Chemical Wisdom at Love Letter Fortress: COMPLETED
A Tale of the Commander of the Dead Militia. Inspired by the song “Dead Militia” by Disciple.
None of our trials are frivolous. God doesn’t pick random things for us to endure just so he can watch us squirm and sink. No, we are carefully lovingly chosen for missions in this life, and our path is allowed to be laid out with many struggles to prepare the way to the battlefield.
Allowed, yes allowed. Only what obstacles are allowed to be there shall be there. Do not forget this friend.
Whatever fires we face gives us the ability and honor to save those going through the same thing. Don’t forget your training soldier. You were chosen to endure this so you could return to the fires and save others because you’ve been there before.
Just like our commander once had to do.
For this tale we find our commander with exclusive rank of Division Lieutenant. At the top you have the General, then his top commander, and next you have the 4 Division Lieutenants. They lead the north, south, east, and west divisions. The Divisions are further broken up underneath the Division Lieutenants. Our commander has battled bravely on the front lines, gone up the ranks, and is currently the 4 Star North Division Lieutenant.
The North Division is currently separated though. Our commander is with part of them at Love Letter Fortress. The other part is still on the battlefield surrounded by the enemy. In the intense days of the recent battles evil forces closed in on part of his division and broke them off from the group. Unable to get to them under the intense gunfire of the opposing side, our commander took the reminder of his division to Love Letter Fortress to regroup, call reinforcements, and devise a plan to save the rest of their division.
Our commander would never leave any of his soldiers behind. This required more men to be successful though. Having received word that the East Division would answer the call and would arrive soon to assist, the soldiers could only wait until it was time to strike.
There were many new recruits to the North Division. Being new to the Dead Militia is no easy task. Those that are fresh and new to the ranks practically have a target on their backs and are always shot at first by the forces of the evil one. They are relentlessly attacked and incredibly vulnerable to the corruption. Rookies were known to desert the battlefield and disappear into the wilderness never to be found again. Some have even been seen crossing the fields to the other side where they are gladly handed a weapon of the other side, and they immediately begin firing on their former comrades.
Some are able to see all these hardships through, refuse to give up the fight, and become proud members of the Dead Militia. Just like our commander has done.
Our commander had been meeting with the leadership in his Division all morning to discuss strategies for the upcoming mission. During this time he noticed that one of his top corporals had been missing from the meeting, and he decided to go out and speak to some of his troops to seek him out.
The testimony they gave started to feel eerily familiar. “He hasn’t been acting right. We thought he just wasn’t feeling well so we just let him be. Now we can’t find him. He just disappeared,” one soldier said.
“He was holding his right arm after that last battle before we retreated to the fortress. I insisted he go see a medic, but he refused and said he was fine. He’s a quiet guy anyway so I didn’t think much of his seclusion. He seemed more stressed and irritated last time I saw him though. He’s been drinking more too. I should have known better. Sorry Lieutenant Sir, I should have paid more attention to him,” another soldier good friends with the missing corporal said.
There’s that bottle again. It was nothing strange for soldiers to partake of the amber liquid here and there between battles. The problem came when the bottle became a crutch for functioning. The bottle is especially dangerous when one gets infected with corruption, as our commander knows all too well.
Our commander looked off into the distance across the grassy hills that surrounded the fortress, “I think I know where to find him. The bottle and corruption have consumed him and he has gone off into the wilderness. Perhaps he is not lost to us yet though.”
Our commander finished speaking with a few more troops and called for a few of his top corporals. “I know where he has gone. I’m going to go find him while we wait for the East Division. I am putting you in charge while I am gone. We have established our plans. Go through with them if I don’t return before the East Division arrives. I will find my way back.”
One of the corporals spoke up, “This is madness! Why are you returning there? We almost lost you once to the wilderness, what if you don’t make it back this time? We can’t save every single soldier that leaves his post, why this one?”
As our commander picked up a few things to take with him he replied, “It’s true; I can’t save all of them. I can save this one though. I know this path he is on, and I know how to conquer it.” Our commander put his hand on the concerned corporal’s shoulder as he departed for the wilderness, “This is why I was allowed to endure the wilderness. So I can go back for others. I will return soon. You have your orders.”
