The battle continued, but not for Edric. He lay on the ground while light and sound both faded in and out. He struggled to breathe, knowing he was dying but unwilling to give up.
After a slow eternity, Edric noticed that the pain had gone. It was dark. Not pitch-black, but like a cloudy night. He turned his head and saw the full moon, half-hidden behind the clouds. The sounds of fighting had faded away to nothingness.
There was a loud, echoing noise. He convulsed as a sharp pain flowed from his ears to the rest of his body. Then there was a grating voice speaking words that he couldn’t understand, although the meaning was clear.
The command came into his ears, but bypassed his brain and went directly to his muscles. He rose and saw that many of the other bodies were standing as well, with varying amounts of success. Some were pushing themselves up with the stumps of severed arms, and others stood on uneven legs. Some failed to rise at all, only twitching.
The command repeated, and more of the struggling bodies steadied themselves. Others that were barely standing lost the last of their balance and collapsed.
Edric felt himself being pulled forward to a clearing outside the field of corpses. He felt like he was walking through mud, and his steps were shambling. Other bodies joined him until an army had assembled.
A man stood in the clearing. He pointed at a spot in the clearing. The shambling corpses, Edric included, gathered there.
“It is not yet time for your eternal rest. Your battles will continue. From now on, you will fight for me.”
Edric tried to protest, tell the man that he wouldn’t fight alongside the enemy, but he couldn’t.
The man pointed off in the distance, and Edric found himself marching home defeated.
Image Credits: Anne Wipf.