Friday with Friends welcomes fellow
CrossRiver Media author,
Seven years after the great war, King Alden still rules Iashanda.
A savage disease ravages the land. They call it the Dark Rogue.
In order to exile this death, King Alden has ordered a purge.
The fire raged, hungry flames consuming the diseased bodies thrown into its belly. The stench of burning flesh joined the sweet scent of blooming magnolias. The wind shifted and the death stench enveloped Edan where he stood guard out of reach of the fire’s heat. He turned away and emptied his stomach onto the grass. “Drat this disease.” He wiped his mouth and returned to his watch duty.
The Dark Rogue invaded the land as sure as Hadar’s army invaded and destroyed it seven years previous. Despite measures to eradicate the sickness, the infection traveled from the port cities near Mariguth to the eastern interior near Vanbolth.
King Alden fought for the people during the war with Hadar and he fought for the people now. By royal decree, soldiers moved across the land, purging it of this ravenous disease. Village by village, the healthy were evacuated from their homes, the dead burned, villages razed.
The soldiers on this mission knew this tour of duty was likely a death sentence. Their responsibilities required them to be surrounded by death on all sides. They handled death. They breathed death. And death would claim many of them.
Most of the soldiers ignored the villager’s pain as they ignored their own fears. Edan chose compassion. He offered comfort to the survivors and tried to alleviate fears where he could. Encouraging them to hope beyond the death. Many night’s his sleeping pallet was filled with more tears than sleep as he anguished over their pain.
As lieutenant of this regiment. he heard the grumblings of the men under him. He understood, but wished they would carry the King’s heart into this matter. It would take the country working together, caring for one another to rebuild.
Today was the tenth week of the march. They neared the end of the purge. Then the troops would return to Elrad and wait out their own quarantine. Once proven healthy, they could return to their homes.
Edan watched the villagers throw the diseased bodies of loved ones on the flames. Some of them collapsed on the spot or wailed in their pain as they watched the burning. Others simply left, their bodies speaking sorrow as they bent over as though under a heavy load.
Edan looked up the short rise on the western edge of the village where his childhood friend, commander of the regiment stood, a hardened expression on his face. A once jovial man he joined the throngs of those carrying the burden of anger over lost loved ones just before this mission started.
Edan pinched the bridge of his nose. He longed to see his wife to assure himself that she survived this plague. A commotion among some villagers passing by yanked Edan’s attention back to the present. A child of no more than 10 years screamed and fought against their hands as they held her back from the flames.
Edan approached and the villagers released her. She crumpled to the ground, wrapping her arms around herself and rocking back and forth as she wailed in symphony with the roar of the fire.
“Who does this child belong to?” He grabbed the arm of a retreating villager.
The man shrugged off Edan’s hand. “How should I know?”
Edan held out his hand to the others inching away. “Won’t one of you take care of her?”
One woman paused, tears streaming down her face. “We’ve taken care of enough death for a life time.” She turned to go.
“She’s not dead. She’s a child.” Edan yelled at the people backing away.
The woman stopped. “Check the east quadrant of the village. I recall seeing her there.”
Edan shook his head. How could they have so little regard for a child left to fend for herself? He knelt and touched the girl’s shoulder. The wailing stopped but she continued to rock as though to the beat of some imaginary dirge sung for those she lost.
“Edan, what’s going on? We raze the village in two hours.” The commander’s voice rose above the wailing villagers, chasing off those still watching.
Edan took a deep breath and stood up to face his commander. “I think her family was the last to be burned. No one has stepped forward to claim her. ”
The commander looked away. “That’s no concern of ours. Send her away.”
Edan took a step back at the edge in his commander’s voice. “Where to?”
The commander’s lips pinched together and his nostrils flared. “It doesn’t matter.” He pivoted and started to leave.
Edan placed a hand on his friend’s arm. “Let me try and find someone who will take her in. She’ll die out here alone.”
His commander turned and glared at Edan. “We may be friends outside of the army, but here I am in command. Send her away.”
Edan sucked in his breath at the force of his friend’s words. “Don’t let your own grief harden your heart. Remember King Alden’s instructions to enable every survivor the opportunity for a new life.”
The commander took a step toward Edan. “Don’t tell me how to conduct this purge.”
Edan stood toe to toe with his commander, meeting his glare. “Would you deny her a future family because you miss your own? What report will you give to King Alden regarding this child?”
His friend raked a hand through his hair and looked off into the distance where the setting sun lit up the sky. “You’re right. Every time I look into the flames, I see my own family.” He cursed and faced Edan . “Very well. This child will have a new start. Take care of it.”
Click here for Chapter One, each subsequent chapter is listed in the categories box on the right hand sidebar. Enjoy.
Angela D. Meyer has always enjoyed a good story, so it didn’t take long for her to start creating them in her head. The path to writing them down meandered its way through journal entries full of poetry to children’s stories, devotionals and now novels. She awaits the release of her debut novel, Bruised Reed, summer 2013 and is currently participating in the A to Z challenge on her website. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and 2 children whom they home school. Some of her favorite things include the ocean, good stories, connecting with friends, taking pictures, quiet evenings and a good laugh. Someday she wants to ride in a hot air balloon and vacation by the sea.
Connect with Angela at www.angeladmeyer.com