... now they must watch their abundance of luxuries fall away, making room for the tools of survival, and witness this time of relative peace wither into the same fears that harper's ballads had warned them about for generations.
 
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 An End to All Ends (I) -Toshiro

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Eloaene

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PostSubject: An End to All Ends (I) -Toshiro   Sun Jun 16, 2013 12:54 pm

Early in Turn 496
(Part 8)



“How are you liking life as a farmer?” Pausing for a moment, the guardsman looked back to where Kesa sat, preparing flour to be made into an herbed flatbread. “I never got a chance to meet your wife before you left. You two don’t have any children, yet? Does she keep you happy?”

Just before word of Chorong’s death arrived, a visit from one of Toshiro’s comrades from the Guard had replaced the usual courier who brought his letters.

Toshiro didn’t say it, but the man seemed a little forward about his thoughts and it put Toshiro a little on edge. He supposed though, that they did have a lot of catching up to do. It had been close to a turn since they’d seen one another. “I am happy. Farming keeps me busy.”

“Ah, but it’s just not filled with the same excitement as what you did before, is it?” The guardsman teased, chuckling.

“I.. can’t say that I ever killed just because of the excitement but, ...I guess you have a point.” For a moment, Toshiro hung his head, and then he glanced back in the direction of Kesa.

“Well, whatever your reasons for doing it, don’t let your skills languish just yet. Telgar might just need to borrow your abilities a while longer.”


But that had all been said a few sevendays back.

Now that the fighting was over, what use did he have for those skills? Toshiro was curious to see what method of service the Guard would find for him now that the rebellion was over. The snows from Telgar’s deep winter had begun to melt off, and when the roads were finally clear, Toshiro and Kesa would be packing up their things to move back to Southern Telgar Hold. 


After that, Toshiro had considered going to visit his adoptive father in Telgar Hold. It would be the first time in turns that they’d spoken to or even seen one another. It would be nice to let Kondo know that he was doing well now; and that he was married. Even if Kondo could never accept the path that he’d chosen for his life, he could at least be happy to know that Toshiro had found himself a beautiful bride. Of course...he may as well just keep it a secret just how they met. That was all beside the point.



____________




“You never ask me about my family..I guess it’s hard to talk about too many personal things.”

“I don’t?” Toshiro seemed to sit a little straighter at the mention, pondering that. “I... guess I just don’t think about those kinds of things very often. I never had a family of my own.”

“Oh. I’m sorry I asked something too personal.” Kesa glanced down to where her dinner plate sat before her on their low-table.

Not wanting her to feel at fault, Toshiro tried to offer reassurance, “It’s alright.”

Eyes alone turning back up to him, she dared asking, “Do you think you’d ever want to start a family of your own; with me?” Just in case such a loaded question was too much to consider, she quickly added, “I mean, since we are married. At some point...”

That had sent Toshiro staring blankly across the table at her, but as soon as she gave him the out, he was slowly nodding, “Mm. I suppose we should.”

Both of them fell silent after that, eating their meal in quiet.

After a while, Toshiro began, “You know the friend who came to visit a while back? He wrote to let me know he’ll be coming to visit again, now that the fighting is over.”

“Husband,...?”

That brought Toshiro’s attention back to her face, finding a worried expression there, “What is it?”

“Your friend. I don’t trust him. When he came to visit before, I had a really bad feeling being around him.”

As Kesa continued to eat then, Toshiro considered her words, but gave no real reply. When they were done eating breakfast, Toshiro got up from the table first and moved toward the door. “We’re running low on firewood.I’m going to go chop some wood to bring it up to the house to dry.”

With that, Toshiro reached for his sword, tucking it beneath the belt he wore. Maybe it was out of habit, but any time he was out more than a very short distance from the house, Toshiro always took his sword with him. Even now that the rebellion was supposed to be over.



