In a small, partly dilapidated, building sat a classroom full of children ten years of age. Their village, one of the many surrounding the capital, was poverty ridden. Their teacher who was a middle-aged man with light brown hair, a thin moustache, and brown eyes, was enthusiastically educating his pupils on how great the emperor of the land was.
A group of four were sitting at the back of the room and scoffing at everything the teacher was saying. The disgust that they felt towards the emperor was quite palpable.
“Emperor Darius is a strong ruler. He has…” The teacher was going on about the intelligence of the emperor and how he has saved their land.
“What a load of crap,” one of the children, a girl with raven-black hair and dark eyes, said.
One of the other children in the group, a girl with ash-blonde hair and hazel eyes, hissed, “Not so loud, Adara!”
Adara rolled her eyes and hissed back, “I’m only stating facts here, Astrid.”
A boy with dark brown hair and dark brown eyes then said, “Oh, wait. We’re getting to the good part.”
“Kenji, none of what he says is the good part. They’re all laced with lies,” Astrid said with a sigh.
Kenji smirked at her before motioning for her to listen to the next sentence from the teacher.
“Here in Village South-West, we are extremely blessed to have…” the teacher drawled on and lost the attention of more than half of the class.
The fourth member of the group was a boy who looked almost identical to Adara. He too had raven-black hair and eyes so dark it looked black. Both he and Adara had golden brown skin and were considered tall for their age.
“Oh, this part. This part especially shows how they couldn’t care less. I mean they couldn’t even take the time to allocate the villages with proper names.”
Kenji looked at the boy who spoke and said, “Exactly, Storm. This is why I said we’re getting to the good part. The part that shows just what type of leaders we have.”
The teacher looked up from the book that he was reading from and sighed when he was met with critical and sceptical gazes.
He removed his spectacles and rubbed his eyes before sighing again. “Okay, I know exactly what a lot of you are thinking.”
A child in the front of the classroom then spoke up. “Yeah. We’re wondering why you’re even bothering teaching us this when we all know the truth.”
“Yeah!” another child shouted. “The truth that our lives mean nothing to those rich bastards and yet we’re forced to put it on the line only for them to live a safe and comfortable life!”
The teacher held his hand up when he saw another child open their mouth and said, “I know. It’s quite unfortunate. We are forced to teach you this because in three years’ time you will all have to go to the capital for your mandatory training there. You cannot be heard uttering things that would make it look like you hate the emperor. You could be charged with treason. So please, I beg you, keep these opinions here and here only.”
Upon the request of the teacher, the entire class mumbled that they would not utter their grievances aloud when they got to the capital.
The teacher nodded and then proceeded. “We will finish this chapter and then we’re going to hit the practice yard. Your archery and sword skills need to be refined.”
Adara and Storm grinned at each other when they heard that they would be spending the rest of the day practicing.
Astrid smirked in amusement. “I swear the two of you will be able to take down a whole army by the time you hit only fifteen years.”
Upon hearing this, Adara and Storm both had sinister smiles form on their faces. “Well, getting rid of the monarch doesn’t sound like a bad idea.”
Adara nodded at what Storm said before looking at Kenji and Astrid whose faces paled.
Kenji then grabbed their shoulders and whispered, “You are not being serious, are you?”
Astrid then butted in, “You will be killed! Please do not even entertain this thought! We will find another way to change things.”
Adara pulled her face and said, “The two of you always have to be so logical.”
“Someone has to be! I swear, between the two of you there’s only half a brain!” Kenji exclaimed.
Astrid then added on, “If I didn’t know you were cousins, I would have thought your brain got split between the two of you in the womb!”
Storm did not look impressed. “Are you two quite done? We obviously won’t do anything like that. Although it’s not a half bad idea.”
Kenji and Astrid sighed. “We’ve got our work cut out for us with these two. How exciting.”
Adara then said, “Your sarcasm is unwanted. Just for your comments I’m going to kick your arses on the field later!”
_ _ _
Later that evening the four friends parted ways. Astrid shouted, “See you all tomorrow!”
Kenji greeted the cousins as well before running off in the direction of his home. The cousins took their time walking home as neither of them were looking forward to the sombre atmosphere there.
Storm’s father had been killed during battle while his mother had been heavily pregnant at the time. The news of her husband had left her in such a state that she went into early labour. Unfortunately, she died during childbirth.
Adara’s mother, who was the identical twin sister of Storm’s mother, was also pregnant at the time and already had to deal with a husband that was suffering from PTSD and depression. He had returned from the war right before Storm’s father was sent into battle and had lost his right leg and his left eye. He was in no state to help his wife deal with one new-born baby, let alone two.
Adara’s father tried his best to help his wife with the children despite his mental disorder and physical disabilities. The utter exhaustion that both parents felt, however, impacted the way they brought Storm and Adara up. Both were emotionally withdrawn, hence unintentionally making the children feel like they were burdens. Adara’s mother worked in the fields from dawn until dusk and always got home extremely tired. Adara’s father did what he could around the house but always felt like he was a burden to his wife and that were he able to work, they would’ve at least lived a little more comfortably.
On the other hand, Kenji, and Astrid, in their respective households, experienced the complete opposite to the cousins. Their families were just happy that they were all together and often expressed how much they loved and appreciated one another. Their households were filled with happiness while the cousins lived in a house that felt like it was under a constant thundercloud.
This story is posted on Tapas and Inkitt only.