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Michael Phillips Michael Phillips
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The Refugee


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She had a friend.

This is one of the ideas I had in my head.  I had to write it out, and I would really appreciate some constructive criticism.


Chapter 1:



The moon is the only light in the forest.  The only thing keeping me from running into every tree in sight.  The sounds of the forest are my only company, other than the four men chasing me on horseback with their bows raised and ready to fire.  The inability for their horses to maneuver around the trees and large rocks is my only advantage, and the only thing keeping me alive.  But all I can think of are the events that led up to this.  The series of events that led to me running for my life.  And it all starts just twelve hours ago, working in the wheat fields just on the outskirts of my village.



It was a cloudless day, and the air seemed fresher than usual.  My father and I had just finished constructing a new door for our small house, that somehow managed to house seven people.  It looked magnificent sitting on those hinges, that were also molded by my father's personal anvil and smelting furnace, and after two weeks of hard work, it was all worth seeing how it looked after it was all put together.  But with luxury, comes even more responsibility.  So at about noon, my father and I made our way to our wheat fields for another day's work.



The walk to the fields with my father was quiet.  The only sounds coming from our feet hitting the ground, and the forest singing its favorite chorus of songbirds and cicadas.  Finally, we arrived at our fields, and notice that it had already been visited, and harvested by someone.  A small wooden post stood just in front of the field.  My father and I leaned slightly, and read together, "Consider this your tax payment, and never keep the king waiting again.  Yours truly, Sir Claudius the Magnificent."



"Damn it!" My father yelled into the air. "Don't you have enough you greedy bastard!"



He punched the ground hard, cutting up his knuckles severely, but it didn't seem to alarm him one bit.  His breathing shifted into an uneasy, aggravated pace.  That was the first time that I had seen my father that angry.



"Father?" I asked. "Father, you needn't worry.  We have__" He cut me off.


"It's not that son," He says, standing straight, and letting out a large exhale. "It's that the king takes time out of his day to send his men to collect taxes from peasants.  He needs not a months supply of wheat more than he needs an honest days work.  Now I see no other option."


"What do you mean?" I asked. "Father, what do you mean?"


"Son, I need you to be strong," He answered. "For your mother, and your sisters."


"I will dad," I said.


"Then come now with me," He said, running back toward our village.  Without question, I followed him, all the news that entered my brain in the last five minutes still not making complete sense yet.  But I trusted that my father knew what to do.



We arrive at our village, and I notice that a couple of hours had passed.  My mother, my little brother Gregory, and my five sisters are all working on the laundry.  My mother saw us, and held out her arms for my father.  He wrapped his arms tightly around her, and whispered something into her ear.  The expression on her face turned into a serious gaze, and she ran into the house, tossing out five leather sacks completely filled with what i assumed were survival supplies.  My father ran to the other houses, performing a special knock.  Before I knew it, everyone in the village was out of their houses, carrying sacks similar to the ones my mother had thrown out.  The men wielded swords and spears, and I am handed a dagger from my father.  



"Now we move toward out freedom!" My father shouted, walking over to us.  "To the north, lead them to the north."


"But father, won't you be coming with us?" I asked.


"No, son," He answered. "You're the man of the family now.  Please lead to safety.  You'll know you're there when you see the maple fountain at the end of the forest.  I love you son, never forget that."



Tears were pouring out of my eyes.  But I squeezed my eyes closed, swallowing the sadness into my throat. and said. "Yes father."



"Now go, I will see you soon." He added, running off into the opposite direction in which he instructed me to go.



"Follow me!" I yelled to everyone. "Come now!"



I set off north into the forest, my entire village behind me, at full obedience to me, and with every one of their lives in my hands.



Chapter 2:



Now it is night, and I had left my village back at the maple fountain at the point where the forest and the plains met hours ago.  The four horsemen are gaining ground on me, slowly but surely.  They seem to have run out of arrows, so there is one less thing to worry about.  As I continue, sounds of cheering, and yelling become more apparent.  The horsemen leave me, and ride over the hill just ahead of me, where the chanting is coming from.  I stop moving to breathe for a second.  But my curiosity pushed my fatigued body to the top of the hill.  I see a large field emerge into my view.  I see the king's men in orderly lines, marching across the battlefield.  On the other, peasants, who are in a mass of bodies, charging the king's men.  



At the front of the peasants army, I see a figure that looks familiar to me.  A figure that has been in my life since I was born.  My father.   I run as fast as I can down the hill to assure myself that my accusation is true.  And before i knew it, my father brought his sword up high, and sinks it into the first soldier of the king's men, and the rest follow.  I am standing before a war zone.  All I want to do is run in, and fight alongside of my father.  But my family needs me, and my father knew exactly how to protect them.  I take in one last image of the blood, and anger, and the battle, and take off up the hill, knowing that my father probably will not survive this day.  I won't lie to myself any longer.  But he had a job for me, and that was to protect our people, and protect our family.  I will never forget what my father sacrificed for us.  But I know that with his life, he brought our family freedom.



Sweet, sweet freedom.




Epilogue:



I watch over my village.  The village that lives free from the king's men.  The village that my father gave his life to create.  Where my family now flourishes in wealth, as does all of the families who live alongside us.  Three months since the war began, and we are already living in luxury.  



The village people thank me for how things have turned out.  But they haven't seen what my father, and all of the men from neighboring villages under the king's control fought fearlessly against the king's army.  I will never take the credit, when the only credit is due to those men who gave there lives for us.



"James!" My father's voice rings in my ear.  Though this is the most real it has ever sounded since the war. "James, damn it, turn around!"



I turn and see something impossible.  I call out my family to observe it as well.  A dark figure with that all too familiar voice walks toward us.  But when the firelight illuminates the figure, my mother's hands go to her mouth with a gasp, and an intense feeling of joy and relief runs through my body.  



It's my father.


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