Part 67: Interview 33 BonusBarracks 33 - Reality Check
Abelard, one of the so-called Old Guard of Green Earth, looks up in surprise as Lorelei bursts into the room. The barracks’ main room has been quiet, with everyone grappling with Roland’s unfortunate passing in different ways, but Lorelei’s entrance seems to rouse people from their despondency.
“Abelard, you need to come here. It’s Wallace.”
“What’s the problem?” Abelard asks, standing up straight as Lorelei walks up to him. She seems almost inconsolable.
“I was looking for Edgar, but I can’t find him - Wallace is taking this really hard.”
“I can’t promise that I can shake him out of his funk.” Abelard says, accompanying Lorelei out of the room as she makes her way down the corridors of the barracks to Wallace’s room. “Losing young master Roland is not an easy thing for any of us to bear, least of all the man who believed wholeheartedly that he’d never outlive his boy.”
“I know… but you know what Wallace is usually like - loud, boisterous, a tad thoughtless, perhaps. Right now I’m not even sure if it’s the same man in that room. I tried using some fragrant herbs to lift his mood, but it’s not working…” Lorelei murmurs.
As they arrive at Wallace’s door, Abelard notes that it is ajar. He knocks twice, then slowly eases the door open without waiting for a response. The portly frame of Wallace is sat, dejected, on the bed. He turns to Abelard slowly and fixes him with a stare that seems to cut through Abelard’s very soul.
“My boy…” Wallace murmurs. “My boy.”
“Your boy.” Abelard repeats.
Wallace’s face falls and he slumps, looking towards the floor. “So much I wanted to say… my boy…”
“Wallace, stand up and look me in the eye.” Abelard says coldly. Lorelei’s eyes widen.
“Don’t be so harsh with him-” she starts, but Abelard silences her with a look as if to say ‘I know what I’m doing.’
Wallace doesn’t move.
“I know what you’ve lost today. Your son, your pride and joy… you thought you’d be long interred into the ground before you ever had to think about watching him fall. But we do not live in easy times. Right now, Black Hole sits on the verge of destroying Green Earth for good, and it is only the valuable sacrifices of soldiers like young master Roland that allow us to take another small piece of our country back.”
As Abelard speaks, Wallace’s breathing becomes steadier, more focussed.
“To have lost your son is… an almost impossible burden of sadness to bear. I cannot fathom what sort of thoughts are rushing through your head at the moment. But you and I, and Edgar… we have been here longer than most. We have lived, and lost, and lived again. Right now, I’m asking you to do that very thing. To live, and to lose, and to live again.”
Wallace stands up on unsteady feet, sniffling a little, and continuing to stare at the ground. Abelard extends a hand towards him.
“I can’t promise you that it will be easy. But I can promise you that once this war is over, we can grieve together. But until then, I need you. We need you. Young master Roland is wandering in the Forest of Light as we speak, and he’s watching over you. I’m certain of it. Do him proud, Wallace… just for a few more weeks. Just until we take back our country.”
Abelard finishes his piece, leaving his hand outstretched, and Lorelei watches as the two men stand in a silent tableau. For a moment, she doesn’t think Wallace will be convinced, but the heavyset man turns and grasps Abelard’s hand. Tears glint in his eyes, but a determination blazes within.
“I’m sorry, Abelard. Today… today hit hard. But if I lose hope now, then I’ll waste the chance that Roland bought us. Once this is over… then I can grieve. But right now I must honour Roland by pushing forward. His sacrifice allowed us Neotanks, to match the enemy’s might. Now we strike back.”
“Indeed.” Abelard replies. “I’m glad to have you back, Roland. And I don’t deny that for the next few weeks, you will feel like you cannot carry on. Seek out myself or Edgar when you feel like that. We will do all we can to ease your pain.”
“Thank you… my friend.” Wallace says. “Thank you. I’ll be alright now.”
“We could go and make a cup of tea for you.” Lorelei offers.
Abelard nods. “The three of us should take tea together, yes. I’ll help.”
Lorelei bustles off, followed by the confident steps of Abelard, leaving Wallace stood alone in his room. He closes his eyes, and pictures the awkward smile of his son, somewhere in the Forest of Light, in the welcoming arms of the Goddess.
“My boy... there was so much I wanted to say to you. I wanted to see you grow up into a strong man, but… you already did, and I missed it. I know I embarrassed you a lot, and I know you didn’t always appreciate me, but… I’m always your dad. Always will be, even now you’ve passed on. Keep watching me, son. I’m going to be better. I’m going to do better.”