Standing on the edge of the cliff above the valley, I can only watch as the flames burn high into the dusk sky. Running across the parapet and rooftops, it crackles angrily. With a loud groan the roof of the castle collapsed in upon itself. I guess even stonework can only take so much. Turning the ring on my finger I shed a tear at the sight of the royal crest.
“Uncle Felix?” At her voice, I turn away from the blaze drying my eyes as I do so. Dropping to one knee I look get straight in the eye before replying.
“Yes, Bri girl?”
“Are my parents?” I can see in her eyes she already knows the answer. At ten years old she has just become the heir to a throne the doesn’t exist.
“I’m sorry child. I…” whatever else I’m going to say is lost as she crashes into me with a sob. As she hugs my shoulder crying I look at Julietta, who’s watching her sister cry. Four years younger she doesn’t know the reason for her sister’s tears and I already dread the day she does. Holding out my free hand and gesture her over. Running over she hugs into my other shoulder. Pulling them close I hug the two girls tight. The sounds of hooves and breaking leaves makes me instantly alert. Releasing the girls I push them both behind me and step forward, hand already resting on the hilt of my sword. The crashing grows louder and a man on horseback breaks through the trees.teo horses trailing behind him. I relax a little as soon as I recognise him.
“Wilks. Thank the gods. Were you followed?” Dismounting off his horse he grabs the reigns of the other two horses and leads them over.
“I don’t think so, my lord. But they will eventually pick up the trail. I fear we may have to ride through the night in order to place enough distance between us and those that would follow.”
“Agreed. Get the girls mounted. I have one more thing to take care of.” With a nod, he hands me the reigns of my own horse before leaving the other two horse and the girls away through the trees. Reaching up next to the saddle I remove a cloth wrapped sword. Unwrapping it I walk over to the edge and drop to one knee. Drawing the blade across the palm of my hand I stain the metal with my blood before driving it into the ground. Placing my cut hand on top of the hilt and my right hand over my heart I look directly at the flames.
“I’ll watch over your daughters’ old friend. I promise you as long as I draw breath still, no harm will come to them. I have followed you into battle more times then I can count without fear. And yet looking after your daughters terrifies me.” Getting up from my knees I wrap a cloth around my hand. Drawing a pendant from my pocket I hang it over the sword.
“I would have followed you but for the asking. My friend, my brother, my king. May you forever find peace in wherever you are. May your forbearers welcome you with open arms. Long live the king.” Turning away, I mount my horse and with a soft tug on the reigns move away from the cliff. Walking through the trees I find Wilks waiting patiently on his horse and the two girls on theirs.
“Bri keep a tight grip on your sister. Let’s move.” With another tug on the reigns, we set off into the forest as the fires continue to rage behind us.