Sam was sat doing nothing – one of those rare afternoons when the mornings work is finished and there is no work left to do.
He lay back on the straw looking up at the clear blue sky – not a cloud in sight.
He started to fiddle with a piece of straw that suddenly found itself being chewed. Not that the straw minded – it also had nothing better to do.
Sam was a young man – just out of his teens and into his twenties. He was unremarkable in that he was still unmarried – but he was in love with the girl he had grown up with – a red haired beauty just a year younger. A smile crossed his freckled face as he though of her. Her long red hair cascading down her back. Her brilliant little smile as they spoke to each other. The fact that they would be married within a week – this made him happy most – he would finally get to know her the way only a husband can.
He was woken from his day dream by the sound of horses – lots of horses.
The thump in the ground, the sound of metal upon metal – the sound of women screaming in pain.
There in the midst of all the noise he heard Tracy, her voice joined that of the pained. He ran to where he heard her and saw a gang of five men raping her – taking her innocence that was his to take; he was caught from behind and held watching as she was raped by the men – one after the other. He closed his eyes but that was not enough to stop the sight of her on the floor in pain.
Then he was in pain – he opened his eyes and looked down. There was a knife hilt jabbing out of his chest. A thin trickle of blood ran down his tunic. He lifted his eyes and they met with Tracy’s – a look of horror was on her face as one of the men slit her throat.
Sam sagged in the grasp of the man that was holding him – and was allowed to fall to the ground.
Sam woke from the nightmare. Twenty years was not enough. He had been the only one to survive that night. A shattered and broken wreck. He had been saved and helped back to health by a traveller – a merchant. The merchant was gone but Sam had his business – a rickety old cart, a small team to pull it. And the memories of the man he owed his life – the man who had died the week before.
Sabel had not been a good man – or an evil one. He drank and made friendly with whores, he fought in taverns, and he cheated men with the goods he sold. But he never hurt anybody with malice; he never murdered and never got into trouble.
Sam had never married and was now alone. He had visited the whores himself when he felt the need. But he would always think of his Tracy and her smile. Only to lay awake for the next week with the look on her face the moment she died.
The next morning Sam sold his wagon and all but one of the horses. No more did he want to be a merchant.
He filled his saddle bags with enough food to last a week – any more he would buy when he needed – he had plenty of money from the sale of his business.
Slowly – with out realising it over the next three weeks he made his way to where he lived as a child – to where his Tracy had died.
He spent the nights curled up under trees and in barns. He bought food off the farmers. He never stole anything. Never.
He entered the village almost with out knowing it. There was a small alter house and a gathering of farmsteads. There were no children in the streets. No dogs, no cats, nothing. He could hear a murmuring coming from the alter house.
He dismounted and led the horse to the railings outside; there were no other horses there. Leaving the horse to nibble at the grass on the floor Sam entered the alter house.
It fell silent.
The villagers were stood facing him. Him staring down the central isle towards the alter. The priest was an old man. His hair and beard white. His priest’s gowns flowing to the floor. His face a look of anger.
“Only people of this village may enter of the sacred rights.” Growled the priest.
“I was born of this village” replied Sam, kneeling.
“Do not lie. We know you not.” Replied the priest.
“Forty years have passed since my birth. Twenty since I last came to this place. I am Sam. Son of Ananl and Kila. Betrothed to Tracy, daughter of Jake and Sara. Last living of the village when attacked by bandits.”
Sam looked up as two older people came to him; a man and a woman.
“This village has stood here for time unremembered. Founded by our ancestors. I do not know you Sam, but I know the names you speak. All were not killed that day.” Said the woman.
“What did you do Sam, son of Ananl and Kila?” asked the man.
“Worked for the Blacksmith – a man by the name of Doug.”
“My son is dead!” came a yell from the people in the alter house. A male voice. “This man lies.”
The priest ignored the outburst. “Come Sam. Come to the alter.”
Sam stood and followed the priest. He could feel everyone’s eyes on him as he walked. He felt uncomfortable that they should watch him so – as though he was a prize to be won. He could almost hear their thoughts – ‘who is this man that come to us.’ And ‘why do we know him not if he clams to be from here’.
Once at the alter the priest turned to Sam and said “Using the power of the Lord Satinal I see the truth of what you say. I recognise you as a member of this village and welcome you back. After I have finished the sacred service I shall talk more with you and try to find out the history of you and what has happened over the last 20 years. Please sit.” The priest indicated a seat near to the lectern that he was preaching from