"My son, to die for another is easy. But to live your whole life with compassion in your heart is difficult, do you understand? In a moment it is easy to be selfless, to draw upon what good remains in your heart, but to keep that good through your whole life...that is difficult. To be just and pure, to be righteous in all your works, to do what is right..even when others think you are wrong, it is the hardest thing in the world."
Rain pattered down on the elderly mans head, running like tears down his face. He had seen too much fighting, too much war in his life and even now it seemed to be bearing down on him. Though the young boy at his side had never seen him bend, never break, this time was different: His back was crooked like a withered tree branch, his hands folded behind his back as though they could do nothing else. His simple leather rangers jacket had seen better days, the elements battering down upon it just as much as the tanned wrinkled face he wore, almost frozen in a frown.
It was little protection, especially up here on the walls of Ebonhawke. The child beside him frowned, looking across the Fields of Ruin with wide questioning eyes, the soft hazel gaze filled with the kind of empathy that would someday likely get him killed. His hands reached over the edge as he stared down at craters, at bodies, stretching out like a morbid carpet into the forest. His dress was a dark purple, his hands covered by gloves of the same color in a traditional Canthan childs garb that always set him apart from the other Ascalonian children. Questions danced across his expression, he'd never been allowed this close to the wall before, and he wasn't sure if he regretted leaping at the opportunity to come.
"What does that have to do with....this?" Sigvald breathed out, sweeping his gloved hand across the field, looking up at his father for answers, pausing only to brush the unnaturally silver hair he had from his face. "I...always knew the Charr wanted to kill us, but I never realized how many people died out here...is...is it always like this? are we just going to leave the bodies out there?"
His father turned around, kneeling down and set his hands on Sigvalds shoulder. His hazel eyes stared into Sigvalds own, he'd never looked older in Sigvalds eyes. "I'm showing you...what the rest of your life will be like, what you must brace for in the trials ahead. But I want you to never lose your heart, in all the violence, the pain, the death, you must never become like the monsters you fight. What makes humanity special, what makes people like you important, is that you never lose your empathy and your will to fight for whats right..."
The boy frowned then, his hand went up to a gold locket around his neck. A gift from his mother before she'd gone off to battle in the Fields, carefully placed inside was a faded photograph of his family. His brothers Marius and Anton, his father Mordred and her, Maria. It had been taken only a few years ago and yet as he opened it and ran a hand along it's surface, he could see that the time that had passed between then and now had seemingly aged him decades.
"I...I can try."
"Boy, I don't want you to try. No matter what...don't lose yourself..."
Sigvald breathed out, his eyes looking away from his father and out into the fields. Was his mother somewhere down there? among the countless bodies? he didn't know, depending on the whims of fate he might never know, soldiers had gone missing for longer. Ever since he could understand words he had been told to never say something he could never commit to, to never lie, to be honest with oneself. At this moment he could feel the weight of his ancestors crushing down upon him, judging him. After a moment he closed the locket and looked back into his fathers eyes, breathing out.