The Sword of Hearth and Fire

by Henry Eisner
The Sword of Hearth and Fire

“In 2013, Hearth and fire fell into the hands of Don Read. In 2014, Vladimir Putin started a war with the Ukraine. In 2015, it was declared a world war. In 2016, the Ukraine began to falter under the power of Russia. In 2017, Putin dropped a nuclear bomb on the Ukraine. In 2018, the last 7 remaining Ukrainian people were forced to evacuate the country, leaving only separatists.”

Prologue:

In 2013, Hearth and fire fell into the hands of Don Read. In 2014, Vladimir Putin started a war with the Ukraine. In 2015, it was declared a world war. In 2016, the Ukraine began to falter under the power of Russia. In 2017, Putin dropped a nuclear bomb on the Ukraine. In 2018, the last 7 remaining Ukrainian people were forced to evacuate the country, leaving only separatists.

 

THE ESCAPE FROM THE UKRAINE (Vladimir)

 

I have been in this hospital for over three years, so when the separatist told me I was better, my first reaction was to say that I was not really a separatist, but I thought better of it. I tried standing, however, I faltered under my own weight. The years I had spent lying in bed had gained me more than 70 pounds.

“You need to lose quite a few pounds before you can actually stand on your own,” said the separatist doctor Eiseneweir. “It will be weeks before you can stand.”

“How am I supposed to do this crap if I can’t stand?” I asked him.

I don’t hate to exercise, but I’m infuriated by the fact that I still can’t stand after all these years of lying around, bored to death.

“I can hide you from the separatist army while you get into shape.”

“W-why would you hide me?”

“Do you know that you are not a separatist?” Said Eisenewier, mocking concern.

“But you’re a separatist?” by now my hands were shaking.

“Separatist born and bred, yes,” his expression was hard to read, “but not a supporter of Putin.”

Lee Eiseneweir lived in an apartment as obviously ruined by the war as mine. A large hole in the left wall was missing, and the roof now acted as the left wall.

“You can hide in my closet,” he said, “I will feed you once a day, and eventually you can go and build your muscle. Once you do that you must leave the Ukraine immediately. It is not safe here.”

 

Being in the closet for two months is not a comfortable position to be in. It is hot and sticky, and not being able to shower makes the closet smell like 1,000 sweaty old gym clothes. Not to mention that 1 bowl of beet soup and a glass of kvas leaves you very hungry.

Exercise was not nearly as hard as lying in a closet with very little food for three months. In less than a week, I was stronger than I ever have been been. At first, my arms were sore after doing the exercise. However, I eventually got used to it and it became a daily routine.

I would exercise in the Vladimir gym, a private gym that the Doctor belonged too. The gym was founded by the separatists of Ukraine, but they had sold it Leo Eisenwiek, who purposely sold it to the anti-separatist force of Russia and Ukraine (A.S.F.R).

Now and then people would hear news of strike backs on the behalf of the A.S.F.R., but normally the group would be quiet and write google drive documents and then share them with the other person or persons that need to know this information.

The group consisted of four women and one man. This meant that there was one other non-separatist person from the Ukraine.

The group was friends with Eiseneweir, so they would be arriving at the house at 10:35 A.M. to discuss “important matters.”

Back in the closet at 10:35 A.M., two women and one man entered the war destroyed apartment. “Would any of you like some tea?” asked Eiseneweir.

One woman nodded her head curtly.

“Well, you say that you have a very important secret to tell me, and I want to hear it.”

“May I be excused?” asked the woman with the tea.

“Yes, you may,” said Eiseneweir.”Now tell me what you are doing and what the secret is.”

The woman with the tea now came back into the room. For the first time I got a good look at the woman with the tea. She had black hair and pursed lips,and a wicked smile was on her face. This was also the first time I noticed how handsome Eiseneweir was. The other woman had a warming smile on her face that made up for the expression on her friends face. As they talked, I realized that the woman with the tea kept glancing back at my closet. “Eiseneweir, you said you were hiding a local in your closet. Why don’t you bring him out.”

