Screams encroached upon Ash’s dreams, shattering his temporary illusions of riding alongside Lord Elman’s guards. In his dream he is free from the toils of working the land for the Lord and having to return home only to tend his fields and animals. Instead the wind cascaded across his face as he galloped with assurance upon his black steed. The steed’s unblemished coat shone in the sunshine and her muscles rippled in delight with each stride. The weight of his metal armour weighed heavy on his shoulder, but the burden of being a protector warmed him like only the summer sunshine could. His mind relished the warmth that for most his life had never known, and his thread bare rags he wore were replaced by the cloth of a knight’s stable. The warmth, the material goods and the freedoms of such a position were scattered images, as Ash had no clear notion of such feelings and possessions. He had only observed guards from a distance as a stranger dreaming of all the romanticised lives that he would live as a guard. His ride was suddenly over, as he now found himself lying down in the trodden mud puddles of an unknown land, fighting an unknown enemy with a sword bearing towards his head. However the man holding the sword was hidden in the shadows.
Ash startled awake as the sword struck. He found himself shivering and huddled in his sinew blankets of scraps. The coldness of the night biting deep into him, the blankets thread bare offered little comfort and the central hearth in their house was now reduced to dull embers that feebly tried to lick the bitter chill hanging. An awkward atmosphere clung to the smoke filled house. It wasn’t the cold because Ash was used to feeling cold each and every night during the winter. Unusual for the dead of the night the animals hidden in the dark recess of the house were agitated and restless. Although his eyes were open his mind still slept, taking a while to catch what all his senses were yelling at him.
Through the gloom the fearful cries that first appeared as a nightmare now pierced his stupor as he realised that the screams were far from any dream and set firmly in his reality. Slowly Ash arose, the sound of other voices within his home mumbling under breath. The only light within the house illuminated from the central hearth, with warm embers barely lighting the inner walls. The poor visibility wasn’t helped by the smoke thickened air that lingered eternally within the confines of the house throughout winter.
A lonely silhouette was visible at the door, it held a hoe firmly however the only intended use appeared to till soil. It was his Uncle Garyson whom he and his father, Carel, lived with. It was his Uncle’s house, and under Aunt Bessima’s insistence, he had invited them to share their house after the death of Ash’s mother. Ash could make out the shape of his Aunt Bessima sitting up from her bed.
He could hear his Aunt asking his Uncle what were the screams, he didn’t acknowledge her question simply directing her to take the children to the back of the house with the animals. She followed without any rebuttal. Calmly she gathered the children and lead them to the sanctuary with the animals at the rear of the house. Aunt told Ash to follow her, however he ignored her and joined his father and uncle at the door.
(Constructive criticism, comments, suggestions, ideas, opinions etc. welcomed throughout)