“It was just another cold winter night in Vesuvanite. My grandchildren were playing in the backyard and the rest of the family were upstairs. I locked the front door and sat beside the fireplace in such a way that I had the children in my sight.” She stopped and took a deep breath, there was something drastic going to happen. The look on her face said it all.
“There was a lot off commotion outside the house. We all came down to look outside, all the neighbours were outside. An old man spoke to the guards who had come there. He said that there was some army trying to conquer Axinite. The guard assured them it wasn’t serious. Axinite was a rich country even then, the army does a brilliant job of protecting the country from all the harm. Axinite always had a lot of threats, the army always contained those threats. So, when the guard said it was fine all of believed him and got back into our houses. No army ever made it through the Iron gates, but this wasn’t an ordinary threat. This was Urgern Baron, one of the strongest and most sly conquerors Axinite had ever faced. Him and his army came out of nowhere. They broke the Iron gates, we could hear the noises till our houses. We had faith in the army but it still scared us. All the neighbours gathered outside and started to talk, I took the hands of the kids and kept them by my side. That was the last time I held their hands. I did not even get a chance to look at my family”. Bathilda was a strong woman, she had endured a lot in her life. It all came back to her, she buried her head in her hands.
Clarice hugged her and whispered something in her ears. “Do you want some water?”
“No dear, I’ll be fine” she was slowly calming down. Clarice held her hand and gave her a supporting nod.
“Clarice they came out of nowhere! They came out of nowhere. They came and torched everyone they found, they burned houses and animals. THOSE COLD BASTARDS DID NOT EVEN SPARE THE CHILDREN! WHAT DID THOSE INNOCENT CHILDREN DO TO DESERVE THIS? WHAT DID I DO TO BE LEFT ALIVE? I SHOULD HAVE DIED. I should’ve gone with my family too. I got left behind and had to suffer all these years.”
“How did you survive?” Ingram asked curiously.
“I took the kids and ran inside, I ran to the backyard to flee from behind. My whole family joined in, they ran in front, while my old legs couldn’t keep up. I tripped and knocked myself unconscious. I couldn’t save them! The moment they stepped in the road they got killed. My grandchildren were torched and my son and his wife just hit to death” At this moment Clarice held Bathilda’s hands asking her not to continue. She had to go on, she needed to get it all out.
“I woke up hours later, I kept hoping it was a nightmare but it wasn’t. My people had left me. They left me! I couldn’t look at their bodies the next morning. I pleaded the guards not to force me to. I couldn’t do it Clarice, I couldn’t!”
“The king spoke about the loss the people had suffered, but he doesn’t understand the loss. Urgern couldn’t even enter Krifmont, all he did was ruin lives of families from Vesuvanite and Hauyne. The king though it was a triumph, he did not actually care about the loss. He was relieved that Urgern did not make it to the capital.”
“The King’s associates came by a few days later and distributed gold to the families. Gold wasn’t going to fix the families lost. This gold was just enough to start a new life because Urgern’s men had looted half the town.The surviving people of Vesuvanite and Hauyne had a meeting. They decided to start a new life on an island a day away from here. I stayed back, I did not need a new life. I did not need a life at all. I shifted to Hauyne with the little money I had, hoping all this while that my family would knock on my door one day.”
“You’re a strong woman Bathilda. I don’t think I would’ve had the strength to survive the heartbreak you endured. I am like your daughter now, so never say you don’t have a family. I’ll always be there for you” Clarice smiled.
“Where did they all shift to Bathilda? did you catch the name of the island?” Ingram asked.
“The island of Mirefield is where they all fled to, fearing more attacks” Bathilda had murmered ‘cowards’ at the end of the sentence.
“Clarice, you are the strongest woman I’ve known. I’ve seen you everyday since you arrived here. I see you helping everyone and endlessly searching for Ingram and his family. Day in and day out. You would endlessly pursue random leads. I haven’t met someone so loving, caring and motivated all my life. I would proudly call you my daughter. Ingram trust me, this woman is going to find your family. Her family.” Bathilda confessed to her.
“I know! She’s all the support I need. We are going to find Elia and Daisy” said Ingram proudly.
“We need to find Bennet, we need to get to Mirefield as soon as possible” Clarice shouted at Ingram as soon as they left Bathilda’s house.
Ingram smiled at Clarice. He was glad he had someone like her at this point of his life.
For the next chapter: Chapter 8: The Docks & The Fireplace.
For Chapter 1: Chapter 1 : Emancipation