She pulled her hair back out of its ugly bun into a ponytail that made her big head stand out. There was another strange thing about her. She seemed to be hiding something. Every time she looked at Eiseneweir it was a look of disgust, of hatred. Whenever she looked at the other two, she looked as sly as a snake. Suddenly she reached her hand into her pocket and pulled out a gun. Then, not being noticed, she put it back into her pocket. This woman was up to something, and it wasn’t something good. She yet again took out her gun, and pointed it at the back of Eiseneweir’s head. I jumped out and pushed the doctor down. The lady shot her gun instinctively and hit the man.

The lady lunged for me as the other lady tackled her. “Run!” shouted Eiseneweir. “Out of the Ukraine! Out of any land supporting Putin!”

The last thing I saw was the lady with the gun dying, being stabbed by the man she tried to kill.

Then I ran. I ran without looking or turning back. I didn’t know where I was going, but that did not matter now. All that mattered was that I got out of Putin’s territory. I had crossed the border of Poland. I slowed down after seeing the “Welcome to Poland” sign. I ran into the woods so that I wouldn’t attract any attention.

I was so tired that I was on the verge of a heart attack. I threw up, not because I was sick, but because I had pushed my body passed its will. I had ran more than a hundred miles, and tomorrow brought more running. I was going to go far passed Poland maybe passed Germany. Anyhow, I set down my clothes and looked for water. After draining some to make sure it was clean, I guzzled handfuls of water down and dove. It had been so long since I had been in the water. It was cold, so unlike the summer heat. I had not bathed for so long. I could feel all the dirt washing off my body. I could feel all that sweat washing down the river. It was almost as if I was leading a normal life.

I turned around and swam, being washed down the river by the current. I turned onto my back and let the current pull me back towards the city. I was almost at the well of Satenboun.

The well of Satenboun was the oldest and largest well in all of Europe. It marked the border of Poland and Germany. The well was a large stone well with a pump that took  people to work it. The well was abandoned in the 6th century. The well was built in the third century, where it was said to be the final resting place of the great sword forger Weivlam De Satenboun.

Satenboun was best known for his most brilliant work, hearth fire, the fire sword. It is said that the sword kills a man with the lightest touch. The sword also finds the person who is destined to have it.

By this time, I had banged my head on the side of the well. I quickly got out of the water and got into the house of the well. It was a homeless shelter, officiated by the government in 1997. Then I dozed off.

 

 

By 7/7/20, all Ukrainian locals were either killed or in hiding. Meanwhile Vladimir Putin invaded Lithuania.

 

 

THE INVASION (Leo)

I was sleeping in the Satenboun well for the last two years. The Satenboun well is a shelter for homeless people. The strange thing about this well is that it marks the grave of Weivlem De Satenboun, the forger of the sword of Hearth Fire.

I wasn’t happy about it. Definitely not. However, it was the only place I could go.

So anyway, when I walked back into the well, I noticed two separatist men stalking me. I began to walk faster into my bunk bed. The men also walked faster. I jumped into the nearest bunk. One of the Satenboun mates jumped on to the separatists head. I recognized him as Vladimir, who was a great friend of mine as a kid. The second separatist snuck up behind me, and Vladimir Eisekoff shouted a call of warning, and as I turned and the other separatist shot me. Searing pain and everything went black.

 

“Leo Eisenweik, wake up,” Vladimir’s smooth voice instantly told me that I was safe. “Please wake up. I don’t want Putin to have killed yet another local. Leo, we are almost wiped out. We can’t let Putin wipe us out, we can’t. So muster all your strength and live. If this is too much to ask, die.”

“I’m alive,” I said, “I’m alive and well.”

I looked up to see Vladimir’s triangular face hanging from his square forehead and resting on his flat chin. He was thinner than I remember and definitely stronger. You were able to see his six-pack through his thin rags, and his knees were definitely not the hardest part of his legs. As I remember it, Eisekoff was a bit chunky and one of the weakest kids around.

I looked at my chest, there was a bandage wrapped around the part of my chest where the bullet struck. There was no fat on my body, but no muscle either. I was as thin as a medium stick, and as weak as a newborn cat.

I slowly touched my wound. The moment my finger hit my chest, I was in agony. Visions of the gun filled my eyes. I couldn’t think. I saw a doctor come in to the room. She put gas around my mouth. Everything was calm, then it went black.

