Topping: Whipped Cream
Flavours: Honey-nut: #25. When you say one thing, the clever person understands three.
Title: The Ambivalent Soldier
Word Count: 559
Summary: Thorn has risen high within the ranks of the elfin army though some still believe this is a mistake. In all honesty, Thorn agrees with them, but for different, darker reasons than his age; not that he can admit it, of course.
“General! General!” An elf, maybe three hundred years older than Thorn, charged into the clearing. The older man must have been running a great distance and at an admirable speed if he was tired from such a simple exercise.
The soldier was neither thick nor thin; his muscles lean but adequate; and though he possessed an unfairly handsome face due to his heritage, it was only his blue eyes that gave him definition amidst others of their kind. The rest of him was just as plain as any other clone-like elf.
“What is it?” Thorn demanded. He threw his notebook to the ground and stood, as did a few of the non-commissioned officers with him; seven in total.
A fire blazed in the centre of their encampment. Three logs were positioned around it like benches and five tents marked the clearing-perimeter; Thorn had his own.
“Are you General Thorn?” panted the soldier.
“You should know the faces of your superiors,” snapper Corporal Spear.
“Calm yourself,” said Thorn, raising his hand a little to Spear. Then to the soldier, “Yes, I go by Thorn. Speak clearly and tell me your name and commanding officer.”
The soldier gave a brisk bow of his head. He approached Thorn and stopped just over an arm’s length from him, glancing at the others who gripped the hilt of their swords, suspicious. The soldier and Thorn were of the same towering height. They even looked similar, except, the hair of the soldier before him was long – a sign of the man’s age and that he had been accepted as an adult.
Thorn was the third youngest elf in history to have been accepted into the military before the age of four-hundred; and the youngest ever to become a General at the tender age of two-hundred. Humes called this stage of life, ‘the teens’, or something. As a mark of his success, Thorn did not plan to grow out his hair.
Besides, the NCOs were suspicious of the wrong man.
“My name is Private Lesage. My commander is Lieutenant Arrow. Sir, I’ve come to warn of a vast pack of Cinderwraiths that are charging towards the city!”
Thorn cringed. “Do not call them a ‘pack’,” he said, disliking the belittling term.
“Because they are not animals. They are beings to the Gods too, and were not always blinded by Phoenix; some even today.”
Lesage gave him a haughty look and seemed to suppress a sardonic laugh. “What, like the family you tried to excavate from Bhjondo Rift, I suppose?”
A flash of anger and embarrassment overcame Thorn. He seized the front of Lesage’s gambeson and shook him hard. He kept the soldier an inch from his face and fear returned to the man’s big blue eyes. A slight snarl curled Thorn’s top lip as he said, “The term ‘pack’ is not specific! Call them a squad, a battalion, a brigade! Give me an idea of numbers, idiot, rather than throw around your discrimination.”
With another hard shake, Thorn shoved the man away. He stumbled into one of the logs but retained his balance; looking as if he struggled to control a bought of outrage. Thorn maintained his glare. “Seven minutes. I want an accurate report. Your time starts now.”