A woman dressed in sparse, primitive leathers stands gazing intently into the distance. At her hip, a thick-handled knife is sheathed. In the same hand, a bow can be seen, clearly fashioned for distance as well as power. Blue paints adorn her skin in swirling tattoos, her long hair tied back and up at the back of her head. Behind her, a mixture of sunlight, smoke and fire leaves the world a grey/orange screen, keeping her from the rest. Her scowl shows that she is displeased, or perhaps intently focused, though she appears read for a fight.
Shanna scanned the battlefield, desperately trying to find him. Everything was smoke and shrill metal on metal, the cries of dying men and she wasn't sure what it was that made her eyes water the most. Water, she told herself. Because she wasn't crying. She didn't have time to cry.
Her legs carried her swiftly, dextrous enough to avoid the piles of collapsed bodies, the remains of dead animals and the dangerous, haphazard angles at which discarded weaponry still made itself lethal. Her armour, light and flexible, allowed her to move amongst them without much problem, though it offered little by way of protection should she be noticed. Though the sun hung low in the sky and busied itself with painting the clouds in a myriad of colours that would, under other circumstances, be breathtaking, she found it hard to concentrate on anything besides scanning the faces of the fallen.
When she heard it however, she stopped dead in her tracks.
It was a rasping sound, then a cough and a gasp. She whirled to look over at the direction from which the sound had come, only to be filled with a dread that seemed to vindicate every moment of horror tucked away in her mind for processing later. From beneath a pile of enemy soldiers, one body attempted to distinguish itself by crawling into the open. Hands scrabbled weakly, pathetically against the ground, drawing shallow gouges in the earth and the trampled grasses. Blood ran in enthusiastic rivulets from wounds about the crown of the head, the corners of his face where the familiar angles lived...
And most dangerously from the place where his back was torn open by the enemy axe still protruding from between his shoulder blades.
She ran forward, skidding to a halt in the mud and putting her hands on him, looking for a way to stop the bleeding, to soothe his injury so she might take him home. Surely, there would be no trouble. The could not be. He would come home. He would rest and recover. He would rise in a week and take her in his arms again. He would kiss her lips and whisper his words in her ears and the world would be right. He would be right. He would live and be hers, please, surely, he must!
"Can't... Shanna..." He moaned, coughing again. She decided not to see the droplets of blood that spattered from his mouth.
"I'm here." She pushed the hair back from his eyes, railing inside her head that he wasn't looking at her. What was he looking at, so far away? "My love, I'm here."
"Shanna..." He moaned again, clutching at his chest with one hand and trying to move the plate of leather that rested there. Beneath, she knew, rested the pendant she had sent him with.
"I'm here, my love. I have you. You'll be alright. Please, be careful...."
"Shanna.... Take me to.... Shanna..."
She could no longer call it water. The tears flowed freely, because she knew. She'd seen men on the edge of death before. Always, their last words reflected the things they left behind, the things that mattered most to them. She knew he could not hear her - they never did. All she could do as he cried out for her was to hold him. She bent her head low over him, trying not to sob as she cradled his head close. She listened to him call her name, powerless to comfort him. She listened as his breath grew more and more laboured, powerless to relieve him of his struggle.
Finally, she felt him grow weak, his breath short and his movements vague. Fearing the worst and inundated with panic, she drew back. Let him see her, even like this. Let him see her, even with the paths the tears had drawn on her cheeks, smeared with soot and mud and the blood of her beloved. Let him see her, if only to know that she had not abandoned him, after all. She was here. He was loved.
He blinked up at her, his gaze suddenly focused, sharp and clear and taking her in as though shocked to see her. She'd never been so angry with him in all the time she'd known him, and his confusion now at her distress could not have been more clear. "Oh..." He said quietly. He tried to reach up and brush the tears from her cheeks, but failed. With another sob, she held his hand to her face, kissing his wrist again and again. "There you are..." He said. "You'll have to... forgive me. Not at ... my best..."
The words were the last he ever spoke.
Her wailing could be heard over the length of the field, a shiver coursing through the bodies of ally and foe alike. Anguished screams marked his passing as the light went out and his heart stopped, his breath no longer warm on her face. She quieted slowly, ideas beginning to form in her mind. Blindly, she groped behind her for the bow she knew was close at hand. Gripping it tightly, she stood, a swirling mass of rage and grief with a keen eye and a skilled hand.
Many warriors would die tonight, she promised him. For that was the price, and he had been worth them all.