When the blood ran off his hands the war was over, and he turned his eyes to the vast, burning wasteland that marked his wake. He sighed and wiped the dead from his face, the gristle and blood falling inconsequentially onto the crimson soaked earth.
It was time to go home.
He stared at the horizon, a statue slowly sending shadow spreading with the sun’s descent. Then he ran, pounding steadfast past corpses, leaping nimbly across the eviscerated, hurtling on the tips of his toes as an avalanche of putrefying meat and rusting paraphernalia of war filled his field of vision, sending nanotech bullets into the hordes of over-ambitious scavengers tearing at the decay, reeling himself up a sheer cliff face as highly militarised alien technology silvered through the effluvia below, loping through the healing country past the bursts of wildflower and dancing insects that push from the vibrant grass, falling in a dream that shakes him awake on a cold cave floor, brushing his fingers ecstatically on the rippling wheat rolling on to the horizon that flashes as the sun sinks from view.
The thatched cottage, luminous in constellation light, sent out waves of warm heat and scent. He sank to his knees, the long strobe of days heavy on his flesh and soul. His eyes filled with the light. His voice was hoarse as he yelled at the golden vision that seemed magically there, his leaden legs finally propelling him forward to embrace her in a whirling hug sparkling with tears and litanies of love.
“Varlet!” cried the rastaknight as he placed his hempen boot upon the sword boy’s proffered forehead and drew the enormous broadsword which wavered in moonlight like opalescent smoke. Its wielder reeled backwards under the sheer weight of its legend, his bones leaden with the burden of contending with the valorous knights of lore who carried the very same blade to become, for their greatness, immortal in the tales of men. The sword flickered into the air, relinquished from the knight’s grasp as he slipped on a lump of manure his mule had just ejected and fell onto his back with a clatter of clamorous clangs. The weapon seemed to hover in mid-air for a moment before orienting its lethal point towards earth. “No!” the Knight had time to gasp before it penetrated cleanly his armor and sprayed the poor sword boy with hot blood. Laughter wheezed harshly from the knight’s challenger, who then turned a dark eye upon the boy and made to stride towards with murderous intent. The sword began to shimmer, a multitude of unearthly whispers gibbering from the spaces between its atoms, coagulating into a moaning, protoplasmic voice dribbling syllables that throbbed with smoky consonants and tinkling vowels. The boy’s frightened eyes widened as the it said, “Draw the sword from the stoner…and realize your destiny, boy.”
The moon poured its light onto the clearing where the knight, death clenched in hand, stalked across the moss towards the boy and the corpse’s sword.