Emery watched the military procession as it passed through town. It was a parade. These men had served their country in peacetime and, some of them, in war. Now they were being honored.

That was right and fitting. The fact that men of many ages, many backgrounds and many points of view had come together as a cohesive group was astounding. They had worked hard to ensure the freedom of their fellow countrymen and women. That hard work was what this day was all about.

What was worrying Emery was that more than one of those men was feeling such a degree of trauma that he could feel it from the crowd of on-lookers. He could pick them out as they walked by. They looked just as calm and confident as their fellows but an almost palpable wave of pain emanated from the men.

He wondered what had so terrified them; these steadfast soldiers; paragons of strength, that though they paraded just as proudly as their fellows, inside they were trembling. “What happened to them?” he whispered.

“They say that there were demons out in the wilderness,” Hassett said softly. “Kinda makes you wonder what kinds of battle they’ve fought.”

“Hard won ones, I’m sure,” Emery murmured. He closed his eyes, grounded and centered his aura, wondering if he could send these men the ease he felt even as they sent him their pain.

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