We live in a small village called Hyacinth, like the flower, but only it is a place of sands and rocks mostly. No single flower has ever bloomed here since who knows when.
In the middle of the village stood a house made of bricks. This is where I live with my mother and two younger sisters, Carmilla and Linette. Carmilla is 2 years younger ,and shorter in height than I am, she has a silky long hair, and pearl white skin while Linette is just 8 years old, a very cute chubby girl with a curly hair. Not to mention my uncle named John, the owner of the house. He is my mother’s older brother. A man with no remorse. He is a fat and swine who is drunk on most days. In the rare days when he is sober, he could be really violent with the girls. There was a time when he almost raped Carmilla. It made me furious but I had to let it go because my family has nowhere else to go. Someday he will pay what he owed to us. I’ll make sure of it.
I have been meaning to leave the house with my family for quite a while now.
Life has been really hard since our father died. I was 16 then. He has taught me wood-works of which the reason I landed a carpentry job in Coldhearth. Although the work there can hardly make a living, a choice is a luxury I can’t afford.
I have dreamt of a good life for them. A place of freedom, joy, and peace. Until then, I have to endure hardships and pain.
Chapter 1 “The day that changed everything”
Daylight broke on my face. I mingled a few moments before I got out of bed. There was a feeling of dizziness in my head. Surely it was the ale I drank last night while celebrating Emanuel’s 19th birthday. I guess I had too much to drink.
Mother sat on the chair across the table preparing the day’s meal. The girls are still fast asleep.
Why don’t you fill something in your stomach first before you head to work, Darling? She said.
I’m alright mother. I answered. And besides I’m already getting sick of potatoes. Surely I will throw it up if I happen to get another bite. I said politely while picking up my things before heading out.
As I was about to leave the house, I can’t help myself but think that the meal is hardly enough for the three of them. I sigh at the thought.
See you later mother.
See you later darling.
I headed out to the barn where Sunny is well kept. She is one of the last mementos of my late father. A beautiful filly she is. White as snow.
Let’s go Sunny, we have a long journey ahead of us.
Coldhearth is at least hours north from here. A place where all the common working men meet in the kingdom. Works of different functions with very low wage. You could hear the clanking of metals from a mile a way and the stale air polluting the streets.
As we have reached the south passage of Coldhearth, there is a tall wall looming in its wake. The Red Gate.
It is said that the blood of the enemies of the Armada is painted in it’s walls. Hence the name.
Two gate watchers stood unwavering outside the red gate where they inspect every man that passes through.
As we approached the gate, I showed the gate watchers a green lace, a worker’s pass. Green means wood-workers, silver means blacksmiths, red means stone masons, and the list goes on and on.
The gate watchers let us pass. Just beyond the gate situates a hut where Mr. Wilburn dwells as he tends to the stables across from it. (A moderately tall old man that lived most of his days tending horses)
Good morning Mr. Wilburn. I said as I pass by the front of his stable and decided to talk to him for a minute.
Is your ankle still sore from the kick? realizing that he’s now walking better than the last I saw of him.
Oh Vigo it’s you. Well you know me, still as strong as a horse at this old age. He replied.
I’ll leave Sunny to you then. I said to Mr. Wilbur handing Sunny’s lead rope to him.
See you later my girl. Patting her head before leaving the stable.
Alright then. He said pushing me towards the streets.
Off you go now son. I think the boys are waiting.
Emanuel, Glendale and I, are working on a watchtower just a few yards away from the red gate. Since the former watchtower caught on flames a few months ago. They said it was an accident, though there a rumors circulating that the fire was intentional.
Glendale and his sister Theresa are both my childhood friends. Our parents knew each other but a tragic incident happened 5 years ago that resulted to the death of their mother and father.
Emanuel, in the other hand, became our friend just a couple of months ago. He lives in a town nearby. He’s as tall as me, has a hand of a carpenter, and his hair is arc shaved near his left ear)
Thankfully, they have already started working before I arrived.
Good morning lads! I said as I reached the place.
Still drunk from last night aye? Emanuel said laughing at disbelief.
A bit dizzy is all. I replied.
You got early off last night Dale. I said. You haven't been yourself these past few days. Is something bothering you?
Dale is a year older than me. He is bit taller but he’s skinny by all means.
Actually there is. Dale said. I’ve been thinking about joining the Armada.
The Armada? Emanuel asked laughing. Are you mad? You can’t even hold the hammer properly, let alone a sword.
I have been dreaming about it since I was a boy. Also, I promised Theresa that I will avenge mum and dad. I think it’s the only way. He said purposefully.
How many times did Theresa told you to drop your vengeance. It could get you in trouble. Like huge trouble. Emanuel said to Dale.
Let’s get on with our work shall we? A warrior can wait but this tower can’t. I said.
The day was almost over and the people are already lining up for the free daily stew that Ms. Blanchett makes.
It is the worst tasting stew I have ever tasted my whole life, but it fills our stomach so we always line up anyway.
I saw Theresa at the back of the line a few steps away from us and I approached her.
Hey. Hey! Theresa! Got my bricks? I said discreetly.
Oh hey Vigo. Yeah I got them, already placed them in your duffel. Same old place. She responded.
