The Element of Battle

Story A Week (SAW) 6: Feb 5th, 2018

By Adam O’Sullivan

Daemon strode across the battlefield. In his hands were two claymore swords, usually two handed weapons but held effortlessly in Daemon’s grip. The sunlight glinted off the sharp blade of each. He screamed a loud war cry which carried over the plain of battle and reverberated against the hill land. In the distance, he could see the retreating horde of the enemy, running as fast as they could. A trail of blackness followed their footsteps a metre behind them, before colour returned to the ground as they retreated further away.

Still screaming at the top of his lungs, Daemon began to run towards the retreating army. There was a whooshing sound followed by a small pop, and Daemon appeared a kilometre from where he had previously stood, onto the battlefield. He was still running, his legs pumping as his feet kicked up dirt behind him. He clashed the claymores against each other and the sound echoed into the distance. A flock of carrion birds flew off from where they had rested amongst the bodies.

Mary stood in front of him, and Daemon slowed before stopping.

“Out of my way” he bellowed at her.

“You must not let your emotions take you.”

“I have had everything taken from me already.”

“Our daughter is still back at home.”

“And I will ensure that I never have to fear that she is ever taken. I will ensure that the Darkness will not take anything from anyone ever again.”

“It will consume you. I’m begging you. Stay with me. Please. I’m desperate.”

“How can I explain to our people that our chieftain is dead?”

“You do not need to. They witnessed the battle, fought alongside you. They saw her fall in the midst of battle, a hero. They all knew the risks.”

“Better to avenge our losses than to stay and rule as a coward.”

“A coward is one who runs away. A fool is one who charges into certain death. A leader is one who reorganises themselves and prepares for the coming battle.”

“Damn you, bectarct! Your sense will be the death of me.”

“No, my sense will ensure you always return.” She smiled up at him.

“I won’t return without you.”

“Nor would I expect you to. But for the moment, please stay with me.”

The anger rose in him then, white hot and all consuming. The blades in his hands turned burning red, like the glow of a fresh sword from the furnace. The metal burst into flames. His eyes also had flames coming from them. It was an effect that had only been seen once before, when the Old Gods had gone into battle to free their people. The Old Gods never returned, but the Darkness did.

Mary stepped towards Daemon, seemingly apathetic to the heat coming from his body. She wrapped her arms around his massive, muscular frame, and rested her head on his chest as it heaved with his breath.

Lightning crashed close by. The clouds darkened, the heavens opened and rain poured down on them. The rain became heavier, but wasn’t enough to extinguish the fire pouring from the steel in Daemon’s hands.

“Stay with me” whispered Mary. “One last time.”

The blades dropped to the wet ground, singeing the grass as the fire sputtered out. The fire in his eyes blinked out. Daemon was crying, tears running down his cheeks and mixing with the rain. He let out a howl of anguish as his legs gave out. He slumped to his knees, his arms at his side. He was sobbing now, taking great breaths of air into his lungs. Mary leaned forward and kissed the top of his head.

“Our time will come, my love. Our time will come.”

Daemon reached out for her, but Mary’s body seemed to turn to smoke. His arms came together as she faded and disappeared on the wind.

A small distance in front of Daemon lay Mary’s lifeless body. She had been killed minutes before by a lone arrow shot by the enemy as they retreated. She was in the middle of performing a healing spell on her kinship when the arrow hit her strong and true, the final death in this bloody battle that claimed so many souls. The arrow stuck out of the ground at Daemon’s feet where it landed after clearing through Mary’s sternum. He reached forward and pulled the arrow from the hard dirt. It was covered in her blood. He placed it in a thin leather pouch hanging from his belt, seemingly made for this purpose.

Still weeping, Daemon stood up and made his way to Mary’s body. From his trench coat pocket, he pulled a small metal device, about the length of his hand. It appeared to be some sort of hollow metal tube with a hole at one end and a button at the other. He reached out and moved the hair from her pale face. He realised that her body was already beginning to cool. Daemon kissed her forehead, and then pushed the end of the tube against her left eye. He pressed the button on the device and there was a quick sucking noise followed by a rattle from inside the tube. The button glowed green and sealed itself. The side lit up with the words “MARY NYKVIST” before they subsided, burnt into the metal. He took out a metal chain and clipped it to the end of the tube before putting it around his neck. He stood and stayed for a minute, until he could see ice crystals creeping up her arm. He calmed himself and made his way back to the clan base.

The clanspeople wept with Daemon, for their lost ones. Per their customs, Daemon was declared the new chieftain, being the previous leader’s most trusted advisor. In the near future, he would need to declare himself a chiefmate to stand by his side, male or female, though his people would not begrudge him to take his time after their recent losses. That night, they celebrated the present with a sombre feast, and much drinking to remember the dead.

Tomorrow, they would plan their revenge.

THE END

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