Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Short Story » Dramatic

16+

The God of War

by Nymeria


Warning: This work has been rated 16+.

A war general stepped out of her tent on the hill and looked out over her troops. They looked like ants, milling around between tents, organizing themselves for the invasion that was to happen in the morning. A burly man approached the general from the side.

"The ceremony is ready, ma'am," he said.

"Good," the general replied. She turned away and walked briskly toward the very top of the hill, where one of her men stood nervously, holding a mewing lamb-- a newborn one that was as white as the clouds above. The general took the lamb from the man without a word. She held it to her chest, warm and soft in her hands. She could feel its heart beating.

"Leave me," she told the man, who was looking at her expectantly. "And remind everyone that this area is to stay clear. I'll come down when it's over."

"Yes, ma'am," the man said and scuttled away.

The general positioned herself at the very top of the hill and looked around to confirm her solitude. Satisfied, she knelt on the ground and set down the lamb. She tipped it so that it lay on its side and she held there with one hand. With her other hand, she drew a knife from her belt. The lamb bleated delicately in protest.

The general pushed up her left sleeve and breathed in deeply. Without further hesitation, she carved a horizontal line on her forearm. She watched the blood run down her arm onto her hand and the lamb beneath it. The tiny animal kicked its feet, nervous from the scent of blood.

For several minutes the lamb thrashed, and the general watched her blood stain its white coat. Its kicks grew weaker until the lamb stilled. Its breaths rose shallower under the general's hand, and then they stopped.

The general pulled her hand away from the stiffening corpse and wrapped her arm with the cloth she had brought. Adrenaline and anticipation masked the pain. She stepped back from the lamb and was hit with a wave of dizziness. She fell to her backside and closed her eyes in an attempt to make the world still.

When she opened them, just moments later, her eyes focused on the very human figure kneeling at the other side of the lamb's body.

He was young-- just a boy, she realized. He had messy dark hair and raggedy clothes covered in old blood and dirt stains. He was staring down at the lamb, his hair blocking the general's view of his face. Whoever he was, he wasn't supposed to be allowed up here. Somebody was going to hear some words from her when this was finished.

"What are you doing here?" she asked the boy. He didn't look up.

"You summoned me," he said quietly.

"I summoned the god of war," said the general. The boy looked up from the lamb. His eyes were red, watery, and ringed by dark, tired circles.

"I am the god of war," he assured.

"I. . . what about Ares?" asked the general. She had expected to be confronted by hulking god covered in armor, not a boy who looked ready to drop dead at the slighted poke.

"Ares," the boy repeated with a frown. "Ares is the god of violence and slaughter," he said. "Not war itself."

"Athena?" the general asked. The powerful goddess was her second choice.

"The goddess of war strategy, among other things. Not war itself."

"If you're the god of war, why haven't I heard of you?"

"Because nobody thinks about what really goes on during war until they become the victim of it," the boy-- the god of war-- said sadly. "I was the first victim of the first war. I was human. My family sent me off when I was thirteen. I was thirteen," he repeated. He held the general's gaze fiercely. A tear slipped down his cheek and dropped off his chin to land on the lamb.

"Every time a child's life is taken from them on the battlefield, I'm there," the god continued. "Every time an infant starves to death during a siege and every time a girl is raped by invading troops, I'm invoked. When mothers cry out I hear them. When houses and schools and churches burn, I hear the crackles of those fires, and I've been hearing them since I was slaughtered in Troy."

The boy god stood. He glanced down at the lamb and then back at the general, who still sat with her knees folded under her.

"Every time an innocent is sacrificed so that some general can gain power through bloodshed, I am summoned," said the god in a voice that was neither loud nor soft, only hot and piercing and even.

"I'm sorry--"

"How dare you call upon my name," the god of war said with the last of his strength before sinking back to the ground. His hair fell back into his face and he laid a hand on the lamb's bloody flank.

The general closed her eyes again to shut out the heartbreaking sight. When she opened them, both the boy and the lamb were gone.

She stood, shaking, and fetched her knife. The sight of the blood dripping on it nearly made her sick. She stuffed it back in her belt and stumbled down the hill. Gruesome visions of the battle to come flashed in her mind; a parting gift from the god of war.

She grabbed the shirt of the first person she saw to keep from falling over. The visions continued to appear in bursts, making her dizzy.

"Madam General," exclaimed the person she had grabbed. "Are you all right?"

The general let go of the shirt clutched in her hands and willed her head to stop spinning. The person, a young man looked at her with concern.

"No, I'm not," said the general honestly, as she knew this soldier was only that, and wouldn't attack her for being spooked.

He was a young soldier with a soft face.

"How old are you?" the general asked.

"Fifteen, ma'am. Did you meet the god of war?"

