Ash’s uncle waited a few moments to ensure the horsemen had disappeared before emerging from behind the safety of his door. His father cowardly followed his uncle out onto the path. Ash with false bravado strode behind both of them, with the eagerness of youth however silently aware of his ineptness, he stayed behind his father. They approached John where he laid. Ash became aware that other villagers were now emerging from behind closed doors. It was evident to Ash that the fear of standing up to the horsemen was not restricted to his family. The village had grown into farmers and lacked any will to engage in any activities that would risk their lives. Ash had mixed emotions: he could not imagine standing by as his cousins or friends were taken before him without lifting a hand, if he was an adult that was. His father had trembled through the whole event, it was obvious that he held no fear for others, but only himself. Ash hoped that his father would have shown more backbone if it had been his life in the balance (on the back of the horsemen’s saddle).
Upon reaching John’s slumped body horse’s hooves could be heard coming from the opposite direction that the horsemen had disappeared too. There was fear and hesitation from the villagers. Unsure if it was the horsemen returning or the arrival finally of the guards. It was the later. The guards rode in with their shining armour and swords drawn. They appeared with all the bravado of men ready to fight. Each however glad that only villagers remained. “What took you so long?” uncle brazenly questioned the guards.
“It was a cold night and we were not expecting any such raid by the Járn” The head guard replied between yawns.
“They went that way” Uncle politely pointed out the direction that the Járn raiders had disappeared too.
“We dare not follow in such a dark night. We also can not leave you unguarded after such events”
John had come to during the discussion after be awoken by other villagers, who now supported his weight. “My daughter and wife were taken. I have sown and harvested the Lord’s fields for many cycles now. The least you can do is follow them.” He pleaded.
“The Lord is thankful for you labours however we are responsible for all the Lord’s people. We must stand by our people and protect them. We will be able to go after your women come the time we are sure all the village is secure.”
“Cowards … “ John muttered under his breath. The guards pretended not to hear him, preferring to end the discussions and undertake drills to reassure the village that they were protecting them. However it was known throughout the village that the Járn only undertook quick raids of towns. Their objective to grab a few slaves and be on their way. They would ride far in the night and all knew John would never see his wife or daughter again. The Járn were ruthless riders and the guards who could not match their horsemen ship and had even less capabilities to match their courage and fighting abilities.
John collapsed to the muddied path. Accepting the fate that bestowed his wife and daughter. A life of being a slave to the Járn until the end of their days. Aunt now approached John and escorted him back to our house. Ash stood in the middle of the path. Deep in thought. The men of the village had seemingly already forgotten the nights events. Their sole purpose now concentrated on putting out the fire that burned John’s house. The concern was not saving John’s house but stopping the fire from spreading to any other houses.
Ash realised at this moment that when he was an adult he would not stand idly bye and let his fellow villagers be victims such as John. He would act when the time arose not wait for the danger to pass, ensuring that he was safe.
Continues to Part IV