“Come on, get up!”
“I don’t want to!”
“Yes you do. Let’s go!”
Brele finally managed to open her eyes.
“It’s still dark!”
“It won’t be by the time we get there! We’ve been planning this all week. It was your idea!”
Tesho was right. She had been planning this outing all week. She was finally old enough to go to the river to fish with Tesho. He had been going with his friends for a couple of years, and none of her friends liked to fish. Actually, none of her friends liked to do anything involving slimy worms and fish and mud. Brele had always wanted to do everything her big brother was doing, and for the most part she did.
Tesho adored his baby sister as much as she looked up to him. They had been nearly inseparable since birth until Tesho reached 12 and could go beyond the village with his friends. Truth be told, Brele could defend herself as well as Tesho, but their parents stuck to the rule that all parents in the village enforced. There had been no trouble around their village for centuries, but tales of a dark past still hung over Pitmerden.
Pitmerden is a quaint village in quiet valley between the Qruhz Mountains and the Mylahst River. Small cottages surrounded by fields cut out of forests to the north and south. Ruins in the forest to the south give rise to tales of long forgotten battle with an evil race of cave dwelling creatures bent on destruction. Rumors of adventurers from Rockhorn (the ruling city of the Saveteron Kingdom) searching the hills for mythical caves full of treasure fill the imaginations of the young.
Brele stretches and yawns, and proceeds to get dressed for her first fishing trip with Tesho. Emerging into the main room, her parents sit quietly over tea before their daily routine of farm life. “Tesho, I need you to help me plant the rest of the barley,” their father Xem said. Tesho replied, “Yes, father. We will be back before midday. The fish always stop biting a couple of hours after sunrise.”
The siblings stepped out of their cottage, and headed east toward the river. A very faint glow could be seen on the horizon signaling that dawn would be breaking soon. There was a slight breeze which added to the early morning chill. Each carried a pole and a small bucket of grubs they dug up the day before. The village roosters crowing were the only sounds besides the wind in the trees, and the soft padding of feet hiking along a well-worn path. As they neared the river, the birds were beginning to sing, and the sky was a warm pink signaling a clear sky.
“Looks like a perfect morning to fish,” Tesho said, breaking the reverie Brele had settled into as they walked. Dawn was breaking, and they soon had their poles in the water. As the eastern sky grew brighter, turning from pink to gold, Brele watched with awe the magnificent change just before the sun peaked. “I’ve got one!” Tesho yelled, but Brele attention was transfixed by the peek of the sun as it emerged. So enamored she was that she nearly lost her pole with her first bite. “Oh, I’ve got one!” she cried.
As the sun continued to rise, bathing them in warmth, they caught fish almost effortlessly. They joked that the fish were biting so well they were wasting their time baiting the hooks.By midmorning, they had a substantial bounty of fish, and Tesho decided it was time to go as he had promised their father. As they walked back to the village, they decided that this was looking like the best day they had ever had.
Then they heard a scream.
A cold chill ran down Brele’s spine, and her vision of a perfect day was shattered with a deep sense that something unimaginable now lay before them. “This is bad. This is really bad,” she said to Tesho as he looked at her with deep concern. Suddenly, multiple screams pierced the valley from Pitmerden.
They both dropped everything and ran toward the village with no idea what they were about to find. Then they saw it. Hundreds of creatures with clubs and crude swords indiscriminately attacking the villagers – men, women, and children – slashing, stabbing, and bludeoning. For a moment they were both frozen by the sheer horror of what was happening before them. “We have to get home,” Tesho said to Brele. “We have to get Father and Mother.”
As they ran back along the outskirts, they were spotted. Brele cried, “Tesho! They saw us! We have to run!” Tesho replied, “We’re almost there!” But they were already too late. Their cottage was burning, and the creatures were gaining on them. They quickly glanced at one another just as a group emerged from the field in front of them. They stopped and looked at each other knowing they had nowhere to run.
They joined hands as the creatures closed in, and Brele felt the blow to the back of her head just a moment before all went black.
To be continued…
Click for Part 2