A Tale of Woe

Sweet Goodbye

by Kalista Jia

A peaceful day never lasted long enough for one's short lifespan. A plain was glowing so beautifully under the ray of the soft summer sun accompanied by the feather, smooth breeze that wandered freely in nature where the healthy grass and plants grew to their fullest. A sweet taste of freedom. If there was a word to describe such harmony, it would be called perfection.

"The war had finally begun!"

Plains as they sounded dear were one of the places where bloody battles were held most of the time. Dripping the once charming lands into the hell of devils; a screaming melody sang with the dying battle cry.

"Look, they are recruiting soldiers that are capable of fighting."

A country would send their men to their wasteful death during the pretense of honor and glory. They were foolish because the country wouldn't glorified their name as they was so many of them, their death merely became numbers -Digits to be increased as more fools rushed to their death."Fellow gentlemen, our country needs you."

A scientist would say that wars helped improved technology tremendously. This so-called science would be useful with its new, delicious, rapid method to kill more in a quick matter of time crisis.

"At last, the fated moment where I can use my manliness on battle field like our last ancestors with their pride on the blade." A man would jump in excitement at the challenge to escape their boredom.

"Please, no matter what, be careful and come home safely." A woman would pray helplessly for their man's reckless enthusiasm and weep at their departure.

"Where is papa?" A child will live on without a father until the moment where he too will be old enough to join his father's destiny.

Glorious cities followed one after another, bombarded to dusk and debris by the rain of bombs like the bright, cloudless night of falling stars. Soldiers agonized on how they regretted leaving their hometown to the bastard lands of laughing reapers, looming seconds over the fall of their comrades and enemies. One barely maintaining his sanity would interpret the helpless cries of the dying as the lullaby of Charon paddling over the sea of corpses.

All these were the poor sacrificed lambs of power and justice.

OoOoOoO

"Lorewolf!" A young man called to another who was walking down the meadow. His white horse galloped gracefully over the soft blades of grass, causing the rider's white shirt to flutter charmingly behind.

"Craine?" The man turned when his name was called and moved slightly aside to allow the panting horse to halt next to him.

"Oh, Lorewolf," The hysterical, young man dismounted his horse with a jump, landing in his beloved's open arms for an affectionate embrace. "Have you heard about the news?" Craine asked nervously, hands refusing to let go of his lover's body warm body.

"What is about it, sweetheart? What's got you so upset?" Lorewolf smiled, tucking Craine's long blonde hair behind his ear.

Lorewolf and Craine had known each for the longest in comparison with the other relationship they had shared with the other townsmen. Not even with their own families had they shared such a strong bond.

Craine's father discarded his noble status for the sake of marrying his sweetheart Leena who at that time was merely a lowly servant. There was a huge scandal and his family quickly disowned him before he could stain their name any longer. It was a taboo beyond shame. As outcasts, the couple traveled towards the South in hope to escape the war that occurred shortly after their wedding. During their travel, they had come upon the pacific town of Transia, the place where Lorewolf's parents worked as the innkeepers. With the help of the innkeepers, the beautiful Leena had then borne their son, Craine.

The father and mother then took the decision to settle themselves in the little town. The townspeople immediately doted on young Craine, who was too innocent for his own good. Much to everyone's adoration, Craine had always followed Lorewolf everywhere, who was five years his senior.

Therefore, it wasn't a big shock when a twenty year-old Lorewolf confessed his feeling to Craine in the most romantic manner. "Mister and Madam Kirfer, please let me have your son, Craine. I promise I will love him forever. You have my word." Their mothers, especially, were overjoyed that their long term prediction had come true. After all, it wasn't uncommon to love someone of the same gender in their society.

Gradually, Craine's long, gold hair that reached his hips and was often pulled back in a pony tail to convenient purposes. Be it a blessing or a curse, Craine was gifted with a face so pale and sharp with rosy pouting lips and bright lime eyes that he could easily be mistaken for a woman. Not to mention being a head shorter than Lorewolf made hugs particularly fitting.

Lorewolf, on the other hand, was trained to be the one doing the hard labor in the household such as bringing down heavy crates, repairing the roof and helped around the little farm they owned. As a consequence to his hard work, his body had better and stronger build than his small and slim beloved. A firm look with messy light chocolate hair trimmed neat for his handy job. His appearance may not be as attractive as Craine's, but it didn't bother their relationship at all.

Five years of tranquility had passed and the conflict between the two rival countries had, at last, taken place. It was finally the time of war. Most of the men left to serve as military in the battlefield, and those among were Craine's and Lorewolf's fathers. Months after, a few officers had come to announce their honorable death to their heart broken mothers. Quickly, within a month, Leena passed away from exhaustion, leaving Craine under the Lorewolf's care.

