I missed the end of the world.
Our whole village had, it seemed. We had survived the onslaught when no one else had.
I had woken up sweating, my sleep riddled with nightmares of the past. I remembered how we had come to live like this…our small group of seventy-two building our houses and thriving together as one community. It had been nearly ten years before, but it seemed like a lifetime when we were driven away from our previous home.
We used to live in a great city – a city within the walls of a magnificent castle – thousands upon thousands of people strong. There were neighboring castles, and everyone seemed to be living in peace. Until thebarbarians attacked and the world as we knew it was destroyed.
Only a handful of us had survived from the various castles combined. Every city, town, farmland, village, and castle that we knew were all completely destroyed, burned and sacked. We fled, as anyone would in our situation. And somehow we had found each other. We stuck together and escaped the notice of our attackers.
But there was nothing left. Nothing for us to go to, nowhere for us to live. So we walked for hundreds of miles until we could bear travelling no longer and created our own village. We thought we were safe. That we had escaped them forever. Until now, when I realized it was foolish for us to even hope for that. We would never truly be free of their shadow. Wherever we went, they would follow. No matter where we hid ourselves, they would find us.
We needed to find help, and we needed to kill them all. Or it would never end.
I wiped my forehead with my shirt sleeve as I remembered our grim past and present and most-likely our future.
How had they found us? I asked myself. But I knew I’d never be able to answer that. Just as I knew that they always would find us. That was why we had set up the bell tower as a warning. I cursed to myself. It should have worked. It should have allowed us to have enough warning to get out with no one else being killed.
But instead nearly fifty had died.
I shook my head sorrowfully and sat up, pulling my knees to my chest and holding them with my arms. I clenched my teeth at the crisp morning air and shivered.
We had to be strong. We need to rise up now more than ever. We had outrun them yesterday, but it wouldn’t be long before they regrouped and followed us again.
I stood up from the base of the tree that I had been resting on and moved to the opening in the trees where various members of our group were milling about, already awake this early in the morning. I doubted anyone had slept well.
My legs were sore and my chest burned with every step and breath, but I knew I had my life to be thankful for. I quickly looked around to find my wife sleeping against a tree adjacent to mine, our son, Merek, asleep in her arms. I allowed myself a brief smile before turning away and continuing my walk toward the open circle of trees.
“Erik,” I heard someone call to my right and I turned at the sound of my name. “We have weapons and supplies, but food enough to only last for a day or two at most.”
I shook my head solemnly at the news. “We’ll have to worry about that later, Edmund.” I paused for moment, thinking. “For now we need to be ready to fight. Get everyone together and make sure they’re ready for what we might have to do. We need to keep moving, and we need to stay united together.”
Edmund Crewe nodded and walked away and I knew our flight was just beginning.