Sunhawk awoke at the sound of men talking and the stamping of horse hooves. He rubbed his blurry eyes, to wake up. Rolling off the bed he looked down at himself in disgust, realizing he hadn’t cleaned up. Looking around he realized he had made it to his tent, but it wasn’t until he looked down next to the bed that he found Shadow. His eyes widened in shock as he knelt down next to the blood covered boy. Quickly standing, he went outside the tent and ordered a nearby solider to get Kelas before running back inside.
The boy seemed to be unconscious, but what bothered Sunhawk was the torn bloody clothes the hung on him. He remembered very little after they started to clear out the east side of the city. He wasn’t surprised, since he very seldom remembered much of any battle or slaughter, such as Soothbay had become after most of the soldiers had been cleared out. Although his mind couldn’t remember the actual events,he knew with certainty he had to be responsible for the torn clothes on Shadow. Closing his eyes to the thought he backed away, frightened for the second time in his life of his own actions.
“What the hell is it Sunhawk. I just got to bed and. . . ” Kelas stopped as he looked at the boy on the floor and the frightened expression on the large man’s face.
“Argoth’s sword Sunhawk, you didn’t? Why the fuck did you come back so soon?!” Kelas shouted as he quickly knelt by Shadow.
Kelas quickly went over Shadow’s body examining him, anger apparent in every line of his body. The healer turned to look at Sunhawk, surprised to see tears streaming down large man’s face.
“Is that for you or Shadow?” Kelas asked bitterly.
“Is he ok? Kelas please,” came Sunhawk’s shaky voice.
“Physically yes, you didn’t even tear him, thank Mith. Mentally, who the seven hells knows. You raped him Sunhawk, this couldn’t have been consensual. The boy was practically dead when he came here. He worked in the healer’s tent for over twenty- four hours on top of healing Ariel.,”
“Ariel?” Sunhawk questioned.
“He took a full force blow to the gut. Shadow saved him. Shadow was raped before Sunhawk, but you are different. He trusted you, loved you, and gave up his life at a temple for you and you alone. He might not recover this time. Hells, he might not even wake up, between his exhaustion brought on by using his powers and the mental strain of what has happened,” Kelas said in frustration.
“Kelas, there has to be something.,”
“I don’t know, Sunhawk.”
Kelas leaned over and wrapped Shadow in a blanket before picking him up. Shocked at how little the boy really weighed..
“Where are you going with him?” Sunhawk asked, moving to stop Kelas.
“Back to my tent,” Kelas said firmly, glaring at Sunhawk.
“But he belongs here if there is nothing you can do for him,” Sunhawk said.
“No, he doesn’t belong here anymore, at least not right now. When he wakes up that will be his decision. Don’t push it Sunhawk, you know the penalty for rape of a fellow Hawk. I don’t know what they would do, since you are the Captain, but Shadow is well liked, not just among the healers. Besides, you aren’t capable of taking care of him right now. Ariel is out of commission for a couple of days, you have work to do. So do it!” Kelas said, stepping passed Sunhawk and out of the tent.
Sunhawk stood staring at the tent flap that Kelas had disappeared out of . He didn’t know what to do. His mind was in turmoil, along with his emotions. He couldn’t take back his actions, or even stop being who he was. From the first moment Shadow had entered his life Sunhawk had feared something like this might happen. Sunhawk knew what he was, even if he couldn’t remember his actions, but for the first time in his life he regretted the cruel man he became when he spilled blood.
He couldn’t even remembering raping Shadow, but that didn’t make it not happen. Sunhawk didn’t know why he hadn’t stayed away from the camp until the battle anger cooled from him, and for the first time in his life he regretted the loss of memories.
Feeling the hot tears slide down his blood streaked face Sunhawk realized that for the rest of his life he would have to live with the fact that he had permanently scared the one person who had truly ever loved him.
“Sunhawk no!” screamed Shadow as he struggled in to wakefulness.
Kelas awoke with a start from his place on the floor and jumped up. Looking down he saw that Shadow had curled himself up into a tight ball on the bed and was sobbing. Slowly he moved to the bed and perched on the edge. He stroked the boy’s back, making soothing sounds, knowing right at the moment Shadow would not truly hear any of his words. He felt Shadow’s slight frame tremble and couldn’t help but want to do some serious damage to his friend and Captain.
