EE1 – Changing of the Guard

A cool breeze blew gently through the camp making tent flaps rustle and fold in an eerie rhythm. The full moon hung proudly in the sky causing small spots of moisture on the grass to glisten like a thousand tiny stars. No sound could be heard, the birds and small animals that usually frequented this hill had left hours before as the day came to a close. At a glance it seemed as though every living creature was out of sight and sleeping silently, and even the finest of scouts would be hard pressed to notice one lone guard sitting perfectly still on a rock at the edge of the camp.

He wore a dark shirt making his form nearly impossible to distinguish from the shadows surrounding him, and only when he sighed did the links of chain in his armor clink softly against one another. The eyes that had watched friends and family die in battle now surveyed the landscape with hawk-like dedication – should even a small bird take flight he would notice, his weapons ready to spring to his hands if necessary.

Unlike his companions the young man was not all that fond of sleeping, thus his willingness to take the first watch every night. He preferred to stay awake as long as possible, fighting back the annoying yet inevitable pull of fatigue that would eventually overpower him. This was his time for reflection, his time alone, moments that he cherished every night when he could set his mind to the sole tasks of pondering the last day and planning for the next.

A calm expression rest on his face as the events of the day ran through his mind – time spent with his kin had been both refreshing and challenging as usual. Events seemed to pass all too quickly during their waking hours, yet returned as memories once the light had faded to haunt them in their dreams. Decisions and conversations flooded over the guard as he assessed the choices he had made that day. His goal each night was to learn from his mistakes and discover how he could better assist his friends when he awoke once again. Waking up meant going to sleep, however, and oddly enough it actually sounded good as he rolled his head to relax the tired muscles in his neck.

The sound of a tent opening snapped him back to full alert, his hand instinctively reaching for the hilt of his weapon. Shifting his gaze to the camp behind him, the young man saw his eldest peer shuffling out of his tent as the slumber-induced awkwardness slowly wore off. He wore clothing similar to that of the guard, though perhaps the most noticeable difference was the purple sword slung loosely at his side. As he approached the rock he stretched his arms and yawned in attempt to pull the last bit of sleep from the air.

The young man moved aside and pulled out his canteen, handing it to his comrade as he took a seat next to him. Each nodded their heads, the silent understanding of both "good morning" and "thank you" resounding clearly through years of working side-by-side at every waking moment. As the younger of the two finished his drink, he cast a quick glance across the valley to become familiar with his surroundings. Handing the canteen back to his friend, he adjusted his armor and prepared for the night ahead. The two sat together in silence for a few moments soaking up the stillness of the night. This journey had been a long one, and promised to be only longer as time went on, but still the group had stuck together and ended each day in one piece. While this may have been a simple feat for some, considering the challenges they’d faced it was a miracle.

With one final shake of his head the older soldier sighed and rose to his feet, his weary legs cramping slightly from not having held his weight for several hours. He turned to his friend and smiled – there really wasn’t anything to say other than "stay awake" or "see you tomorrow" so he didn’t bother. The younger male extended his hand and the two briefly clasped forearms, yet another silent conversation continued through years of companionship.

The two nodded once more and the older one headed back to his tent, finally able to let himself consider rest now that his friend was on watch. He trusted his friend with his life – a trust earned through many years of hardship and struggle. The younger soldier briefly turned to watch him walk off, then turned his attention to his task and began his watch.

Nothing would get past them tonight.