|Unit Class:|| Mounted Unit|
|Requires:|| The Order as State Religion|
Orders from Heaven
|Starts With:|| Does Not Receive Defensive Bonuses|
25% Withdrawal Chance
Immune to Disease
|Info:|| 6 +2 Holy|
|Special:||Will abandon civilization if state religion switches from The Order|
The guardsman, Nathan, has died. It seems we will have another burial.
Valin checked Nathan and gave one more prayer before we carried him off of the road and to a small glade with soft ground. Valin and a few guards started digging while I set the blanket-wrapped body down and sat waiting for them to finish or a turn at a shovel.
The bandits, or someone, had used the glade to hang their catches. Cut ropes hung from a few spots on the tree, and the grass directly beneath the ropes was tinged a dull brown in places. There weren't any deer hanging here now, but this was a spot accustomed to death.
I was never asked to dig, and didn't offer to help, except to place the body in the shallow hole when it was complete. After the hole was covered, the men stood quiet for a second, then wandered back to the wagons to sleep, exhausted from the day. No one said anything about the boy.
I sat at the edge of the glade, silent myself. Valin said another of his prayers then turned to walk back.
"Why didn't your prayers heal him?"
Valin wiped the sweat from his forehead as he considered the question. He seemed to be affected by the boy's death, at least more than the guards, but he hadn't said anything about it either. He and I were the last ones in the glade, if you didn't count the newly buried corpse.
"I dont know why some get healed and some don't. I don't pretend to understand. I just know that people die, both good and evil, every day. I know there is a war being fought, and casualties on both sides. I wouldn't assume that either side is so much stronger that it overwhelms the other side in every battle and suffers no losses."
"So there is only so much healing to go around? Your god healed the bruise I left on your face, but wouldn't save this boys life. Did you pray for this boy to be healed?"
Valin looked around the glade, noticing the cut ropes and the blood marks in the grass for the first time. He began smoothing out the dirt on the grave, hoping that whoever hung deer here wouldn't notice or mess with it.
"It's a war, thats all I know." Valin said.
"My experience with war tells me that they typically suit the desires of the generals and emperors that wage them, but not the people that fight and die in them."
Valin seemed ready to quip back something at me, but he bit his tongue and looked only at the cut ropes before responding.
"When I was a boy, maybe 6 or 7 years old, I couldn't hunt with my father. I was soft-hearted, unable to kill a rabbit. I would cry if I even saw one dead. My father was a very strict man, and he wanted to raise me well. I was punished for my weakness, lashed, hit. But I still couldn't get used to the sight of blood."
Valin paused, caught up in the memories in his head, before continuing.
"He had taken away my food, stating that if I was unwilling to hunt I wouldn't share in the rewards of that hunt. I began sneaking food, radishes and onions from the garden. When he caught me I was punished..." Valin spit out the word, "and then he locked me in the smokehouse for two days."
"There were fresh deer bleeding out in the smokehouse, and it was a tiny wooden shack, barely larger than an outhouse. I was starving, tired, and spent those two days terrified by the blood dripping on me, and the deer faces staring down from the darkness above me."
"It sounds horrible." I couldn't figure out any other way to respond.
"It was..." he searched for the word, "Traumatic. But afterwards I wasn't afraid of blood anymore."
"Or you were just more scared of your father." He ignored my statement. "So are you saying Junil is like your father?"
"No, I'm saying we are like children. We can hope for a perfect world, we can plead with our superiors to provide it, be they our parents, our emperors, or our gods. But our world isn't perfect, all we can do is try to strengthen the good we find and weaken the evil, and sometimes that means we will have to deal with blood. To fix a meal, or protect a caravan from lawless men."
I was unconvinced but I didn't want to push Valin any further, so I only nodded and picked myself up. I helped him finish covering up the grave and then we walked back to the caravan and I fell into more of my nightmares of battle and killing, but this time Valin was there with me.
--The Tale of Saverous, Act I: Chapter 9