They marched into the city at sunrise. Iven never saw the characteristic pastels of the dawn, the dust from their attack hung in the air creating monsters of the ruined buildings. Everything was grey.
Occasionally a man would make a low joke accompanied by a hum of a laugh. A spark in the mire he hoped would take. It never did, the generous would turn a smile but most ignored the noise, peering instead at the monoliths around them. They were too large, Iven thought, and kept his eyes to the rubble at his feet.
The men marched through what had once been a city with men like them inside of it. Iven didn’t think of those men, he thought of his stomach and that his feet hurt.
The grey air around them darkened and the men pulled themselves together for the night. They huddled and ate around a fire. The bright flames made the dust shine like glass in the air between them.
With the ruins cradling them, the men began to fall asleep. All but Ivan who kept his eyes closed, pretending to sleep. But he dreamt against the dark of his eyelids, wondering what happened outside of them.
Iven watched the monoliths move about on reaching and knobbed legs, bent like a bird’s. He watched metal and fire tear through the bodies of the men like him. He watched the monoliths watch as their men died and new men marched into their places and slept.
The morning came with less dust. The grey powder settling in the night and now rising in clouds as they walked over the ground. Iven could see the monoliths better now if he looked up at them. He didn’t. Iven kept his gaze to the rubble and the dust.