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Charred Life

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Martin opened his eyes to the sound of his mother banging ferociously on his door.

“Martin sweetie, today is the knighting of your cousin. I hope you did not forget, this day is very important to him.”

“Yes, mother.” Martin replied. Martin dressed and brushed his teeth. Today was the day Martin dreaded. He hated his cousin. His cousin was always the center of attention in his family, since he was so smart and brave. But truly, his cousin was a greedy, selfish oaf who cared for no one but himself.

Martin was an average-sized boy for the age of 13. Martin had blonde hair, blue eyes, and a massive ego. Martin was the type to always talk back (to his parents). Sounds like a pretty normal kid right, well there was something different about this boy.

Martin was always left out in his family, because he didn’t care for anything his family liked to discuss. Martin did not care for farming, or milking the cows, or politics. None of it, and that was all his family blabbered about; Who bought the plot of land near Father Weston? Did we sell enough milk today? Did Ambrose decide on the new water laws for Eston on the River yet?

Martin’s family were the dairy producers for the local village. And it had been that way for the last twenty generations. His mother milked the cows all day as his father cultured the cheese. Martin lay on his bed for the balance of every day attempting to educate himself in the art of swordsmanship (and spell casting also interested him greatly). As for Martin’s siblings, Sarah and Caleb spent their days assisting their parents on the farm.

Martin’s father Cornelius was a kind, trustworthy man without a pinch of body fat in sight. At one time he served on the battleship Miss Lucerne as a navy lieutenant, which served in the battle of The Saint’s Gate.

As for his mother, Mother Alissa was a brave woman and caring to the local children. Alissa was the only survivor of five siblings, during the Plague of Shadows.

Martin was nothing like his parents. They were strict, bossy and neat, as Martin was adventurous and curious. In fact, Martin wished he could run away, and find someone who had something in common with him. But Martin could not run away. He had no where to go, as the Forest of Argetam was too dense of foliage. The Forest of Argetam surrounded his town. There was one road out of Eston on the River, and Martin did not dare follow that road. The traders, monks, and mercenaries took that route, whom Martin dreaded to encounter. So, that brings us here, to the little farmhouse on the border of a very small village.

The sun was blocked by a giant raincloud. Typical, thought Martin as he chewed his bowl of dried oats and fresh milk. His family sat around the wooden table. Martin’s little sister was going on how she found a stick that looked exactly like her father’s hoe. Cornelius chuckled and continued eating. The family sat and ate silently for a few moments until Mother spoke up.

“We must prepare for Albert’s knighting, it is only an hour from now.”

“Yes,” Father agreed, “Sarah, wear your best dress. And for Caleb and Martin, wear your traditional suit. Chain mail included.”

“But father,” Caleb whined.

“You must, or there will be consequences.” Father said.

Half an hour later the family was off. Father commanding the one old rackety horse drawn carriage they possessed. Mother wore a lime-green dress of cloth and father his old navy uniform. Father maneuvered along the windy and hilly road until they reached town. They crossed an old cobblestone bridge that crossed the Mathias River.
Rain pattered on the covered carriage as they rode into town. Despite the drizzle the townsfolk bustled about. People in street venders sold weapons, treats and goods to the people. Businesses were packed with people, the streets were crowded with traffic, and the sidewalks jammed with people. Father drove the family down Mainstreet and past a few thatched-roof houses. Finally, the majestic Church of St. Jonas marked the center of town. Opposite the church was a park.

Martin exited the carriage with his family. The family walked along the cobblestone streets down to the church. Two guards blocked the church entrance. The men asked for paperwork and Father showed them his ticket and a few coins. The soldiers stepped aside and the lead one stuffed the generous tip into his shirt pocket, nodding approvingly. The inside of the Cathedral was amazing. Painted glass windows lined the walls and Gothic styling inspired the gloomy atmosphere of the church.

In the back of the church was the sermon. Martin’s cousin and family stood proudly on the stage, waving at guests. The local military commander and priest stood in the background, preparing for the ceremony. Martin’s family took their seats and waved at Albert. Martin did not wave to Albert.

After all of the guests took their seats, the ceremony began. The commander and the priest spoke about Albert’s successions and good-doings for awhile, and finally, it was time for the knighting. The commander unsheathed his sword and placed the blade on each shoulder, chanting in the ancient language. The priest planted a grape on top of Albert’s head. The commander lifted his sword above his head and sliced the grape in half on top of Albert’s head. The crowd began to cheer and clap. Albert walked briskly down the stage to his family. After a short period of discussion the priest announced that the second half of the ceremony would take place in the park. After half an hour everyone was seated outside having a short lunch. Martin ate his lunch quickly and left to find his friend Jared.

Jared was with his mother and younger sister. After seeing Martin, Jared’s little sister ran up and hugged Martin.

“Hello Lily, do you like your lamb chop?”

“Yes Martin, Jared wants to talk to you.”

“Thank you little one.” Martin said. Martin walked up to Jared.

“Your cousin really knows how to get his attention, what an oaf!”

“I agree, I asked Mother to have a word with him, but she just laughed.”

“He will never learn, and one day, he will be embarrassed one day for his actions, I can guarantee he will pay, Martin.”

“Agreed.” Martin walked away from his friend without another word.

Awhile later the ceremony started again. The priest gave Albert and pronounced him a new name.

“Albert, I give thee an honorable name, worthy of your actions, I pronounce you: Albert the Brave!” The priest bellowed. Albert grinned wildly and unsheathed his sword.

“For Tjarn, the Peaceful Land!” Albert yelled. Albert placed his helm on top of his head. Running in circles of happiness. Albert unsheathed his sword and swung it around in the air. Onlookers oohed and ahhd as Albert got carried away. He looked more like an idiot that a knight.

