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I miss you more than breathing itself,

But I don’t know who I miss.

If I missed the person I see now,

I would speak with it,

But I miss you.

I miss smelling your hair,

Holding you close,

Resting my head on your shoulder,

Squeezing your hand;

I miss idealism.


I miss the thought of you,

The girl I may have loved.

I miss the safety of your arms,

The precise way your chest rose and fell,

I miss when you used to look at me without pain in your eyes.

I miss being able to speak around you.

I miss my goddess.


I miss flawlessness.

I miss wonder,

I miss wanting you near me every second of the day,

I miss being able to speak to you.

Not some stranger

That I want nothing to do with.

I miss you,

The girl I fell in love with,

Not you,

The girl I can’t make eye contact with.


Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: violence/gore and ideologically sensitive material)

Somehow,

I don’t feel okay.

Despite, but not to spite, the people that love me, the talent and intelligence I’ve been

Cursed with

I’m halfway to hell.


He loves me

And I can’t stand his presence.

His voice only offers praise,

But I’d rather shove pencils in my ears

Than have to hear him speak again.


Maybe this is what I need.

A nice weekend without him,

A weekend to release tension.

Then,

When the devil returns to my home,

I’ll have enough strength to keep him away.

Maybe I’ll be able to say what I need to say,

To stay rational, not angry,

But not warm enough

For him to be able to stoke my fire into burning myself.


You want to know why I feel this way, don’t you?

And the very reason that I do:

Is the reason why I won’t tell you.

You ask, and you don’t care,

Or at least I don’t want you to.

I want you gone,

But before you leave.

I don’t want you to feel anything for me,

Well, nothing that I don’t feel for you.

I need you gone

But before you go,

Don’t try to tell me goodbye.


I’ve been cursed with gifts.


My talent is a call,

And for me to have the gall

To deny it would be to deny my own potential, myself

But to do what I love

Would be to deny my future.

I don’t want to be able to control;

I want to be able to feel.

I don’t want to make people feel pity for me;

I want them to simply enjoy my presence.

To me, having an uncertain future

Is akin to having none at all.


The anxiety I feel,

is rivalled only by the depression that follows it,

borrowed from a friend

So their shoulders shouldn’t slump to the floor.

I feel like Atlas,

But I can’t just shrug this weight off of my back

That’s pressing my ribs into my lungs.
I’m stretching beyond my capacity,

But that next rung up the ladder of success

Seems to get farther and farther away

As if I’m falling away from it.


Nobody’s watching

But I can feel the vertical pupils in the eyes of my own pride

grinding into my back.

This pride that’s fed by others’ praise

And, when malnourished,

Starts to eat away at me.

I should be thankful that I’m proud,

But every time I lie awake at night,

Wondering if I should rip a knife down my forearms,

I can’t help but curse it for not being there when I need it,

Because I’m not going to end up at the top,

because if I do,

that would mean that I stepped on others’ faces to get up that next rung,

And that’s no win.


I should probably stop thinking about you.

About the feeling of you.

About the pain and remorse I feel every time I see your face.

About the things I thought were the right thing to do at the time,

But really turned me into a disgrace.


I should probably stop thinking about you, too.

The feeling of you.

About the pain and remorse I feel every time I see your face.

About the things that I wish I had done

But really would have made it more of a disgrace.


I should probably stop,

But what’s the point when,

Without either of you,

I wouldn’t be the person I am now?

And now,

If you knew what I had done,

I’d scare you.

The person I am:

timid, fat, tired, depressed, talented wonderboy;

I am the marks on my knuckles

The impacts on my gut

the instrument,

the tool of torture and the tool of love,

the scars,

the memories,

the overstretched arm,

the hatred,

the anger,

the remorse,

the love,

the victimizer and the victim.

Yet I don’t know who I am.

I know what I’ve done and what I want to do,

But all of this I can’t undo.


I look in the mirror

And don’t recognize the creature that looks back.

This creature that doesn’t trust.

This creature who’s been betrayed and has betrayed.

This creature who writes

And survives all the little that he goes through.

This creature.

I am ____
Yay! I felt inspired enough to write poetry!
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(Contains: violence/gore and strong language)

Several days later, I walked with Rynhildr down the road heading North, as that was the way we would get to the island Rynhildr had mentioned would be safe. “All we’ve got to do is get to Dragonbridge. Then we can have as much food as you want, how does that sound?” she said after I told her I was hungry.

    “How much farther is Dragonbridge?” I asked.

    “We’ll be there before dark, probably. Hopefully,” she said, though she didn’t sound very hopeful. It was late in the afternoon, then, and my the growls emanating from by stomach were beginning to feel uncomfortable.

    As my stomach made its nagging presence felt once more, I asked Rynhildr in an overly whiny voice, “How much farther is it?”

    “Do you want me to carry you? Is that it? Or are you genuinely tired,” she said, stopping.

    “I’m sorry,” I said meekly at her irritated tone. Her voice just made me want to stop complaining.

    “It’s alright. C’mon. Let’s get moving; we’re almost there.” Rynhildr grabbed my hand and led me at an easy run down the paved road a bit more. We ran for a couple minutes before we rounded a bend and Rynhildr shouted, “There it is! The dragon bridge!” pointing at said bridge.

    “Yay!” I shouted, too, and Rynhildr chuckled for a moment. I took off running for the impressive stone bridge. “It’s so amazing!” I called, looking back at her, gesturing at the dragon shaped stone canopy overhead while she walked towards me. I looked over at her and saw her smile, but it seemed wrong. As though she wasn’t truly happy. When she was a few feet away from me I said, “What’s wrong.”

    “I’m just missing someone is all,” she said. “Look,” she said, pointing at the river below. The sunset glittered on the water while she said, “Isn’t that beautiful?”

