[RP Episode] The Bloody Ballad


#141

Turning back around to focus on the young soldier, Halatir’s eyebrows shot up slightly. ”Oh? Who would that be?”


#142

‘‘Xi-Wan, nice lad, been here for a while. Not the brightest tool in the shed though.’’ Ren explained, ‘‘He is in the barracks moving his stuff to his new cot right now, you should go say hi.’’

And indeed, rummaging could be heard from upstairs, then a thump, followed by swearing.


#143

”I see.” said Halatir, his eyebrows hoisting themselves a little higher than before. He headed back into the barracks and looked up at the ceiling.


#144

The noise continued, and soon enough, Xi-Wan appeared down the flight of stairs at the far end of the room holding a rather large bag of who knows what over his shoulder. He did not pay much attention to Halatir, who was intently observing what he was up to, nor to Liang, who was vigorously scribbling something away in to one of his notebooks while laid down on his cot.


#145

As the Niirai barged through the barracks, paying no heed to his surroundings, Halatir decided to get it over with. ”Hello there, friend.”


#146

The elf dropped his bag straight in to the chest next to his cot, and closed it.
’‘What?! Oh. Hello. Do i know you?’’ he asked with an odd glare in his eyes.


#147

”No, I do not believe so.” said Halatir, sizing up the elf. ”I joined the unit yesterday. I was told you were joining our squad.”


#148

The elf straightened up, he was a scrawny fellow, even for a Niirai. He had silk smooth black hair, which was obviously well tended to, and was neatly combed, with his face well shaved. His eyes had no pigment however, and were of a pale white colour, which was so very rare between Niirai that it was somewhat uncomfortable making eye contact. ‘‘Uh, yeah. So it would seem. My name is Xi-Wan.’’ he introduced himself, and in an instant his eyes flared, he snapped to attention, and saluted Halatir, ‘‘Are you the new lieutenant!?’’


#149

Halatir chuckled, while he gazed at the eyes which were so similar to his own. ”No, I am not an officer. Not yet, anyway. At the moment, I am a simple private. My name is Halatir.”


#150

‘‘Oh.’’ replied Xi-Wan, sounding almost disappointed, ‘‘Well met.’’ he nodded and returned to his bag of goodies.


#151

As the elf turned away, Halatir shrugged, and lay back down on his cot. He closed his eyes, and thought back over the events of the past year. He’d been enslaved, fought in the arena, ‘escaped’, learned the language, traveled to see the monks of the mountains, been visited by a god, joined the Niirai army, and killed a griffin. A frown deepened across his brows. During the fight with the griffin, the Niirai soldiers had been extremely sub-standard. They were militia, true, but even so, when attacked the unit cohesion vanished, and soldiers panicked or charged in headlong. Halatir began to hope that perhaps the warriors with whom he would be spending several years might have some skills in the theater of war. He pushed the thought of his mind, wrapped himself in his cloak, and fell asleep again.


#152

‘‘Arise!’’ he suddenly heard yelled out loud just beside his cot. It was Liang, who was apparently feeling poetic. ‘‘You’ve slept through much of the day, which i hope will do you good during our night watch, which begins in a moment. Come.’’


#153

Halatir instantly rolled out of bed. In a flash, he was wide awake. Then noticing that it was just Liang, he grinned. ”If you wish to speak in an archaic fashion, you should learn to speak my tongue.” he said. ”It is not full of, but practically consists of more flowery words in general, at least when translated.” He buckled on his sword belt, and placed the dagger beside it. ”Lead on.”


#154

‘‘You will be posted on the ground floor, next to the armoury. Its a fairly calm spot where the cold isnt that bad with the roof overhanging just enough so the winds aren’t that harsh. Ren and Wei-Yong will be stationed atop the watch tower, while i’ll be atop the old bridge.’’ he explains, ‘‘Xi-Wan will be at the back entrance of the main hall, the front is already adequately visible from both the bridge and armoury.’’

They come up to the front door of the barracks, and Liang shoved it opened, letting in the cold night winds. It was snowing outside, quite heavily, and the ground was covered in thick layer of it. Footsteps back and forth could be easily made out. It was very dark, and there were a number of torches lit about the outpost, but they were struggling against the weather. As two soldiers from the last night shift retired to the barracks past Liang and Halatir, one of them could be overheard complaining to the other, ‘‘Blasted torch went out at least half a dozen times! When are we going to get some lanterns already…’’ and the other asked, ‘‘You think a candle is better than a torch?’’ at which the first one chuckled, ‘‘Hah! No! I mean those big encased ones you have mounted on walls…’’
’‘Oh, so a sconce?’’ the second asked again.
’’‘Noooo…’’

Liang escorted Halatir to his spot. It was definitely cosier than standing out in the heavy snowfall, which wouldn’t have been an issue for Halatir either, because he would definitely take the cold better than anyone here, but this wasn’t a crucial guard post, and neither was it considered difficult to watch, especially since it was visible from two other posts. Halatir was still the new guy around though. Or at least, Halatir’s post would be reasonably visible from two other posts if it weren’t pitch black outside and pouring snow.

‘‘Here we are.’’ pointed Liang, ‘‘Try not to fall asleep after just waking up. Its too easy to daze off. I’d recoment pacing around a bit. And if you can help it, keep your touch lit, that’ll mean you are still among the living. Or at least, those of us who are awake.’’ he smiled.


#155

”Fear not. I have stood many watches before.” Halatir pushed his cloak out of the way, scooped up a handful of snow, and washed his face with it. He grinned at Liang. ”It’s a lovely night.” Snow was already piling up on his shoulders and head.


#156

‘‘That’s what i like to hear. See you in three hours then.’’ Liang bid Halatir farewell, and left.

From his post, Halatir could see up and down the entire road that ran through the middle of the outpost. It was covered by snow now, so the roughly cobbled paving could not be made out. The footsteps that lead back and forth through the snow slowly began to fade, and where there were enough of them, the small snowy pathways formed between the barracks and the main hall where there was the most traffic were all that remained. The snow persisted through out the otherwise uneventful night. More so than for anyone else, Liang’s hand held torch went out often, and it usually took him a minute to light it back in this weather, but in the end, his light always returned. Halatir could see the tower as well, its torches shined through the darkness, but he could not make out either of his comrades at its top, only dark silhouettes from time to time.

Halatir could also see a feint glow of Xi-Wan’s torch from around the corner of the hall across the road, if only on the thick white snow, which made the glow stand out. It went out and came back as he re-lit it, until at one point, it went out, and it didn’t come back…


#157

After waiting a few minutes to make sure it wasn’t just an accident, Halatir looked towards Liang’s post, where a light still flickered dimly at the end of the path which Halatir had beaten into the snow with his pacing. He whistled, trying to get Liang’s attention rather than abandoning his post. When that failed, he shouted.

”Liang!”


#158

Liang turned to face Halatir, still atop the overpass with his lit torch.
’‘Yes?!’’ he shouted back, eyes peeled to make out Halatir’s form through the snowfall below.


#159

”Xi-Wan’s torch is out. It’s been five minutes since he relit it. Requesting permission to investigate.”


#160

‘‘Granted!’’ he yelled back accompanied by a swing of his unoccupied hand.