It’s the third week of my little character introductions already!! Today we’re going back in time a little. When you meet the boy from this little snippet in the book he’ll be 25 – here, today, he’s roughly 10-years old and his sister is two years younger. The events below were an important changing point in their lives, and are mentioned briefly in the book – I thought those of you who buy the book might enjoy reading about it there and recognising it 😉
But enough talking, let’s get on with it! Allow me to introduce Cale to you – and his little sister Ailis 🙂
“Cale, listen to me.” Sitting on her knees so she could look into his eyes, his mother looked terrified. Tears stained her usually bright eyes, which were now rimmed red and swollen. Next to him Ailis held onto his hand, unwilling to let go.
“Who are they, Mama?” His own voice was shaking. The haunted look in her eyes told him everything he didn’t dare ask. He had to be strong. For his own sake and his sister’s. But maybe if he knew who they were he could get revenge one day.
Her eyes softened when their father walked in, carrying heavy wooden planks to barricade the front door. The smell of burning wheat was heavy in the room – the men carrying strange red banners had set fire to their fields as they had arrived, torching everything they could reach.
“The men you saw outside know your father and me from back home. They-” Her voice caught in her throat, and Cale felt sick.
“They are bad people, son. They are after us, but you two can make it. Leave now, and don’t-”
“NO!” He felt hot angry tears sting his eyes, not caring whether his father approved or not. A man doesn’t cry, he always said. Cale didn’t care. Not this time.
His mother’s eyes had taken on the pleading look he knew so well. Usually she just asked him to clean his hands before dinner. This didn’t compare to the simplicity his life used to have.
“Go ahead, darling” she said, looking at his father. “I won’t be a moment.”
He nodded, and bent down to their level next to her. Gently, because it would be the last time, he kissed their foreheads, told Cale that he was the man now, and left through the back room with the same haunted eyes as his mother.
“Sweetheart – Cale, Ailis – please. Do this one last thing for us?” He wanted to protest but found that he couldn’t. He had always loved his parents’ honesty. They had never lied to mask the pain of a scraped knee or a cut , but right now he wanted to believe that everything was going to be all right.
Next to him still holding on to his hand Ailis cried, clutching her stuffed bear to her chest with her elbow.
Finally, he nodded.
“You make us proud, my love. You make us both so proud. Now hurry. Don’t look back, and don’t let go of your sister. You’re in charge now, Cale. Ailis, listen to your brother.” His mother’s small frame was shaking with the effort of holding her tears back. There was nothing else to argue about. It was time to leave and be strong.
Quickly she pulled both of them into a last tight hug, before giving them the same kisses their father had given them only moments ago.
“Now run. Get as far away from here as you can.”
“Come, Ailis.” His little arms were already beginning to build muscles from helping his father carry and chop wood. Helping out with other farm chores had put a certain strength into his young body, too. Ailis resisted, but was no match for him.
Screaming and crying, Ailis held onto him as he led her away from the farm as quickly as his feet could carry him. They knew the farm better than anyone – if they were quick and hid in the crops those men hadn’t burnt they’d make it.
The cold ringing of steel and dark threat of battle cries sounded through the air and carried over to them. None of the voices sounded familiar.
Screams replaced the eager boasting. Cale smiled hearing it. At least his parents weren’t going down without a fight.
The sounds of the nearby struggle had motivated Ailis to run without needing to be dragged. Cale led her away from the fields, into the nearby forests. Thick smoke back the way they came told him that their house had been set on fire, which could only mean one thing for his parents.
He didn’t stop running until the view of their old life was forever hidden beyond the trees. There was nothing left for them to go back to now. Ailis was all he had left, and he had promised his parents he would look after her. He was in charge now. It was his job to protect Ailis.
He wouldn’t let anything hurt her for as long as he lived – and then, once he was old enough and could swing a sword, those men would pay.
Watch this space for more character insights! I’m still undecided about next week’s post. Who would you rather be introduced to? An evil sorceress who lives for slaughter? Or a Commander who thrives on torturing people?
For all other Excerpts from my book or other related information, take a look here.
All content belongs to the author, Sarina Langer.