    “It’s pretty,” I said. I kept staring at the light dance across the water for another couple minutes, nearly forgetting my hunger before my stomach growled, painfully this time.

    Rynhildr tugged at my ragged shirt and led me into town, saying, “Let’s get some food in that complaining belly.”

    “Sounds great,” I said and held her hand as she and I walked warily past the Stormcloak guards toward the inn.

    “Just came from the Reach, hm?” one of the guards asked Rynhildr. She kept her head down and nodded. “Yeah, we’ve had a pretty big influx of refugees from the hold lately. Though, there haven’t been any in around a month. What happened?”

    “You know exactly what happened,” Rynhildr growled and brushed past him. She sounded surprisingly frightening as I was used to hearing a seemingly magically beautiful voice from her. “Come on,” she said and tugged my arm, leading me to the inn. We left the helmeted guard behind and somewhat confused. As Rynhildr pushed open the door to the inn, the warm smell of baking bread gusted out, comforting me from the frigid air. We walked in and Rynhildr shut the door quickly while I gazed in amazement at the huge hearthfire in the center of the commons. “Why don’t you go take a seat by the fire?” she told me and headed to the bar. I obediently took a seat by an greying man holding his hands out to the fire. His forearms were laced with scars and the odd shape and broken veins in his nose suggested that his nose had been broken more than once. The notches on the axe on his waist and the suggested that he was a regular fighter as well.

    “You hungry, boy?” he asked, glancing in my direction.

    “Yes,” I said.

    “Well, I’m not giving any handouts,” he said and returned to his silence. Several moments later he turned sharply towards me, making me jump out of my chair instinctively. “Aren’t you going to beg?” he said.

    “No. I don’t beg, and Rynhildr - my mom - is getting me some food. So you don’t need to be rude,” I said. It felt awkward calling Rynhildr mother, but it was what she had told me to do. She had said that it would keep us safer.

    “Well, it’s good that you’ll be getting some food. Which one’s your mother?”

    “The woman in purple,” I said. “In fact, she’s bringing some food over now.”

    He looked over his shoulder to where I had nodded, seeing Rynhildr striding over carrying bread and cheese. Her face was covered in shadow by her hood and he said darkly, “What does she do for money?”

    “I hunt,” she said, stepping forward.

    “If you’re a hunter, why the cloak?” he asked skeptically.

    “Skyrim’s a dangerous place, and I’m good with magic. This helps, not to mention it usually keeps people from asking too many questions,” Rynhildr said.

    “I’m sorry. I like asking questions. Why are you being so standoffish towards them?” he asked, standing. He drummed his fingers on the shaft of his axe. I saw that he was a couple inches taller than her, but only a couple, and while I had seen Rynhildr both angry and frightened, I didn’t want some poor stranger to meet a stupid, sticky end.

    “Hey, settle down, sir,” I said, and the man looked at me. It was apparent that he was trying to intimidate me, and so his gaze wasn’t as frightening as the prey he was used to. “It really might be in your best interest to take a seat,” I said deliberately. He sighed and sat.

    “I apologize. I’ve had a bad time lately,” he said.

    “Well, that we’ve both had,” she said and sat down next to me, on the other side of the scarred man. She handed me a heel of bread and a chunk of cheese. I thanked her and started eating ravenously. I glanced over and saw that the man was still fuming beneath his brow.

    “So, what’s your name?” I asked him, trying to put him more at ease.

    “Why must you know?” he asked.

    “I just thought that, since we got off on the wrong foot, we can try to make conversation a bit less tense.” I glanced over to Rynhildr while saying this, seeing her nodding.

    “I’d prefer to leave my name alone,” he said, stretching his hands back towards the fire.

    “Why are you being standoffish to my questions now?” I asked.

    “Look, I’m not going to tell you my name. I’ve got a bit of a reputation.”

    “I understand that sentiment,” Rynhildr said. “I knew someone that everyone knew. He would wear a disguise a lot,” Rynhildr said, her tone sounding bittersweet.

    “Yeah? Who?” the man asked.

    “It doesn’t matter. He’s dead now.” I stopped chewing for a moment, surprised at how forthright my friend was being.

    We sat in silence for several minutes more before the man began speaking again, saying, “You two are from the Reach? I don’t mean to say you’re Forsworn, but you were staying there for a while?”

    “How do you know?” I asked.

    “Well, you look tired, and it was pretty obvious that you hadn’t eaten in a while, so you’re either refugees or travellers with poor planning ability. I’ve got a room if you don’t have the money to pay for one,” the old man said.

    “Well, if we’re going to sleep your same room you’ve got to tell us your name,” Rynhildr said.

    “If you insist, it’s Vorstag. Just don’t go spreading it around,” the old man said.

    “Thank you, sir,” Rynhildr said before looking to me and saying, “Are you still hungry?”

    “No,” I said, though I felt hungry, I knew in a couple of minutes I wouldn’t be anymore. “Are you?” I asked her.

    “No, but thanks,” Rynhildr said.

    “What are your names? Now that I know yours.”

    “I’m Alrend,” I told him. Rynhildr glanced at me a moment, and told him her name.

    Vorstag showed us to his bedroom after we had said this to each other. It was a small room, with a single bed against one wall, and a chair pushed up against the small table on the other side. “Welcome,” he said in a sarcastic tone, opening his arms wide. “If you want, your boy can sleep with me. Or you can share the floor.”

    “It’s up to you, Alrend,” Rynhildr told me. I looked to Vorstag and found him scowling. I looked to Rynhildr and found that I couldn’t read what she was thinking, save that her brows were knitted, as much as they could be.

    “I’m going to sleep with mother,” I said and the man relaxed his shoulders a bit. The floor was hard and cold, but with Rynhildr next to me in her robe, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, as she wrapped me in her arms and held me close. It was very difficult to fall asleep, especially as I could see Vorstag watching us, even though I couldn’t tell if his eyes were open or not.

