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For centuries we’d been happy, left alone by the Tyrant of Darkness. We lived under the wire, kept quiet about celebrations, about business dealings. No one bragged. No one left the village in search of greater riches. We raised our families and kept our noses clean.

Then they came back. There must have been a spy. A gypsy or traveling salesman we didn’t notice carrying stories of our village to who knows whom. Perhaps the spy embellished the tale to their benefit. No matter, now, the poor villagers paid the price. If any survived, it would take decades to rebuild the village—centuries to grow it back to its current heyday.

Peering skyward through the crack in the door, I watched for the beasts to be distracted so I could get away.

The belfry collapsed. The church quickly filled with smoke. Soon flames flickered along the massive beams in the upper rafters. I was out of time. 







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Rebecca Ryals Russell
Rebecca Ryals Russell has just recently developed a craving for Hazelnut coffee around 9pm every night. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact she stays up until 2am writing, More...