Eventually, the ceremony was over, and it was approaching suppertime. Before Martin could hop in the carriage, Jared’s little sister waddled over to him.

“Hi Lily, did you like the ceremony?”

“I can’t find Jared.”

“What?”

“Jared said he went to the bakery during lunch, and he hasn’t come back yet.”

“Okay, I’ll help you find him. Okay?” Martin simply thought this was a practical joke Jared had set up, so he just played along. He asked his parents to wait for him and followed Lily.

Lily took Martin’s hand and led him to the creek. The creek was a small portion of trees and thickets along a stream in the park. Lily motioned for him to be quiet and peered through the bushes.

“I saw him over here, I think I see him.” She whispered. Martin looked through the bushes. Suddenly someone grasped Martin’s back. Martin yelped in terror.

“Ha ha, got you!” Jared smiled at Lily and Martin.

“Let’s go back to the park.”

“Okay, no more pranks, ‘k?”

“Sure.” They boys (and girl) walked back to the park. The rain had stopped and the sun beat down on their faces. Martin hopped in the family’s carriage and they rode back.

On the way back they talked about Albert. Until a strange sound rang out behind them.

“What was that, Cornelius?” Mother asked.

“I don’t know, and I hope it wasn’t Albert.”

Cornelius led the carriage back to the home. He said something and left for the barn. After a great rustle about the man came out with a bow, a quiver, and a few wooden arrows.

“I hope it isn’t urgent in the village, because I am not fit to fight.” Father announced solemnly.

“Son, grab the sword hidden under the ladder- behind the kitchen-the rusty one-you are not old enough to use a real man’s sword.” The man hurried off in the direction of his wife.

“Dearest, it shall not take long, I will return, I promise you.” Mother began to cry, true tears. Martin had never seen his mother cry before. Martin gathered his weapon and a belt. He tightened the belt around his waist and pulled the strap into the hole. Then Martin stuck the old sword through the belt and gripped the hilt. At this moment, Martin truly felt like a man. Thoughts were swimming around in his head. Is Jared ok? Is it just a celebration for Albert? Will I survive?

Those insane questions were all Martin could think about as he sprinted to town. A hill, twenty yards away crept into view. And Martin knew that just over the hill would be the village. Faster , Martin thought. Men and women of his age and older rushed towards the village, some armed, some not. As the town came into view, people broke down in tears. Martin’s father fell to his knees, his hands buried in his face.

Then, Martin saw what was causing the chaos. Flames engulfed the city, smoke spiraled into the overcast sky. Martin did not think, he just ran faster, and faster. People rushed into the city, weapons drawn. Martin finally reached the river, and to his terror, the bridge had collapsed. Men dressed in cloaks and crimson armor yelled and threw barrels into the river. For the first time, Martin felt brave enough to face his fears.

Martin never liked the stories his friends told about the men in crimson, actually, he feared everything about the men in crimson. But Martin now realized that he is not a mere boy anymore, but a strong, and confident man.

After a large gulp of the crisp afternoon air, Martin dove into the river. Luckily, Martin could see underwater, so he avoided the barrel that nearly obliterated him. Martin swam like a maniac, pushing the water behind him. Martin reached shore, and the first thing he saw was a group of men in crimson throwing rocks at the villagers on the other side. That made Martin mad. He simply would not let his fellow villagers and friends die here. So Martin ran towards the men. The men continued throwing rocks and yelling insults at the villagers, but the men would not expect a boy to attack them.

Martin thought about his family, possibly being killed, and pushed the men with such force, that it knocked all three of them into the river.

“Aye, where’d that come from?” One of the villagers shouted. Martin laughed and ran for the village. Behind him, Martin heard the villagers splash across the river. Martin felt confident in himself, as if he could do anything he wanted.

But truly, Martin wanted to find his father, to make sure he was safe. Martin ran for the Smith’s house-a pile of rubble. He ran for the Baker’s-ablaze. Great, where could he be? Martin thought.

He knew of one place, his father’s old home. Martin ran past a pile of rubble, the creek, now ablaze, and Jared’s house. Father grew up next to Jared’s house-which faced the church. The men in crimson were breaking into the church, throwing stones and logs at the pane glass.

Suddenly, a familiar figure came running for him, slashing at a group of three men in crimson. The three men fell to the ground simultaneously, and the figure continued on.

“Albert! Over here!” Martin shouted as loud as he could. Albert finally made it to Martin.

“Have you seen Father?!” Martin asked.

“No I-” Albert fell to the ground, clenching his chest. blood leaked from his insides, staining his shirt red. An arrow protruded from his right lung. Rage filled Martin’s lungs. Then, it happened.

Martin’s fingertips tingled, He unsheathed his sword and sprinted towards the men. Martin knocked one man in the chest with the hilt of his sword, sending him through the window. He slashed at the other men, and they toppled over on the ground. Martin ran for the door of his father’s old house, knocking the door right off it’s hinges.

“Son, is that you?” Smoke filled the room. Martin’s father lay on a couch, coughing. Jared was tending to Cornelius’s arm, which was covered in blood. Martin screamed in rage.

“Why would they do this?”

“Son, you have shown me that you really care, Mother and your siblings will be grateful.” The house began to collapse. Martin lay next to his father.

“I was too late.” Martin began to cry. Smoke filled Martin’s lungs.

Then the house caved in...



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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

InfiniteLife said...
Feb. 18, 2012 at 10:38 am
Great Piece of Writing Conner!
 
CDHLegend said...
Feb. 17, 2012 at 6:16 pm
This is my first piece!!!!
 
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