    I awoke before anyone else, and when I stirred to get up, Rynhildr pulled me tight. I tried to squirm my way out of her arms, but I saw her good eye open before the other one and she said, “No, no, no, no, no, not again.” At the time I thought it was my heart beating in my ears, but I heard a sound similar to the sound Rynhildr’s blade made when she fought the Hagraven, but impossibly loud.

    Rynhildr gulped and stood up, and I heard screams outside through the wall. “What’s going on?” Vorstag muttered from the bed. I sat against the bed as Rynhildr took off her cloak wrapped around her, revealing the roughspun and scars underneath. She laid it spread out on the table by the wall, and I saw several pockets sewn into the inside. I saw the sheath that she kept her long knife in as well, but the thing that stood out was the sheathed sword strapped into the inside of the back of the cloak. As Rynhildr unclasped the straps holding it there, I saw that the handle was longer than most swords I had seen before, and the crossguard was circular around the handle. It was made of something a similar color to tarnished gold and had ornate dragons etched into it. The handle had leather crisscrossing it in a manner that was unusual to me. The sheath was simple black leather wrapped around wood, and judging from the sheath the blade was about four feet in length.

    Outside, I heard muffled shouts from people, followed by a screech like a sword against a grindstone, but so loud that I fell to my knees and covered my ears, though I saw that Rynhildr seemed unaffected. She placed the blade on the table beside her cloak before wrapped herself up in it again as the screeching continued. By the time it stopped, Rynhildr had it around herself again. When the screech stopped, she said, “A dragon is attacking Dragonbridge,” in a humorless tone. She grabbed the sword by the scabbard just below the hilt and left the room in a few quick strides. I followed her, and I heard Vorstag curse before he did the same.

    We both followed Rynhildr outside where we found a terrifying scene. A huge plume of black smoke was rising from the watchtower to the north, as well as the little guards’ hut in the town. I saw someone that looked like they had been dropped from several hundred feet in the air on the ground, and several buildings were collapsed entirely. The great, bronze dragon was perched on top of the grand stone bridge, five foot long jaw chewing lazily and dripping blood. The wings were folded up against its body, and thick scales covered the entirety of its body. Its eyes were a half a foot across, and arrows slammed into it from a couple of guards in the street, but it didn’t notice. Rynhildr ran past them, saying, “Run, you fools!” in a commanding voice. They didn’t hesitate in looping their bows around their bodies and bolting in the opposite direction, though Vorstag and I continued following her. The screams were more clear to be heard out there, and hundreds of people were running in the street in front of the inn. Rynhildr bulled through them with a strength that I didn’t know she had, and it was all I could do to stay in her wake to avoid being trampled. In truth, I was frightened out of my wits, and I wanted to stay out of the river of people, as that was the most immediate threat. I tried to cast mage armor about myself whilst running, but found that I couldn’t focus enough to do so.

    Rynhildr, Vorstag and I ran for perhaps fifty yards before the dragon unfurled its wings to their two hundred foot length and craned its neck. The beast itself couldn’t have been more than sixty feet long, but the wings made it far more massive than I could have known. All the same, Rynhildr pushed on fearlessly. With a massive whirlwind of sound, the dragon leapt into the air, and Rynhildr stopped dead in her tracks so that I almost ran into her. Then, she Shouted, saying, “MUL QAH DIIV,” impossibly loud. I stepped back, startled, and watched a glowing gold light surround her, giving her scales and horns in the shape of a glowing cuirass and helmet.

    The dragon above us looked down sharply and Shouted three words, like the words Rynhildr shouted, though by the third word it had turned into a piercing shriek, and fire rained down from its mouth. Rynhildr reached behind her and pulled me close to her before saying in a voice that resonated with power to cover my ears. Then she wrapped her cloak around me and I did as I was told, leaning my head down so that my injured arm might cover my ear more easily. Heat bore down on me, intensity growing by the second until it was painful, then grew further. I screamed, in fear more than in pain, and it subsided all at once. Through my covered ears, I heard screams from all around me, blood curdling noises, and I smelled charred flesh. Then the screams stopped, and I no longer heard the stampeding feet of the crowd running around us.

    I uncovered my ears and opened my squeezed shut eyes slowly, and, only seeing the dark inside of Rynhildr’s cloak, for a moment I thought myself dead. Then Rynhildr leaned down and said in that same, frightening voice, “Don’t look, child.” I heard her Shout again, this time saying the words, “JOOR ZAH FRUL,” in that impossibly loud voice of hers. I felt her let go of me then, but I didn’t look, just as she had asked. I both wanted to watch her fight, and at the same time was scared of what I would find when I did open my eyes. My sense of smell was scaring me enough.

    I stayed curled in a ball as I felt the vibrations of the dragon landing, and the heat of the dragonflame. I heard Rynhildr shouting and Shouting as she fought, and the screeching of the dragon breathing flame, but I didn’t look. I heard the dragon’s wings whip around, but they didn’t beat as they did when he was taking off. The dragon’s jaws snapped, and it bellowed so loud that I pressed my hands into my ears, and by the time the dragon was done screeching, my right ear was ringing. My head stopped vibrating a moment later. I took my hands gingerly off my ears and the sounds of battle stopped all at once before a chilly wind blew through. All this happened over the span of perhaps a minute, though it could not have been more than two. All I heard afterward was crunching footsteps approaching me and crackling flames. “Alrend, do not be frightened. The dragon is dead,” I heard Rynhildr say in her normal, calming voice, though it was hoarse. I started to relax my squeezed shut eyes and she said, “Stop. Don’t open your eyes yet; there are still horrors around us.” She picked me up with an arm and started walking away.

