Prompt: “The evil Emperor has discovered that a child has been born who is destined to end his rule and bring peace to the realm. He secretly arranges to send his best agents to the child’s home – not to kill the child, but to ensure that the child’s destiny is fulfilled.”
As the Emporer’s agents left the house, both Thomas and Reta sat in stunned silence. Their son, Darius Loth was bundled up, sleeping in his mother’s arms. Darius was destined to take down the evil emperor, Emperor Garefelt, and that very Emperor sent his agents to protect the boy.
The silence continued for a moment more as the sound of raindrops began to hit the roof of the Loth household as dark clouds formed over the small, farming town of Baggart.
“What…what do we do?” Reta eventually asked, her words shaky.
“I don’t know,” Thomas said placing his head in the palms of his hands.
“Thomas, the Emperor found us. He found Darius. And now he sent people to take us away from here. To take us to the palace to protect Darius. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“I know, Reta. This must be some kind of trick or trap,” Thomas said. “There’s no way The Emperor would allow Darius to live if he knows Darius is destined to dethrone him.”
“If they are planning on killing us and Darius, why go through all this trouble. Why barge into our home and tell us how they want to take us to The Capital City?”
“I don’t know,” Thomas said. “I don’t know. I just…I just… we got to get out of here.”
“What?” Reta asked.
“We have to get out of here! We can’t stay here if those people are out there! We have to run. Maybe make our way down the coast and find some kind of trade vessel destined to leave The Empire.”
“What are you talking about Thomas?” Reta asked as she stood up from their dining room table. “We can’t just leave. We have a baby, remember? I don’t think we can travel through the woods, safely with Darius. And were just supposed to find a ship to get us out of here? Think reasonably.”
Thomas hung his head and let out a sigh.
“On top of that, you heard what their leader said. If we run, they will just track us down. They could just kill us and take Darius and no one would know any better,” Reta said.
“So what do you want to do?” Thomas asked. “Hand over Darius?”
“Never,” Reta said.
“Then are you planning on going with them?”
Reta grew quiet.
Thomas’ expression hardened.
“Reta, we can’t go with them,” Thomas said.
“If we are with Darius, we can protect him,” Reta said.
“Reta, we are talking about the Capital City. The literal heart of The Empire where The Emperor has the most power. We can’t do anything there. Best case scenario, we will be prisoners and worst case scenario we will be branded as traitors and killed.”
“The leader said that Darius would be taken care of. We would be given food, shelter, and Darius would grow up with a good education. These are things that we could only dream about here in Baggart.”
“Those are all lies! They are lying to us!” Thomas shouted.
“Quiet,” Reta said as Darius began to stir.
“Sorry,” Thomas switched to a whisper.
“If we can’t go with them, then what’s the plan?” Reta asked.
“Trust me, Reta. We can do this. I know this land better than The Emperor’s people.”
“Are you willing to risk your own life as well as the life of me and Darius?” Reta asked.
“If we go with them, we are basically dead, already. At least this way, we have a fighting chance,” Thomas said.
Reta let out a soft sigh.
“You better be right about this,” Reta said.
Thomas and Reta quickly assembled a pack of stuff for themselves and baby Darius. A few days worth of clothes, food, and other supplies were wrapped up in packs and they prepared to leave their cottage home. By now the rain was coming down harder and harder, soaking the ground.
Thomas and Reta left their home by crawling through the bedroom window and did their best to stay hidden. The storm had forced most of the town’s citizens off the streets and into their homes and the loud rainfall covered the sound of the couple making their escape. They saw several of the Emperor’s people were standing guard around the Loth’s homestead, but there was no sign of the leader.
Reta did her best to cover up Darius and protect him from the weather, but Darius began to stir more and more.
Reta shushed Darius and tried to keep him quiet as she feared any potential cries would alert the Emperor’s agents to their location.
“Hurry, let’s go,” Thomas said.
Reta nodded and they both made their way away from the house, towards the open fields that surrounded Baggart. It was a very rural town surrounded by rolling hills and open fields filled with all types of produce.
Thomas lead their towards the wheat fields, hoping that the crop’s height might give them some additional cover. Combining this with the darkness of the storm would be their only way to escape undiscovered and give them enough time to run from the agents.
