A War of Empires

A War of Empires

by Costas Komborozos


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There is only a silence eternal, unbroken. Moments ago, I heard the sounds of a life not fully lived. Words of love half-formed already evaporate. A semi-cacophonous sea of voices rises suddenly, but then fades back beneath the shifting layers of sand. I have been drifting through the desert aimlessly. This is not a memory. It must be a dream. Then I see it. The grave. It is in the middle of the endless desert, but then I realize there is no middle just as there is no beginning nor end. "Herein lies the unknown." These are the words marked on the shallow grave. They rearrange themselves endlessly in this desert dream. They are carved in near-perfect symmetry, like some halfhearted endeavor to treasure a memory when time seems to be completely erased. The man inside the grave has led me here. He has allowed me to move out of infinity's nowhere and into time's somewhere, from procrastinated life to glorious death. But I am still living. This is a dream. It has to be. He lays here completely covered by the shroud of anonymity, unknown to all but me. I have been moving through the desert for years, and yet I feel myself drifting for mere moments, as though my travels began hours ago. If I died, then this is not Elysium. It simply cannot be. If I am living, this is not home. There are no footprints apart from my own. There are no other travelers here, in the place where the grave of the ultimate traveler lays open below the tides of desert sky. The desecrated grave is now covered by a fresh, thin blanket of brown air. The serene expression on the man's face belies the desert's uninterrupted noise. The desert is slowly in the process of concealing the grave once more. He is the reason I am here. I know it. Then the grave is gone. The hooded man appears before me again. "You cannot continue. You have come far enough."
"Stand out of my way."
The hooded man remains still, and then he holds his sword and directs it at me again. A sword appears in my hand again, and a voice speaks in my mind:
I am not ready to drink from Lethe's stream. I am not ready to join those who have drunk from the stream and begun their new existence as shades, as spirits of forgetfulness. Unloving oblivion gazes upon me. But I am not ready. I am not ready to forget nor to be forgotten. I am not ready to forget the battlefields that filled my earthly existence. I want to remember. Never and forever. That is who I am. An aimless sea of white stretching from nowhere to everywhere. I am a blade breaking and mending in the span of a sweetly shortened breath.
Then I approach the hooded man with my sword. "Warrior unknown, you must stop here. There is nothing else to see. Nothing else to know."
"No, there is more. Much more."

I raise my sword, and he raises his. Our blades clash. I feel a sudden vigor being infused into my limbs, as though I am seeing everything through a great warrior's eyes. I use the sword as though I have used it many times before. The hooded man waves his blade, but my blade stops his every time. I thrust my blade through him, and for a moment I imagine Xerxes' dark eyes glittering darkly beneath the hood. But it is not Xerxes. "You are like the world you discover, half-known and half-unknown. Proceed at your own peril, traveler." The man's dark hood covers him completely, and he vanishes again. The hooded man was not a product of my imagination. I trust my own eyes. I trust them more than my ears.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781721563340
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 06/18/2018
Pages: 168
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.36(d)

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