Wednesday, January 30

The Blood Of Ravnius

This is for the first Wordsmiths challenge of 2008. Please join us this year!

This is a work of fiction. Copyright © 2008 Bolt, Ink. All Rights Reserved.
No portion of this work may be copied, retransmitted, reposted, duplicated,
or otherwise used without the express written approval of the author.



The Blood of Ravnius


“Our enemies will cower at our name!” Ravnius cast his voice over us, a glory and a promise to a downtrodden people. “Ride behind my banner! We shall read the future in their blood!” All of us, soldier, hunter, herder, slave, raised our fists to the sky, shouted our daring to the heavens.

After the acclamations it fell to we four advisors to consult on strategy and tactics. We finished in two days. In our zeal the preparations for armaments and supplies were complete in three. On the morning after a feastday, Ravnius rode under his red and gold pennants, before a bristling forest of spears, pikes, and scythes, an army large enough to terrify the gods.

At Trest, the first battle, our determination crashed upon the enemy like a hundred oceans. Their superior numbers were no match for our rage. The plains were streams of blood, over which Ravnius proclaimed “See! See the future! Blood does not lie!”

At the Battle of Mount Senneth the enemy’s halls burned as a crowd of survivors fled. It was less satisfying, the victory more easily won. Advisor Thorki said he had seen the future in blood, a future unrecognizable, filled with absurd figures in strange clothes, riding their mounts backwards.

At the Battle of Hotsk children wailed at their parents’ deaths before meeting their own. Advisor Velnnen commented on the trees growing in ponds of red. In the reflections he claimed he saw the ghosts of the slain hung by their own torn garments, swaying in the branches, gaping yet silent.

At the Battle of Pon-ju-rabsi there were few to vanquish, tales of our conquests spreading like a plague on the wind. We killed without joy, plundered nearly empty vaults without greed. Advisor Baln would not sleep, his sight filled with scarlet mists that roiled and moaned but whose voices meant nothing.

After the fight, if such it could be called, at Jianng, I tried to divine the future in crimson pools. No visions came. I saw only submerged and broken pots of the marketplace, drowned embers of household fires, splintered tools of farmer and smith. I watched crows patrol the bloody shore, gleaning shreds of flesh and bits of bone. In them I finally did see a future told in blood.

That night the four advisors, Thorki, Velnnen, Baln and I, convened around our campfire. The decision was quick and final. We strode to the great tent and threw the covers open.

“What brings you here?” Ravnius demanded.

“You have lied to yourself and to your people,” said Thorki.

“This ceaseless killing can serve no purpose,” said Velnnen.

“The gods turn their faces in shame,” said Baln.

“What! We are history’s mightiest victors! Our deeds will echo through the ages!” Ravnius glared with flat black eyes. We remained still. “Are you warriors? Or have you cowards nothing to say?” Flanked by my comrades at arms, I advanced, raised my sword, and spat his words in his face.

“Blood does not lie.”



4 comments:

No Celery Please said...

Nice!

echos of "it was a mistake when I voted for the war" - did you mean that?

lots of good imagery too.

I might have had only one battle per advisor, but that's not a big thing.

tiff said...

I loved this.

One tiny thing: can you wedige the word "saying" into the second to last line? That way it would be clear that our narrator uttered those words to Ravnius. It's so small as to be silly, but it would help with the conversational tone of the last third of the story.

Other than that small thing, I think this is one of the best you've written.

shari said...

Oooo, I think I liked this the best:

"I saw only submerged and broken pots of the marketplace, drowned embers of household fires, splintered tools of farmer and smith. I watched crows patrol the bloody shore, gleaning shreds of flesh and bits of bone. In them I finally did see a future told in blood."

The only thing that I can suggest is a re-work of the second paragraph. I had to read it a few times to figure it out. Maybe it is just me....

It was wonderful and very vivid. Good job, Kingfisher.

tiff said...

OOooo! You 'fixed' it!

Now, please effing comment on mine?