472 Years Ago
The youth stood high on the verge and looked down into the copious clouds of spiralling smoke, furiously billowing upwards and merging with the morning mountainous mist. Pain, anger and helplessness tore at him, each fighting for dominance. He could hear desperate screams from below and through the fumes could make out several bright flashes as dwellings were set alight.
All was his doing.
He unsheathed a short sword. He would die with his people and answer for his sins in the afterlife.
He started his descent when he heard his name being called.
He tensed as a figure ran up the mountain but relaxed as a large man with an axe and sword appeared out of the mist.
‘What’s happening?’ the youth asked.
‘They’ve found us,’ the man replied as he leaned on his sword breathing heavily. Nempharas saw blood smeared on his clothes and his face ashen from the fire and smoke below.
The man shook his head.
Nempharas groaned and slumped to his knees as tears fell freely.
‘She must have told them Nemph,’ the man said after a few moments.
Nempharas didn’t reply but rose suddenly and took two running steps down the mountain before the man grabbed him. ‘No, you need to get away from here.’
‘I want to help!’
‘Remember what happened here. We tried to live in peace.’ The man’s voice broke for a moment restricted by emotion and sorrow. ‘Avenge us little brother.’
Nempharas stopped struggling and after a while nodded. They embraced before the man ran back down the mountain but he stopped after several paces and turned.
‘There’s only two ways to live. Rule or be ruled.’ The man gave a nod and a forlorn smile then turned and was swallowed up by the smoke.
Nempharas took a few backwards steps looking at the spot where his brother had disappeared, then turned on his heel and dashed down the opposite side of the mountain away from the noise and smoke and came onto a grassy plain, which he rushed across coming to the beginning of a small settlement. He was surprised to see so much movement this early in the morning. Many of the villagers were gathering possessions and leaving on horses, wagons and carts. Anger bit at him. They’ve heard what we are. He slowed down looking left and right desperately searching for his victim.
And then he saw her.
She was sat at the back of a moving wagon with her brother and mother, her face was averted but he recognised her cloak. It was the one he had gifted her.
A wave of fury rose within him and running towards her he screamed her name.
She turned to look back at him.
Nempharas skidded to an abrupt halt. He looked dumbfounded at a face he had never seen before.
How was this possible? Who was this girl?
Nempharas turned to see two red-garbed soldiers running towards him. He looked back at the wagon just as it turned a corner and as it disappeared from sight he felt all his fight flood from him. He could hear the soldiers getting closer but didn’t care. He’d lost his family and the girl he loved had disappeared as though she’d never existed.
The soldiers had nearly reached him.
Rule or be ruled.
His brother’s words came back to him.
He suddenly darted forward away from the outstretched clutches of the soldiers. They shouted again but Nempharas was too quick for them and he ran hard into the distance, his tears replaced by a deep cold anger; a boy no longer.
27 Years Ago
The boy ran quickly through the thick blooming undergrowth with the abandon of youth and adventure coursing through his blood. He came to a clearing and skidded smartly to a halt on his knees in front of a smaller younger child, who was sat hunched on the floor looking down at the lush grass.
‘Where do you want to go today?’ the boy asked breathing rapidly and deeply trying to calm himself. ‘Go on,’ he said bringing his hands together.
The little child looked around slowly and spoke softly, in barely a whisper. ‘Sorry.’
The nearby bushes burst apart as several scarlet garbed soldiers surged out of hiding. The first one crashed his steeled glove against the head of the elder boy slamming him backwards. The boy screamed out as two guards grabbed his hands and covered each of them in a steel contraption. The first soldier punched the boy again savagely on the side of the head, making him slump sideways.
‘Steady,’ said another soldier as he went over to the small child who had shock in his brimming eyes. ‘You did well son. You won’t ever have to see his trick again.’
The youngster didn’t answer but broke down crying. The soldiers dragged the unconscious boy away leaving the weeping child alone.
533 Years Ago
The luxurious Throne room for all its grandeur felt bleak and oppressive today for the tragedy that had just befallen. The King, a huge wide shouldered man, had broken down on a raised chair.
Another figure approached him and lay a comforting hand on him.
‘How long Dregnald,’ the King said, his voice barely coherent with anguish, ‘do we have to bury our children before this all stops?’
‘I have a plan that can change everything,’ Dregnald replied. ‘That can take away our constant fear and put us back in control. But you will need to put all you trust in me.’
The King looked at him through streaming eyes. ‘What plan?’
Dregnald paused before he replied. ‘It’s called the Relocation Agreement.’