Sunday, 3 January 2016

The Long Walk

The Reading area

This is an excerpt from a story I started, and probably won't finish. You can enjoy other #free samples in the Reading area

The Long Walk

      Our fateful journey started on the eve of the Feast of the Long Night. The village was quiet, the fires roared as the pigs and boars roasted in their juices, and the glorious smells filled the air. I was leaving our tent when I thought I heard a grinding of metal on metal. I paid no attention to the sound until a few minutes later when the riders rampaged through the village, turning what had been a joyous occasion into carnage and mayhem.

    The women fled to the tents, pushing the children ahead of them but it was to no avail. We’d been taken by surprise, or so I thought, and being unarmed we were no match for the marauders. Our enemies bore no mark of warband, nor did they fly a banner to tell who they owed allegiance to, this in itself was a testament to who they were.

    Among the hill folk of Mondoria, there has been lots of talk for a long time of bands of men who live and die for the glory of battle. Their pleasure is in the hunt and the kill, they don’t kill to take and own land, they kill because they like to kill. These men are shunned by soldiers and warlords, and in this, they take great pleasure as they plunder and pillage for no reason.

   I had an idea what the sound had been that I heard at the time; the raid was the proof. Someone had released the latch on the gate that protected our village - and I had a good idea who that person was - but I had no proof.

  Above the fires and the screams, I yelled, “Gather what you can, and head for the West gate!” I watched through tear stained eyes as our village turned to ashes at the hands of these men, and swore, “I shall take my revenge for the lives you have taken this night.” With nothing more to do, I took my leave and headed for the gate. I chose this gate because it is hidden from sight, and we couldn’t be followed by men on horses.

  Our band of men, women, and children slowly walked across the snowy lands. Our feet were cold, and our stomachs were empty, but we had to get as far away as we could before we rested. “We’ll need to take to the high reaches. Otherwise, the horses will outrun us!” I called ahead.

  I saw the faces of the people I knew to look to the forest ahead, and I knew that some of us wouldn’t make the journey ahead. Many were injured, some so badly they could hardly put one foot in front of the other; our winter clothes that would have kept us warm were now in tatters, and covered with blood. The cold night air was pierced by the call of the wolves as they smelt the blood on our clothes. There was nothing for it; we had to go into the forest for our safety.

From our stop, we could look down at what had been our homes for as long as memory served. Generations had thrived in the village, now, all that remained were the burned out tents, and dead bodies of brave people who fought for their homes.
     The men who attacked our village carried no banner and wore no uniform, to proclaim glory for their leaders. They didn’t need to, the stories of this band of marauding men had spread like fire on the dry plains these were men who fought to kill, not for honour.
     Tears rolled down my eyes as I recalled what we left behind, no family had been untouched by this tragedy, and no dishonour got laid at the feet of those of us who had fled. Their strength was too great for to fight, they were better armed - no doubt gathered from other raids.

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