Dancing with Demons

The nations of Marath and Rean had gone to war. The peace of 100 years had been shattered by Rean in an underhanded attack on Marath during their Harvest feast; when no citizen of Marath is allowed to draw a weapon of any kind. Pandemonium reigned all over, as the Marath’s had just managed to repel being struck down in a blow. However, the city itself was besieged by the huge Reanian army and the Marath resistance was crumbling away. ’Courage before fear, life before death’ the Marath chant which once rang all over, was now barely to be heard. Dark was the hour. In this dire situation, the Ruler of Marath decided to send a message to his allies seeking help. This task was given to Arquin Hermesson; the fastest runner in the land, a lad of just 16 years. Belying his young age, Arquin took up this task with great honour. Bidding farewell to his kith and kin, Arquin began the forty kilometer march to the nations nearest ally.
After running for three days and nights, Arquin was tired, bruised and hurt in many places. Exhaustion had taken its toll on him and he had barely missed detection from the enemy soldiers. But finally he was clear of the initial obstacles and now could freely dash ahead, without fear of being apprehended by the enemy, reckoned Arquin. However, no sooner did this thought race across his mind, that an arrow pierced his side.
Fires burned, thunder boomed and lightning struck the ground. The world was in disarray. Chaos. The very earth shook in terror as the two armies clashed. These sounds made Arquin’s world, as he lay in a ditch, oblivious to the carnage around. “Where am I..?” thought Arquin, when with a dull throbbing in his side, it all came back to him - the war, the King’s plea for help and the arrow in his side. “Considering the circumstances, it seems I’m lucky to be alive,” said Arquin to himself, pleased to hear his own voice. He leaned backwards, examined his wound and saw that the arrowhead had only grazed his body, but the impact had knocked him out. The injury wasn’t as bad as it appeared. Looking around, he realized that he’d fallen into a ditch after the blow, and that had saved him from being crushed by marching enemy troops.
His tired body and parched throat were making life worse for him, and his water bag had emptied long ago. Though reaching his destination in the present circumstances seemed an improbable event. He almost broke down, thinking of the plight his homeland would be in if he failed, but he was too weak to move on, when suddenly he noticed a water skin by him, in the ditch. ‘Heavens be praised,’ thought Arquin as he gulped down the water; sweet and clear as the sky. He couldn’t see a soul in sight, and wondered who had kept the water there, and how did the person know he was alive? Was it the archer who had shot him and perhaps felt mercy at his predicament?? “Blessed be the one who placed this year, for now I may yet try and help my countrymen, valiantly keeping the enemy at bay!” shouted Arquin, as he dashed off into the night roads, dancing with the demons haunting his mind. Yet Marath still stood, fighting for yet another day. Courage before fear, life before death...





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