Chapter XVI

He is running, faster than ever he has before. His heart leaps in his chest, desperate to break free, terrified at the prospect lying before him. Behind him lies safety, justice, even.

Ahead of him lies only death and pain.

His legs scream, but he forces himself to continue. Bright with flames and thick with smoke, his home burns before him like a sign from the gods.

He stops before their three bodies, stretched out on the ground like wares to be sold, their throats cut like sacrificial lambs. He falls to his knees and screams his pain to the sky.

Blood in his mouth. Sweat in his eyes. Tears on his face. He does not brush them away.

All is lost.

His young wife:

She laughs, throwing back her head, her eyes glittering with delight.

She leans down, her slender neck curving to kiss her sleeping child.

She turns, a sweet smile playing on those beautiful lips, and he wants to tell her how much he loves her, how much she means to him.

His boys, Tarquin and Andrew:

They run in the garden, playing with the goat and picking olives from the trees.

They turn to him, muddy hands clutching some plaything he purchased for their birthday.

They squeal and laugh, and he wants to chase them round the trees and tease them, pick them up in his arms and tickle them till they roll on the ground.

They were innocent. They had done nothing to merit this.

Cold eyes.

Cold heart.

The End

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