Estella stared in horror as she saw the lambs and her own death coming closer with each step of the monster. But what could she do? Each scenario she went through in her mind ended badly. She could make one last courageous effort and try to fight off the serafine. The result: death. Or leave behind the lamb and use its sacrifice to run away on a sprained ankle, hopefully being able to reach the barn or any other shelter before the overgrown cat caught up with her. The result: probably death.

The fire spread across the walled town, destroying anything that was in its path.
Men, women, and children alike ran screaming from the Town Center where they had gathered peacefully only minutes before to take part in a funeral. The reverent silence had not lasted before the fire arrows came pouring down from the sky lighting the thatch rooftops with deadly brilliance. Some had tried to fight back and put the fires out, but the attackers plan had worked all too well. When soldiers broke down the gates and charged in the midst of the already chaotic scene, the townspeople knew it was the end.

Bodies were strewn across the stone courtyard; emplacing permanent nightmares into the young woman who stood paralyzed in the middle of the battleground. The Woman stared, unblinking, as one by one the burning flames, or the cold steel took down her people. She had had no warning as a roaring berserker came in a rush towards her with his axe raised. The Woman closed her eyes and waited for the final blow, while only a single teardrop rolled down her cheek. The bellow from the soldier came to a sudden stop only a foot away from where she stood. Her eyes reluctantly opened and she looked in disbelief as her attacker lay on the ground struggling to breathe. A foot away a townsman stood with a hand outstretched and palm opened; with a sudden movement, his hand closed and the movements of the warrior stopped as well. The Man looked at the Woman, and gestured for her to follow him through the burning streets.

Madness had erupted on every street the two ran through. Those who had escaped the blazes were greeted with the weapons of men. There were no signs of mercy as the Man and Woman stopped and looked as an enemy fighter struck down a crying mother, who had been trying to hide her infant. But her attempts had been in vain. The Man dispatched the soldier quickly and quietly in a cold rage, but did not allow any more time to grieve for the mother and child. He grabbed the Woman’s hand and continued to lead them through the maze of flames and soldiers.

The Man came to an abrupt stop as they had reached their final destination; just a small, wooden doorway in the looming stonewalls that surrounded the once thriving city, beckoning to them as their salvation. Their attempt to escape had not left unnoticed, though. The loud stomping of the enemy troops marching came out of the alleyways leading to them. The Man grabbed the Woman shoulders to grab her attention away from the approaching doom.
He spoke swiftly but gently, “You must leave through the tunnels. I will try to hold them off as long as possible”. The Man saw the doubt that crossed the Woman’s face and continued, “You are our only hope of survival and carrying on our people’s legacy”. His hand rested gently on her bulging stomach and he felt the soft movement of a kick as if the unborn was answering his dying wish. The Woman nodded but did not say a word in reply. The Man kissed her forehead and whispered the traditional blessing of their people over her, and then hurried her into the black escape route.

With a small torch in hand the Woman entered the dank, dark tunnels that led out of the city and to the foothills of the countryside. Alone in the shadows, she traveled the passageways as she hoped that the soldiers would pass by the Man and never suspect their plan for the survival of a peoples. However, her wish only brought the sounds of men shouting into the dark and the flash of firelight on the stone walls. Elongated shadows moved towards the Woman as she started to run towards the tunnel that might mean her escape. Behind her men rushed to where she had been, as they had heard the sudden movement. The unborn baby kicked disapprovingly against the womb, as they were being disturbed by the stress on the body that carried them. The Woman grimaced with pain and struggled to keep running, but the pain was forgotten when her eyes caught the first glimpse of the door that led to freedom.

It was too late, though. She could now hear the labored breathing as the front-runners of the troops approached the corner that only moments before she had rounded. The Woman put on another burst of speed, ignoring the protests that came from within her. Wet iron met her hands as she used the last bit of her dwindling strength to tug open the door. But it wouldn't open. Again she tried but with no success. Years of being unused and the damp surroundings had sealed the door shut. Her attackers shouted as they spotted her, and the sound of their footsteps slowed as they felt the need of urgency to rush after their prey leave them. The Woman touched the hard oak door and tears poured freely from her eyes. Freedom and salvation waited for her across the threshold, it was the one chance for her people to live on. It was the chance that had now all but disappeared.

The End

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