A battle ensues, blood is shed, a friend is lost, a family is saved, a warrior transcends.
His lungs rattle as they hiss air between teeth clenched so tightly with exertion they creak, threatening to crack and shatter. His blade comes down with swift efficiency and his full might directly between the plated armor of his opponent's shoulder. The man's screams rend the air before his arm has finished falling. The warrior inhales deeply through his nose regaining fresh oxygen to days used muscles that scream, in tearing pain, for rest. He turns his back on his opponent simultaneously skewering him through his eye to quiet, at least, one scream in this wretched nightmare. He holds the fresh breath for a moment then releases it slowly in a tired sigh; panning to taking in the area, allowing his staggered breathing to return to normal. He is alone for a moment though he knows this will not last.
Scattered around him are the bodies of many warriors; some were skilled, others were not. Most he killed, some he did not. He spots a few members from his house among the dead by the colors they wear; and an already too heavy heart grows more laden by sorrow. The wind picks up carrying the sound of distant battlefield horrors; along with the wretched smell of bile and facieses mingling among the coppery smell of blood. How historians spin romantic tales, or politicians form such nice speeches that rouse patriotism from such scenes has baffled him ever since his first battle. How it has become a scene more vivid in his mind than home startles him. The wind also draws his attention to the last bit of leather armor dangling from his torso; he swiftly cuts free as he takes his next step back toward the main line.
He stops trying to step around the bodies after a few feet; there is simply not enough ground between them. "Pitiful" he thinks as he looks toward the western mountain range where the sun is beginning to hide, sinking as if it can't hold the weight of death it has witnessed these last two days. Just over that same ridge is where his home lies, where his family lives and why he must fight so hard. The fighting is with in view now, the noise deafening. But above the clamor of blade and armor a familiar battle cry to this man's ears can be heard. A body rises with the battle cry above the knot of battle at the end of a naginata. The knot begins to untangle and relief surges through him as he sees his friend, nearly naked, muscles knotted, open wounds seeping, looking into the eyes of his airborne enemy with tears streaming down his cheeks but hatred burning in his eyes. The man also sees an opportunistic blade begin a jab at the open back of his friend and springs from relief into action.
Sucking in a large amount of air, he sends strength and power to his coiled legs and releases the energy and breath turning it all into forward momentum. Wounds burn as they tear further, joints pop and muscles creak burning as if on fire. He ignores this focused on the only open path to the blade rapidly approaching his friend. The sounds of shouting and tormented screams fade to the background. All he hears are sloshing footsteps, scraping armor, blades clashing and his own labored breathing with each footfall. A blade flashes out in his periphery forcing him to parry with his own just before reaching his true target. Cursing, his body reacts before his mind can process, he kicks out with his next stride, his blade glancing off his attackers as he drops to one knee from the force of the blow and his precarious balance. Within the same moment the flat of his left foot connects with the flat of the opportunistic blade meant for his friend sending it off target. As he slides past his friend's assailant he twists around on his knee and digs the balls of both feet into the ground bringing himself back upright, blade above head, and facing the two attackers. Swiftly he brings his blade down on the outstretched arms of the shocked man whose sword had been kicked; severing both arms at the joint. He then steps back into a defensive posture and squares off against the other; however, this proves to be unnecessary as his friend's naginata flashes across this one's throat.
The man and his friend stare at each other for a moment then break into tired chuckles as they turn back to back. They fight the rest of the evening in the way and the battle comes to an end. They have prevailed and the enemy ranks break as their horns sound retreat, they turn tail and run. The man turns to his friend putting his hand on his shoulder and speaks for the first time in hours. "Hey Shecko, its finally over, for now." Shecko doubles over and drops to his knees. The man catches him as he goes down, so he does not fall fully over. Shecko breaths a gargled breath and shakes his head as the man comes around to face him. The man's heart stops when he sees the short blade protruding from Shecko's chest. "Shit Shecko, how long?" the man asks, "Who's to say. Doesn't matter anyway." comes Shecko's labored reply. "To Hell with that, we can get you to a healer, their spells can patch this up easy." The man begins to stand but Shecko grabs his arm, "Yaku, don't bother." Yaku's brow knots up in confusion and anger, "What do you mean by that old friend?" he asks already knowing the answer. Some wounds are not of the flesh and more deadly. Shecko stiches a breath together, just enough to speak, "I accept this, there will be no morning light for me even if I survived this. Just stay with me a while." Yaku's heart turns to lead with the words his friend uttered, but he understands and has seen it before. He takes a seat next to his friend.
"Thanks for coming to my aid there, that was a fancy bit of work you pulled Yaku." He coughs and blood spills onto his lap. Yaku nods, unable to speak. "Don't know how you pulled it off in the state your in." Shecko is right, Yaku is lacerated from head to foot, his tattered armor is probably the only thing holding him together at this point. The healers are going to have their work cut out for them. "Hey Yaku..." Shecko coughs more blood, thicker and bubbly this time. "Thanks for being a loyal friend, I'll miss you but I'm going on ahead." Yaku faces his friend, tears streaming down his cheeks, turning read as they mix with the blood of his friend, his adversary, and his own. Yaku chokes down a sob "I'll see yah soon Schek." Shecko chuckles "Not to soon my friend, give a kiss to your wife for me." and with that his friend passed as the last rays of light vanished behind the western mountains. Yaku stayed on his knees before his friend for many hours as memories peace and friendship cascaded across his mind. His eyes unfocused and distant seem to look beyond even the stars as the healers find him, a living statue among the chaos of war. As a healer approaches to aid Yaku they stop dead in their tracks. She senses that if she steps any further it would be the end of her life. What comes next is highly speculated, but if her report can be believed are truly astounding.
Medical Report, Healer: 776
As I came close the Yaku the air became thick and difficult to move through. It was as if the gravity in his vicinity had increased ten-fold and kept increasing the closer you got to him. There was an electric feeling in the air and at first a soft glow emanating from the battered warrior. I was captivated by the scene of loss and sorrow. We both remained still for a time and then the warrior known as Yaku began a soft moan. As he did the air began to stir with a gentle breeze warm yet cool like winter shifting to spring.
His moan picked up into a roar; a roar that, to me, held: pity, fear, loneliness, hope, love, desperation and so many more emotions all at once. As the roar continued so too did the wind, gravity and temperature. It was as though he were drawing in the energy from the very air around him. Gravity became heavier and I feel to my hands and knees. The blood-soaked earth began to Swirl around Yaku and light seemed to originate from him, blocking out the stars, turning night to day. He turned his head toward me, and I saw the deep pain and sorrow in his unfocused eyes. I attempted to stand and fell prostrate against the pressure, we made eye contact again and his eyes came into focus as if he suddenly became aware again.
The pressure immediately broke free around me and I was able to stand, but the energy at his center kept growing. His wounds began to heal, stitching themselves together right before my eyes and the blood began to vanish. My fear melted away and I came into a place of peace the like of which I had not felt since before the war. The light and wind faded away and Yaku completely healed turned to me, fell to his knees and said: "We humans are such pitiably creatures; is there no way to save us from ourselves? Will we never be whole?" He then fell into a deep slumber and we put him on a stretcher and carried him back to garrison. I cannot help but feel hopeful now. Whatever this means.
End, Medical Report, Healer: 776