”Maximilian! I swear to the Gods, I’m going to kill you,” I leapt forward in a blaze of anger and hatred. Not even the townspeople could stop me from lashing out. Maximilian was standing there with an amused grin on his face. His tall stature and broad shoulders proved that he had spent most of his life doing a soldiers work. Still, it didn’t stop me from going after him.
“What’s wrong Ackles? You got your panties in a twist?” He was laughing at his own joke. The townsfolk seemed amused as well. It didn’t stagger my anger.
I ran straight up to him, not caring about the wet gravel that painted my trousers grey.
“You really did it didn’t you?” I spat at him. Maximilian wiped his face clean of my spit. His grey eyes were relaxed. I held no threat to him.
“You’re still a silly little boy aren’t you?” I pulled him towards me. We were standing face to face. I could feel his cold breath against my face. It smelled like green tea. Maximilian always had this pleasant smell about him. I had no idea how he did it, nor did I want to smell like him.
“You know why I’m here, yeah?” I growled through my teeth. Maximilian shook his head, trying to contain his laughter. I tried to push him down on the ground. Max found his balance quickly. He was a soldier after all.
“We’re adults now, why don’t we behave accordingly?”
“Adults? You’re the right on to talk!” I kicked some wet stones in his direction. He deflected them all.
“Tell me, Ackles? What is it that I have done?”
“You know bloody well what you have done!” I screamed. A ring of townsfolk started gathering around us. Most of them were dying to see a fight between the mighty soldier Maximilian Caesar and the lousy dairy farmer Ackles. Especially when they knew that we had been best of friends before the goddamn war.
“Then tell me. Tell all these people. No really, I want to know,” Maximilian was still smiling. I was dying to wipe that smile off his face.
“You slept with my sister!” I cried. My hands shoot into the air. I surrendered. The pain that had brought me was now out in the open. Maximilian, the proud soldier Maximilian, had taken advantage of a fifteen-year-old dairy farmer. Now everybody knew.
I was waiting for the horrified gasps, the angry shouts and the pitchforks. Nothing came. The crowd was entirely too quiet. What I had said was hanging in the air. The silence was heavy. It was almost unbearable. I lowered my hands, still waiting for someone to speak against Maximilian. No one did. Either they were too scared of the soldiers, or they were too grateful.
When someone finally broke the silence, it was the sinner himself. Maximilian broke out in uncontrolled laughter. He was slapping his thighs and holding his belly.
“What’s so funny?”
“Are you honestly harassing me because I slept with your sister? We were to consenting adults,” he said between bursts of laughter.
“Just because you’re an adult when you’re fifteen in this society, doesn’t mean you can take advantage of her like that.”
“No one was being taken advantage of, I assure you. She wanted it just as much as me. Maybe even more,” he said with a scornful look on his face. His face changed as if he suddenly remembered something. “And by the way, you shouldn’t be one to talk. You slept with the enemy!” I was flabbergasted by his response. My anger arose.
“She isn’t the enemy!” I shouted. My knuckles were shaking. I was trying to keep myself grounded, but the heat of my anger was making it difficult.
“She was at the time, wasn’t she?”
“That was at the time when everyone were enemies. I really couldn’t help that fact,” I defended myself.
“Poor little dairy farmer. Didn’t have a woman to keep his bed warm during the war. Most men did without, but you just couldn’t contain yourself. Even with all the women in our clan, you had to pick the enemy. It’s shameful, really. If a soldier did that, he would have met the wrong side of the gunblade.”
“Then I guess I’m happy I’m not a soldier,” I muttered.
“What was her name again? I always forget. But I’ll never forget what she looked like. If you were going for the enemy clans, you could have picked a skinny girl. She was more bacon than meat.” That was it. I grabbed my gunblade and pointed it against his chest.
“Are you ready to atone for your crimes?”
“Atone? You can’t even pronounce that word, and yet you try. How pitiful, dairy farmer,” he chuckled. Even in the face of death, he didn’t stutter. I guessed that was a soldier’s burden. To expect death around every corner, but to never fret.
My finger lingered on the trigger. I was ready to pull it. To put an end to his miserable little life. He wouldn’t die a soldier’s death on the battlefield, but at least there was some honour in this. Max would die fighting for what he believed in.
“Ackles!” The voice startled me. I dropped my gunblade and watched as it hit the ground. Then I turned to look at a small elderly gentleman. His white hair was unkempt and he had a beard. The man was dressed in brownish robes and he had a moon amulet around his neck.
“Divine father,” Maximilian greeted.
“Caesar,” he responded, not even looking in Max’s direction. He was to busy scolding me with his old gaze.
“Can I talk to you for a moment Ackles?” Even though he asked politely, I understood that I had no choice in the matter. I grabbed my gunblade and followed Divine Father Mathias into the Temple. It was a grandiose stone building. Inside the walls were filled with divine imagery and differed symbols. It was quite breath taking, really.
