Those dogs. Those filthy, mangy dogs. They slaughtered all of them. Men, women, children, burned and cut down. My country. Tears stream down my lucid face.
I left them. The survivors of the sentry guard and militia
were backed up to the door of my manor.
I watched them from my grand windows, Linus the sentry leader ran
through by a bayonet as he shielded a young boy, Friar George’s brother Vernon
shot in the arm and later innards, blood spurting from his pale lips. Most of them I knew by name.
My protectors, wife, and daughter made for
the back door. “I shan’t let ye perish,
m’Lord,” declared Martin, the leader of my personal guard. I was hauled away, but I didn’t resist. I heard the cries of my people as I left them
rushed to a small boat in the wharf.
Martin assisted my family into the boat before he and my five other
guardsmen got to work at the ropes.
After the vessel was released from the docks they jumped in and went for
the oars, wind too slight for the single sail.
I couldn’t see the last of my countrymen perish. That didn’t matter. The screaming was evidence enough.
I surveyed what was left of the populace
of my dear home. My wife Mary, cheeks
like spiced milk, gown of green satin.
My daughter Sophia, charcoal braids framing a round face, cheekbones
high and regal. Randulf, the oldest and
most trusted of my guard. Norman and
Orson, brothers possessing incredible strength and loyalty. Lenard, former sentry leader and
strategist. Hieni, a dark-skinned
captive from the west, highly knowledgeable of flora and fauna. Martin, man of amazing speed with the sabre,
accuracy of the musket, and cultivation of the mind. Perhaps the finest soldiers in all of Hannon,
or former Hannon as it soon shall be.
I snap back to attention as we exit the
harbor. The occasional sobs from Mary
and Sophia have ceased, Sophia drifting to sleep in her mother’s arms and Mary
peering blankly at the slight waves of the sea.
They are still in shock, I’m sure.
Sympathy isn’t Mary’s strong-suit, but she is far from
cold-hearted. I realize now that I
sheltered Sophia too much. She will
never truly understand this event. She
may not live much longer anyway. A new
round of tears slides down my face.
“Have you a plan, Lenard?” I ask.
“Aye, m’Lord. We’ll find a small island for the night and
then continue to Jeri. The Jerians have
always looked kindly toward us, even if our requests for an alliance were
dismissed,” he replied.
You may ease, men, the Yirmans won’t bother looking for small ships
escaping. They’re quite a superstitious
nation, as far as the ocean is concerned.”
My men half their oaring pace. They will continue for as long as I request;
Norman and Orson alone could row for hours.
The sun will set soon, however.
The first sight of land will be our heading.
A few minutes later, I spot a speck in the
distance. “Steer right, men. I see some land. We shall rebuild our great country.”