The sky was white, the sun was black, and everything else was grey. I got up and began to walk up the mountain path. I couldn't feel my body, and my feet left no tracks in the dust.
I found a man lying on the ground, his throat slit and his face coated with blood, and knelt by his side. His eyes were open and his lips moved, and for a while I just sat there listening to the sound of his voice in my head. "…why are they stopping they're coming don't they see move on get the hell out of here why aren't they moving they're coming…"
I put my hand on his shoulder and tried to make him look me in the eyes. "Hey," I said. "Stop it. That's all in the past now. It's over. Let it go."
His eyes focussed on me and the babbling stopped. He seemed to recognise me, and his eyes filled with tears. "I'm so sorry", he said. I gently laid my finger on his lips. "That's alright. You're a good man. You may even have saved Merran. But it's over now. Let it go." His eyes closed. "Thank you", he whispered and then he was gone, leaving only a dried puddle of blood to mark the site of his death. I collapsed and all went black again.
I awoke, my body slung over the back of a horse, head, arms and legs dangling. Pain, red-hot and raging, emanated from my right shoulder and engulfed me further with every movement that the horse made. Unable to pass out I could just gasp and struggle for the next breath. And the next. And the next.
The path sloped upwards, and we were steadily moving towards the setting sun. The pain had subsided to a dull roar and I had started to shiver uncontrollably. Hello hell, I thought. Your prodigal son is returning.
"We're losing him", a woman's voice said. I knew that voice. She was probably right, too.
I woke up, lying face down on a pile of furs. We were in a cave, and a fire was burning nearby. Hands were touching me. "This is going to hurt", the female voice warned me. It did. I screamed and passed out.
"Almost done now", she said, as she cleaned and dressed the wound. "It was a stray arrow, we didn't mean to hurt you." She put the last piece of the bandage in place. "There, that's better." Gingerly I rolled onto my side. I felt comfortably numb, the pain almost gone. "Thank you", I said. She kissed my forehead and told me that I was going to be fine. I settled down and she covered my naked body with one of the furs, careful not to touch my injured shoulder.
She moved away from me and sat down by the fire, staring into the flames. For a while I just lay there, looking at her. Her name was Lora. In the last years of the war we had fought side by side, and at night we'd sought comfort in each other's arms. When the war ended she had been among the first to leave, anxious to go looking for her husband and her little son. I wished she'd found them.
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