When the war continued to persist to the point of exhausting the population, the people grew to hate wars to core and refused to send any more available men for they had lost far too many.

"The military, they are in town." Craine took a deep inhale of breath. "They are posting conscription, Lorewolf."

"Wh-what?" Lorewolf's smile dropped and soon replaced by fear. "The obligation?" Craine nodded nervously, fighting the urge to burst into tears.

"What are we going to do? We should leave town. Johnny and the rest are packing now. They plan on leaving tomorrow before daybreak. Should we leave as well?" Big green eyes waited apprehensively for an answer.

"It would be suspicious that all the men in town disappear. Who knows what the army would do to the women." Lorewolf sighed and ran his hand in his hair. He hadn't expected the military to be that desperate.

"Well, Uncle Jen and the old crew have decided to stay."

"That is not enough, they will still be suspicious." Lorewolf placed a hand on his chin and thought hard. "I think…I think…I will stay with the old men."

"What! Why?" Craine tensed up and shook his lover, trying to beat some sense into him. "You know very well that I am not going to leave without you."

"I know. I don't expect you to. But I don't want you to come with me. It will be too dangerous."

"I don't understand a thing you are saying?" Craine embraced his lover.

Tightened their panicking hug, Lorewolf buried his face under the soft nape of Craine, memorizing his scent of sweet lavender. Unable to look directly into the saddening green eyes, his hand stroke gently the long golden pony tail. "I am saying is that, I am joining the army. They need at least one young man not to stir a commotion. As for you, I want you to hide yourself in ma's kitchen. Dress up as a woman and act like one, you can do it, Craine. You are beautiful enough." He kissed Craine's temper to calm his crying lover. "Ma will need you during my absent."

Suppressing his fear and the tear that would threatened to be spilled unstoppably, Lorewolf lifted Craine's trembling chin gently and gave him an assuring and passionate kiss.

"You dumb man, I hate you!" Craine cried out loud despite the tender hug. "It makes me wonder why I even love a prick like you."

"Thanks," Lorewolf gave a quick kiss on the eye.

"No, I really hate you, don't be nice." The gold haired struggled out of his beloved's arms. "Go die for all I care." He yelled between sobs. "You suicidal bastard."

The brunet smiled at his lover's concern.

"You dare to smile?" Craine stared in disbelief though the pretty tears streamed nonstop downward. "You heartless mosquitoes, ant brain, monkey face, elephant legs!"

Lorewolf laughed amusingly at Craine's choice of comparison. "Sweet love, would you really come to love such monstrous man?"

"Yes! Even though he is the biggest moron in the history of mankind!"

"Ha, is it even me? I don't recall making dinner when the instruction said clearly in big letter that you must only put one and a half cups of salt and not fifteen cups because someone decided to play smart and ignored the decimal place. I wonder who the cook was at that time?" The brunet smiled at the memory.

"Are you saying I am stupid?" Craine pinched the man's upper arm.

"Ah, you admitted it. Careful, I never said it was you."

"I hate you."

"Come on, let's go home. It is getting dark."

Lorewolf lifted his light lover to the horse's back and jumped up himself. Giving a firm yank on the mane, the white horse headed slowly towards the town. Brushing the gold hair aside, he gave Craine several butterfly kisses on the nape. Craine let out a small laugh in spite of the sadness that dwelled into his heart at the Lorewolf's departure.

"In case you don't remember, I still hate you." The blonde hissed.

"I know, I know, darling." He buried his face into the small shoulder blade. "I love you."

"Hn, you better or I kick you down the horse right now." Turning his head a little to face his beloved for another kiss, he whispered softly his love that made the taller man smiled.

OoOoOoO

"Oh god, Lorewolf!" Craine panted.

"You alright, Love?" Lorewolf asked gently, brushing a few strands of gold hair off his lover's lovely face.

Wrapping his arms behind his lover's neck, Craine nodded in reassurance that he could handle the pain. "I'm fine."

Together, nude with their cloths resting motionless on the floor, the two passed their last night of affection. Either it will be the last until many months or even years, or it will be the last for their entire life. All shall be decided with the brunet's luck in the battlefield.

He gasped sharply as Lorewolf pushed deeper. A single tear of pain slid down the flushed crimson cheek. Bending downward, the brunet licked off the graceful trail of wetness and moved slowly to the parted lips of his beloved. Craine forced his heavy eyelids to open. Sweet moans escaped unconsciously when Lorewolf thrust continuously, taking up the pace.

