This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Friday, 12 October 2012

The Warrior

There is a dread plain behind me, and a dread plain ahead.

The sky above is lowering with black clouds that bring no relief. They will not bring relief, because the clouds are of smoke from burning cities, not clouds of water vapour. The ground beneath my boots is black from soot falling like drifting rain.

My shoulders are bowed under the weight of my armour, and the battle-axe is heavy in my hand. My hair hangs limp, matted with sweat and blood, and my face is crusted with dust.

Behind me the plain is dotted with corpses.

I am weary. The way is long and my wounds are grievous. I know not where I am going, because all I have known are dead, and the cities I have known and loved are burned, drifting ash. I have nothing left, not even absolution.

I pass a hand across my brow, and the hand comes away sticky with blood. For a moment I am dizzy. I shake my head and pause until I feel steady again. I was a warrior, and then I was a king, and now I am nobody. No, that is not true. I am a warrior again, and some day, somewhere, I shall be a king once more.

In the battle I had fought as hard as any, with all my weapons, crying the great battle cry as I struck with my axe. I had shattered skulls and shed blood, and I had heard the death cry from a thousand throats. When one dies it no longer matters which side one fought on; one is just dead. And when the cities were burned and the armies were dead, I was alone.

But not alone, no. Far away across the dead I had seen a solitary figure. As I had come closer I had seen this figure, smaller than I, but in full armour and with visor down, with the mark of the enemy on its shield. And the enemy warrior had rushed at me with upraised sword and had cleaved my helm clean in twain. If I had only been a little slower the sword would have cleft my skull.

But I am an old warrior, with instincts hardened by a thousand battles, and my axe had struck back and cut her from shoulder to waist.


Yes, because the helmet had fallen from her head and revealed her features. Wallowing in blood and death, they were the lovely dark features of a young woman. She had fought well. But I had won, and winning is all that matters.

I look back one last time at the corpses, the remains of two armies, and I look on ahead. Somewhere there I will find more cities, and I shall find armies to lead and kingdoms to rule, as I have done before.

And, someday, invaders will come and destroy it all. Or I shall lead my armies against other lands and destroy them. Or else our armies will fight till there is nothing left. Someday, everything will burn, as the cities behind me are burning.

And I shall go on.    

Copyright B Purkayastha 2008

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