What could she say? Nothing. She stood by silently, if not partially hung over more from his words than the alcohol. There wasn't a single argument that Isuelt could make to stand up against Perceval's tirade. On the contrary, Isuelt agreed with every single syllable that he uttered. He was right. All of it.
Isuelt stared at the ground for some time. In fact, it was the gaping chasm of silence that signaled to her that he had finished speaking. Perceval's words were echoing in her head over and over again. How their lives took a toll on them, how the very real fear of never knowing a "normal life" haunted them, how
Perhaps she couldn't amend or correct what Perceval had said, but the least she could do was add to it. She cleared her throat, but couldn't look him in the face just yet. "You're right, you know. This life is a shambles of sanity." She nodded her dark head, a few fallen tendrils of hair swaying in the breeze. "It's a wonder that any of us, any soldier, finds peace without death." She paused. "But they do find it." She looked up at him, "Wonder or not." Isuelt gauged his reaction before she found his silence as a permission to continue. She treaded lightly, both for his sake and her own.
"What we do...is...not necessarily asked of us. It's....it is volunteered. We chose this life. Chose to 'protect', chose to 'help.' Not all soldiers do, but I know that I did. And it's...it's a self sacrifice. It's supposed to be noble. It's supposed to be altruist. It's supposed to be a higher calling. And you're right...the things we've seen, moreover the things we've done..." She swallowed and glanced away. "In the name of peace, in the name of righteousness..." Isuelt licked at her lips, blood still slowly trickling from her nose. She was just as disgusted by the things that she'd done as Perceval was. Moreover, there were times when she was even more disgusted that she wasn't as upset by her actions as she thought she should have been. It was always a precarious balance between feeling too much and feeling too little. It was why she was an alcoholic; it helped her cope immensely and it was the lesser of the two evils to deal with.
Isuelt's thoughts belied her for a moment, but as she drew a breath to continue, there was a small miracle. A miracle in the most desolate of places, because isn't that always where miracles occur? She had a moment of clarity, a moment of enlightenment. In the midst of personal chaos, a shard of light opened her eyes and she did little more than open her mouth and let the rest of the words simply tumble out. "But that's not why we do it..." She gingerly wiped at her nose with the back of her hand to clear away the blood, spitting out one last time the coppery taste in her mouth. "We just deal with the stress, the headaches, the heartaches, the mental breakdowns, the self-disgust because we serve a higher purpose. And no, it's not for everyone. It takes a special type of person to handle the chaos, the utter s*** and misery that we deal with on an everyday basis, that comes with the job. We do it to make a difference in this world. We're pushed to our very limits, to the point of losing our minds. And for what? No social life, no peace, no youth left in us. But you know, we find a way to keep going, to laugh about it, to vent about it. Because that's what we do. And god damn it, there's very few of us that can do what we do. But they thank the heavens for us every night, whether they know it or not. We do this for fate, for destiny. Ours, theirs. We don't belong to ourselves. We belong to the world. We belong to history. And while you can get stuck down in the muck, you can also rise above it. Use it. We are set on this earth by the gods themselves to mold their plans into actions. And there is no one, except another soldier, who understands this like we do. And it doesn't matter. Because we understand it. We are instruments of the gods and each one of us is meant to do exactly what we have done. There is no shame, there is no blame. There is only destiny."
She was almost out of breath by the time she finished speaking; she had felt her very soul moved by the syllables that fell from her lips, almost as if she was listening to someone else say them. But as soon as she heard those words, she knew them to be true deep in her heart. Tears came to her eyes as she looked to Perceval; she felt the strangest sensation overtake her. One of cleansing, one of redemption, one of baptism.
Her voice quieted to almost a whisper as she spoke through her tears, "This is a greatness. We're miracles. Miracles that we survive, that we walk, that we carry on. And I will never, ever question the gods who know my survival is the key to their will. You are a ****ing miracle. And don't you ever forget it!"