Sarah watched from a distance, concealed by a tree, as the dark riders began to assemble their loot. Horses stolen from the town were loaded down with food and supplies taken from the homes. People were segregated randomly. Some of all the town would be taken alive back to the Hive to be used for various reasons. Slave labor was the biggest use, but life as a slave in a Hive was brutal and short lived. Many times the slaves bore the brunt of Hive violence, and they were used as sacrifices in drakan worship.
Many of the women and children were crying. In the distance the sounds of death penetrated the air as dark riders hunted down the men who had retreated. Sarah searched frantically for sign of her family, but could see none. The leader of the raiding party galloped alongside the line of horses and people, surveying his bounty.
“This is a good haul! Tonight the drakan’s are pleased with our efforts.” His right hand dropped to a shofar dangling from his saddle horn. He pulled it to his mouth and blew hard into the ancient horn. Soon the entire raiding party was present and the leader gave the order to head back to the hive.
Sarah watched helplessly as many of her friends were lead off into the dark forest. She could feel the heat of the warm tears running down her face. As the end of the line disappeared into the forest, she ran towards her home to look for any signs of life. When she approached the door to her tiny home, she stopped suddenly. The moon revealed a wet puddle on the steps leading to the door. In the dark, it was impossible to see color, but she knew the color of this shiny puddle would be red.
Slowly she put one foot in front of the other and moved towards the steps. The door was slightly ajar and a small hand lay, palm up, in the opening. She drew closer and realized it was her little brother. She tried to push the door open to reach him, but something was against the door on the inside. She pushed harder and could feel something sliding on the floor inside. She opened it far enough to fall to her knees beside her brother. She grabbed his shoulders and pulled his lifeless body towards her.
She sat on the floor cradling his limp body as she gently rocked back and forth. She thought about all the times she had yelled at him for aggravating her or putting frogs in her bed at night. She ran her fingers through his hair and began to sing his favorite lullaby. With each rock of her body, she could feel the anger growing inside her. She relaxed her arms so that his head fell gently to her lap.
Then she turned to survey the rest of the room. Her mother lay face down in a pool of blood, her right hand clutching a poker from the fire place. She slowly turned her head to see what was against the door. Her father had fallen in the seated position with his back against the door. His shirt was saturated from the blood that had poured from his cut throat. Sarah’s eyes didn’t blink as she looked around the room. Then, as if from the deepest part of her soul, a cry escaped her lungs and broke the silence of the dark night.
She buried her head in her hands. The blood from her brother now mixed with the tears that were flowing from her eyes. She doubled over, grabbing her stomach as she wrenched in deep sorrow. She wanted to leave this horrible sight, but she couldn’t find the will to move her legs. She sat for what seemed like hours on the blood soaked floor. The tears continued to flow, but the cries had stopped. Anger began to fill the deep void in her soul.
She continued to rock, but the motions that once vented her sorrow were now filling her with energy like a rubber band being twisted. She used her left hand to gently lower her brothers head to the floor. Outside, she could hear survivors wandering around looking for loved ones. Some were crying and some were yelling, but they all had a deep desperation in their voice. Sarah walked slowly to the fire place and stared into the flames. Images of the dark riders danced in her imagination. Images of the cold hearted figures going through her home and killing her family.
She could see her mother trying to protect her little brother. She imagined her father fighting furiously until being overpowered by the dark riders. She stared into the eyes of the beast that slit her fathers throat and imagined his delight in the suffering he was causing. Then she imagined her little brother, all alone, shivering in the corner by the door. She thought what it must have been life for him to see his mother and father killed. Then she could hear the heavy footsteps of the beastly dark riders as they walked over to him.
She imagined them towering over him and laughing at his little terror filled frame shaking on the floor. She wondered if they even considered what he was feeling or thinking, but she knew the answer. Just as her mind began to reveal his agonizing death, she grabbed her face with her hands and fell to her knees. Once again, the agony of her soul spilled into the night air. A woman, looking for her family heard the cries and walked into the room from outside.
“Sarah?” The woman asked as she entered. “Oh no!” She exclaimed as she saw the carnage in the room. She saw Sarah by the fire place and immediately went to her. Grabbing her shoulders, she tried to console her. “I’m so sorry Sarah.”
