Photo credit: Klariti Template Shop
Isqaelo stepped gingerly over waves of dried mud, holding his nose. The recognizable bodies had been removed, the weapons and even the melted metal scavenged for the next battle. What remained was a field planted in bones – white, charred black, occasionally fertilized with rotting flesh, humans oddly indistinguishable from magruks. The ruined ground seemed to suck them under, for decency, or for food.
Through a gap in the outer wall, Isqaelo gasped at the castle’s corpse. The parts still intact only emphasized the destruction. Rubble replaced entire buildings, once-beautiful towers. Walls of bright bluestone now crumbled grey, aged a thousand years in a single day.
“Evil magic,” his father had said.
“How can you tell it’s evil?” Isqaelo asked.
“Which side wields it.”
Isqaelo caressed the emblem near the entrance. Faded by false weathering, he barely recognized it. He had arrived too late to help his cousins. Or too late to share their fate, more likely. But he had come. That should mean something.
Pressing his bloodied palm to the carving, he vowed. “I will avenge you, my taen. I will gather what’s left. Esqanzea will rise again.”
His dagger easily cut the now-porous stone over his family’s crest. “Forever.”
Word count: 200. Written for this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge. Thanks to Al Forbes for hosting and for providing the original inspirational photo, below. Click here to read the other stories.
For new readers, “taen” is a royal title from the Pyanni empire, similar to king/queen.
My apologies for not posting more often recently. In addition to some nasty deadlines at work, I’m also nursing a broken arm. (It’s not a very exciting story; my knee gave out while running to catch a light, and I took a bad fall.) It’s a very minor fracture, and not that painful as long as I keep it still. But it means I have to type one-handed, which is really slowing me down!
Photo © Al Forbes @ A Mixed Bag