A grey cloud had settled over the house. Silence was heavy in the air, melancholy and darkened. I could only wish to be away from it all, from its gloomy burdens. Such a desire only led my mind to think of Horatio, and the offer with weighed even heavier on my mind.

Alyssa escaped to her room, gently closing the door and the strange, empty atmosphere of the rest of the house off from her. Mother was gone, and tears were a common sight between her sisters.

Sighing, she sat upon the edge of the stiff mattress in which she lay every night and stared into the cold world outside her window. The valley swept up around their Southern side, blanketed with their grey coat of deadened, slumbering trees, to the backs of giants which were mountains enclosing them in. She knew to the Northen face of the house the valley bent lower, in the center laying the houses of the village all huddled together in the center as if attempting to hide from the imposing hills all around them.

Continuing to gaze around, she knew it was this place she was born, this place the only one she knew. What would be the consequences herself? him? But, in a way, Alyssa knew she already had. As of late when she lacked his presence, she felt empty, on the edge of insanity and yearning for him in the strangest of ways. Pain when she was with him, and agony when she was away. Connecting herself to Horatio, she thought, could most likely be the only way to escape such a pain and encounter true happiness.

Escape. In her frivilous thoughts, Alyssa had earlier dreamed of a way out of the village, for adventure, for the thrill of danger and even the exhileration of romance. That all seemed so long ago, before Horatio had ever appeared to her. Since, never had she been able to fantasize. Since, her world seemed to crumble all around her and she longed for stability and ways of old.

She stood and moved toward the window, pressing her fingers to the chilled pane. Horatio could offer her the escape she once fantasized, the adventure, the romance. And as her whole life was flaming as it was at present, he could rescue her into bliss, and offer her protection she thought would never come from her.

It sounded so selfish. Could she leave her sisters at this point? Her elder was with child, husband away, and her younger was still but a child. Alyssa was still a young woman, but could she abandon them? Did she have to abandon them to stay with Horatio? Perhaps, if she did connect herself to him, he could offer safetly not only to her but to the remnants of her family.

Putting aside everyone else, and everyone else's feelings, even that of Horatio, what did she want? She closed her eyes, imagining the feel, the taste of his lips on hers, the warmth of his embrace, the brilliance of his presence that she so longed for, that she once believed was demonic and spellbinding, that was purely evil.

She was confident she loved him, and, no matter the consequences, wanted to spend every moment in his warmth, wake to his kiss, and experience the unimaginable feeling of the connection of souls and unbelievable love in which he spoke. She smiled, closing her eyes and resting her forehead against the frosty window. The more she thought, the more her heart raced, her heart, her whole body ached to be with him and lose herself in him, to love him and to feel his love without holding back.

She had to see him now. She didn't care what was right or wrong. They had to do it now. She could not wait any longer; she could not go through the pain of being away, of being scared, of being separated from him.

Tearing from her room, she burst from her door and almost ran into her elder sister. "What are you doing?" she frowned at Alyssa's brightened expression. "You have not spoken in days, you hide from us and seemingly all your work. What is going on with you?"

Her heart sank to her stomach, lowering her eyes. Ashamed, she could not gather words to reply, she could not look into the eyes of her sister. "Alyssa, tell me right at this moment..." came her stern voice.

"Heya, heya!" cried Ella, the younger running through the front door, breathless.
"Smoke; fire down at the village! Quick, quick!"

Alyssa moved toward the door, but her sister grabbed her arm to stop her. "No--you are not going anywhere. You must explain yourself."

"It's spreading; we must help, Lyssa!" Ella bounced up and down in her place, her expression pale and anxious.

She gave her sister one look, shaking her hand off of her and following her other sister out the door. "I will explain later," Alyssa met her gaze once more before sprinting to the barn, bridling a horse and helping Ella up before climbing up herself.


Screaming, chaos. The villagers themselves ran about helplessly, not even bothering to save their homes as they tried to save their necks. Alyssa did not realize what was happening until they had entered the fiery maw of the village, fire spreading from one house to another, tearing at people's lives. It was too late when she did realize what was going on; they had dismounted their horse just outside the village, tied her to a tree, and jogged the remaining distance. They realized why people had given up on the village and were fleeing so wildly.

Soliders. Enemies.

Black figures against the gold flames, they charged after farmers, women, and children. Confused in the chaos, Alyssa grabbed her sister by the arm and dragged her in the opposite direction to escape. Heart racing, adreniline pulsing through her veins, she dragged Ella behind her, her short legs not moving her along fast enough.

The greedy hand of a solider snatched Alyssa's hair before she and her sister could reach the village bounds. It sent her tumbling backwards to further be caught in the solider's grasp. Ella paused, looking back with wide, frightened eyes.

"Run!" Alyssa screamed. "Go, Ella, go!"

She did not see what Ella did. The solider flipped her around to face him, an ashy face and an ugly expression. "You're comin' with me, wretch."

Alyssa swallowed, not bothering to resist as he dragged her the rest of the way out of the village and made a round-about turn where a gathering of laughing soliders drunk on brutal victory hid in a forest clearing with more prisoners roped together in the center. The people she had known all her life. Alyssa confused, fearful beyond measure; the soldier violently shoved her in with the rest, tightly binding her hands and feet.

She closed her eyes. Oh, Horatio, my Guardian Angel, save us.


The End

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