2 2. The Village

Niam peeked through a crack in the bark of the old hollow tree but could see nothing. It had been an hour since his parents had left him and his sisters to wait for their return.

"Do you think they'll forget we're here?"

Niam glanced over at his big sister as she responded to Lori. "Of course they won't forget sweetheart. They just have to make sure it's safe for us before they come back."

Niam thought about asking her if she knew that the bigger problem would be if mom and dad would live long enough to come get them. But then Jane looked up and he saw the same fear he had reflected in her eyes.

She knew. Of course she knew. But she didn't want to scare Lori anymore than was needed. Upon this realization Niam thought that maybe his own fear was making him not think things through. He began to take a few deep breaths to calm himself when something caught his attention. Footsteps. Footsteps that were headed this way.

"Jane! Footsteps!" He whispered as he strained to see all he could through the crack while try to remain as quiet as possible. "It might be dad!"

Jane leaned forward and covered his mouth. "It could be enemy soldiers as well! Be quiet!"

As they fell into silence and listened to the footsteps grow closer, they began to hear ragged breathing and soft but intense conversation. A gruff voice began to speak . "How the hell did this little town end up having so many soldiers! It was supposed to be a little podunk town with maybe two mages and five or six guardsmen. There were at least five or six of those mages!"

"Yeah and that fire mage from the walls north of here was in town too. He wiped out half the force almost by himself!" Came the response. "And as soon as that b@@ch with the ice magic got involved we had to call off the raid on the other town because we needed the reinforcements!"

"Yeah but at least we captured that woman. She won't be causing us anymore trouble here. But she's a feisty one so I'm sure the Captain will have a fun time getting information out of her. Alright squad spread— what was that?"

Upon hearing that her mother had been captured and might be hurt Lori had let out a gasp causing attention to be brought to the tree and the houses near them. The leader of the enemy squad called "Someone is hiding here! Start searching. I want them found! We might not be able to finish this raid but we can take some hostages to make some money."

The men began to search all around the area and in the edge of the woods as Niam and Jane tried to keep Lori quiet.

As a little time passed the men began to sound a little further away and the leader began to direct them away "Whoever was here has probably moved on. Let's get what we can and get out of here."

After the footsteps faded away Jane let out a sigh of relief "Thank goodness they've gone— AHHHHHH!"

As she began to whisper an arm had come through the rotten bark and grabbed her and Lori, pulling them through. "I knew there were people here." Said the gruff man. "Now this trip won't be a total loss." As he began to drag them away Niam saw Lori bite into his hand with all the strength her little body had.

"Sh&t!" The man yelled as he threw her to the ground. "you little b@@ch! I'm bleeding!"

As the man began to raise his hand to slap her Niam heard a deep voice that made relief flood through him. "If you finish that swing it will be the last thing you ever do with that hand boy." Said James darkly.

As the five soldiers looked up they saw Niam's father standing in between two houses ten feet away from the edge of town. "Damn! It's the fire mage!" The leader yelled. "Grab the other girl and watch the boy!" Upon hearing this one soldier drew his sword and stood between Niam and Jane holding the blade to her throat and watching the leader as he drew his own sword.

James looked at the situation with his anger growing. "You lay a hand on any of them and I'll kill you all. I might do that anyway for what you monsters have already done in this town."

The leader began to smirk. "These are your little brats aren't they. Aha ha." He laughed "this is just too damn convenient. With this I can get soooo much."

Niam saw his dad look over at the soldier above them and then back at the leader before sighing. "What do you want."

"I want the world." The man began to get more serious. "But for now I'll just settle for you backing off and making sure we can get to our lines with no problem."

"That's fine. But release one of the kids now. I want—" as his father was speaking Niam felt the soldier behind grab his collar and through him back against the tree. Niam felt pain all trough himself as the breath was knocked out of him.

"You aren't in charge here! That was just a reminder!" The leader raised his sword. "You will do what I saw when I say and if you do that then you will get these kids back."

Niam's father tensed as Niam was thrown back but as the leader spoke he began to look frustrated and angry. But seeing that he was not being given a choice he nodded.

"You better hope that I never find you bastards. I will hunt you all with everything I have and I will put you down." James looked at the men with growing fury, sparks and small flames came into being all around him.

The leader of the enemy squad looked shocked at first but then rage began to come over his face and he pointed his blade towards Niam's father. "If you obeyed then I was going to let them go. But for your insolence you will be punished." The man raised his blade with the point down towards Lori after a split second where the world seemed to freeze Niam saw the blade began to descend.