Unending Trails

The Oddity of Normalcy

I awake to the rustling of Noah’s movement and the yelling commotion outside our quarters. Still woozy from the sleep, I open my eyes to a blurred sight of Noah’s side of the room, and faintly I can make him out walking back and forth around his bed.

‘What does today have in store for us this time? Any ideas?’

Hopefully nothing too punishing.

In time… we will know.

I pause and question the voice that was different. It sounded intimidating and evil —and yet, I relished in it.

‘Oooh, when did I get so evil? I like it...’

Sounds like you’re turning into a monster. This is probably how they all turn. They fall down and seek to rise, but inadvertently leave ruin —like in the tales of what mother used to read us.

Don’t listen to him, he’s trying to get you paranoid. Pretty sure everyone has that evil side to them. Ours is just emerging from its slumber…

A slumber indeed. It has been too long...

‘Hm. You guys are like a bunch of kids.’

Look who’s talking.

It was true...maybe it was me. Maybe my mind is getting darker, more evil; like a brooding demon inside me, changing my personality to fit its mysterious and evil needs. I chuckle just alone at the thought of it.

‘Nah, that would be too cliché. Maybe we could develop it. Make it have a story.’

Now you just sound stupid.

I snicker at the response I got. Though it was more than just a response in my head. I had grown to know that one personally. The harsher one —the one that always ridiculed me, but it was for the good of my well-being; That I understood. Even in the most crucial times, I could always count on at least something to cheer me up, even if it was witty wordplay.

“Look who it is. The knight in shining armor has finally awakened to begin his odyssey. It’s about time.”

I look up and see Noah almost in uniform. I take his words in carefully, wary as to not instigate anything too rash that might kick up unneeded dust. Though I could not lie that I was gleefully open for the day, and decided to prod at him.


‘I’m in a good mood, why not.’

“It’s about time I finally get the recognition I deserve. By the way, did you polish my armor like I had asked, peasant?”

“Fuck off.”

I let out a smile as I stretched out my arms to their maximum reach, satisfied with the response I had gotten.


Hmm… quite aggressive, that one.

‘It’s Noah. He’s always like that.’

It had let out a low and audible breath out after I had said that.

I had already taken a liking to the ominous one. It was short and observant, yet it spoke with such abstraction. Like a poem —it spoke with mysterious words, and yet I had still understood it.

‘Hmm... maybe I am becoming a demon.’

“They haven't said anything yet, but I’d guess they will give out orders in a couple of hours. Better get ready,” he said as he was walking towards the door.

‘Ah, so they did. I should probably get ready.’

“I’ll be where they are serving breakfast if you need anything.”

Though I was not startled from the break of the quiet rustling we previously had in the room, I was certainly surprised to hear the sudden creak of the door. I stare up, blinded by the light entering the room as Noah was already outside. And just like that, the door had slowly closed itself, and the room had grown dark except the rays that had seeped through the openings of the old wooden planks.

“Right,” I exclaimed lazily and alone in the room.

I began my usual morning practice. I had wondered—I had it all planned out; maybe it had evolved during the few years I was here, or maybe I had deliberately planned it for efficiency.


‘What to do, what to do. What was the order again?’

Your trousers first, shoes, then your shirt, your gloves, then your buckles.

‘Ahh, its the shirt that always gets me.’

We’ve been here for this long —and you still can’t get the order?

‘Well I had never thought it to be that vital in my routine. It’ll stick to me one day. Just give me a few more years. Also, it’s been almost a year.’

Hm.

‘What? Does that surprise you?’

No-no —not at all. It’s just that I will never get used to that number.

You're just too touchy to admit it.

I had thought long and hard about the response. Almost a year into the militia, and I’m still the same. It had been quite a time ever since the fall of Tierredaviid. Indeed, it was such a shame that it was destroyed. I had tried to think back to the exact date, but my concept of time was almost completely out of the window at this point; it was impossible to spit out dates. I had guessed on one and a half years of the city being destroyed… one and a half years since the last time I had seen my parents. One and a half years is what I usually went with —give or take a few. Even he was right; that would be the fact I will never get used to. It was the usual routine down memory lane as well. Houses burning, the screams of the people as they were all flocking down the Eastern side of the town, and the night sky being lit up from the blazing fires of houses being razed.

And here I am, doing fine —well at least to my understanding I am. I chuff and let out a depressing half grin as I had just put on my gloves. Next were my buckles. Too many to count, even if there were only about three to tighten. Three buckles is three buckles too many.


‘Hm. One and a half years… feels like it’s been more than that.’

A slow bellow came forth, only to extinguish itself seconds after —like a deep breath out. In truth, I knew it was the ominous one. I can tell it would be another voice that would often talk, just like the other two.

I had finished fastening the last buckle on my shoe and stood up looking down at myself while brushing my pants and torso down to wipe off any dirt. It wasn’t much to go off of, but I was at least confident in that I wasn’t in rags and worn out clothing.


‘Not bad. Though it would be better if I had draping silk with ornamented ruffled clothing. Say, you guys think I could pull off the noble look?’

Absolutely not. Even if you did have that kind of clothing, it’ll look stupid on you.

Agreed.

‘Hm. Probably so...’

I had walked out the door as it had made the usual creak again, immediately noticing the sun shining bright out. It had blinded me, so much so that for a second my eyes had hurt, despite the flash just minutes before when Noah had left.

Jesus man, it gets us every single time. You need to stop that, it’s getting annoying.

I had smiled just at the thought of opening the door every single day, only to be blinded time and time again. I had known that I started to purposely do it, though I regret it now as it had become the usual process in fully waking me up, even if it was a slap across the face. It just wouldn’t feel the same throughout the day if I hadn’t have done it.

