Fire and blood. Merian shrieked her pain and fear and indignation as only a child could blend them. Her eyes were fixed on him, her arms reaching out. Marcus fought his paralysis, forced his arms to reach for her, and in moving them, woke himself.
The screams of the dead lingered in the cool air as he lifted himself up, still expecting in his half-dream to see the wheat fields and high, stately windmills of Ellis. Instead, the wide star-crowded sky of Birancour arched above him, the looming darkness of the mountains behind him to the east without even the suggestion of dawn. The burning smell of memory gave way to the sweet, astringent scent of ice lily and the distant presentiment of salt that was the sea.
He lay back in his bedroll and waited for the dream to fade. By long habit, he attended to his body. The constricting tightness in his throat eased first, then in his chest. The gut-punch ache in his belly faded slowly and vanished. Soon there was only the permanent hollow beneath his ribs, and he knew it was safe to stand.
They were battle scars. Some men lost a leg or a hand. Some men lost their eyes. Marcus had lost a family. And just as old soldiers knew when rain was coming from the ache of healed bones, he suffered now. It didn’t mean anything. It was just his own private bad weather, and like bad weather, it would pass.
-Daniel Abraham, The Dragon’s Path
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