10 Years Earlier...
"Naomi, I think someone's coming!" Xenia said, turning to find her friend who was still climbing up the hill. They had snuck away from their caretaker and the rest of the orphans. To them, learning about the history of trees wasn't very appealing.
There was a giant cloud of dust headed their way. It was obviously not a Dust Sweeper those creatures make much bigger cloud and there was no wind.
"I wonder who it is." Naomi said as she reached the top. A flag could be seen faintly in the dust.
"Naomi! Xenia! Get down from there!" yelled their caretaker, Anna. The rest of the orphans stood around her. Some of them giggled as they imagined the kind of punishment the two girls were going to get.
"Miss Anna look! Someone's coming!" Xenia said pointing to the dust. Anna made her way slowly up the hill. It didn't take long for the woman to spot the flag. Her face went as pale as the moon.
"Run back to town and hide children!" she called out. She grabbed Naomi and Xenia's arms when they didn't move. "I said run!" she shoved them down the hill. "Go warn the others!"
"What's wrong?" Naomi asked
"It's him." Fear shot through the children as Anna said those words. This time they needed no shove. They both turned and ran as fast as their legs could carry them.
"Akai's coming!" They shouted over and over again as they ran through the crowded streets. It was chaos as men grabbed their weapons; women scrambled to find their children. In all the craziness Xenia lost Naomi. Xenia stopped and spun around.
"Naomi!" she screamed, frantically searching for her friend. "Naomi, where are you?!" It was then that she spotted Naomi lying on the ground for a split second before the crowd hide her again. Pushing herself through people she tried to make it to Naomi.
A high pitch scream filled the air as Akai and his men rode onto the streets. Xenia stopped running, frozen with fear. Akai was less than twenty feet from Naomi. Xenia could tell Naomi was unconscious.
"Attack!" yelled Saero, the leader of the small village. The men charged Akai's men. Even Xenia could tell it was a false hope.
Akai raise and lowered his right hand. As he did a wave of arrows rose over the army. They ended up killing more than half of Saero's men, including Saero himself.
Akai got off his horse and walked over to Naomi. That was all it took to trigger Xenia's senses. She ran over to Naomi.
"Stay away from her!" she said once she was in front of Akai. She glared up at him, not quite sure of what she was doing. There was a shocked silence from the villagers. Akai found this amusing.
"What's your name girl?" he asked, his cape blowing gently in the wind. Xenia couldn't see his face thank's to the hood.
"Xenia." she replied forcing her voice not to shake as it dawned on her what she'd just done. In all her life she'd never seen anyone stand up to Akai. Now here she stood, just a young girl of six, yelling at Akai.
"Xenia eh..?" he said still standing there. "What importance is this girl to you?"
"She's my best friend." Xenia could feel the eyes of a lot of people on her. Many of the villagers were horrified. "I'm not going to let you hurt her." Akai didn't say anything. He gestured to two of his men who walked over. One of them picked up Naomi in a not-so-gentle way. Xenia went to chase after the men, she didn't know what she'd do when she caught up to them but she did so anyway. Before she could reach them, she was grabbed from behind by the other one.
"Xenia! Naomi!" Anna's voice rose from behind two of the villagers who were trying to hold her back.
"Anna!" Xenia cried back. Gone was the tough girl she'd tried to be. "Anna, help me!" She tried to fight her way out of the man's grasp but failed.
"Kill the adults," Xenia overheard Akai tell his men. "Bring the children." Anger filled Xenia when she heard this.
"Akai, you can't do this!" She yelled at him. She heard him laugh at her words. He turned to look her right in the eye and gave her a small wink. "NO! ANNA!" Xenia screamed as she watched Akai's men assult the villagers. It was a scene that Xenia would never forget. They had been her family and now... they were being slaughtered. Xenia couldn't look away until she was thrown into a wooden cage with Naomi. It wasn't long before they were joined by other children of many ages.
Xenia sat in a corner, eyes shut tight, hands over her ears trying to block everything out. When the cage started moving Xenia opened her eyes. The scene before her was heart wrenching.
Everything was burning. Bodies were everywhere. Xenia finally forced herself to look away when she found Anna's lifeless body.
Naomi didn't wake up until they were a day away from the town. Xenia was too busy staring at the stars to notice.
"Xenia!" Naomi suddenly yelled, causing Xenia and the other children to jump. Xenia turned to Naomi with a tear stained face. "Xenia?" Naomi tilted her head in confusion. "Where are we? Where's Anna?"
"They're dead, Naomi." Xenia said very softly. "All of them." It took Naomi a minute to register what Xenia said before she too began to cry. They held each other until sleep over came them.
Many of the children didn't make it to Akai's castle. There had been thirty-seven children to start. Only five made it.
Xenia and Naomi were a part of those five. The other three consisted of two boys and one girl. Their names were Eldin, Jaok and Sarona. Sarona's older brother, Plye had been one of the first to die. Jaok's younger sister had been killed the day before. She'd tried to escape but gotten caught. Eldin's twin brother had been sick. Akai's men didn't want to contaminate the others. They'd left him on the road for the birds.
They'd made a silent pact with each other the day the castle came into view. They were going to survive. For their town they would survive and escape from Akai's grasp. Together.