He stopped in front of the altar. There he turned, measuring me up and down. His piercing blue eyes made me feel naked. It was like he could look into my very soul. I swore to the Gods and hoped he couldn’t. Even though Mathias was a holy man, certainly the holiest I knew, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy around him.
“What were you doing to poor Maximilian?”
“Nothing, Father,” I answered quietly.
“You were pointing your blade at him. Can you explain why?” There are certain moments in life where you have a choice whether to tell the truth or not. I knew my answer would have a great impact on my future. I don’t know how I knew it, I just did. A part of me wanted to keep matters to myself. Father Mathias didn’t have anything to do with the dispute. Deep inside I knew Maximilian and me wouldn’t set aside our differences. This might be the reason I was prepared to involve this old man in our quarrel. I sighed, took a new breath of air and looked him in the eye.
“Maximilian has been going around sleeping with my sister. I didn’t take that too kindly and decided to take justice into my own two hands.”
“You realise Mira is an adult?”
I nodded. “I know. But she’s still only fifteen years old.”
“It doesn’t matter. The law says she’s an adult. As long as it was intercourse between two consenting adults, I don’t see a problem.”
“He took advantage of her!” My shout echoed throughout the Temple.
“I know you have a great sense of justice, but this time you’re in the wrong. We still haven’t forgotten about your little affair with the Red Hook Clan girl.” I groaned loudly.
“So you’re punishing me, is that it?”
“You slept with the enemy in a time of war. While the soldiers were out in the fields, getting killed by the dozens, you were playing house with the wrong team. Maximilian saw his brethren die, what did you do?”
“I’m just a dairy farmer,” I protested.
“You were given a gunblade to kill the Red Hooks, not to sleep with them.”730Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡQbRMgh8YrK
“What are you saying?”
“I’m revoking your gunblade until you prove your loyalty to the Deep River Clan.” I was standing there, gaping. I watched as the Divine Father removed the gunblade from my waist.
I walked along the banks of the Deep River. It was a broad, beautiful river with bountiful fishing opportunities. The Deep River Clan mostly survived off of fishing. We sold quite a generous amount to the other clans. Just not the Red Hooks. Ever since they won the battle of the Green Fork, they have been our sworn enemies.
I was standing at the very edge, where grass met water. My leather boots were damp. I tried skipping stones into the moving water, but the tries were useless. Still I refused to give up. I went looking for the perfect rocks for a good half an hour. It was only when I heard rattling in the bushed behind me I stopped.
“No it’s all right. Continue what yer doin’,” a woman said. A smile formed on my lips. The woman was quite big. Not fat, but full of swelling muscles. She was dressed in a red, leather coat. Around her neck she had a thick wolf pelt. The sword she carried didn’t have a gun. The Red Hooks hadn’t evolved to gunblades yet.
“Elise,” I said, running towards her. We hadn’t been together in over a week. It felt like a decade.
“How are you?” I asked.
“Pretty shite, and you?” I smiled. That was always her answer.
“Same. The Divine Father revoked my gunblade.” Elise brushed some light hair strands away from my face.
“Ya have to tell that Divine bloke that he can’t go ‘round takin’ yer stuff. “ With some difficulty I understood what she was saying.
“The Divine has ultimate power in our clan.” I didn’t know if Elise could understand it. The Red Hooks were so different from us Deep Rivers. They were from the far northeast, or at least so they said. They had dark hair and big blue eyes. Their skin was as pale as the powdered snow on the mountaintops, and they didn’t hesitate to kill their enemies. The Red Hooks were primitive, almost primeval in their approach to life. They hunted the meat they needed and left the rest as an offering to the “nightly Gods”.
“That’s why we say clear of the Divine Temple. The nightly Gods keep us fed and happy.” Elise sat down on the riverbanks. I followed her example. The ground was moist. Almost unpleasantly so.
“You have no idea how much that gunblade meant to me,” I said.
“If it meant so much ya should be able to explain it, yeah?”
“I guess I felt a little bigger when I had that gunblade. Like I wasn’t a simple son of a dairy farmer. Somewhere deep inside of me I envied Maximilian and his soldier boys. I wanted to prove my worth, and I felt like the gunblade helped me do it.” I started drawing in the sand. My finger moved back and forth trough the wet banks. “When I had the blade, people looked at me differently. You wouldn’t understand.”730Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ16IAchh01W
“Is there any way of gettin’ it back from the Divine bloke?”
“I have to prove my loyalty to the Deep River Clan.”
“Sitting on your arse won’t do nothin’ to help.” Her smile always brightened my day. I leant in to kiss her. It was just the start of a long afternoon. I was sure we could find something to pass the time.ns22.214.171.124da2