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He woke up and realized that everything had changed. The air was heavy with a deafening silence. No clatter of arms or cries of angry men now. No, now it was just him. He tried to get up. Instantly, he felt a burning pain in his side. He sank back down in pain, resting his head on the bloody cobblestones and sighing. He felt the wound. It was deep, but the sword had missed any arteries and vital organs. The bleeding had mostly stopped. Maybe that was because there wasn’t enough blood left for him to bleed. He couldn’t see well through the visor of his helmet. He pulled it off and looked around.

What he saw was a slaughter beyond anything Poe had seen in his opium-induced fantasies. Blood-caked corpses were strewn about the street. Men, women, children, animals. Nothing had been left alive. It was hot, though it shouldn’t have been, for it was late fall and nighttime. He realized that the heat was coming from a few burning buildings around him. Houses. Most of the dead were soldiers. Civilians were nowhere to be seen. What had happened? He did not remember. A few feet away from him lay the face down body of a woman. She had once been quite pretty, he could see. Not now, though. Her clothes, once that of an elegant noblewoman, were tattered and torn. Her face had been almost completely hacked off, but not entirely. Two blood-clouded blue eyes stared out of a skinned skull. The back side of her head was bashed in. Her neck had been cut down to the bone. Her hair had been cut off, and now lay as a few blood-soaked blond locks on the ground. She’d been completely eviscerated, her organs strewn about the cobblestones.

He did not remember who he was. He did not know where he was from. He did not know why he was lying, bleeding out on the pavement. Then he looked at the burning houses and realized: fire crackles. He heard nothing. Had he gone deaf? Or was he in shock? Suddenly, his vision flashed white and he heard a sharp, piercing noise in his ear. Then an oppressing darkness fell on his vision. Silence resumed shortly after.





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