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The Invasion – the end of my short story

Apologies for the delay in posting the final instalment of my short story The Invasion, between working a lot and finishing and re writing the end of the story, it has taken a bit longer than expected. For those of you who have been reading the story as I post it, it might be worth re reading part six as I’ve made a few changes and added a few important bits and pieces that will ensure the end makes sense. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading The Invasion, who knows, I might even post another short story at some stage in the near future.

 

The Invasion – the end of my short story

On the appointed day everything was in place. Ben and the men from the valley were all in position. Thanks to Carl’s cooperation, they had invaluable information regarding the valley’s ammunition and weapon numbers and they were just waiting for their old signal from Tom, whom he hoped had received his message and followed out his instructions.

Marla was nearby, she always seemed to be these days, ever since she’d found out about him and his involvement and leadership of the resistance in the previous invasion of their valley. He had been a young man then but he remembered it all too clearly and when he had heard her full name the preceding day, he had no doubt that she was the daughter of Johann Berlitz, the mastermind of the last invasion, everything was starting to make sense and fall into place. However, that fact in itself required extra caution but it was too late to warn Tom, they just had to hope it all went according to plan.

Finally, it felt like hours but it must only have been a few minutes, he heard an owl hooting nearby, loud and long. They had come up with the signal during the previous invasion. The valley had no owls, no one knew why, but those not from the valley were unaware of this fact, so it was a perfect signal. Nodding to the men at his side and across the clearing, he drew in a deep breath and stepped forward.

 

Tom lowered his hands as the signal echoed and slowly faded away. All the valleys men and able bodied fighting people stood in silence and waited. Mat, very aware of his dad’s loaded gun in his hand, looked behind him. He was unable to see anyone but he knew their men were out there, spread out and hidden in the thick undergrowth and trees surrounding the clearing. Elayne was back there somewhere too, she had not been happy about being denied permission to remain in the frontline, however, her mother and Mat had both insisted that she stay well back and out of danger.

Tom had briefed all the ‘new recruits,’ as they had been dubbed, on what to expect and their roles in the upcoming altercation. The minutes following the signal seemed to drag by and the silence was deafening but when the first shot was finally heard it was all action. The next few minutes were complete mayhem with men running everywhere and everything happening very quickly.

Mat raced forward as instructed with the rest of the men towards the clearing where his dad had given the map co-ordinates for in the note. Cresting the hill they were met with a sight; the camp, large and very well organised in its layout, was a full blown combat zone, with a few bodies already littering the ground. Luckily Ben had told them that the men on their side would be wearing red armbands, otherwise it would have been impossible to identify one man from another as they were all dressed in the same black outfit from head to toe.

The invaders were taken aback by the wave of men cresting the hill emitting battle cries as they joined in the fight. As the men continued to spill over the hill they began to realise that they were outnumbered and a panic began to ensue among the invaders.

 

Perspiration running down his face Ben eagerly searched the newly arrived men. His gaze passed over Tom, whom he acknowledged with a nod, and continued on until he found who he was looking for, Mat. His son had grown into a man in the three years since he had last seen him; he hardly recognised the tall, handsome youth. Breaking away from the main fighting, Ben loped eagerly towards his son. Just before he reached him he saw Marla sprinting past him towards Mat. Cursing Ben sped up, but suddenly time seemed to slow as he saw Marla draw her weapon aiming directly at Mat. The shot deafened him and he shouted at his son to get down. Mat instinctively threw himself on the ground as the bullet grazed his leg and blood gushed from the wound.

Without thinking Ben raised his loaded gun and aimed for Marla, shooting her from behind straight through the heart. As she fell, Mat raised his head and saw his dad standing there gun elevated. He tried to get up but his wounded leg stopped him from standing and he collapsed on the ground moaning. Running to him Ben gently lifted his son up.

All around them the fighting continued, but it was obvious that the men from the valley were winning and slowly the sound of shots being fired slowed and finally stopped. All that could be heard was the moaning of wounded men and the shouting of the victors. The helicopter had been made immobile by the men from the valley, making escape for the invaders near impossible. Those not involved in the fighting were beginning to emerge from the forest, among them Elayne who made a beeline for Mat and his father, who had been joined by Carl and Tom and a number of other men from the valley all clapping Ben on the back and smiling. They had done it; stopped the invasion before their valley was attacked, and aside from a few casualties, they had all their men as well as a few wounded prisoners to take in for questioning.

