Thunder brewed high above, competing with the brutal flashes of blinding lightning. Hard drops of rain fell and violently battered the ground.
Everyone hid inside, listening to the rhythmic pattering of the water on window panes. Huddled around fires, sitting on bare, cold floors, the children and elderly sat. Chilling winds seemed to pierce their fragile skin, protected only by thin, worn cloth. Those who tried desperately to take care of the dependent sacrificed even the tiniest of warmth that the fire gave their families, guarding the door for fear of the King's men. No one knew when, or who, could be taken away.
One family, a relatively small one, were all sat around the fire. There were three children, a father, and a mother, who was cradling the smallest of the children. The creature inside the bundle could be no more than onesummer old.
What you could judge to be the middle child of the family lay down, his head on his father's lap, feverish and shivering. The eldest child, a thin girl of about 12 summers, was applying a wet cloth to the boy's
forehead. Yet the family were terrified that in the cold, the nursing technique could do more harm than good.
A hard knock came on the door. The family froze in place, terrified.
Two minutes later, the door took another pounding. Shivering not only from the cold, the Father stood up.
"Who... Is it?" his teeth chattered.
"We are here on behalf of his majesty the King. You are legally bound to open this door at once, or we shall be forced to break it down," the voice spoke with cold emotion.
The mother held the child closer to her involuntarily. The father's eyes flicked from the door to his fearful family. Then the voice spoke again,
"This is your last warning. Open this door at once!" as the father reluctantly moved toward the door, the mother stood up and rushed to stand between him and the door.
"Lieber Gott, bitte nicht," she pleaded.
"I have to, my dear," his voice was shaky. Before he could reach the door, however, the wood was bashed in.
A group of soldiers barged through the doorframe, swords in hand. The one who had spoke came forward, facing the man with a repulsed look,
"You dared to speak in the forbidden tongue, and you shall pay the price," the soldier nodded, and one member of his group stepped forward, his sword raised. The speaker nodded again, and his
underling plunged the sword into the father's chest.
Immediately the woman began to scream unintelligible words, her husband's blood splattered on her face. The child that she held began to wail, while the feverish boy simple stared, his expression vacant. The girl who had been nursing him stood up, and began to shout with her mother.
"Warum? Warum? Warum?" they yelled in unison. The soldiers were enraged, and the girl and her mother soon shared the same fate as the father. One of the men also took care of the sick boy, in an act that could be called mercy.
A wailing baby was the only member of the family to survive. The one who had spoken to the father picked up the bundle, disgust painted clearly on his face. Carrying the child from thehouse, his men close behind him, he paused only to put a sign on the door.
Peoples of the Eryan empire. Let this be a lesson to those who dare defy his majesty the King's orders.
Long live King Julian Kilern!
The following day, a large crowd gathered around the family's house. Blood had leaked out onto the streets over night, and the smell of the fresh dead wafted from inside the building. Those who had known the innocent family hid their heads in their palms before walking away. Some of the neighbours had heard the noise. The echoes of the child and mother shouting 'why', pleading for their already lost lives would haunt them forever.
But not one person asked where the baby had gone. They already knew the answer...