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Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Morning After

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So this was the morning after. Elsewhere it would have been just one more ordinary spring morning. There had been some rain overnight, so the ground was still damp. Here and there a few of the bare trees were showing signs of budding and there were still a few snowdrops around and some daffodils were in bloom, bright yellow on the slopes of the undulating ground. Lower down, amongst the bodies, the ground torn up by the feet of the fighters and their horse’s hooves. There were a few early birds, crows strutting amongst the bodies, loose clothing fluttering in the wind and the flights of arrows trembling as the breeze passed through them.

Stunned, those of us still alive staggered around checking the fate of those we had laughed and spoken with only a day before. We took what we could take from the bodies and muttered a few farewells to those who would not hear.

We left the bodies of the soldiers, once we had stripped them of what was useful, but our own we piled up and burnt in the usual way of such things. Back before the gods had gone, a priest would have spoken as the flames took the bodies. But now there were no priests left, at least no-one who would admit to being one... not now.

So we stood watching the flames in silence, a few people muttering under their breath, but whether those mutterings were goodbyes, or half-remembered prayers, no-one else wanted to know. We left one another alone with whatever thoughts they had, then we turned back to the road and wearily moved on.

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