Chapter Eight: The Sign

Jonrah did not linger very long at the home of his old friend.

Although he had originally been very calm once he had been told of the inaccuracy of the symbol, the mysterious visitor stirred inside him a new anxiety. He was unsure of whether to let the whole ordeal go or to instead press on and find out what this was all about, if anything.

The man had seemed very suspicious though. Few wore robes and a hood around the city, and especially not at night; dress code like that simply arose curiosity.

Jonrah was convinced that he had been eavesdropping on their conversation, but was unsure of why. It was obviously linked to his discoveries of late, but whether it was a man of the East or the kid that set up the joke, he couldn't be sure.

Lorda remained reluctant to believe that it was all a joke. Although he had no actual explanation, he refused to believe that anybody in the kingdom could be so sick.

After they had discussed all that came to mind regarding the East, which was little, Jonrah decided it was best to head home.

It had been an hour since the man had looked through the window, and Jonrah had not stopped thinking about it. But the dark was converging upon the city now, and he felt it was best to begin heading home.

As the door opened, Jonrah was deafened by a scream that pierced the night. Further screams followed, and for a moment Jonrah expected to see thousands of bodies strewn on the streets, blood soaked and any survivors being chansed by vicious men of the East.

Of course, this was not so, and apart from the screams, which seemed distance despite their deafening sound and pitch, nothing seemed amiss.

However, he knew that there must be something wrong, for the amount of screams was increasing, and so, scanning his surroundings, Jonrah ran into the centre of town, only a light jog, and stood on top of a bench in the park that held the statues of King Lito I and his son King Lito II. King Lito III would abviously be added to this collection one day, but for now, it was just a father and son.

Turning around on the bench, Jonrah wasn't immediately shocked by his surroundings. Everything, except the sounds that echoed through the night, was calm.

Looking to the East, in the direction of his home, it took him a while to make out what was odd.

It seemed that the East was a little lighter than the West, and into the air... Smoke billowed.

A fire.

Instantly fearing for his family, Jonrah leapt down from his vantage point, vaulted the fence and sprinted towards his home, ignoring the shouts of Lorda as he ran past: 'What's wrong? What the hell are you doing?!'

Every step brought new thoughts of horror to the mind of Jonrah. His house burnt to the ground. That was of course what it was. It all fitted together. His discoveries, the spy. They knew he knew, and now they intended to take him out.

But why not kill him when they had the chance? Why now burn down his house with him not inside?

His mind was not long occupied by these questions however, as his thoughts immediately went to his family. Karlin and Jodar would likely be asleep as the flames engulfed them...

The idea made a tear trickle down his cheek, which was blown back by the wind as he ran, ran, ran.

Turning the final corner was near impossible. Jonrah was terrified of what he might see.

But he had no time to stop. Rounding the corner, he stopped dead in his tracks.

His house was alight, people screaming and running for their lives. Some men trying to douse the fire, but to no avail.

Despite the horrible shock that came from seeing one's own house alight, there was a secondary shock, a shock that was more disturbing than knowing his family were inside.

Contrary to what he had expected, the roof was not burning. It was only one side of the house. And even then, only in places.

Staring at the flames and letting them sear his eyes, he made out the burning symbol which he had first discovered only twenty-four hours ago.

This was no longer a joke.

The End

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