For The Cause: Chapter 14

book serial

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

When I returned to my home, Ramsii was there. She was just sitting there, inside my home, presumably waiting for my arrival. 

The busyness of the past two days nearly caused me to completely forget about her. Almost. But in the very back of my mind she was still very much there, like a dream you can’t ever seem to shake. Now here she actually was, present in body and not just in spirit. And in my own home. She was alone.

I didn’t know how to react when I first saw her. I recognized her at the immediate moment I laid my eyes on her, no time for recall necessary. And the reason she was there was also not forgotten. Still, it is a wonder to me that I did not initially say or do anything. She had intruded upon my home and it was my custom to not treat intruders kindly or with any benefit of the doubt. This was, obviously, a very different situation, though. This woman had been scared to enter our village when we talked in the mountains. Maybe she thought she had no other choice but to enter my home to keep away from prying eyes? But then I wondered how she knew which was my home? In our first meeting I didn’t tell her where she could find me, so it occurred to me that someone else must have told her, and a sense of alarm began to creep up within me. 

“I’ve come by myself,” she said. 

“I see that,” I replied. It appeared that she was about to speak again, perhaps explaining why her father had not come with her, but I continued before she could begin. “How did you know this is where I lived?” 

Her eyes grew wide and she looked at me hesitantly. This is it, I thought to myself. I’ve already found out that it is a conspiracy. That this is all a set-up in some way. And it’s come out so easily, a monumental mistake on her part to be found out in this way. 

“I… I followed you,” she finally spoke, ending a lengthy silence, as she realized what I was allowing the silence to tell me. 

But now I wasn’t sure what to think. I imagined that she very well could’ve been lying and trying to cover for herself. But if she was lying, she was still a spy and I would have to figure out what my next move would be. If she was telling the truth, why then did she feel the need to be following me? And how long had she been following me — had it been going on even before our first meeting? 

“You followed me?” I asked. “How long… and why?” 

“I had to know I could trust you. And so I stayed nearby after our meeting the other night and I followed you back here. Then I went back to my home once I was certain I knew the way.” She spoke so matter-of-factly and with the same conviction that she had in that first meeting; the same conviction that made me want to believe her and trust her. But my instincts insisted that I remain upset with her for having followed me. 

“I don’t appreciate being followed. Or to have someone come into my home without having been invited.” 

“I’m sorry. How can I make it up to you?” she asked. 

“I don’t need anything from you, other than for you to never follow me again.” 

I was stern but felt I had to be. It was my perception that she had stirred up some weaknesses within me, with this longing for her presence and desiring to put my trust in her. I had to fight back against it. I was convinced that any further entertainment of this woman’s story, whether true or untrue, would only bring me trouble.

“I understand,” she said. “I will leave. I am sorry.” 

And with that, she got up and she left. I didn’t stop her. That voice or feeling that pleaded with me to get her to stay came back again, but I had determined that that desire didn’t have anything to do with helping her for her and her father’s sake anymore. Helping them wasn’t the most important factor, and, I knew, deep down, that this was a problem. The desire was there because I wanted to get to know her on a deeper level, and I knew I couldn’t allow that part of me to make decisions in my life. Also, she had betrayed my trust. I hadn’t explicitly asked her not to follow me, but I believed that she should have come to that conclusion on her own. This upset me, and other than the obvious, I didn’t fully understand why it upset me as much as it did.

What I did understand was that I had to move on. I had a battle, or series of battles, to prepare for. I had men to lead. I had to be careful, and stopping her would’ve been the opposite of careful. If she really was a spy, I would most likely see her again. If she continued to follow me, I would see her again. But if she truly was looking for me to help her and her father, then she likely would have determined that her chances were now ruined, and, in that case, I would never see her again.

Setting up a new camp nearer to the enemy ended up not happening. Because the area we planned on was already occupied — by the enemy.

The fighting returned to us abruptly and swiftly. The few weeks we had off seemed to be a distant memory just minutes into that first battle. Apparently, the enemy had prepared just as well as we had because neither one of our sides would let up any ground during the first portion of the fighting. Our fighting skills were initially rusty and unrefined, but the tactics each side employed were well planned and thought out, and we were like two massive same size waves hitting each other at the same amount of force, pushing us both back equally, requiring a regroup.

