Garus tugged at the sleeve of his mail shirt, straitening it. He wiped the blade of his sword clean and sheathed it at his hip. Today had been no less than a glorious victory for their numbers. They had quickly dispatched some great number of their foes and chased the survivors from the fields. Yes, today had been a remarkable victory.
“Julius,” Garus exclaimed, “We’ve won! We are victorious, my brother. Our enemy has been vanquished upon this field of battle!” As the soldier turned, he found no one standing beside him. His smile faded and he searched frantically from one ally to the next, hoping for some man to turn around and for him to be Julius. But none did. Garus called out for his brother, that he might answer him, telling him that he was alright. But no reply reached Garus’ ears. Panic had already set in and Garus grew frantic in his search.
Garus halted. Finally his eyes rested on the face of his brother, but not in some happy reunion. The young man lay on a cart among other corpses. His body buried slightly by so many more; dead like him. Garus rushed to the cart, shoving bodies away so that he could reach that of his brother. Blood was crusted all over where Julius had been struck on the side of his head. His eyes were closed and his lips were drawn taught. In the excitement of the moment Garus had somehow not seen as his brother received the fatal blow. Yet now, as he looked down at his brother’s lifeless form, the gladness the soldier had experienced in their victory was lost. Such things paled in comparison with the life of his brother.
Garus let his head droop. He touched his brow to that of his brother as tears began to slip from his eyes. The realization that his brother was dead had struck the soldier heavily and he wept. Victory, no matter how incredible, was not worth his brother’s life. For that matter, nothing was.
The soldier rocked the body of his brother to and fro as he cried. The hot tears raced down his face, burning paths through the grime and blood that was caked thereon. His grief was immeasurable. The body he held in his arms was flesh and blood of his own. They had shared so much more than simply a name. And now, his soul had departed and his body would soon be no more than food for the worms of the earth.
Garus carried the body of his brother away from the cart, walking; stumbling from the carnage of where the two armies had clashed in the throes of battle. Where he was walking was entirely superficial, but he wasn’t about to leave his brother in the pile of mangled corpses on the wagon. His brother, his own flesh and blood, deserved more than a soldier’s hurried burial. And Garus would see that his body’s resting place was one of respect and honor. The price of victory was indeed a bitter wine.
(Written In response to Prompt “Medieval Tragedy”)