A tyrant king. A country in peril. A mysterious boy. What will you remember as you're lead to your death?
It was a beautiful early summer Soulsday the day I was arrested. I remember the maple trees and their vibrant green leaves that waved in a gentle breeze, the babbling brook that ran behind the cottage that gurgled noisily over river-worn stones. I stood beside it, smiling at the simple beauty of the day. I remember I saw the children running after one another, laughing and yelling in delight, while unhurried mothers followed at a distance, allowing the children to run free while still being supervised. I could saw my lover’s smile, shining from across the green, bright with the memories of yesterday and the promises of tomorrow. I remember that I smiled back, before something in the trees caught my attention.
A glint of light, like sun shining on steel. Moving shadows drifted through the trees, colours too muted to be foliage. I saw Jaydlin’s smile slip, his head turned towards the woods. An explosion of movement! Mothers screamed, children cried, deep male shouts echoed, a cacophony of running feet, leather boots and frightened people. I froze, paralyzed with the horror of seeing City guards point loaded crossbows at children and mothers. Where were our fighters? Where were our men? And why weren’t they shooting? City guards were notorious for their brutality, for their complete disregard for common sense and morals. So why did they harshly order the women and children to be quiet, and turn as one to train their weapons on me?
“Sharna Caterwick?” The Captain called out to me, standing behind his regime of soldiers. No crossbow adorned his hands, but a sword hung from his hip.
I didn’t reply.
“Sharna Caterwick, you are hereby under arrest by order of King Berganor of The City in the country of Arenia. If you come now, no one will die.”
“Do I have your word on that?” I called back, ever defiant. “Do I have your word that once I go with you the buildings here will remain standing, the people here will not be harmed? That the minute my back is turned you won’t fire on innocents?”
A baby whimpered softly to my left, a mother’s hushed soothing whispers drifted across the open space.
The Captain paused, then nodded slowly.
“That’s not an answer.” My voice never shook, though I was shaking inside. All this talk was just a formality. They could arrest me on the spot and I could do nothing but use my words to fight them back.
Murmers erupted all around, causing guards to shift uneasily. Clearly they were as nervous of us as we were of them. The Captain’s face coloured, anger flashing from cruel eyes, as they took in the scene around us. “You will address me with respect and by my title, you little renegade wench.”
“I will never respect someone who calls himself a man while licking the boot of his master. I will never address someone by a title he doesn’t deserve.”
Something sharp prodded my back; a harsh voice in my ear told me to start walking. I began the walk across the green, shoulders stiff and head held high. Blades of grass created a carpet of green under my feet. Wind played with my dress making it flow and move around my knees, the same wind that rustled the green leaves of the forest around us.
Jaydlin called out behind me, his voice rising in panic. “Shar, no! Don’t do it!”
I spun around in horror. I saw Jaydlin fall to his knees, his face a mask of shock and pain as he clutched the arrow protruding from his chest. A crimson blossom began to bloom around the wooden shaft as a scream was torn from my throat. Hands were everywhere. Hands grabbing, hands shoving, some restraining, all hurting. But I was too numb to feel it, too numb to see that I was being dragged away from the one place I felt safe, the one place I thought we couldn’t be found. And the one person I loved most in the world was left bleeding on sun-drenched grass, the red stain turning blades of green to a slick red, glazed eyes left to gaze at where I once stood.