I stepped onto the ramp connecting the ship to the dock and surveyed the scene around me. A short, stone wall surrounded the shipyard, after which came a dirt road bustling with activity. People fluttered from one shop, one place to another, moving about as if constantly on a schedule. Behind the road stood dozens of brick buildings, and as I looked passed and over them I could see the rest of the city, dazzling in the midday sun.
Far off in the distance stood a lusciously green hill, on which stood a magnificent castle, carved from stone, brick and mortar. It loomed over the whole town, as if constantly keep watch over it all. But I knew it wasn’t. No, the Count was corrupt, and did not care about the people under his watch. He simply stayed in his mansion, drinking and spending away, not attending to the needs of his citizens, but only reaping in his own spoils.
I hated him. It was why I left in the first place, but it was also why I came back. I was back to fight for my kinsmen, those I love. To fight for their freedom and wellbeing that I knew they were not getting with this tyrant.
And so that castle was not a sign of magnificence to me; it was a sign of malice. Of evil. Wherein it sheltered who could only be described as an eidolon, a demon who never left the recesses of his fortune.
As I walked further down the ramp the castle began to disappear into the buildings closest to me. To the left was a tavern where the villagers went to drown their sorrows, to celebrate their everyday misery with each other.
I stepped off the ramp and onto the dirt road, my leather shoes hitting that ground for the first time in over half a decade.
And that was when I noticed it. There was something wrong. The people were still moving about as busy as usual, but no longer in the somber mood that I remembered. No, they had content, even happy faces. Everywhere I turned I was met with a serene gaze, staring at me, welcoming me home even if they had no idea who I was.
It wasn’t right. Something was wrong. I knew there could be no way they could be so happy under the rule of the Count. He wouldn’t have – couldn’t have – changed his ways, amended all that he had done. No, he had done too much. Too much to be forgiven. I stared at each, becoming more and more confused as each minute passed.
Here I was, home at last, but a stranger in a strange land. A home that was not my home.