Home Sweet Home
“Fireworks!!!” Aaron said as he opened his eyes with the first rays of sun. He was excited about the Village festival. The rumors of fireworks were all around. He was aching to ask his uncle if it’s true.
Aaron jumped out of his big cozy bed pushing the covers aside. Rubbing his eyes he walked to the window, outside the sun was still coming out, the fields looked pale blue. All the farm animals were fast asleep. Aaron knew he had to wait till his uncle wakes up. The pleasant breeze brought the smell of fresh spring.
Aaron waited for the spring to come every year. It was his favorite time of the year. The trees were full of all kind of fruits and flowers and the harvesting was at its peak. Everyone in the village was happy at this time. The Village festival was coming.
Every year, the entire village of Brinsar got together and celebrated the Harvest-Festival. They had many shows, parades, feasts and a big Carnival. The festival was quite large and people from far away would come to see this festival and participate in it.
Aaron thought about the fireworks in the upcoming Harvest-Festival. The fireworks meant something magical to him. It would light up the night sky and loud sounds would be heard. Aaron knew fireworks were made by magic but he had never seen any before. Ever since Mr.Draug of the elder council told him about the Fireworks, he couldn’t wait to confirm this with his uncle.
He sat on his bed, wondering what other surprises this festival may hold. Last time, there was an exhibition of Swords and Knifes from the Old Kingdoms. Even though he couldn’t really afford anything, Aaron got a liking towards Swords. And since then, he had practiced everyday with his Cousin Mathew’s Sword.
He reached for the Sword kept on the table next to his bed and held it in his hands. It was still quite heavy for him, but he practiced a few strokes he had learned from Mathew.
‘Not quiet there..’ he thought to himself and practiced a few more strokes. Finally, when he was satisfied with his practice, he put the sword away and picked up a book kept beside his pillow. The book he was reading the night before.
Aaron’s uncle, Mr.Santas taught him how to read. Not many were fortunate enough to go the big city and learn under the supervision of the High Priest. But, Mathew did. He was a curious kid; he always wanted to learn about the world. Mathew sent Aaron many books from the city. Some of these books had pictures in them, some had facts and figures and some had interesting stories.
Aaron’s favorites were always the story books. Especially, the ones with adventures in them. As Aaron read a chapter from his book, he was lost in the story of the brave Prince and his glory.
Suddenly, the smell of fresh cheese filled his nose before he could read any further and his stomach grumbled. The breakfast seemed to be ready. So he walked downstairs carefully, not to make any sounds which was considered bad manners in the house.
He reached the kitchen, Mrs. Renn had already served big heaps of food on large silver trays. The kitchen table was as full as usual with different kinds of fruits, three kinds of breads and freshly prepared cheese. Everything was neatly arranged, there was also butter laid out on the table. As soon as she saw Aaron, she handed him a cup of his favorite tea, chamomile.
“You are the first to arrive today, my dear!” Mrs. Renn said with a gentle smile.
Mrs. Renn has worked in the house for as long as Aaron could remember. His aunt Martha had passed away after Mathew’s birth. Since then, Mrs. Renn was appointed as the cook and house keeper. She was very fond of Aaron and his little brother Brandon.
Aaron smiled and sat down to eat to his heart’s content. Soon, he heard tiny footsteps rushing towards the kitchen. Brandon came running towards Mrs. Renn and hugged her.
“My goodness! Come here Brandy” she hugged him back and made him sit on the chair. “Now, have your breakfast like a good boy, just like Aaron!” She said.
Brandon looked at Aaron with his big eyes, as if he was surprised to see Aaron there before him.
But soon, he was distracted with a little bug sitting on the window sill.
“Looks like everybody is here today before me” Came a heavy voice from the hall. Aaron’s Uncle Mr. Sentas entered the kitchen and sat down near Aaron.
“Good morning uncle!” Said Aaron.
“Good morning Aaron!” uncle replied.
“Good morning Brandon!” Mr. Sentas looked at the small boy who was now standing with the small-bug in his palm.