 

It felt like a second cycle had come to an end; Ben had killed Johann Berlitz in the first invasion, Marla, following in her father’s footsteps had returned to finish what her father had started and to seek revenge for his death. However, once again the valley and its inhabitants had emerged victorious. They had proven once again that, despite meticulous planning and organisation, the invaders could not win. With Marla’s death the immediate Berlitz family had ended and Ben hoped that now the cycle had truly been broken once and for all. Despite the bandage around his leg, his son’s deathly white face looked beautiful to Ben as he cradled him in his arms, he smiled down at Mat who could not take his eyes from his father.

“You’ll be alright son,” he said his voice gruff with emotion. “I’ll have you home in no time and you can have as much time to rest as you need. You did me proud son, real proud.” And with that he reached an arm around Elayne’s shoulder, squeezing it gently as he smiled down at her, nodding to Carl and Tom who stood nearby, the five of them slowly headed back towards Mat’s family home.

 

The end.

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The Invasion – part six

The Invasion, part six of my short story.

The Invasion – part six

Changing direction, Elayne and Mat hurried through the forest, past their school and on to Uncle Tom’s house. They made sure to remain near the tree line or under the cover of the forest at all times. He was standing at the front door when they arrived; it was like he was waiting for them.

“I’ve been expecting you two,” he grunted in greeting. Never one for ceremony he walked inside and into the kitchen where he sat down.

“You want me to tell you about your dad!” It wasn’t a question and he continued, “well, when he first came to me three years ago and told me his theory, I thought he had lost the plot, a total fool and I told him so. But he insisted on giving me this letter for you in case ‘it’ ever happened, that’s what we used to refer the attack to.” He sighed. “I’ve re-read it so many times over the years since the accident but it all seemed a tall tale until this morning’s announcement. He was right damn it. I have no idea how he figured it out, but he was always too smart for his own good, that dad of yours.”And with that he handed Mat a rather dog-eared letter. “Oh and I found this note in the old tree house this morning. We used it as our communication site during the last invasion and after the strange happenings over the past few days, I decided to check it, just in case. It’s not signed but it has his old signature at the bottom, that’s how he used to sign his instructions off.”

Mat, looking increasingly confounded took both letters and sat down on the kitchen bench opposite Uncle Tom, Elayne remained standing behind him.

 

‘Dear Mat,’ he read in his deep voice so similar to his fathers.

‘There is a lot that you don’t know about the previous invasion, I know your mother and I have never really talked about it, however, if you are reading this my worst fears and suspicions have come to pass and I must tell you a bit about what happened.

The leader of the invasion was a man called Johann Berlitz, he was a foreigner, a narcissist with very lofty ideas of his own self-importance. Prior to invading our valley, it was rumoured that he successfully invaded and took over another valley, closer to his homeland. Intoxicated by his success and power, and growing increasingly deranged, he decided to move on our valley as his second conquest, why he picked us we never found out, but it was reported that his ex wife had distant family in our valley.

We started a revolt against Berlitz, which after a few weeks resulted in his death and our victory. Among his personal effects was a lot of copied paperwork with detailed information on the attack and a few backup plans, including one which I’d almost forgotten until recently, detailing a plot to stage an explosion at the local mine in order to capture as many miners as possible. The plan was crossed out as if dismissed, which is why I’d almost forgotten it. The papers were locked away somewhere safe and out of mind and only a few people, myself included ever read all of them.

With the recent unrest at work, there has been a lot of talk. One recurring name that keeps cropping up is that of Johann Berlitz. I’m unsure what will happen but something is definitely brewing and if anything happens at the mine and people go missing I have a feeling that they will be used against the valley in some way. If my theory is correct I’ll try and get a message to Uncle Tom as soon as possible, he was the main communication man during the last invasion.

I know this all sounds crazy but after leading the resistance in the previous invasion I got to know the enemy pretty well and I can read signs. I haven’t said anything to anyone else yet as it is a very tenuous assumption and I’m not sure anyone would believe me but I’m trusting my instincts.

Take care my boy and look after your mother and sister, I’m relying on you.

