On what might have been an otherwise beautiful day, all around Narielle there was fire, smoke, the screams of pierced horses, and the screams of dying men underscored by the snarls and curses of their killers.
She no longer knew which side she was on as the entrails of her attacker splattered at his feet; he sank to his knees in the gory muck, looking at her in total surprise, and something that might have been respect.
Before a fresh wave of killing reached her from the perimeter, she took a moment to draw a ragged breath though the air was redolent with the scent of slaughter.
Scattered body parts were strewn across the field like faded, stained flower petals, their edges brown and curved in on themselves, as if the act of dying on a battlefield was still somehow a private thing.
On what had turned out to be a beautiful day, all around Narielle were the family and friends accumulated over a young woman’s lifetime; they were dressed in the colors of the daylight itself, whites and yellows and bright blues.
Narielle smiled: If they don’t shine as brightly, it’s not for lack of trying.
A breeze wafted the smell of her flower basket back to her just as the music for the bridal wedding procession began. She breathed deeply, dreaming of her own someday wedding, some years hence.
Caught up in the excitement, she turned to see her sister, and actually gasped at the sight. Resplendent and regal in her dress, the brightness of her sister’s smile was only exceeded by that of her eyes, which found Narielle’s, and softened with sisterly love.
Narielle wiped a tear from her eye, returning the smile, and turned to start her heralding journey, strewing the bright petals in her sister’s path. Taking a quick look at the groom, Narielle noted he was handsome in his own right, but he seemed a mere shadow cast by the light of her sister.
His smile was very like the one the boy down the road wore whenever Narielle had occasion to pass by his house, though he never spoke; her own shy glances only made him blush and return his attention to his loud and boisterous friends. They teased him mercilessly, but that never made him stop looking.
Her part in the wedding done, she sat enraptured through the rest of the ceremony, but just before they began their vows, she chanced a look back at her handiwork, to see it now succumbed to the caprices of nature: some petals of the flowers were caught in the wind, some had rolled away to the side, some rolled off the carpet into the low grass, and some had been trampled by her sister.
She found herself saddened, knowing they once had their own bright beauty, had been full of their own light, and now they curled in on themselves to die.
Beauty dies. Narielle looked at her sister as she spoke her vows to her shadowy groom. But the memories of it live.
A soldier with a battle ax took wide steps over the corpses, smiling at her with malicious intent as he stalked, crouching low as he approached her.
In the light of the fading sun, Narielle saw her own shadow on the ground, the point of her sword in its center. She looked over her handiwork as the soldier cleared the last corpse and ran toward her.
She took her stance and lifted her sword to fight, the very flower girl of War himself, this time to scatter not blossoms, but souls.
Her own smile was just as feral, and she hoped her own shadowy groom was pleased with his scarlet wedding gift.