He followed the path, now more a road, away from the crumbling church. The dead were likely grateful his noisy interruption was at an end and they could get back to their conversations with the worms and the soil.
Around a small bend in the road, not too much further ahead, he reached the edge of a town. In little better condition than the church, broken walls and collapsed piles of rubble were all that remained. The grass and green had reclaimed much of the place, taking the land back from the brief loan it had made to man.
As he walked the small, main road through the town, it felt more haunted, more sad to him than the cemetery he had seen before. In the graveyard was a sense of peace, while here was a sense of interruption. Of loss. It looked like a place people lived, and their absence made the resulting silence all the louder.
Past the town the road split in several directions. Checking his map, he took the leftmost branch. In a few minutes he heard the gurgle of a small river.
The wooden bridge that once spanned the water had long ago rotted away, but large rocks at the crossing still made it simple to get to the far bank. There he sat down to fill his canteen.
He looked back at the town, only a few buildings visible from his spot, and wondered what became of them. What drove them from their town and their lives? He idly plucked blades of grass and flicked them into the river. He didn’t see the usual scars of war.
Glancing down at the river, he saw his blades of grass were gone. The long green pieces already carried far downstream, or churned under the water to feed the fish. This was the same river the townspeople probably used for water and washing, yet all the people it once carried were gone. Washed away in the currents, but the river itself remained.
He wondered if anyone knew what became of them. If their children in some far away town told tales of their fate. Or if it was a secret only known to the river at his feet, and the water long since washed out to sea.
He topped off his canteen and, after taking a long cool drink, continued onwards.