There he lies bloodied and broken. The bodies of the others surrounded him. They were such fragile creatures, all of them. Even his comrades were nothing but flesh and bone, as was he. His own regret is that he himself was just as fragile as they were. As the final breath leaves his lifeless body he can’t help but study the dark heavens above and ponder his last remaining thoughts.
“Why am I still conscious? I should have died already.”
His lungs have failed him. The emptiness of his veins troubles him. His heart beat gone, but yet conscious he remains. Through what means and why, he does not understand.
The battle should have been easy. The barbarians weren’t nearly as well trained as he. They even had the favor of numbers on their side, by at least double, and yet they were so easily defeated. How could they have lost? They were Romans. How could they defeat them? Their pagan gods could not have helped them, or had their own gods abandoned them?
He could see the moons travel across the eternal abyss that was the night. The brilliant blaze that was the stars, glowing in ever present but fleeting power. The moons were vibrant in their shade of crimson. Of course, they were, blood had been shed the day before. The moons appeared to have a sinister look about them, as if more than just the spilling of blood had occupied the day before their rising.
The Morning sun rises from the east, its yellow glow shedding light upon the fields of the dead. Unable to move he is only able to use his peripherals to gaze upon the war-torn field he lie upon. The sounds of light footsteps walking around the field graces his unloving ears. He did not hear them but yet he knew of the sounds existence. Eventually the forms of two lanky boys broach the edge of his vision. They had spears in hand and were going from survivor to survivor striking them down to remove the possibility of retreat.
“I would be doing the same, had we won.” He thought.
It was then that a mule of a woman appeared within his vision, her emerald eyes slowly dragging themselves up and down his body. She lays her hands upon his armor and begins to remove it. He tries to muster all the strength that he can to move his arms in retaliation. To his surprise, even his own body fails to respond to him.
Wrenching the armor from his body, the woman then removes his clothing. She packs the worn woolen clothes into the cuirass of the armor, creating a makeshift back pack. She rises to her feet and starts to walk away. Even his now naked skin cannot feel the cold bitter bite of the wind. The two boys from his peripheral are now standing closer than they had before. They appear to be chatting about something while staring at him.
“Hey, Rhen,” one of the boys began, “Do you see that one over there? The one mother just took the armor from.”
“Yea, I do,” said the other, “He kinda looks like father, but much larger. I wonder who felled him.”
Even he did not know who had struck him down. He can’t remember sustaining any wounds, but he is still lying upon the ground lifeless but conscious. And a thought crosses his dead mind.
‘Wait, did they say I look like their father? Impossible, I’m as pure a roman as one can be.’
If only he could move his head and look at his body and see what they meant.
Years go by, yet he does not rot. After all the other bodies of the field rot away and sink to the weeds, he alone is the only one left. The only time he has any solace from his insufferable existence of nonexistence is during the night, while the moons shine above. By the slightest of hues to their glow he could tell what had happened and what time of year it was. Though, he forgot what year it was exactly long ago. Staring up at the beauty of the night sky, he sometimes hears the moons sing to him.
Oh, forgotten warrior,
Your lack of pain is planned.
For you will rise again,
Our dear Soldier.
Somehow this melody that he heard every night kept him sane. Its strange melodic tone was something that pleased him and reassured him that he wasn’t done yet.
— K. E. Oskold