“Good morning!” said Brandon, with a big smile with two broken teeth in the front.
Mrs. Renn caught Brandon again and put him in his chair, in front of his breakfast.
’Uncle Sentas is in an unusual good mood today’ wondered Aaron enjoying his bread and butter.
“Mathew will be here today evening!” uncle Sentas announced in excitement.
“Matt?! That is so amazing!” Aaron exclaimed and Brandon joined in as well.
“Yes! He is coming for the festival” said Uncle Sentas.
“Uncle” Aaron said, “Will there be fireworks at the festival this time?”
“Hmm… how did you know?...” uncle Smirked.
“So, it’s true?!” Aaron almost jumped out of his chair.
“Well, the final word has not been given yet, but after today’s meeting I will confirm that.”
Aaron crossed his fingers and hoped that there were fireworks.
Uncle Sentas was an important member of the village Elder Council. Usually, he kept the council’s decisions a secret. But today, with the news of Mathew’s arrival, he didn’t seem to care much.
“Renn, Please prepare a feast for today’s dinner. A few close friends are coming home to meet Mathew” said uncle. Mrs.Renn nodded and walked inside the kitchen.
Mathew’s home coming was always a big deal in the house. Uncle Sentas loved him dearly. After his wife’s death he had loved Mathew even more. He would always make him feel special so that he doesn’t miss his mother.
Aaron grew up in uncle Sentas’s farm. Both his mother and father were dead. Brandon, Matt and uncle Sentas were the only family he had left. He loved them dearly. Aaron had only a faint memory of his mother and father. He was six years old when he came to Brinsar with his mother. Uncle Sentas and Aunt Martha had taken care of him and Brandon as long as he could remember.
Both Aaron and Brandon were happy about Mathew coming home. He was like a big brother to them. Mathew always came back with so many stories of the city. Brandon would listen to these stories for hours, till he fell asleep.
Brandon was the first one to leave the table. He ran to his room upstairs. Uncle Sentas also left in a hurry to attend the council meeting. Before leaving, he gave Aaron instructions to supervise the work at the farm that day. Aaron stayed to help Mrs. Renn with cleaning up. He then walked slowly towards Brandon’s room and found the door open. There were a lot of baby animals there. Two kittens lay on a soft blanket under Brandon’s bed and a bunch of hamsters were kept on the upper shelves. Aaron walked carefully towards the balcony attached to the room not wanting to hurt any baby animals on his way. He found Brandon crouching next to a small chest.
“What are you up to?” asked Aaron.
Brandon looked up and said ’My rock collection is complete, see…”
Aaron crouched next to Brandon while he showed him rocks of various colors.
Brandon was only ten but was a bright boy. He was very mischievous. Aaron worried about him a lot, but he knew that Brandon can take care of himself very well.
He patted Brandon on his back and said “Well done!”
Brandon was very proud as he closed the box.
“Tell me a story” He demanded.
“Not now Brandon! You play now. I have a lot of work to do and Matt is coming today evening. You can hear all the stories you want from Matt when he gets here.”
Brandon’s face lighted up with the mention of Mathew.
“I have a gift for Mathew” said Brandon and pulled out a box from under the bed. Three small baby hedgehogs were cuddling together inside the wooden box. He fed them milk from a soaked piece of cotton.
“I know Mat will like them. Last time, he told me stories of hedgehogs” Brandon grinned looking at Aaron for approval.
Aaron was quite surprised and wondered where Brandon would have found the hedgehogs. They were not found anywhere nearby. But he gave a nod of appreciation anyway.
Aaron put on his cotton shirt, a pair of comfortable trousers and his jacket vest before starting for the farm. He tucked a small knife in his belt as he always did. Everyone in the village carried some form of weapon with them. After the sun goes down, it was never really safe in the village, especially if you are near the woods. Weapons were the best protection against any wild animal that may have strayed in from the woods. Aaron was not allowed to use a sword till he was ready for it. He was also skilled with knifes. Flynn, his best friend had taught him to throw knifes.
