Ira marched up and down the courtyard. It was beginning to get colder and his breath was rising up in steam. He busied himself with thoughts of how proud his father must be and kept marching. The lieutenant called a command and he yelled “Sir, yes, sir!” in unison with the rest of his platoon.
After the morning march there came breakfast; usually salty porridge and water. Then there was target practise, which carried them through until the afternoon. After that there came sword practise, which Ira was very good at. Then they had some free time before dinner, but they were expected to clean their boots and polish their weapons ready for the next day’s training.
Ira remembered the time in his second week when he didn’t do this and shivered. He had got a sore beating for that and was made never to forget it by his fellow soldiers. He hadn’t wanted to do this when he joined; he had just wanted to be admired like he used to admire the soldiers marching by the orchard. Now he didn’t care about glory; he just wanted to fight or go home.
After two months of gruelling tests of strength and agility he was finally ready to go to battle. He tried on his new armour and looked at his reflection. He no longer liked what he saw. Most people would have seen a handsome nineteen-year-old with a slim figure and fine blonde hair, but he just saw himself as someone who was treated differently from the rest because he was an elf. He turned and walked out of the armoury to collect his weapons for the next day’s departure.
After the longest night of his life it was time to leave for the battlefield. He lifted his pack and waited in the cold, dark courtyard for the lieutenant to appear. Gradually all of the soldiers turned up and arranged themselves into orderly squads of about twelve. Ira stood with his back poker straight and his eyes facing the back of another soldier’s head. They set off as the sun began to rise.
In mid-afternoon they got out some stale biscuits and ate them, but they didn’t stop for long and fifteen minutes later they were marching again. After hours of somniferous marching they reached their campsite. They set up the tents and went to bed after a quick meal.
The elves had the morning to prepare for battle so Ira wrote a letter to Euphrasia. He said how much he missed her and wished that she had never gone. He put the letter in the pocket of his finely made tunic and placed his armour on top of it. He kept thinking of how she must hate him but he couldn’t help loving her. Then he sat twiddling his thumbs and waiting for the evening to come.
After a few hours the lieutenants began to put their soldiers into their platoons. “March!” he ordered, and the elves did so without question. On the way to the battleground Ira saw a dead crow hanging from a fence and wondered what it would be like to die. He imagined that it would be somewhat painful but then that was it. He wasn’t afraid to die. Not anymore; he hated the life that he was living. When they finally got to the huge expanse of open ground on which they were to fight he got his bow ready.
It seemed as though it was only minutes before the enemy appeared, seemingly from nowhere, and he was ready to fight. The first order from the general passed through his head without him realising what it meant, and he didn’t shoot until he saw all of the others doing so. He heard a blood-curdling scream from someone in the enemy side, and they rushed forwards. He drew his sword and began to hack at anyone who came towards him.
Soon he was splattered with rebel blood, and he was almost sick. He kept on hacking, trying not to think about it, but thoughts of Euphrasia kept coming into his mind. Somebody rushed at him and he stabbed her. He looked down at her pale face and was horrified to see his sister looking up at him.
She looked terrified, and he saw her say, “You promised.” He looked up, his eyes cloudy with tears, and saw a tall man run towards him.
“NO!” the man yelled. It was Calamintha. He lunged at Ira and the sword went right through his throat. Ira dropped to his knees next to Euphrasia and smiled faintly.
He stared straight into Cal’s eyes and said, “Thank you.” Calamintha screamed in rage and stabbed Ira again. With his last ounce of energy, Ira lay down next to his beloved sister and drifted quietly into eternal sleep. He was happy now, and his last thought was a hope that Euphrasia had not felt any pain, and that they would meet each other again, someday.