Onyx Phoenix

Stubborn Locks

”Everyone inside! Time for our nighttime meal, ” a woman called from inside a large house. She smiled as the three children and her husband played a hiding game in the large meadow out back. The man picked up the youngest child, a boy of about three with red-brown hair and eyes of the sky, and started to tickle him relentlessly until the boy begged him to stop. It was a heart-warming sight to the woman as she went back inside and started dishing out plates of food: hardy venison, green salad, and a loaf of bread. Her family wasn considered rich, but they also weren poor either since their house was the size of a small mansion.

”Mommy! ” her eldest daughter called from the door. ”Lucent can get up! ” The girl giggled and ran to the wash-basin to wash her hands. ”Neither can father! ”

The woman smiled at her beautiful daughter. ”Well then, I guess theyll miss out, won they? ”

The girl giggled again, dried her hands and sat at the table. Pulling her flaming red hair out of her face, she looked down at her plate of food and scrunched her nose. ”Ew! ”

”Now, Soleil, you must eat your greens so you don get sick, ” the woman scorned softly.

Soleil, at the age of five, had no intention of eating her greens, they were disgusting and stuck to the roof of her mouth. So, when her mother turned around to start plating another plate for her father, Soleil stuffed them into a hidden pocket of her bright yellow dress, making sure they were tucked in safely so no one would see them.

Coming in from outside, Soleils father, Lucent, and her baby sister, Aurora, were laughing still, but were able to move. The man holding Lucent set the boy in a chair with a tray, then went to a little corner of the room to put Aurora in a little crib to rest. Before going into the kitchen to help his wife, he ruffled Soleils hair and kissed her head, whispering, ”I know where you put those greens, little Phoenix. ”

Soleil gasped and widened her light blue eyes in surprise then pouted. ”How did you see them? ”

”One is on the floor beside your chair, ” he said with a grin. Soleil looked down and slumped in disappointment. ”Better pick it up before your mother finds out. ”

The thought of her mother finding out how she hid her greens and punishing her by eating more terrified Soleil. She scurried down from her chair and picked up the leaf, stuffing it into her pocket. Her father chuckled and straightened, walking into the kitchen. Soleil hopped back into her seat and looked at her brother. ”Lucent! You took my bread! ” she squealed.

The little boy smiled and bit into the slice, making sounds of delight from his throat. After he swallowed, he sighed, ”Yummy! ” At the scowl Soleil gave him, he placed the slice onto her plate and tried to look innocent. ”Im sorry, Sol. ”

A moment later, their mother and father reappeared and sat down with them. The woman sat beside Lucent while the man beside Soleil. ”Whats wrong, Soleil? ” their mother asked.

The girl looked at her brother and saw him giving her a pleading look, fake tears in his eyes and his bottom lip trembling. Soleil shook her head and looked down at her plate. ”Nothing. I want to go back outside! ”

”Well go out after eating. You need your energy little Phoenix, ” the father said softly. ”Well play until dark. ”

She looked up at him with bright eyes. ”Promise! ”

”I promise, now lets eat. ”

They ate their meal and helped clean the table and dishes. Afterwards, as promised by her father, Soleil and her brother went outside with their parents and started running around. The woman sat down in a hammock and rocked baby Aurora gently, singing a lullaby softly. The man grabbed a chair from inside, stood on it, and lit a lantern hanging from the gutters, illuminating it with a soft glow. Soleil and Lucent squealed and cheered as they played in the meadow, paying no attention to the world around them.

While the family finished their day off outside, enjoying themselves, a band of men slid into the house and the tree line surrounding the property. There were five inside and another fifty or so outside. The leader, a burly guy with greasy hair and a snarl on his face, sneered at the family, hating their peace and joy. He wanted them dead for no personal reasons of his own, except for the fact that he couldn afford the pleasures they had, only a scruffy blanket under a cardboard box. He lived as all poor men lived, on the streets with the rats and creepy-crawlies scuttling about dodging large feet and clopping hooves.

Beside him, a man crossed his arms and huffed a sigh, ”Why are we here again? ”

”To get the jewels and kill them if need be. ”

”Why? ”

The leader glared at him in irritation. ”Because the boss said and so we don have to live so low as dirt! ”

”How do you know well make out of this alive? ”

The burly man laughed darkly. ”Because, the father has no idea people like us are going around killing off the wealthy. He has no weapons, no knowledge of defense, and a heart he keeps for his family. He will die trying to protect his wife and children, who are more defenseless than he. Besides, the children are stupid enough to sit in a corner and weep, rather than run. Well make it out alive. We outnumber them easily. ”

The man, skinny and doubtful, shook his head in disagreement, not that hed speak his thoughts out loud, but he also had a heart and a family. When he looked upon the children in the meadow, he was reminded of his son and wife. His son, Zegrath, was ten and already becoming a man. His wife died just the year before from plague and sickness, but no matter what, they have always been his pride and joy. He was only doing this because he had been sworn in by the Ironshade gang as a result of their money issue. Zegrath has never known his father kills people in order to provide food and medicine, nor does the father ever plan to have him know. He doesn need that darkness on his shoulders.

Now, the mother of the family stood up and started saying something to her family. The father looked up at her and smiled, then ran over to hug her and the baby in her arms. He kissed the womans mouth and let her slide away and into the house while he turned back to his other children, ignorant of the fate his wife and youngest will consist in a matter of moments. The leader grinned and gestured for the rest of the group to close in silently on the little family with a larger house than any of them could afford. They stayed hidden by the tall grass, crawling along on their hands and knees, and slowing their breathing so they couldn be heard.

