#Heroika Skirmishers – Tom Barczak

Heroika 2: Skirmishers – Souls of a Lion

My name is Thomas Barczak. Souls of a Lion tells the story of the twinned souls of Lavi, young men made assassins, both behind enemy lines, both alone, one against the Romans beneath the shadow that was Masada, and the other in the Warsaw Ghetto fighting back against the German occupation, both of them, ultimately and tragically, betrayed by their own people as well. Ultimately, only a girl in red is left for them to save, if there is to be any chance at all of saving themselves from both the hell and death of war. Death of the body. Death of the soul.

I have always listened to the idea of two people joined across time. Unable to speak to one another, they are sometimes given a glimpse. Sometimes, the actions of one may help, or even hurt, the other. The parallels of the Hebrew people’s struggle against both the Romans and the Nazis has always spoken to me as well. I am not Jewish by either faith or blood. I am only an author who has studied some portions of history. I have learned that when you study history, that truth is nearly always stranger than fiction. This is what compels me.

As I went deeper into these two different, yet similar, points in time, the twinned trials of this one group of people spoke to me of something deeper as well. All dogma and religion aside, it spoke to me of how a few, and sometimes even a one, who were willing to rise above circumstance, and sometimes, even the ones they were fighting to protect, to defend against their loss. They had to have to known their likelihood of failure. Perhaps it didn’t matter. Perhaps they weren’t just doing it for themselves, but for generations yet to come, or perhaps, generations that have already been.

A Skirmisher, by definition, is one who goes forward, ahead of the lines, who seeks engagement alone with the enemy, that stands apart, ahead, to protect those that are behind them. They do this with steel on the battlefield, they do it with spirit on the battlefield of their soul.

Lavi is the name shared by the hero(s) of this story, a soul that has already been shaped, and worn, and betrayed as the story opens beneath the new moon over Masada. He is a calculating and shrewd killer who struggles with lament. In the dark night of the Warsaw ghetto the soul, and the name, belong to someone very different, a boy on the leeward cusp of everything he knew, but there is no going back when everything to go back to is already gone. One Lavi still seeks redemption, while the other still looks for something to save.

To both, a little girl in red offers them their only salvation, if not for themselves, then perhaps for the other, or one past, or another yet still to come.

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