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Loss in the Wastes (Kelaraa Mythos)

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The ceramic rectangular pot lay cracked and discarded upon the ground. It had been dropped, splitting either side in two, dark, but fertile, soil scattering itself across the hard stone floor. It had once been lifeblood to this little Bonsai tree; now, it would die like the rest of the wasteland.

Derza’Lott stood in a pool of crimson blood. He held the mangled Bonsai with his free hand, his other clutching a curved dagger. The dagger dripped even more blood onto the wet floor. Derza did not look at what he had done. He had seen it far too many times before. Any extra would surely drive him to madness. That would end it all.

Maybe that’s what I want? Derza crushed the Bonsai in his hand, shredding its last grip on life. It would feel pain no longer. It would not need remorse. Derza envied it.

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The door to the now decimated hovel was resting on its final hinge. A soft shove sent it collapsing to the ground. Normally, the soldiers would have winced at the sound, but no one could summon such an emotion now.

For a year now, he had fought in the Loyalist army against the rebels of the North. His family’s pride, as well as his own, at being able to fight for the Warlord, diminished his fear of death. He eventually learned that it was not his own death that he should have feared.

The house he stood in was charred to cinders. Bullet holes in the walls allowed in extra light. The residents wouldn’t need that light. The red puddle sloshed as he stepped out. His boots were painted red. For all he knew, they could have always been red. He could hardly recall when they were natural leather brown.

The sky was gray, as it always was. Rain fell, but no one paid it any mind. No one could ignore the loss they had caused. There was no justification for what they had done. Dried blood still stained his blade. He sheathed it without caring about rust.

A younger soldier lay in a corner, his arms wrapped around his legs. He muttered to himself, tears streaming down his face. His jacket too, was stained with blood. Derza was one of the few who did not keen or vomit. He had done too much already. He knew he could not change what he had done. He couldn’t justify all the loss he had caused. All he could do was keep on living, hoping for an end.

A horn sounded in the distance. Hard-faced officers immediately jumped into action. A glimmer of hope rose up in him. More horns sounded as the soldiers who had massacred the wasteland village darted to defensive positions. Those who couldn’t cope were left behind.

Derza did as ordered, taking a spot by a cobbled wall. Marching could be heard in the distance, thunderous steps coming ever closer. Officers were still bellowing orders till the one closest to Derza fell dead, a bullet in his chest.

Horns and marching turned to shouts and war cries as the rebel hosts charged to avenge their families. Derza fired upon them. For as much as he wished to die, he would go down fighting. For all the loss he had caused, he did not deserve an easy death.

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