After what seemed like hours Shadow sobs subsided and he slipped into a normal sleep. Kelas, red-eyed with exhaustion, covered the boy back up, glad that the boy had awakened. He was sure now that the young priest was only sleeping and would awaken after his body had fully rested. Although Kelas knew even with rest Shadow’s mind wouldn’t recover so easily. Yawning, he lay down on his blankets on the floor, but despite his tiredness couldn’t get to sleep.
Shadow and Sunhawk worried him, and he was unsure of what to do. He was so angry at the large mercenary captain he didn’t even want to understand the man. He knew Sunhawk was brutal in battle, but he knew the man also was good friend and he had become what seemed a compassionate lover. Sunhawk had raped his fair share of people being an mercenary, although to be fair Sunhawk often turned to the many camp followers that trailed behind the Hawks. Still, Kelas could hardly believe the man would rape anyone he truly cared about, especially Shadow. Sunhawk had always been very careful of keeping himself away from his friends until his rage had cooled and he must have known it would be a bad idea to come anywhere close to the boy.
Turning, trying to find a better position for sleep, his mind continued to work. Kelas knew he was out of his depth with Shadow. He wasn’t a mind healer, and he had very little experience dealing with rape victims. Slaves were always sold in the Hawks and the penalty for rape of a fellow Hawk’s member, or even a camp follower, was at the very least a public whipping and dismissal from the Hawks. Sunhawk had always believed that members of the Hawks were family, and you didn’t rape your own. There had only been one rape since Kelas had joined the Hawks, and at the time Corrin, the head healer, had taken care of the victim. Kelas had only newly joined was considered a junior healer, and had little contact with the victim. Kelas greatly wished that Corrin was here instead of him. The old man had a way of soothing a person’s mind that was uncanny. Not only that, but the bond that had formed between Shadow and the wizened old man was deep.
Giving up on trying to sleep Kelas slipped out of the tent quietly sure, that Shadow would sleep for many hours before awakening. It was barely midday and Kelas realized he had slept less than three hours in the last two days. Making his way to the mess area he ran into Marissa heading in the same direction.
“Hey, Kelas whatcha doing up? Didn’t you just fall into bed this morning?” Marissa asked, walking up to man, her braided chestnut hair swinging. “Shit, you look like hell.”
“Yeah, I have had better days,” Kelas said wearily
.”What’s going on Kelas?”
“I don’t know if I should say,” Kelas said hesitantly, looking away from the woman.
“It looks like something’s gnawing at you. I can always listen,” Marissa said.
Marissa looked at the hesitating man for moment before throwing an arm around his shoulders.
“Come on Kelas lets go to my tent. Garth is out lecturing some of his men and won’t be back for a while,” Marrisa said, steering Kelas away from the mess area.
Kelas let the woman lead him to her tent and sat down on a wobbly stool next to the bed.
“You know Marrisa, that herb I gave you for pregnancy is a hundred percent?” Kelas said as he looked at the woman leaning back on her hands as she sat on the cot.
“Yeah, Garth knows too, and we both like each other a lot, but neither one of us wants to give up the Merc life yet. This is the compromise. If I do get pregnant, then I will just have to decide what is more important to me then, so will Garth,” Marissa said with a shrug. ” Come on, stop stalling Kelas. The sooner you spit it out the better you will feel.”
“I don’t think talking about it is really going to make me feel better Marissa,” Kelas said, shaking his head. “It’s about Sunhawk and Shadow. Sunhawk came back last night and raped Shadow.”
“Damn, I knew something was up with Sunhawk,” Marissa said, her chestnut eyes widening in surprise at Kelas’s news.
“What do you mean?”
“He was drinking heavily with Casper. At first Casper was a scared shitless of Sunhawk, you know how the Captain is after a battle. Well the idiot started really getting drunk and started going off about Shadow. You know Casper, he is as straight as an arrow and dislikes anyone that isn’t, although he does put up a good front around people he has to work with. On top of that he really is a cold bastard; whores and raping is all he knows. So you can imagine what was being said. Sunhawk just sat there expressionless and almost dead like. I figured eventually he lay Casper out,” Marissa said.
“I wondered, but I can’t believe Sunhawk would do that to Shadow, despite Casper,.” Kelas said with a sigh.
“What? Marissa, Sunhawk has acted like he truly loves the boy,” Kelas said, surprised.
“He does. Right now I really wouldn’t want to see him, he is probably tearing himself apart, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is a cold-blooded killer. Soothbay was a slaughter Kelas, Rathgar tricked Sunhawk good. We all expected to take slaves, but Rathgar ordered the city cleared totally. There isn’t anything moving in there except ghosts now.” Marrisa said softly.
