The Flaming Arrow

Finalist in the 'Write As Rain 2014' competition

‘Squeal’ ‘Squeak’
The cogs creaked into motion, soldiers poured into the kingdom, torching everything in sight. Was I regretful, opening the drawbridge for this cause?
I am not yet sure.
I stand here, reflecting on what I’ve now become. Buildings torched below and I just stand atop the parapet of this battlement as my life flickers before my eyes to the day it all started... my twelfth birthday.
“Happy Birthday son, we’re all happy to know you’re going to carry out the family tradition of carpentry!” exclaims my father joyfully. “Yea!” shouts my brother, Clarence. “Wait, what?!” I question, “What if I don’t want to become a ‘carpenter’, maybe I want something more for my life?” “Alistair!” my mother mutters, disappointment riddling her tone. ‘CRASH’
The thatched roof of our tiny hut caves in. Men in black chrome armour follow, surrounding my family. They disappear into a crowd of even more intimidating men. “Clarence, Mother, Father!” I wail, yet it’s no use for I am thrown into a dimly lit cart. I see my only home disappear in a roar of fire. “He doesn’t look like Brotherhood material…” I hear the men mutter amongst themselves. Then one snarls at me, “Don’t worry about your family youngling, you’ll see them again if you agree to become a part of our family... or die.”
My mind forces me to recall the day, 2 months after my birthday…
“All right mutts, out of bed!” Roars the imposing man in front of my bedroll wearing a black chrome helmet lined with velvet steel.
Every day we were dragged out of bed before the sun had risen to begin training. I and others like me, who had been threatened into the Brotherhood, were taught to use mechanical bows and compact daggers for an unknown cause. Today, I had been called upon by the leader of the Brotherhood, ‘our’ seldom seen Emperor and Lord. I had seen people murdered at his hand so naturally I was terrified.
As I entered into his dwelling a threatening individual forced me to sit, but I was relieved. This was not an execution.
He began, “Youngling, you have shown particular skill in the subject of Stealth, have you not?” I sat in silence. “We do not often come across ‘assassins’ of your size.” I couldn’t decide whether he was pleased behind his mysterious mask. "We need to raid here…” He strikes a map with his knife at Clifton, the capital of Northcurbe, most fortified kingdom in the world. A wave of doubt consumes me. “Don’t worry son, all you need to do is sneak past guards to lower the drawbridge and then you can see your family!” “I’ll do it!” I cry, without thinking twice.
The flaming arrow shrikes me in the stomach...

FOLLOW US was established in 1997, and since then we have successfully completed numerous short story and poetry competitions and publications.
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