Rylan and I were wondering through the village. Our bows hung over our shoulders and the strap of the quiver of arrows hanging between our two hands, sharing the load out of comfort and not effort. A few chickens pecked at the the ground around our feet, clucking away to their heart's delight.
We ducked into the weapons shed on our way to Rylan's house, packing away everything neatly and hiding any evidence of our previous presence. We walked back to the house, listening to hear if anyone was home. With no other sounds than our own breathing and footsteps, we walked in to find Braden still going at his wooden carvings.
"Wow, these are really cool." I said, scouting the row of wooden animals flocking the table where he worked.
"Save your sarcasm Laila, I'm not in the mood." He continued without a pause, constantly chipping away at the block in his hand.
"I'm being dead serious Braden, these are amazing." I picked up wolf figurine and inspected it closely, immediately in love with it.
He looked up first at Rylan who half-heartedly scanned through his figurines, obviously his interest having been watered down from seeing it so often, then turned his attention to me. I caught the glint in his eye at seeing his work being praised from someone other than family who found it their duty to be supportive in his hobby.
"You really like it that much?" He asked, a slight child like wonderment filling his voice.
"I come from the house of Lupus, of course I like it that much. The detail is amazing, it's almost as if it's howling to its own moon." I turned it over again and again while I spoke, noticing new details every time I looked again. "Where did you learn to do this?"
I wasn't too sure if it was the setting sun or the heat, but I was almost sure that Braden blushed a little at that moment, looking away and clearing his throat before he spoke again. "I taught myself, I have many days to myself while I have to baby sit Rylan, there's more than enough firewood lying around to chip away the hours."
"You make looking after me sound like a mission and a half." Rylan scoffed, not liking the fact that Braden was speaking of him like he wasn't standing right there.
"Because it is." He glared back at his little brother, immediately back to his old self.
I placed the wolf figurine back gingerly to its place amongst the other animals, stroking a finger over it one last time as I pulled my hand back. I eyed the other animals, appreciating the detail in each and every figurine. A bear standing on its hind legs scouting its surroundings; a honey badger looking for enemies behind it; an eagle spreading its wings to full wing span and finally a leopard stalking its prey.
"These all represent the Five Nations." I said, more as a statement than a question.
"Well done Laila, someone has been taught well, unlike someone here." He threw the comment half-heartedly in Rylan's direction.
"Maybe I'd learn better if others were better teachers." Rylan throwing a comment back as he walked off into the pantry area to scavenge for food.
Braden turned his attention to, watching my fascination to the wolf still. He put down what he was working with and stood up, moving around the table to where I stood and picked up the wolf. He took my hand in his and gently placed the wolf in it, curling my fingers over it.
"Keep it." He had a strange look in his eye when he looked at me, a sort of kindness I had never seen play across his face.
I looked at my hand cradled in his, the wolf resting neatly between it all. "Thank you." Looking back up to see a shadow of a smile play at the corners of his mouth.
"Braden! Where's all the food?" Came the bellow of Rylan from the pantry area, obviously in distress at the lack of nourishment.
Braden just let his head drop, shaking it as he moved towards the cries of help. A few minutes later both returned, Braden carrying a tray of bread and sliced cheese and Rylan hopping around eagerly behind.
"Food, food, food!" Rylan chanted, as if he'd never seen it before in his life.
"Relax, it's just bread." Braden not enjoying his over zealous little brother.
"I love bread!" He grinned, helping himself first to the thickest slice of bread and putting on butter and a few slices of cheese, gorging himself as quickly as he had prepared it.
"What happened to ladies first?" Braden stood with arms crossed, a look of annoyance taking hold of his face.
"Sorry." Rylan replied, mouth brimming with bread and cheese.
I shook my head and laughed at his bad manners. "It's fine, I'll eat before I starve. I promise."
We all sat down and enjoyed ourselves, savoring the fresh bread in silence. After we were done and the table was cleared we set up the fireplace, laying blankets and pillows around the flickering flames. Braden had even decided to join us, one of those few moments when we could all get along and have decent conversations. \
"So where are the parents?" Rylan eventually asked, the burning question we both have had since this morning.
"They haven't been back from the Town Hall yet. We could take a walk down and see what's happening. I think Raisa also went there today to help." Braden shrugged his shoulders in my direction, hoping that it was relevant information.
"Might as well, because I'm falling asleep here." I stood up, stretching until I could see the stars dance behind my eyes. "Woah."
Braden was suddenly next to me, grabbing my elbow to steady me. "You shouldn't stand up so quickly." And as quickly as he was by my side he stepped away, walking towards the door.
"Come on you lazy child." I blurted, holding my hand out to Rylan who lay now sprawled on the floor like a crippled monkey.
"Do we have to go?" He asked, groaning as he spoke.
My hands went to my hips, getting into my adult mode. "Let's go, maybe they need our help with something."
"Fine." Rylan grumbled to himself, making as much noise he could muster to express his displeasure of having to get up and go work.
