As a child she wondered why there were so few of her people left in their country. Her mother, eyes full of sorrow, had told her of the War, the violence, the slaughter. She told of how their country’s greatest ally had turned on their small, peaceful nation. She told of how they razed the countryside, of how their neighbors did nothing until it was too late, of how the War still left a stain on the land and its people. Her mother had slowly stroked her hair and the small ivory horns that were just starting to grow in. Her mother was trying to comfort her. She didn’t really need the comfort, she didn’t quite understand.
She knew that war was bad and she knew that war was why the killing fields in the forest by their home were covered in the Blood Flowers, but she had never seen war. She’d only seen the results of it.
In primary school she wondered why her classmates were so mean to her. After several days of leaving the school in tears her older brother explained to her why it kept happening.
“It’s because of the War.” he said, “Their parents are so used to hating us that they taught it to their children as well. They hate us because we are different. Their reason for hate now is the same reason for the hate that killed so many.”
She was older, more worldly, and she now better understood the atrocities of the war. Her older brother probably understood even better then she. He had Elder Horns, now that he was in his twentieth year. They were curled like a ram’s and pitch black. Elder Horns meant he had to be smart, if he was not his horns would not be black.
She rubbed absently at her now shell colored horns. They were shaped differently then her brothers. Her’s didn’t curl like his, instead they stayed straight. One above each brow. These were the reason no one her age would talk to her. If only she lacked her horns she would be considered normal, she would be considered human, she wouldn’t be a part of a nearly extinct species.
In secondary school she wondered why the textbooks never had the War in their section on genocides. Her teacher, looking amused, had stated that the War was not a true genocide since it was a war.
She did not agree with that answer. A genocide was what the War had been. After all, they only killed the Horned Ones, never the humans. They worked them to death or they killed them in the killing fields. They must have killed many in the killing fields, more Horned Ones than she had met in her entire life.
She knew because the Blood Flowers still sang their songs of woe in the killing fields. Blood Flowers only bloomed where many Horned Ones had died in acts of violence, their blood soaking the ground, drenching it red. The Blood Flowers would sing songs of misery and pain as the wind moved through them on cold autumn nights.
By now her horns were brown and they had curved so they laid back against her head. Those who had not grown up with her often mistook her for a human. She was disgusted by just how differently they treated her when they thought she was one of them. She didn’t want to be one of them, she wanted them to treat her humanely even with her horns.
As an adult she wondered why so many had abandoned her people. Why it took neighboring countries so long to respond to their plead for help. There was no one who could answer this inquiry. No one knew why. Many speculated though.
Maybe the other countries were just as prejudiced as their oppressors.
Maybe they had been busy with their own conflicts.
Maybe they just didn’t care.
She found herself going to the killing fields often. Staring at the bright red flowers, listening to their cries as the wind moved through them. She figured, if anything, the Blood Flowers could use the company.
Staring out at the field she was overcome, yet again, by just how many they had lost. How many could have been saved, yet weren’t.
She had the black Elder Horns now. She supposed it was a testament to her growing worldliness. Her Elder Horns did not stop her from wondering though.
She wondered how many of the adults she knew regretted not being killed with their families and friends.
She wondered how many more children could have been born.
She wondered how many of the nations surrounding them regretted their decision.
She wondered what could have been.
She sat in the field, covered in bright red, sorrow filling her eyes.