[On that day, mankind received a grim reminder. We lived in fear of the Titans and were disgraced to live in these cages we called walls. We were nothing more than livestock being hunted by beasts who found their way through our fence.]
XXth July 845
"Eren." A soft voice reached me in the middle of a field.
A breeze rustled the grass surrounding me and the light that pierced through my eyelids gets dispersed by a looming shadow. I wiped the water flowing down the sides of my face.
There was a black-haired girl above me as I opened my eyes. I pushed myself back up to a seated position.
"Why were you crying?" She put some firewood that fell out of my casked back inside.
"Ah, flower dust." I lied. It wouldn't be cool if I said that I had a nightmare. "Did you get your lot of wood?"
"Yes." Mikasa replied while showing her back. It was filled up higher than mine.
"Let's go back then!" I jumped up and threw the casket on my back.
The smell of peonies, the gentle embrace of the cool spring wind, and a swaying plain.
The life inside the walls was peaceful. There was no point in thinking too hard about the nightmare. We walked into the town with a smile on our faces.
Well, at least I was smiling until we reached the gate-
"Oi, you rotten old man. Stop drinking in the morning!" I yelled at the guard.
"If it isn't the Yeager kids. How've you two been?" He totally ignored my warning and took another glug.
"Tch... stop trying to change the subject and do your job properly." My glare didn't phase him.
"I am doing my job! Can't you see me guarding these walls by diligently sitting here?"
"Just sitting around doesn't mean that you're guarding. Get off your butt and do your patrols! The titans can come through at any time!"
"Stop bein' such a scared kiddo. That'll never happen."
"Ugh. People like you never learn. I don't have time to talk with shitty old men like you." I ran off even though I was the one who started the farce. Mikasa silently trailed behind me.
"Hahahaa. Still as spunky as ever. Well, take care of yourself!"
"Mom! We're back!" I announced, busting through the door.
"Wash your hands and come to the table. I prepared lunch." She replied with her usual cheerful voice.
Mikasa and I washed our hands in a pail of water. Then she went to help mom as I headed outside.
"Dad! Lunch's ready!" I shouted down the long hallway that lead to the basement.
"I'm coming!" He yelled back.
Every minute he didn't spend with us, he was in the basement. Dad stayed in there for our sake. That's where he treated all the infected patients. Always keeping busy ever since the last pandemic. He was undoubtedly our town's hero.
His profession was a little uncool though.
I went back inside and sat myself down at the table.
Then Mom came and presented a hearty meal in front of me before sitting down. Gratin, bread, and stew. Mikasa was the next one back, carrying a tray of glasses.
"What's the occasion, honey?" My dad looked over the table while heading to the pail of water to wash his hand as well.
"You should really remember your son's birthday!" She said with slightly furrowed eyebrows. Dad looked at the calendar, surprised.
"Oh, is it his birthday?! Happy birthday, Eren!" The old man came down for a hug and patted my back aggressively.
"Stoooopp! I'm not a kid anymore! I'm already sixteen." The gesture of affection was embarrassing for me at the time.
After heeding my call, he sat down at the table and gestured as if to say 'let's eat'.
I started chowing down on the food.
"Mhmmm... so good!" I exclaimed as Mom wiped my mouth.
"This really is good." Dad commented. "Marrying the daughter of a pub owner was the right move after all."
"Haha." Mom punched Dad lightly on his arm.
Mikasa just ate silently, but I could tell she found the food good too.
This was a happy family. The quintessential familial joy you would expect from any walk of life.
I wanted to savour the food as much as I can, but I really didn't have the time. Even if today was a special day.
"Mikasa hurry up! The scouts will be here any time now!"
"Nnh." She nodded her head and scarfed the food down at an alarming rate.
"You still haven't given up on that? I'm telling you to learn from me and become a great doctor. Your life will only get better once I prepare the pox cure. You are already old enough!" Like I said, his job was respectable but uncool. I was astonished by the fact that he still didn't give up on wanting me to become a doctor.
