A stillness lay across the glade. It froze the twinkling motes in sunshine that daggered between trees. Even the birds were quietened from their song. The verdant grass over which butterflies and bees normally bumbled was flattened and spread in long dragging streaks into the centre of the glade. There a man lay, obscenely splayed; his open chest seeping red blood into the green grass.
He had crawled this far into nature’s embrace, clawing at the earth with bloodied fingers. But no further. He had rolled onto his back so that his last memory might be of the glowing leaves. His chest rose and fell in fast aching bursts. Blood leaked from his many wounds to the rhythm of his breath. He had discarded his armour, for the weight was too great and carved a furrow into the turf. He fingered the edges of the holes made by the sword and pike thrusts, his jerkin and trousers greasy with draining life. He felt a need to be closer to the greenery and thrust his hands into the grass.
The glade waited patiently. The light scarcely changed in its marmalade glow that lit the dying man’s features. When his breath finally ceased to come he gave a final bubbling choke and was still. The glade returned to life, but slowly. The motes twisted in the shafts of light and funnelled down through those streams into the dead man, soaking into his body with the sun’s heat.
The grass that was crushed by his dragging passage unfolded itself and his tracks vanished. The grass beneath his body thrilled at the influx of nutrients from his congealing blood and sought out more. The grass sprouted vigorously around the dead man and jabbed fresh new blades into the wounds that had laid him low.
The insects resumed their dance from leaf to flower. A single butterfly alighted on the fresh grassy tip protruding from the cavity in the man’s chest, and was drawn down inside him as the grass spread through the man’s ribs. It grew, and hugged close to the broken flesh, weaving in and out of the gashes and holes that perforated him.
The sunlight dwindled as the day faded away. The flowers ceased their gaping at the sky. Shadows fell over the corpse, now cloaked in grass, and chased he hungry blades back into the earth. Moonlight took the place of the sun, stretching the glade into a rainbow of greys.
The dead man stirred. His hands moved automatically to the rips in his chest and stomach. Unsteadily he climbed to his feet, pulling free of the verdant embrace.
He felt light and curious. Once dead, and now returned. He thought of those who had wrought their havoc upon him and felt a fresh writhing in his heart and a tight bunching of his guts. His sword and armour lay spotless and sharp against the roots of an ancient oak. He buckled the armour on and slid the sword into the scabbard that hung from his waist. The Grass Knight looked to the moon and left the glade behind.