Dad’

 

The room was so quite you could hear a pin drop, Mat continued to stare at the page, disbelief on his face. “Dad was the leader of the resistance? Why did he never tell me?” It wasn’t really a question, Uncle Tom looked at him before answering.

“A fine leader, a very fine leader indeed,” he was lost in the past for a minute. Shaking his head he continued. “He was the brains behind our ultimate victory and I was his right hand man. I dealt with all the communications; passing on instructions from your dad to the rest of the men and women in the resistance. We were a good team, I guess that’s why he entrusted the letter to me and told you to come to me.”

Looking increasingly dumbfounded and overwhelmed, Mat re read the letter to himself, after which he opened the second note. It was hastily scribbled and brief, instructing the reader to secretly gather the valley’s able bodied inhabitants as well as all the available ammunition and weapons and to assemble in two days time. Map coordinate were given for somewhere deep within the valley. He warned them to be wary of sentries and noted that they were a big group; including all the missing people from the past two days and that they were heavily armed. At the end was a strange symbol, this must be what Uncle Tom had referred to as his father’s signature.

They all sat in silence until Elayne finally broke the quite. “I guess we should get to work” she said straightening up.

Nodding in unison Uncle Tom and Mat rose and Elayne headed out the front door after them; they had plenty to do and not much time.

Over the next two days the three of them spent all day recruiting people, sending them on errands and gathering everything they could find in order to fulfill Mat’s father’s instructions. As it turned out Uncle Tom seemed to be held in high regard by everyone, all the older inhabitants fell quickly into their old roles from the days of the resistance and they were all eager and co operative in carrying out the directive.

 

To be continued …

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The Invasion – part five

Part five of my short story.

 

The Invasion – part five

Ben lowered the microphone as the echo of his voice slowly faded around the valley. He looked back towards the base they had set up in a clearing well away from civilization. Most of the people here were men, kidnapped, like himself in a staged mine explosion three years earlier. Since then they had spent countless days in solitary confinement, beaten and brainwashed until the memory of their previous lives and who they were had become a distant recollection. However, what their captors had not anticipated in their grand scheme was the effect being back on home soil would have on the men.

Since their arrival a week earlier, there had been rising tensions in the base. The men from the valley, who had been separated for the majority of their captivity, began to seek each other out, including Ben, and they had began their own plotting. To Ben it felt like a fog was beginning to lift and memories were slowly trickling back. For the first time in a long while he thought of his family, his wife Anna, son Mat and daughter Aisha.

A few of the men, including Ben, had heard a few rumours in the weeks leading up to their capture. Talk of an uprising, of recruiting inhabitants of the valley and using them against their family and friends. Most of what was said was dismissed as over the top gossip that had been blown out of proportion, as tended to happen in small communities. Yet some of what he had heard had made Ben weary, and as it turned out, rightly so.

Marla, one of the leaders of the attack walked over to him her AK-47 swinging almost seductively at her hip. “We need you over with the new captures Ben” she drawled in her foreign accent, which even after three years Ben could not pick, “they are being uncooperative again.”

Nodding, Ben walked beside her to the ‘prison’ as the men were calling it. He had recognised all too many of the men they had picked up, including his daughter’s boyfriend, Carl, at least that’s what he had been three years earlier. Ben had not yet managed to speak to Carl alone, his insight and cooperation was crucial to the plan that he and the men from the valley were formulating.

The men who had been picked up from around the valley in the raids over the past two days were all foreigners, like Marla. The idea of the attack was to use the new captures as a decoy when the time was right, more information than that was not imparted to the likes of Ben who were merely tools, brainwashed instruments to be used to terrify and destroy his home. But they would not let it get to that point, their plan had to work.

 

To be continued …

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The Invasion – part four

Part four of my short story.

The Invasion – part four

They sat for a while before reluctantly getting up, the sun was reaching its zenith and if they didn’t leave soon they knew their families would start to worry. On any normal day, the two of them would be away and unmissed all day long, but not today. They gathered their bits and pieces together, Mat went to check the gun was carefully stowed away in the cave, and they reluctantly left the tranquility of the lake.

