'A Chronicle of Ashes' is a series of short stories exploring the extended Foxhole universe. These are unrelenting tales of human struggle in the face of apathy and violence, borne by a world in a constant state of war. Content Warning: A Chronicle of Ashes depicts scenes of violence and war.
While I am often referred to in whispers and hushed tones, most will come to know me as "The Collector." It’s not a moniker I cherish, yet crass as it may be, it is quite fitting.
Many believe that war is inevitable, something that must be adhered to, the way of things. I rebuke this sentiment, for I’ve seen what lies beyond war. There is hope in the hearts of the hopeless and strength in the deaths of the weak. Few are afforded the opportunities that I have had, few still have opportunities at all in this frail, broken world. I cast aside any illusions set before me and made the decision that waging war was not the path I'd walk.
I must admit it’s hard to press forward when faced with putting pen to page. More than anything, I’d love to present myself as a beacon of protest and resistance, but it could not be further from the truth. I am not brave. I am no leader or a gallant. Nothing more than a cowardly knight clad in rusted armour. Don't mistake me for a hero.
What I do may be a form of protest, yes, but it is not brave. Barring yourself in a cellar while your comrades choke to death is not brave. Watching as children are ripped from their mothers and merely standing by is not brave.
I am ashamed.
But, if I am to be ashamed, then I’d rather be so on my own terms. So, I began to roam the world. In my travels, I’d come to learn that most people see very little of it. Often only the village they are born in until they are of age to see a battlefield. Then on to six feet of dirt if they’re lucky, smoke and fire if they’re not.
In this way, I am more fortunate than most. I have travelled through arid deserts and cut through dense jungle. I’ve seen the snowy peaks of the tallest mountains and sailed the sea on a ship so big, it blots out the sun when it comes to port. If I’ve learned anything in all that time, it’s that everybody has a story.
My story is simple. A lonely man, cursed with the burden of shame. My life holds little value. But those I meet in my travels, they are the real heroes of our time. So yes, I am a collector. A collector of stories.
From the ashes, a new dawn will break, of this, I am sure. As the earth is shattered by bombs and the land is stripped by machines of war, eventually, the ashes will fall. And when they do, it is my hope that, on the other side of it, someone will find this book and share it. This, my Chronicle of Ashes.