Pages

A Defining Moment

It was dusk. Éiadric stood in the cold rain beside his father, glad for the raindrops concealing his tears. They were looking down from a hilltop out onto his uncle’s grazing pastures. He was a mere boy, maybe ten years old.

His uncle and the rest of the family were in the main house behind them washing the body of his dead cousin.

Finally his father broke the long silence with his stern deep voice “You should not have gone out after the wolf by yourselves. It was foolish. And now your cousin is dead.”

Éiadric said nothing.

“Seeking danger for mere glory’s sake is folly son, you’d do best to remember that. You are lucky to be alive.”

----------

They had been there for almost a week now. They had travelled from their home in Aldburg to his uncle’s farm as they did every early autumn to help with the harvest.

Two days ago a wolf had been spotted roaming around the edge of the fields. His cousin Alric and himself had secretly decided that they would chase the wolf away. Maybe even kill it. Alric who was two years older had made it all sound so easy. How they would surprise the wolf. How all the grownups would pour praise over the two boys, no, MEN, Alric had corrected himself. “We WOULD be men if we killed that wolf.” Éiadric had not wanted his cousin to think he was a coward and had gone along with everything he said

----------

Now he was pressed with guilt and shame and he burst out in a stream of tears and looked at his father, and then away again.

“It was my fault father!” His words gushed out mixed with uncontrollable sobs “It was my fault he died!”

His father looked at him intently. He was surprised. But he could see that his son was going to continue so he waited.

“We had both gone to kill the wolf. But when we were there. I fled. I left Alric to… he… I didn’t…”

Éiadric broke down completely. His father turned to him and put his powerful blacksmith’s arms around him and Éiadric buried his face in his father’s chest and sobbed uncontrollably.

----------

They had tracked the wolf as best they could and it had led the two boys into a nearby grove. They had both grabbed whatever makeshift weapons they could get a hold of. Alric had a pitchfork and Éiadric a knife that he had snuck out of the cooking houses. They were sure that they were ready. They were sure that they could take down the wolf. They just had to be careful.

But it all happened too fast. The starving wolf had seen the two boys as pray. It hadn’t made a noise until it attacked. In a flash it had jumped out of nowhere on Alric and had gone straight for his throat. Éiadric had stumbled backwards and lay there completely frozen. All he could see was how the wolf tore Alric’s throat. How dark blood pumped out of the boys body. How his blank eyes stared up at him. After a while he became conscious of himself and his surroundings again. Fear overwhelmed him and he started crawling backward frantically. He got to his feet and ran. He ran as fast as his legs could carry him, all the way back to the farm.

They found the poor boy where Éiadric said he would be. The beast had torn away a good deal of flesh from his body but was gone by the time they got there.

----------

Éiadric’s father started speaking again in a low gentle voice. “It was not your fault son. You have to understand that. There was nothing you could have done to save your cousin. Nothing.”

“But I ran!” Éiadric cried “I left him there! I left him like a coward.”

Éiadric’s father paused, deep in concerned thought. Then he squatted, with a hand on his son’s shoulder and looked him in the eyes.

“You feel that you made a cowards choice by running away.” Éiadric just snivelled and listened to his father “But what was the alternative? To stay and be slaughtered like a lamb yourself? Do you really believe that would have proved you were brave?”

Éiadric looked down on the ground.

“Son. I will tell you this now because I think you’re old enough to understand. I have seen enough in my life to know that what I’m about to tell you is true. We live in a world full of fear. Fear of what others might think.“

His father took a deep breath and continued “When faced with a choice, most people tend to pick the hardest path just to show others that they are not afraid. Do not fall into that trap, son. Always pick the path that protects you and those around you.”

“But take heed. I am not saying that you should run away from hardships. It is important that you understand that. Quite the contrary. If what would guarantee the safety of yourself and those you hold dear warrants blood. Then let there be blood. But let that be YOUR choice. Do not be bullied into it. YOU pick your battles. No one else. And make sure that the battles are worth winning, let alone fighting.”

Éiadric looked up again and caught his father’s strong eyes. He wondered what “battles” he must have seen. How much blood he had shed to protect his family. He realised that he knew very little about his father’s past. To him he had always just been a blacksmith.

His father continued “Our choices, Éiadric, are like candles that surround us in the dark. They let us move forward. But by picking one candle you snuff out others. That is why it’s important to make the right choices. Sometimes there is no going back.“

“And above all, remember this. All your actions count. And through your actions, and your actions alone, do you define who you are.”

With that he went silent and they stood there looking out over the dark rolling hills again. Then his father lay his big wet leather cloak about Éiadric’s shoulders.

“Come in when you’re ready son” he said and walked back to the house.

As he stood there alone Éiadric felt the heavy padded cloak weigh down on his small shoulders. Something in him changed that night. He vowed that he would never forget his father’s words. And he vowed that one day he would be rid of his fear.

----------

20 years later, somewhere in Eriador.

Éiadric stood on a hilltop looking down on a large orc encampment. It was dusk and the rain smattered on his thick leather cloak as he observed the camp intently, taking note of every subtle detail. He sighed.

“Then let there be blood…” he muttered under his breath.

“What sir?” asked the captain of the volunteers Éiadric had been given charge off.

“Nothing... Nothing… Get your men ready. The camp is stirring. We can wait no longer. We must strike at once or your village will be overrun.” He picked up his heavy shield and started to fasten it tightly to his arm with the well-worn leather straps.

“Are there not too many of them, sir? Shall we not wait for Captain Trolain’s company?”

“Their numbers matter not.” replied Éiadric. “Keep you hearts stout and your nerves steady. They will fall to your swords. You will see.”

The captain gulped and went to ready his men. But Éiadric grinned and relished the battle to come.

To these men and all his friends he had come to be known as Éiadric the Fearless. For truly now… he knew no fear.

----------

I wrote this when I had finally gotten the title "The Fearless" :)

RSS icon
Facebook icon