We went into the wilderness without Him. I don’t know what I was thinking. We all knew there were people dying in the wilderness every day. Their hollow and broken cries echoed up the deep ravines and dry riverbeds, bouncing against the stone hewn walls of the ancient fortress that sat just at the foot of the great northern mountains.
Something I find so much more meaningful to write instead of blogs about a current life experiences, is to instead take those experiences and rewrite them as a creative short stories. I am saying this because I’ve decided to make this blog primarily about short stories now. I know many of you have sent me messages or left comments in the past asking me to write more of this type of writing. So I am starting a new chapter to do just that.
I rolled out the dusty, crinkled and weather-beaten old battle map with a tired snap. Dust exploded in a small gust of tiny granules throughout the air of the tent. The map unrolled slowly outward across the round, oaken table. My captains and lieutenants circled about, wide shoulders hunched over in grief, armor beaten and dented in, crimson blood smeared across their stalwart faces and muscled arms. I could see the the defeat and despair as they avoided eye contact, the brightness gone from their gaze. My entire body was sagging in hopelessness. I leaned forward across the map, pressing my palms onto the ink stained paper to brace my shaking arms.
My sword dripped blood. I gripped the leather strap on the inside of my cracked and chipped shield, dragging it beside me. The bones from wrist to my shoulder ached from the tension and strength it took to keep my shield steady through every attacker’s onslaught. I gratefully sat my shield and sword against a heavy boulder on the edge of the battlefield and painfully sank onto the soft earth beside it. I winced, leaning against the giant rock and gazed out with bleary eyes at the view before me. Black and heavy swirling smoke poured out of gaping holes that pock marked the valley floor. The dead were sprawled out in ugly piles of twisted limbs. The eerie wails of the dying echoed through the haze and smoke. I could see a few soldiers struggling to carry the wounded off the field towards the forest.
It was the drumbeat, slow, steady and heavy, vibrating up from the depths of the mountains, echoing off the stone valley walls. It bounced and thudded and hammered through the atmosphere towards the sky. A second rhythm followed, quieter but faster than the first. The pounding of a thousand pairs of feet, racing up the cleared paths on the mountain slopes. The runners faces were set like flint, eyes burning with ardor and calloused hands clenching iron brands dripping with black oil. On their foreheads was tattooed in dark ink the name of the king.
‘The oaken doors were heavy, engraved and stretching far above my height, the iron ringed door handles each bigger than my head. I set down my sword, shield and armor on the white marble courtyard floor. The metal and iron clattered loudly, rolling against the nearest pillar. I dropped my shredded and blood stained cloak…