A small, randomly-inspired piece chronicling the thoughts of an imperial veteran during the siege of Oruin during the Haram War. Yet another thing from my constructed world and original characters. Flamefang 15:37, September 19, 2011 (UTC)

Rain poured down upon the city of Oruin, accompanied by the constant thundering of battle to the east. As people slogged through muddied streets the evening prayer began; the sounds of a Disciple’s voice echoing between buildings in nothing more than a vain attempt to drown out the clamor of war audible on the horizon. Antin had learned to ignore the horrors of combat long ago, and so the words of worship reverberated all the louder inside his head. "The Eternal Father is our lord and protector, for he defends us in these times of great trial. Yet where he is our shield, we are his sword. Therefore, let us pray for those who have taken it upon themselves to embody his will; to become his sword, and thus smite the enemies of our great nation. Let us pray that they may stand, resolute, against the tides of evil arranged against them and emerge victorious. Let us pray, then, for their salvation, and that they may come home unto us, or unto him, in due time. May the flame of the father guide them forward, and receive them warmly when they return."

The water cascaded off roofs and into the street where it seeped into the bricks, mortar, and under the cobblestones. It seeped into his clothing too, spreading a terrible cold throughout, but this was nothing to a man who had served in the winter war. Nothing compared to the blizzards at the roots of the Granite Mountains, nor to the torrents of freezing ice and sleet; often tearing into more than one’s uniform and armor. No, despite the overwhelming fear that permeated the city and its’ people, Antin felt none. Some might call him traumatized, others might say he was mad, but he knew, deep down in his heart, that he was simply angry. Not only anger directed at those he fought for years, those he had learned to hate, but also against the very men who had sent him into battle, and those who had kept him there.

It was this anger that made him lash out; his boot connecting solidly with a bucket of some unidentifiable liquid, which then oozed lazily over the pavement. Some looked around and stared but his armor, even without its helmet, was intimidating enough and they diverted their attention without complaint. It took about an hour for him to finally find a friendly face, and when he did Antin was, for once, pleased. The sight that greeted him when he stepped out of the torrential rain and into a tavern was a hearty one, as often befitted the presence of Charos il'Alsha. The man was short, tanned, and marked by a permanent grin. He was also Kridean, as evidenced not only by the tone of his skin but also by the excessive exaggerated hand gestures which continuously punctuated his conversation. Ultimately, however, the man was his friend. Charos was clearly enganged in an animated talk with a pair of city dwellers and it took more than a pat on the shoulder to get his attention. When he did turn around, recognition dawned almost instantly in his eyes. "Antin.. Is it really you? I haven't seen you in months. Come and sit down, let's have a pint!" He beckoned to the patron, they were clearly on good terms already, and pulled out another chair at the same table he had presumably occupied prior to standing. As a serving girl deposited two mugs upon the table and Antin took a seat, the couple stared blankly at him. Antin stared back, and they dropped their gazes to the table's surface quickly enough. After a moment's silence, the two stood, and with a mumbled excuse, made their way out of the door. Charos studied him for a second, before grinning.

"You really haven't changed at all, have you?" Antin chuckled and returned the grin, though said nothing.

The Kridean took a sip of ale and turned in his chair. "You heard, right?" he asked.

"Heard what?"Antin responded, dismissively.

"The Legion's reforming, we're being deployed again."

Antin nearly choked on his drink. "That wasn't supposed to happen for another four months..."

"I know, I know, but look on the bright side: They're letting in the girls!"

"What, whores?"

"No you idiot, female soldiers. Then again... there may be some of them in the mix too..."

"They've gotten THAT desperate, have they? Mother save us..."

Antin cursed under his breath. The war must have been going badly, for them to go to these lengths. In its long history, the Imperial Military had never admitted women. It just wasn't done. Before it had just been a whole generation of men sent off to die. Now women too? He shook his head and took another sip of ale. Perhaps he'd at least have enough time to get respectfully hammered before he risked his life for Emperor and Empire again. Maybe, from that drunken stupor, he could look at the world again without feeling utterly depressed. He took another sip from his drink, "and so it begins again..." he muttered sardonically.

"That it does... that it does..." Echoed Charos; staring out of the window into the thankless night; its sky illuminated by the fires of battle raging over the horizon.

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