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Eldritch Thoughts

Voice


Silence descends. The war cries and shouts of soldiers roll across the field as the fighting continues where the ebb and flow of the tides of men have moved it. The fireballs and lightning bolts of the battle mages crackle and explode, ending yells and punctuating the never-ending symphony of clashing steel. Rocks from the catapults smash into the ranks of both sides, a mundane counterpoint to the arcane themes from the thundering roars of their magical brethren. None of it is real.

Once the battle spoke to him. The shouts, the clashes, the roars, all melded into a single wash of sound that spoke to his ears with the voice of War. In the initial shouts to charge he heard the wails of a newborn infant, and the following cries of the surging waves of bodies were the jubilant shouts of a healthy youth. The voice dimmed in the wake of the crashing lightning, taking refuge from the poor weather. The battle itself guided him, as it would a trusted companion, from its blood-soaked birth through to its moaning death. Each voice had spoken with different pitches, accents, inflections, and by following each dedicated narrative, he had seen safely the death of each battle, stood intact at the funeral of each close friend. It was all that was real.

But now, though the sounds of the fighting still rolled, the voice had been muted. How often before had the moans of the dying been part of that voice? Why would this one silence that constant narrative, prematurely mute the voice of his guide? He lowers his gaze to the form dying at his feet. It is only a man, a single, fatal gash marring his already tattered, dirty tunic and emaciated torso. His pants and hair bear the same signs of neglect as his tunic, and his boots are missing altogether. He moans again and looks up at his attacker. The short sword that he bore, broken long ago to the length of a mere dagger, lies a foot or more from his outstretched arm. Nowhere on him is there a coat of arms or any other sort of emblem. Two sets of eyes lock. For that moment, nothing else is real.

The moment passes, and one set of eyes closes. Silence reigns amidst the din of combat, and the other set of eyes stares into a darkness that reaches out with smoky tendrils and devours all it touches, until reality is veiled in a shadow that will never lift.