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#13544655 Nov 27, 2017 at 03:44 PM · Edited 4 years ago
206 Posts

He had not known such pain for months. It was not like the stab wound, piercing arrow, or gun shot. Instead, a great fire roared inside his body as he tried his damn best to sleep. His eyes shut tight, teeth gritting tightly. The few that slept around him knew of his suffering, for the occasional sob or whimper escaped his lips. This was a man many knew well, and very few even fathomed this to be a possibility for the once proud sergeant major. Yet, there he was. Edrington Grunwald, broken and unable to sleep.

It was not only the pain that prevented him from finding solace in slumber, but his own mind stirred with doubt. He promised himself a chance to recollect his thoughts and gather the necessary will to parse through his emotions. Edrington was not about to let his own sadness and remorse destroy him. Not again. Unable to fall asleep, he gently sits up from his bunk and wanders down the halls of Westbrook Garrison. After a slow ascent up the keep's wooden stairs, he arrives at the walls of the fortress. Outside, the night is cold and the moon hovers above him. The chattering of his teeth only stops when he wraps his fur-lined cloak around him, preferring to stand outside than continue to engage in the futile attempt of chasing sleep. Especially while this pain, this damned pain, wracked his body.

A curse slips from his lips. "Damn this . . ." He shakes his head, sighing heavily thereafter. No, no. Enough. Compose yourself, chap. Think things through. Why are you doing this? Why are you going through this? Markus' word ring in his head like a loud explosion robbing him of hearing in battle. A constant whine. 'We're going to change ya'.' Change. It's what he wanted. His thoughts drift to memories of his time in Kingsland. He was, after all, remembered as the Iron Governor. Iron willed or iron fisted? A bit of both no doubt. Mostly the latter. The massacres, the round-ups, the campaigns -- all of it coalesced into a haze of anger and sadness in his spirit. Sure, he did not doubt his duty or his loyalty to King and Country, but . . .

The weight was heavy, especially now as he contemplated the failure of his second trial. He did not pass the Trial of Strength. He was not strong enough, even through he trained hard both on Argus and at home. Yet, there was more. 'Your will.' Markus spoke true. His heart was not in the right place, at least not fully. It was then that he began to ponder his reasons, in earnest, for pursuing entrance into the Guard. Analyzing the cons, he knows fully well that he is a well respected career soldier. A non-commissioned officer with experience, accolades, and honor to his name. Why bother adding one more notch?

That was the root of the problem, he thinks. A notch. This isn't a notch? To be a Guardsman, one must devote body, mind, and soul to the cause. He had done so already, hadn't he? In the campaigns he has fought, in the political offices he has held. Why was this any different? The physical demands were gruesome enough, but the psychology of it still alluded him. Something about the Ducal Guard, about entering it -- about dedicating one's self to its lifestyle -- haunted him. He feared what he would become if he continued. A beast, uncontrolled. A slayer, without remorse.

But, again, why? Why did it have to be that way? He, in his short time since coming back to the homeland, molded himself into a model soldier and servant to the Crown. A staunch conservative, a seasoned commander, a loyal subject, a civilized man willing to do what he had to do in the name of his people, his lord, and the very pillars of order and law his country upheld. In this, he had no doubt. Yet, all that came with a price. His sanity, his faith on occasion, and his own ethics were challenged and reforged time and time again. Edrington craves to rid himself of these burdens. His hand runs along his bald head. This was it. This was his rebirth. To accept the man he had become or try something else. Opium? No. Men? No. Resignation? No.

He loves his country. He loves the feeling of battle, his duty, his charge. He loves his family and comrades. Yet, he knows now what's missing: integrity and strength of self, to slay all self-doubt and gain a sense of confidence he had never had before. His choices would haunt him. Forever. He could not erase that burden, nor anyone else could. But, it was like Lord Baldassar had told him, "Balance, Eddy. All things in balance." One thing was always missing from his life, and the Guard would help him acquire it.

Confidence. Strength of body, mind, and soul would see to that. He will train daily, he will meditate and avoid his demons no more, and he will pray as he had done so before. The pillars of his own person would no longer shake under a broken foundation. He is to be reforged. He is to become anew. He is to find balance through sacrifice and the fires of his trials.

He is intent on becoming a guardsman. On finding order for his troubled self, no matter what.

That morning, after a few hours of lack-luster sleep, he shows up for the morning run with the senior guardsmen and gets back to it. Through pain, he will find redemption. From suffering, peace.
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