The corporal looked over at his superior, “Yes sir, good luck.” Our commander said no more and left the room. He said nothing to anyone as he departed the fortress. When he was outside of the walls and alone, he looked around at the scenery before him.
“Now to find where our corporal wandered off. I must find my way back to the wilderness.”
The wilderness was not difficult to track. It wanted to be found. Wherever the Dead Militia fought it would appear in reach of the sight of eyes. The curtain of deception would appear as a welcomed oasis from the difficulties of constant combat. Anyone that entered found out, however, that it was all an illusion. Our commander decided that if he started to walk in the opposite direction of the recent battles that perhaps of a sign of the wilderness would appear to him, because it always showed itself on the opposing side of the battlefield.
Sure enough, after a few minutes something began to show up in the edges of his vision ahead of him. The grassy hills around Love Letter Fortress grew a line up familiar trees on them as he walked closer. The same trickery that took hold of him when he was younger was now before him once again. As he walked closer he heard all the same peaceful sounds of birds and the same fragrant smells that he had some time ago when he last entered through those trees.
He caught up to the edge of the wooded area, and he stood in the same spot he had so long ago. The same worn trail was still there. The same way he and others and had taken. The same way he returned when many others were unable to.
Our commander stood there for a moment, hesitant to return, “I am the only one who can do this. I am the only one who can bring him back. This task has been given to me, and I have been prepared for it. I will not fail.”
He made his way through the trees and followed the trail through the deceptive forest. In the same way it had before, the vegetation started to thin out quickly. Soon enough the trees that towered above our commander gave way into open plains. All life dried and died off at the boundaries of this territory. Yes, he knew this place all too well. Looking down he saw 2 sets of footprints. One set looked fresh. He knew those belonged to his lost corporal. Another set was faded and had been there some time.
That set of footprints was his. The corporal was taking the same path our commander had in the past.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you caution someone based on your experience. Some of them still have to learn for themselves the hard way. I suppose if anyone can relate to that it is me.”
He set out into the death and destruction of the wilderness once again. He recalled out his felt last time he was here. For a short time it felt like home. It felt like this was where he belonged. The plains felt like an escape from hardship and responsibilities. He knew now that all this place could ever be was a trap meant to ensnare soldiers and chain them to their inner pain forever far from the battlefield.
If the evil one could get them here, he wouldn’t have to deal with them out in battle.
Yes, this place looked a lot different to him now.
After some time of traveling, our commander noticed the sun reflecting off something on the ground. The light shining off almost blinded him it was so bright. He tried to veer both to the left and right to change the angle, but the object kept filling his vision with white light. As he got just a few yards away the reflecting light faded, and a familiar amber color took the light’s place before him.
Yes, it was indeed his old bottle. There in that same field and in the same spot where he had left it some time ago.
“I can’t believe you are still here,” Our commander said.
Another familiar presence spoke up, “Wow, look who it is! Looks like you’ve gotten promoted since we last cross paths. That must be a very hard and stressful job. Perhaps you should take a moment to forget about it for a while. Why don’t you come my way, get a little closer, and just take a drink and relax.”
Our commander thought for a moment. He thought briefly about the good times he had with his old friend the bottle. That quickly turned into the truth that the bottle was almost the end of him and his time in the Dead Militia.
He pulled out his revolver from the holster on his side. He aimed at his old bottle on the ground and shot off 3 rounds. The bottle shattered and pieces went flying in all directions. The liquid was released into the soil and disappeared forever in the lost lands of the wilderness. He only spoke 2 words before he returned his gun to his side and resumed his search for his lost corporal.
The dark voice spoke no more to him.
Our commander looked around again. Over to his right and he finally found him. The soldier he was looking for was sitting down in the dirt and death of the wilderness. A bottle to his left was sitting beside him. To his right was his gun. The weapon sat in his right hand, which was blackened with corruption. The sickened skin went up a few inches onto his wrist. The corporal took another swig of his bottle and kept looking intently at his gun. His finger remained on the trigger.
