Part One: Primes Forgive

Chapter 1

A drop of muddy water graces my forehead as someone passes in a panicked run. My eyelids twitch, and flicker open, though it makes no difference. Must be dark out. The clumsy footsteps squelch away. I'm alone again. The drop of water is beginning to move, sliding slowly down the left side of my forehead, oh that's irritating! My left hand moves to wipe away the drop, or at least I think it does – I will it to do so. Nothing happens. The drop continues to move. My hands! I can't feel them or anything else. My heart rate increases. No, no, don't panic I say to myself, but my advice fails me. I can't feel my chest, either, but each pump and rush of blood abuses my head, beating like a drum. Without my signal, or knowledge, my hands clench. All of a sudden the cold, wet mud caught between my fingers makes its self known. A shiver runs down my spine. Good. I'm alive. I try to let out a relieved sigh, but can feel no breath leaving my lips. As more and more feeling comes back to me, my body starts to tingle, and I can feel a slight warmth on my face. Sunlight? Primes I'm blind! With a sharp inhale, my head starts to throb again. My eyes shut tightly, and don't open again until I feel them dampen some. I blink repeatedly and a small amount of blurred colour returns. By the dull ache in the back of my head, I must have hit something hard.

After laying unmoving for… I won't pretend to know how long, voices begin to seep through my haze. Why couldn't I hear them before? Most of the voices are too far away to make out, and fade into white noise, but two stand out.

"How goes the fight?"

"We're winning - barely."

"Why are you back here with the healers?" A short pause. "Oh… Is that?"

"Yes."

"Is he alright?"

"Does he look alright?"

"He's not moving… Is he even alive?" I try to speak. Nothing. My mouth doesn't even open. I can feel myself breathing now. Weakly, but it's there.

"He's breathing. Barely." That voice I recognize. But who is it?

My thoughts are cut short. It starts with a small twang of pain. I don't know where. My lips quiver, and the pain begins to spread. Quite suddenly, it flares up, and I wish for lack of feeling again. My breathing stops. I can't feel it over the pain, but I can hear a pathetic squeak begin in the back of my throat and rise to the ears of those about me. The rest of my body tenses. A muscle somewhere twitches. My back arches, and one of my hands scrapes against something hard, sharp and cold. Suddenly it is pulled away, and my hand feels wet. The pain of the new gash in my palm is lost beneath the wave that is washing through me, and centering in my chest.

"What was that!?" I can feel the panic in that voice.

"You'd be in pain too."

I can begin to make out shapes now, but no detail seeps through. The chatter around me fades into a melody of concern and sadness as my other senses become blurred by the pain. I can feel my face contorting as I curl up in place, each beat of my heart brings with it more pain, and forces the breath from my lungs. Each beat of my heart brings with it a sickly shudder. I don't know what happened, if I was wounded. All I know is every nerve is aflame, and tears are mixing with the blood on my face.

"Please my Lord, you must stop moving."

Someone's calling franticly for a medic. His voice is hoarse and broken, threatening to fail completely. I think I recognize it. In the distance, someone – no – something lets out a horrified shriek, and a clash of metal sounds. More rushed footsteps in the mud, and the chatter stops. I shudder again as someone touches me, placing a soft hand on my forehead. Quite suddenly, I'm blinded once again by a bright white light. I close my eyes, the light remains and I start to shiver. Am I dying? The pain begins to lift, and I take in a satisfied breath. Then, as suddenly as it came, the hand is removed, and the light disappears. The pain rushes back and forces the air from me as I try to cry out, resulting in another small squeak. I open my eyes again and snap my head backwards, the glimmer of relief I had makes the pain worse now.

"He's too far gone. The Primes have brought his purpose to an end. He'll be joining them soon." Then the familiar voice jumps in. I recognize it now.

"No! There must be something you can do." My captain protests.

"I'm sorry."

The moments of relief allowed me to identify the source of my pain. My right hand, responding at last, rises to the bottom of my ribcage. Strangely enough, there is no wound, and as I contemplate, the reason comes to me. I've seen this before. I've suffered a hit from a blunt weapon, and the understaffed battle medics have simply left me, in favour of tending to those that can be made ready to rejoin the fight. And now that magical healing has been proven useless, Lord or not, I will be left to die. It's what I would order, if I could speak, and my soldiers know it.

I'm going to die.

The realization comes with relief. My panic lifts, and my limbs relax upon the cold mud beneath me. I try to steady my breathing, and, slowly, my body starts to come to terms with the pain, following my mind's example. The pain lifts as shock sets in. A coarse, shaking hand touches mine. I find myself smiling. My head feels light, and my senses begin to fade. I feel as if a fog is surrounding me, blurring not only my eyes but my hearing, my sense of smell… Of touch. The voices of my brothers, family under my battle standard sound so far away now, yet one continues to stand out.

"Hang on my Lord. We'll summon the best healers in the land, some clerics bear the gifts of the Primes themselves! You're going to be - " I raise my hand.

"How many men have faced their deaths, shouting my name?" I'm surprised at my grasp of the words. The next words I hear are choked.

"Many… M'lord."

"The Primes have no favours for a man such as I." My smile remains, and I can feel my features starting to relax. "Let me have my peace my friend. As for you, you have a battle to win." The hand leaves mine, shaking with rage. I content myself in the knowledge that the anger will keep him alive to see the next dawn. I wait a few moments, there is one last farewell to be spoken. Someone stands over me.

"Was it worth it?" I ask weakly. A deeper, older voice sounds.

"You tell me."