Chapter 1

The unfamiliar smells permeated the air, invading his senses bringing with them a strong foboding feeling, something was off. Where were the animals? Usually Horace the farmers son herded the cattle to this area to let them graze on the surrounding grass, it was an abundant pasture, a perfect place to feed the animals and the reason why Horace and his family were so wealthy. The farmer only sells the delicious meat of his animals at certain times of the year such as when the first signs of Anaheim the season of ice start to appear, by doing so the family makes a greater profit than their competitors.

Raien was unable to shake the bad feeling, with each step bringing him closer to the village the bad feeling worsened, it is okay he would be home soon. Just beyond the clearing past the towering yew trees dwelled his home, an assortment' of wood and stone, small homely buildings where his family and other members of the village lived. Things were fine this pesky feeling would dwindle when he was reunited with the rest of the village.

He picked up the pace, his legs ached from the returning trek to his village from the small city of Teyshal. Teyshal is a trading outpost for various people who live and work the land outside of the city. Today he had made a delivery of fish to a wealthy merchant his family often traded with, the fish they catch from a river to the south of the village, it's a bountiful river and it help provides for his parents and siblings as well as many others throughout the year.

Black smoke drifted into the sky, gazing above the tall trees he wondered why it was there, the village only burnt logs from certain white oak trees from the forest, the chopped timber when burned produces a white smoke not black, they village uses it because it has a greater effect in keeping away bloodsucking insects than normal logs. Why was the smoke black? Maybe a practical joke, the bard's son Daren loved messing with others, he often shirked his duties to go and wreak havoc on the older members of the village, his parents often called Daren a menace but Raien had a soft spot for the boy.

He ran so fast he neglected to watch his step and his foot caught on a tree root as he stepped past the final barrier blocking his entry into the village, stumbling to the ground he was stunned for a moment. Quickly he pulled himself upright and looked up, the bad feeling hit him square in the gut, his stomach dropped and tears formed in his eyes, one question resounded in his mind, how?

The village his home was in ruins, everything was destroyed, houses lay in smouldering ashes. Ignoring the pain in his heart he jogged past the first house before him, the large mansion of village head, a house he had played in many times throughout his life with his friend Gwen, she was one of his best friends, a girl who enjoyed rough housing as much as the next kid but seemed charm others with ease. Gwen would make a fine village head when her father stepped down my mother had always said. The memories of coming to him were priceless.

Exhausted he made his way to his families house, it too was a wreckage, the roof was partially caved in and the windows were shattered. Opening the door he walked into his home, it was not a pretty sight, the inside was even worse, food and clothes littered the floor, furniture was destroyed and there was blood everywhere, bile rose in his throat. The decaying stench was even more pervasive here than outside but he saw no signs of his family, maybe they fled? They must of ran, that must be it if I find other villagers I can locate them, a house can be rebuilt my family can't.

Making his way out of the house he headed towards the village centre, throughout the year the village held all sorts of celebrations, coming of age and joining ceremonies, celebrations of various gods and the coming of new seasons, celebrating brought the village together like a big family. The sight that greeted him in the village centre was horrific. Bodies littered the area, missing limbs lay lifelessly on the ground, some bodies had been piled up and burned, they were charred and unrecognisable, others had been decapitated. People he had known his entire life lay butchered everywhere, this time the bile wouldn't stay down, falling to his knees Raien vomited the contents of his stomach.

"What kind of monster would do this?" He choked out.

It was bad but his family could still be fine, they probably escaped, his mind attempted justify their safety. Yea, that's it father smashed the window in my room and they escaped into the trees, I'll go search by the river. Standing, he started his journey to search for his family, with each step trepidation built, were they all right, what if...

He wasn't paying attention as he walked, failing to notice the object blocking his path he collided with it and fell to the ground. Rising to his feet he readied himself to confront the thing preventing his journey, looking up he took in the latest atrocity committed against the village. Most of the village was in front of him: the blacksmith, Horwick, and his family, Bane the craftsman, Dalvic the falconeer, the village head and his wife were among them. The villagers had been crucified, hands and feet nailed to large wooden stakes, their faces displaying expressions of unimaginable pain and horror. It was indescribable seeing them in this state, no smile or actions filled with vigour, just a perpetual stillness, is this death ... No one should suffer like this. why them?