As they traveled, the light from their homestead became dimmer and dimmer as the sight of the town became distant. They were really doing it. They were running from their home with Darius in their arms. They were running from any life they knew and were familiar with to take on the wilderness and its unknown challenges.
Thomas knew deep down that they had to escape. They could not give themselves and their child over to the Empire. Especially if Darius was truly destined to dethrone The Emperor.
Thomas, Reta, and Darius reached the far end of the wheat field when they began to hear distant barks and howls.
“Thomas, what are those?” Reta asked.
“I’m….I’m not sure. Some sort of beast I’m guessing,” Thomas said.
“Wild beasts do not usually stray this far into the town.”
“They do if they were brought by the Empire. Come on, let’s go. They might have came back to our home and found us missing. We need to run,” Thomas said.
He grabbed his wife’s hand and they made a mad sprint from the wheat field to the nearest hill.
“We can make it!” Thomas shouted as he ran.
The barking and howls got closer and closer, but the couple ran as fast as they could. As soon as they crested the hill, Reta heard the beasts break through the wheat field.
“Thomas, we aren’t going to make it,” Reta said as she turned back for a second.
“Don’t stop,” Thomas said, but before they could move any further a beast was on them.
It lept up and knocked Thomas to the ground with its incredible strength. Reta stumbled backwards and fell on her back. Darius was still in her arms, but all the commotion had woken him up and he was screaming and crying.
The large beast looked like a mix between a wolf and a domesticated sheep dog and it was currently sinking its teeth into Thomas’ flesh. It bit down into the neck and shoulder area which caused blood to spill out onto the wet grass.
Thomas let out shrieks of pain and fear as the beast continued to tear at him with its large teeth.
A second beast stood on top of the hill. It glanced over to Thomas and then towards Reta and Darius. It growled and began approaching the mother and baby.
“Thomas!” Reta shouted.
“Run,” Thomas let out a wheeze as the energy left his body.
“Heel!” A man shouted
The two beasts stopped what they were doing and looked back to the man standing on top the hill, dressed in black leathers. It was the leader of the group that they had met before.
The beast that was on top of Thomas stood up and ran back to the leader of the Emperor’s Agents and sat beside him. The other beast did the same, resting on the other side of the man.
“I thought I made myself pretty clear when I told you not to run. I told you that you wouldn’t get very far,” The man said as he glanced back at the town. “I guess I was right about that.”
Reta looked up at the man and over to her dying husband, who laid face down in the wet grass and mud. Darius continued to cry and fuss, despite Reta’s best efforts to calm him.
“I didn’t want to do this, you know? I wanted to take the whole family to Athegas, but you two thought you could just run off,” The man said regaining Reta’s attention. “Now you will suffer because of it.”
“Please don’t…don’t kill us. We’re sorry,” Reta said as tears welled up in her eyes. “We were just trying to protect Darius.”
“No. I was trying to protect your child. That was my mission and I always complete my mission. You endangered your child by running from me when I told you not to,” The man said.
“We’ll go with you. We will,” Reta said.
“Well now you really don’t have a choice. Especially because your husband is dead,” The man said. “Garefeltian Hounds are particularly vicious and are good at tracking prey. As soon as you stepped outside your home, the hounds picked up on your scent. Only the rain helped you get this far.”
“Thomas….Thomas?” Reta called out to her husband but he didn’t seem to be moving.
“Vicious animals don’t really leave too much to chance, I’m afraid,” The man said.
“Thomas!” Reta let out a wail.
Two more people dressed in black leathers appeared at the top of the hill.
“Collect the mother and child. They come with us. Get the wagons ready. We leave immediately,” He barked orders.
The two of them grabbed Reta and forced her to her feet as she held on to the screaming, Darius.
“Thomas! Thomas! No!” She continued to cry, but the figures lead her away from the corpse of her husband.
“Look at it this way,” The man said. “Now the boy has his motivation for taking down The Emperor.”
Header Photo Credit to Nele-Diel on DeviantArt
Writing Prompt submitted to r/WritingPrompts by u/djseifer