On the field below, the warrior falls. It’s an anticlimax, an explosion—he bleeds the same wine-red as the rest of us. Another arrow, and it’s over. Another arrow, and it has only just begun.
Atop the city walls, the archer lowers his bow. Wipes his face with the back of his hand. The god behind him
laughs, a hiss like a building flame. You are not pleased?
The archer does not turn to look the god in the eyes. I am pleased. Still he clutches his bow, as though it may turn to dust if he lets it go. As though it may be undone.
You have brought yourself honour. The first in years, says the god. The archer feels the burning heat against his neck—still, he does not turn.
Then why are you weeping?
The archer closes his eyes. Allows himself to shrink, to retreat. My brother is still dead.
The god is silent. This, this kind of pain, he will never begin to understand. He does not wish to try.
On the field, the invading army has already recovered the limp body of the warrior. That evening, they will burn the corpse and pray. No one will weep for him—there is no one left to mourn.
In the city, the archer will try to smile as he tells his parents that it is done. And they will try to smile, too, will try to stuff the gaping hole in their chests with this small victory.
They will realise that the death of his killer did not reawaken their son. That none of this matters, anymore. None of this will ever matter again.
It will be dark, and the pyre’s last embers will die down, and the war will be won at last.
Sophia Lang is a fourteen-year-old aspiring writer, born and raised in the UK. She is as of yet unpublished elsewhere, but interested in both poetry and prose-writing in the future. Recently, much of her work has been based on or around Ancient Greek literature and mythology, a subject about which she is incredibly passionate and hopes to study at university.