____________




Toshiro had gone a ways from their home, to where larger logs had been piled to be cut down to size. There, his hand-axe was sticking out from the stump of the tree he chopped wood on.

Standing each log up on end, they were split one by one. With each swing of the axe, Toshiro’s mind thought back on past missions which were still so fresh in his mind. He could feel the weight of his sword in his hand; the resistance of the wood becoming like the resistance of bone. Blood sprayed and poured. He could see it in his mind’s eye. He could smell it.

He could smell it. 


For a moment, his eyes narrowed. It was all too real to him.

The last of the wood he’d been chopping clattered aside. Toshiro planted the hand-axe into the stump of the tree, standing to collect the wood he’d split. As he did, a knife whirled at him from behind, tearing through the sleeve of his tunic, leaving a gash across his right arm. Toshiro winced, turning to see his attacker just as another short blade hurtled through the air, piercing his left shoulder beneath the collarbone.

Gasping through that next breath, Toshiro dropped to one knee, his hand coming up determinedly to remove the throwing-blade. Through grit teeth, his head lifted to see an ambushing party of three. And it was no wonder he had been smelling blood. They were Rebels.

Flinging the biting blade to the ground that he’d removed from his shoulder, Toshiro could feel blood soak quickly through his shirt. But he had no time to stop to stem the flow of it. An Agent was already coming at him, sword swinging from high overhead. From there on one knee, Toshiro drew his own weapon, ducking inside the man’s arc of attack. With the full force of his legs rising under him, Toshiro used his momentum to carve his blade through the man’s midsection, leaving him nearly cleaved in two.

Both hands on the hilt of his sword, Toshiro brought the blade to parry his next attacker. They danced for a short while, turning together as each read into the movements of the other; then another stepped in from behind to flank him. As his enemies fought well in unison, they only made it more difficult for him to fend them both off with a single blade. Though it pained him, Toshiro brought out his off-hand to defend himself more effectively.

Pain burned through his arm and opposite shoulder, the weight of a longsword being wielded in just one hand becoming an even greater strain on him.  Growling through the discomfort, Toshiro was granted an opening for a second long enough that his dagger founds its home through the side of one man’s neck in a backhanded gouge, ripping it through the major arteries and trachea, while his sword swiftly knocked aside his fellow’s incoming stab, finding its place wedged between that man’s ribs.

Both of his enemies fell, and then did Toshiro. The end of his sword driving into the dirt, Toshiro leaned against it for support. There on his knees, he struggled to sheath his off-handed weapon. His head spun, making him feel disoriented. That made him wonder if the throwing-blades had been coated in some kind of poison. Searching back, through events that had just ensued, he couldn’t remember seeing any such weapon on the three men he’d just fought. There must be another.

Doing his best to stand without having to lean on his sword, Toshiro thought he could feel his legs growing weaker beneath him. Toshiro staggered, pulling his weapon up from the ground, its tip dragging in the dirt as he move forward, away from the bodies around him.

Another blade perforated through Toshiro's opposite shoulder. Already off balance, the force of the blow twisted him mid-stride, throwing him back to the ground. 

Toshiro cried out.



____________




From where she’d been preparing vegetables for pickling, Kesa chopped a handful of herbs to add to the flavour. She had expected Toshiro to arrive back at the house with firewood sooner, because he wasn’t that far away, but maybe she was just being impatient. Kesa added the herbs to several jars and then replaced their lids. The young woman went to set them all on a shelf over the washbasin. 


Perhaps, now she could prepare a snack for him for when he returned. Just deciding what she would prepare, Kesa’d gotten to washing her knife before she heard him.

Alerted by the cry, she stopped to look up in the direction of the open front door. Beginning to worry then, Kesa rushed from the house, not even thinking to put her knife down. Then again, the war had ingrained a sense of necessity for such things. She didn't even think twice about it. 


Glancing all about for signs of her husband, when he was not to be found in the immediate yard, she ran to where he would have been cutting wood.


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