Title: Sand
Day/Theme: June 28/08 - at the end of the day, you're another day older(late)
Fandom: Fire Emblem 9/10 | Tellius
Character/pairing: Stefan.
Summary: Another day, another grain of sand in the hourglass. Time means little to him. Stefen centric piece.
Word count: 1,408
A/N: Gauntlet Challenge, 13) The world scorns us. I'm always bitching about Stefan's characterization in fic so here, have some gen. It's a little like...a soliloquy without actual dialogue. Something like that.

The flowers withered
Their color faded away
While meaninglessly
I spent my days in the world
And the long rains were falling.
-Ono no Komachi

The day rises. Stefan rises with it, the cool shades of a desert morning is comforting. By noon it will be unbearable. Stefan watches the jackrabbits with their comically large ears come out from their dens. He could slice them in two, for practice, for a meal, for any reason. He is a predator here, and he does not have justify his killings.

He lets them pass. He is never very hungry in mornings.

He has a store of water within the cave nearby, amphoras of water buried deep in the damp earth where even the fierce, unrelenting sun cannot reach them. But it too will soon run out. In the desert each day is a challenge against his own life. If he were injured or fell lax, one minor mistake could take his life. He lives on a razor edge, for life here is like a constant matching of blades against a far superior opponent. The longer he stays here, in this arid place, the more chance of the wind and sun and heat finally adding his bones to the faded skulls that peek out of dunes.

There are prickly cacti nearby, about a furlong away. If he splits them open, the inner pulp would give sustenance should he ever stoop to that level of need. In the worst of the heat even traveling that small distance would be hellish. So it is in the wastelands he has chosen. .So it is.

He unsheathes his sword and swings it as a greeting to the sun, his constant rival in the battle of his life. A breeze answers. So, the sun and elements taunt his attempts? Amusing. Fitting.
He wonders: How long now? When he first left civilization, he had marked every day upon a wall. It was the beginnings of a plan for revenge. He would return and reclaim his place among them. It was a fantasy, the reason to keep living on in this wasteland. But by now those people who had been his family and cast him out would be long gone.

How long has gone by? Ten years? Twenty? The sand sweeps away all time. It devours whatever it draws in and any marks upon it will be gone within the hour. The desert is without any mercy, and he prefers a place like this, a place without false hope or gentle birdsong. It helps him remember what the world is like, here. Humans are such vicious creatures. Even in their short lives what damage they could cause. Wars could spring up in an instant, until the fibers of their lives were torn asunder. And for what?

For what?

He was curious at the beast in his blood that so repelled them. He had attempted to communicate with them shortly before leaving, but found that they seemed to not speak modern tongue. They walked past, stonily silent. No growls or purring or hissing. The pads of their paws left indentations in the damp soil, but made no sound.

Stefan had marveled at the makeup of them, the sleek, power that rippled under their fur. They were peerless, having no superfluity. A streamlined predator that faced the world fearing nothing.
Or maybe they were simply turning him aside too. Still, a part of him wished to force them into a corner and speak, acknowledge, to see.

Who knew what the outsiders are up to now? Probably some war. Humans are always engaging in wars. Every twenty years or so they fall to squabbling over a bit of land or a woman. Sometimes both were fought for as gold was a fitting price for blood whether material or in the hair of a girl. Peasants were useful pawns in the affairs of nobles. Life wasn't worth much unless the blood that ran through their veins was royal.

And what is his blood worth? Less than a peasants, less than even fodder for the fighting grounds. And to think people claim Ashera is a benevolent goddess in paeans. Only the delusional could think so. The peasants who only had the gods as their comfort before they lived out their purpose to its end, whether under the blade or under the plough. It is all the same in the end, regardless. A death is a death whether with glory or shame.

In is all the same in the end. Bones are picked clean, memories scatter into nothingness.

The sun comes down stringy, like a tress of lead. The rains are coming soon. Flowers will spring up and die within the same short week. Pretty little things, so transient. The water will pool, fresh and clean and decadent for a sparse moment and then evaporate into the same harshness again. A bit of happiness and then a slice to the throat. Merciless. Cruel. That's the sum of life.

He thinks to what his day will be like. It isn't dissimilar to every other day here. When forces drive one to the reaches of the environment, the body becomes animalistic. Soon survival instincts will take over what humanity he ever possessed. Soon he will lose whatever social graces he came to possess. Each day the hourglass is tipped over and another day of his long life slips away. He, unlike the Beorc he spends so much time hating has time to spare. What's the loss of a day when he has thousands to spare?

The desert has given him a different view of the scope of clockwork minutes. A day, a week, an hour. It is all the same here. Without linear bounds time flows seamlessly. A step back and he is in the sands that gathered during the time of the three heroes. A step forward and he is fifteen years ahead, a day the same as any other.

Another day, another grain of sand in the hourglass. Time means little to him. He sifts a bit of time and primordial sand through his fingers. It could turn to glass, cutting and scraping away his flesh. It lines the oceans and makes up the hell that he has banished himself to.

Another day, another day, another day until his bones were washed away. One of these days he'd lose the battle. He looks up defiant towards the sun and the gods who turned their face aside from him. He dares them. Go on, look.. Go on, look at this meaningless life. A swing of silver and his sword cuts through the air. He feels the muscles under his skin, the sleek, superfluity of a predator is in his marrow as well. They say that the humors of beasts are not that of blood, phlegm, choler, and melancholy, but of earth, fire and water. So it is that his is of melancholy and fire, choler and earth. He is ink and water, the parts of him never quite coalescing to a whole. He is separate, yet complete in his spare parts.

Time and sand rattles within his lungs with every breath. The blood and the choler, the earth and the fire each make a world of his own body. A foreign one, filled with desolate, mirthless places. Maybe he created himself. Maybe the whole thoughts of 'gods' was a mere fairy story for children. Maybe he is nothing more than coagulated sand and time stuck together by the chalky bitterness.

The day wanes to dark. The stars and cold comes, for this place is without mercy even in the cooler moments. He eats, he drinks, he breathes and sleeps. He lives another day if only to spite the world which cast him aside. So it is, he wears their scorn with hate and pride. He cloaks himself in it. He clings tight. They are bone white and brown, the colors of desolation. A mere hint of sky flits over them, distant and cloudless as any so-called god.

So it is.