    As we walked for a minute, I opened my eyes a bit and saw first the sword that Rynhildr was hanging in her hand by her side. The blade was caked in gore, but even through that I could feel the power it radiated. The sheath was nowhere to be seen, but I wasn’t concerned with that as there were horrifically burned people all around us, as well as piles of simple ash. The buildings on either side of the street were either razed entirely or ablaze with a fire more intense than a fire had any right to be. I saw the bones of the dragon, and the blood splashed on the ground all around it. There were scratches on the skull where Rynhildr’s sword had cut. I had only opened my eyes for a split second before I closed them again, tighter than I knew I could.

    I felt tears rising in my eyes, and as I told myself that a true Nord doesn’t cry, I thought of my dead parents and a sob escaped from my throat. I tried to keep my face from turning into that dumb shape that it always did when I cried and I tried to forget the way my father carried me like this, one armed, when I twisted my knee falling off the wagon to the city. I tried to forget the way my mother felt warm against me when I was smaller and I slept in her bed. I tried to forget the way that the soreness in my arms from squeezing my ear shut felt like how it had holding up a makeshift shield when practicing with my father. Most of all I tried to forget how the scent of burnt flesh smelled almost exactly how my father had burnt the bacon the day of my sixth birthday.

    I must have sobbed silently with my eyes squeezed shut for a half hour before I tried to speak, but I couldn’t even produce a whisper. Rynhildr must have seen my mouth moving, though, and she said in a small voice, “What is it, Alrend?”

    “Everything.”

    “Did you open your eyes?” I nodded and she squeezed me lightly. “I’m sorry. No child should have to see that, but we aren’t done yet. We’re out of Dragonbridge, but we need to keep moving.”

    I let my eyes open and saw that we were on the road. I looked around, squinting in the light. “Where’s Vorstag?” I asked.

    Rynhildr’s mouth opened slightly and a kind of choking sound came out. I blinked out another tear for the gruff, old man that had let us share a room with him. “I don’t think he made it out,” she whispered and I gulped back the pain in my throat that would precede a sob.

    “I think I can walk, now,” I told her and she stopped before slowly letting me down. I looked behind her and said, “Rynhildr, are we being chased?”

    “Yes, we are. If they catch us, I don’t want you to fight them.”

    “Why not? We could kill all of them,” I said.

    “I don’t want you to get hurt, and they think that what they’re doing is justice. Maybe it is.”

    “Rynhildr? There’s something wrong with your neck,” I said, seeing an angry red mark across it. She sucked in her lips.

    “Yes, there is.” We walked in silence for a moment. I looked around again and saw pines all around us, blanketing either side of the road. I remembered the symbol of Haafingar, the border of which we were crossing now, the wolf. I imagined wolves waiting in those woods to pounce out on us at any moment. I thought about wolves for perhaps another half hour, then we rounded a bend in the road and stopped dead.

    A group of eight Thalmor in their ornate, golden armor was marching in our direction, a group of about ten. I could only imagine how we might have looked, a woman in a shadowy cloak wielding a bloody sword and a crippled boy with a splotchy, teary face. Rynhildr cursed, but I bared my teeth and focused. One of them didn’t hesitate to fling a bolt of green magic my way, but I had enough of a ward up by then to stop it. With my deadened arm at my hip, I cast a blast of fire their way, but they were unaffected as it dissipated against a golden breastplate. They had all bared their blades by then and five were charging with wards up while three hung back and cast spells at Rynhildr, who was a whirlwind of purple and blood. She had dispatched of three with her sword, cutting through their armor as though it were butter, decapitating one, cutting another near in half and spitting a third on her sword. Then the fourth elf smacked her shoulder with a mace and she cried out, clutching it.

    She was slowed, then, and I could scarcely focus enough to keep up my ward. She kept their blades off of her, but only scarcely, and her hood was knocked off her head by the exertion. Then one of them was swinging an axe at her now exposed head and I felt what I knew to be magic surging through me. It didn’t feel emotional, as the fire did, but cold, and lightning extended from my fingertips and stretched out to the elf swinging the axe. I saw the elf scream and spasm wildly, and I felt pity for him. It made me lose my focus, and the ward I had up vanished. Then I felt a blast hit my chest and a frightening cold instantly began to spread to my fingertips. I collapsed, and before I hit the ground, the feeling was gone. My eyes were frozen open, and I couldn’t feel the flow of magicka through my body. When I hit the ground, the wind was knocked out of me by a cobblestone in the road and I thought that I was dying. Then Rynhildr Shouted, “FUS RO DAH,” and I watched elves fly over my head where I lay.

    I did nothing, but I heard the sounds of battle as well as the bloodcurdling screams of the other Thalmor and nausea filled my head, though my stomach couldn’t give action to my urge. Air filled my lungs again and I would have gasped, but my breath was moving as though I was asleep. It took me a moment before that pace of breathing was comfortable again, and by then the curses of the Thalmor being fought had all been turned into whimpers and screams of pain. I listened to the quiet sound of Rynhildr’s blade go through the dying elves before I heard her walk over to me. A couple minutes later I gasped air in again. I sat up and noticed the resistance of my crusty, dirty tunic against my chest and belly.

    I looked around at the carnage around me, and immediately retched on the cobblestone. It was acidic, as I hadn’t eaten anything recently, so I didn’t vomit again. I struggled to my feet before I noticed Rynhildr lying in a crumpled, purple heap ten feet away from me, her sword on the ground a couple feet away from her. I approached her as quickly as I dared with my weak stomach. I turned her face up and found her scarred face contorted in pain as she clutched her belly underneath her cloak, her shallow breaths mixed with whimpers. I pulled the many folds of her cloak aside and found her hand covered in blood that was still spilling out. “Move your hands. I can’t help you unless you move your hand,” I said, pulling at it. She moved it shakily, and I swallowed back my bile at the sight of her intestines spilling out of her, black blood inside. I squeezed my eyes shut as tight as I possibly could, knowing that if I looked too long, I would faint.

