After careful consideration, I decided to change the tense of the prologue to past tense. Not surprisingly, it is actually very easy to change tenses, and it did not change the feel or quality at all. So, please look back and read part 1 (here) again if you would like to, in order to avoid confusion. The prologue was written a few months ago and I have never been happy with it from day one. Now it flows much better with the following chapters. Happy reading!
BOOK 1 (Pending Title)
PROLOGUE (2 of 2)
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Amidst the smoking eastern hilltop estates within the city of Athos, a boy knelt before his mother. She sat on the ground in a broken pose with her back against a soot covered wall. A shattered spear protruded from her left pectoral and a collapsed, thin stone column had crushed both her legs, and held her in place.
A series of quick footsteps sounded outside the home, first they loudened towards the front doorway of the estate, then faded as they passed by. A few of the steps were orderly in their pursuit, while most scattered in desperate escape. Above the hissing of flames, the screams of death and the shouting continued as it had for the past hour. Not far off, one of the hunters had reached his prey. The victim, a woman’s voice by the sound of it, screamed “WHY?! Why are you-”, cut off a by strong inhale of breath bracing for impact, followed by a male’s low grunt from a short-sword thrust. After the awful sound of what could only have been taking the blade out brought silence, the killer then continued on, walking with an eerie calm westward down the street and away from the estate.
The mother watched her six-year-old son struggle with the heavy column. He tried to push, then pull with all his might, but it did not budge.
“Mama, it’s too heavy!”, he said.
Tears were streaming down his cheeks, carving lines through the soot on his face. She knew they were not from fear, that feeling was too rare for even one so young in that setting for her people. He was afraid she would not make it, and was overwhelmed by the horror that echoed in all directions. The boy’s short, dark, blood coloured hair was covered with dust and ashes, his forehead soaked in sweat from the exertion. His small hands were covered in the blood of open wounds from digging into the column with his fingers. The blood was not all his own, however. Much of it belonged to his mother. She thought to herself how no child should ever know that feeling.
Knowing she had but only a few moments of life remaining, the mother reached out with her right arm for her son as he strained to pull again. “My boy. My sweet, sweet boy. It is…no use. Come closer…be with me as I die.” The words did not come easy.
Her son ceased his attempts to wrench the column free and crawled over to her, next to the wall. Two bright cyan eyes stared into her own, visible only in the orange glowing light through a window in the room. They drowned with tears but did not blink. Such a strong boy, she thought. With failing strength she held his face with the only hand she could still feel.
“I am too weak to save you, Mama”, the boy shamefully cried out in his young, high voice.
“You have done all that you can. Be gone from here soon, before they return.”
He buried his face in her collar, forcing her to wince as the broken spear shaft shifted slightly. “I can’t leave you”, he mumbled.
“You will…you have to. Listen… to me. Survive…find out where our people went”. She stopped to cough. The pain in her chest threatened to overwhelm her. Yet she persisted.
“When you are a ma-” This time, she coughed blood. She could not tell if her son was listening as he sobbed, or if the words came out at all. Her senses were failing, her vision was cloudy and it was difficult to make sense of the sounds all around. There was not much blood left in her body.
The boy raised his head and stared into her eyes again. She saw in them the recognition that she was nearly dead. But she was very strong, and would not relent until her heart’s last beat. With her life in the world all but finished, the only thing that mattered to her then was her son’s future, a mother’s duty.
She resolved to finish her message. With every drop of energy left to her she forced the last words, words that the boy would never forget, “Mars…..kill…kill them all.”
The little boy, his mouth open wide with shock, knew his mother was gone. Hearing faint voices approaching again, from the west heading east that time, he ripped the pendant from her neck.
Taking a few backward steps, for the first time he took in the disturbing scene of her broken body. The moment scarred his mind, like a giant, twisted fresco painted on the ceiling of his memory, never to fade. The six-year-old child then proceeded to their estate’s main entrance and, after one last look back, ran eastward.
© 2013 FOTS Fantasy