"Oi, get moving there!", the captain shouted at the new teenage recruit, giving him a rough shove in the back out of the barracks and towards the waiting carriages. Tormenoth started forward, then faltered again, frustrated by his own hesitation. Why was it so difficult to actually commit to the tour, to take the last step now that he had reached the point of no return?
He told himself it was the way forward. He knew it must be his calling, despite the arguments and the last-minute pleas from his mother. She didn't understand the injustice he felt, and the world's gnawing hunger for people who were willing to stand up to it and fight back. It had been years since they'd seen eye-to-eye on it, ever since he'd started getting into fights at school. Half the time he had been the instigator and half the vigilante, always struggling with the edge between aggression and trying to right a previous wrong by lashing back out. He chose sides too quickly and didn't always find himself on the right one, to his ongoing frustration.
He believed he needed this space, needed this discipline and commitment in order to make his way in the world… and yet deep down, he felt guilt. Guilt about his desire to rush so quickly to the violent solutions. A core part of him wanted to join the guard and this mission to make things simpler and try to solve them with force, even if he wasn't fully convinced that doings so made them better. These inner questions he'd grappled with had yet to be answered by his teachers or his books; they were too guarded and too theoretical, full of neatly packaged aphorisms that didn't acknowledge the reality of the emotions. Morality was one thing to write down in a book, but another to feel in the moment of struggle.
Another hand touched Tormenoth's back. "You arite, mate?" his new friend Jestin asked. They had joined up together, bonded over a joke about the drill master, and both had some idea of how this sort of camraderie was supposed to go. "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine", Tormenoth replied, his instinct to show strength kicking in and giving his doubts enough of a final smothering to send him forward over the edge. Time to go… and let someone else call the shots about what's right and wrong for a while. Maybe one of these weathered captains or generals of the guard would be able to finally help him start to see the answers in the real world, where those in need were real people he could see, not just the characters in his books and lessons.