My heart is shattered, my stomach churning. I look up, and the sun is shining brightly through the effluvium of dead, dying soldiers, drawing buzzards and crows to the clash of warriors.

I shudder as I think back, into my life, trying to grasp at some strand of comfort as the ineluctable draws near.

Visions slide by my eyes, though they be glazing over. My paws clutch at my side, where my life's blood flows from a ragged gash, my strength flagging, my life ebbing.

I see an impudent little fox pup, strangely enough with my fur markings, gamboling with another pup. I stare at them as I lay on my back, realizing that I never got to know my brother, where he went to, our lives taking divergent paths at an early age. My chest rises and lowers laboriously as I sigh, remembering the commander's words, this was a minor incursion, with no real risks foresighted. I sensed nervousness from him, but I never took it to be circumlocution. I look back, I remember his assidious, meticulous ways, how he would brook no failure from his troops.

I gasp, I cannot see anything but blurry greys as I try to sit up, more blood oozing from beneath my clamping paw, I utter a great cry, I grow insane, hysterical, I know it, but why? Damnitall, why? I gasp through a shuddering sob as her face, my vixen's face pops to the forefront of my mind, I rage at my armor, once so proud and strong, now the cause of my death, rent by a human's sword, oh why? I promised her, I swore I would return, but why, why am I being forced to renege on my probity, my sacred honor, my pledge, my LOVE for my mate? Oh Lord, Guardian of the Wild, why?

 I sink back, crying, sobbing as I realize, but I must not submit. I can't feel my legs, my cramping paws, the pain of my wound, I can't smell the choking stench of corpses, I can't hear the clash of steel and the war cries of warriors, but my heart aches as I die. I failed to keep my pledge to my mate, I am lost. My last ounce of strength, and I ask..... why...?

Story by Jason Thompson, Copyright Jason Thompson

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