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Изменено (AggressiveBacon): 1/11/2019 10:05:57 PM

The Lords of Ambros (Chapter 9, Part 3 (continued(2)))

Table of Contents: [b]Chapter 9, Part 3 (continued(2))[/b] Charillus sat in silence, his back to a small boulder, and recited a list of his grievances within the confines of his mind. [i]“The Lords will take care of it,”[/i] he thought, his internal voice adopting a tone of discontented mockery. [i]Sure they will.[/i] A frenzy of gunfire called from the cliff’s edge, beyond the opposite face of the stone behind which Charlie sat. The boy noted that, unless his ears deceived him, far more than eighteen guns had just sounded. His irritability only grew as the order was given to fire at will. He did not, the youth told himself, care to have a gun any longer. He would forgo even a knife, so long as he was permitted to gaze upon the battlefield, just as everyone else. In spite of his assertions, however, Charlie was not alone in being denied sight of battle. Although it was not the policy of his superior (that being the Lord of Ambros himself), Lord SynIva had ordered that all men of ten and older (for, as he said, “there are only men in war”) accompany their fathers on the march east. Though some would sooner die than obey such a command, this was an established custom for the people of Albios, and so was observed without protest. As such, a score of boys about Charillus’ age-and indeed some beneath it-had ventured to these cliffs as he, their primary contribution to the war effort being their service as pack mules. Many of these stood beside their fathers at the bluff’s edge. Others did not, having been tucked away in perceived safety while the Lords were unaware, just as Charlie. He, of course, chose to ignore this contradiction, refusing to acknowledge anything that threatened to suggest the validity of his father’s decision. And so the boy sat on, restless, his mind unable to cope with the loss of his first battle, which wore on outside of his view. [i]At least I can listen[/i], he offered himself in solace. Yet this was of little comfort, as Charlie soon realized that-while he certainly could [i]listen[/i]-he could not hear a thing. The battle had gone silent. This piqued his interest, and he could resist the urge to abandon his shelter no longer. Hastily pivoting toward the cliff’s distant edge, Charillus’ thoughts shifted from curiosity to horror, and his face grew pale. The others simply stood, unmoving, at the verge of the drop. Their ranks had thinned, fanning out so that each could see what was beyond, though Charlie’s view was obstructed by the barrier presented by their presence. Due to this, he saw no choice but to further approach their position. The boy ventured onward, slipping through the crowd with the aid of his diminutive stature, until he neared the edge. He then noted, catching his breath, that his path had ended directly beside the place where his father and brothers now stood. Luckily, his presence seemed to have gone as of yet unnoticed, as his kin were entranced just as all others by whatever was before them. Upon realizing this, Charlie sighed in relief, and turned his gaze toward the object of their interest. There was something in the sky-something [i]big[/i]. It looked, Charillus’ thought, like a giant blossom: the petals of a gargantuan flower, unfolding across the sky. Or perhaps it was a cloud. A massive, purple cloud…shaped like- It was an explosion. And-however slowly-it was expanding. Soon, it would reach the ground on which they stood. Charlie tore his eyes from the sight, spun away from the edge, and ran. In doing so, he initially drove himself against his father’s side, breaking the man from his stupor. He quickly recovered, however, and ran on. “Charlie…” his father whispered in confusion as his son fled. “Charlie, what are you doing?” Charillus did not respond to the inquiry, instead fleeing further across the cliff’s height. “Charlie,” his father repeated, with greater force. Unbeknownst to him, the outer reaches of the ethereal blast were now only moments away. In fact, he did not recall the explosion at all. He felt as if he had just awoken from a long slumber. Charlie ran on, only renewing his speed upon hearing the distant call. His father, now deeply concerned, took a moment to muster his strength. Then, with a mixture of anger and fear, he unleashed another cry. “Charlie!” he shouted. “Stop!” The boy did as he was told, his headlong flight grinding to a halt, and slowly turned to face his father. There were tears in his eyes, as well as the reflection of that which he saw: a growing ring of violet energy, surging forth to engulf all who stood before it-including his family. For an instant, father and son locked eyes. In that fleeting moment, which to both lasted for a time that seemed eternal, Charlie spoke. Though his voice was only a whisper, and the distance between them far too great to convey its sound, the message within endured. “I love you.” Charillus’ father closed his eyes, and in the next second was enveloped in the light of an explosion which he had never consciously seen, but had nonetheless expected. Yet the blast did not leave ash and ruin in its wake. Instead, all stood as they had been, the faces of most still set to the sky. Charlie let out an exultant sigh as the outer ring passed him, and-blinking the tears from his eyes-looked again to the distant figure of his father. The tears quickly returned. The boy stood, overwhelmed by the emotional vertigo induced by his circumstance, and stared once more into the eyes of the man across the clifftop. They were cold. Where moments before he had seen in those eyes a great depth of emotion, Charlie now saw only the distant glaze of apathy. He might have dismissed this as a temporary blank, perhaps brought about by exposure to the blast, were it not for the gun in his father’s hands. The gun, which was aimed at the son of its wielder, and which the prior did not doubt would soon be put to use. Charlie fell to his knees, and an involuntary whimper escaped his lips. All around him was the sound of gunfire, as those few still capable of feeling or thought were executed; by their friends; by their brothers; by their sons; by their fathers… Charlie gazed into the empty face before him, and a single thought crossed his mind. He needed a gun. Another shot joined those which ripped through the air of the clifftop. Another life-extinguished. Another flame, snuffed out. It was one of many. Charlie lay dead upon the uncaring earth, a hole punched through his chest. His father, unblinking, turned from the corpse of his son, and threw himself from the cliff’s edge. ________________________________________ [Continued]

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