Writing Prompt: A Town Under Attack
Write about someone whose town is under attack.
They came in the night. They always did. Several hours after curfew, when the townspeople were tucked quietly in bed, they came.
I couldn’t sleep after everything that has happened these last few months. How could everyone else fall into a deep slumber as if all was safe and as it should be?
We were prisoners.
After the uprising of the knights, our kingdom had fallen. The knights had brutally slain the royal family, and the walls surrounding the castle’s village were closed indefinitely. Anyone who threatened the new order was killed instantly. No trial. No questions asked.
Four months have passed since the knights overtook the lands and trapped us inside. No one understood why this was happening or what was going to happen next. All we knew is that we were to go on as we did before but with a few added rules.
Curfew was at 9pm. We couldn’t leave our village. We couldn’t ask questions. We couldn’t have meetings for groups larger than ten, which meant no church, no events, no socializing. We couldn’t communicate with anyone outside of those walls.
I wondered if anyone beyond our village knew we were under siege. That we needed help.
The first month was the hardest. We lived in fear, only making eye contact with one another. Basic chatter was nonexistent, worried we would break these new rules and be killed on the spot. We had seen how the knights slaughtered those who defied them. We took extra precautions to stay clear of their wrath.
After two months, the people of our village accepted this as the new normal. We had no other choice. All our weapons had been taken away. Even our blacksmith was forced to work under close watch of the knights. If they found someone with anything sharper than a butter knife, they would be punished. Usually, for first-time offenders, their hand was cut off. We’ve never had a second-time offender to know what would happen next.
We were scared, but not as scared as what happened at night when the rest of the knights appeared in the shadows of the evening.
I’m not sure what caused me to get out of bed tonight of all nights. My restlessness had been unbearable. The weight of everything suffocated me. I felt trapped as if I no longer possessed my own choices.
The urge to leave my house was impossible to ignore, even though I knew I would be killed if I was caught outside after curfew.
I didn’t care. I silently left my home anyway, careful not to make the old wooden door creak on the way out.
The roads were quiet, the only sound was the loose dirt and stone crunching under my nimble steps. I quickly made my way to the forest on the east side of town. It was small, cut in half by the towering wall, but provided enough depth for me to hide.
These knights came to our section of the village several times a week. But this night was different. Shrouded in the dark, the loud rumble of thunder from an oncoming storm hid their approach.
I ducked behind a large boulder and tucked my body into overgrowth, watching them as they stopped to converge by the village center’s fountain. After a moment of hushed chatter, the group of men disbanded in different directions.
Their actions were peculiar. When they usually came, they simply patrolled the streets and went on their way. But tonight, they were quietly stopping at each cottage.
I squinted my eyes, trying to make out what they were doing. After my eyes adjusted, I realized they were blocking the doors. Before I had a chance to think about why, they set the houses ablaze one by one.
Flames licked up the sides, engulfing every single home in a matter of seconds.
In some cases, I could see front doors rattling, as if people were trying to escape. However, with the barricades set by the knights, the people couldn’t get out in time before their homes were consumed by the fire.
I tried to mask the cry that threatened to escape my throat as I listened to the chorus of agony ringing through the night.
Families were murdered. Children. Pets.
My family. My friends. All gone.
As if the cries screaming out wasn’t haunting enough, the silence of those cries was even more excruciating.
I was the only survivor.
The knights confirmed they had completed their task before disappearing beyond the town walls, leaving smoking embers in their wake.
They were cowards.
I sobbed into my arm, muffling the sound. I couldn’t understand. Innocent people were lost and for what? Why?
Suddenly, a rustle in the trees caught my attention. I steadied my breathing in case it was a predator. Or worse, a knight.
Turning my head, I could make out the faint outline of three people’s shadows. I ducked deeper into the overgrowth, scared the knights had realized they hadn’t killed everyone and were coming for me. As the shadows approached closer, I realized it wasn’t them.
“Who’s there?” I whispered loudly.
“Hello?” A woman’s voice called out in response.
“Announce yourself,” I said, my tone more steely than I felt.
The woman and two men were close enough now to see clearly. They were in riding wear and looked to be youthful. Maybe eighteen years old.
“I am Mary Johnson. This is my brother, Matthew, and our friend, Michael Smith.”
“Who are you and why are you here? No one by that name is from this village.” I stood from my hiding place.
“You are right. We are from outside the walls.”
Outside? That couldn’t possibly be true. “How did you get in?”
“We uncovered a hidden passage underground two weeks ago,” Michael said. “We have come to help you.”
Mary looked to the rubble of the village behind me, a somber look crossed her features. “I fear we are too late.”
I tried not to let that reminder make my voice waver. “What do you mean you were going to help us?”
“The neighboring villages have banded together to destroy the knights and free your people,” Matthew explained. “We planned to move the villagers out through the tunnel and move our army in.”
“There’s no one left.” I choked as tears streamed down my face.
“You are left,” Mary said as she grabbed me by the shoulders and looked me in the eyes. The moonlight made her dark gaze glitter with energy. “And we are here now to help you get your vengeance.”
I pulled away and spoke, my voice quiet but steady. “I want to kill them all.”
“And you will if you come with us.”
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