Stretching across miles of land, the Kingdom of Barkodoth rested easy as the moon rose to its peak. This kingdom housed many a species, including elves, pixies and trolls and in the centre, sparkling lights shone, the smell of candle smoke ridden through the air. That was Illnox, the heart and centre of Barkodoth, but if you looked closer, in the North-East section of Illnox sat a small town by the name of Freybeach. A singular bird appeared from the clouds and swooped down approaching the town. Cobbled streets and puffing chimneys put this town to be the exact opposite from the rest of Illnox, and many houses were dotted in the area. Each house had a tiny picket-fenced backyard, some filled with chickens, some with their own crops, apart from one house. This one was situated in the centre of the adorable, urban little town, and had no backyard. This house sat on its own, but the life coming from within made up for the loss of backyard space.
Smoke soared high over the fireplace, stretching up through the chimney and out the top. The Beauchene family sat peacefully around their kitchen table, feasting over the fish that the father had caught at the docks. The two Beauchene children, five-year-old Kaiya and 15-year-old Jules were sat opposite their parents Ayden and Maeve. Dampness crept up the legs of the table but since the family couldn’t afford anything new, they had to stick with it and the top was covered with a stained white cloth.
“Mommy, I don’t like my vegetables,” Kaiya said, a few small sliver locks of her hair falling in front of her pointed elf ears and the flowers in it holding the rest of the braids in place.
“Kaiya, you must speak your language, stop using this common English substitute,” Ayden scolded in Latin.
“Oh Ayden leave her alone, it’s good for her to learn new things, and speaking of things that are good for you, honey, you’re five now, you need to learn to eat vegetables,” Maeve replied in English.
“But Mommy,” Kaiya protested but she her hand up to stop her.
“Mother, you can’t force her to eat them, look you have to make her want to,” Jules informed her turning to his younger sister.
“Look see, this vegetable is called broccoli, it looks like a tree, I can make it fly – see just like this,” he said, moving the spoon so it looked like an airplane. When Kaiya giggled and ate it, a smile tugged at Maeve’s lips and she held her hands up in defeat.
Abruptly, thundering cracks of whips on horses were heard outside and the whole family turned to face it, Ayden getting up and naturally shielding his family. Torchlights shone through the shattered windows as a banging sounded, shaking the door on its hinges. Kaiya trembled, terrified and her father crouched down in front of her, stroking her silky silver hair.
“Hey, it’s okay. It’s just the King’s guards, but if they see Jules, he could be in trouble, so you both must hide,” he whispered with urgency in his voice, his gaze flicking between his children and the door.
“Daddy I’m scared,” she whispered, clutching her brother’s hand which was trembling at the same pace hers was.
“I know sweetheart, but you don’t have to be, because they aren’t going to find you,” he said, leading the children to an orange rug on the floor which he lifted and revealed a trapdoor. Carefully, so as not to make any noise, he lifted it open and ushered Kaiya inside. The room was dark and dusty, clearly no-one had been down there in centuries and for good reason. Jules dropped down beside her, lighting the torches around the room on fire, producing a safe flicker of light. Rats scuttled across the floor and she had the urge to scream, but Jules covered her mouth softly. A loud bang echoed from above, presumably the door coming off of its hinges.
“We are here on behalf of King Ophiuchus of Illnox, a noble leader who is willing to grant you mercy once you give over your son for battle,” a gruff voice announced to their parents.
“We have no child,” their father lied boldly, too boldly.
“Well, the King warned us that you might be… reluctant,” the man said spitting the last word. Eight pairs of footsteps thundered upstairs before the room went silent.
“What happened?” Kaiya asked, her sweet voice escaping through her brother’s clasping fingers.
“I don’t know,” he said, but he knew exactly what happened.
Jules breathed a sigh of relief at the silence, but the knowledge of what just happened still sat in his chest building his anger. He dropped down next to Kaiya wrapping his arms around her, holding the shaking form that was her body.
“I’m hot,” she whimpered into his chest and he nodded.
“It’s just the shock, you’re okay, we’re both okay,” he comforted her.
“Mommy and Daddy aren’t though are they,” she replied but Jules didn’t say anything, “Jules it’s getting really hot in here,” she repeated and he was just about to tell her that they had bigger problems but then he felt it too, coming from above.
“They set the house on fire,” he deducted, quickly picking Kaiya up and looking around the room, there were no exits. They were trapped. The heat was building now, and Jules was beginning to sweat. Smoke seeped through the planks above their heads and filled the air around them, making it near impossible to breathe. Kaiya began to cough, and he knelt down, struggling to crawl and hold his sister at the same time.
“I’m going to try something,” he said, standing up and holding onto his sister even tighter, running for the trapdoor opening it above them. He could feel the burn of the smoke in his lungs, but he continued through the pain and into the room above. Flames licked the walls at his sides, curling around his feet and he could hear Kaiya crying but he ignored it, running through the flames hurriedly. He had read somewhere that if you go into flames for a second, quickly, it wouldn’t hurt, well that book was wrong. Searing bolts of lightning shot up his legs as he made it to the front door knocking it open. The world was orange. The whole town was on fire and not a single living soul in sight. He sat down in the dirt, putting Kaiya down whilst coughing violently. Once the dots in his vision had cleared, he checked with Kaiya who was somehow managing a lot better than he was.
“Oh no,” he exclaimed, “Mother’s journal.” He stood up and turned back towards the house.
“No, please don’t leave me,” Kaiya said, her face covered in ash but a few clear lines where the tears had fallen.
“I’ll be back in a second I promise,” he said, kissing the top of her head. From there she watched as her brother fearlessly leaped into the rising flames to retrieve their mother’s journal, a family heirloom. She turned away, not baring to watch until the most ungodly of sounds was heard, ripping through space and time, light and sound, colour and life. Number 6 Freybeach Avenue exploded, and she screamed out, her tears falling like rivers.
“Jules,” she cried, repeating his name over and over again until her throat was raw, and she fell back onto the mud beneath her. She sat there in shock, watching the town of Freybeach burn around her, the only place she had ever called home.