The Brigade

War has plagued the village of Syrus for centuries, and when one fight kills almost an entire village, the only survivor, Tristan, seeks peace by journeying to hidden lands for answers. It's not as simple as it seems - not with the existence of a best friend-turned-traitor, a beautiful love interest with a harem of admirers and no faith in love, and an enemy far greater than he could imagine.

The year 2014, in Syrus. Bodies lay scattered on bloodied grass. Red emblems and blue emblems alike mingle.

The village of Lialec was always a cheerful one, but today, its field is eerily silent. For a moment, it seems as though all the beings on the field are dead. Motionless, they stay.

Those who survived have already escaped, few they may be. Escaped to their homes, their families. And what of those with no families to return to? This was war. This is war. And war is merciless.

A lone boy - young, tattered - struggles to his feet. His legs are weak, and his chest throbs. Whether that is because is chest is pierced by an arrow or because so many of his men are dead, he doesn't know. He doesn't wish to know. His dirtied boots crush the grass beaneath him, and he holds onto a nearby tree for support. The Lialiec Willow. A tree of peace, hope - the symbol of Syrus. A blessing from the village's goddess of Life. His red hands touch the light, fragile bark.

The wood reddens under his soft touch.

Feather-like leaves brush his forehead as he straightens up. His body shakes. What a general he is! Afraid of a few dead bodies. He's relatively new to war; boys are considered men when they turn seventeen, but he doesn't feel like one. Not at all. Generals, he tells himself, are supposed to be strong.

I am strong.

...aren't I?

The platinum spear in his hand slips, piercing the ground. The rass at his feet sway, as though there is a breeze. The general smiles, then clutches his jaw in pain. His spear is not finished yet. It'd last the day, but only barely. His trembling hands carve a symbol into the soft bark. It glows and his spear rises. after a few breaths, the spear falls back to the ground, and the glow fades.

He pulls the spear out from the soil and points it upward with as much strength as he can muster. Immediately, the arrow in his chest shoots out, falling to the ground. Blood falls violently from his chest, and the general hisses in pain. He drops to his knees again and tears out a handful of grass. Damn it. Would he make it home?

His narrowed grey eyes survey the field. So many bodies, so many dead. Nothing good came from the war, and he wonders what'd started it to begin with. Hundreds of years, and no reason. War was irrational. The villagers were irrational. This world - this world is irrational. He wishes he could change it, but change is irrational, too.

Above him, clouds part to reveal a magnanimous ray of sunshine. The sunbeam shines upon the willow; his bloody handprints are painted on the white bark.

He scans the field one last time. Brothers forced to fight one another. Relatives killing their own.

Why? Children dying, elders sacrificed. This makes no sense. He wants to run. Yes, to run. Escape. To travel to other worlds - he's heard stories of them, such wonderful stories. Rational. They were rational.

He stands as straight as he can and prepares his exit. There is no time to offer a proper burial to the dead. With one last glance, he makes his way home.

He knows.

Nothing can stay the same forever.

The End

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