The afternoon sun was out and it was quite sunny in the farm. Aaron could hardly wait to learn about the fireworks. He wanted to talk to his friend Flynn who was equally curious about the fireworks. But today, he had plenty of chores to do around the farm.
“Hello! Master Aaron” said Billy who was feeding the chicken. Next to him, two more people were working.
Billy was a farm-hand who Uncle Sentas had hired recently. There was something strange about him that made Aaron uncomfortable. The way Billy looked was very different from the other village folks. He always wore long shabby clothes that were too big for him. His long hair made him very distinct. Even though Billy was of the same age as Aaron, he seemed to know much more.
But what troubled Aaron were Billy’s eyes. Billy’s hazel eyes had a fear in them like Aaron had never seen. It felt like he was hiding something. There were days when Aaron saw Billy working late in the evening all alone. He had nobody and no home. He came from the neighboring village of Kadar. Uncle Sentas was kind enough to let him stay in the stable and eat at their house.
“Hello” Aaron said with hesitation.
“I was expecting Master Sentas. I guess he had some important business today somewhere else” Said Billy.
“Yes! He did” Aaron wanted to walk away soon.
“The chicken, sheep and the horses are absolutely fine sir” Said Billy.
Aaron checked the stables, sheep pens and the chicken coops with keen eyes. They were all taken care of, cleaned and fed for the day. The animals that can be used for meat were also sorted out.
“Good job Billy! I will put a good word in for you to uncle” Aaron said.
Billy was very delighted on hearing such a comment. He offered more help, but Aaron refused and walked towards the barley fields where the harvesting was going on. The day was long and tiring for him. By the time he was done with the rest of the work, he just wanted to go back home and sleep in his comfortable bed. Usually, Aaron was in-charge of just a few chores on his Uncle’s large fields. But today, as Uncle Sentas was not around, he really felt the heat of responsibility.
As he was ready to leave, he heard the taps of horses’ hooves. Uncle Sentas had arrived back home. Aaron forgot all about his tiredness and ran towards his Uncle. Uncle Sentas stopped his horse on seeing Aaron.
“Uncle! Tell me if it’s true. Are there going be fireworks this year?” Aaron asked breathing hard.
“Yes Aaron!, the council gave it a final go!” uncle said smiling.
Aaron leaped in excitement and ran towards Flynn’s House.
Flynn’s house was outside the village and it was dangerous to go there at this hour. But Aaron wanted to tell Flynn about the fireworks right away.
Aaron’s crossed the village and headed towards Flynn’s house. It was not dark yet and everything could be seen clearly. The village paths were covered with rich green grass and the trees were laden with beautiful flowers. When the evening breeze began to blow and it reminded Aaron of his childhood. Memories of him and Flynn playing in the open grounds and near the streams came back to him. The fresh fragrance of spring filled the air as he continued.
The houses in the village were small but had big windows. Aaron could see the women cooking and plucking vegetables form their gardens before it got dark outside. The houses were built on the lower grounds and some were on the hills. Houses on the lower grounds had bigger yards than the houses on the hills. Some houses looked much older than others. Aaron continued to pass many small farms and fields on his way. He came to the woods.
He turned left near the big fir tree at the end of the woods and took the same old shortcut that he used to always take to reach Flynn’s house. They found this hidden shortcut to Flynn’s house while they were children. Aaron has never used the long road ever since.
The path became narrower as Aaron walked. There were only rocks and a small stream passing through them. Aaron walked carefully on the rocks, trying not to disturb the tiny red fishes that swam in the stream. For some reason, the fishes always seemed to know that it was Aaron and was never afraid of him.
Aaron then walked on a muddy pathway leading to a small wooded area. The rest of the path was broad and clean after that. Flynn’s house was on top of a tiny hill. Aaron climbed the hill and finally reached Flynn’s house.
