With a smile on his face and eyes filled with admiration, a young boy silently watched the sky as a slow chant continued throughout the area.
A clod of gray clouds began forming in the horizon and the boy’s smile widened.
With another series of voices a gentle breeze swept past him from behind and the silken wheat fields before him began undulating in unison like a silver wave, glistening beautifully across the plains.
As the farmers initiated the final phase of their spells, he quietly observed as the dark cloud began expanding to encompass the farmlands.
“Come milord, it is time we returned.” One of the farmer’s called from behind, having finished their duty. “Wouldn’t want to catch another cold now, would you? Should that happen, your lord father would never allow you out here again.”
“It is okay, Gallas.” The young boy replied, grinning smartly as he turned to face the older man. “Big brother got this cloak for me last time he and father visited the capital.” He added, making a show of the beautiful black cloak around him. “See? I’m not even cold under here.”
“I see.” The man returned a heartwarming smile, having sensed the mana emanating from the cloak. “Don’t dawdle around for too long then.”
“I won’t, Gallas. I’ll be right behind you all.”
Turning back around, the young boy stood still and peacefully watched as light rainfall began drizzling onto the fields.
He had always enjoyed being out here around this time of the year.
With the swaying of the breeze and the light shower upon them, the fields were a beautiful silver.
Their hoary coloration was a testament of the care involved in growing them. To know that those who are under their care would not go hungry even with another year of heavy taxation, it was something to be proud of.
“To cultivate and cherish the land is to cherish one’s life. He who provides and cherishes the land, shall be provided for and cherished by the land.”
The young boy spoke, reciting the words that his father had always spoken whenever they were out amongst the common folks. “It is just as father said…”
It was not just a wheat field, but the very essence of life itself.
As the rain arrived and began drizzling onto him as well,
Another voice called out to him.
“I’m coming!” He shouted back, not turning his gaze away from the mesmerizing fields.
“Your lord father summons you!” The voice cried out again, this time louder and closer.
Unsure as to what was so urgent, he finally turned around to spot one of the stable hands, a young man who was a few years older than himself.
“His lordship requests that you returned home right now. Something has happened.”
“I don’t know.” The stable hand lowered his head slightly. “But the mages have returned.”
The young boy’s eyes lit up. “Elder brother is back!” Filled with joy, he took one last look at the farmlands and hurried away.
The festive atmosphere he had been expecting upon returning home was nonexistent. In its place were grave and somber faces. Eyes filled with sympathy watched him as he rushed to the door of the manor.
“Father!” He called out upon arriving at his father’s small audience chamber. Dozens of others were already present, and he could hear the muffled sound of crying coming from within the crowd.
Pushing through, the family mages spotted him and slowly stepped aside to allow him to the center.
The boy quickly spotted his father kneeling on the ground. “Father?”
His prideful father who was always upright, always standing with shoulders wide and straight, was now kneeling and hunched over.
“Father, what is-” The boy stopped. His insides constricted within themselves and his legs wilted. “B-big brother?” The young boy’s vision suddenly blurred and the world darkened.
“Rhul!” His mother cried out, embracing him and catching the boy as he fell to the ground.
Laid out on the floor before them all, was the battered and lifeless corpse of a young man barely in his twenties. The young man was missing his left arm along with half of his upper torso, and his legs had been broken. Though his proud face was untouched, the young man’s silver hair was now bleached a dark bloody color and his head had been separated from his shoulders. He had been tortured and then executed.