I knew my end was near. I had not felt my feet for ages now, Overseer knows for how long. They used to ache, but that stopped quickly. As soon as they began to turn to stone, that is.
I am an old man, lived to see many a war, fight in a few even. I don't know if to count myself lucky to live in this cold, hard world, with little to no hope of tomorrow. Heh, grim thoughts for a dying man.
They say your last thoughts should be of home. Too bad I don't have any. Not after the Fifth Overseer's army burned it down. Damn them and their disputes to hell.
I look around, seeing nothing but death around me. A battlefield, full of men and women, frozen in their last moments of horror, old friends and new foes alike. Beheaded bodies with their hearts pierced by arrows, still standing. Those few who did not die right away lying face down, with sand flowing from their veins to litter the ground. Fear still lingers on their faces, as it does on mine. I am terrified. Terrified of this war. Terrified of my own upcoming fate.
Oh the foolishness of man to heed their king's word blindly and charge into battle. Why has it come to this I ask, with rulers bickering over their own concerns, throwing the common people at each other, only to prolong what comes to the rest of us; this unforgiving fate of all, both man and god?
What a strange word to use of men who are but near-immortal.
I trample through the barren land full of dust and stone. The skies are dark as ever. I feel the pain of the poisoned arrow in my shoulder sting once again. Might as well break it off, I think as I snap the shaft in half, the shock bringing me to my knees. I crank myself up and keep going. I cannot stay here. This is not the place.
Before me is a forest, petrified much like most of me right now. I feel my ear; it chips off into my hand, and I toss it away. I tread onwards, only to see those same faces all over again. An expression of horror forever etched into those stony eyes and that gravely face. A sad display of foolishness from our Overseers, ones who we once held as gods. Our knighthood means nothing. It is but a carrot on a stick to lure us to fight their battles for them, to solve their fruitless bickering once and for all- and at what cost? Yet another garden of statues dots the landscape.
I have not rested in what feels like forever, but I cannot stop now. To stop is to give up. And I am not ready yet. I feel the fingers on my left hand stiffening, and decide to break them off. Less weight to carry at least.
I shouldn't be far now.
Monsters are what they call them. The creatures out there, hunting what is left of the mankind. A threat to our beloved leaders, and to ourselves. The sole reason to why we exist, to why our Foundation of Knights was born; to slay these threats and stop them. Slay, cure and protect. And look how well we've succeeded. Even now I can see something ahead, crawling its way through these cold woods. I try to go around it from as far as I can.
It had a tail.
I haven't seen an animal all my life. Heard stories, and saw a few statues, but the thought of something other than man existing was… Baffling. To think that we are not alone in this unforgiving world was a scary thought. Mostly because we are weak.
The only reason we exist anymore is the manna, the panacea. Stuff of legends. Golden nectar oozing from deep down under. The greatest reason for our struggles against each other, the greed of our kings… And the only thing keeping them alive.
The smoke of the mines has created a thick layer to cover the skies. Has been that way for… Centuries, at least. Cold and darkness have been the mankind's friend for as far as our memory goes. We don't even know how many moons there are, if any. Sounds like a fairytale to me. A giant stone, flying in the heavens… As believable as the "miracles" our god-kings make.
I think this is it.
I cannot walk another step. My knees crackle with every movement, and I feel them slightly chipping. But I must go on, I am not there yet.
I walk out of the woods.
The sunlight greets me.
A faint flicker from between the smallest crack in the thick mattress of clouds that has always remained there, as far as I could possibly remember.
I look down at the landscape below me. A grey land of dying souls, false kings and misery. My friends and family lying dead, and I have nothing left.
I don't think I've ever seen sunlight before. As I feel my heart slowly come to a halt, I think to myself:
This is good.
This is where I'll stay.
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