Alright, for the first time ever I am attempting NaNoWriMo, as a kickstart to push me back into writing daily and I am determined to do this!
The crowd tightened around the square, blocking any attempt at escape by the man within. Woven baskets littered the courtyard, various sundries spilling across the feet of the villagers and their prey. Pale grey eyes darted from face to face and up to the buildings around, where more people stood watch, grim eyes keeping him in sight. An angry group of uncivilized peasants should have alarmed any man. Their rage at their lot in life, combined with the wrong they perceived him to have done created a fury in their spirits he had yet to witness, let alone be the recipient of. However momentous their wrath, it didn't faze him. His head bowed as they closed in. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
"People of Kosta, take heed my words." His voice was deep and loud, and coursed through the people around him. As a unit, their advance stopped. A curiosity spread through them. What had this man to say to them that could affect a thought in their minds? "You are blind to the world around you. You crawl in the fields, day after day, and for what? To be left starving while the Lord of Kosta feasts?
"Do you not see the suffering that man creates? Do you not care that your children and their children will suffer as you have? When will you stand and say, 'enough!'? When will you rise with the rest of the world to a new level, a level where servitude is not a way of life, but an outdated caste system tossed aside?"
The words reverberated through the square. Not a sound was made as he broke for breath. The people who had looked upon him with hatred took pause. He spoke things they dared not think. He stood in the light of day and waged a verbal war on the way of life they loathed.
"Sir, be silent. The lies you speak will do no good." The words came from a thin man in the back.
"Why keep quiet? What life can you lead if you never step up and declare how wrongly you are treated? Who will speak for you if not yourselves?"
"Speaking will do naught but make milord angry. He has a temper that one." The man came forward and raised his chin to look into the eyes of the upstart.
"Speaking will gain you freedom, a freedom you are scared to reach for." Silver eyes locked with the dark brown eyes of a man beaten down again and again.
"Freedom?" the man spat. "Excuse me for saying sir, but freedom will come to us when our barren Queen gives birth to a babe."
"No, sir. Freedom will come to you when you see how unfair your lives are. When you look at your children and see them beaten for begging for food. When you finally grow tired of watching a man get fat off your endeavors and your struggles. That's when freedom will come to you, and not a moment sooner.
"But tell me true, sir. Do you look at your children and want your life for them? Don't you want better? There is no way to start, but right here, right now. You must stand for yourselves and make it known that enough is enough." He turned, looking each surrounding villager in the eye. In turn, each man and woman felt the spark ignite within them.
Their lives weren't fair. No one said life is supposed to be fair, they used to say. That was only to cover the pain, the anger, and the despair that came with their way of life. Their eyes turned to one another, seeing as if for the first time the ragged clothing, haggard faces, and slumped shoulders. Hard work had brought them nothing but stooped posture and crumbs to nibble upon.
"Look at her, look at this little girl." The man walked to a child of three summers, who greedily ate an apple that had fallen from a basket. Her mother snatched the apple away and tossed it back at the basket. Her eyes darted around, daring others to comment on her daughter's theft. The man shook his dark head and scooped up the apple. He offered it to the girl, who shyly hid behind her mother's skirts. After only seconds, she was out and at his side, again biting into the sweet flesh of the fruit. "See this child, who can't eat an apple without fear that the Lord in the castle above will smite her down. I say enough!" he roared, circling to view the gathered people. "Enough!" his voice rang through the silence.
"Enough!" The cry came from among the throng.
"Enough!" rose a call from the other end of the square.
"Enough!" the man raised a fist in the air. "Come now, people of Kosta, rise to the day. Bring prosperity to a land where it falters, all you must do is spread the word that enough is enough, and we will bring it to Lord Kosta's feet!" As the people took up his cry, he faced the road to the castle.
Their march was unorganized, rough, and full of fury. The leader allowed them to flow ahead. As the last of the villagers passed him, he stopped and watched them continue on. They were like pigs to a slaughter, and he had roused them. Shaking his head sadly, he patted the pocket sewn into his trousers, checking that the pouch of silver he'd been sent to fetch was still in its place. Taking one last look at the host doomed to suffer for their uprising, he melted into the shadows.
The sound of metal and a bell tolling rose from the castle. The people stumbled in fear, but charged on, undaunted by the terror sweeping through them. They had made it halfway up the hill to the castle when thirty soldiers in gleaming mail poured from within the castle walls atop stallions as powerful as they were awe inspiring. Breath puffed from their nostrils as they circled the riot of chanting people. Within moments, the guard stood still around the people, keeping them in place. Their cries rose louder despite the men encircling them.
"Silence," came an order as the captain of the guard leisurely rode to meet his soldiers. His mail was made of gold and silver, and it sparkled with wealth and strength. A moment of silence passed before the voices came again. The captain flipped up his visor and stared at the villagers. His eyes were dark and filled with a contempt they could never understand. Thin lips were pursed in annoyance, and all at once the corners tilted up into a sneer. Taking his sword from its sheath, he plunged between two of his soldiers and into the crowd. Men and women scattered right and left to avoid his stallion's hooves. The little girl eating the apple was snatched away by her mother and hidden behind her skirts. The stallion rode over an unfortunate man and the captain stopped the horse to look at the filth lying on the grass. "I said, be silent," he snapped, and the mob's cries of fear and pain stopped. They backed away from the captain, but could only go as far as the ring of soldiers.
