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Author Topic: Break New Ground  (Read 1986 times)

Break New Ground
« on: March 20, 2018, 11:18:22 PM »
Even if he had desired it, Armin would have been hard pressed to disguise his sleeplessness from Marco.  They were both relegated to bottom bunks, their beds running parallel, mere feet apart.  For one as attentive as the boy from Jinae, Armin’s tossing and turning was as obvious as the dark rings that circled his intelligent, azure eyes during the hours of daylight.

Sleep evaded those who wore familiar paths through their minds, thinking racing thoughts all the time, it escaped the traumatised and the anxious.  Marco couldn’t guess with confidence what was at the root of Armin’s insomnia, but he was determined to help.  At first he tried the herb bundles of his youth; dried apple blossom, lavender and camomile flowers, bunched up in small squares of linen and placed beneath the pillow.  But still the restless nights continued.  A letter to his mother availed of a mysterious tincture, delivered wrapped in brown paper that was decorated with sketched studies of leaves and petals, and tied with fraying string.  The handwriting on the note attached was written in a neat and sweeping script: For Armin. x

It didn’t work either.

In the interregnum, while Ms. Bott worked on another remedy, Marco looked for other apothecaries close to the barracks.  Browsing the stalls of a bustling market one warm autumn afternoon, the freckled cadet was pointed in the direction of the Garrison Headquarters by a helpful vendor.  Feeling oddly nervous at the thought of entering a military building - even though he had the crossed swords stitched onto his cadet jacket - Marco might have balked and turned heel.  But this was for Armin.  Above all else, it was the needs of others that motivated Marco and gave him courage.

Supplying his name to the guards at the front gate, he wandered the corridors of the interior, more lost than he would like to admit; the directions he had been given were imparted hurriedly, with one of the guards regarding him with something akin to suspicion, the other arching her brow in what could only be surprise.

The click of boots against worn stone told him he was no longer alone in this maze - another soldier was coming his way!  Marco immediately seized on the chance of help.  “Excuse me,” he began, his gentle voice tinged with apology.  Military personnel were busy people and he was loath to distract them from their duties.  “Do you know where I could find, ah, Arkin Holt?”
Logged


Re: Break New Ground
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2018, 02:30:57 AM »
Arkin was tired. All he wanted at the moment was his bed. Arkin and his team were on a rotation of nights and he was still getting used to it. Maybe some tea would be nice. He had all sorts of teas in his room. That sounded like a good plan to Arkin.

He had stopped to drop off some reports and then pop into the mess hall to beg some stale bread. He needed it for a remedy that he planned to prepare when he woke up. Rahab, his second in command, had been complaining of stomach aches for the last few days and stale bread dipped in a few oils was a remedy his mother had taught him. It was not guaranteed to work, but it was worth a try. Other treatments tasted a lot worst. Try the pleasant one first.

Now Arkin made his way back towards his room, his prize of bread in a cloth bag that he carried in his good hand. As he made his way down the hall, he caught sight of another person. This would not have normally surprised him - but this young...very young...man was wearing a cadet's emblem on his jacket. Of course, Arkin would see if he needed help.

“Excuse me. Do you know where I could find, ah, Arkin Holt?”

And that surprised Arkin even more than the fact that the asker was a cadet. He smiled at the young man, "You've found him. Though...are you supposed to be wandering around by yourself?" After another moment, "What can I help you with? Would you like some tea?"
Logged

"But even yet I have so many miles to go."

Re: Break New Ground
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2018, 09:38:48 AM »
How lucky he was, not to have simply found someone who could help but to have located Arkin Holt himself.  The Garrison soldier looked tired, his face kind, smiling and framed by fair hair.  A little surprised, perhaps, to be pounced on by a cadet, but who could blame him for that?

