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Through a child's eyes
Like a rushing of blood to my head I felt it coming, under my feet. The sky torched in fiery embers as smoke staked across, they were here and there was no chance of going back. Men roared out of their homes fully clothed with thick heavy armor propelled by the instinctual call of battle. Voices crying of fresh wounds to come and glorious victory to boast about, I could feel their excitement as well as a woman's fear. Fear that her love would return less alive as he once left. Fear that fathers would see their last minute surrounded by the clash of metal and thick smell of pulsing blood. Brothers who cried their last call, sons to never feel a woman's touch. Shivers crawled up my back, I would never know if they meant to fear or not fear but they came like them, swords like sharp arms ready to take on the next person who dares tempts them. Dark mass of metallic faces appoarched on the other side, in the front was the darkness himself. On his horse prepared to take on all and any who felt like it. He challenged us all when he issued one of the metal faces to bring a captured father of ours. His beaten limbs shook not only in pain but also in knowledge of his plans for all of our fates. He thrust him down on his knees as men on our side yelled in disgust and dishonor. With a swipe of ice silver his head fell down like a child's ball, bouncing as it came to a stop. Silence cut the thick smoky air followed by men and clashing weapons. Women grabbed their sons who tried to join; they resisted with all strength. To dismantle the head of an elder to us was the worst form disrespect, even I felt in rush of anger scorch my throat, my hands tighten into fist. Heat from pools of fire were carried into the wind as archers dunked arrows in, soaking them generously. From the door I could see them line up, sweaty adrenaline filled bodies with one thought running through their minds, battle. Boys and men stood together with serious faces, only a few smiled or frowned. The dark metal face leader waited patiently for our army to assemble, through his helmet a piercing grin of white ivory shone through and my hatred for him grew to its highest point. The biggest of our army stepped out of the line towards the metal faces. He stood at 6 feet tall of pure muscle, jousting a spear in his hand. He laughed pointing the spear at them. His booming voice echoed through the walls of every room.
" Is this some kind of imitdation? Are we supposed to be afraid of them? Those who dare slaughter a helpless elder? We will smile upon all of their deaths after we slaughter their entire army. There will be no survivors to tell how they died." his laugh sounded like thunder as the army cheered beating their shields. It was time; I could feel it like any other. It burns your throat. Running out to the top of the hill I could the voices of impatient men and crying women, sons who would rather fight and die than stay home and know they did nothing to help protect their homes. From the hill everything was visible, the distance from each other to the very twitches of impatience from either side. The metal faces were still like statues, glinting in sweat, the sun red boiling in wrath. The leader on our side marched out far enough so that the metal leader could see his gesture. Near me was a woman standing still as a tree. Her face was fixed on the horizon, shimmering against the sunset. Her robes were white; her thick brown hair was braided around her head and fell past her shoulders. She was a wife I suppose of our leader, the way she looked down at them as if they were pieces of a game was intriguing. Horns were sounded, loud blasts from every corner, sound of footsteps marching, men chanting in a thick choir. It had begun.
Arrows soared in the air like birds of fire, hitting whoever was in their way. Only a few went down but not nearly enough of the sea of metal widely spread across the opposing line. Their archers returned the arrows with both flames and sharpen tips. Our men who were less covered went down. I couldn't watch, it was only the beginning and already I couldn't stand to see those who lived among me fall in pain, in defeat so early in the battle. Our sister city army had arrived as arrows from behind our archers were shot. We now matched up evenly. Another round of horns wailed and unleashed an invisible wall letting men run like spilled water at each other. The clash was remarkable, swords and spears held high, no man having any idea for what in stored. The first were down, the second line fighting on their bodies. The metal faces pushed and slaughtered the first to meet them in the middle. They were monsters, shining, fearless creatures with dark eyes piercing through. Their wails could be heard from up here. One of ours came up strong with a hammer. Making his way through the metallic mass he trashed and swung at any. He made his way to the tip of the mix of men, crushing the hard shells. I didn't see who threw the spear but it was lodged through his throat. No longer did I watch with intensity to a certain person for they all fell at one point. Our leader was hacking through the mass with a double-sided axe when he met up with the dark leader. A circle in the middle grew as the women beside me stiffen.
" Let the fortune of the gods side with us now, for if not then we would have to fight." she looked at me and at first I didn't understand. We were already fighting and then it came. We, as if her, and me all the others would have to defend our homes. They would ransack our city, rape and sell us as slaves. Our land would belong to them. If all ends here, it would be the point of no return. We couldn't see now. No side was visible. I could see only bodies and glints of metal. I looked down at the grass on my feet and imagined what they are standing on. The crunching of bones, the warm liquid seeping out from their bodies. Some still alive crying for them to spare them, but are eventually killed. Random weapons sprawled where ever they were dropped, scrapping against the legs of those moving forward. Horses killed, I couldn't stand the thought. The women saw my distorted face and held me. She smelled of royalty, fine rose oils, and heavy gold on her wrist. She wrapped me in her arms.