    I opened my eyes again and, before I could think about it, pushed in the guts that were coming out. She screamed and swung at me with a backhanded blow that I let hit me, though I did turn my face so that I wouldn’t be injured. It still stung, but it may have been worse if I hadn’t moved. I turned back to the wound that was little more than a slit across her belly now and summoned magic to my hands. I urged it out of my own body and into hers and watched as the flesh knitted itself together. Rynhildr screamed again and arched her back, but only for a moment and I continued healing her again. It was a horrible injury, and it took a couple minutes to heal, and by the time it was over, tears were running out of my eyes and Rynhildr had almost screamed herself hoarse. When it was done, I could feel her shivering as I wiped the blood away. “Thank you,” she said softly and I smiled at the sound of her voice.

    “I’m tired,” I told her.

    “We can’t stop now, though,” she said and sat up. her roughspun was rent apart and wet with blood now, and she wrapped her cloak around herself again. She shivered once more and I stood up. She looked at her bloody sword on the ground and frowned. She knelt and picked it up before saying, “I don’t think I’ll be able to keep it anymore. I left the scabbard back in Dragonbridge, and carrying a bloody sword up to the Solitude gate won’t look good.” She wiped it on the grass by the road before sticking it upright in the dirt. She took one of the daggers from one of the dead Elves and handed it to me in the sheath. “It’ll be good for you to have one. Just in case.” I took it from her with my left hand and nodded while struggling to attach it to my belt.

    “Rynhildr, why didn’t you heal yourself?” I asked her, anxious to know.

    She hesitated a moment before saying, “When you’re in enough pain, you can’t focus on magic enough to do anything with it. I’m truly lucky to have you with me, Alrend.”

    “What would you have done if I wasn’t there?”

    “I would have died.” It was this stark truth that she left me with as we continued on our walk in silence.

    “So what are we going to do?”

    “We are in Haafingar, and the guards from Dragonbridge are Haafingar guards. They will have sent a runner to Solitude, and the Legion will be combing the roads looking for us. Our best bet is to get to the island in the north of Haafingar.”

    “How are we to do that?”

    “There’s an old ferry that we can row. It is well north of Haafingar to get there, so we will need ample provisions. Furs, food, good water.”

    “Right, seawater will make you mad.”

    “Yes. We will have to get into Solitude to get these provisions. So we need to move quickly and get there before the runner, so they don’t know who we are.”

    “Unless he’s already there. We might not have noticed him, or he might have stayed a little off the road.”

    “If that’s the case, then I’m not sure what will happen. I’m never completely sure of what will happen.”

    “We could sneak into Solitude. Pose as refugees from the Reach, like in Dragonbridge.”

    “No, that won’t work. If the runner’s already gotten there, they’ll have descriptions of us, but you… You might be able to get in. I’m distinctive, but you’re only a ragged boy. If you play off the blood on you as a few scrapes gotten in running from Markarth. You’ll have to come up with a good story as to how you survived for this long.”

“Don’t worry. I’m a good storyteller.”
Mature Content Filter is On. The Artist has chosen to restrict viewing to deviants 18 and older.
(Contains: violence/gore and strong language)

10 YEARS LATER

    “Hurry the hell up, Lionel. We haven’t got all day,” Harriet said, glancing back for an instant. Lionel grunted, his head stooped. Harriet stopped suddenly and put her hand on her brother’s shoulder. “What’s wrong?”

    “I don’t wanna talk about it,” he said, shrugging his sister off.

    “C’mon. You know you can talk to me about anything.”

    “But I can’t, can I?” he said, what felt to him like finally. He lifted himself up, chest inadvertently pushed out in a defiant stance. Harriet furrowed her brow. “I can’t talk to you about George, or where the fuck Matilda is.”

    “Language,” she said, her voice low.

    “I don’t give a half a shit about my fucking language. Get it? Fuck, shit, fuck, fuckin’ fuck!” he shouted, kicking the wall and letting his backpack slip off his shoulders. He emphasized every word with a kick or a punch, letting all his anger out on the wall before Harriet grabbed his hair and pulled him back while he instinctively scrambled at her grip.

    “Don’t be so goddamn loud,” she whispered, pulling him away from the wall and at the same time grabbing his backpack. While she was in this awkward position, Lionel wrenched himself free. “You don’t know what kind of shit is on the other side of that wall. You could bring half of Raleigh down on our asses! Half of healthy Raleigh! We can’t just let out our pent up anger all the time, kid! We’ve got to just do it some other way. Now come on. Let’s get the hell outta here.” Lionel resumed his old posture of resignation and followed her through the rest of the brick building, searching everything and leaving nothing that they couldn’t use. The whole time, Lionel tried his best to convince himself that his sister wasn’t a murderer.

    “George led us into a trap,” he thought, and responded with, “He probably didn’t know any better than we did where we were going.”

    “But what if he did?” Lionel muttered to himself, his sister’s back turned to him.

    “Then he got what was coming to him.”

    “But what if he didn’t?” he asked himself.

    “Lionel!” Harriet whispered at him intensely. Lionel looked up. “Get down!” Harriet said and pushed him down to a crouching position by the broken window. She glanced up over the sill for an instant and cursed under her breath.

    “What is it?” Lionel asked.

    “There’s more of those assholes out on the street. Come on,” his sister said and started over to the door leading the next room. Crouching behind a couch, Harriet’s face turned into a look of concentration. She pulled a knife from the side pocket of her backpack and said, “Stay here. I’ll be back in a minute. If anyone but me comes in here…”

    “Don’t hesitate,” they said simultaneously. Harriet smiled.