"Fifteen," the general repeated, rubbing her forehead with her non-bloody hand. "When I was fifteen, I spent most of my time riding through the woods with my brother, or terrorizing the local shopkeepers."

"That sounds fun," said the boy good-naturedly. The general looked at him sadly.

"I'm calling off the invasion," she said after a moment.

"What?"

"The invasion. I'm canceling it," said the general, harder this time.

"But--"

"Spread the word," she said. "Tell everyone we're retreating. You're going home."

"Madam General. . ." The boy's brow creased.

"I'm making that an order, soldier. Now go."

The boy jogged off. The general sank into the hillside. She held her head in her hands and watched scenes of soldiers mindlessly slashing at each other on the backs of her eyelids. 


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
12 Reviews


Points: 957
Reviews: 12

Donate
Thu Nov 14, 2019 2:00 pm
Softballgirl333 wrote a review...



Hello Nymeria!

Your imagery is absolutely fantastic I must say. This story was really nice to hear, and I love that you used the real God of War with the explanations of why Ares and Athena were not the true gods of war. I also realized we are never really given character names besides the god of war, and I want to applaud you for that. it is really difficult to have no character names and only use pronouns, but you have successfully done exactly that.

Your character development through this short story is honestly great, seeing her go from the stern and maybe even cold (?) general, to one who is caring and empathetic towards others, was a great transition. It was clear the lesson she learned from the true God of War, and I love how you showed how speaking to the God of War changed her.

The only thing I can suggest is possibly having the interaction between the God of War and the general last a tad bit longer, or have the God of War express more anger towards her for calling upon his name and not knowing how he truly was. I can kind of sense that anger, but I feel like there is more to be added in order to make his exit more powerful.


Overall, this short story truly is fantastic and you are a very skilled writer. I am looking forward to seeing more from you.

Happy Writing,
SBG




Nymeria says...


Thank you for the review!

If anything, I want to portray the god of war as more sad and broken down from all the crap he has gone through and continues to go through than angry, though anger is there too. Either way, I think you're right that I should add a bit more there.





Honestly it is up to you, but after all he is the God of War, and although he may not be like Ares, he still has that pent up anger throughout all of these years, which is something you could describe. Like "he is typically calm and solemn about everything he has been through, so this anger today was frightening." Something along those lines se you get the best of both worlds. :)



User avatar
5 Reviews


Points: 249
Reviews: 5

Donate
Thu Nov 14, 2019 11:30 am
TheRedPencil wrote a review...



This is a really well written story. I really enjoyed how you wrote who the true god of war was. Also THANK YOU for having the General cut her forearm instead of her palm. I'm not sure why most media thinks people should cut their palms when needing blood for anything but it's stupid and I'm very glad that you had her cut her forearm instead.

I'm a little confused about just how the general kills the lamb though. She has her hand on its chest and then it just dies? Does she crush it's chest in? That was the only part that pulled me out of the story to a point where I was wondering about something else for a minute.

Aside from that this is a great story and I'd love to see if/how you would imagine the other Greek gods.




Nymeria says...


First: Thank you!!

The hand cutting thing always annoys me too!! But also I wanted the imagery of blood running down her arm.

I was wondering if someone would ask about the death of the lamb. I wasn't thinking that she crushed it, though that's a valid interpretation and still works with the story, I was meaning it to be more of a magical sort of thing. A sign that mal intent alone causes harm, like how people in charge send their troops to die without fighting themselves. I dunno, I might try to make it more clear.



User avatar


Points: 0
Reviews: 0

Donate
Wed Nov 13, 2019 3:20 pm
thegoldenbird says...



This was such a good story! I haven't read a story like this in a long time. In fact, this was unique, different even from every other unexpectedly twisting story I have read. The plot is excellent and filled with the right amount of emotion and of action. The only thing I could not understand is the identity of the God of War. Who is he? Do enlighten me. Keep writing!

P.S: I have a work of mine which I would like to publish, but I don't have enough points for it. Could you help me with that?




Nymeria says...


I think you're right that I need to develop the character just a little more. Thank you!



User avatar
162 Reviews


Points: 4265
Reviews: 162

Donate
Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:58 am
FireSpyGirl wrote a review...



Hi there!
I really like this story. You kept it simple, without going deep into emotions and in this case I believe that really helps the reader understand the story better, really understand how hard, sad and dire it is. What I love most about this story is how you got into the heart of war, what it is really about, and the things that people don't see and understand. Especially the outsiders. I really, really love that. This is a great story, you wrote it really well, and you definitely have talent. I am looking forward to reading more writing pieces from you. Thank you for this story.




Nymeria says...


Thank you so much! :)




There are those who say that life is like a book, with chapters for each event in your life and a limited number of pages on which you can spend your time. But I prefer to think that a book is like a life, particularly a good one, which is well to worth staying up all night to finish.
— Lemony Snicket