The anguished cries of fallen soldiers echoed across the battlefield, mingling with the noise of skittish horses and whizzing arrows. One lone soldier, however, seemed to be holding her own against the odds. She hacked and slashed as they came at her, her long blonde hair whipping about like a white rope. It didn't seem to matter how many she cut down; there was always another to replace.
This war had been inevitable. For years the signs had all been there; the internal political turmoil, the invasions and assassinations…but she had chosen to ignore it. She paused briefly as the soldier flow stemmed a bit and she looked to the devastation around her. The end had come at last. The grand kingdom of Kievan Rus was dying.
Kiev turned her attention back to the battle at hand. Fresh back up from the Mongol forces had arrived and were cutting down what little remained of her army. Kiev wiped the blood from her face and with a roar charged back into the fight, though she knew it was hopeless. But she was Kievan Rus! She was no coward and would die fighting till her last breath. She thought of her children…her precious children whom she'd probably never see again. If only she had heeded the obvious warnings…if only…
A strange cry rang out against the clash of metal, a voice so familiar to Kiev. She completely forgot her enemies before her and whipped around, panic on her previously serious face.
"Russia!" she screamed over the battle, fighting to hide her fear. "No! Go back! It's not safe here!"
"No, Mama! I want to help fight too!"
Russia ignored his mother's continued pleas for him to go back, running towards her with a short sword in his hands. A Mongol survivor spied the child and charged at him, bow raised to kill. Russia fell backwards from the Mongol, sudden terror on his little round face. The Mongol cocked his bow, ready to shoot when he suddenly fell forward, dead.
Kiev pulled her sword from the soldier's cold corpse, having barely made it in time. She ran to her son, kneeling down amongst the bodies to check if he'd been injured.
"Russia, do not ever ignore me like that again, do you understand me?" Her voice was harsh, but she was relieved.
"But Mama…," Russia started to protest, but Kiev gave him a very stern look.
"No. What about your sisters? Are you going to leave them all alone?"
Russia looked away from his mother's blood splattered face. "I want to help you, Mama…"
Kiev shook her head firmly. "No. This is not your war. Please go home."
Russia's violet eyes suddenly widened. "Mama, watch out!"
Thanks to the constant hours of fighting, Kiev's nerves were a bunch of raw ends. She twisted her body so fast it was almost a blur and cut down the would-be sneak attacker. More were coming; reinforcements no doubt and Kiev saw with sorrow that her own forces were woefully lacking in numbers. Kiev stood, pushing her son behind her and telling him to stay down.
The Mongols were getting closer. Kiev mustered the last dregs of her strength and charged at her enemies, desperately trying to fend them off but her stamina was waning fast. Already her vision was blurring from exhaustion and blood loss and her limbs felt like lead weights. So exhausted and so focused on protecting Russia was she that she didn't notice another archer notch his bow.
Kiev beat in the face of a Mongol with the pommel of her sword, sweat flying from her brow. He fell amongst the countless bodies of Mongols and Kievans, never to rise again.
"Kievan Rus shall not fall! I am strong! I am-UGWAHHH!"
Three eagle fletched arrows sliced the air, practically whistling and embedded their iron tips into Kiev's back. Her hair snapped from its binding, flying across her bloodied cloak. She fell, sprawled across the blood soaked ground, unmoving, her sword just inches from her limp hand.
"MAMA!" Russia's scream resonated across the suddenly still battlefield. The fighting had ceased on both sides when Kiev was struck down. The soldiers of Kiev seemed to be in shock; their great leader had fallen! The only sound was the unstiffled sobs of Russia.
"Mama! Mama!" Russia tugged on his mother's clothes, desperately calling her name. His eyes were already red with tears.
"Russia…" Kiev's weakened voice wafted from her cracked lips, barely audible over the crackling of pyres. Russia leaned in closer, hope in his eyes.
Kiev smiled at her son, curling his smaller hand into her own blood soaked one. "My dear sweet Russia…I'm sorry…so sorry…"
"No Mama, don't talk like that! You're gonna come home with me! With all of us!"
Russia was beginning to cry again. Kiev gave another feeble smile. The light in her eyes was already fading. "My dear Russia…promise me…you'll look after…ngh…after your sisters for me…please…promise me that…okay? …Promise…me…Russia…"
Kiev's hand tensed for a moment before going slack. The tears streamed even harder from Russia's eyes as he bawled into her chest, squeezing her hand tightly as he could. His other hand took hold of the scarf she wore; a birthday present from his older sister Ukraine.
Someone roughly grabbed the collar of Russia's coat, pulling him away from his mother's body. Russia struggled against the grip, holding tightly to his mother's scarf. The cloth, weakened by blood, tore and Russia was dragged across the ground.
"NO! MAMA! MAMMAAA!"