what they were years ago. Well... what I could've done at least.'

Dear Lord not again. Don't ruin the mood.

It's inevitable. Might as well pay tribute to-

'Just imagine, market streets open, conversations and laughter left and right, life going on as it was. The smell of the fresh air outside mixed with the commotion of the neighbors, the smell of the crowd, the warmth of the daylight. The circulation of life as it goes through its routine to fuel a greater feat than that of just living. The Tierredaviid that we grew up in. Makes you reminisce of mother and father in love, and Tristan coming home from training complaining of exhaustion. Being at least in the safety of a household, living life on satisfaction and warmth and sharing it with others.'

You act like the damn town was wiped from the map. As if it was its death. The sustenance of even the smallest community is one of the strongest forces in the world.

'True. But even you can't deny that what happened is permanent.'

Regardless of what happened, time will heal it. Tierredaviid will come back.

Say, you think mom and dad raised you enough to sit there and feel sad? What would Tal think if he were to walk in right now?


I became increasingly frustrated with my own harshness.

'Alright... now I'm ignoring you.'

So be it.

I shuffle the uncomfortable blanket off of me, exposing the rest of my body to the air. Almost instantly I regret it, as the air was cool. Figured it'd be better to be chilly then antsy.

'Though, I can't be stingy. I'm not the only one who lost family. I may have distasteful anticipations and thoughts about my family, but it will never change the fact that I sure as hell miss them. My ability to accept things may be true, but my ability to be optimistic isn't.'

Uh huh. Look, you should head to sleep. It won't be long until you'll stay up the night —and before you know it, you'll be runnin' on no sleep.

He's right. You'll thank yourself later when you don't pass out during practice.

'That would be smart. Just let me be. Eventually, I'll sleep.'

With the final thought of solitude, I stare at the stone ceiling above me, following the contours and rifts of the stone, as if it meant something to me. Luck must've been on my side when I was assigned a room with Nierman. Thank whoever's up there he doesn't snore. Another nice small detail that I can remember. I let out a sigh of relaxation, again appreciating the quiet peace of the room.

'At least I have peace.'

I knew that "eventually" meant more than it should've though. Of course, they knew that as well. As my "master" trickery had worked, I had drifted towards the thought of exploring. What it would be like, what it would take. Maybe that beautiful wife is somewhere out there —that I knew for sure. Though I stop myself from fantasizing, I can't help but wonder what it'd be like to go out to another kingdom. To tell your parents that you were moving to Impierra, or Ties-Yicslin, —somewhere else towards the east and getting a supportive response or happy encouragement with a barrage of questions. I let out a chuff of doubt.

'As if.'

My mood changes to a nostalgic sentimental sadness, as I remember that now I am alone... forever. A free world of endless possibilities... and yet, I don't know what to do with it.

'Mom and Dad, hope the Creator has a place for you.'

I close my eyes, take in a deep breath, and relax my mind, preparing myself for the day ahead of me. Sleep envelopes me, but I can't accept it. Strangely, I feel a presence of thought, constantly bothering me. The feeling of another with me, even through my imagination. In the darkness of rest, I make out what seems to be two glowing lights. Eyes possibly? Could be my own eyes playing tricks, or my imagination.

No... no —that doesn't make sense, it wouldn't make sense. It won't go away. It's almost as if it was reality, as if I can stride closer to it in my mind. As if I can get closer to it in the void of my mind. Surely it can't possibly be me. In my wake of questioning, I can feel myself letting go of reality, slipping further and further to slumber. I'm too weary to explore —too lazy to even interrupt my relaxation, and in my final thoughts, I rule it to be just me. It's just my imagination...

'Some imagination I have...'

Before I drifted off though, I had noticed that it was the same lights that had shifted. They pointed towards a direction I couldn't see —or rather one I didn't bother looking towards... staring at the distance. Though, I'm too tired to investigate, even to ask in my mind; too tired to ask. I let go to the last bit of reality that I can sense, and drift towards a sweet fine calmness.
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Thank you for taking the time to read this. For newcomers to this story, I welcome you to something I've been planning for a long time. Those who wish to see more of this and are waiting for a new update or new chapters, I sincerely hope that you can stay patient with me in this series. For those of you who are confused with the overuse in italics, the protagonist in the story often converses with the other conscious voices he has, which results in the confusing internal dialogue —though I am experimenting on how to give subtle hints to avoid confusion. For the protagonist's own conscious voice, I use apostrophes around italic sentences, while his other voices use standard italics. Thanks in advance again for giving this story a chance.