    “You’ll be alright,” she said and started for the door. Once outside she found one of them walking down the road, peering into abandoned cars and ripping open the trunks. She had noticed he was going the other way while inside the house and crept up behind a car quickly and quietly. He had a hefty looking revolver out, but that didn’t bother her. He heard her step up quickly behind him as she came around the car but she covered up his mouth before he could scream and jammed the four inch blade through his eye. He tried to pull the double action trigger, but couldn’t squeeze it tight enough before his brains were scrambled. She pulled it out with a sickening, wet sound and kicked his now limp body beneath the car she was hiding behind. The only evidence was a few drops of blood on the asphalt.

    Harriet moved up into an alleyway, spying the other man clutching a shotgun scouring the road further down. “Isaac? Where’d you go?” he called. Receiving no response, he started running down the street to where he had seen his buddy last. He bypassed Harriet’s location seemingly unaware of her and she snuck out. She followed him quickly, thinking that the sound of her footsteps would be obscured by the man’s own breathing and steps. However, he saw her long shadow in the afternoon sun and turned around, weapon shouldered. Harriet backhanded it away just before he pulled the trigger, and the kickback with it not being shouldered caused him to drop it, cursing as his wrist twisted awkwardly.

    Harriet attempted to knife him with a backhanded strike, but he caught her wrist and headbutted her, knocking her back a step and making her curse. As she stumbled, he punched her face, saying, “Come on, asshole.” He reared back again and Harriet ducked it before burying her shoulder into his abdomen. The wind was kicked out of him and she slammed his back into a car. She swung the knife down, but he caught it with both hands before she applied her other hand to it. He stomped on her toes, and she pulled back instinctively, making it easier for him to push her off of him. As she focused on keeping her balance while stumbling away, he grabbed the handle of her knife, wrenching it out of her grasp easily.

    He swung the thing at her belly and Harriet sidestepped it, grabbing his other arm and twisting it around behind him painfully. She jerked it up, dislocating it and making him scream bloodcurdlingly. She kicked him back and at the same time pulled the fire axe out of her belt. He turned around, but in doing so tripped on a loose brick. He cursed and screamed as he crashed onto the asphalt and Harriet hefted the axe above her head. “No, please!” he shouted as Harriet’s furious axe came crashing down on his skull.

    “Come on out!” she called to Lionel after removing her axe from his skull with much strain. She wiped the gore off on the man’s clothes and jerked her knife out of his hand irritatedly. Harriet turned back around to where her brother had been last and found that he wasn’t out of the building yet. “Lionel! Are you okay?” she called, running over to a broken window that led into the building. She quickly knocked out the little glass left on the bottom of the window’s frame and vaulted into the building. She scanned the room and called out her brother’s name again. Hearing footsteps in the next room, Harriet pulled the pistol out of the waistband of her pants and kicked the door in.

    Seeing a man with a gun pressed against her brother’s temple while covering his mouth made her want to do horrible things to him, but carefully. “Hey. Just put down the gun, alright? The kid will be okay, and all will be forgiven,” the man said. Harriet had already leveled the gun and was drawing a bead on him, the scrabbling by her brother making her angrier. .

    “How about you let him go immediately and I kill you quickly?” Harriet said.

    “It’s not gonna work out like that. See, there’s around a hundred of us, and two of you. So, you drop that gun, and you might live. You don’t, and this kid, who I’m sure you love, will be no more,” the man said.

    “Oh, don’t pretend like you care about your clan. You kill him, I’m gonna shoot your wrist, and break every bone in your body before I burn you to death.” The man looked a bit worried, but still too stupid to be anywhere near worried enough.

    “You’re really in no position to be making threats here, lady,” the man said, taking a step back.

    “Don’t you take another fucking step. Any sudden movements, I put one in your eye,” Harriet said, though she was unsure that she could hit the shot.

    “You really think I won’t kill him? First it’s him, then I turn the gun on you after putting his body in front of me,” the man said, shuffling back slowly. Then Lionel finally got his arm around to the sheath that the man had pulled behind him and yanked his knife out. Seeing the flash of steel, the man said, “Why you little-,” before his voice was cut off by his own scream as Lionel stuck the blade completely through his forearm, jerking the gun upward. Lionel broke out of his grip quickly, stomping his toes in the process. Lionel whirled around, pulling out his pistol, but Harriet had already planted a couple of bullets in him. As he fell to the ground, Harriet grabbed her brother’s shoulder and started dragging him away.

    “What the hell? I didn’t do anything wrong this time,” Lionel complained, pulling his knife out of ht dead man’s forearm.

    “We need to leave. The bad guys will be here any minute.”

    “Where are we going to go?”

    “We’re going to find a way out of here.”

    “What if there’s more of these creeps?”

    “Cross that bridge when we get there, huh?”

    “Yeah, okay,” Lionel said and Harriet led the way out of the building, opposite the way she came in.

    “Keep an eye out,” Harriet said as she pushed open the back door. Lionel felt his tongue growing dry as they ran through the alley and it occurred to him that he didn’t have more than a half a litre of water with him. Being used to always knowing where his next drink was coming from, this worried the child. This occurred to Harriet as well, and she said, “We’ll find their base, get some equipment, maybe a car, and get out of this town. I really don’t want to stay here.”

    “Neither do I,” Lionel said, grateful now for the running that he and his sister always partook in at the homestead. They reached the end of the alley and Harriet peeked out into the street.

    “There’s a lot of bad guys down on the left side. We need to move quickly and quietly, got it?” she said.

    “Yeah,” Lionel said, and Harriet nodded before getting moving onto the asphalt. Lionel almost cringed at how loud his footsteps were as he followed her, though the guys down the street didn’t notice them; they were too busy running to where the gunshots were. They continued in this way across two more streets before the sound of a car engine down the street made Harriet mouth a curse.

