I Am Not A Soldier

I am not a military man, nor have I ever had any desire to be one. Unlike some of my contemporaries at ‘The Math’, I felt no great urge to go off and defend my Queen and country as soon as my schooling was done. I would not denigrate their choices and I know that most of them will make fine soldiers. I would not. I am not a soldier. I have also said in these pages that I am not a warrior, but, given events of recent weeks, I am no longer sure that I can make that claim in truth. Perhaps I should not be so surprised. I have always been among the first to step up to defend those I call my own, no matter what the personal danger might be, but it is only more recently I have had to do so with a sword, and using it to kill. I did not enjoy it, save for a few brief moments when the excitement filled my veins, but it was something that had to be done. My childhood dreams, fuelled by my reading, were full of mighty warriors wielding their swords in defence of the poor, defenceless maidens and their homes. While I would not presume to compare myself to those Knights of the Round Table, I would like to think that I do, at least, aspire to the same ideals as Arthur’s Companions. If that makes me a warrior of sorts, then so be it. I am content with that.

While I might claim the mantle of warrior, a soldier I am not. I do not have that military mind. Unlike our recent guest, Orie, I do not have that training, that bent of mind. In truth, while I find Orie’s company pleasant, I am uncomfortable with his, for want of a better word, bellicosity. I am, where possible, a man of peace, and so I am not comfortable with considering the military approach to problems. Even so, I recently found myself discussing such things with Orie, coming up with ideas as to how to defend Mysthaven in the event of future attacks. I know little of weaponry, but we considered various ways we might deliver iron to the enemy, assuming them to be of a fae nature. There was also talk of using fire as a weapon. I was broadly favourable to the idea of a weapon that shoots flame, perhaps by means of pressurised oil, but I was not comfortable with Orie’s ideas about dumping oil or pitch down the hillside. I tried to explain how this was not a good idea, and told him the story of how a fire had been set in the forest and how it led to the destruction of the castle. He was not to be deterred, reasoning that the forest folk might well be made of wood, and thus vulnerable to flame. I did try to reason further, but I am not sure he quite understood what forces we might come up again. I cannot blame him. He was trained to fight human enemies, and until his arrival here, knew nothing of other beings, and much less of how powerful they could be.

He left then, on business of his own, leaving me in the tavern to contemplate the things we had spoken of. I found myself wondering if it was wrong of me to think of ways to kill my enemies, and was I justified in targeting those of a fae nature? I hope against all hope that we never find ourselves in conflict with the sidhe, for then we would surely lose. For myself, I do not consider them the enemy, though I cannot say I am fond of His Unseelie Majesty and the attitude of some of his foot-soldiers. Neither do I have any great love for the Huntsman, but I do know that I would want to kill him unless that was the only option. Even the sluagh, who were our most recent attackers, I would not necessarily want to kill unless they were actively trying to kill me or those I cared for. Would I fight them again? Almost certainly, if they attacked me. Would I be happy with a pre-emptive attack? Of that, I am not so sure. And when this conflict is over, what then? What dealings would I want then? Would I still consider any individual sluagh my enemy, or could I deal with them as I would anybody else? If the war was over, would they still be the enemy? I do not know. Perhaps, I should heed the words of Walt Whitman, as I so often do. Perhaps there is something there.

WORD over all, beautiful as the sky!
Beautiful that war, and all its deeds of carnage, must in time be utterly lost;
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night, incessantly softly wash again, and ever again, this soil’d world:
… For my enemy is dead–a man divine as myself is dead;
I look where he lies, white-faced and still, in the coffin–I draw near;
I bend down, and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin.

(Reconciliation – Walt Whitman)


 I am Not a Soldier…



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