When nothing more could be heard but the pant of the horses and the soft sobbing of the few children dragged along in the throng, the captain circled his mount to look at each person. His silent perusal of them made them twitch and flinch. They avoided his gaze and instead stared at the ground, or at their fallen comrade.
"What is the meaning of this?" he spoke softly, there was no need to raise his voice as they were all listening now. It was not a surprise when no one stepped forward. "Explain to me why I was dragged away from my luncheon to deal with a mass of peasants chanting and advancing on our Lord's fortress. Explain it now!"
"Sir, please, there is a thief in the village." The words slipped from a woman's mouth. She stepped firmly in front of her son to guard him from the captain's gaze. "He stole the pieces of silver milord gave to the miller to pay for the building of the new mill." She bobbed her head as she spoke, her curly hair bouncing along with is.
"A thief is the reason I find you marching on the fortress?" his tone did not imply belief.
"Please sir," a man stepped forward. "He speaks with a tongue of lies. He is the devil incarnate, sir. He roused within us something we would nay ever feel."
"The devil walks in Kosta today sir!" the cry was taken up by a woman in the back of the crowd. Another voice echoed it, and another. Soon the people were nodding and falling to their knees, begging for mercy since they had been influenced by a higher power.
Unnerved by the cries, the soldiers slowly lowered their weapons, unsure of what they fought against. Was there any weapon of man that could fight the devil?
"Where did this man go?" the captain snarled. The people looked around, just noticing that the silver-eyed man wasn't among them.
"Sir, he fled into the town as we came here. He escapes even now! You must round him up and retrieve the silver before he hies away with it."
"We will return to our work, sir. We won't make more trouble." The people nodded from their kneeling positions. Sneering at them with more hatred than before, the captain slanted toward the village and ordered his men ahead.
"You lot stay where you are. Men, find me the thief so we can exonerate these imbeciles, or hang them for their insolence." The words sent a shiver through the people.
The guard surged away, but the captain remained. He watched the people as the village was searched. They were cowed, for now. Moments slid into minutes that slid into an hour. No word came from the village to assuage the people's worry. If the silver-eyed man had fled, what would happen when the guard didn't flush him out?
"Sir!" came the shout they awaited. The soldiers returned, and the man was among them, his silver eyes flashing. His wrists were lasted to the saddles of two mounts. His teeth were gritted, in pain or anger was anyone's guess. "We found him on the outskirts, attempting to negotiate a ride in a hay wagon. He gave us some trouble, but we have him well tied, sir."
"This? This is the man that you claim to have roused you to riot? This?" The captain dismounted and approached the tied man. "This is a boy, hardly old enough to shave."
"Now, I've been shaving for some years," the silver-eyed man defended.
"Two at the most," the captain spat. "This is the devil you claim?" He waved toward the man and looked at the crowd. "This boy couldn't argue a thing to save his life. He's a child."
"Even the lowliest child knows that this way of life is wrong," the silver-eyed man growled, offended at the captain's words. "I knew when I was but a child of six summers that the poor supplying the rich is a degrading and impossible system."
"Interesting," the captain regarded the man with keen eyes. Here was an eloquent peasant who wasn't afraid to speak his mind, and at so young an age.
"Interesting? No, you want to know what's interesting? That people like you feed off the fear you inspire in the people under your control. What's really interesting is that you somehow think you deserve to have people under your control." The voice was as deep and as strong as it had been when inciting the peasants to action. The captain roared, pulling a dagger from his waist.
"Oh holy Star Child," one of the villagers breathed. She covered her child's eyes so that the youth wouldn't see the silver-eyed man's death.
"I should gut you where you stand," the captain ground out.
"For what precisely?" came the undaunted reply.
"For your insolence and your lies."
"Lies? I tell you no lies, and last time I checked, it was perfectly acceptable for a Lord to speak to a captain any way he pleases, insolent or not." The man let the words filter through the throng and then looked at a nearby soldier. "Untie my wrists, now." The soldier had moved three paces before he thought to question the man's claim to lordship.
"You are a Lord? That is not possible."
"I assure you captain, it is entirely possible, and if you take me to the castle, Hector Kosta will certainly recognize me." The disdain with which he spoke to the captain enraged the man. Not even Lord Kosta was so rude to his captain of the guard, one never knew what a man with a hint of power would do to grasp all of it.
"We will take you to the castle, but you will remain tied. Then we shall see if you are who you claim to be. Who is that, by the by?"
"Lord Gabriel Sullivan, and I've heard of you, the captain that vies for control of Kosta. You are Captain Mauro Tamesis." Dark eyes met pale ones.