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It was always at night when I could hear their screams, could smell smoke where none still existed. I ever hear the sound of bodies being pulled into the streets, of rod striking bare flesh, and the children, dear god the children…
-From the last writings of ZaezLiN
They once were called the People of Hevyn, that shining city of everlasting beauty and grace. It is only fitting that they have fallen so far, so fast. These people, Engels they are called now, are lower than cattle, for at least cattle know their place. Give them some land to live on, and they strive to make it better than their superiors. Put them to work in your fields and they seek to bring to you the largest of fruits. It is despicable that we have to suffer them as we have. One day, one day…
-From the published journal of Lord Arafet Va Daitan, 9th Earl of the Aerthan Prefecture Daisuken
Chapter 1 –Endings-
The village of Stane lay shrouded in mist, as it did most mornings in the early months of fall, when the days were warm but the nights cool. Several lights were beginning to appear in windows, shining wearily through the fog like disembodied eyes blearily peering into the weakening night. Soon the town would awaken, some to work and some to school, and still others to survey the damage that would surely be present. There was damage on most mornings, only a fire or broken windows if they were lucky; a missing neighbor if they were not.
The town itself wasn’t a large one, but neither was it small by most standards. It housed five hundred Engels in single family homes, the homes being one or two room wooden structures, depending on the size of the family inhabiting it. Some of course were larger, but those were usually among the first to be burned down by angry Aerthans, usually teens that sneak onto the settlement for entertainment.
It was arranged in a circular pattern, with a village ‘green’ in its center, where sat a small building that served as the village council. Fanning out from that central point were first shops, then houses, spaced out far enough so that if one went up in flames it would not endanger the entire village. Along the outskirts of the village proper sat the large schoolhouse, an Aerth endorsed building, so safe from vandals, a small healing house, stables, and barracks which housed anywhere from ten to fifteen Aerth soldiers, and no more than three rangers at a time. Other buildings were scattered throughout the forest along the main road that led from Stane to the Golden Highway, the road that overlapped Stane’s dirt road and which lead to the city, Dane Prefecture.
Forests only covered three-fourths of the land surrounding Stane, the other percentage being made up of countryside, land that had been cleared of trees, burned, and then replanted by the Engels to secure a place in which their cattle could graze.
It was in this pre-dawn light that Ren found himself walking along the main road through the town, past dark homes and lighted shops, the smell of breakfast cooking and bakers baking hanging low and appealing in the morning air. In his left hand hung strap, and from the short strap a wooden box, which when opened would release its own tantalizing fragrance no doubt, but that would have to wait for lunch.
His steps were light, though with the dew heavy on the land he had little worry of dust rising at his feet to coat the bottom of his dark brown pants. Even so, it was a habit of his to walk with as little notice of his passing as was possible, for you never knew who was waiting for any excuse to put you in your place.
He let his right hand swing at his side, every so often brushing against the hilt of one of his goads, strapped against his right hip and tied around his thigh with a leather thong. It was two feet in length, square with a flat top, stamped on that surface with the seal of the local Lord, showing that it was an approved tool and not an illegal weapon. Its twin rested on his left side, for you never knew which hand would be free when it came time to fend off a wolf, or worse.
A door opened up the street to his right and a tall, lithe woman stepped into the open doorway, leaning against it slightly with a hand on one hip. She smiled at him as he began to pass, then threw something towards his head, which he promptly snapped from the air, the smell of freshly baked muffin wafting around him.
“Bet you skipped breakfast this morning, ne, Ren?” she said, grinning and straightening, arms crossed beneath small breasts. She was one of the local bakers, had been since she was ten years old, and almost always managed to catch him on his way to the fields, ready with a muffin or biscuit, intent on single-handedly fattening him up to be presentable for a bride.
“Ah, yeah,” he said, taking a bite and smiling in pleasure as exotic flavors melted into his mouth. He never knew what to expect, but he was never disappointed. “You know me all too well,” he laughed and waved the hand holding his breakfast as he passed her shop, with her standing there, shaking her head and smiling.
“Some maiden is going to wrap you in a wreath one day, AhlRen!” she called out, then stepped back into her shop and closed the door.
He smiled and finished off the muffin, going so far as to lick his fingers and pick any crumbs off his tan shirt that may have gotten stuck in the material. As he neared the edge of town his mood soured, for lingering on the air was the smell of smoke, and there just on the outskirts of the village, facing the flatlands where the cattle waited, lay the smoldering ruins of a home. A woman stood near the edge of the ashes, a small child held in her arms, an older boy at her side with fists clenched and a tear-streaked face.
Another home burned, another life to start over, another husband and father lost.
Last edited by Jace; 01-10-2012 at 06:56 AM.
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