Tattered Sails

In the midst of a war-strewn country, a tiny village is all that remains of the pocket of peace that is slowly disappearing. The lives of the people inhabiting this village are almost untouched by the violence surrounding them, until... they attack!
Now Ash is returning to her home, uncertain and scared of what will await her...

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3. Survivors

The conversation with Theo didn't last long. His companion excused himself as soon as I walked into the cramped cabin. He was quite a striking figure, tall, dark and mysterious. As he passed me, our eyes met, just for a second. His gaze was like nothing I had ever experienced, burning deep into my soul, exposing my every secret. His eyes weren't anything special, forgettable even, but the depth of his stare and the ferocity I saw in them made me feel like a deer caught in the wide circle of a searchlight. Actually, he made me feel small, and insignificant, so maybe a rabbit would be a better animal to compare myself to.

Dark soon rained down upon the ruined buildings. The moon shone down; a sliver of silver light that bathed the village in an eerie glow. The survivors, mainly the women and children, crept out of their hiding places. They were pitifully few. The barbarians had left the dead to rot in the streets. A shriek broke the deadly silence.

By the time the cabin door had swung shut with a heavy clang, I had regained my composure. Theo only wanted to warn me about what awaited us on shore. He seemed unaffected by all of this; the travelling and his own warning. But then I looked closer. My brother also had a striking appearance. His skin was a golden brown that most people could only dream of, from spending days on end on the deck of his ship, open to all the elements. His eyes, the exact shade of slate grey as mine, were clouded with emotions - a stormy grey sea with no land in sight. I could read his history in his eyes; it was my history too. There was a darkness there that I could not place, a hardness in his voice that betrayed his inner conflict, contrasting with his calm exterior. I had rarely seen him like this, so on edge. He was usually the picture of composure and radiated confidence. This uncertainty was unnerving.

"Tomas! NO!" A woman broke the ranks of the ragged group. She rushed towards a body hanging half in, half out of a blackened, broken window, not caring about the deep crimson stains that splashed her bare ankles. She cradled the man's bloodied head in her hands, caressing his cold features, kissing the eyes that no longer held the spark of life, the mouth that could not kiss back. Sobs wracked her body, released from the confinement of her soul.

Theo accompanied me onto the deck. We stood at the bow of the ship, watching as we rounded the headland. We weren't able to see anything past the peninsula. Yet. I shivered, a breeze lifting my hair and freezing the blood in my veins. The mist lessened the further inland we sailed. But the air felt heavier, foreboding and mysteriously dark. We were alone up here, alone apart from the beautiful, but haunting, figurehead: a majestic eagle with its wings outspread, twined with vines, thorns and leaves. Theo and I were quiet, breathing in the silence that surrounded us. We didn't need words to feel the others' emotions. As brother and sister, we were very close. We formed a bond that could not be broken when we were orphaned. Smiling slightly, I slipped my hand into his, embracing the calmness that Theo enveloped me in. Whatever we saw next, I knew I was safe with Theo. I could cope, and I would avenge my village.

Silent tears ran down the faces of the scattered survivors as they mourned. They mourned the loss of loved ones, but also the loss of their community, their freedom, their village. And their lives. The ones left behind were not the lucky ones.

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