The morning after the battle, we surveyed the damage. Counted our dead.
The air was thick with smoke – gunpowder sharp in the back of my nose – every familiar building resculpted. The library windows were smashed, like eyes put out in a great marble head; every column in the temple disfigured, the stone pocked by missiles, chunks littering the paths in drifts and heaps. The priests burned offerings to the gods, adding the stink of charred bones and gizzards to the haze.
Rand walked ahead, kicking rocks into the gutter. The wound on his arm had reopened, a fresh drizzle of blood mixing with the dirt and sweat, the colour bright in the grey world.
‘Here,’ he called.
At his feet was a lump of rock, carved like the back of a hand, the fingers missing below the first knuckle.
‘Is it all that’s left of him?’ I asked.
‘Find what you can,’ I said. ‘We’ll bury him tonight.’
‘He was carved of granite -‘
I cut him off. ‘Bewitched granite that saved a city, Rand.’
He nodded, smile puckering around an old scar. ‘The times we live in, eh?’
And here to read another story featuring Rand and Mitchell.