“It’s just like the Sin campaign,” Kelas murmured.
“I haven’t heard about that campaign, ” Marissa said curiously.
“No you wouldn’t have, it happened thirteen years ago. I wasn’t even part of the Hawks back then, although the band was called The Fist and captained by a man named Daras. Corrin told me about it once. Sunhawk was second in command back then. Daras was basically tricked like Sunhawk.
Daras was very much like Sunhawk from what I understand; he was very picky about what jobs The Fist took and never took ones involving wholesale slaughters. The employer forgot to mention the fact they would be killing the entire population of a city. Daras, like Sunhawk, couldn’t back out because of the guild contract they signed. They would have forfeited not only the pay for the campaign but would have been barred from the guild for one year. So Daras ordered the city cleared.” Kelas explained, sighing.
“So what happened, don’t leave me hanging,” Marissa asked.
“Sunhawk followed orders, but in the end he went berserk. When there was no one left to kill he started attacking members of the Fist. Luckily Daras was near by at the time. He knocked Sunhawk’s victim out of the way and fought Sunhawk. He was able to disarm Sunhawk by breaking his arm.”
Marissa whistled in appreciation. “This Daras must have been amazing. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone put down the captain.”
“Yeah, from what I can tell Daras was amazing; not only that Daras and Sunhawk were close. He stayed with Sunhawk that night apparently until Sunhawk regained his senses. Something inside Sunhawk can’t bear to kill the defenseless, but he can’t betray his band either. He just seems to lose it whenever this sort of conflict happens.” Kelas mused.
“There is also something else to consider Kelas, and that is Shadow. After a battle, if I pushed Garth away, do you honestly think he would just leave? There are all those emotions built up inside, you have killed and almost been killed. There is almost an instinctual need to reproduce, to negate death if you will. After every battle it doesn’t take Garth and me long to find each other. Sunhawk has to feel that too, and that might be the reason he came back here.
Shadow, on the other hand, has no idea about that kind of feeling. Not only that, everyone including Sunhawk himself have been trying to steer him away from looking at who Sunhawk really is in battle. Everyone thinks to protect and shelter the boy, but in the end if he can’t accept that part of Sunhawk, truly accept the cold blooded killer, then this thing is going to happen over and over again.,” Marissa said quietly.
“I don’t know that he can, Marissa. Even I have problems sometimes accepting Sunhawk during campaigns. I mean, he is totally focused on battle plans and then after there is a cruelty that sometimes shocks me. The fact that he can only vaguely remember it has worried me, since I truly became friends with him. Corrin was the one that pointed out that if Sunhawk could remember what he did he wouldn’t be able to be a mercenary any longer, or he would become like Casper.
Shadow not only is a healer who can’t even kill another, but also a priest. Not any priest either, a priest of Mith. I am not sure he can ever really accept Sunhawk,” Kelas said, looking down at the floor in concentration.
“I don’t know Kelas, but I think in the end there is very little we can do except be there and listen. I have a feeling if we try to interfere with this we will only make matters worse. Both of those men are unique, and to tell you the truth I really don’t understand either one of them,” Marissa said standing up.
“That makes two of us. That is what Corrin told me as well, not to interfere,” Kelas said.
“Well let’s go back to your tent. You can sleep and I will watch Shadow. I think it might be a good idea for a woman instead of a man being there when he wakes up,” Marissa said, holding out her hand to help Kelas up.
“I never thought about it, but you might be right,” Kelas said as they both headed for the door.
They both remained quiet as they slowly walked back to the tent. The expression in both of their faces kept people from stopping them. When they reached the tent Marissa walked in to stop abruptly, and Kelas ran into her muscled back in surprise.
“He’s gone,” Marissa gasped in shock, whirling around to face Kelas with horror in her face.
Shadow opened his eyes as the last fragments of the dream of his mother floated in his mind. Sitting up, he looked around confused as he realized he was in Kelas’s tent. Blinking, his mind slowly recalled the events of the previous night, as he brought his knees up close to him and wrapped his arms around them, trembling. Closing his eyes he tried to calm himself, but the image of Sunhawk’s golden dead eyes appeared before him.