Raien's heart was slowly breaking with each new face he took in, no, each new person, they were ... are people, it felt almost physical the breaking. As he identified each person memories were recalled, playful games of hide and seek, a hard day of cutting logs, an afternoon of fishing, each memory was vivid and real, each memory chipped away at a piece of his heart. The final memory that was brought to him was of people sitting at table eating a delicious meal of fresh meat and vegetables, the elk had been killed earlier that day. Kids chattered while the adults leaned in and whispered to each other, occasionally a small caress was exchanged when they believed no one was watching, the children were young but they were at an age where interactions between lovers became more interesting than games so they pretended to not notice but were actually very interested.

Shards fell, breaking into pieces the last vestiges shattered apart and pain seized his chest, it felt like liquid ice was being pumped through his veins with each heartbeat, it was pure agony ... There they were, his family with their arms and feet nailed to the stakes, they bore the same expressions of pain, their lifeless bodies hanging, as the others

"Mom dad no." He uttered.

"Please goddess no!" Neither his older brother Nathaniel nor younger sister Isabelle were spared their were throats slashed and limbed nailed together, both were dead.

Screaming into the sky he shouted,"this isn't fair. They're good people, they didn't deserve this, why them?!"

"They were weak and the weak die." Wondering who spoke Raien looked around, seeing a fat limping soldier dressed in armour making his way towards him.

The injured man made his way closer, taunting the boy, "at first they tried fightin' you see, gettin' any weapon they could to fight but it was useless."

With every step the injured soldier spoke to the boy. "Then they tried beggin' they offered alcohol, food and money so we wouldn harm em' but that didn work either."

The injured soldier was close now, he was almost upon the boy. "You shoulda seen their faces as they realised mere gold wouldn sway us. Then the killing began, we started slaughterin' and the bargaining began. Men offered their wives and daughters, women offered themselves and children, they started turnin on each other like rabid animals. A funny sight it was."

The soldier was in front of him now, what he thought was fat he realised was muscle, the figure standing before him was a hulk of a man, what he believed to be a soldier's armour was in fact the light chainmail of a mercenary, a cheap sellsword. The soldier spoke, "but unlucky for them we ignored their cries, we killed the men and took the women for our own. Some of em were beauties others ugly but in the end a cunts a cunt."

Rage, pure unencumbered rage pervaded his very being, never had he felt such hate towards another, the rage had no outlet so he focused it on the murdering scum in front of him. Seeking a weapon to end this person's existence he grabbed the nearest object, a small stick and charged the injured mercenary.

"C'mere boy I'll slit yer throat and ye can join yer family in Heiller's embrace." The mercenary shouted. He may be injured but killing this boy will be easy, preparing his dagger he waited.

Raien wasn't thinking the hatred and anger consumed him, all he could see and all he wanted was the death of this person in front of him, he would make it happen and revenge would be his. Each step brought his foe closer, preparing himself he readied to tackle his foe.

The mercenary thrust his dagger down ready to end the boy but the pain of his previous injury stalled him for a precious moment, saving the boys life and endangering his own in the process.

The mercenary's dagger had missed him, the final step and he was upon his prey, with all his strength he tackled the man who had killed his family, his friends.

The injured mercenary scream in pain, discarding his dagger in the process, one boy about 7 rotations of age had smashed his knee with a rock, the screams as he strangled the life out of the boy filled him with mirth.

Raien rained blow after blow to the mans face, trying to do any and as much damage as possible to the him, one particular punch was echoed by the sickening crunch of bone and a loud scream.

The mercenary's eye socket had shattered under the assault, but the merc was not deterred, launching a vicious slap to the boys face knocked him off of the man. The mercenary quickly mounted the boy, wrapping his hands around the boys throat he looked into the boys eyes and started to squeeze, choking the life out of him.

This is it I'm going to join my family now. He stopped struggling ready to die and looked up at the man who would be his killer, the look on the injured mercenary's face incited something in him, it wasn't rage, nor hate, it was an unknown feeling, he just knew that this person needed to die. He grasped an object in his hand, knowing it was the mercenary's dagger using what was left of his fading strength he thrust it into man neck. The look of glee on the man's face changed when he felt the blade enter his neck, this wasn't how it was suppose to be, he killed the weak the weak didn't kill him. The injured mercenary died cursing the boy.

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Story tagged with:
Fiction / High Fantasy /