The man followed his leaders orders reluctantly, but kept his eyes to the ground, not wanting to see the bloodshed or be able to hear the screams that were sure to sound. The advantage Ironshade had was there was no neighbors for miles around, they had numbers, and they had weapons. This family will be obliterated quickly, going unnoticed for a few days when it would be too late. No, he did not want to be a part of this calamity at all. He did not want their blood on his hands, added to the blood of many others before. His throat closed up on him as his stomach churned, guilt coursing through his body like fire, burning his insides painfully.

The first scream sounded from inside the house and he froze, as well as everyone else outside, including the father and children. It sounded tortured and fearful, pained and panicked. Something crashed as something glass shattered. The woman cried out to her husband. ”Help! ”

The father ushered his two children to the hammock and told them to stay while he went inside. The girl held her brother, laughing softly, unaware of the horrors and dangers inside her own home. The boy giggled and hugged his sister, as Ironshade crept up on them slowly. More crashes from inside, the men inside growling like feral animals as they tried to contain the situation. It was over sooner than the man had hoped, for then the sounds of gruff laughter rang through the air like horns of triumph at battle. The girl heard as well and stiffened, her big blue eyes turned to the house as a knife appeared behind and was plunged into the boys back, straight through the heart.

Blood gushed out as the blade was jerked out and readjusted to hit the girl next. But she screamed at a sight only she could see and started running unknowingly into the mans awaiting arms. Her scream turned even more fearful and she struggled, but the man held her tight, an arm around her middle and a hand trying to cover her mouth. As he held her, he thought about Zegraths innocent face. This girl had to be only a few years younger than him, and even more innocent than he. He saw her brothers lifeless body on the hammock, bleeding through the yellow fabric and to the grass.

The leader suddenly took off into the house, forgetting the last victim still alive, only greedy for the jewels that could make him richer than he has ever been. At last, the man couldn take it and backed away slowly while everyone else were distracted. When he reached at least a yard away, his grip loosened a little and he whispered softly to her with a soothing voice, ”Shh. You need to run away. Go to another town or island, but do not return. Do not look back. Do not stop because I won be able to help you next time. ”

The young girl stilled, realizing what was happening. She didn know if she could trust this man, but knew something bad would happen if she didn cooperate. Soleil nodded once to show her compliance and slumped slightly. The man let go of her mouth, then unwrapped his arm from around her body only to spin her to face him. The man knelt before her and glanced to his comrades, still wading for the leader, and sighed. The girl whispered, ”Where is my mommy and daddy? ”

He looked at her then and closed his eyes at the look of pure terror on her beautiful face. ”Child, you mother and father are not coming back any time soon, so Id forget about them so you can survive. ”

”What do you mean? ”

He shook his head. ”Just start running away as fast as you can. Promise me you will. ”

”Why? ”

This girl asked too many questions! ”Because Im trying to save your life and you
e making it difficult. ”

She snorted and crossed her arms, eyes narrowed in a scowl. ”No. ”

”Im serious, girl. Leave before you get hurt. ”

”This is my home! ” she squealed. ”This isn your home! ”

The man stiffened and saw men glancing around. He cursed softly and started pulling her after him. ”Leave, little girl! You are in danger! ”

”I don care. My brother and sister are back there! ”

He sighed in defeat and pushed her forward, into the trees. ”I can help you no longer. Just leave and never come back. ”

She was about to protest yet again, when she saw men coming up to them at a run. Without a second thought, she ran away. The man turned and faced his partners in this crime, accepting the fact that he will never be able to see his son again because of what hes done.

He was punched and kicked to his knees, then dragged back to the house where the leader and the rest waited. The leader cocked his head to one side and smiled maliciously down, enjoying his role. ”I cannot believe my eyes and ears, Anthrax. You betrayed the Ironshade gang and helped a victim escape. You do know what this means, don you? ”

The man, Anthrax nodded solemnly, though didn regret his actions one bit. He knew what he was doing with his actions, knew the consequences in helping someone they were supposed to kill. ”I do. ”

”I thought you were a loyal man, someone who wouldn risk your own son to the fate you have just destined for him. ”

Anthrax glared at the leader with hatred. He had never been fully loyal to the Ironshade gang. He was only there for his son, only his son. He could care less if he himself died, but Zegrath… ”I did what I did because of him. ”

The leader laughed as if he had said the most hilarious thing in all of the Ruthless Archipelagos. ”You have just brought him a life debt to Neclord with the harshest of assignments awaiting him. You know how Neclord gets when someone betrays him. You know what hell do to you as he tortures your son. ”

”My son is nowhere near Neclord or the Ironshade gang. Hes hidden. ”

The leader laughed again. ”Is that so? ” Anthrax stiffened and went pale. His dark hair began to gleam with sweat. ”Don worry, Anthrax. Im sure Neclord will go easy on your son at first. But just wait until he becomes of age! ”

Now, all the men laughed as they dragged Anthrax away from the ruined house and bloody bodies of the family that were happy and peaceful just ten minutes ago, and now lay dead. The only good thought Anthrax had at the moment was he saved one person, one person who might not have the life she had before, but she still had life worth living. He just hoped she finds someone trustworthy to stay with until shes old enough to fend for herself.

点击屏幕以使用高级工具 提示:您可以使用左右键盘键在章节之间浏览。

You'll Also Like