(Posted this on DIscord too but wanted to add it here in case anyone wants to read it. :) Just a short piece, really--I decided that I wanted to do a piece that was a bit more introspective).
Agawaer walked along the stony shore of the Western Sea, alone. The distant cry of gulls mingled with that of the hissing tide, and a salty wind made his red cloak billow out behind him like a crimson sail.
He reached for his helm, removing it. The feeling of fresh air on his face was almost foreign to him by now. He had worn it for so long, through so many battles, that he had become more accustomed to wearing it than not. It had become more familiar to friend and foe alike than the face that lay beneath it.
The sea foamed around his sabatons and then withdrew, leaving a small multi-colored shell half-buried in the sand. Without thinking, Agawaer reached down and picked it up. When he did, he had a sudden, vividly intense memory of doing the same thing on another shore many years ago, on his childhood home at the shores of Belfalas when he was still a tiny boy. That had been a lifetime ago. Before the war. Before everything. The boy he’d been was nothing more than the ghost of a memory now, but he could still remember the smell of the sea in those far-gone days, and the way thin salty mud had trickled from the shell as he’d grasped it in his chubby fingers to hold it to his ear. Something wonderful had happened when he’d done that, he knew, something almost magical that had made him laugh in delight, but he could no longer recall what it had been.
Agawaer shook the shell to dry and it and, as he had done so many years ago, held it to his ear. An old man’s ear, now, if not in body, then in spirit. War had aged him prematurely, as it had all those it’d touched. But even so he felt his heartbeat speed up, as if—absurd thought—he might hear something in the shell if he listened close enough, something terribly important.
But either the shell was different, or the sea was different, or perhaps something deep inside him was simply damaged or broken far beyond repair. For all he heard was the steady mournful sighing of wind and wave, and beneath it all the deep echoing thud of his heart.
Bitter disappointment, mingled with a rush of inexplicable anger, made his armored hand curl into a trembling fist. Agawaer crushed the shell, letting the fragments fall from his open palm back onto the beach. Then he donned his helm and walked away and never returned to those lands again.