A Casualty of My Own War
Veena Kashyap | Hong Rui Choo
The scent of copper from spilled blood mingles with flesh baking in the heat of this summer day, inviting hungry prey to feast on the dead. Sweat cakes strands of hair to my forehead as I pull off the heavy helmet, the length of my blonde locks tumbling across my shoulders. The imposing sun overhead blinds me, making it difficult to survey the spoils of war.
I look down, carefully stepping over the child-like bodies of young boys, marred by black and blue bruises with deep, seeping wounds, lying crisscrossed on the singed grass. Their eyes, still full of innocence, stare up into the blue sky, screams still lodged in their throats. This wretched battlefield will be their final resting place.
The river, now tinted red with blood, is a stark reminder of the lives lost battling the dark evil of my Aunt Morgana. A thousand questions run rampant across my mind. Am I exploiting the Pendragon name to secure loyalty? Is my legacy to rule Camelot as queen, or am I a pawn like my father? A throne seems insignificant in the wake of war’s brutality.
War cries carry across the field, steel meeting steel in loud, fervent shrieks. Yet I feel lost amidst the chaos. Much like the warrior Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, I too question my dharma or duty. Where is my Krishna?
I fling my helmet, freeing my hands in time to grab the hilt of my own sword as the enemy comes charging, the sound of swinging chains from his armor warning me. He lunges forward, aiming for my heart, but I jump back, the sharp tip of his dagger nearly piercing my coat of mail. I slam Excalibur down, knocking his dagger away then plunge the sword into his chest. Shock and disbelief spread across his face and he staggers back, falling to his death.
Seven lives lost at my hands, and I feel ill, bile rising in the back of my throat. My resolve wanes as a war brews within my conscience, feeding my guilt. I am the catalyst for the destruction that surrounds me.
A violent roar rips through the air as searing pain tears my side. I turn and face a new aggressor. His eyes are dark, almost black and his scowl reveals yellow teeth, rotting from decay. The soldier is a man of no more than twenty. Twice my height and width, he towers over me.
He knocks my sword away and grips my shoulder with one hand, plunging his blade into my bowels. A volcano of agony erupts, the explosion shocking my entire system, paralyzing me. My breath catches in my throat as he pushes me to my knees. He pulls his weapon free with slow torment, slapping me away. My cheek slams against the parched soil and slowly, my sight recedes and everything closes in around me.
A casualty of my own war, the irony is not lost as I take my final breath.