dirt - stone - grass - sand
the sound of my breathing harsh in my ears, filling me, as I try to block out the echo of the voices - too many at once -
she is so pretty, your wife.
heart thudding out of control in my chest
think how lovely she would be with wings.
and the tearing - wet crunch, and copper stench -
all the voices, all at once, and the smells, that metallic horror that congeals in the throat through scent alone, smoke choking nostrils, squeezing chest - a world of blood and smoke -
falling forward, hair spilling over my shoulders, veil of sand and light. Can't hide from memory.
Can't hide from what we did - a world on fire, blood choking the roots of our oldest trees, the smallest of our actions. The very smallest.
Tiala on the battlefield, eyes almost blank, no longer noticing the gore on her spear, on her armor. Bearing the weight of what we had done.
Too much in my head. Too much. Too much.
My hands convulse on - sand. Not the battlefield, not the first grove. The desert.
Sensing my return to the here and now, I jerk my head up - too quickly. My stomach had barely been under control as I witnessed our past, and that tenuous grasp was lost - barely managing to sweep my hair out of the way, I retch, doubled over, tears springing to my eyes.
And look up again, slower, to see Martin crouched in front of me, the compassion in his eyes a reflection of the Father-God's as he gathered Tiala up after the Fall. As he granted her death, and rebirth without knowledge. Because no one should live with this in their head.
Martin passes me a canteen, I drink.
He asks, "Do you remember?"