    She heard the shrieking mass of people shift which direction they were running, and said quietly, “We’re going in this building.” Lionel nodded and Harriet tried the door, finding it locked. She whispered a curse and put up her pistol before taking the hairpin out of her hair, letting her hair loose. Lionel wasn’t used to seeing her hair free and was a little surprised at how long it was. “Check around the corner and tell me if they get within a hundred metres,” she told him. He nodded hurried over to the corner of the alley.

    Lionel peeked around and gazed in amazement for a second at the stampeding crowd of people. They were moving so intensely fast that he almost panicked, but caught himself and hurried back over to Harriet. “They’re around fifty metres away,” he told her and she grunted. She stuck her hairpin in her pocket and stood up straight. She dropped her backpack quickly on the ground and planted her left foot on the ground before planting her right foot next to the lock with a grunt. It flew open with a few splinters of wood and Harriet swung her backpack back around her shoulders. She found herself in a store room and ran over to a particularly heavy looking box.

    “Help me with this,” she said, beginning to push it to the door that Lionel shut after he came in. Lionel rushed over and helped her push it over in the span of a couple seconds. “They probably won’t know we’re here, and they’re not likely to come down this alley if we stay quiet,” Harriet told Lionel. A couple seconds later, a hammering of footsteps outside of the building was both heard and felt by the duo as the crowd came running by on the other side of the building. “Alright, this way,” Harriet said, walking through the room to a door on her left. She had her axe out again as she pushed open the door and Lionel followed with a knife in his. Harriet had told him before that in circumstances like this, you don’t use a gun, no matter what the cost. Harriet cursed quietly as they snuck into the room, as there were three bad guys howling and slamming against the wall in the direction of the car. “Let me handle this,” Harriet muttered to Lionel and pushed him back a step.

    Harriet stepped into the room and dropped her backpack on the table pushed up against the door that they hadn’t come through. The thud caught the attention of one, who came charging and screaming at her. She sliced her axe through his throat, sending him to the ground. The other two came running, attracted by the man’s screaming, and Harriet quickly grabbed the table up against the door before shoving it into the two coming at her. This bought her enough time to bury her axe in the skull of the one on the left, killing her instantly; however, as Harriet struggled to pull her axe out, the other started climbing over the table. Harriet left her axe in her and caught the man’s arm as he swung it at her after climbing over the table, his belly still on it. She grabbed his head next and slammed it against the table, making him scream. Blood squirted out of his nose as it broke, and Harriet slammed it again twice more before denting his skull and calling it done. She pushed his body off of the table with a grunt and climbed onto it herself. From there she had better leverage to pull her axe out of the dead woman’s skull, though it still took several yanks.

    “C’mon, Lionel. They’re dead,” Harriet said. Lionel peeked around the corner before stepping in. “Careful, the floors slippery,” she said, gesturing to the pool of blood spreading from the still squirming man’s throat. Harriet wiped the brains and blood off of her axe with the pant leg of the dying man before saying, “I need to sit a moment,” and taking a seat on the table. She set down the axe next to her on the table and put her hands on her knees.

    “What’s up?”

    “I’m tired.”

    “Me too,” Lionel said and sat next to her. “Oh, ew,” he said, finding that he sat on where Harriet had broken the bad guy’s nose. Lionel put his pack on his lap and pulled out his water bottle. “So what’s wrong? You don’t usually slow down like this,” Lionel said.

    “I’m just remembering, and I’ve done this so much, I’ve spilled so much blood, it kind of bothers me that it doesn’t bother me anymore.” Lionel felt like he knew exactly what she was talking about.

    “Well, it’s like you said. These guys aren’t human. If we didn’t kill them, they’d kill us,” Lionel said.

    “It’s not just them. Oh, I don’t need to be telling you this. I’m just gonna make you more scared.” Harriet stood up and walked over to the door they had come through. “Sounds like they’re gone,” she said.

    “You know, I’m going to be scared whether you tell me or not. Will you be less scared if you talk to me, though?” Lionel asked.

    “We need to go. Come on,” Harriet said. She stood up and Lionel obeyed, though he knew that she needed to talk about all this sometime. This was not that time, however, so he followed her through the door that they hadn’t come through. Lionel took out his long knife as Harriet pushed open the door, and he sighed quiet relief as the hinges didn’t squeal. He closed the door behind them and followed Harriet up to the counter in near silence. He had seen from his initial scan of the room that there were about ten of the bad guys hammering on the wall in the direction that the car had driven off, and the glass storefront was completely shattered. There were only a few stragglers from the initial, major part of the crowd that had gone through the streets after the car, those with broken legs or ankles.

    “Stay close,” Harriet mouthed to Lionel before vaulting over the counter so quiet that she didn’t get any attention. She had taught him to read lips while she was training him, as stealth is essential while foraging in population centers like this. Lionel followed her, staying quiet as well. They snuck through the aisles, watching where they stepped and staying as quiet as possible as not to attract the attention of the bad guys on the wall, which Lionel could now tell were a total of eleven. There was a low, long container of rotted fruit near the front of the store, which Lionel and Harriet took cover behind. They both peeked over the top and looked to the left, where the bad guys were generally coming from. They were going at a snail’s pace, and collapsing every now and again, some every step, but they all moved desperately.

    Harriet tapped Lionel’s shoulder and mouthed, “We’ll go through the front door. We can go far more quickly than they can, but don’t make any more noise than you have too. If you get their attention, cut their throat so they don’t scream and knock them over. We’re going into that alley across the street.” She pointed to said alley. It was somewhat wide, and Lionel could see a ladder going up to the roof of one of the buildings in the alley. “We’ll go up the ladder and take to the rooftops. There’s a lot less bad guys up there,” she mouthed and Lionel nodded, thinking it practical. She held up five fingers and lowered them one by one until only her index finger was up, then pointed to their destination.

