Short story and title photo by Wanda Sonnemann
He is standing in a field of ashes and smoke. The only living things are the carrion birds. Even the earth is dead.
His vision is bleary with grief. He recognizes far too many torn banners lying in the dust. He remembers their owner’s faces. Comrades, Friends. And her.
“Why” He laments, but the ravens do not care. The dead do not care. She does not care any longer. They used to complain about the sorcerer kings’ games of power together, until she got swallowed by them.
“Why” He cries, gathering ashes in his Hands. He watches the ravens. “Why?” He asks them and they finally look at him with their onyx, sorrowless eyes. “What if,” He asks, “all this were mine? I would not allow any more dead, no more wars like this.” The ravens circle him. “Stay.” He orders them. “There will be plenty to eat until that day. And then, afterwards I will teach you to be creatures of peace.”
He is kneeling in the ashes of a battle that killed half a continent touching the dead earth with his bare hands. “This,” He tells the ravens, “is mine now. This is where I start.”