#PhotoStoryPrompt: Army in the Dust

Every Thursday, Radina Valova (@RadinaValova on Twitter) posts a photograph from her amazing collection. Along with the photo, she gives one or two rules, and sets anybody to write a story based on both the photograph and said rules. It’s really fun, and helps keep the creative juices flowing. If you’re interested, just search #PhotoStoryPrompt on Thursdays to join in, or just read the stories put up by authors.

Today’s photo immediately sparked a side story for my current Work in Progress: Mjolnir. Please enjoy!

Radina's Photo
Radina Valova’s photo

Stepping into the cool morning, the first thing that catches Mateus’ eye is the beauty of the mountains behind his home. Ever there, part of his heart. The second thing to catch his eye is the un-solid wall wafting across the entirety of the plains in front of the mountain. The dust reaches taller than a titan’s ass cheek and just as noisy. Mateus grimaces. The courier had not been wrong. War is coming.

He can hear the multitudes marching behind the dust. Mechanical steps hitting the ground in unison. Unwavering. Quaking against the earth with gods only know what intentions. Would they stomp his home to the ground? Burn it? Him? He steps inside and looks at his wife and two boys. The boys look back up at him, questions burning in their eyes. He doesn’t have the answers, and he can tell they see that too. His wife, Ayna, hands him his sword.

“We will protect our land,” she says.

“Yes, but we will fall doing so.”

“Then kiss me before we step outside.”

Mateus grabs Ayna with his free arm, pulling her close, and kisses her hard. A tinge of guilt passes through him as he realizes how little attention he’s paid this amazing woman. So he kisses her longer, deeper, with all his love and passion. She would not die before knowing she consumes his heart.

When their lips slip from contact, Mateus turns straight around and heads outside. The boys follow him, Ayna bringing up the back. Mateus watches her take one last look inside. He’d wanted to do the same, but couldn’t bear to think about all they were about to lose. It isn’t much insofar as materials, but the memories here are strong. Just like Ayna. Just like their boys.

The sky is clear and even the clouds run from the coming army. Mateus’ faith is faltering. He wants to run. He wants his boys to live. They’re still miles ahead of the army. He looks at Ayna. She looks at the boys, then back at him. He nods. Placing his sword against his shoulder, Mateus begins walking down the dirt road.

Two steps in, a deafening shriek of thunder falls over his ears, physically knocking him to the ground. The sound sweeps over the land, bending blades of grass and even halting the mechanical steps of the army beyond the great dust wall. Mateus’ heart fills with boldness, steeling him for the fight to come. Clouds sweep into view from nowhere. Rain pours over Mateus as though baptizing him. Lightning crashes across the sky, creating a wave heading towards the army. When it passes through the dust wall, screams interrupt the blast of thunder.

Could it be? Ragnarok passed ages ago. Thor died in that mighty final battle. Midgard was born anew. Who could possibly wield his hammer now?

“Back to the house! We will protect our home regardless of the outcome. Come boys! Come Ayna!” Mateus hollers across howling wind and rain.