“Old Father, what’s wrong?”
Tammy knelt before the village elder, hand grasping his knee. The wizened centenarian sighed and placed his hand over hers. His eyes lost focus as he watched the past. “I worry about the direction the kingdom is going, little daughter. The Aviar are massing, and our young flock to the King’s call.”
Her face reddened as she contemplated the wrinkled plas-sheet in her pocket, acknowledging her acceptance into the King’s Knights’ training program. She struggled to grasp the sense of pride that swelled her chest when she received it. “What would you have us do, Father? We must protect ourselves and our way of li-”
“To arms! To arms!” A small boy ran through the border village, bellowing out the hue and cry. “The Aviar are here! To arms!”
“Go, child!” The wise man stood and shuffled into his domicile, muttering, “Our peoples used to be friends. Why can’t we be that again?”
Tammy’s long legs carried her to her dwelling on the opposite side of the village. The sounds of plasma-fire, screams, and bird-screeches began behind her as she burst through the door. “Dad! I need the rifle!”
Her true father, already clad in thin armor and carrying the weapon she looked for, shook his head. “You are not a Knight yet, Tammy.” He pointed to the family blade, hanging in its place of honor on the wall. “Take that and protect your little brother.”
Tammy cried as her father strode with terrible purpose toward the sounds of chaos. She dried her eyes and gathered Paul with her into the shelter.
The sounds of battle seemed to last for eternity, in reality only an hour. Tammy peeked her head out at the shroud of silence. She held Paul’s hand and walked through the village.
The raid devastated the small town. Bodies lay everywhere, burned and broken. Old Father stared at her father with sightless eyes.
She squeezed Paul’s hand and started the long journey to the castle.
Happy Holidays and Happy Reading and Writing!