"Nooo, dad. Working like that is just boring. I want to head out and fight titans!" Almost every other kid in town had the same goal.
"But it's not sa-"
"It's fine, dear. Let him dream until he grows up." Mom commented.
'This is not a phase, though? And I'm already an adult.'
These people took my dreams too lightly.
"If you say so." Dad replied dejectedly.
I put the last piece of bread in my mouth and headed out. Mikasa followed me.
We ran through the streets and towards the main road that the scouts usually returned through.
By the time we arrived, they were already passing through on their horses. A few battered men, in a state that can only be described as sorry. Broken carts. Dismembered bodies. Crippled horses and men.
In front of it all, a blond-haired man was getting shaken down by an old woman. Sounds of cries, shriek, and anger.
"Guess many died this time around as well." A guy in front of me said.
"It's such a shame, Marc was young too."
"That's why you have to work hard and join the military police." Another man told his kid.
'What's going on here? Why are Eldia's heroes getting treated like this?'
"If they can't handle the outside, they should just stop going."
"We are perfectly safe inside these walls."
'What's wrong with them?
Are these people satisfied with the lives of prisoners? How can they say things like this to our land's only hoping of being free?'
I couldn't stand by and watch it anymore.
I pulled in as much air as I could and blew it out in the largest noise I could muster.
"STO-Mmph!" Mikasa grabbed my mouth and pulled me back away from the crowd. We went through an alleyway before she finally let go. "Let me go! What are you doing? I need to tell the-"
"Eren. Look at Armin." She pointed at a riverbank to our right.
A small blond boy was getting attacked by four other boys. My attention shifted completely.
"Not those guys again! Mikasa, stand back." I grabbed a stick from the side of the road and ran towards the boys. "Hey, let him go!"
"Oh look it's Eren again." The boys started looking at me.
"He came to play the hero."
"Guess we have one more plaything now."
The boys jumped at me. The first one swung his punch. I turned to the side and dodged. An older kid came straight at me, but I bashed his face in with the stick.
"You little-" The second punch landed in my gut as I prepared myself for the third one. I got knocked back and kick the abdomen of whoever is in front of me.
I tightened my grip on the stick and hit the boy who was holding his groin.
All of a sudden, another boy pounced on me and pinned me to the ground. And then while mounted he started his assault.
One punch, two punches, three punches, there was blood. It was getting hard to breath. Their sight started to make my blood boil.
"Stop." All of a sudden a cold voice came from behind me and the punches stopped.
"Shit it's Mikasa. Run!"
I got let off after one more punch. The guys ran away just from her intervention. They didn't even attempt to fight back.
'Guess I got saved again.'
My heroism got a bone stuck into it.
"You really didn't have to, I almost had them." I let go of the rock I picked up towards the end of the beatdown.
"No, it's fine."
I got up and wiped the blood off my face.
"Armin, are you alright?"
"Nnh!" He nodded furiously. "I'm sorry I needed your help again. I'm sorry you got hurt trying to save me."
"What are you on about? It isn't you who should be sorry, it's those jerks!" I wiped the bottom of my nose. Mikasa nodded behind me. It sure came out cool.
"Let's get you fixed up."
I turned around and start walking. Unable to support my body properly, I called in Mikasa for support. She gladly agreed. We walked along the cloudy midday.
We went through the alleyway we came in from. The Earth shook a little and a deafening sound bellowed through the town. We walked outside on the main street.
That was when hell began, and the world got purged with a shattering light and a rain of blood.
Thunder roared and red lightning struck. It was as if flames started to rise outside the wall. Burning the rest of the world as a whole. A large red hand, dripping with blood, grabbed the wall. Little pieces of rubble started falling as the hands' grip tightened. A skull ascended from behind the wall.
Eyes that looked down on us. A look of superiority. Veins that looked like they were fueled with flames.
That was how we livestock got acquainted with the impossible fear of doom. The grim reality of having a being exponentially stronger than us. The reality of being at the mercy of beasts who can only look down at us with contempt.
It was the day humanity died.