    They got out the front door without being bothered, and Lionel didn’t hesitate to go, as he had noticed the three bad guys between there and where he was at that time by the time he got to the door. He moved fast, not trying to stay quiet but still watching out of the corner of his eye where he was stepping. He got behind the first one that was burned so bad that the ears were gone, but the second one noticed him. It made a desperate lunge for him, but fell on its face when it tried to step with a foot that was twisted backwards. Lionel was kneeling a moment later, and just the root of a cry escaped his throat, Lionel slashed it. Harriet had gotten ahead of him by then, and he looked just in time to watch her expertly cut the throat of one of them with a slim knife. She dislocated its knee with a kick and by the time Lionel had gotten by it, the bad guy’s face was deep red. From there it was a ten yard sprint to the alley, and Lionel glanced around, just in time for three bad guys to scream at the same time to his left, though other than that they were too far away to be worried about.

    Harriet got to the alley before Lionel and turned around to see him get in a half second before her. “Come on, up the ladder,” she said in a low voice. She had told him before that if he had to talk, to do it in a quiet voice, as it carried less than a whisper. Lionel slipped his knife into its sheath as he ran over to it and started climbing. He looked around as he climbed, as the building was several stories tall. Harriet was right behind him, he saw as he looked down. He was up on top of the building after a half minute of climbing. He got out of the way for Harriet to get up with him as well, his hands on his knees as he panted. He got himself to stop breathing so heavily after a couple seconds, by which time Harriet was with him. Her breathing was calmed a moment later as well. Lionel got his water bottle out of his backpack, with only a half litre of water in his bottle. He took a swig, as he was sure that’s all his body really needed, and put it back into his pack. As all of this happened, his sister talked to him.

    “We should be heading away from the way the car was going, and go that way,” Harriet said, pointing in the opposite direction of the vehicle. She looked over and saw that the huge crowd of people was still moving in the direction of it. “Think you can make that jump?” Harriet said, looking over the edge of the building, where bad guys were together at the bottom.

    “It’s not that big,” Lionel said. “I think I can handle it.” Lionel tossed his backpack to the next rooftop over before following it with a running jump. Harriet did the same, and cleared it just as easily. “So, what’s the plan?” Lionel asked.

    “We’re gonna get one of them alone, interrogate him for a car, and get the fuck out of this place,” Harriet told him.

    “And after that?”

“Birmingham.” It was all that needed to be said.
Soldiers: Part 3
We return to Harriet and Lionel for another part
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    When I was young, at the bottom of the hill that I lived on, an electrical wire ran across the street. A pair of shoes were hanging from it one day, and I had no idea what it meant then. My brother and I even made a game out of trying to get our shoes that were too small up there as well, but we were small, and couldn’t throw very well. Another day, in another year, another pair of shoes joined them. They were taken down at one point, and I felt inexplicably angry, like when my sister tells me something that she had already told me ten minutes ago.

    I moved seven years ago or so to a little town in North Carolina called Hillsborough. The first house I moved into here was on a hill as well. At night sometimes, I would ask my brother why people were playing baseball in the middle of the night. In the morning, I would play with empty bullet casings at the bottom of the hill.

    A few months ago and seven years later, my brother told me that a guy that drove me to school one time had a friend who was killed by gang violence. My brother’s friend was the sister of the guy that drove me, and is a nice girl. She and her brother feared that her brother would be murdered as well, as he had done something that his gang didn’t like as well. My brother told me that their house had gotten shot up. That was the last that I heard of it. Her brother’s friend never showed up in the newspaper, even though this little town doesn’t see murders all the time, I assume.

    I didn’t know why, when the shoes were taken down, I was angry. I know why I’m angry that the boy in the gang that I knew through multiple association is dead and wasn’t in the papers. I’m not into superstitious stuff, but perhaps, when the shoes were taken down, the ghost of the kids that were killed were so angry that they lost the recognition that they deserved, those around could feel it as well. I know, though, why I’m angry that boy isn’t in the papers. I’m angry that he didn’t get the recognition that he deserved. He didn’t get recognition for dying for doing something he thought was right, that his gang didn’t. I angry because not enough other people are.

Shoestrings
I know I don't normally write non fiction, but I needed to. Personal narratives can be fun, too!
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Some of my older watchers may know what happens between the months of June and September: I lose my computer. It belongs to the school, so I'm giving it back over the summer. I probably won't be updating much as my mom doesn't like me to use her computer, so yeah. I'm near the end of a couple of chapters, so I may upload a couple chapters over break. I'm sorry I haven't been uploading stuff much lately. Been having a bit of a rough time. 

On a happier note, I'm going to CampWrite UNC next week, which will AWESOME. Not much more to say. See ya round, as this is my last day with a computer. 
  • Mood: Tired
  • Listening to: For What It's Worth by Buffalo Springfield
  • Reading: Candide by Voltaire
  • Playing: The Last Of Us
  • Eating: Epic casserole
  • Drinking: milk

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watsisface
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Kid that loves writing, video games, writing fan fictions and Scifi.
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:iconserendiipitii:
Serendiipitii Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for the favorite (:
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watsisface Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
You're welcome.
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Serendiipitii Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for the watch! (:
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watsisface Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Ur welcome!
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xxdraxx Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2014  Student Artist
Hey~~

Just wanted to thank you for the fave!

Also, since I'm currently focusing on music, I was wondering if you'd be interested in supporting me in that endeavor of mine?

If you are, I can link you to where you can find that stuff!
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watsisface Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I would be interested in supporting your music, but, as I have little money to do so, I am sorry that I cannot unless you're simply looking for listeners on spotify or something.

You're welcome for faving your work. I'm sorry I can't properly support you.
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xxdraxx Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2014  Student Artist
Just looking for listens :P Shall I link you?
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watsisface Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Sure. Thanks!
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HelloMyNameIsEd Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2014
Thanks for the fav on my Skyrim comic! :D
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watsisface Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
yup
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