They hardly spoke as they walked quickly through the woods. As they neared the clearing by Mat’s house they heard a slightly metallic voice begin to speak across the valley, it sounded like it was being projected from right beside them. They both stopped short, Mat reached for Elayne’s hand, gripping it so hard his knuckles went white. His face had gone deathly pale. The only word he managed to utter was “dad!”

Elayne stared at him and then listened again to the voice which was talking across the valley, it had a very distinct intonation. She would have known that deep, melodious voice anywhere, but how?

Mat and Elayne stood rooted to the spot listening as Mat’s dad’s voice boomed out across the valley to tell all the inhabitants that they were under attack and another invasion had begun.

“Why? I don’t understand. How can that be my dad, he died three years ago?” The questions kept coming,  Mat had so many but Elayne had no answers, she was as confounded as he.

As they stood together listening to the silence after the voice had finished speaking, Elayne knew that their world as they knew it would never be the same again. But somehow she knew that they would figure this out, they would get to the bottom of this unfurling nightmare.

The first thing they they had to do was speak to Uncle Tom and find out what he knew about Mat’s dad and the mystery message.

 

To be continued …

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The Invastion – part three

Here’s part three of my short story.

 

The Invasion – part three

Despite thinking she wouldn’t be able to sleep, Elayne’s exhaustion took over and she quickly fell into a deep, dreamless slumber, but the morning came all too quickly.

She woke suddenly and without knowing why. Getting out of bed, she glided noiselessly across the floor to the window so as not to wake her sleeping sister. As she stood by the window looking out over the valley, magical in the hazy summer morning mist, she heard a strange whirring noise. Selena, who had also woken, came and stood beside her. Silently the two girls watched as a big helicopter flew low over their house. They stood slightly to the side so as not to be seen from outside. The big machine paused for an instant, hovering over their lawn. From their vantage point Elayne and Selena glimpsed a man in dark clothes sitting in the helicopter, his face obscured inside the machine and beside him a strange looking blond woman with very distinguished features; a strong nose and chin and an expressive mouth. Both of them were carrying machine guns. Just as suddenly as it had appeared, the helicopter was gone and the girls were left alone gazing out the window, the beauty of the summer morning wasted on them as the memory of the previous day’s events came flooding back.

Their parents were already up when the two girls went downstairs, and the family breakfasted together. It was another silent meal, the girls remaining quite about the early morning encounter. Just as they were about to clear the breakfast away, there was a knock on the door and their aunt Lena entered followed by the distinguished looking blond lady the girls had seen earlier that morning. Selena turned deathly pale and quickly excused herself and ran up the stairs. Lena introduced the blond woman as her old friend Marla who she had met while studying abroad. Marla approached Elayne who was trying her best to leave the room unnoticed, and began to chat to her; apparently her aunt had told her a lot about Elayne and Selena.

On leaving the kitchen and going upstairs, Elayne found Selena huddled on the bed shaking. Sitting down beside her, Elayne hugged her tightly and told her to be brave and that she would be back in a bit. Amid Selena’s protest Elayne slipped her jacket and boots on and crept down the stairs and out the side door into the forest. She headed at a sprint to Mat’s house, where his mum opened the back door to her urgent knocks. He appeared immediately and without a question he too donned his coat and boots and promising his mum to be back soon the two of them disappeared into the woods.

Elayne didn’t say a word until they were deep within the safety of the woods. Looking around them to make sure no one had followed the two friends slowed to a brisk walk, their jackets touching. Then it all came out; from the helicopter over the house, the strange blond lady and the dark clad man with their guns to Lena’s arrival with the blond woman Marla.

Mat listened without commenting and when she finally finished he simply said, “I need to show you something,” and with that he headed off further into the forest with Elayne in tow.

They jogged along for about twenty minutes before arriving at a clearing of beech trees and pines, in the distance they could see the sparkle of water from a small lake where they often came to picnic and fish in the summer. Mat led her slightly away from the lake and up a steep rocky path covered in moss and lichen, still slippery from the early morning dew, and further along through brushwood until he finally stopped in front of a ledge with a steep incline which was completely overgrown.

“What is this place,” inquired Elayne looking around her slightly bemused.

