The thick scent of fear, despair, helplessness, and pain, permeated the air as William looked at his blood-stained hands. Everything around him had fallen into chaos and fires ravaged every tent as far as the eyes could see.
The crying of several infants could be heard nearby, as their mothers did their best to assure them that everything was going to be alright.
Shouts filled with anger, curses, and heartbreak…
Laughter filled with ridicule and contempt…
All of these merged together to create a ballad that had brought the red-headed boy to his knees. Overwhelmed with light-headedness and nausea, William tried to wipe away the blood that had stained his hands, but instead of removing them, he only spread them further.
The young boy wasn’t able to hold it back any longer as the smell of blood, piss, sweat, and excrement assaulted him from all sides.
He vomited until he could vomit no more as tears streamed down his face.
Roars, shouts, explosions, and weapons clashing against each other resounded throughout the encampment where the nomads of different tribes had gathered.
William panted as he saw several men, carrying weapons, move in his direction. He wiped away the filth on his lips and forced himself to stand up. The young boy firmly held Stormcaller in his hands and took a step forward.
The crying of the babies grew louder as their mothers shivered in fright. William stood in front of them with his weapon raised high. His legs were shaking due to exhaustion and discomfort, but he couldn’t back down. He refused to back down!
Alas, there were times when doing one’s best was not enough. He had already gone above and beyond his limits in trying to keep this place safe. The red-headed boy had already reached the end of his rope.
He could barely stand, but stand he did. For who else would do it in his place? None. That was why he needed to make his stand.
William’s small body was sent flying before finally skidding on the ground a few meters away from the women and children. He was a spent candle and there was no way for him to fend off the group of men, who had arrived at the make-shift shelter where the women and children of the tribe hid.
Stormcaller crackled a few meters away from the fallen boy as tendrils of lightning hissed around its body. It was as if it was urging, pleading, for William to stand and protect everyone behind him.
As much as the boy wanted to hear its call, he could no longer move his body.
One of the men walked up to William, and stomped on his legs without mercy. The resounding sound of bones breaking and the young boy’s pained cry echoed in the night.
Laughing at his suffering, the man stomped on his arms, breaking them as well.
“That’s enough. Don’t kill him,” one of the men said. “He’s a Half-Elf, we can sell him for a high price.”
The group of men laughed as they looked at William and the people who were trembling behind him. Amidst the crying of infants, William’s blurred vision wandered at a tree in the distance. There he saw a man wearing a hood as his robes fluttered in the wind.
The hooded man walked towards the group of men with even steps, and yet, no footsteps could be heard.
When someone finally noticed him, he was already only a meter away from the man who broke William’s arms and legs.
And on that day, William finally saw with his own eyes, and finally understood, that the world outside the boundaries of Lont was a place filled with misery and strife.
Where the strong bullied the weak and the evil tyrants ended the lives of innocent people as if they were merely cutting grass.
Before William’s consciousness descended into darkness, he heard the hooded man say something in his direction.
“Requiescat In Pace.”
The blood from the group of men sprayed into the air like fountains, and fell on the young boy’s body like rain.
The only saving grace was that William had already fainted and was unaware of what was happening in his surroundings.
The hooded man looked down on the pitiful boy lying on the ground, with his limbs bent in unnatural angles and tears dyed with blood staining his handsome face. Even though he was unconscious, his tears never stopped falling.
Perhaps, William wept for the lives that were lost, or perhaps he wept for his own loss. Whatever the reason, one thing was clear.
When morning came, the young boy who had left Lont more than a month ago would never be the same again.
“Compared to William, Eve is such a handful,” Anna said as she softly patted the sleeping baby’s back while looking at the flowers in the garden. “When do you think he’ll be coming back, Father?” 𝒾𝐧𝘯𝑟e𝒂𝗱. 𝒸o𝙢
James looked at his sleeping granddaughter with a smile on his face. However, when Anna mentioned William’s name, the smile stiffened and was replaced with a troubled expression.
“It has been six months since he left Lont,” James replied. “I’m sure that he’s already on his way back home.”
Anna pouted, “Father, just where did you order William to go? I don’t want Eve to grow up without spending time with her Big Brother.”
The red-headed boy firmly insisted that he be called Big Brother by Eve instead of cousin. Anna agreed on his request with a laugh because she felt that William’s reaction was quite funny.
She was not aware that James had sent the poor boy to a mission that would cause him to become…
Suddenly, James raised his head to look in the direction of the Northern Gate of Lont because he had received a hidden message from Ezio. He hurriedly took his leave from the garden and headed North.
When he arrived at the gate, he saw two hooded people. One tall, one small, and both wearing hooded robes.
James had recognized both of them right away. The Lord of Lont had a calm expression on his face as he waited for the two people to arrive in front of him.
“I have returned, My Lord.” Ezio placed his hand over his chest in greeting.
“Welcome back.” James briefly nodded his head before turning at the young boy who’s face he couldn’t see. “Welcome back, William.”
The boy only gave a brief nod in acknowledgement and did nothing else. William simply stood there as his robes swayed in the wind.
James sighed internally as he looked at his beloved grandson. He could immediately tell that the boy was not in the mood for emotional reunions.
“Both of you must be tired from your journey,” James said. “Let’s go back to the residence. I’ll ask Helen to prepare something good for the two of yo-.”
“I’m not going.”
James frowned as he gazed upon the hooded boy standing in front of him.
“I’m not going to the residence,” William stated. “I’m going to Master’s house.”
William didn’t wait for James’ reply and walked past him.
The old man wasn’t angered by William’s actions. No. He couldn’t possibly get angry because deep inside he was feeling very guilty. James could only look at his grandson’s retreating back as he walked towards the South of Lont were Celine’s residence was located.
Sighing for the second time, he motioned for Ezio to follow him back to the residence. He wanted to hear his detailed report on what his Grandson had experienced during his half-year absence from Lont.
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