Protection

For those times when you refuse to give up

When you value honour above all else and you hold loyalty in the greatest esteem you often find yourself in terrifying situations where there is only one way out. You have to follow the one path left to you that lets you hold onto the things you cherish. Now add to the mix a fierce desire to protect those who you love, your greatest friends and you have my current situation.

I knew one day that my honour could be the death of me for I refuse to forsake it even in the worst of circumstances. I understood that my furious loyalty to those who had earned it from me could lead me into great difficulty and yet I couldn’t bring myself to change. For I held these qualities up for all to see and I knew it could bring me to harm but I wouldn’t change and betray myself just for the sake of safety. So when my friends, my loved ones are threatened I feel the need to protect them and my honour won’t let me back down because they deserve my loyalty.

This of course eventually led me to the inevitable trouble and chaos because of the consequences of the attributes that I value. I saw the first blow be thrown at my friend and was already moving towards the fight. I watched the blow land as I vaulted over the barriers between us. I saw her struggle to stay on her feet as she tried to dodge the blows being thrown at her. I gave a last push of effort and managed to reach her in time to pull her back from the blow that she had no hope of avoiding. I pushed her behind me, shielding her with my body as I glared at the wretched human being who had started the fight.

“Step aside, my fight is not with you,” He said and my insides turned to ice at those words. An attack on my friend is an attack on me and I will protect them until the world ends even if I have to give my life to do so.

“You want her you go through me,” I replied in such a cold tone that I saw the onlookers recoil. They knew how far I would go for those who held my loyalty and were wary of what I would do in the name of protection. My opponent it seemed didn’t though and I groaned inwardly at that knowledge. He threw a punch in my direction just as I tilted my body to absorb the blow and as he threw another punch I saw he had left himself open. Most people would have taken it but my honour held me back. I wasn’t here to beat him to a pulp like he deserved but to protect my friend and that was all I was going to do.

So I stood there as he rained blows down upon me and I waited. I knew that eventually he would either be stopped or would realise that he would get nothing from me.  I absorbed every blow for the love I bore my friend and I laughed as they fell upon my body. I saw the darkness descend over him as his blows had no effect, as I didn’t step aside and let him fight my friend.

I look back on that day with an almost fondness because even though it was the day everything changed it was also the day I came into my own. We all have a calling in life and I found mine that day as my body was battered and yet I refused to step aside.

He didn’t stop because he didn’t realise that I would never break; he stopped because he was pulled away from me. He was stopped because those around us realised that I wouldn’t break and that if I wanted to he wouldn’t even be able to crawl away. They dragged him off me as he struggled against them and I smiled at them. “We’ll talk to him,” they told me and I left it as that willing for now to believe them.

I turned to my friend and gestured for her to leave and thankfully she did so without a word. I was aware that I must look horrible but the pain had yet to sink in and I was going to keep going until it did. As she walked away I fell into step just behind her a protective figure at her shoulder should anyone try to finish what he had started.

We walked until she finally decided that she needed to talk to me and I didn’t argue as she dragged me into an empty room. “Are you okay?” She asked and I groaned inwardly. Of course I wasn’t okay but I wasn’t going to think about it and let the pain sink in so I just nodded to her. This wasn’t exactly a conversation I was willing to have. Luckily she didn’t press me, “Why did you do that?”

She didn’t know. All this time and she hadn’t realised that I would do this for her, for anyone who had my loyalty. “You are my friend and I will not stand by as my friends are hurt. I will do everything to keep them safe. You are safe because I will always protect you for though I don’t give friendship easily I will not end it.” I told her and as I spoke I knew how true it was in my very soul. It wasn’t just the way I’d chosen to live my life it was the way I was destined to live it.

Her eyes glistened with amazement even as she readied a protest. No doubt she was going to say she didn’t need protecting but something on my face stopped her. I wasn’t sure exactly what she had seen, which of my thoughts had shown but I wasn’t going to argue if she wasn’t going to protest. “I understand,” she said finally and my soul felt considerably lighter now that someone knew how much I’d give for them.

“Thank you,” I said so quietly that I wasn’t sure if she heard me but then again she wasn’t entirely meant to. I stepped back and glanced at the door and she seemed to get the message that I wasn’t leaving until she decided to. As she walked out the door with me half a step behind her our friendship shifted. No longer were we just two friends and we never would be again now that I had revealed who I was. From now on I would be the protector of the woman who had gained my loyalty.

These days I walk with so many concealed weapons that even I don’t remember how many I have. I always walk a step behind now never stepping level but never dropping a step further back. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to look someone in the eye as an equal rather than just doing it when you’re giving them the order to back away and stay away.

It’s not the same woman as all those years ago that I protect now but rather a different one and there have been many in between. I don’t just give my loyalty though, they still have to earn it, and I don’t forsake my honour for them but I do protect them. I come across those I protected before sometimes and I help them when they ask it of me.

I’ve been with the same charge for so many years now that most people don’t even notice my presence around her anymore. There are no threats though, nothing to provoke action from me and yet I still dodge her steps. I can’t let my guard down not for fear of punishment but for fear of betraying her. So I give my all and I follow my destiny and it brings me joy. Sure people may be afraid of me but only the ones who look past that are the only ones worth knowing in the first place.

