Romulus

From the mind of Samuel Harkness

He who wishes to secure the good of others, has already secured his own - Confucius

Romulus stood upon the wooden bridge that led into his village. His nerves, ravenous as the crashing waves beneath him. Yet his determination, as strong as the rocks they crashed against.
The quaint little hamlet had been his home for the last two years ago. It consisted of only a few cottages, but the kindness inside was enough to engulf the forest.
I've come a long way. To them, I owe everything.
He looked out toward the dying sun. It's red auburn haze provided a fiery view of the darkening forest before him. Illuminating a long trail of black smoke that lingered steadily into the sky.
The stench of death and burning hay gave the air a foul and bitter taste
Bandits had laid siege to the nearby village. Their food pillaged, houses destroyed, it's people killed.
Looking back toward the small town, he felt the old rusty armor he wore twist and scrap across his hardened skin. Felt the weight of his long broadsword, clutched firmly in his hand.
The village had asked for nothing in exchange for his salvation. Yet he still felt in service to them.
He closed his eyes, and could hear the trampling of leaves, the thundering of hooves. They would be here soon.

They rode hard down the narrow, winding forest passage. The trees giving way to their speed. Their horses unrelenting in their charge. Captain Sümer lead his band of twelve, ragged bandits with a fierceness that belittled anything that stood in their way. Dressed completely in black leather cloaks and draped in jewelery less glamorous by their thieving nature.
A yellow grin cracked across Sümer's sinister looking face, which erupted into a deep cackling laugh. One that was joined by the other twelve bandits. They rode on, like devils in the night.

Romulus's heart began to pound rapidly, his chest tightened. Stomach churned and breath shuddered.
They emerged from the forest, like living shadows, dark and ominous.
"Get outta da way, boy". Sumer announced, his voice loud and demonic
Used to taking orders, Romulus almost complied, taking a step backward.
He wished the villagers hadn't refused to fight. Your crazy, they said. Fool, you'll get yourself killed, they cried.
Thinking to himself, he was inclined to agree. They were right. My end is nigh. He gulped, deeply, painfully. Yet I must repay them for their kindness, their generosity. Even if it means my life.
Sümer leaped forward, striking at him with an insidiously, curved sword.

The blow clanged roughly against Romulus's broadsword. The attack was so shockingly sudden that the force made him fall, like a rusty tin soldier, onto the bridge
Sümer towered over him. "When you see the Devil, boy. Tell him Sümer is sending down another flock".
The sun finally set behind the hills. A sudden darkness swept upon the valley. Romulus closed his eyes, expecting the end to come quick. But then it happened...

Like a bolt of lightning, his mind snapped. In an instant, his life briefly flash before his eyes. A slave on a merchant vessel. A washed up survivor of a shipwreck. A burden upon a caring village.
The thought of their kindness being victim to this mans cruelty, fueled him with a strength he had never felt before.
"NO!", he screamed, swinging his sword savagely. Launching Sümer into the air. His face bewildered by this sudden aggression.
"I've known men like you", Romulus's voice growled with the unsuppressed rage of a man used far too often. He now stood strong, sword poised.
"Men who think themselves Gods. Men whose only true commodity is the lives of innocent people. You think us mere tools to be used and exploited. Our freedom, nothing more than targets for your hatred. "
Romulus pounced forward, swinging at Sumer with a monstrous over head assault. Sumer, holding his sword with two hands at each end, barely managed to block the blow. But left himself exposed to the brutal kick that Romulus delivered to his stomach. Sending the would-be attacker flying back off the bridge and onto the ground.

The bandits stepped backward, Sümer scampering on his behind, like a frightened child. Romulus's voice roared with omnipotent force
"Well I say no more. It is time you learned that no mans spirit can be tamed, tortured by another. What we work for, we earn through sweat and blood".
His eyes reeked of malice as he looked upon the cowering bandits.
"So if you wish to cross this bridge, first you must cross my blade".

Where once they looked like devils, they now resembled scared rats.
Suddenly a voice, "We're with you boy, no one takes what we have earned".
It was the villagers. Looking like a pack of wild wolves, defending their cubs.
They appeared out of nowhere, standing behind Romulus. bearing torches, shovels and rocks. It was clear that there kind nature had no business here. Inspired by Romulus, they charged over the bridge,driving the bandits far into the forest.
Romulus could do nothing but watch them pass, his face now one of pure surprise rather than hatred.

Astonished and relieved, he dropped to his knees. Exhausted, his heart slowed to a relaxed, elated beat. Beside him, an old man rested his hand on his shoulder and said, "Thank-you, my boy. I don't know how we could ever repay you".
Romulus gave a weak laugh and replied, "Consider us even".

The next day, the people of the village cheered and celebrated. They had repelled the bandits and never in their lives had they felt so strong. Despite Romulus's name being applauded again and again, he was no where to be seen. For he stood on the other side of the bridge, where he and the villagers had fought off the bandits.

With a stick in his hand, his sword by his side and a bag on his back. He looked over at the village that had been his home for so long. Thou he felt as if he missed it already, he looked up into the crystal blue sky and took a deep relaxing breath. With his debt repaid, it was now time to explore the world. Just like a free man would.