Kaladin started ahead numbly, barely processing the world around him as he helped his father. Stitch, stitch, cauterize, bandage, medicine, it all seemed so useless, dressing corpses up to make their families feel better.
He couldn’t look at the figure in the corner, the corpse under a thin sheet, his failure, his brothers body.
NO! He couldn’t think of that. Not now, not while there were men granted a few more moments to live.
The Invaders had stopped their attack as night had fallen, allowing those who could to fall back into Roshones keep, but they were still there, watching, waiting, poised to strike at any moment.
Kaladin knew that Hearthstone wouldn’t survive another attack. Storms they barely survived this one, they wouldn’t have if he hadn't… if he hadn't…
Kaladin still wasn’t exactly sure what he’d done. He knew it had to do with Syl, the windspren that had been sticking around him, talking to him, but other than that he didn’t know.
Was he a knight radient? He didn’t know, couldn’t ask anyone beyond the spren. His father had never wanted him to fight, wouldn’t want to know how many lives he’d taken today, wouldn’t want the implications of Kaladin being a ‘knight’ anything. His mother would surely go to his father, and who else was there? Not the Ardents, they considered the radients traitors.
He could have told Then, but- Kaladin violently turned his attention back to his task, setting the broken arm of a man who had taken a hard blow from the staff of a spear. His mother worked a few yards from him, her arm occasionally moving to cradle her stomach.
Kaladin had worked as a surgeon enough to know what movement like that meant. He was furious, not because they hadn’t told him, but because his mother had already lost one child today, and she was in danger of losing another.
Those acursed Kholins, they’ll bring the desolation to Roshar, Kaladin was sure of it. Syl, who usually worked so hard to cheer him up, remained a silent support upon his shoulder, looking at the body he was avoiding with wide, sad eyes.
“I’m sorry,” she said at length, “That you had to say the words like that. I’m glad you said them, but I wish…”
Yeah, Kalading wished too.
Suddenly there was a commotion from deeper in the keep, Kaladin jumped to his feet, hands already reaching for his spear. His mother gripped his arm as he moved to follow the noise, but said nothing. She simply hugged him tightly to her chest for a moment before reluctantly letting him go.
It didn’t take long once Kaladin left the safe room to hear the news: some scouts within the Kholin army had managed to sneak into the keep and open it from the inside, the attackers were now flooding the building.
Kaladin ran, determined to find the Blackthorn, to end the man who was responsible for over half the deaths in this accursed invasion of the Alethi lands.
Instead he found Roshone. Roshone, the man who turned the village against his father, who was the reason why some days they’d had nothing but Lavis grains to eat. The man who had humiliated and abused his father since the day he arrived in Hearthstone.
Roshone, the man who’d stationed Tien at the front lines, who had sent his brother to die. The bright Lord was cowering, cowardly hiding from a man in bright green armor and a war hammer. Not the Blackthorn, but another well known figure in this campaign, Sadeas. Sadeas was advancing on Roshone slowly, clearly confident in his ability to slay a cowering, aged man.
Kaladin froze, struck by a horrible moment of indecision. This was his chance to be rid of Roshone for good, his chance to be rid of the scourge that had being weighing down his family for months. All he had to do was… wait. He didn’t even have to do anything, just wait until this man killed Roshone to attack. It would be so easy.
Syl flitted down to his face, seeming paler than normal, less… there. “Kaladin,” she said softly, “You know what is right. It scares me how you get when you talk about Roshone, don’t let the hate corrupt who you can be.”
Kaladin took a deep breath, tears stinging his eyes as he gave up the hope of seeking revenge on the man he believed was truly responsible for killing his brother. He stepped into the room, the chamber behind him darkened as he sucked the stormlight from the gemstones on the lamps, but he paid it no mind. He moved to get between Roshone and Sadeas, his spear held firm in his grip. Syl flew in a proud arch around him, saying gleefully “Say the words! Kaladin, you’re ready, you can do it “
“I will protect,” he says, voice hoarse as Sadeas pauses for a moment to gape at the teen glowing in the center of a now dark room. “I will protect even those I hate, because it is right!”