Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ninety Minutes: A Graphic Depiction of War

(Note: This was written as a descriptive essay with strong narrative elements.  It's somewhat experimental.)

            For an hour and a half the world was a living Inferno.  There were no survivors.  Few corpses escaped complete mutilation.
            Smoke blanketed the field.  The grass, emerald green before the battle began, turned gray with ash within minutes.  The strongest-eyed sentinels lost vision beyond a few paces.  Men fired in random directions, unable to discern friend from foe.
            One party made the best of the fog of war.  The Dasoni mages improved their sight with incantations.  Red jets of flame and blue arcs of static cut down the Verox in their wake.  Veteran soldiers cried out at the sight of them, their green vestments dripping gore, eyes too white to be natural.  The mages limped through streams of flowing blood.  Spasms racked their bodies after each conjuring.
            Lord Kenneth, Captain of the Verox cavalry, alighted from his horse.  It collapsed in a heap on the ground.  Two of its legs bore slashes to the sinew, a third with multiple bullet wounds.  The Lord pulled his saber from its scabbard.  The equine perished after a single merciful thrust.  He shook his head at the loss of such a noble mount.
            A musketeer lay groaning at the base of an oak tree.  Leaves fluttered down upon his head, sticking to his sweat-damp hair.  He clutched his ankle, bone jutting from pale skin, with one hand.  The other hung limp at his side, wrapped in a makeshift bandage.  It pulsated, a cruelly rhythmic throb.  He murmured a prayer, looking skyward.
            Howitzer fire eclipsed all other noise at the Dasoni rear.  Burly men loaded iron balls and black powder into the gun barrels.  Their hands flew to cover their ears at the sight of each spark.  The projectiles disappeared in the smokescreen.  Who or what they struck was of no consequence to them.
            The Dasoni mages fell in waves.  Their muscles failed in near-unison.  Survivors from the Verox front paused in their flight.  They leered through the smoke, searching.  The mages succumbed to knife wounds in turn, or in some cases blows from Verox boots.
            Lord Kenneth pointed his saber forward, charging against a pocket of enemy infantry.  He danced with his foes, whipping his saber in complex arcs, parrying numerous blows.  A sharp pain erupted in his ribcage.  Cold fluid soaked through his overcoat.  He switched his saber to the other hand and continued to fight.  The throng of swords bent upon biting him further rose to a crescendo.  It was too much for the Lord.  A slash to his calf brought him to a knee.  His neck gave little resistance against multiple blades.
            Feeling slowly abandoned the musketeer.  His eyes rolled in a face devoid of any trace of color besides white flesh and dark ash.  He sighed, all pain evaporated.  The brown of his irises shrouded beneath drooping eyelids.  He stilled.
            The smoke began to clear.  Some of the artillerymen cheered, tired of chronic coughing.  They loaded another round of ammunition with little regard to their flank.  It proved to be an utter mistake.  Stragglers from the Dasoni cavalry surged toward the side of the battery.  By the time the horse’s hooves overtook the howitzer fire’s volume, it was too late. 
            When the last traces of smoke dispersed, the horror of the scene came to fruition.  Bodies were strewn out for acres.  Nothing stirred, save a few stray carrion birds.  Thousands lay lifeless on a frankly mundane plain.
            Only ninety minutes had passed.

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