Our commander did not use his authoritative stern voice with him. Instead he chose a calmer quieter tone for this interaction. He spoke up as he got closer before his corporal had noticed him, “There you are corporal. I’ve been looking for you.”
The corporal dropped his bottle and jumped to save it from spilling, “What the! Lieutenant, is that you? How did you find me?” he asked with a shaking and startled voice.
Our commander spoke again as he walked in front of his corporal and sit down with him. He was 2 feet away looking him face to face. “I knew where to find you. I’ve been here before. Back when I was a sergeant I found myself here in much the same situation as you.”
The corporal was shocked to see his commander sitting down here with him, speaking so differently than he would out in battle. He looked over at his bottle, “Oh, I suppose it’s disappointing to see a rank such as mine out here then.”
Our commander replied, “No, I still struggle with this place myself after my time here. I carry the weight of this wilderness in my heart to this day. I think about it often and have many times before thought seriously about returning, and I’m a Division Lieutenant. It’s a burden anyone who has walked here must endure.”
The corporal tried to stay strong in front of his leader, but the overwhelming despair inside him was too much. He opened the chamber of his gun to be sure it was loaded and closed it back. Tears began to flow and he looked up at our commander, “I don’t know if I can take it anymore sir. I’m much too damaged and broken to return to the battlefield now. Look at my hand, who knows if it could ever heal again. There is no hope for me. I’m worthless to the Dead Militia. You’ve wasted your time coming for you. Just leave me here. I don’t deserve to live anymore.”
Our commander knew that desperation in his eyes all too well. He knew the dark places his corporal was roaming right now. His corruption was not as deep as his own had gotten yet. There was still time to save him. He took a chance, his only chance. When his corporal looked off into the distance he leaned forward and lunged at his corporal from his sitting position. He clamped both hands on the gun, and with his greater strength peeled his corporal’s finger off of the trigger. The corporal tried to fight back, but he was weak and could not overcome the power of our commander. He suddenly became enraged that he gun as gone, got up and lashed out at our commander.
“Fine! Take it! I don’t need it! I don’t need any of you! I’ll just wander here and die slowly and painfully. That’s what I deserve anyway!”
Our commander got up with his corporal’s gun still in his hand. He spoke as he stuck the gun in the back edge of his pants, out of sight of the corporal, “There is a time chosen for you to leave the battlefield and enter eternity, but now is not it. You still have a duty on the battlefield. You still have work to do. There is a place for you on the Dead Militia, and only you can fulfill that position. “
The corporal stood there, looking at the ground. Our commander pointed to this left eye and continued, “I lost my eye to that same corruption after my own time in the wilderness. I know what you are going through. I’ve been there before. I know how difficult it is, but I also know you can see this through and survive. If I can make it, so can you. Return to the battlefield with me. There is still time to save your hand. Your infection is not as far long as mine was and perhaps can be treated with antibiotics and medicine if we return with haste.”
The corporal looked up at our commander. He looked at the nothingness ahead of him in the wilderness, and he looked back toward the battlefield. He looked at his hand and then over at his superior at the scars he carried from the very same corruption. He clenched his blackened hand into a fist.
“You’re right, I have to go back and fight. Lead the way Lieutenant.”
Our commander was pleased, but he still had a warning for his corporal, “Good. Well done soldier. You will carry this place with you on the battlefield. It will call to you always. The choice to return, however, will be up to you. The way back is this way. Follow me.”
They both made their way back the same way our commander had come. The bottle the corporal had with him sat in alone the wilderness. Another bottle abandoned. The dark voice remained silent.
Our commander had not only completed the arduous task of returning from the wilderness once, he now about to accomplish it another time. The odds of a soldier returning the first time aren’t very good, and the odds decrease dramatically on return trips. The spirit and will are weakened over time with every minute spent on those desolate lands. The voice of good and light grows quieter under the screams of the dark one, until a point comes where it is heard no more.
The spirit of our commander had grown incredibly strong in these years as he went up in the ranks of the Dead Militia. The evil one feared him and his strength. His presence across the battlefield made the forces of darkness very nervous. Surviving multiple trips to the wilderness would greatly increase his reputation when word got out.