Without responding, Mat checked no one was around, nodding to himself he pulled aside the undergrowth and led her on hands and knees into a small damp, dark cave. Completely blinded after the bright sunlight outside it took their eyes a few minutes to adjust to the darkness, once they could see Elayne looked around. Covered with fine sand the cave wasn’t very big, and it was so low that they both had to stoop half bent over in order to stand up. Telling her to sit down near the entrance Mat went further into the cave, returning a few minutes later with a black box which he laid on the ground near Elayne before lowering himself beside her.

“This,” he said opening the box “is something my father gave to me before he died.”

Mat’s father had died a few years ago, a loss that the whole family had still not come to terms with. Mat had idolized his father and after his death he had suddenly found himself the head of the family with the responsibility of supporting his mother who had literally fallen apart after the accident. It didn’t help that his father’s body was never recovered along with the other mine workers’ after the explosion where they worked. They had had nothing to bury, no way of getting complete closure and it took Mat two years before he stopped hoping every knock at the front door was his father returning home. For Mat’s mother, it was many a month before she was able to go about her daily chores again, but even then she never completely returned to her former cheerful self.

As the sun glinted through the foliage in front of the cave mouth it caught the content of the box which Mat had just opened. For a moment they were both dazzled by the glare.

“Is that what I think it is?” asked Elayne, shrinking back toward the cave wall.

“It’s ok, it’s not loaded,” replied Mat taking a gleaming gun out of the box. “My father gave me this before he died, he took me aside one evening and gave me this box with the gun and explosives, he said if something ever happened to him I would be the man of the house and that I’d have to look after my mother and sister. A few weeks later he died. It was almost as if he knew something would happen. He told me to put it somewhere safe in case we ever needed it, so I brought it here and it’s been hidden here ever since.”

Elayne didn’t know what to say. She’d never seen a real gun before, never mind fired one, the whole idea terrified her. “What are you planning on doing with it?” she asked, then stopped, “what’s that?” she said reaching to pick up something that had fallen out of the box when Mat took the gun out, “it looks like a note.” She gave it to Mat who opened the folded paper, slightly faded with age and read it out loud.

“If they catch me and take me away, don’t come looking for me, Uncle Tom, he’ll explain everything.” They looked at each other, their puzzled faced reflected each other. Mat read it again, “Why have I never seen this before?” he asked, not really expecting an answer. “It doesn’t make any sense, dad’s been dead three years,” he muttered as he fingered the note before putting it in his pocket, closing the box and standing up.

After safely stowing the gun away again, the two friends sat on a rock outside the cave for a while in the sunshine talking, Mat repeatedly re reading the note and shaking his head. Mat’s mum, like Elayne’s, seemed to think it was another invasion but neither of them had said much, so the two young people didn’t have much to work with apart from the bits and pieces of information they had gleaned over the years. But why now and what should they do?

 

To be continued …

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The Invasion – part two

I’ve had a few responses wondering how the beginning of the short story I posted last week continued. So here’s the next part.

 

The Invasion – part two

The two friends hurried on together. Elayne glanced at Mat, his handsome face usually so full of fun and laughter was serious, she gripped his hand tighter, worry beginning to take over. When they reached the clearing where Elayne’s family house stood Mat kissed her on the forehead, promising to call as soon as he got home.

Elayne turned toward her own home, despite her hurry she stopped for a minute to gaze at it. Nestled at the edge of the woods, surrounded by a halo of pink and white Mayflowers and cherry blossoms it was picturesque, feeling more at ease she breathed in the heady sweet scent as she walked towards the door. As she entered the back door into the kitchen she was engulfed in a bear hug and the door was quickly closed and locked behind her.

“We were so worried about you dear” her mum mumbled into her hair. Her dad and sister Selena were standing in the doorway equally anxious.

When Elayne was finally released, they went into the living room together and sat down in front of the TV. It was chaos; the entire valley was on alert. The reporter was speaking to a number of locals who were talking about how a number of men in a black car had pulled up at their home and taken a few people away with them. This story was repeated by numerous different sources, each telling exactly the same narrative. The men had said they were conducting an official investigation and needed to speak to the people they took away, but not once did they mention what it was about. Everyone was starting to panic and more and more people were calling the TV station to report that they’d had a relative or friend who’d been taken away.

Suddenly the phone rang, they all jumped and looked towards the kitchen. Elayne ran to answer it, it was Mat. He’d gotten home safe, his sister and nephew were there but his sister’s husband was nowhere to be found.