I continued walking as I was looking through the smallest squint my eyes could go to and relied on my ears to guide me to the commotion. I tried to listen for any clear words and sentences that I could make out, and if I was lucky, I’d get to eavesdrop into someone’s conversation.


‘Hm. Where should we head off to before training starts? I’d say the shady spot under the tree Better hurry to it before anybody else takes it.’

Well it is hot, but it’d be smart if we grabbed something to eat first, otherwise, you’ll regret it.

‘I should, but I don’t feel like eating. Especially the bile they serve here. Would rather starve it out. We can head down to see what the guys are selling by the gates.’

Hm. Suit yourself. Just prepare for the hunger pains.

You know we’re running short on coin, right? What ever happened to our agreement in preserving it?

‘It’s inevitable. Though I’m not looking forward to running out. Might see if I can do a bit of chores for Mary or Eli. I’m sure Eli has a few, knowing him.’

Sure hope so. You’re playing a risky game, let's hope we don’t get unlucky.

I had finally made it to the usual spot under the old tree where the shade is ever so relaxing. I had felt that I was indebted to the tree, as it provided me with what I had thought to be my ideal spot. Quiet, shield from the sun, and relaxation. Indeed, I could go as far as to say that this tree is probably what held my sanity to this world. Though I owed it nothing, and all that it has offered to me was free —and that’s where the beauty of it was.

Laying against the massive sprawling trunk with a calm wind blowing past, rustling the leaves and branches which made that usual ambience of the outside, and topping it off with a gorgeous view of the Northern mountains; nothing better in my eyes.


‘If ever I die, I wish this to be my slumber.’

I highly doubt you’ll die peacefully. That would be too much of a luxury.

Indeed it is…

‘Right. Maybe if I prayed to Erus I’ll get a peaceful death. Devotion is the anodyne to reality after all.’

I was observant towards the other trainees, and what they were doing. Some were relaxing just as I was, others were in small groups, conversing to their heart's content.

‘I see that the usual guy is reading at his usual spot.’

I had looked to the left of me, under a tent to see the same boy I see every now and then reading yet another book.

Hmm… his name’s Wesley, right?

Probably. I know for a fact that it starts with a ‘W.’

I had admired Wes for some time now. I had a deep understanding and respect for his upkeep in peace and seclusion. I could always bet on Wes reading, even if there was some kind of commotion about the trainees; it was something I often found humorous. Though I continue to regret not befriending him, as I’m sure we’d have a lot in common. Well, in certain aspects at the very least.

‘Poor guy. I bet he was forced into this.’

That’s probably why he’s always reading.

‘By the way, how much time can we guess on having left before orders are given?’

I’d bet on a little less than an hour.

Well that should be plenty for a quick nap, don’t you think?

‘Just what I was thinking.’

I had closed my eyes while still keeping myself aware of the ambience of rustling tree leaves, and had stopped on focusing on the commotion of conversation altogether. I had calmed my thinking, though the instant I did, all that I could think about was the pain of my position. Who would’ve thought that finding a comfortable spot on rough tree bark would be so hard? I had shuffled a number of times before I had finally found that sweet spot. Soon enough, the sound around me grew ever so quiet as I enjoyed what little time I had left.

‘What I would give to die a peaceful death… I truly wonder.’

...

——————————

...


I awake suddenly to the calling of my name and open my eyes to the brightness around me again. Though it only takes just a second for my eyes to fixate my surroundings, I can see Noah walking towards me.

“Yo, Liam! How many times have I found you here?”

“Not enough,” I muttered jokingly.

I had strained in using my full voice from my meager nap that I had gotten and instead opted for a more calmer and quieter tone.

“Well wake up you sloth. News just got passed that the trainers are withholding on schedule, so they’re giving us a free day.”

“Really? Well I’m not complaining.”

“None of us are. I’ll be in the practice fields with James if you need me,” Noah exclaimed as he turned back walking into the direction he came from.

In all honesty, I had heard of the name James before. Though I did not care to get to know him, I went along with what he said and pretended to care. Again, I wanted to keep up my playful sarcasm just to annoy him.

“You? Out of all the people, I would’ve expected you to be the last person training on a free day voluntarily.”

Noah had turned to face me while still walking backwards in the same direction, sprawling out his arms. “What can I say? This rank one physique doesn’t get handed to everybody, ya know?”

“Sure sure,” I responded with a half grin as I watched him turn back around, still keeping his movement.


‘Should we tell him where we are going before it’s too late?’

It would be smart. Though, it wouldn’t matter in the long run. Let’s go before someone else bothers us.

I had shifted my legs to stand up, and as I was rising to balance myself, I had noticed a slight headache at the back of my head. Though it wasn’t an annoying one that completely pulses with pain, but rather a much more onlooker that would warn me not to do anything too rambunctious or move too swiftly.

‘Oh for the love of god, I really shouldn’t have slept at all.’

You should’ve known. It would be reasonable to think that sleeping against a tree with the heat in course would at least come with a price. A devil’s gambit, and you my friend have lost.

‘That is true. Hopefully it doesn’t get worse. That’s all we can do for now.’

I had begun to walk through the small outcast of a forest up the hill to Tierredaviid, keeping a watchful reminder in my head not to walk too fast. A sweet reminiscence of the trail I’ve walked countless times. For each tree I had passed, each stone that had moved not a single inch from the last time I had gone through here, I felt a little more at home. It was the oddity of normalcy through the outside that had gotten me. Even though I was going to ruin, I was going to what once was my home.

‘Well, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen Eli and Mary. Let’s see what they have in store for us, shall we?’

Hmm… indeed we shall...