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Vows of Honor

It's hard to believe, isn't it? That we're here today, you in the fire and me watching it.
We couldn't have known, old friend, when we set out to see the world. I tell myself that every ten seconds; I come back to it like the sun comes back to rise.
I tell myself that if I would have known, maybe things would have been different. I'd like to think I would have said no, but my heart whispers to me slyly that I know we would have gone anyway.
We were so young when we set out. What did we have? Two horses, a satchel of supplies between the two of us, and two weapons. How does anyone survive on that? How do two growing boys set out with a crust of bread between them a day and a little waterskin of warm, thick water? How did we make it to that faraway land we whispered about as boys, with only those things to our name and a land split by wars and monsters?
If you were here, really here, I know you would laugh at me, but you would also tell me something ridiculous and true - that our determination kept us better fed than any of the feasts in our name, that the dreams of honor guided us like the stars, that the world's laws themselves had to bend beneath us and the strength of our wills. Now that you're not here, will I have to say those things myself? Will you leave me, old friend, and take away answers full of hope and laughter and trust? Now that you're gone, someone may look at me to say those things. What will I tell them? I have only ever been able to speak with a blade - and with you. Ours was not a life meant for comfort, that I know, nor was it meant to give us the same happy ending most dream of. I guess I just thought that- that maybe, if we went, we would go together. It never occurred to me that you might go on a journey without me.
Selfish of me, isn't it? I was always more selfish of the two of us. Of course I'm happy for you. I know you're going to the place of legends, that the smoke and ashes leaving these flames will carry your spirit far away into the night, where you could not ride before, and I know that at the very prospect of such a great journey you'd swing yourself upon your horse and throw your head back and laugh until the very hills rang with it.
I'm happy for you, really.
But as these orange and red flames crack and pop in laughter at me, it's hard to think any battle will be worth riding to, ever again. To be honest, I'd like to follow you, the way I always used to do. Wouldn't it be easy? Put the blade through myself, or purposely lose the next battle. Perhaps just stop trying.
But you'd be angry with me for saying that right now, and I can't stand to make you angry. What of honor, you would say, what of vows? You would be right. I have no choice; I'll fight. I'll fight for what we last fought for, for the cause that forced you to leave me now. I'll take every one of those fools down with me, and mark my words in this vow of honor that I'll get that blonde haired brat that now gloats he's stained his steel with your blood. He won't get away with dishonoring you. We always swore, didn't we, that we would protect each other? Even if the cold world turned it back on us and if the winds laughed at us from above. I will protect your name. So guide me, old friend - point me to them, and watch as an army falls beneath our will, just as they used to. When that arrogant whelp made you bleed and closed your eyes forever, I thought that it was all over. That now I had to learn to live without you. Now I realize, though, what you would tell me. You would look me in the eye and say, "We are not so weak. Not so weak that Death could break us."
As always, you would be right.



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