Ch13: Food and friends
At the end of the day, Magdaline was exhausted. She wished nothing but food and sleep. She got food. Once in the mess hall, she followed the troop, and got a bowl, like the rest, passed through some line where cooks dumped some type of oats into her bowl. And she kept moving. A cup of water from the next. This was not at all what she was accustomed to.
With her bowl, a spoon and a cup of water, she took a small bite of the meal she was offered. It was bland and horrible. She slowly ate, tired and weary from her day. As she looked around she noticed that the rest of her troop was using their spoons like shovels, and eating as fast as possible. She could not get over the bad taste, she surely was not going to just shove it in like that’s the best there could be.
About the third spoonful, she heard a drill instructor yell. “Move Out!” Everyone got up, threw their bowls and cups into a tub. Shocked, she slowly got up, took a large spoon full of oats and jammed it in her mouth, chewing as he walked. The line moved quickly and she was forced to abandon what was left.
Outside, the troop assembled. Magdaline scrambled to find a spot. Within moments another instructor started cadence for marching. His tone was rhythmic, not too fast, not too slow. As her legs moved to keep up with the rest of the troop, she barely noticed that the sun slowly set over the spires of house Lyrandar.
As they continued, darkness fell and there was no sign of them stopping. The grounds were massive. She saw other troops marching like they were, she heard bugling from some. The meter that was given never faltered. The cadence commanded their troop, pivoting and turning around various structures. As they continued, she felt more and more as if she was going to pass out. The fatigue, which at first did not bother her as much was starting to become unbearable.
After they had passed the barracks for the third time, she began to feel that this was not going to end. She walked with the troop, but her mind was fading. She thought to just focus on the person in front of her. She would get through. It was not long after that she simply passed out and fell.
The next morning she awoke to a bugle sounding. Her arms could barely move. The children beside her snapped out of bed, but she felt like she could barely shift from her position.
“Attention!” Came a loud yell from sergeant Lorafean.
The shock woke Magdaline up. She stood up as fast as possible, getting in line between two girls. She stood as still and upright as she could as the sergeant walked past her. At the end of the line, the woman turned and began walking the other way. She had just made it past Magdaline when she simply fell down. She heard laughter and a quick snarl from the sergeant. She could barely tell what was going on as the two girls picked her up.
Moments later she felt the cool air of the outside. She only saw vague shadows and colors as the two girls carried her. Next she felt odd movements as she was thrown into a trough of water. She got up as quickly as she could. Her hair dripping wet, her clothes soaked. The two girls stood pointing and laughing at her. She was wide awake now. Her whole body ached.
Two other children came over, a boy and girl, and helped her out of the trough. “Are you ok?” A young boy asked.
She had seen them during their practice yesterday. She had no time to talk to anyone.
“I am Sarros and this is Elizira. Your name is Madeline?” the boy asked. He was trying to look at her eyes, but she could not focus with all that had been going on.
“Magdaline.” She eventually replied, sputtering. She choked out some of the trough water. And sat on it’s edge.
“This is a real trial by fire place. Those were Tylenyphe and Phayefine, they are just mean girls.” Elizira said. She looked directly at another group of kids who were gathered and laughing. Magdaline saw the two girls that picked her up in the group. “It’s about chow time, so we need to get moving. Let’s get you something to dry you off as we go.”
They slowly walked to the mess hall where they were the last in line. Magdaline dried off as best she could, but still felt the coldness of water on her clothes. She was damp, cold and ached.
“You lasted longer than most of us.” Sarros said. “How old are you?”
“Twelve” She said. “Almost thirteen.” She corrected.
Both of them looked at her gawking. “No one in here is less than fifteen. Why did they recruit you so young?”
Magdaline thought for a minute. She had not known that she was too young to be recruited. Her grandmother must not have wanted her there anymore. She recalled people coming to the house. She remembered that she could not talk to anyone. She was angry all the time. She had lost so much. Why would her grandmother have let her go?
She shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. I didn’t do anything wrong. I was a good girl.” The thoughts of the past few months welled up in her and she began bawling loudly. She felt so guilty. Her parents were gone and her grandmother didn’t even want her.
The two children both put their arms around her. “Shhh” Sarros cooed. “Don’t worry. We will help you.”
They slowly made their way to the bowls, cooks, cups, water and spoons. The food was the exact same thing they had the night before. Magdaline did not care though. She shoveled the food down as fast as she could. She was starving. She had eaten well with her parents and grandmother and never knew people were any different.