Theresa is a fine young woman, a little shorter than I am and her hair is cut short at her shoulder’s length. She works at the quarry where they break, collect , and shape stones of kinds.
I took 3 shillings in my pocket and gave it to her.
Here you go. Thank you Theresa, You’re the best!
What are you gonna do with it anyway? She asked. you’ve been collecting those for quite a while now.
You will see it one day. I said smiling widely.
Anyway, the price is up for the next bricks, 4 shillings I mean it’s hard to get those, what if I get caught you know. Non negotiable. She said sternly as we move closer to the end of the stewline.
Fair enough. I replied.
We got our stew, sat on our favorite spot and talked our days like most days.
Do you think Maureen would like me? I’ve been meaning to give this wooden flower I made for her. Emanuel said Lifting the wooden rose he had been patiently making before.
I gave him a funny look. Naaa, I doubt it. I said laughing.
Give him a break Vigo. Theresa said. You should try it Emanuel, I’m sure she would love it, and besides what are you going to lose? Patting Emanuel’s back hopefully to encourage him a bit.
Thanks for backing me up Theresa. Emanuel replied. Unlike our friend here who couldn’t even get a girl for himself. He said back to me laughing to mock me.
Dale was seriously silent at our table. He is surely thinking about joining the Armada a lot.
After most of the people has finished their meal, the archon appeared in the front hall. He appears to be angry and afraid at the same time. He stood there tall and unflinching while he uttered the words:
“The watchers have already closed all the gates from all direction of Coldhearth, and I am ordering all of you to form a line based on your workstations. The Sentries from The Fort have marched here to search each one you, looking for a connection from the fire that happened a few months ago. It appears that those arsonists are among you. Whoever you are, you will be smitten.”
The hell is going on? Emanuel exclaimed.
Maybe a word was sent to them about the fire. I said. Let’s just stay calm and collected shall we?
I thought maybe it wasn’t just a fire. It was something deeper.
The sentry guards from the fort flanked us as they orchestrated our assembly.
They also searched the entire place and left no stones unturned.
Each one of us was searched from head to toe. Looking for something we do not know.
It almost took forever and nightfall was already looming.
Until two people emerged with the sentry guards. Namely Rigor Black and Shawn Manglewood.
Vigo, you know those folks right? Dale asked.
Just the other man. Rigor. I replied. He’s a blacksmith, I used to burrow a hammer from him.
The sentry guards took the two suspects in one of their tents. Maybe to get some answers.
What would happen to them we do not know.
Later that night, everyone has been allowed to leave including us. We shrugged off the nervousness that shrouded the entire place and prepared to get back home.
We were almost at the red gates when I it almost slipped through my mind the duffel which Theresa has placed the bricks.
I rushed back in the quarry site where Theresa would often hide it from peeking eyes.
I discreetly passed the sentry guards in the hallways.
When I finally got there, there were two sentry guards at the scene just a few steps away from where I was hiding. One was holding my duffel.
And I am sure that they know whats inside it now.
I think I found something! One sentry guard exclaimed.
Let me take a look. The other sentry guard replied.
My emotions were rumbling at that moment but I didn’t want Theresa to be held responsible. I had to do something, I had to admit that I stole those bricks from the quarry site.
Captain! The sentry guard shouted. We found something of interest.
As they walked towards their captain, my body moved on its own and caught up to them. Not knowing what they had found other than those bricks. There was I, standing next to them.
Forgive me sire. That is my duffel. My voice was trembling as I spoke the words. I didn’t mean to steal those bricks. I will take any punishment you deem necessary.
I have heard punishments from the fort includes flogging and cutting of fingers for stealing among other things. Well I guess I’m in luck today.
Seize him! The Captain of the sentries ordered his men. Let the Commander decide what to do with this young man.
The sentries immediately did as ordered. My hands were bound behind my back as they escorted me to the tent where the two others were detained.
As we draw closer to the tent. A man stood inside, tall and he seemed so strong. He was in his uniforms but with different colors. I think he’s the commander.
Report? The commander said rigidly.
My men has caught this young man red handed near the quarry. Said the captain. He claimed that this duffel belongs to him and we have found something else inside.
And what is it? The commander asked with his forehead creasing with curiosity.
The captain handed the commander a piece of small ragged cloth with an insignia of a blue rose that has been intricately embroidered.
The commander then shifts his attention to me.
What is your name young man? The commander asked.
I’m uh... my name is Vigo, Sire. Vigo Lionheart. I did not mean to steal those bricks sire. I responded pleading.
I have no idea what might that piece of cloth means sire. That does not belong to me. I continued. Please have mercy Sire.
Well Vigo Lionheart, we have a lot to talk about.
Cage them up and place them in the wagons. Lets head out, we are done here. The commander ordered. Better make it quick, I don’t want to take supper on the road.
The sentry guards then placed us in a small cage that would at least fit five grown men that is being carried by a wagon.
And as the scenario unfolds in my eyes. My mind got numb. What the hell did I get myself into? What about mother? The girls? I frustratingly thought to myself.
As the sentries marched out back to the Fort, I saw them at the distance. Theresa, Emanuel, and Dale.
Please tell my mother I will be back! I shouted to them with teary eyes. Please tell mother! Pleading with hope that I will return. I hope I will.
End of chapter 1