Also, the wills of both sides were strong, which took me by surprise when concerning the enemy. We had recently crushed them, both in a literal and spiritual sense, but it seemed as if their backs being pushed up against the wall had brought something out of them that I had not seen before. I had underestimated them and, in the back of my mind, for a brief second, I wondered if we had made the wrong decision and if we should have attacked sooner. I only allowed myself to think this for a brief second, though, because a battle now had to be won, and I was in the middle of it; what was done was done and I would think on it no more.

And none of this is to say that my men weren’t ready, because they were, and they fought back just as hard and just as valiantly, which alleviated a concern I had going in: coming from a position of strength, which we were, can often be tricky, even in the course of battle, and can cause even the best of men to let up. But not these men. Not my men. We came to win and we knew what we had to do to achieve our victory. 

In the midst of the battle I noticed my new friend — the man whose home I had helped repair — on a couple of occasions.

One of the times was during a sword duel. This is where I got to see first-hand some of the mastery swordsmanship he possessed. The enemy warrior had charged at him first, and from what I could tell, my friend had subtly coaxed him into making the first move. And instead of dodging to the left or right in order to avoid the charge, he instead gave one subtle, yet effective fake dodge to the right, but then stood his ground, having not actually moved at all. The fake threw the enemy off just enough for him to veer to his left. Then with his sword, which he held in his right hand, he wildly swung in the direction that my friend had faked. This swinging of the sword enabled my friend to, in one motion, dismantle the enemy's sword from him, as he was thrown off balance.

Watching this, it became apparent to see why he had chosen to fake which way he did: the decision was based on which hand the enemy was holding his sword. Since the sword was in the right hand, he would be swinging his entire body directly in front of my friend. The sword was not dismantled by a strike from my friend’s own sword, however; he was saving his sword for a few moments after he had de-sworded his foe. Instead, he used a small dagger he had hidden away in his belt for the initial dismantling. It took greater concentration and more accurate aim to do it this way, but it was quicker and more efficient. So as the enemy warrior was swinging away, exposing his entire right arm to my friend, my friend drove his dagger directly into the right hand of the enemy warrior, causing him to immediately drop his sword, along with his entire body, to the ground. And before anyone could fully process what had transpired, my friend drove his sword deep into the back of the head of the enemy warrior, killing him immediately. 

The other occasion I saw him came towards the end of the battle. I observed as one of our own men lie dying in a now mostly vacant area of the battlefield. The man was frightened, terrified to die. He was shaking and crying and was unwilling to let go, when that was the only option available to him. Most of the men were making one last charge, driving the enemy completely away and did not have time to stop and give their final goodbye to a dying comrade, one of their own brothers. I did not blame nor did I judge them, because I had often done the same thing in my years of fighting. But my friend stopped. He knelt next to the dying man, placed one hand on the man’s forehead, and he bowed his head and said a prayer for the man. I don’t know what was said in the prayer, but this display touched me and showed me that my friend was not just a master warrior, but that he also had a masterful heart, one for the men with whom he fought with. 

After achieving victory, I sought him out so we could thank our God together. Many others joined around us as we did this, and they did the same as we did. I was overjoyed by this happening and continued to thank God. I thanked Him for victory, for preservation, and for our growing numbers in His Cause.

“I want you to be my second-in-command,” I said to Reynus, my new friend. 

“Sir, I’m honored, but I don’t feel that I’m worthy. Why me?” he asked.  

I knew this would be his response and I was glad that it was. I had also never had a second-in-command and thus was not yet even sure what I was asking of him. But I knew I wanted him in a place of leadership and that I wanted to keep him nearby. He was valuable to me; we saw things much the same way, and I believed he could help me in growing the amount of warriors we had for the Cross. 

“Because I’ve seen how you are in battle,” I said. “I’ve seen you with the men. How you care about them and how they respond to you. You are a great warrior, one of the best, but you are also a great man and that’s what the Cause needs in a leader.” 

There was nothing false in what I was telling him. It seemed he possessed the same ability in being able to read the men as I had in being able to read the enemy. And I needed this, because it was apparent to me that there were times when my own ability in deciphering the other side’s men may have gotten in the way of me fully knowing how my own men were doing. With his help, I believed he would be a benefit to me whenever I lacked in that area. 

“Sir, I still feel unworthy, but I will give it my all. And… thank you.” 

“You’re welcome, Reynus. And thank you.”