A jock of unexplainable pleasure sent through his entire body as he moaned shamelessly in ecstasy. No coherent word could be form in his state. Gripping onto the blanket to restrain the rocking motion, he arched his back and spread his slender legs further for better access. Lorewolf had been very gentle and thoughtful throughout the process, in which Craine was quite grateful.

"Craine" Lorewolf whispered seductively. "You have no idea how beautiful you are." Cupping the pretty blond with his sweaty palms, the brunet placed another kiss over the swollen lips. "I bet all the others must be after my throat for having you." He said sweetly, wiping the drool spilling out of his lover's rosy soft lips with his backhand.

Coming close to the end, the thrusting grew more impatient and uncontrollable. Each stroke hit the sweet spot, bringing out a lustful scream from the blonde's throat.

"Lor-e-e, no more" Craine begged though he was clearly aroused.

"Sorry love, I can't."

Pulling out nearly to the end of the tight entrance, he slammed forcefully inward, pressing hardly on the prostate that made Craine came. Lorewolf groaned in pleasure when the inner hot cavern gripped so godlessly around his manhood, causing every friction to burn that he came quickly after his beloved.

The arms supporting his body weight threatened to give away after such wonderful and intense workout though he had enough conscious to hold himself up, so that he wouldn't crush his poor, panting lover beneath. Smiling gently at the loving sight of the sleeping angel, he kissed softly on Craine's flushing cheek.

"Good night darling, have a good dream." Watching the blond stirred a little and mumbled a few incoherent words and his name, the brunet smiled as he stroked the beautiful silky hair.

The brunet sat on the edge of the bed for a brief moment before standing up and cleaned their dirty mess. Chuckling at the imagination of his lover's sore face tomorrow morning, he paced to the bathroom and dripped a tower into the water. Compressing it wet enough not to drop any droplet on the floor, he returned to the bed to clean Craine.

"How I am going to miss you, love." Lorewolf managed an uncertain smile at the thought of his lonely future. Unconscious, Craine curled up to him. "I really will miss you." He smoothed softly the pale back and ready himself to tomorrow.

OoOoOoO

"So today is the day huh?" Lorewolf's mother, Mathia, sighed depressingly.

"Don't worry, Ma." Lorewolf assured, giving his morning greeting with a tight hug. "I will be fine. I will be leaving Craine to your care."

"You take care, boy. I packed you some of your favourite dish in your bag this morning." She said with a small smile and disappeared into the inn's kitchen.

Lorewolf sat himself on the lobby's chair. His heart pumped furiously in apprehension. He had been living in this town for his entire life. However, everything seemed different this day. Unable to relax his last moment in peace, he felt the fear. Fear as in what would happen if this day will truly be the last time he will ever see the place, the townspeople, his friends, his mother…his beloved. He might never ever return to this warm home.

"Lorewolf," Craine bent over to fix Lorewolf's messy collar. "Are you leaving?"

"Ah, I am. The military is coming any time soon."

Tilting his head to watch his lover arranging his uniform, Lorewolf was satisfied. Craine was wearing the late Leena's dress. The golden hair that was usually tied was loose to add more of a feminine trait to his effeminate figure. Travelers apart from the townspeople should not be able to differentiate him from other women in this attire.

"You look great Craine." He caressed the slender wrist with care, memorizing the soft texture of the pale skin.

"You are so cruel, leaving everyone." The blond whimpered.

Cupping the sharp chin with his right palm and wiped off the tears gathering under Craine's heavy eyelids with the back of his left hand. "Don't be silly, don't cry now. I don't want to leave this place with you like that."

Sitting on the brunet's laps, the blond swung his arms around the tanned neck for a hug, afraid that if he were to let go, the man within his embrace will be gone forever in his life.

"When you return, I will have already mastered all the kitchen skills. I will make you the best dinner you will ever have in your life."

"Sounds promising. I am looking forward to it. I don't really want to come back to see my house got burned down because of a certain, clumsy blond."

"You are so mean, seriously." Craine pouted though his lime green eyes were watery.

A silent followed after, and they had needed that time to sort out his emotions. They had been inseparable for all these years and for the first time, the chances of never seeing each other again frightened them greatly.

"You promise to write letters home whenever you can, right?" A tired yet caring voice made Lorewolf returned the hug.

"I promise. And you promise that you will love none during my absent."

"That is obvious." Craine arched back to hit Lorewolf at the back of his head with a tap. "I only love you."

"Thanks, I love you too."

Catching the blond who was trying very hard to hold back his tears, the brunet gave him an affectionate kiss. Remembering every detail, every scent of their partner that shall burned into their heart whenever they felt vulnerable and weak. Just simply by recalling the memories would boost one to continue on whatever harshness in order to meet up again.

"Gather up, gentlemen!" A loud commanding voice woke the lovers from their embrace.

