It was fear that seeped from their leader’s mouth, the elixir that fueled the engine.

It was met with the syrupy, intoxicating, allegiance to push forward; to turn back would be death of the soul, of the moral fibers that make one a wolf of the pack. A suicide mission.

Besides, those thoughts were long gone, left behind and trampled over the roaring outcry of thousands of feet, millions of marches, snow, rain, fear. What fed them, what kept them going was what they promised themselves they’d never feel, what they could never concede to the brother beside or behind or in front. Blood was their cleansing, their freedom to the other side. Millions of marches ahead.

To not believe would mean awaiting the bones and the grainy ashes of the mothers and children left in the ruinous wake, packed away in pockets and worn around necks, carved into their skin like tallies against the enemy. Blood was their payment. Thousands of marches ahead.

To let it consume you meant being swallowed whole with no air to breathe, the fire fading out, and feet numbing with every step forward. A death sentence. The elixir was only good if used like a precipice, looking over the edge and seeing it for what it was, walking alongside it, yet never letting it cloud your allegiance. Never looking it in the eyes until you saw it reflecting back at you in the enemy’s. Blood would be shed. Hundreds of marches ahead.

It was mixed with the rage of loss, of having your eyes shut wide open and meeting it for the first time in the form of death and destruction of your loved ones. It was their calling, the leash that pulled them forward, the cries of their leader taunting them to avenge the last words of their people. It was a thirst yet to be quenched. Blood was their fulfillment. Tens of marches ahead.

Their steps picked up , and increased, and elongated, each larger than the brothers beside, behind, and in front. To each their own was their allegiance, their promise to repay. trepidation fell to the ground and rage was their new leader. The enemy would pay. they would know the taste of fear in the many blows against their bones. Blood was theirs to give.

The precipice no longer looked steep and they forced their way over the edge, thousands of feet, hundreds of cries, tens of tallies, and one fearless pack of wolves.

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