Scars of the conscious were just as bloody as the day they were incurred. Never forgotten unless you were dead and pressed in by the earth from all sides. Only then did peace prevail and true rest commence.
The merchant was close, waddling along the dirt floor of the loading lot of the capital as he inspected the men who showed in response to his request for guards. The roads between the Holds were no longer safe, not since the murder of the princes of Breshtk. Barston did not cry anymore for both Jarun or Dovam. Those tears had dried up days after his banishing.
Gray-bearded, heavy set, and smelling of wine even in the early hours of the day, the merchant came face to face with him. A squinting eye peered deep into Barston’s face. “You seem the soldiery type,” he said, breath a warm, sour cloud.
Barston felt the eyes of the other hired men fall in unison upon him, checking to see if they could determine what called for the merchant’s comment. He felt the itch to speak. “No longer, sir.” It was not truly the correct response and awkward once he heard the words leave his mouth but it was all he could muster.
The merchant’s squint did not dry up. “You’ll do. I see the dagger in your boot. Your sword?”
Hoping not to have to share his shame, Barston reluctantly took the hilt and pulled it slightly out of the scabbard revealing the blade. He said nothing.
“Good.” The merchant stepped back to address the group of eleven hired guards. “We leave in an hour for Rastome; take care of what you need to. I don’t have to emphasize the dangers as the Holds continue to unravel. You damned well better be ready to draw and defend these wagons. Go on.”
Barston ignored but noticed the other ten guards shaking hands in congratulations for the employment and setting out to put their affairs in order. He did not extend his hand or leave though. He already possessed all that he needed. No salutations, supplies, or urges were necessary to fulfill on his part. All that he needed was in tow. He tested his leg, healed by a Wielder, denied the scar he deserved. But, the searing reminder of shame and guilt of his failure could not be healed. Nothing would deny him that scar.