"It must be the military." Craine murmured in displeasure and fear. He bit his bottom lip nervously

"I guess so. Alright, I need to go then." Signalling for his lover to get off, he walked to his packed belongings and hung them over his shoulders. "Go to the kitchen now, I don't want them to catch you."

Nodding, the lithe blond hesitantly took a step backward. Craine's chest tightened. "Is this farewell?" Lorewolf winced at the question. The words sounded foreign although they were from his beloved's lips.

"I will be back, I swear."

"That is what every soldier say to their family."

"Don't make this hard for me alright, sweetheart?"

"Whatever, you better make it back alive or I will really be mad at you in the afterlife." Kicking the brunet in the shin, the blond turned around, hiding the stream of tears that flowed uncontrollably down his cheeks.

Approaching the small, trembling form, Lorewolf circled his strong arms around the slim waist, putting his chin on the delicate shoulder blade. "Goodbye."

The tall man shut his eyes to inhale the last scent of his beloved and released the grip as he watched the blond flinched at the lack of warm on his back.

OoOoOoO

Lorewolf unwillingly joined the group of townsmen that were gathered in the center of the town's marketplace. He looked a nervous glance at his surroundings. The commander's presence was overwhelming.

"Let's see, we have only thirty men in this tiny population of four hundreds? Very bizarre. I wonder what happened to the rest of the youngsters for we have only a few here." The strict looking commander eyed Lorewolf and three other young men who decided to stay. "Actually, I happen to know why. You see, I have been camping my troop a few miles away from here and one night, I saw a few, well maybe around fifty, young little mice escaping this place. I wonder what they were up to."

Everyone from the town held their breath. It was clear that the commander had caught his fleeing friends who ran away from conscription. Gulping tensely, Lorewolf was somehow glad that he and Craine hadn't followed his friends.

Every pair of eyes observed the commander walked behind a covered cart. "Behold the mice."

He then pulled the thick cover aside, revealing a horrible sight. Beside Lorewolf, he could hear the mothers screaming and crying at the sight of their sons' head. Swallowing hard, Lorewolf straightened his back.

"This is considerate as betrayal to our nation!" The commander yelled and grabbed a hand full of Johnny's hair, with the head dangling, and threw it onto the ground.

The worse was that the rolling head had still the screaming and agonizing facial expression before Johnny was killed. Eyes and mouth were wide opened, though one of the eyeballs was gorged out, leaving a trail of blood down the temper. Lorewolf noticed then that his friend had not died an instant death but was horribly tortured.

Satisfied with the population's shocking reaction, the commander yelled again with his deep voice. "Alright men, all set, you are leaving. March, without turning your head back! We have no need for men who live in the past"

Taking a deep breath, Lorewolf's eyes flew to his right to spot his crying mother standing along with the other women who either lost their son under the commander's torture, or crying over the departure of the remaining forty men. Raising slightly his hand for a secret wave, the brunet tried to force the best smile he possibly could muster under the given circumstance.

Directing towards the gate, the newly troop marched past Lorewolf's inn. Hesitantly, he looked upward into his bedroom window when the playful and pleasant memory of last night made his lips curled into a sad smile. Blinking, he caught glimpse of a golden pony tail behind the closed window. Craine stared at him with sad teary eyes. Lorewolf's heart squeezed in until point of suffocation when he watched from below his lover crying out for him though he wasn't able to hear the sweet voice through the closed window and the loud marching boot noise.

Having the urge to suddenly run away from the bloody army and barge into Craine's warm hug, Lorewolf clenched his fists and resisted the temptation. That foolish act might probably lead to their death, specially delivered by the demonic commander. Keeping barely his composure, Lorewolf fought over his fear and reassured the worried blonde with a thumb up and a wink. Remembering the commander's order of not wondering his head around, he painfully pulled his eyes off his endearing lover to face the bold head of an uncle in front of him. That was the last look he will ever have in his latest memory of Craine.

"Cheer up kid, Craine will be fine. As long as you survive this hellhole, you will be able to come back here." The uncle next to him, whom he had known as Uncle Jen, comforted him with the frightening truth that he had a very high chance of dying in the battlefield.

"I am afraid." Lorewolf balled his fists.

"Of death? Kid, everyone will have to die one of these days."

"No, I have this feeling…this ominous sensation that…I will never see Craine every again."

Eying the brunet with a weird look, Jen gave him a rough hit on the back. "You are thinking too much, Lorewolf."

"I really wish it is just my imagination and not a prediction."

Once the soldiers marched passed the town gate, an unknown panic alarmed Lorewolf's conscious. Every step onward would no longer be safe. What waited ahead of him shall be nothing but the stinky smell of rotten corpses.

To be continue...

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