Badger Mouth’s Blood

7 Jun

by Roger Nakagawa
7th Grade

I had never seen such a sight. Usually, Badger Mouth Pass was magnificent, but not today. Today, I stood there, rooted to the spot, pale, and my eyes stared distantly at the blood-strewn battlefield. Almost every man in our army had died. That made the death toll at least 500,000 people, including Cheng Li Pang. The field that we had found so beautiful in our childhood now looked so ugly in the fading light of the day and the red blanket of blood. I turned behind me, tears streaming out of my eyes, and picked up Li’s lifeless and bloodied body to take him back home and give him a proper burial. I took one last look at Badger Mouth Pass, and fled with Li’s body, never looking back. This is our story.

Li and I had been friends since birth, and had grown to be like brothers. I did have a brother, Cheng Tsu Tao, but he had died at birth. When we were young, Li’s big dream was to travel the world and see all the places that he could. He always was interested in what was around us, wanting to know different lands and features of the different places. The closest place we could get to that was Badger Mouth Pass, and we were always exploring the peaks surrounding the pass. We even found a cave that we made our hideout. We even had a tea set filled with water in case of emergency, and zhu (chopsticks) to eat the food we would bring to the cave. To other kids, Li’s interest just made him seem strange, but to me it was part of what made him stand out.

Even as we grew older, his interest in traveling never weakened, even though there were very few ways to travel great distances quickly. Unfortunately, we were drafted to fight the Mongols in northern China to protect our country’s territory. And yet, Li was always thinking about what it would be like to leave the country and go explore other lands. Unfortunately, that fateful day came before he could experience his aspiration.

It was a dim, cloudy morning, almost as if the sky was predicting the events of the day. Our general called all soldiers to withdraw from the cities and to make a stand at Badger Mouth. Many of our soldiers were overconfident, as we outnumbered the Mongols greatly. Li and I weren’t so sure.

He asked me, “Pan, do you really believe that this is going to be an easy win?”

I answered with as much conviction as I could muster, very little, and answered, “Yes.” I really wish that my reply had turned out to be true.

We all were easy targets. The general thought the Mongols would only perform a frontal attack. Genghis Kahn led the Mongols in the front assault, while the other attacks came over the peaks. The Mongols were attacking our army from both sides, and our defenses were gradually failing.

Li and I were caught in the middle of all the chaos. The carnage was the worst sight any of us had ever seen. Everywhere we looked, our men were knocked off their horses, the Mongols’ weapons slicing through the bodies. As Li and I fought for our lives, it was hard not to trip on the bodies of our comrades, lifeless as blood flowed from their wounds. Since our first fight in school, we had always fought side by side.

As I was fighting off four invaders, and a Mongol raised his jian to slash down on a fellow Jin warrior, I was able to stab the Mongol just in time. Seeing another Mongol standing off to the side, I hacked through him, too. What rattled me was that right after my sword entered one Mongol’s body, I saw his face, the face of a young boy, at most a teenager. The terror and pain I could see reminded me of myself in my first battle, seeing the havoc and blood for the first time. I had killed a young boy when his weapons weren’t even drawn. I have never forgotten that instance.

The battle continued to rage on. During the time I had just saved a Jin warrior, I had become separated from Li, which worried me, as we had always battled together, never separately. I fought a bit longer, taking only minor wounds, maybe a scratch here, a bruise there, but nothing major or life threatening.

Everything was going fairly smoothly for me. I cut through two invaders, but was cracked on the head by the butt of a jian sword when a Mongol rode by, spinning me around and onto the ground. I must have been out for a few seconds, as the positions of all the warriors had changed. There was a Mongol and a Jin warrior trading blows, the steel clanging loudly, as another Mongol came and cut down our soldier from behind. Another Jin warrior had minor success chopping a Mongol’s arm off, but was impaled from behind with the bloodstained steel of another Mongol’s jian. There was one Jin soldier lying on the ground with a large cut through the center of his body, his hand holding his organs, him crying for his parents before being trampled. Another was carrying his sliced-off arm, looking for his hand.

Looking around, I saw blood splattered everywhere and random body parts lying around. It was a ghastly sight. The grass, once a beautiful green that stood up almost happily, now was matted down and dyed with the red stains of blood. The sun was a dark orange, barely shining through the gray clouds that hung over the battlefield, the air deathly still.

I finally got up and cut down two more Mongols with my dao, when I saw him, lying in a pool of blood, barely breathing. Panicking, I made my next decision without taking time to think, and in one fast motion, I picked up Li’s dying body and ran towards the little cave we had found and made our hideout as children. My sword was out, the blade flashing in the setting sun as I cleared a path towards the cave where I could hide Li’s body. Arriving at the cave, I set Li down, but his body was stiff and cold, his chest no longer rising and falling. He was dead. As tears dropped from my eyes, I looked at the cloudy sky and screamed in a fit of rage. How fitting, I thought, the sky being a dimly lit red as the sun set, giving the battlefield a dark, evil look with its red blanket of blood.

Hiding Li’s lifeless body and hoping no one would find it until I got back, I rushed back into battle and cut down as many Mongols as I could, but there were too many of them. Soon, the Mongol forces overwhelmed our army and there was nothing else I could do, so I fled. I had to get back to my best friend, as there was still one final thing I could do for him.

It was a clear autumn sky with a beautiful sunset, with the leaves on the peach tree falling off and scattering as a gentle breeze blew through. The grass was green as a bamboo tree, and slowly rustling with the wind. There was only me there, as everyone that was really close to us had died, some in the war, others of old age. I looked at Li’s ashes, paying last respects. The small funeral took place on a river, not too far from our home. As a very last action for my best friend, I took his ashes, cast them in the river, and sat, tearing up watching my friend leave for good, finally reaching his dream of traveling the world.

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