Marco had the good grace to look a little sheepish in response to the first question.  “Oh, I don’t have class today,” he explained hurriedly, eager not to be seen as shirking his duties.  Belatedly, it occurred to the freckled boy that Arkin might have meant something else - that perhaps he wasn’t authorised to wander around the Garrison Headquarters unaccompanied.  “The guards at the door let me in.  The name’s Marco Bott, I’m a first year cadet.”  The uniform emblazoned with the crossed swords of the Training Corps obviously gave away the regiment, but Marco saw no reason to withhold how junior he was.  A first year, green as spring grass.

As Arkin spoke on, Marco blinked in surprise, then his expression shifted into a warm smile.  “That’s very kind.  Tea would be wonderful, thank you.”  His shoulders rounded a little as he relaxed, going on to explain what brought him to the healer’s door.  “A stall-keeper in the marketplace recommended you.  I’m actually here on behalf of a friend, a fellow cadet.  He… he doesn’t sleep well.  Or much at all, really.”
Logged


Re: Break New Ground
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2018, 10:43:31 PM »
Arkin smiled down at the young cadet. First year was right. Had he ever looked that young? The boy had a kind face and some wisdom behind his eyes. And freckles! Arkin’s brother had freckles.

He listed while the young man explained while he was here and he appreciated that he took a risk to help a friend. “Well Cadet Bott...I don’t really think the guards were supposed to let you in,” Arkin said with a slight nod of his head and an inward curse at the the guards for not doing their job. Soldiers like that were why the Garrison had the reputation it did. “No matter though. You’re here now and I’ve already offered you tea.” He smiled and shrugged, “Come on lad. Let’s go to my quarters and we’ll work something out for your friend.”

He led Marco through the winding corridors of the barracks. It was an old building that had seen more than a few additions over the years. The officer’s wing was in one of the new additions at least. The passed a few soldiers who saluted Arkin and he returned the gesture tiredly.

“So your friend can’t sleep? Have you tried lavender and chamomile under his pillow? Or chamomile tea?” Arkin asked as they walked. They were at his door and Arkin opened it, stepping aside to let the cadet through - propping the door open with a stop. Inside was controlled clutter. The sharp smell of herbs permeated everything and Arkin moved a pile of books from his desk chair so the boy could sit down.

He went about fixing the tea, taking his small kettle and lighting a few candles to heat the water. Arkin handed Marco a box filled with bags of tea and told him to pick whatever one he wanted.

"How's training going? You have Shadis as your head instructor?"
Logged

"But even yet I have so many miles to go."

Re: Break New Ground
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2019, 09:38:20 AM »
"Ah, I'm sorry," Marco's apology came fast and sincere, the freckled boy feeling a pang of guilt for potentially - inadvertently - getting the guards into trouble. The distant fear that he might be dismissed was vanquished by Arkin's kindly smile, which reassured him even before the soldier spoke. His sheepish expression morphed into one of gratitude.

"Thank you," Marco's own smile was coloured with relief as he followed the Garrison soldier through labyrinthine corridors. The barracks were sprawling, so much larger than those of the Training Corps. Which stood to reason, really, though Marco still found himself surprised by the sheer scale of the building. There was a certain weariness to Arkin, he realised. No doubt because he worked hard, between his duties as a soldier and in providing remedies to those who needed them. Marco supposed he was never off duty.

"We've tried lavender and chamomile. Apple blossom too," the cadet answered as they stepped inside Arkin's quarters. "And chamomile tea. And, ah, valerian root." The room smelt like Marco's home in Jinae, missing only the fragrance of his mother's flowers. She cultivated them, their garden splashed with great swaths of colour, and there was almost always a bouquet or posy carefully picked and loving placed in every room. This was a sanctuary in a world of stone walls, the careful clutter of books only adding to its homeliness.

Nodding his thanks, Marco took the seat offered and perused the tea box, before settling on a minty teabag - field mint, he felt sure - and handing his choice to the soldier. "It's going well, I think. I'm doing my best…" The mention of Commandant Keith Shadis gave him pause. "Ah, yes, yes we do. He… doesn't mince his words." Marco suspected the head instructor didn't like him, after their initiation. For a moment Marco looked pensive, then he brightened, his inherent optimism shining through. "But he's knowledgeable. Firm. Motivating."
Logged


 

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