Trial 3: Dreams of The Last Victory--Part 2

Khazim's spear sinks into the orc's chest, its orange eyes bulging with pain. A shriek emits from its maw, death embracing the foul creature with its eternal grasp. The continuing battle around him drowns out the sound, as the brave tribesmen fend off the exhaustive mass of evil that taints their sands. Lost to the symphony of combat, the young warrior is frozen in place, his jade eyes gliding over his comrades and their foes. Síban, at the center of the basin, moves with great dexterity, his red wrap fluttering like the tips of a flame. Orcs fall at the end of each spear-thrust as victims of glory, consumed by men and land that have always known death. They lie here forever, entombed by the sands of time.

Khazim's gaze shifts again: Lûg, desperate to maintain cohesion, attempts to move about the field of battle and intervene where orcs cannot hold their ground. His scarred lips part widely, to relish with vim the slaughter that lies before him. The large orc gyrates furiously, claiming the limbs and lives of Haradrim in a whirlwind of raw power. Braver men face the total sum of his prowess, and find themselves face-first in the sea of bloodied grains. Orcs, ravenous as they come, are emboldened by this charged display of aggression, their hearts restored with such cruelty. These foolish warriors perish against a force that will triumph over the noble, yet fruitless sentiments of Man. With each death, in the clash of these truths, the tempo of mortality quickens. Every loss takes something from those who live beyond it.

As Khazim's eyes move to his fallen enemy, his nose senses a stronger odor: three orcs scaling up the dune greet him with their swords and axes bent like rows of sharp teeth. He reaches for his spear, but his hand pulls to no avail. The orcs come closer, their eyes brimming with lust for his blood and spit flying from their parched lips. Without his spear, the Haradrim is prey, and he falls backwards, using the corpse as a temporary barrier from his foes. Before they cross the threshold of his previous kill, the sands begin to darken and the skies flood with the color of red. The orcs and Haradrim, unaware of this phenomena, continue to battle in their new environment, and his attackers close in on his form.

They strike at him, their blades hacking into his garments and ripping at his flesh, but Khazim feels nothing. His eyes view the blood-red sky, the sounds of war retreat from his ears, and his body remains still. Suddenly, he is standing again, next to his spear which is embedded into the same orc. The battle rages on, and a few feet away lies his body, crumpled into the sands and covered in blood. The orcs are nowhere to be seen as he approaches, and his jade eyes linger upon his own form. He drops his shoulders, disheartened not at his own passing, but that he passed as a warrior, taken by political deception and forgotten by the nature of time.

He looks up from his body and watches the others, their beings shifting, swinging, ducking and shoving, engaged in a dance to the tune of their final hours. Yet, no one could hear them, and who would see a victory or a defeat? What was the tribe to gain? What of his own needs? What good is a war if all man does is lose something from it?

As death claims more combatants, they do not fall: instead they evaporate into floating, black clouds that try to resemble Man, but can only come close to its image. Khazim stumbles backwards, taken by these transformations. Before he can fully respond, the battle is over, and every warrior has joined the school of entities which swim aimlessly before him.

The silence gives him a moment to think. He scans the battlefield, the bodies now claimed by layers of sand. Their legs, arms, and weapons peek out from beneath the mounds, though it is not as if any would ever see them again. The black clouds--spirits, he would decide to call them--levitate over the fallen as if to examine their fates. Khazim walks over to his own corpse again, and falls to his knees. These were spirits in more than just name; they had come to see if anyone remembered them, or even given them a hole to rot in. They did not, and there would be no one to do so for as long as Middle-earth plays host to life. It is at this realization that he stares at his own left hand as it evaporates into a misty, black cloud. He gasps, eyes full of panic, looking up to find something from the others: recognition, sympathy, or aid.

There are none. As his body shimmers and fades into darkness, he cries out in desperation, but there is no one to hear of his plea.

Khazim shoots up from the jaws of his bed, screaming with the force of a wailing mother. Shirtless and awash with perspiration, he cannot contain his breathing. To recover from his vision, he slides over to the side of his bed, feet planting gently against the wooden floor of his bedroom. He saunters groggily to the stand nearby, acquiring a cup full of water he prepared for himself the hour before his slumber, and downs the liquid in a few thirsty gulps. He places the cup down upon the stand, and his own buttocks upon the bed. Checking his hand to make sure it was not black smoke, he places his right hand upon his forehead and exhales with distress.

This is not how he dreamed of the last victory.