“I promise, Dad,” Soren replied with genuine sincerity.
The deep crimson sun was slowly descending, and only half of it was visible above the horizon of the Badlands. The blue and white twin moons of Makelo would soon begin to replace the warm embrace of the sun with the shivering cold grasp of the infamous Makeloan nights.
Garik’s voice entered gently into the silence:
“Tell you what… if you can be home within the next hour, I’ll let you sit up here. But do not cross that line, Soren. You must promise me.”
“I promise,” Soren said with a delighted, heightened tone.
“Alright then,” Garik sighed. “I’ll see you home within the hour. I love you, Son.”
“I love you too, Dad.”
Garik patted his son’s tiny back with his large, callused hand, and stood up. He stretched his arms outward, and a loud crack came from his spine.
“Ow!” he said, laughing.
“Was that your back?” Soren questioned, giggling along with his father. “You’re getting old, dad!”
The two found humor in Garik’s aging bones, and then he dismounted from the flat top of the Wall.
“Remember, Son,” Garik said before turning to embark for home.
“I will, Dad!” he called out behind his father. Soren turned to face into the vast expanse of dust and decay; it was magnificent.
He rummaged around in his satchel, which he was given several years earlier by his mother, shortly before her death. From its depths, he removed a pair of white, boxy binoculars. They were a basic, outdated model used by Coalition scouts during the war; he found it lying in a heap of scrap metal outside the barracks, and claimed it as his own.
Through them, he looked into the Badlands. Soren scanned the horizon, looking for Bastions, enemy troops, or anything else, really. But nothing moved, save for the thin screen of dust above the topsoil, and the occasional berryhawk - a native bird of Makelo, ironically named due to its carnivorous nature - hovering above rock piles.
He lowered the binoculars into his lap, and his shoulders sunk. His thoughts of adventure, heroic combat, and strong Coalition soldiers bled into ones of his mother, Nira;