The day I almost lost her was the worst day of my life for it was the day I was torn by the loyalty that I give so sparingly. I was standing behind her when my old charge entered the room and even though I saw the subtle shift I didn’t react. I couldn’t neutralise the threat without hurting one who I could never hurt. So I did the next best thing and I did it gladly to protect both of those who I was honour bound to protect. I protected those who I couldn’t harm because my entire being demanded otherwise.

Just like all those years ago, when I realised what I was born to do, I threw my body it the way and took the wound that should never have been mine. “Go,” I pleaded to my shocked ex-charge, “please. Just go.” When there was no movement I pushed the pain away and stood straight with a hand clamped to my wound as I still defended my charge with my body. “Get out here, now!” I roared still pressing on my wound as I took a step forward. I may be bleeding heavily but my steps were steady and as I drew and cocked a pistol my arm didn’t waver.

“Shoot,” a voice said behind me, “why don’t you shoot?” I couldn’t bring myself to turn and see the betrayed look in those eyes. I knew it would mirror the look in my own eyes that someone I had once protected with my life would come here with the intention of killing. They would have known that I would intercede and the pain at such a betrayal cut through me but my loyalty still held.

“Go and don’t ever come back!” I roared well aware of the raw emotion in my voice. It was something that never happened to me, I never lost control, but then again my loyalty had never been betrayed. “If you ever look for me, if you ever need me. Remember that though you betrayed me I will always be loyal to those who have earned my loyalty as I will always be loyal to you. I will honour the oath I made but if you continue with this I will have to protect you from yourself.” I was shaking with rage before I finished but I didn’t look away. I didn’t look down instead I aimed the gun at the heart as I hardened my own to what I may have to do in the name of protection. Luckily my words were enough to get through and I watched as they ran from the room.

Only then did I turn to the woman I couldn’t protect properly because I couldn’t break my oath. I couldn’t sacrifice my honour in the name of loyalty just as I couldn’t sacrifice my loyalty in the name of honour. I saw the betrayal and hurt in her eyes and I did the only thing that I could. I bowed with a bloody hand placed over my heart, “I am yours to deal with as you wish. I failed to protect you as I should have and have let one who would harm you escape.”

I could feel the blood flowing down my side but I didn’t dare rise from my bow. She stepped forward and lifted by head with two fingers so she could look into my eyes and I let her do as she pleased. I had failed and I knew it but I had been torn in half by my own sense of loyalty. “You once protected her as you do me?” She asked and before I could reply aloud she read the answer in my face. “I’m glad to know that when you move on one day I will still have your loyalty no matter what I do. You have nothing to be ashamed of, have done nothing you need to be punished for. I know what you value above all else and I respect that.”

“Thank you,” I whispered as quietly as I had all those years ago.

She smiled at me and I returned it but then it died suddenly upon her lips. Her eyes were fixed on my blooded side. Panic entered her voice as she suddenly moved around me, “Put pressure on it,” she ordered and I obeyed automatically. She was back moments later with a cloth which she balled up, “move your hands.” I obeyed and she pressed it to my side with more force than I could have managed in my weakened state, “help’s coming,” she said as she kept her eyes fixed on my face. I knew then she had been a good choice to bestow my loyalty on for she would see me through this and still keep me in her service for I had proven I would always be loyal to her.

It took too long for me to get back on my feet after that wound and it was with a heavy heart that I advised her to get another protector while I recovered. She wanted to refuse I could see it in her eyes but she didn’t instead nodding. I knew she was doing it because I was requesting it not to protect herself but it still hurt. “I’ll be on my feet again soon. I’ll be able to protect you properly again soon.”

She smiled at me and placed a hand on my shoulder, “Don’t push yourself too hard trying to get better. I don’t want you out of this bed before you are fully healed so no pretending you’re fine early.” I glanced down ashamed that she could read my intentions so easily and she smiled, “Just get better.” I glanced up in time to see her leaving the room and I reached out a hand to grasp the gun that was lying at my side. It was meant to be for my protection but it more a reminder of what I should be doing instead of lying here.

When I did finally rise from my bed it was with a careful mask on my features. I couldn’t let anyone see the pain that still haunted my steps and yet I couldn’t wait until it was gone. So I rose from my bed and she sent away her temporary protector and we went from there. I walked a step behind armed to the teeth and she went about her business as normal. These days people looked away from me in fear before I even met their eyes afraid that even if I didn’t kill them when they attacked then I would let them live and leave them to live their lives in fear.

These days I live my life with honour and I hold to my loyalty no matter what comes. I’m no longer placed in terrifying situations by the attributes I value but instead I cause those same terrifying situations for others. I went down the path that let me hold onto what I cherish and I have people who have my loyalty and yet I feel like I went wrong somewhere. I still have that fierce desire to protect those who love but these days my life is based on it, based around it.

I knew one day that my honour could be the death of me but I did not know it could be the death of others if I refused to forsake it. I knew my loyalty could lead me into great difficulty and yet it never occurred to me that it would place others in that self same difficulty. I still hold the qualities I hold dear up for people to see and yet these days it is as a warning rather than as an example but I can’t bring myself to care. So when my friends, my loved ones are threatened I do what I was always meant to do and I protect them from those that would harm them. It doesn’t matter if it means I have to kill or to be physically harmed myself as long as those that deserve my loyalty are safe.

Tell me of any times you have protected something dear to you? Or how you refused to do something against your principles?

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