Is there such thing as fate?

It was winter and our village had been attacked by soldiers.  At the time I didn’t know whose soldiers or why they had decided to attack such a peaceful out of the way village.  This war had been going on since I could remember, but never had any our village ever been threatened.  Luckily that day I had been out in the forest with my sister simple walking and fantasizing.  We had no idea what befell our village until we returned.

That day started like any other.  I got up and washed my face before the sun rise.  I helped my mother prepare breakfast and woke my sister.  Together we ate our meal, my father joining us shortly after.  He never ate the morning meal, instead he was up before any of us, and usually had the fire in the kitchen going.    He’d do the harder chores on our modest farm before any of us were up.

After my sister and I had finished our part of the chores, we wandered into the woods, walking our well worn trail.  We both adored the winter and spent much time in the woods.  Today was one such day.  We were in good spirits when we returned home.

We left our trail and began the walk up the road.  Smoke rose from our village in giant black puffs.  It was a mild day, no one would have made much of a fire in their homes, and certainly not the entire village would make that much smoke even if they all fire in their hearths.

"That doesn’t seem right," Emmy said tugging my hand.

"No it doesn’t," I murmured; still gazing at the village, a feeling of dread making my stomach churn.

"I don’t know whether we should go see what happened or if we should just run in the other direction," I told her.

"Let’s go see, it might just be someone’s home burnt down.  We might be able to help," she told me.  She obviously didn’t feel the wrongness as acutely as I did.

Holding hands we ran towards our village.  We climbed the last small hill and gazed down at such a horror as cannot be properly described.  The entire village was engulfed in flames.  Worse, there was not a soul moving.  Emmy’s mouth hung open in astonishment and her eyes glittered with tears.  I must have looked just as pale.  We stood there in shock, quite uncertain what to do, and very much in denial of what our eyes told us.  This was just simply not possible.   There was our little cottage, a heaping pile of ashes and smoke.

I could only think of our parents.  I hoped beyond hope that they were not harmed, perhaps having cheated this fate as my sister and I had.

"Ella," Emmy sobbed.  I held her in my arms and we both cried.

When we had composed ourselves we walked down into the village.   First we checked our cottage.  We could not even find the remains of our parents so badly had everything been burnt.  Even our barn and all our animals were gone.  After a brief inspection we found that the entire village and all our neighbors had met the same fate.

I carried a sense of guilt that we had cheated that fate.

"Do you think they suffered much Ella," Emmy asked, her lips quivering.

"No," I answered for her sake.

I could not imagine the horror they must have faced prior to their deaths.  I had visions of blades flashing, of friends dying, of painful screams and houses burning.  I shook my head, trying to clear it of those thoughts.  I hoped Emmy had not caught them.  She sometimes had a way of catching my wayward thoughts.

"Now what," she asked.

Now what indeed.  I was eighteen at this time, she was fifteen.  We were very close (being in each others mind has a way of doing that).   I was engaged to be married in the spring.  My parents had chosen the nicest boy in the village and I really did adore him.  Luckily he had gone off on a trip with his father and cousin.  They were merchants.  I wasn’t sure where they would be, they would be traveling quite a bit.

We however, could not stay here.  We had nothing but the clothes on our backs and painful memories.  We could only leave.  That left a knife in my heart.  I might never find Martius again.  He’d come back here and probably think I had met with the same fate.  I had to find way to let him know I was alive.  He would be so devastated to find his home and family this way.  I could hardly think straight I was so overcome with anguish.

"Well we leave.  It’s two days walk to the nearest town, let us hope that they have not met with this fate," I told Emmy, she simply nodded numbly.  At least we were dressed for the weather, and used to walking.  "First I want to leave a sign of some sort so that when Martius comes back he’ll know we’re alive."

"What about the ribbon from your hair?  What if you tied it to our fence post," Emmy suggested, wiping tears from her eyes.  I did the same looking at that post.  It was the last thing standing in our yard.

I nodded and untied my hair, tying my ribbon to the post.  It had been a gift from him, surely he would recognize it and know that I was alright.

That done I took Emmy’s hand in mine and we walked in the opposite direction we had come, hoping to find refuge and help.

The End

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