Ares

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     The concept of death is strange. One second you are living your life to the fullest and the next, you cease to exist. I feared death as a child because I was worried that no one would remember me if I was gone. Growing up, I realized that very few remembered me, even while living. Death was the inevitable end for all things living and after burning for decades towards my own death after being doused, watching the Angel of Death remove a soul from a dying woman, and now carting her body to the nearest city, I was no longer scared. That didn't mean that I liked death, far from it. I wanted to see as little death as possible and now as we entered the new city, I realized that I wouldn't be getting my wish anytime soon. 

     There was carnage everywhere. Blood ran through the streets, pooling in some areas  and flowing freely in others. Buildings burned and women wept in the middle of the city's main road. Children roamed the worn path, some crying for their mothers, others for their fathers.

     "No," my companion murmured before jumping off the wagon and running down the street. He looked distraught before turning down a path and out of my view. 

     I hopped off the wagon and shook my head. This city had been under siege. Someone had laid waste to the inhabitants and burned the homes either as revenge or to make a point. I followed Niketas and saw him weeping as he held a small girl against himself. He touched the girl's face before kissing her cheeks over and over again. She was precious to him, I deduced once I saw the look of relief on Niketas's face. He looked up at me and smiled before holding the girl against himself again.

     "The gods must have sent you, Zrous. I would never have returned home in time if it weren't for you and that woman," Niketas whispered. I wanted to correct the man, to tell him that we were here for some other purpose by our omnipotent Creator, but it seemed like Niketas needed a moment. There would be a time and place to get my message across, it simply wasn't now.

     "What has happened here?" I asked as I helped Niketas place the small girl onto the wagon. 

     "Ares was here," Niketas frowned. 

     "Ares?" I asked and helped the little girl wipe her face with a spare rag. 

     "God of war. He almost got me, Father, but I hid. Like you taught me," The little girl whispered fearfully. 

     "Where?" I asked in disbelief.

     "I hid in the shed. He killed my friend Roxane," the little girl whispered tearfully. 

     "You saw him, Sappho?" Niketas asked fearfully.

     "Yes, father. He smiled. He smiled while stabbing Roxane. Then he-he laughed before cutting off her father's head. He took all the men and killed them in the field across the stream," Sappho said with a whimper. 

     A jinni had massacred an entire city. I was witnessing something I never thought possible. Had this happened before? Had my parents sheltered me from the horrors my kind was capable of?

     "Niketas, stay here with your daughter. I need to see the field," I whispered and grabbed my satchel before making my way towards where the girl had pointed at. It was one thing to have the humans believe that we were gods, it was another to murder these humans to instill fear in them. They were ruling with violence, distorting everything that the jinn stood for. I began to run towards the stream, wading through it to make it to the field as fast as possible. I needed the little girl's words to be untrue. I needed to hold on to a fraction of the ideals I had heard about my community. As I waded through the stream, the smell of iron hit my nose and I realized that the little girl's words could never describe the carnage I was to see.

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