This scene contains violence.
Overhead, a livid sun bore down on a white, rocky beach beset by a turbulent ocean.
Gaul Von Drachen sat up, and spat out sea water.
His entire being hurt. Everything hurt. Being himself simply hurt.
His whole existence was hurt. But it was fine enough. He was alive.
Recovering some sense of what had transpired, he stood up.
Farther down the shallows on the shore, he saw another, familiar body.
Absentmindedly, he picked up a crab from the sand and threw it at the man.
Gutierrez cried out and struggled monumentally with the crab on the wet shore.
Von Drachen walked past him, reassured knowing that he was still alive in some form.
He started to walk.
Time had lost most of its meaning to him. Owing to the heat, and maybe thirst and now perhaps malnutrition, depending on how long he had been out, Von Drachen’s world was a blurring, shifting mess, and the seamless, endless landscape of the Ayvartan beach seemed to play endless tricks on his mind. For example, in the distance, he thought he saw a pair of beautiful young girls, in shining silver outfits, waiting on the beach.
They were not waiting for him; he figured they would know right away he was just not interested. Nymphs must have had some way to parse which men were worth eating.
As he walked past, however, he tripped on a stone, and nearly fell.
However, the taller of the nymphs seized him, and they laid him down on the beach.
“Is it an enemy soldier?” asked one.
“Without a gun he’s not an enemy anything. He’s just a victim.”
“You’re far too kind Gwen. Jeez. He could be dangerous.”
“He looks like you could snap him in half. Come on.”
One of the girls loomed over Von Drachen. She had a shining face and golden hair.
“I am known Gwendolyn.” She said, in tormented, slow Ayvartan. “Are you forsaken–”
“Good god, the word you want is lost. Lost. Potea.” He shouted in elvish.
Gwendolyn drew back and kicked sand in his face.
She stormed off.
“Now, now.” said the other girl, darker-haired, more severe-looking. “Things just got interesting here. So you speak Lubonin, huh? Where did you wash up from, stranger?”
Von Drachen spat out the salt on his tongue, and delivered a surprisingly swift reply.
“I’m General Gaul Von Drachen of the Cissean-Nochtish combined Allied forces–”
“Forget that Drachen jerk Lydia; Lydia, look!”
On the beach, that awful Gwendolyn girl suddenly pointed out to sea.
Lydia looked over the ocean and smiled.
Von Drachen struggled to crane his head to his side.
When he did, he saw in the distance the massive figure of a Vittoria-class battleship.
He grinned. He laughed.
He laughed with such cadence Gwendolyn and Lydia were disturbed.
Both of them seemed ready to kick sand in his face again.
And yet, lying on the sand, injured and dehydrated and defeated, Von Drachen laughed.
“You won this time, Madiha Nakar! But there will be such a splendid infinitude of battles! So much chaos! Is it the sun, or does it look like a glorious future is ahead of us?”
It was not the most rational thing to do, but he reveled in it.