Preamble: This is a sequel to The Beginnings (the nineteenth Wend). It will not make as much sense without having read the previous story.

arlia village has burned to the ground
the trees are like houses; the houses are ash.
you laugh. there is nothing funny about this
yet it is somehow funny, in a sick way.
it is too late to be angry, and you are too old
to cry like a child, so you drop your red sword
on the ground and laugh.

much later, at night, in his sleep, he murmurs:
i'm sorry. you look at him. his eyes are still closed.
his hand is still black. if i were an engineer, he says,
i could have built a shield. i'm sorry.

you touch his face, which is wet,
and ruffle his hair, gently. you say,
i think we've cheated enough for a day.

Author's Notes: This was actually finished a LONG TIME AGO, back around July 23, 2009. Well before The Beginnings was finished. However, I felt it'd have more impact if I actually finished the other story first and gave the full context for that, so years later, here we are. IT'S THE FUTUREEEE Then I reread this and hated it, and it took me forever to get it to a decent point (basically deleting stuff, going away, then coming back again months later and going, "oh, I guess it's okay").

The next wend will be more lighthearted. I pwomish