Back across the withered fields towards the curtain of deception they traveled. They returned to the same well worn path amongst the trees and made their way back through the wooded area that enticed so many before them to come partake of their beauty.The grassy hills of the battlefield begun to pierce through the branches of the curtain as they walked. The trees faded away one by one until they all disappeared as soon as their feet reached the green grass again. The corporal rubbed the joints on his infected hand in an effort to relieve the inflammation under the blackened skin.
“We must return quickly before your infection advances any further. I think you will come out of this much better than I did if we hurry,” our commander spoke as he pointed towards Love Letter Fortress in the distance.
“Yes sir, I need my hand to fight. It must be saved,” the corporal replied.
They traveled in silence for some time, but the corporal took a chance and spoke up again, “Lieutenant Sir, I apologize if I am out of line asking, but why did you come for me? I’m just one soldier.”
Our commander thought for a moment, adjusted his eye patch a bit and answered, “Every soldier in the Dead Militia is vital. You are all vastly different from each other and each one of you serves different purposes according to those differences, and we must have every piece for victory.”
Our commander turned with his missing eye toward his corporal, “I know the path you took well. I have been there myself. I have set foot on those desolate fields and was able to eventually resist and return. I was the only one who could go out into the wilderness, find you, and return. No one else in our Division has accomplished this. Perhaps you are so important to the Dead Militia that all of this was prepared ahead of time just so you could be saved.”
The corporal resisted that remark, “I’m not sure about that Sir. I do not think I am that important. I am easily replaceable.”
Our commander continued in reply, “You are not easily replaced. You are one of the few who has survived the wilderness. That is a priceless experience that can do tremendous good to the Dead Militia as well as the entire Army of Good and Light. One day, you will be called to use this experience. Be ready and willing to answer.”
The corporal saluted his superior, “Yes Sir! You’re right I will be ready!”
At last, they arrived back at Love Letter Fortress. Our commander’s team of top officers was waiting for him at the gates.
“We were not sure if you could survive another trip to the wilderness. Quite impressive Sir,” one of them said.
“My own demons came out to play of course while I was there. The wilderness is not something to take lightly. Take the corporal to the medics. His corruption is still in the early stages. We can save his hand,” our commander said.
In the opposite direction where our commander had come from something appeared on the horizon. In the light of the morning sun soldiers appeared and headed their direction. It was the east division arriving to assist with rescuing the remaining portion of his division surrounded by the enemy. He had arrived just in time for battle. Perfect.
“I need 2 of you to go out and meet the east division Lieutenant and bring him back to the strategy room. I will be waiting for him there. Let’s get ready for battle.”
The retrieved corporal did indeed get to keep his hand. After an intense treatment of antibiotics and other medicines the blackness in his hand faded before any deep scaring could be left behind. He had to sit out the campaign the save the rest of the surrounded north division, much to his dismay.
The campaign was successful though. The forces of the evil one were overwhelmed by the combined effort of the north and east Divisions and the brilliant leadership of those such as our commander. The Dead Militia was an unstoppable force when they worked together.
That is why the forces of darkness always worked so hard to separate them.
After the mission to reunite the north division was successful before the east division went their separate ways, a message was received from the 7 Star General. Periodically during the year a meeting of the 4 Division Lieutenants was called to give battlefield updates and discuss any other needs that had arisen since they last talked. Generally only the Division Lieutenants are called. However, this time he requested the presence of a share of each of the Lieutenants best leadership amongst his Division, with a few staying behind to carrying on the fighting.
All in route were curious as to why, because this could possibly mean something big was being announced. What it was, none of them knew.
Because he was the leader of the entire Army of Good and Light and not just the Dead Militia, The General’s headquarters was in the center of all the battles going on against evil. It was a temporary shelter that could be taken up and put anywhere. Our General was not a stationary leader. He could be anywhere at any time. His movements were mysterious. Sometimes he met with his troops quietly one on one and commended them with awards in secret. Sometimes he honored them in front of many of their comrades. His leadership was absolute perfection and comparable to none, but his ways were not entirely understood.
