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It was the beginning of October when it happened. I remember vividly how it was back then. The leaves on the trees were of every color imaginable. Farmers were gathering the last of their harvest, and the animals were gathering the last of their rations. Life was simple back then in my small village. Farmers farmed, musicians made music, the artists made art.
That was, until it happened. For the first time of all of my years living in the village everything completely stopped. The farmers put down their plows, the musicians put down the instruments, and the artists put down their brushes.
We all gathered in the center plaza where a tall general stood with his knights. “I have come to warn you of a threat that lurks in the shadows behind the hills.” said the general. “As many of you are aware the town to the east is a strong, well fortified town. We have let them be and they have let us be for as long as we can remember. However this may not be for much longer. They have formed a strong army. At any given moment they might strike”.
The elders chuckled. The oldest of them stood up. “Your words are meaningless; they are our friends”, he said confidently
A wave of relief splashed upon the faces of even strongest and bravest in the town. They knew little about war.
“Nay” said the general. He turned over to the mothers holding their babies. “Even as we speak they are gathering together. If the men of this town do nothing, what will come of the little ones who cannot protect themselves?” For the first time the mothers looked up with alarm.
“If no one protects our farms on the outskirts of this town what will happen to the farmers when they come? When there is nothing left but the elders and the women, we will be sitting ducks for the barbarians that we call neighbors. Why should the fate of our town be in their hands?” A rush of enthusiasm swept up among the townspeople. The men lost their cowardice, and the children lost their innocence.
“They mock us, they think we are weak! Their fishermen take fish from our shores!” The fishermen stopped bragging about their largest catch and looked up. “Their hunters kill animals on our land!” The hunters clenched their bows. “They will soon burn our farms, enslave our women and children, and add our gold to their vaults!!”
A force stronger than anything we had ever known united us. No festival, no loved one, no hopes or dreams clouded our minds at that moment. We had a duty to do for our town. No matter what the expense, we would get it done.
“This island is rightfully OURS, and they have abused our generosity in letting them live here. We must take back what is ours before it is too late!”
The sounds of cheers echoed throughout the night. The musicians dropped their violins and clarinets and picked up marching drums. The farmers put down their shovels and picked up their pitchforks. The prince put down his crown and put on his helmet.
It was the longest night I could remember. At the generals command we put ourselves into formations. To the left of me stood a farmer, who grasped his pitchfork firmly and muttered curses at our enemy. To the right of me stood the prince, who without his robes and crown looked like all of the rest of us. In front of me, in fact in front of everyone stood the general.
At the sound of the trumpet, without a word we began our march up the mountain. Only the women, children, and elders stayed behind. Some of us, exhausted from the climb passed out on the snow that had accumulated in our march. As we climbed up the steep and narrow mountain path our anger, our fuel grew so much that at the top even the town’s priest looked as though he had gone mad.
Looking down upon the enemy town we stopped. On top of his horse, clad in armor, and holding a sword, the general looked so intimidating that even the prince looked up to him in awe. “Will you show them Mercy?” he growled.
“Never!” yelled one of my neighbors who was known to be shy. “No mercy even for those that beg to us!” yelled the prince. “Kill Them All!” I yelled. A bolt of energy charged my blood.
“Then let us get this over with”. Spoke the general. Once more the trumpet sounded and we charged down the mountain trampling everything in our path.
To ensure that they would never again plan to take our farms we killed every farmer, and burned every field. To ensure that they would never again take our fish we sunk all of their boats, and killed every fisherman. To ensure that they could never create another army we enslaved their children, and to keep them from repopulating we enslaved their women. The elders, who were clearly the masterminds behind this war, were massacred.
My neighbor lay dead with an arrow in his chest on the snow. The few flakes of snow that fell as we had marched up the mountain had become a storm. The prince lay on his death bed in a make shift hospital speaking his last words.
I wondered how we would be thanked by those that we saved that night, but even more I wondered who I actually saved that night. I glanced over to my general who was gathering the few gold coins that could be found in their huts and putting them in his pocket. The snow continued to pound the ruins. I moved into a hut that had been spared from our torches. Winter came early to the island this year.