The three of us walked over the short distance to the Town Hall, enjoying the soft night breeze rustling through the trees and our clothes. There was quite a bit of a buzz when we got to the Town Hall, people bustling in and out carrying things in and exiting empty handed to fetch other things.
"Wonder what the big occasion is." Rylan spoke almost absentmindedly.
As he spoke I could spot Raisa running around excitedly, taking charge of the stream of people, guiding everyone to where everything should be set. The moment she caught my eye I knew exactly what was happening.
"My parents are coming back!" I couldn't contain my excitement. After six months of not seeing them, I would finally be able to see them before the sun rose again.
"I'm sorry Little Miss," Began Raisa as I approached her, my feet running into an embrace. "I didn't even get the chance to let you know this morning about what was happening."
I was almost in tears from the happiness I was feeling. "It's fine, I'm just really glad that they're coming home!"
"Someone seems awfully excited." Came the raspy voice of Sir Cederic behind me, a bench hanging from his broad shoulders. "Better calm down before there's an accident around here."
"Cederic, leave the poor child alone, she has reason to celebrate. So do we all!" She held me under her arm, looking at me with a big smile on her face.
"That's Sir Cederic to you." He winked at me. "So is the Little Miss ready for the ceremony tomorrow?"
My hands shot to my head, realising that I was very unprepared for everything. "I haven't had chance to get things ready at home!"
Raisa hugged me closer. "Don't worry Laila, It's all done. I managed to get things sorted while you were out today. You just have to make sure you're neat and tidy for tomorrow."
I sighed in relief, glad that most of the responsibility had been taken care of. "Thank you Raisa, what would I do without you."
"Probably a lot less starved to begin with, does she even feed you?" Sir Cederic began poking at my arms, still a little scrawny from my lack of an appetite.
"Cederic! Do be rude somewhere else." Raisa began scolding Sir Cederic, hands on her hips in her typical annoyed stance.
"Sir Cederic. Just because you're my sister does not mean you're allowed to forget that." He puffed his chest out, obviously trying to highlight his statement.
"Your head's as big as your ego." She frowned at him, sneaking a sly smile in my direction to let me know that it was all in good sport. "Now if you don't mind, that needs to go into the main foyer as soon as you can possibly manage." And she shooed him into the direction of the Town Hall, getting back into working mode.
I walked over to where the boys were standing awkwardly, waiting for some sort of direction as to what to do.
"You two suddenly scared of your family now?" I asked, grinning at their obvious body language.
"You were having your moment. There was no need for us to interrupt that." Rylan coughed, trying to play his awkwardness cool.
I raised an eyebrow to him. "Nice excuse. So now that we know what is happening, we can go and do something else."
"So we came all this way for nothing?" Rylan was obviously upset at the fact that he got up for nothing.
"Shut up. You're too lazy for your own good." Braden scorned him, suddenly in a bad mood.
"Okay boys, let's all just take a deep breath and a moment to relax. We might as well head to bed anyway, it's late and tomorrow is going to be a long day." I looked at both of them, waiting for a confirmation sign from them that they agreed with me.
"Come on." Braden grabbed Rylan's shoulder and pushed him towards home. "I'm going to walk Laila home."
"What, I can't come with?" Rylan asked, obviously feeling hurt.
"No I need you to go kill the fire in the hearth before it burns the whole house down." That seemed to have done the trick as Rylan never gave the opportunity up to take on some responsibility.
"Good night Laila." Rylan smiled at me, giving me a hug as the final farewell and ran off home.
As soon as Rylan was out of view Braden slipped his fingers through mine. It caught me off guard, causing me to recoil away from his touch.
"What was that for?" I asked, my hand held close to my chest.
"Just trust me. Please?" He looked at me with an odd expression, hand held out for mine.
I very reluctantly eased my hand away from my chest and took hold of his hand. He proceeded to intertwine our fingers again and we walked in the direction of my home. We never spoke, listening to our footsteps as they kicked at the dirt, enjoying the the quiet that was starting to surround us with the hustle and bustle of the town fading behind us.
Finally we were standing in front of my home and I suddenly felt very awkward, not knowing what I should be saying or doing at that moment.
"I uhm, I just. I should be going. So-" I started stuttering, not sure how to fill the awkward silence.
Braden simply placed a finger to his lips, still not letting go of my hand. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the wolf figurine and same as last time placed it in my hand, curling my fingers around it. I watched him work quietly, unsure of why it was happening again.
I looked up at him, a weird expression still plastered to his face. "Thank you. Again." I said trying to pull my hand from him and hide away in my room.
Before I could react he kissed me, a small peck on the lips. "Good night Laila." He said softly, added a smile and let my hand slip from his. He walked away quietly, his hands in his pockets.
I watched his silhouette fade away before I could move. With fumbling hands I opened the door, closing it carefully behind me. Walking to my room I felt almost numb, not sure how I should be feeling or what I should be doing with myself. I sat on the edge of my bed, trying to sift through my thoughts. Eventually I kicked off my shoes and flopped down onto the pillows, hands covering my face. I was surprised that there was a sneaking smile spreading across my face, not too sure why I was so happy.
Before long I drifted off into dream land, still smiling as the world faded into black.
