The next day the soldiers from Commander Keira had arrived as promised, led by a uniformed woman mounted on a war horse. She was a comrade that Beanderthal had last seen when he was still a foot soldier, and who despite the passing time seemed to not have aged a single year.
"Sarai. How have you been?" he asked as he grabbed hold of the reins so she could dismount. In a single smooth move she jumped down and stood in front of him, her tiny stature becoming evident as the top of her brunette head barely reached his shoulders. Grabbing his arms, she pulled him into a hug, her strong embrace revealing her the strength hidden behind her petite figure.
"Beanderthal! My friend, how long its been!" She stopped away, grinning widely, "Last time I saw you was at the Capital during the evaluations."
He couldn't help but smile as he remembered the last time he had seen all of his friends at the Capital, and how they had all gotten so drunk that they had ended up falling inside of the glass fountain. They had never imagined that less than a decade later they would be caught in a war between two great empires.
"It's quite unfortunate that our reunion was caused by such dire circumstances," he responded. She nodded in agreement as she began to look around, her eyes darkening at the sight of the corpse-filled wagons and hobbling figures of injured soldiers.
"Truly unfortunate circumstances." She grimaced slightly before pointing behind her, "We are a few, but hopefully we are enough in case of an emergency. They are the freshest picks, some haven't even had the chance to step foot in a battlefield."
Beanderthal turned to observe them, and sure enough, many of them despite their serious faces had a spark in their eyes that was yet to be extinguished by the bitter war they would fight in. Walking towards them he noticed that all of them were carrying with themselves swords at their hips.
He glanced at Sarai questioningly, "Have we no archers?"
She shook her head slightly, "We lost most of them at Juali, and the ones who survived were sent north to Lainos." It was expected, archers and crossbowers were the main targets during battles, and just like it had happened to them, he had also lost all of his archers a long time ago.
"Let them find whatever empty bed they can find in the barracks and claim as theirs'."
"You heard the Commander, go."
With those words they all marched away towards the barracks, which were no more than mounted tents. Waiting until they were out of ear shot, Beanderthal corrected Sarai, "I'm the vice-Commander. The Commander is Eden, has been since for a while now actually."
"Eden? The same Eden that wanted to be at the very back of the line carrying supplies because he didn't want to be the leader during training?" She looked both amused and confused by the information, since Eden had been one of the quietest soldiers in their generation.
"Just wait until you see him in battle and you will understand. He actually wanted to meet whoever Keira sent as her representative. I'm sure he'll be pleasantly surprised that it was our old friend Sarai Latham."
He led her to where Eden was, who had been instructing the soldiers what to do, whether it be to get on a wagon to leave or enter a tent to stay.
He turned to look at them, pausing for a second when he recognized Sarai, his eyebrow lifting slightly.
"Miss Latham, it's been quite a while, or is it Captain Latham now?"
"Captain," she answered, "I heard from Beanderthal that you're the Commander." Eden gave a curt nod, remaining silent for a second as he watched her carefully.
"How is everyone? Last I heard Gabriel and Jamie were at Juali as well." Despite his seemingly disinterested expression, Beanderthal knew that Eden still cared about their friends very deep down. Turning to Sarai for her response he saw that all joy had left her eyes as she twisted her mouth into a deep frown.
"I thought you knew."
Beanderthal was confused, and from Eden's furrowed brows he assumed he was too. The last he had heard from them was when they all had to leave to the frontline four years prior.
Hesitating for a second, Sarai seemed to ponder whether or not to elaborate before answering, her voice filled with sadness, "I sent both of you a letter four years ago, from your reactions I suppose they never made it to you," she looked away from them, avoiding their gazes.
"Gabriel died four years ago during the first battles at Juali. It wasn't even a month before he died trying to protect a fellow soldier."
Beanderthal remain frozen on his spot as his eyes widened at the news, the unforgettable sound of Gabriel's voice as he sung lullabies during cold nights after training filling his ears as he realized that one of his friends had passed away without him realizing.
"As for Jamie," Beanderthal felt his heart sink as she continued, her eyes still avoiding his, "He was blinded a few months ago during a surprise attack. We had to send him back to his village. He is still in recovery."
He felt stunned and heartbroken, but the years spent in battle and at the frontlines had hardened him to the point that despite his grief no tears fell from his eyes as he learned about the fates of two people he had once considered best friends.
Turning to Eden, he was able to see a slight crack in his normally emotionless expression, as he seemed to mourn the death of their friends as well. From the corner of his eye he saw Sarai look down, and he suddenly felt immense guilt for having caused her to re-live such terrible events.
"It seems," Eden looked away towards the wagons that had begun to leave, "that everyone's fate is the same in this bitter war."
Hello Everyone, Euchi here!
I hope you all enjoyed the second chapter of TELOR. Please leave a review if you enjoyed, and thank you for reading! :)