Flynn’s secluded house was very far from the village. Flynn’s father would never move into the village. He said he had a lot of memories here in this house. Memories of Flynn’s mother. Flynn didn’t complain much in any case. Even though it used to take him several hours to go to the village and come back home.
Flynn’s house was nothing like Aaron’s. It was a tiny shack with two small rooms. However, it had a small garden which was made by Flynn’s mother which made it special.
“What kind of blacksmith would need sheep?” Aaron always thought as he walked through the pathway, passing the sheep making his way to the door.
Aaron knocked on the door and Flynn opened it. Flynn was as the same age as Aaron, but he was much leaner. He always wore a long lose tunic of forest green color with tights and a thin brown belt around his waist. He had golden brown hair with curls.
Flynn was delighted to see Aaron.
“Come in, join us for dinner” Flynn said.
Breakfast was the only meal that Aaron had the whole day. He had forgotten all about food between all the work he had. He was very hungry.
Aaron followed Flynn inside the house. In the hall, there was a large wooden table with four chairs. This is where they always sat and talked. The hall was dark and it took some time for Aaron to adjust his eyes to the dim light. A small fire was burning in the corner of the room in this fireplace. This was the only source of light in the room. Aaron then saw Flynn’s father sitting at the corner of the table with his dinner.
Flynn’s father. Zack, was a blacksmith. He was a big man with dark bushy hair and deep set eyes. He always wore a long black leather vest and a belt with large buckles. Flynn on the other hand, was of a much smaller built like his mother. Flynn was thin, but strong.
“Come, Sit here!” Zack, pointed to the chair next to him.
Aaron sat down and Flynn served him some hot chicken soup, some meat and bread. The dinner was not much, but Aaron always liked it.
“Why are you here at this time? You better get back immediately after dinner” Flynn said in a concerned voice.
After finishing the chicken soup, which he relished as fast as he can, Aaron said “There is something I need to tell you and I couldn’t wait”.
Flynn stopped eating and leaned in to listen with great interest.
“This festival, there are going to be fireworks!!” said Aaron.
“So, the rumors were true?!” Flynn showed the same enthusiasm Aaron did.
“Yes and I have the right information from the right person” said Aaron, full of pride.
Aaron had a long discussion about fireworks with Flynn and his father. Zack told them all about the fireworks that he had seen as a kid.
After finishing the delightful conversation, Aaron got up to leave.
Before Aaron could step out of the door, Flynn came behind him and said “Aaron, be careful. It’s getting dark out there, are you carrying something for protection? Do you want my knife?”
Flynn had been teaching Aaron a trick or two about throwing knives. He always told Aaron that he should throw a knife at whatever frightens him at night in the woods, and it will go away. At least this is what Flynn believed in.
Aaron showed Flynn the knife he was carrying with him and Flynn was happy. Aaron then walked towards his home, slowly crossing the stream. But there was a long way ahead of him.
The darkness was growing fast and night fall was near. Struggling to see his path, Aaron started walking faster. He still had not passed the woods. ‘There could be wild animals out there’, he thought, as he ran with firm feet careful not to make any sounds.
The wind brought a strange smell of some wild animal as he was about to cross the woods. A very unfamiliar smell. Suddenly, he heard a howl far away from deep within the woods. He looked back and his eyes searched everywhere. For a moment, he thought that he saw glowing red eyes looking at him from a distance. He froze for a second and then he ran till he was home.
Sweaty and tired, Aaron returned home. The house was all lit up with beautiful lights. It looked magnificent. The white stone walls and the trees of the garden were clearly seen in the light. There were many voices Aaron could hear inside the house.
‘Mathew!’ Aaron remembered, as he rushed inside the house. Inside, there were many people sitting and talking in the hall. Some were new faces and some old. His eyes searched for Mathew everywhere.
“You are late!” Brandon said, in an angry voice sitting on the couch. “Mathew came many hours ago and all the guests too”.
Then he pulled Aaron by his hands towards the stairs. He didn’t stop until they reached the second floor and then he shouted and ran into Mathew’s bedroom.
