She was exhausted. So tired that she could barely drag her armored body out of the marsh pits. She managed, barely, and collapsed on a piece of moist soil, on the edge of the stinking marshlands. For a week, she was trapped in the marshes. Seven days and seven nights. Freezing, alone, exhausted. More alone than she ever would have known possible.
She had not entered the marshes alone. She was not meant to leave it by herself. Her friend and fellow soldier was supposed to help her, to carry her wounded behind back to base. The events of the last few days left a bitter taste in her mouth. She could still not believe it. The intelligence came from a reliable source, a close friend for seven years. How was it possible that the enemy could know? How did they trap them so quickly and efficiently? The first day she was stunned that it was possible at all. Now she knew different. Not only was it possible, it was intentional. Everything was planned out from the very beginning.
The week started out normally enough. Recon work, straight and simple. No heroics, get in, get out; be invisible and efficient. Straightforward. Right? It was to be a two man team which got bumped up to three at the last minute. She has worked with the third team mate before, not often, but trusted her well enough to believe things would be fine. The Third was an efficient soldier, and has moved up in the ranks by sheer force of will; a trait that she respected greatly. Things were going great. They had enough intelligence on the enemy movements to be able to report something constructively. Who the better soldiers were, which units were the most dangerous, where each unit was based. They were ready to move on; get back to base. They were crawling through the marshes, trying to remain unseen when the enemy raised up around them, as mist rolling around a cliff, invisible until it was entirely too late to turn in time, to escape the inevitable sheer drop of death below. They were calm and self assured, as if they posed no threat, which in truth, they wouldn’t against such sheer numbers, but she would fight to the death; she’d rather die fighting than undergo endless torture where she may even betray her family in sheer desperation to end the pain.
Her blade was ready, her eyes focused… unfortunately they were focused on the wrong enemy. She had not expected an enemy in her camp, even then, she had not expected two. The Third took the sword and tossed it hilt first to the enemy commander. Her friend of seven years kneed her hard in the back, bringing her to her knees in unexpected pain. A pain that was not only physical, but deeply mental and emotional. Such betrayal could not compute in her mind. She could not understand the concept. “Why?” she cried. Her friend gave her a look of utmost contempt and spat so close in front of her that she could feel the spray on its descent. “I will not discuss this with you!” Her mind reeling, she was led away, unfeeling, broken, uncaring that she may be tortured. Her mind could simply not fathom such evil; such deep betrayal. Her chest ached with the sheer weight of it.
As she was led into the camp, her eyes made brief contact with a gigantic monster. He was at least seven feet tall and was surrounded by three smaller foreign looking men. She could not even flinch away from his sheer size through her pain. She could simply not wake up her spirit. As if her spirit had given up and died; her friend’s betrayal had given her spirit a mortal wound. Nothing could change it. She would die, and it was best because what are we without our souls?
Sitting in the frozen, dark cell; alone, she heard a faint scratch of metal against metal. She crept back against the wall, imminent torture waking her dull mind and insisting she fight back, insisting that she wake her wounded spirit, that she rather die than betray. The gigantic monster leaned into the small cell and whispered in a heavy accent. “Follow me”
Not understanding why, she crept silently from the cell, finding the three men that was with the giant earlier, there with him. They all motioned for her to be silent and crept (remarkably) gracefully from the camp. They led her about a kilometer away from the camp before the giant spoke. “Your people have friends here, and however long until we see them again, we will miss them. You remain in our hearts.” With that, the giant crept back with his four accomplices. Never giving their names.
She kept creeping away from the marshes, toward home, knowing, somewhere behind her, four brave souls were fighting with honour for the righteous in the only way they knew how. That day, those four men saved her life, forever becoming a part of her heart as well. She may never see them again, she may not know their names or even why they did what they did, but they would remain with her forever. In thanks, in love and light.