Chapter 12: A Price to Pay
The shock of Sapalulmea’s death numbed Talmido’s mind to his current situation. He laid in his cell with tears streaming down his face and knots of anger tying up his brow into a scowl of pure anguish and hate.
His mind reeled from the thought of Sapalulmea being gone forever. Never again would he lay with love’s passion for her or share his innermost feelings of desire and hope for her. Never would they share the making of a family. Never again would he hear her laughter or see her thin-lined smile of appreciation while she twisted locks of her raven hair in her left hand. Never again would he bask in the glory of the sway of her hips and stride of her long legs. The grace of her attention and focus were never to be known again. What was he to do? This went on for a day and a night as the powers that be thought about and discussed his final outcome, eventually deciding upon a course that would prove to be their downfall.
Soon a contingent of guards came to Talmido’s cell and dragged him to his feet, whipping him along toward the commander’s tent. Talmido did nothing to interfere, as he knew the intended destination and desperately wanted to tear General Bel-Taggil limb from limb and satiate his burning need for revenge. He focused on this knot of hate and embraced it with all his heart, pulling it close to his core for the plan he had in mind, a method of revenge, escape, and liberation—a plan to start anew with a foundation of hope and optimism. For now, however, he needed to funnel his mental and emotional energy into the task to come.
He was taken into Bel-Taggil’s tent and forcefully thrown to the ground before the commander, with Hattusili standing next to him off to his right. Talmido took this in with a sixth sense of preparation. He slowly tightened his muscles for the explosion to come, not wanting them to see his plotting. He looked Hattusili in the eye and, with a snarl, lunged for him, knowing it was not the time but wanting Hattusili aware of his intent. Hattusili slipped backward and fell onto his back with a whump and the quiet chuckles of the guards. Hattusili slowly climbed back up and brushed off his garments and his pride.
“Stop the antics, Talmido,” Bel-Taggil commanded. “Even though Hattusili probably deserves your revenge, it is not going to happen today.”
“You will die,” Talmido spat out toward Hattusili, and then he slowly turned to look the commander in his eyes. Talmido knew the commander needed to juggle the common soldier’s perception of justice and military law. Protocol demanded swift action, and death was the rule.
“I have served you for twenty years, and this is how you repay me?” Talmido snarled.
“Repay you? Talmido, I did not even have the chance to discuss with you what it was you wanted,” Bel-Taggil replied.
“Did not Hattusili inform you of my request and intentions?”
“No, it would seem he did not. No matter, as the charges are as follows: desertion, treason, and dereliction of duty. These all impose the death penalty, Talmido. What am I to do?” Bel-Taggil queried. “You will be either fully reinstated as a soldier of the Empire, or you will be paraded around like an animal so that all will witness the results of defying the emperor’s expressed wishes. If you sign a declaration of temporary insanity, full reinstatement is possible. If you do not...I cannot assure how long you will stay alive. You have until the morning to make your decision, Talmido. Take him away.”
Talmido relented. The jeers and smirks of the soldiers chased him as he marched back to his cell. The guards were smiling and laughing to themselves, unaware of his continued stretching of the cords that bound his hands. He pulled one way and then the other with an unabated strength of will and desire. He put all his power into stretching those cords, using the sweat of his own body and the heat of the sun to loosen the fibers and make them slip against his skin.
With one final pull, he wrenched his right hand out of the bonds. After flinging his right arm around the left side of his body and twisting his torso around the arc of his arm, he smashed his fist into the face of the man marching on his left, breaking his nose and shoving the nasal bone up into his brain, killing him. At the same time, he kicked the man walking directly behind him with his right foot in the groin while stealing the man’s sword with his left hand. With one quick pivot, Talmido decapitated the man on his right before slitting the throat of the man bent down in pain from the strike to his groin. In the time it takes to blink, all three soldiers lay dead.
Talmido continued to spin around and ran for the general’s tent with the speed of grim resolve and purpose while he pounded the ground with footsteps of anticipation. As he approached the general’s tent, the guards standing in front of it shouted a warning to the general and Hattusili while rushing forward to their ultimate deaths. Talmido plunged into the tent without hesitation and found Bel-Taggil starting to stand up, and immediately drove his sword down and into the general’s chest, piercing his heart with one swift blow to his life. After deftly pulling the sword out, Talmido jumped over the table and shoved the blade straight into Hattusili’s chest, above his heart and below his shoulder, leaving it there as he slowly fell backward with shock on his face and a gag of sound emanating from his mouth.
Talmido fled out the back of the tent, running with all his might amidst the confusion while grabbing a helmet and tunic to disguise himself. With twenty strides to his credit, he began to slow down, pulling the hood of the tunic up over his head while he quickly walked toward the stables. Upon reaching them, he found his horse, jumped onto it, and raced out to the east, away from the camp and the hate to shortly follow.