You were ambushed, Carth. It was only a small skirmish, between Musa’s archers and your men as you sallied out to put an end to their resistant. They put up a brief fight before melting away into the wilderness. But there’s more that I want us to remember. Though I can’t give you much—do you think anyone truly remembers fights clearly? Or do only you and I suffer from this affliction?
There are some things I’ll let you remember:
I’ll let you remember Khalee dragging a twin away from his brother’s limp body, leaving the corpse on the road for the carrion crows. And how the same was done for her when her dog was stuck with an arrow’s shaft.
I’ll let you remember how you saw Albarran spearing an injured horse—and the cavalryman whose leg it had crushed. He looked at you, then. Even through your fog of shattered memories, you knew what that look meant. And you know it now as you read this.
You and I both know how these men felt. I suspect we all know. We’ve all learned the guilt that comes with being alive.
* * *
Let’s remember these things, too:
The footprints of an army wearing down a sand dune so that little was left for the final Housemen to climb.
Fields of grass, weighted with wind, bowing under your progression and rising again after you passed.
A village of wattle-and-daub huts by the shore. A briny smell.
White-knuckled hands wrapped around spears.
The glint of steel against the sun.
Your hand, red and wet and holding a longsword plunged up to the hilt in a wide-eyed boy.
A sword clattering to the ground.
Khalee saying, “Couldn’t be helped.”
Khalee saying, “Right?”
Khalee saying, “Talk to me.”