“Matt, Matt Aaron is here, and he’s late” Brandon was yelling as they walked in. Aaron quickly followed Brandon into Matt’s bedroom. Mathew seemed to look brighter than ever before. He was wearing long dark brown robes and was looking like a priest.
“Is that what they make you wear at school?!” Aaron mocked Mathew as he walked in.
Mathew smiled and gave Aaron a big hug.
“Hey, no making fun of these clothes” said Mathew.
“They are making Mathew a priest!” Brandon said.
“A priest? But I thought you will come back here and help your father” said Aaron, surprised.
“Yes I thought so too. But I got such beautiful lessons in the school that changed my life forever. I have been chosen to be a priest and help the needy. I want to continue with my studies and help the church” Mathew said. “This is why I came here, to tell all of you about my decision”.
Aaron was not happy about all this, but he nodded. He felt like he was going to lose his big brother.
“Come, let’s go down” said Mathew, as he walked out of the door.
All three of them came downstairs where Mathew greeted the guests. The feast was lovely and it went on for a while. Brandon had all kind of sweets and fell ill. He had to be put to bed before the feast was even over. Aaron sat alone in the corner. He knew that Mathew will not be coming back and this was probably the last time that he was seeing Mathew. Aaron sat near the fire place and sulked.
When everybody left, Mrs. Renn came to Aaron. She said, “Dear, I know about Mathew. He is leaving soon. Go, be with him for some time.” There was sadness in her voice.
Feeling heavy in his heart, Aaron nodded his head and walked towards Mathew’s room. Uncle Sentas was there too. He didn’t look very happy either.
“I am leaving tomorrow. I will be starting my services soon” Mathew announced.
“But you just came today! Stay for at least a few days” Aaron said.
“I can’t Aaron. I have to go” Mathew said with a straight face.
By now, Brandon was there too but he did not say much. Even little Brandon knew that Mathew might never come back again. He stood silently near Uncle Sentas. Uncle didn’t seem to make any objections to Mathew leaving. The only thing he ever said was that Mathew has chosen the way of God and nobody should stand in his way. Aaron did not like any of this one bit. He just stood there with folded arms.
Mathew came closer to Aaron and held him by his shoulders.
“Aaron, we are all chosen for something and we must follow our destiny. If we don’t, we will regret it all our life”. There was an unusually strange calmness in Mathew’s face. It felt like he had found something he was looking for all his life. Aaron had never seen him like that before.
“I have something for you here” said Mathew and handed him a book. “This is a book of God’s calling, read it! It will always show you the right path”.
Aaron took the book, hugged Mathew and retired to his room without saying a word.
A weird feeling was creeping in on him. He felt empty. Mathew’s leaving had the same effect on him as did his mother leaving him. Aaron felt lost and confused.
He thought about his mother. The last thing he remembered about her was that she was being chased by someone. She held both Aaron and Brandon in her arms and rode on a horse. Their father wasn’t with them. They came to Brinsar to her brother Sentas. She left Aaron and Brandon with him and then disappeared. She never came back after that. All these memories came rushing back to him.
Aaron was always close to Mathew. Mathew had taught him many things and Aaron had great respect for him.
Aaron sat near the edge of his bed for a long time, then his eyes caught Matt’s sword that he had kept on the table earlier. A part of him did not want to let go of the sword. But, he knew that he had to return it to Mathew, since he was leaving. He picked the sword up with both hands and looked at it carefully. The sharp steel edge glinted in the yellow light of the lamp. The hilt was royal blue. For some reason, the sword felt right in his hands. He felt sad as he kept the sword back on the table.
He then kept the book given to him by Mathew on the shelf with all the other books. He closed his eyes and fell asleep. That night, he had a dream of being chased by the red eyes in the forest. He ran breathlessly with the sword in his hands. The further he tried to get from the eyes, the more closer they got. His sword became heavier and heavier till it was impossible to carry. He then heard the howls in the deep forest.