12 in all arrived at The General’s Headquarters, which was currently near the war front of a campaign for the Army of Good and Light in the western mountains. Each Division Lieutenant brought two of his best and most trusted with them. A tent had been prepared for them. Inside were 12 chairs, a podium, and a table with a few papers and small boxes on it. Behind the podium hung the banners of each of the 4 divisions as well as 1 banner for the Dead Militia. Everyone found their seats and waited for The General. After some time The General’s assistant walked through the tent opening, “Please stand up, The General has arrived.” She requested. They obliged, stood up, and saluted their General as he walked through the entryway, across the staged area, and over to the podium.
The General spoke at the podium, “Thank you. Please sit down. I do have a very big announcement that pertains to the leadership of The Dead Militia, but first while you are all here I have a few medals to award. So let’s start with that.” He then went over to the table where the small white boxes were.
This day our commander was given the Kill Shot award for returning to the wilderness to save his corporal. It had a black and red ribbon with a silver and gold bullet medallion hanging on it. The Kill Shot award was given for excellence in ministry and service to others. A few other awards were given, and our commander enjoyed the opportunity to watch his comrades get the recognition he knew they deserved. It was much more fulfilling than receiving it for himself.
After the awards portion had concluded, The General returned to the podium.
“As you may notice, your Commander is not here with us as he would be usually. Perhaps you observed that no one has heard from him the last few days, and anyone who might know left only unanswered questions. His duties to the battlefield were finished, and he was called home to eternity. The battle is over for him. You will all be called home when your time on the battlefield is over. It could come today, a week from now, or a long time in the future. That point is unknown to you. Your purpose is to fight the good fight while you are still here, however long that is.
This news was kept quiet as to keep news from spreading to the other side. Today I convened this meeting truly to choose the next Commander of the Dead Militia from among my Division Lieutenants. We will then begin the chain of promotions in that Division to fulfill leadership needs.”
The General pulled out a single gold star from his side pocket and continued, “I remember the day this soldier was first called to the battlefield. I knew he was special from the start as he stumbled from the mass and found his way across treacherous lands, followed the callings and fell at my feet searching for something greater. He has fought bravely, showing incredible endurance, boldness, and strength as well as compassion and attentiveness to those he is in charge of.
The General looked down at the gold star one more time, “Today I have chosen the North Division Lieutenant to be to the next Commander of the Dead Militia. Please come up here and receive your 5th gold star.”
Our commander was shocked. He couldn’t possibly be the most qualified for the job among the Division Lieutenants. The other 11 sitting beside him applauded as he got up and went to the front. The General pinned the star with the other 4 on his shoulder.
Ah yes, now our commander is THE commander.
The General smiled, “Well done soldier. When we conclude here I will send you back for your things, and I will need you to report here after all roles have been filled. Then we will discuss what’s next.”
Our commander looked down at his 5 shining stars, looked back over at The General and saluted him, “Yes Sir! I will do my best,” he replied as he sat back down.
The final business of the day was concluded. Updates from each Division were given and The General gave his orders to each Division Lieutenant. Our commander chose the next North Division Lieutenant from the 2 the accompanied him.
After the meeting was adjourned word spread like wildfire of the new Commander. Our commander’s division was waiting for him when he arrived back at Love Letter Fortress to congratulate him as well their new Division leader.
He could not stay long to celebrate. The new Commander of the Dead Militia has work to do. He met with his top leaders of the North Division. New ranks and orders were given. He knew the North Division would be in good hands. They would battle together again soon.
Our commander gathered the last of his things and returned to headquarters to receive battlefield updates and plans from The General. As he crossed behind the frontlines and the current skirmish, his 5 gold stars shined in the afternoon sun. He looked across the field at the forces of the evil one with his one eye.
They saw the 5 stars and trembled. They knew those X shaped scars and shook in their boots. The soldier they feared had become the commander of the Dead Militia.
The Prince of Darkness put down his binoculars and scowled at the sight of that bright red X eye patch on the field, “They will be unstoppable now. The Dead Militia was already very powerful and able to go places and do things the rest of the Army of Good and Light could never dream of. Now they have the survivor of the wilderness as their Commander. How will we stop them now?”
Yes indeed, how will they?