"Laila! Laila wake up! Come on we have to go!" A hushed scream playing off in my ears, bringing me into a groggy state of awareness.
"What's going on?" I asked, trying to rub the sleep from my eyes, struggling to stay awake.
"Laila, you need to wake up now!" The hushed scream again, this time bringing me to full attention.
"Mama?" I looked at her face in the dark, immediately recognising it in the dark. Her face was creased into a look of fear and impatience. "What's going on?"
"There's no time to explain." She hurried off, throwing things into a bag. "Get dressed, quickly!" And she slipped out of the room.
I threw the sheets off of me, changing quickly into clean clothes and slipped my feet into shoes. I was on my way out when I turned back, grabbing the wolf figurine off the side table next to my bed, shoving it into my pocket and stumbling out of my room.
I saw my mother still throwing things into the bag she was carrying, starting to stress about what had caused her to go into a frenzy. I rubbed my eyes vigorously, hoping this was all just a bad dream, all the nervous jitters of being able to see them in the morning. Alas, it seemed like I wasn't dreaming.
"Mama, what's happening?" I asked again, this time with a hint of tears.
She approached me, holding me shoulders first and then moving her hands to my face. "I've missed seeing this face." She wiped away a stray tear that ran down my cheek. "Don't cry Laila, it's going to be fine." She smiled through her own tears.
"Don't cry Mama." I hugged her, enjoying having her arms around me again.
At that moment my father stormed in, breathing heavily from some sort of exertion he had been busy with outside. "Laila!" He opened his arms wide, taking the full impact of me running into his embrace.
"Papa, what's happening? What's going on?" I was truly scared, petrified of the great unknown.
He held me tight, stroking my hair while he spoke. "There are some very bad people that are after us. It's not safe for us to be here anymore, we need to get away as quickly as we can." With that he stood up, still holding me, and brought his wife into a family embrace. We stood like that for a while, enjoying the fact that our family had been reunited after so long being separated.
Just as I was put down a loud knocking reverberated the front door. My father eyed us wearily, moving towards the door. "Who's there?" He put full force into his voice, the same one he used to instill fear into his enemies.
"Warrick, It's Cederic. Open up." Sir Cederic sounded serious but trying to get his concern across.
The door swung open and Sir Cederic walked in, slamming the door closed behind him. "What the hell is going on?"
"Politics gone bad." And the two of them moved over into the kitchen area to discuss the issue at hand.
My mother took hold of my shoulders to turn my attention to her, kneeling down to look me in the eye. "You need to stay calm, okay?" She started, taking her necklace off and placing it around my neck. From the chain hung a wolf howling at a crescent moon. "This is to remind you of your past, where you truly belong. Keep it close to you, and let no one else know you have it. Stay proud of your heritage but you're going to have to keep it to yourself, do you understand?" She looked at me, waiting for my sign of understanding.
I nodded, feeling a little more than overwhelmed. "Okay."
Before we could say anything else we could hear the door being barged, someone trying to force their way in.
"To your room, now!" My mom began pushing me towards the direction. "Out of the window, get to safety."
I was barely in my room when the door was hit off its hinges, falling loudly to the floor. Three people dressed completely in black, faces covered apart from their eyes, flood into the room. One grabbed my mother and restrained her, the other two moving towards the kitchen area to where My father and Sir Cederic were still residing. For a moment I was scared stiff, not sure If I should run or scream. Eventually my feet moved towards the window in my room, and I clambered out, falling heavily to the ground.
I hardly took another step when something tackled me, my head hitting the ground hard. I felt my head spinning, trying to orientate itself through the shock of the impact. Before I could get my bearings straight I was hauled up, my hands held behind me and my mouth held shut by my attacker. I tried my best to fight the stranger off of me but to no avail. I was dragged away towards the edges of the Meadow, always facing towards the house.
Suddenly the house was lit up, flames licking at every inch of the building, hearing my mother's screams. As soon as it started burning, other houses caught alight, lighting up the night with angry flicks of flame.
My entire body went numb, my legs buckling under me and the fight completely leaving my body. My attacker continued to drag me away from it all, still letting me watch in horror as my home and village burnt to the ground.
"What should we do with her?" Asked a deep burly voice somewhere in the dark.464Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡmIRxuurVP3
"Why did you even bring here here?" A smooth voice chipped in, a young man, teenager probably.464Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡdXAdhwCaPG
"We need her alive." A strong female voice this time. "She'll come in handy to the Tenebris Miles."464Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡqw7FPk4BKX
A few muttered voices continued, silently talking amongst themselves about the topic at hand. 464Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡQqjkrGoJ7t
"Get up." The strong female voice was right behind me now. I did as I was told.464Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡZJIa89BI3j
I turned to face her, dried tears staining my cheeks, feeling a void of emotion. I kept quiet.464Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡVNjax7TfoA
"We'll take care of you." She tried sounding comforting, but it played awkwardly with her body language, unsure of what she should do with her hands. "It's going to be okay."464Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡtyfZCjgGip
I just looked at her, accepting my fate.464Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ4x6in1EN2xns 188.8.131.52da2