I was back in the Ukraine, holding Vladimir’s chubby hand in 2006, when we were both five. We were walking down Leikof road. My separatist neighbor, Ivan Vankoff, passed us an apple. We were looking for the bathroom. We knew it was down here somewhere. It was as if it were hiding from us. We, back then, weren’t divided by separatist and non-separatist. We were all just Russians. I would like to not be Russian, but I would rather be Russian than what l am now. Now I’m a target, and that is something I do not want to be.

 

I woke up to the to the sound of nurses doing stuff to my chest. Then, as I gained energy, heard them speaking. “Do you think he will live past daylight?” one of them was asking. “I need a full report on the man with the wound.”

“His breath is ragged and his heart is slow. Other than that, he seems pretty much normal. However, I don’t think he can live another hour.”

“Does his friend know?”

“He seemed to understand me well enough. They can both speak German.”

“So, we are going to need to let his friend know that he has to leave without his friend.”

“We are gonna need to make sure there are no other Ukrainian locals in this hospital and tell them to evacuate.”

“No,” Vladimir had entered the room, “I am not letting my friend die in the hospital while I escape.”

“He will die no matter what you do,” said the nurse. “It’s in his blood to do so.”

Vladimir laid his handsome face beside mine. “It will be all right,” He whispered. “Trust me on that.”

I couldn’t help but think about how easy it would be for him to be wrong. However, I comforted myself by thinking about how easy it was for him to be right. If he was wrong, something terrible might happen to me. If he was right, I would be okay, which went against the nurse’s report. The fact was that I was pretty sure that Vladimir, smart as he is, was wrong.

I couldn’t know how my heart was acting unless I felt the beat, and that is exactly what I did. For a long time, I could not feel a single beat. Had my heart stopped?  Was I about to die? Then I felt my heart beat. I would live! However, at this speed, I was likely to have a heart attack any time now. It was just a matter of minutes.

The main nurse attached a radar system to the side of my chest. “You’re doing better now,” she said, “In about two weeks you’ll be back on your feet.”

“I thought the Russians and the separatists had invaded Germany?” I asked.

“What I said only is of any importance if they don’t check the hospital, dear.”

The nurse talked to me like I was a kid and the doctor like I was a savage. Between the two of them, this recovery was unbearable.

 

Night had set over the hospital. The lights had been turned off and the hospital was dark. I checked my heart status. It was almost normal. The floorboards began to creak. Vladimir’s figure loomed over my bed and said, “Come on. Lets get out of here.”

 

 

On 8/3/20, Don Read passed away, leaving Hearth and Fire unowned.

 

THE NEW OWNERSHIP OF THE SWORD(Vladimir)

By September, Leo and I had arrived safely in America, and had exchanged Rubles for Dollar Bills. With the little money we had, we bought clothes and classes on how to speak the American language.

By the end of November, I could speak the English language almost as well as the Russian one. Leo, in his impatience, had decided he knew enough about English before we learned verbs and conjunctions. Both Leo and I spoke to each other in Russian, since it was our original language.

Anyway, one night when Leo seemed a little antsy, since Leo was not doing anything while I was in English class, I told him the story of my birth. “When I was born,” I said. “I was in my old house, the one with the barn. My father took me away from my mother after I stopped nursing, and taped my umbilical cord to a pig.

“Me and my father were never very close after that, it was as if that put a barrier of ice around us. Even when he was killed, I felt sad, but never as sad as I probably should have.”

“I can tell you the story of my birth,” said Leo after a long laugh. “When I was born, my father had died days ago in a mine explosion. My mother died of cancer days after I was born, but she had not taken me to any orphanage of any sort, so I went to live with my uncle Therem Bersnok and my aunt Grenade. They were awful people. Then I ran to the orphanage and they took me in. Then, when I was two, the parents you knew took me in. They were nice people. They were killed in a protest against Putin.”

I couldn’t help but feel really sorry for Leo. “I’m sorry,” I said.

“Don’t be,” he said, and then he burst into tears. “I can’t believe he killed them!”

In so many ways I wanted to kill Putin. However, the stronger part of me wanted to be what I had wanted for so long. To be normal. And if I stayed in the U.S., thats what I would be. Normal.

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