"You are a brave child for watching this long, I have seen grown women cry before battle has even begun. Is there anyone down there you know and cherish?" she words meant nothing more than realizing that I did. It hadn't bothered me to think that my brother had stormed out the first tremor that shook the ground. His sword in hand passed down to him from our father. I didn't even try to stop him. I nodded to her question; my sights still upon the field. The metal leader had left her husband blinded and badly wounded as he was ushered out of the battle quickly by a general and his horse. Darkness crept closer to surround us but the fire made them all look like shadows. Flames were consuming a house on the outside as the next house was being torched and people fled out of the city. We were losing, our city was being destroyed, and all I could think was monsters. Monster, for they intrude upon us without warning, killed our watchmen and even an elder. They had no soul in my eyes, lifeless bodies like puppets carrying out such deeds. No honor in just defeating us, but destroying us. Looking up there was no moon, had it fear her too? The woman looked over her shoulder. I looked back as well watching neighbors and friends escape following the river.
" We have to follow them if we want to at least live to tell their story" I did not want to tell this story, filled with false hope and devastation. I wanted nothing but to watch them. But I turned away, disgusted for my own city to fall in such a way. They should have continued than fear. They seem so sure of themselves before and now, cowards. We join a family and camped for the night in silence. As the family slept the woman and me stayed completely awake. The voices were so human but whispered like snakes hidden in the grass. It came from a group a few feet from us; I leaned in closer to hear their words.
" Its over now and they have gone back on their word. We won't get anything from our deal." they whispered. Those traitors, enemies sleeping in our beds, drinking our water. Betrayed. I forever cursed them to suffer. I sat and watched the water unaffected by any this. Calm and peaceful despite what was around it. The woman sat not too far me but her eyes fixed on the sky in a silent prayer to the gods. I tried praying, I prayed to them for redemption of our city but I heard the screams of captured women and children. Could they not hear our screams and wails? The last breathe seeping from those who are dying? I tried praying, I pray for yesterday to return. I would tell us to prepare for battle; a metallic monster will destroy us if not. Sleep over took me, as I feel next to the river, asleep.
Morning sun hit my face as the woman nudged me awake. The fighting had ceased, and no noise came from the other side of the river. Silence. We walked to the gates of the city, burnt but standing. Walking in families started to cry. Homes were burnt down to the ground, temples were ransacked. My own home was gone in a pile of charcoal colored disarray; nothing was how I left it. My knees buckled underneath me as I started to cry. Tears followed like the river soaking the ground. Many looked on and wonder which families lived where. I moved on to the battlefield. The dead laid like a rug, motionless on the ground. I walked around their broken, beaten bodies until I saw one that was moving. Kneeling by his side I took his hand, blood crusted around his nails. He tried to say something but closed his mouth, looking at me with ocean deep blue eyes. He was old enough to be my father. His sword lay over his bare chest, rising up and down with every hard breath. He stoked the back of my hand and even pushed my hair behind my ear. He looked at me like I was a goddess, a last golden sight before he succumbs to death. There were no fatal wounds but he didn't move.
" Thank you for coming back, thank you. We fought, long and hard but there were too many of them. Even our sister city was not enough for what was to come. We were not ready for this. Our city was not ready but we did not give up. We tried to save you." his words us all I needed to hear. Memories of the traitors at the river were long away from now. I felt my tears stream down my face falling in his hand. He looked around looking for others searching for live soldiers but there was only me. From his neck dangled a metal necklace with a small woman's ring, something too small for his fingers and placed it in my hand.
" Give this to my wife, she was standing on the hill top watching us all. Tell her our only thought was to protect our home." I recognized him now. Our leader he closed his eyes as he drift away from here in spirit, his hand heavy and cold. I wouldn't let go, I refused. The ring had lapis lazuli embedded in the gold. I saw the axe not too far away as I stood looking down at him. This is the grave of a man, of an army, of husbands, fathers, brothers and sons. They all laid here baking in the sun huddled together. I walked back to the city, the necklace around my neck. She was in the temple knelt beneath the last of our gods to survive the fire. She looked at me, dark brown eyes steady and stern as I placed the gold in her hand.
" He only thought of home" she was so serious till then, as her face sunk to realization. She wept, the statue queen wept in the temple. I knelt beside her and prayed. I prayed as her cries echoed through the walls, I prayed for rebirth, for another day to regain ourselves and thrive again. I prayed.