By: Danica Power
The field was beautiful.
Miles and miles of land had stretched before ones’ eyes, rolling over small hillocks, slight mounds dotting the otherwise perfectly flat earth. The grass over it all grew thick and lush and high, reaching skyward like a thousand emerald ribbons being drawn to the heavens while still tied firmly to the ground. This image was made even more spectacular on days when a slight breeze slithered through the verdant strands, turning green fields into a grassy mirage, giving them the appearance of having transformed into a strange green sea or even stranger, rippling smoke. Unlike the sea which it could nearly, but not quite, be mistaken for, the field did not have the oceans’ graceful violence; it was softer, quieter and a great deal less threatening.
The green was broken up here and there by wildflowers, sprinkled as generously as stars in the sky. Purples and yellows were splashed most frequently, but blues and reds could be seen as well. The presence of the wildflowers usually meant the field was alive with movement, even without the transformative wind. Whether it was the flutter of butterflies or the hum of bees or other insects, the field spoke of life. The blue sky that shone overhead looked down on the living canvas; a beautiful piece of the world where everything was alive, and just being there made you feel whole, and at peace.
Yes, the field was beautiful, once.
The land now, however, was silent and dead.
The grass broken and trampled, the wildflowers buried beneath churned up dirt and the bees and butterflies chased away. The loss of the field was tragic, but a field could come back to life, return to its splendour.
The bodies that lay scattered across the field, however, would never return to their lives, never recall former glory; the life of the field could be resurrected, the lives of the dead soldiers were lost forever.
Hours before, the field had been full of the sounds of dying warriors; pleas and mutters to unseen angels and demons, cries for loved ones, sobs of pain and regret. Dying breaths.
Even before that, the field had been filled with the sounds of battle and of those cut quickly from their lives, without even a chance to whisper a prayer for them or another before they just ceased to be.
But that had been hours and hours ago.
Now, the field was empty of all life; even the carrion birds, who’d been circling overhead as the battle raged, had been chased away by the figure who wove among the bodies.
The cloaked figure made a strange sight, walking amongst the dead, like a reaper of sorts, with their black hooded head. Yet they did not have the imposing spirit of a bringer of death. The figure, in fact, was slight and walked with a strange sort of grace, hesitating over bodies as if saying a prayer.
Indeed, as her hood slipped back to reveal a shock of golden hair, one might think her an angel, and indeed it would explain the strange ethereal feeling she gave off, appearing almost to float above the bodies.
Or perhaps she was simply a looter, come to rummage amongst the corpses of war for small, sellable tokens or clothes.
She sought nothing so mundane.
Underneath the hair, beautiful features matched her beautiful locks. Her chin was small and narrow, delicate even. This led upwards into wide, high cheekbones that reminded one of a lion. Her lips and nose were statuesque; lips sensuously plump and a nose that matched her chin; narrow and delicate. This all, along with downcast eyes, unseen at first, were framed in a heart-shaped face.
She seemed normal in appearance. Or, at least, she seemed almost natural, save for some strangely unnaturally beautiful features. This idea of strange beauty would be dispelled by whoever looked at her as soon as her gaze lifted.
Her eyes were normal shape and size, of course, and sat where eyes should, but where a usual person has a dark, deep pupil and dynamic iris marking their orbs, she lacked an iris and her pupils were reflective, like those of a cat. Also like a cat’s, they were diamond shaped. And instead of white cornea, her eyes shifted with blackness, like dark pungent smoke caught in a marble.
What was strangest of all, however, was the strange emptiness in her eyes.
Despite this, her eyes being that strange colour and depth, there was a sweetness about her, an inexplicable innocence which contrasted heavily with the blood spotting the hem of her cloak and the oppressive darkness surrounding her.
It was not just an emotional darkness of so many dead, but a more tangible darkness, as well. The sky was deeply clouded, deep and purple like a fresh bruise. The clouds hung heavy in the sky, threatening rain. And indeed, thunder could be heard echoing overhead, like angry mourners looking down on the dead field and demanding, furiously why? The darkness was illuminated occasionally by lightning, but the sharp forks that leapt from cloud to cloud did nothing to dispel the darkness completely, and instead cast the ground below in an eerie light each time.
The rain, however, would wait. The woman had a job to do.
She picked her way over everything as if unaffected by it. And indeed she was.
For death was her summons.
She was a collector of souls.