“Have you been watching the news” Mat asked quietly, Elayne replied that they had. “All those people being taken away …” he stopped. Elayne was thinking the same thing but neither of them voiced it. They hung up both promising to stay in touch.

As they huddled around the TV the screen began to flash and then it went blank, the room was plunged into darkness. For a long while they all sat in silence in the gloom looking at the TV. Far away a siren went off, the young people had never heard it before but they knew what it meant, the valley was under curfew, which could only mean one thing, they were under attack.

The two sisters prepared something to eat. Usually a great house for meals and chatter, this dinner was a silent one and no one felt like eating. Soon after they all went to bed. Just as she was snuggling down to try and sleep, there was a knock at Elayne’s door and Selena slipped into the room. She padded across the wooden floor to her bed,  Elayne moved over as her sister crept in beside her.

“I’m so scared” she whispered into the dark, “what’s going to happen Elayne?”

Elayne had no answer; instead she wrapped her arms around her sister, hugging her tightly. They eventually drifted off to sleep, neither of them knowing what the morning would bring.

 

To be continued …

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The Invasion – the start of a short story

Almost two years ago I had this strange dream that was very vivid. I was so lost in the dream, that when I finally woke up all I wanted to do was to find out how it ended but try as I might I could not get back into the dream.

When I woke up properly I thought what a great story the dream would make, so I turned on my laptop and spent the next few hours writing it down.

Every now and again I’d revisit what I’d written and amend or add to it but I never did anything with it, I wasn’t sure whether it did my dream justice. Today I’m still not sure about that that but I decided I’d post the start of the story on my blog. It’s not finished yet and I’m not sure if any of you will like it, but I thought I might as well see what you think.

If it’s well received I might post some more of the story at a later stage.

 

The Invasion

The water lapped gently over the edge of the pool as the last few swimmers came to a stop in the shallow end. Mr Jordan had blown his whistle a few minutes before to signal the end of the class and the students stood in the water in groups laughing and chatting before heading to the changing rooms. Elayne waded over to where Mat was standing, his tall dark frame silhouetted against the sunlight that was filtering through the large window at the side of the pool. Outside the leaves danced in the May sunshine but Mat seemed oblivious of this as he gazed out over the schoolyard, he seemed far away.

“Penny for your thoughts” Elayne said as she came up beside him.

The two of them had been best friends since they were five or six years old and they were still inseparable at the age of seventeen. Mat had just come back from a few weeks away visiting his grandparents at the coast and he seemed relaxed and well rested. They had plenty to catch up on as Elayne hadn’t seen him properly since he got back the night before.

As they chatted away, getting up to speed on the events of the past few weeks they suddenly heard a strange whirring noise, like a helicopter, outside the building, followed by what sounded like an explosion at the back of the school. There were screams and everyone began to retreat en mass to the far end of the pool. Mr Jordan, who had disappeared into the supply room, re appeared and briskly ordered everyone out of the pool, to the changing rooms and to the front gate and home as quickly as possible.

Mat and Elayne hurried out along with everyone else. “I’ll meet you outside the front gate in a few minutes,” and with that Mat left her at the door to the girls changing room.

Elayne quickly dried herself and pulled on her jeans and green sweatshirt, barely drying her long brown hair before running out the door backpack in hand. The school entrance was chaos, there were people running everywhere and teachers stood at each entrance ushering students out and urging them not to panic. Mat was waiting at the gate for Elayne. When she was level with him he grabbed her backpack in one hand, swung it over his left shoulder and seized her hand with the other.

They didn’t say a word as they hurried along the main road until they reached the quiet of the woods and were deep within its sanctuary. The two young people had been roaming the woods since they were children and they never lost their way. Only once they were safely within the woods sanctuary did Elayne dare to speak. “What do you think that was?” she asked looking sideways at Mat. “You don’t think it was another attach on the valley?” He didn’t have to reply, his face, which Elayne knew so well confirmed her worst fear.

Many years ago, before either of them had been born, there had been an attack on the valley. Everyone knew about it but no one spoke of it. The memory of what had happened lived on in those who had witnessed it and the fear of what had happened and of another attack lived on in those who were born in its aftermath.

 

To be continued …

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