Sarah didn’t answer. She could hardly hear the woman’s voice. Everything sounded muffled and distant. The woman turned her away from the dancing flames and looked in her eyes. Sarah just stared back with no expression.
“Sarah, honey, it’s going to be okay. You can stay with us.” She pulled her into her side under her arm and began to walk towards the door, but Sarah stopped. “What is is Sarah?”
She wouldn’t answer, she just continued to stare straight ahead. She could feel her foot touching her little brothers leg. She looked down at him and then towards the woman who had come in and then back at the door. Beyond the door was black night. In here was light and her family. She pulled away from the woman and walked over to the sink and found a rag. She walked over to where her mother’s body lay bloody and began to wipe up the blood from around her.
The woman watched as Sarah, the once playful and energetic friend of her own two daughters, moved about the room like a doll with no emotion. She moved over to her and tried to stop her. “Sarah, honey don’t do this. We’ll come back later. Right now you need to come with me.” Sarah continued top swirl the rag in the pool of blood. The woman grabbed her wrist firmly and lowered her voice. “Sarah.”
Sarah’s right hand immediately grasped the wrist of the woman and she squeezed with all her might. All of her pent up anger coming through her fingertips. The woman dropped to her knees in pain. “Ow, Sarah, you’re hurting me!”
Sarah looked at the woman but she imagined a dark rider. Her fingers began to sink into the woman’s skin.
“Sarah!” She grabbed Sarah’s hand and tried to pry it off of her wrist. “Sarah!” She knew Sarah was in shock.
Sarah felt her finger tips pierce the woman’s skin. She looked down and saw blood begin to emerge from under her nails. The woman was crying in pain. Sarah released her grip and the woman fell back from her on the floor. Sarah stared at her.
The woman raised her left hand open towards her, “It’s okay Sarah. I’ll come back.” Sarah’s eyes fell to the woman’s bleeding wrist and the woman used her other hand to cover the wound and hide if from her. “It’s okay. I’m okay. I’ll come back.” The woman slowly stood and walked out of the open door.
Sarah stood and looked down at the bloody rag and her mother’s body. She surveyed the room once again and let the images of her family burn into her mind. Then she turned and walked up the stairs that lead to a small loft overlooking the bloody room. This was where she and her brother slept. She gathered a few articles of clothing, stuffed them into a cloth bag and then headed back down the stairs.
She went into another small room on the main floor which was where her parents slept. Underneath their bed was a small chest. Sarah pulled it out and opened it. Inside were her father’s personal things. She pushed aside several items and found what she was looking for in the bottom of the chest. She pulled the two small hand axes out and studied them. Her father was a master at the use of the hand axe. When the townspeople would gather for celebrations, they would always ask him to put on a show. He could split an arrow from thirty yards with the throw of an axe. His hand eye coordination was incredible.
He had taught her the basics of axe throwing, but had not allowed her too much liberty because of her age. She pulled the leather sheath out of the chest and strapped it over her shoulder. Then she placed both axes in their sheath. Turning from the chest on the floor, she saw her father’s bow in the corner of the room. She went to it and picked it up. This, she was more familiar with. Her father had taught her how to hunt and how to stalk prey. She picked up the quiver, full of arrows and threw it over her back.
She stepped back into the bloody room and looked one last time at her families bloody demise. She started out the door, but stopped by her little brother. Something caught her eye and she bent down to see that he was wearing the necklace she had made for him. She grabbed it and gently pulled it over his head. Then she placed it over her head and let if fall to her chest. She could feel the emotions beginning to erupt again, but she fought it. She swallowed her tears and fixed her eyes on the darkness outside the door.
She stood and walked out of the house. The woman who had tried to help her before saw her come out and called to her. “Sarah!” But she didn’t stop walking. “Sarah! Where are you going?” The woman began to walk after her. “Sarah! They’ll kill you. You can’t fight them alone!” The woman began to run after her, but Sarah turned and held her hand up open to her. The blood stained hand was firm and it’s message clear. The woman stopped. She reached her left hand out gently. Sarah looked at her open hand, then at her own blood stained hands. She turned and walked into the darkness.