Ravages of War
Elizabeth Clark


I came down the hill on my stallion, Thunderhand. His mane was whipping in the heavy wind. The dimming moonlight glinted off my silver armor, which was cooking me with my own body heat. I brushed my hand down the black hair of my steed, my only companion. Thunderhand pawed the ground with his front hooves.
I pressed my knees to his sides gently. He began down the hill. I sighed, letting my breath catch in the wind, and pulled off my helmet. The edges scraped the stubble of a beard on my chin. I dropped my helmet to the grass in surprise, as Thunderhand moved to flat ground. My eyes watered without my consent. A red sun was rising past the mountains in the east, its echo reflected over the ground. Soldiers clad in blood and armor were scattered over the ground. Their eyes, whether shielded by a helm or clear, were wide . . . and vacant. Every breath I took seemed like a sin on this godforsaken field. Thunderhand weaved away from the bodies, yet I heard bones crunch each time he accidentally trod on an outcast limb.
Where was he?
Could he have lived?
I didn’t dare hope for that. Yet still I prayed for the possibility of him being alive. My eyes raked the faces that I recognized as his comrades. Finally a face caught my eye. I steered Thunderhand over, half afraid that I had found what I was looking for. When I reached the downed body, I dismounted. Crouching down, I pulled the helm from his head. Tears broke past their barrier and flowed down my cheeks. Damn him! He was here! He had been too old for this fools’ war, yet he had come. I pulled his body into my arms, letting tears wash some of the blood from his armor and let out a breaking cry.
He was here.
That old fool.
How stupid.
My father.