A.U. 343


Blood pours through my fingers, life seeps from my stomach onto the grass, it mixes with the life of the ones closer to death than me. We all groan in this crimson. Others sigh relief and let weightlessness carry them. Most of my life is staining the grass, soaking into my shoes, between my toes, but there is some left and I try to keep it. I wear my surcoat, a sash dyed with everything I have given in the name of another. It is a gift for my sacrifice, for it cradles my intestines.

My brothers and sisters of battle have left, in victory or defeat, I do not know. They have returned home to songs of courage, to be held by their families and touched by their king. I kneel before the suffering, I am knighted in blood. I stand, Sir Gaegard, to their chorus.

The air is a struggle to breathe, it is weighted with death, and I do not wish to swim in it. I stagger for miles to reach the bodies’ end. I see green. I race for it. I breathe. I smell the flowers. I lie for a moment gulping it. I hear a harmony to the dying’s symphony. A deer groans. An arrow stands from its gut. I reach and stroke its head. It cannot feel the pain. It faded. I want to fade.

I watch as fog covers the hills. It creeps, swallowing my world. This is death. I feel a presence.  The earth quakes and shakes me. A light blinds. I look upon a God.

Tyr, the God-Bull approaches.

On him lie three foals, two across his back and one atop his head. The King of Beasts snorts and tears the turf. He demands my fealty. I give it. I bow my head and he trots closer. From behind him a fawn cowers, it weeps for its father.

A foal whinnies and I recognise him as Fodsel. A new-born. His legs would buckle if Tyr did not carry him. His neigh makes the fawn bound into the fog, leaving its father. Fodsel whinnies at the birth of life. I watch as the deer’s eyes die.

A foal whinnies and I recognise him as Bhas. Flies buzz and maggots feast upon his flesh. A stench lingers around him. His coat lies in tatters. I watch as the deer decomposes, its face and body fade, its hide stretches, its hair is caught on the wind. The flesh melts leaving bones. The Earth devours everything.

A foal whinnies and I recognise him as Genfodsel. He is adorned with the meadow; flowers cover his coat. Roots wrap his bones and pierce his flesh. Bramble covers his head. I watch as the grave of the deer gives birth. A sprouting breaks the surface and climbs toward the sun. A bulb grows. It blossoms; a sight that forces a smile, I lie and watch it.

Tyr snorts and nudges me. I feel no pain. I look upon him and smile.

A foal whinnies and I know him as Bhas.

by Samuel Tempest