There are two of them. Leather armor, marching slowly closer. One arm heavy, one shoulder lower than the other. Brothers, defeated, emerging from the brown and black fog of dust and smoke.
The sun crashing behind them, muted in the haze. Their own shadows leading the way before them. Shadows in gray, no longer dark, as half-souled men casting half-empty shadows.
Compacted sand and dust stretching beneath, rutted and hard. Fig trees holding the edges; holding it straight. Fields of wheat stretching beyond the trees and outward, the haze cradling their extremities.
A lone shape in the distance, running at the edge of where the golden, waist-high wheat meets the brownish fog. Arms pumping above the swaying gold. The head turning back then forward again. Disappearing there into the haze, leaving only ripples in the wheat.
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Grim faces watching from the road, seeing it disappear and then glancing at each other. Still marching, slowing now.
The younger brother falling to one knee, hands catching the hard road beneath. Bleeding from behind the leather. One shield too slow, one wound too deep.
Licentia mihi, he is saying.
Nullus, comes the reply. The older hooking his arm inside his brother’s and straightening his back, lifting.
The younger crying out and falling again, this time rolling to his side. One standing, reaching. One lying, head shaking.
Black shapes moving above the haze now. Wings, gliding, watching.
The older standing, looking up. The sun dying behind. The birds waiting above. The brother dying below.
Venit, he says, again reaching down, grabbing the wrist.
Now dragging. Leather armor, crawling slowly closer. One arm pulling, one body lower than the other.