Behind him, Honora sobbed, her little arms just able to keep herself from falling. 

"Peace, sister. We will see them again. I will take care of you." He tried to console her to no avail. As much as she loved her dear brother, she was smart and knew he lied. 

"Go! Run from your homes! Flee East for the Ariding are near! If you value your lives, heed my warning! Grab what means the most to you and leave!" Aidian bellowed as they tore through the streets so familiar to him he could find his way around with his eyes closed. A few people looked up but none seemed as shaken as they needed to be.

"Please, I beg you to run!" He shrieked. It was bad enough to lose his own family but if someone Novia was close to died then her pain would be his pain. 

Shutter, the horse, knew his way to Novia's home instantly and ran there without direction. As he drew up alongside their large house, Aidian slipped from the saddle and leapt up the three steps that led to the front door where he let himself in.

"Novia! Ash!" He cried. Sovia appeared from the kitchen looking shocked as Sithel ran in from the back garden. 

"What's going on, friend?" Ash skipped over the banister and furrowed his brow at the fear that riddled his friend's face. 

"Aidian?" Novia skitted down the steps, dressed in a plain cream dress with her hair in a bun. 

"The Ariding come closer every minute. We must leave. Our parents have stayed behind to defend the village but that will not buy us enough time unless we leave now."

A few seconds passed, much to Aidian's frustration. 

"Novia, Ash, get your things. We knew this would happen one day." Sovia sighed reluctantly. 

"But mother, what will happen to you?" Novia made to step towards  them. 

"We will fight to help you get to safety, as any good parent would do. Now leave!" Sithel half pushed them towards the stairs. 

"They will need bread, and cheese. Sithel, get all the smoked meat the horses can carry and for God's sake saddle the horses before you do it!" The woman rushed around the kitchen. 

Unable to be focused in the flurry of activity, Aidian excused himself and his sister who waited outside. Slight sounds of shouting and even metal on metal echoed through the town and Aidian's heart raced in response. Too slowly, his friend and lover emerged from the house carrying supplies too numerous for the quick escape they needed to make but there was not the time to correct it. The siblings merely mounted their horses, kissed their parents goodbye and ran with Aidian and Honora Eastwards. 

They did not stop until the reached the top of the hill that signified the end of their home valley and the start of a new one they must cross into. From their perch, they looked down upon the four villages that dominated the land and watched with a sure sense of doom as groups of two or three people ran West to fight the vast Ariding that faced them. They would lose the fight, the friends could see that. Farm tools and swords against the Ariding's atrocities? It was a fool's game. Silently, Aidian wondered where his parents lay among the crowd of defenders; if they still stood fighting or lay amongst the silent dead. He already knew the answer. Of course they were dead. 

The End

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