Agape’s ears would pick up all sorts of noises. He could hear tongues move at impossible speeds, the market owners yelling out to try and find customers for their products, children squealing in delight as they run through the legs of all the adults. Sounds of animals could be heard too; chickens clucking, horses neighing, dogs barking. He could swear that he also heard the familiar clashing of metal from the blacksmith which he’d grown up hearing. His aristocratic employers weren’t arguing with each other either. It was simple, peaceful, the same as all other days when Agape was on guard.
But that day, Agape also picked up an unfamiliar sound from a distance. It was a low rumbling, as if thunder had just struck. The sound getting louder, he could almost hear every granule of the rocks slither off the rocks that made up the road.
Agape felt the vibrations increase more and more, his spear jittering with each vibration. It was negligible at first, but before long, his whole bronze spear fell out of his hand?. His whole set of bronze armour started to bounce up and down which covered most of his eyesight. Buildings were shattering, crumbling all around him. The streets stalls were falling one by one like dominos, following? all the people who had fallen? to the ground when the shaking started.
Agape pulled his leg down to kneel, grasping his spear for dear life. His throat tightened, his breaths became irregular and shallow. His legs couldn’t support his own weight from all of the shaking.
Smoke arose from across the mountain to the south of the small merchant town. It was the colour of dark charcoal with the scent smelt of a dying fire. The smoke surrounded the small town as if its long arms pulled together on both sides. Black specks rained down like black snow with small pools of dust piled up on the streets.
Beyond the deathly smog, on the mountainside lay smouldering red liquid that would melt the roads and tear down whole building in its path. It bubbled and boiled, each time the lava getting dangerously close to spilling out.
Screams of terror ensued. Agape turned his head and closed his eyes. He was used to pained screams as he’d fought in battles, but this stirred a whole new kind of pain within him. All around him, people were rushing rushed back to the comfort of their own homes, while others just headed out of the city with nothing but their clothes on their backs. Others still were directing others to the closest ports—but it was no use, their voices were drowned out by fear-inducing screams of the confused people.
But the ground was not the only thing breaking. Agape’s heart and his mind were at odds, pulling him apart in his own body. His mind yelled for him to stay, even while knowing the evident danger. He had a job, he had to finish it; otherwise, it would have been a waste for him to have worked up the ranks all this time, only for his efforts to be torn apart without warning. He twisted his head back and shuffled his feet into position to rush into the midst of the rubble that was his employer’s house and look for survivors.Yet, a small whisper tightened his heart and made his mind to go blank. The whisper spoke his deepest truths, his true desires, and all it said was: “What about grandma?”
And that was all that needed to be said.
Agape bolted, abandoning the post that he worked to get for years. He was still hesitant but his legs made his decision for him. There was no turning back at this point. His leather and cork sandals were becoming undone but that did not bother him. His light hazel eyes now were filled with determination to save those that he loved. He ran through his conflict…? as if his own life depended on it. He wriggled and squirmed through back alleys and small streets where there were fewer people. The dust and the smell of rats filled his lungs.
Men and women pushed past one another like rabid animals to get to port first so that they can escape this nightmare. Sailors were grim-faced? , yelling for all children and their mothers to leave first. Men looked over at these sailors in disgust and dissatisfaction. One man offered half of his life savings to the sailors; their judgemental eyes tearing his man’s motives into shreds. He was met with angry silence but soon many others were following suit, trying to save themselves.
Agape took a sharp west turn on the main street, his mind raced as much as his legs moved. There was no time to waste. His heart wasn’t sure if what he was doing the right thing but he knew that he was going to regret not going back to save his only family. He felt guilt as he ran
Crossing bridges and shallow creeks on the other side of town, Agape feasted his eyes on his safe home. He ran inside, his shoes all torn up and a bruise was forming on his knee. Grabbing hold of his oversized helmet, he tossed it into an empty cow pen next to his home.
His eyes scanned the area with pinpoint accuracy.
Sitting in her usual seat, she turned with the most satisfied look on her face, but there was a subtle look of sorrow mixed into her expression.
“It’s my time sweetie. I will stay here with your grandfather. I cannot leave this place. I’m getting too old and I cannot see well, it would be too difficult to take me with you.” Looking directly at him, she spoke a little louder than a murmur as she her hands? kept folding today’s washing on her favourite wooden rocking chair.
“No..no, it can be… done. We can still leave.” Agape’s voice was raspy and his breath irregular. His head was ringing, sweat pouring out of every pore as his heart lunged itself out of his ribcage with such intensity that he thought that his bones may break.
Smiling warmly she said, “I would if I could…but there is not enough space for us both to go on our horse, one must stay behind.” Her milky white eyes looked towards the window where a gentle light flickered through the trees. “You were always stubborn just like your mother.” Her chuckle echoed through the house but still, she could not hide her loneliness and fear of the imminent death slowly bubbling over her hometown. Sounds that could only be created by the pits of hell echoed from afar. No man, no woman nor child was spared.
His eyes stayed planted at his feet while the nauseating horror loomed over his mind. He went up to hug his grandmother as a final goodbye but then he changed his mind. He proceeded to lift her up and rushed over to their black horse and placed her gently on top. He ran back inside his childhood home to collect food, water and some extra Aureus. He brought his bracelet as well, the one from his late father. His grandma might be prepared to die but he was no way near ready to let go of her.
Grandma certainly wasn’t happy with his actions, as he pushed her onto the saddle complaints spewed out of her. She wouldn’t stop squirming around as he picked her up over his shoulder. Even as she hit and yelled for for grandson to stop, his movements were quick and precise as if they were carefully planned.
Running back out he gave his grandma the package and rushed to the front to catch the reins of the horse.
Then they rode away to the west.