Getting up unsteadily Shadow looked down at his too large clothes that were obviously Kelas’s. He realized that Kelas must have cleaned him up and put him in his bed, although how Kelas knew what had happened was a mystery, along with where the healer was now. Grateful that Kelas wasn’t there Shadow walked out of the tent. As he walked through the camp he heard calls from some of the Hawks’s soldiers, which he ignored. He made it to the picket line where his gray mount was. He quickly saddled him, hoping to avoid any attention. Before long he was mounted and headed off at a trot. Shadow passed the sentries with a nod and followed the river for a mile before dismounting and tying off his mount.
Shadow settled down next to the small river, thinking. His emotions were in turmoil and he knew that if he wanted to clear his mind and call for Mith’s help he would have to face what was bothering him. More than anything else he felt he needed his Goddess’s help. He didn’t know what to do or who to turn too. In one night his world had drastically changed. It wasn’t the brutal, uncaring sex from Sunhawk that had thrown Shadow into doubt, but the look in his eyes. For the first time since he meet Sunhawk he had truly come face to face with the warrior that everyone had warned him about.
Shadow closed his eyes, breathing deeply. He flinched from the images of the previous night that swarmed before his closed eyes, but didn’t open his eyes. He tried to face them, even though he trembled slightly. Shadow knew that he would never be able to focus enough to enter a meditative state to call upon his Goddess, so he sent out a plea for help. He hoped that Mith would hear his plea despite the fact that he could not focus his mind like he usually did.
Shadow waited as the minutes passed by, alone with his thoughts and his silent pleas. He didn’t know what to do. He loved Sunhawk, there was no question of it in his mind despite what had happened, but he didn’t want to ever see the cold hard man he’d seen the night before. Shadow couldn’t believe that the Sunhawk he knew could just totally disappear. He felt tears flow down his face as he remembered the look in Sunhawk’s eyes as he had grabbed Shadow.
Suddenly Shadow felt a warm, red light surround him. He felt a gentle love and acceptance filling him as he felt the presence of the goddess Mith. For a while he just sat very still and cried softly. Eventually he asked Mith for help to understand what had happened, to help him piece together his life again.
The complex emotions he felt from his goddess surprised him. Her sadness, love and caring Shadow understood, but it puzzled him that she was disappointed not in Sunhawk but Shadow himself. Suddenly he felt himself plunged into darkness, only to see two
Sunhawks standing before him. One was the Sunhawk he had fallen in love with. The deep golden eyes and smile that softened his harsh features, and a bright intelligent aura that drew Shadow to him. The other Sunhawk was the monster from the night before, warmth drained away from his cold hard eyes.. His face harsh, a deep frown and furrows on his forehead emphasizing the scar on his face. His aura totally dead and cold.
Shadow watched as the two images merged into one and looked at Shadow. The young priest frowned, trying to understand the imagery in front of him. He felt Mith patiently waiting as he struggled to find the answer. Tentatively he began to understand that both Sunhawks were real and part of each other. It began to dawn on Shadow that Mith’s disapproval came from the fact that Shadow had not truly tried to accept the second Sunhawk. He had let the others steer him away from the colder man, and since they had started the campaign Shadow had somewhat resented and worried that Sunhawk didn’t need him anymore.
Shadow felt a thought enter his mind that was not his own. Shadow had responded to Sunhawk in fear, what would have happened if he had responded with love, with acceptance? Shadow was stunned by the question, one that he would have never have thought to ask himself. If he had accepted the warrior, the killer, he wouldn’t have been afraid of the man that entered the tent the night before. Shadow knew that, he didn’t even have to question it. If he had truly loved Sunhawk he shouldn’t have been afraid of him. Mith cared nothing for whether Sunhawk was good or bad, for Shadow had chosen Sunhawk, not Mith. It was Shadow who needed to accept Sunhawk, not his Goddess.
Suddenly Shadow felt another type of pain seep into him. One that was born of not being a good lover to Sunhawk. He felt he was to blame for what had happened the night before. Once again he felt Mith surround him, and with her a type of peace.
“You are not to blame for the violence done upon you, my young one. Yet, right or wrong, Sunhawk is who he is, born of Argoth he will always be this way. You must choose to accept him fully or leave, otherwise you both will continue to hurt one another until you destroy everything about yourself. Your path is yours to decide not mine, my beloved priest,” Mith’s gentle voice seeped through him as he felt her presence vanish.
Sitting in the soft grass he listened to the babbling of the river. Mith had brought about an understanding, but not a solution. He wondered if he really could accept the other Sunhawk. He wondered if his reaction last night had been born of surprise or a true fear that couldn’t be overcome. He knew one thing: that he needed to talk to Sunhawk.