Balsam Essay Research Paper Paco the Cow — страница 2

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the other. He remembered with sickening vividness his first melee, seeing his enemy fall before him with a cry. He remembered his first wounds; the pain, the fear, the bitter disappointment with himself. It seemed that he could remember much about the war, but very little of it was pleasant. Except for the letter and the braid. He carefully unfolded the parchment, creased and worn from many months of handling. He had taught himself to read all of the words, so he wouldn’t need someone else to read it for him. Now, he re-read the words that he could have spoken from memory. ‘Please forgive my mother for saying those terrible things. We have spoken long about this, and I understand her fear. My father was a member of the militia. He died at Tar Valon.’ “Yes. The battle at

Tar Valon was a bloody rout from which very few of the enemy soldiers escaped with their lives. It was one of the worst defeats of the war — and one which would not soon be forgotten by the many wives and children who lost husbands and fathers in that massacre.” ‘My mother didn’t want me to know the same pain that she had known.’ “How well I can understand her sentiments. My father also died in this war; as did my sister. Yes, I think I know something of the pain that she spoke of.” ‘She said “I will not have my daughter marry a warrior”, but I asked her if she would keep her daughter from marrying a knight!’ “Oh young and innocent child! There is only one difference between the two. The knight must fight bound by rules and codes as well as armor and

shield, while the warrior has only his weapon and his courage. They both fight with anger and fury and terror and pain. They both hear the sounds and smell the smells and taste the tastes of fear and horror. They both bleed. And they both die.” ‘You will be a knight someday, Dakkon. This I know in my heart. When you return, I will marry you, with or without my mother’s blessing!’ “Would you still wish to marry me now, dear girl? I have changed. I have become sad and cold. I have become a killer of men whose only fault was to be born on the wrong side of some imaginary line which divides two nations. They fought because they were told to fight, and they died because I knew that, if they did not, I would. Sometimes, when I think about it, I loathe myself.” ‘I wait for

thee. Be safe and be well.’ “But you didn’t wait. I did as you asked — I stayed as safe as I could, although there were many days when I faced the wrong end of a sword. I stayed as well as I was able, although I was sickened by the sights and sounds and smells of death and battle. But you didn’t wait. I came back to you, for you, but you didn’t wait for me. Why!? WHY DIDN’T YOU WAIT FOR ME!? WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DIE BEFORE I GOT BACK?!! The sounds of his wracking sobs carried to the window, where they mingled with the music from the banquet hall. Tired and weak from crying, he staggered from the room and into the street. He ran from the happy music, which haunted him like a specter. He fled blindly, not knowing or caring where he went. He slowed as he approached the

docks. Few ships were docked there, for most of the piers were charred or smashed. One ship which was docked there, the SPRAY, was missing an entire mast and a spar. Its railing was missing in places, and, near the back, a gaping hole was torn in her side. The war had touched the docks. He walked on. He came to a section of the city which had been the scene of intense fighting. Men had fought from house to house. Alleys were won and held and lost again. Buildings became objectives to reach, prizes to be won, goals to be paid for in blood. Here, a broken shield lay discarded in an alleyway; there, part of a mail shirt colored by the brown stain of dried blood. He stopped before a building which was familiar. Once upon a time, children had met here at night and told dark stories by

candlelight. Now the door had been torn from its hinges, and in several places, sword nicks and blood patches marked the passing of recent events. The war had touched here, too. He moved on. Suddenly, he knew where his feet were taking him. Turning the corner, he saw the doorway from which a woman had once called to him, telling him not to be afraid. Within the walls of that house, he had eaten a meal, spoken of himself to a stranger, and proposed marriage to the woman that he loved. Now the doorway, the walls, all of it was charred and blackened. For blocks, from here to the edge of the city, a great fire had swept. It was said that magic had moved the fire along; and that the enemies had hoped to use the fire, and the chaos that it caused, to sweep deeper into the city. The