|Stillness and Breath|
|Summary:||When the Battle of the Trident is done, a fifteen year old boy finds himself with an important duty.|
|Shores of the Trident|
The handle of the dagger had warmed to his palm, and without the chill pressing into his skin, the weight of it was nearly comforting. His feet crunched softly in the leaves and dirt, the rhythm of his passing awkward and irregular for the necessity of stepping around and over so many things.
The Trident was quiet in the way spaces became when battles were done but nature was not yet convinced. And why should it be, really? It was blood that watered the ground, now, and the sounds of swords and horses were not so far gone. Leoline stepped carefully, respectful of the limbs of the fallen as he moved among them. They would be buried soon, another task he would undertake, but not until this one was complete. One thing at a time. One foot in front of the next.
A chest was rising and falling, and now that Leoline had found it, he could hear the accompanying gurgle. Blood inside lungs. He would be drowning, slowly, in his own liquids. It was no gentle way to die. Leoline stepped over to the body, lowering himself to his knees near the fallen man's shoulder. The eyes were half-glazed already, but they moved to look at the boy's face and, then, the dagger in his hand.
"P…" the sound was a red bubble popping at the man's lips. "Puh," he tried again, "Puh-lease."
It was difficult to tell whether the man was begging for his life or for some other service, and the uncertainty gave Leoline a beat of hesitation. But then the chin lifted in offering, and the unspoken question was answered.
He remembered, when he was younger, watching his father slaughter chickens. His mind recalled the motion; his hand followed. The man's pale throat bloomed red and the gurgling intensified, but just for one heartbeat, two, and then his life was gone and there was only one more corpse to be buried. Leoline watched the eyes, the way they shifted from yearning to empty, and when he had seen his fill, he pressed a soft kiss to the once-man's forehead.
Then he straightened, stood and began searching for the next one.