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Stan Elena Bianca
Into the dawn
Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)
Desolation was everywhere. Or so he thought. He had been thinking about it for the past months, constantly, helplessly, clinging and clinging until he felt ready to face reality.
But were the rumors true? Their village was too far away. He would have to cross the immense forest, follow the main roads, and then, with the power of Lord, he might have had a chance.
Daegal and Sigrid were not back yet. Lunden went on a walk again, circling around the closest houses to the forest. He tried to avoid the harsh glances of the villagers. He put his hand above his forehead, focusing on the small figures who were making their way through the tall trees. He couldn’t reach them, not even by sound, so he decided to walk in that direction.
He felt a pressure down his nape, and turning around quickly, he startled the middle-aged man. Lunden was agile, fearless, confronting. He was ready to face anyone who thought they would be able to tell him what to do. No one had that power. Not right now, when he knew what needed to be done.
“Don’t you have work to do?!”
He yelled with no shame, as if the man was a thorn in his back.
“Well, you’re on my property! What the heck are you doing here, staring in the distance like a fool? Go help your mother! You should have been working at your age! Poor woman!
Lunden was listening, but he had been hoping that the words were a pile of wicked rubble, and the man had not voiced them. But they were so loud, so clear and blunt, that they were almost made of flesh and bones.
He dropped his bow on the road made of stone. No remorse, no regret, nor was there any sign of retreat in his eyes. He made the choice. As soon as the weapon bounced for the second time, he grabbed his rival by the throat, their bodies collapsing in just a mere second.
“What are you talking about?! Everyone is dying! Bragging about your property?! What about your folks, have you heard from them?! It’s been weeks since they were supposed to reach York! You’re a cowardly imbecile, who was afraid to join them!”
Lunden’s blonde curls were covering his eyes. Sweat was dripping onto the man’s face, who could barely breathe under the strong hold of the youngster. The madness, dullness and anger were not only because of what he heard.
He let go of his collar and soon lost all interest. He got up and retrieved the arch.
“If only my mom had let me use that sword…”
He started walking once again.
“Wait, Lunden… Don’t go into the forest! I received word from a man of my brother, we need to wait for rescue!” he was following the boy in his dusty clothing, the beard covering his small mouth.
“No, you need to wait for rescue! I’m looking for my friends!”
He did not want to look at him again. He had no pity for the likes of him.
“Don’t you think their families wish for this too?! Their well-being?! They were foolish for going there! What about Hilda? Oh, God, have mercy, she’s one of the few kids out here!’’
This time, no response. Lunden was convinced the man had lost his mind.
“Please, listen, I knew your father!” he screamed out, regretting it immediately. He lost his balance and fell to his knees.
Lunden watched him impassively.
“And you think that counts for something? He’s dead now! I’m here, I can breathe, speak, fight, I can do anything! And all you can do is creep and wine!”
He wasted no more time and was on his way, leaving the man behind.
He believed it was a victory. But why didn’t he feel intoxicated, or even the slightest satisfaction? Instead, an imaginary punch to the stomach just hit him.
The figures were now closer and closer. He distinguished them. It seemed that there were girls of different ages, laughing and enjoying the windy time. They were carrying pails from the stream, although they had been told to thin out during this period.
He was ready to return home. But just then, in a slip of a second, he saw the little girl. His vision blurred out.
Hilda. Hilda was with them. And she was holding another’s girl hand.
Lunden lost his tongue, but his feet rushed and he soon pulled her away tightly, abruptly, cornering the ladies.
“Let’s go, Hilda, we talk on our way!”
He wanted to avoid another dispute.
“Oh, Lunden?! Was that your name, dear? How nice to see you here!” a girl smiled brightly.
“Don’t worry, lil’ Hilda was in good hands!”
He couldn’t stand the giggles. It made him worse, it made everything worse. He cleared his throat.
“Excuse me, Hilda needs to get lunch! Enjoy your afternoon!”
The two left the group wondering and whispering around. He hated the way they spoke, the way they dressed, the freedom they had gotten from their families. They were not wealthy, but they did not have a sick mother waiting for them at home. He hated their happy, cheerful faces.
“So, will you tell me when did I approve of you going out?! You’re just a kid, they’re teens!”
He decided to soften his voice, just for her.
“I’m sorry, big brother…My friends did not want to play with me! They called me stupid! Isabel found me around the small market.”
Hilda was as bright as sparkles. When sad, she wanted to be listened to, she wanted comfort.
Lunden picked her up and held her close.
“Okay, let’s just go…Mom needs us home! I’m sorry I yelled!”
The smile he was able to steal from her almost took all the pain away. He tried to smile, too. But he had to be strong, for both of them.
His footsteps were just as fast as before. He was used to carrying heavier stuff, but he put her down shortly after.
She knew he loved her. That was enough.
The sun was now blazing their skin softly, while they continued on their way, side by side.