We used to live in the mountains; hidden beneath the trees. No one was aware of us, except for those who found refuge there. Far away from the wars of the world, we were warriors who had neither won nor lost, but rather found another way to fight. War was upon every nation and civil unrest brought kings and rulers to wits end, creating a type of mass hysteria all throughout the earth. Kingdoms and empires erected as others fell; all the while ours remained under the radar. The world around us grew more and more advanced, while we slowly fashioned ourselves in the most medieval of ways.
Using what we had and working with our surroundings we created a functioning society in the dark teeth of the forest. It was my family and I who established this place several years ago after the blitzkriegs began, and up until we began noticing helicopters in the distance, we were too sure of ourselves. We figured as long as we remain beneath the trees, and in the winter make way into the mountain we should go undetected. I remember though the day that everything changed.
I’m not one to point fingers, but I believe that it was John’s fire that started it all. These woods were damp in the autumn, and to see smoke or a fire was rare. Given that it was the only way to survive, there were limits and guidelines set to keep us undetected. Regardless of whose fault it was, one day a sharp dressed officer greeted us with a briefcase and papers in hand. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that the jig was up.
I watched from a distance as one of our guards shook his hand and took the papers from him. The officer walked away with a strut and that was that. The guard, whose name escapes me now, came to me with the papers and told me everything. We had one day to comply with the official surrender agreement or we would refuse at our own peril. Without further ado I called a town meeting.
From the top of my roof I addressed the congregation. “The world is in terrifying condition. There is a holocaust on all who desire to live free, and slavery for all those who comply with the demands of the emperors. Let me make this perfectly clear: justice has its place for all, and we are no exception to that. We are going to take a vote. The world has advanced significantly since we have been here. They have profound weaponry while we struggle to find even rocks to throw. I know of a place just beyond these mountains, where my friend Darius rules with integrity. We can surrender, or risk the journey.”
I watched as the speechless and frightened community agreed to move. They went into their homes and began gathering their things for the expedition ahead, as did I. When nightfall came we made for the pass, inching our way up the steep trails in the moonlight. There was not a sound among us. As we came to the other side of the pass near dawn, we were greeted by fire. Hundreds of militants lined the hills and were firing every shell and every bullet that they could spare. All any of us could think to do was turn back and run for our lives. We had no weaponry and no line of defense.
I hid with my family in the tree line, praying for deliverance. I watched as those that I had grown to love as family were mowed down by sprays of bullets, too shell shocked to comprehend the gravity of what was happening. Then I saw him; my old friend Darius giving orders to the men as they listened and performed with skill and precision. I called out his name and he looked me in the eyes. A distorted expression came across his face as he yelled for a cease fire. He walked slowly to where my family was hiding and I rose to my feet. He had not one word to say to express his remorse. Not one person outside of my family survived that morning.