Casualty Romance

The hobby of LARPing, or Live Action Role Playing, is said to pre-date history however most have come to recognize its start in the 1960s. It is rooted in make believe, play fighting, costume parties, roleplaying simulations as well as improvisational theatre and is the next step up from tabletop role-playing. It urges participants to embrace their imagination, be their character, and live out their fantasy. International renown in this participatory art saw the rise of groups, such as LARPA and Darkon, and later the birth of dedicated communities; LARPs began to draw the attention of the public eye. Eventually LARPing became a heavily commercialized spectator sport and form of public entertainment. These days LARPers are paid athletes and actors and what was once a hobby is now a way of life.

~~~~~

It was a bit of relief. Something calming – relaxing and familiar – for times when every day could honestly be our last. I should have known better than to be crushed.

I stood a body down from her in formation before we marched out. She had seemed so bold to me – exotic and strong – face painted in thick stripes of deep green, her dark braided locks spilling out over her shoulders. The thick hide armor she wore presented teeth and fur and segments of plating tactfully placed unlike the weighty yet simple outfittings of the Imperial Army.

Captain Techrin paced, aback his horse, at the fore of the formation. Fresh Autumn leaves crunched beneath the gait of his steed and the dense forest danced with flittering sunlight through tall trees. A single incorporeal orb shadowed the Captain, as well as many more hovering over the procession. They observed and projected us to an anxious audience.

The Captain had inspected us each personally, even after an inspection by battalion hierarchy, and was now delivering his pre-encounter speech. It was brief.

“…Look to those around you. This is your family – your brothers and sisters in arms. Get to know them, if you don’t already. Put you trust in them – your trust in the Empire – and we will walk out of this victorious.”

It was not an unfamiliar speech. The Tillian Empire served as a homestead for the last ‘free’ people of Southreach. The dance of introductions was familiar and, by this point, redundant for many of us. So, perhaps, it made sense that I was curious about the exotic warrior a stone’s skip to my right.

While I dallied in thought, my partner-in-crime turned to our neighbored ally.

“Glad I’ve got someone at my side worth a damn. This idiot would just as soon try’n’talk down a Berserker.” Brenna thumbed at me.

I could feel a heat boil within me but the foreign women smiled and passed me a grazing glance which froze me.

“Have you ever succeeded?” Her voice smokey. Aggressive.

“What?”

“Dissuadin’ a Berserker.”

My mind scrambled for something what would make me stand out and I blurted the first half-brained thing I could imagine: “only long enough to put them down.”

She rose an eyebrow and smirked as if calling my bluff – as if she knew I was full of it. “‘S’pose we’ll get the chance to put that to the test.”

~~~~~

Such was the game: selected teams stormed against the opposition’s Stronghold until either the enemy flag was taken or all of the opposing forces were eliminated.

We saw our first engagement in a cacophony of wood what was considered the Autumn Wildes. We were isolated there and ambushed by an enemy that knew the land better than we. The enemy poured over us in overwhelming odds we were not trained for. She told us so.

Our squad was split down the middle and scattered by smoke and traps. We had lost a quarter of our people before we even had a real target. I could hear cries and battle but nothing substantial. I stood isolated in a fog. I felt something tug at my arm and I whipped around, weapons swinging wide, but only met air.

“Idiot.”

Brenna’s voice from below me. She urged me and I slipped down into the upturned land which turned out to be a shallow cave. A defensive position. They had lit no torch, nor fire, and I strained my eyes to see our foreign ally stalking at the rear. She was quietly irate and only spoke after ensuring no enemy had followed in our wake.

“We’re gonna be stuck here for some time,” she assured. “If we wait it out we may be able to sneak up on their stronghold. Don’t ask me what we’ll do when we get there, though. It’s just an idea.”

We were content to hide after the devastating massacre we had escaped. Our foreign friend convinced us to sit quite close in a corner of the cavern, her between us, stating we would be less likely to be discovered. It made sense.

In the silence I had begun to nod off but woke to a hand on my thigh and haughty panting nearby. I tensed up at first and opened my eyes to cunning eyes shrouded by black locks.

“You gunna talk me down, Whisper?”

Even if I wanted to, I could not.

———-

Daily Prompt: Casual

 

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