“Yea?” he answered excitedly.
“I'm heading out to Bess’ house for the day. If you can manage to get off the couch try to make this place not look filthy” she sneered.
“Oh…yea yea. Of course”
The door shut with much strength leaving Albus alone in their house on the edge of the village. It seemed she was still mad at him.
Albus stared at the candle in front of him, its light dimming before coming back in full burst, over and over again. He cocked his head to a now empty wood stand.
His wife, Ariel, had been mad for almost a week. He hadn't the slightest clue what to do.
“My love, I'm sorry.” he whispered.
Raiders had surrounded the house a week prior, taking all the valuables in the house, including her favorite necklace. Now they were stationed all around their previously safe village.
With a sigh Albus picked himself and headed out. Immediately he was stopped by a raider.
“Name please” he said gruffly.
“Please state your reason for leaving your hut.”
“I just wanted to get my wife a present from the town square, her birthday is in three days.”
“His majesty has declared no person may have anything of value.”
“P-please”, Albus stammered, “it will only take a small time, and it'll be quite cheap!”
The raider thought for a moment, “Fine, only because your wife is always a joy to spend time with…after hours.” he smirked.
Albus turned away, his face crimson, he knew he didn't mean it.
Half an hour later he arrived in the trade center. Weary salesmen darted their eyes around, trying to spot any customers. Once they noticed Albus, their voices loudened.
“You young sir! Come look at my fine wares” one said.
“No no! Come here! I have such lovely fruits for you!”
“I have only the finest jewelry for any occasion!” One said in the chaos.
That one piqued his interest. He walked up to the stall protruding from a corner. The seller was a young woman, no older than eighteen.
“Jewelry?” he whispered, “I thought it was all taken?”
“It was. But I got a special scoop. What are you looking for?”
Albus thought for a moment, “Do you have one made of eastern sea pearls? A bit old?”
“I'm afraid not, but if you're willing to get your hands a bit dirty, I think I can help you. Meet back here at midnight. If anyone asks you what you are doing just say ‘I'm heading back home from a long night at Sseb’s tavern.’”
He eyed the shopkeep suspiciously, “This isn't a trap right?”
“Nope. I swear by it. I just have a good feeling about you. You don't have to come, but it's my only offer.”
“...I'll be there.”
The sun began to set a few hours after Albus came back home. The same raider was posted outside his hut, who laughed at his empty hands. Ariel arrived shortly after the sunset.
“Albus you lazy pi-”, she stopped, in front of her was the cleanest place she had ever laid her eyes on.
“Did you have fun my dear?” he asked.
She stood silently in the doorway, shuffling her left foot side to side.
“Alb-Honey, how did you get this all done?”
“I was inspired by a young woman down at the market, her beauty reminded me of you.”
Her face changed from joy to confusion, “Market, why were you there?
“O-oh! I just wanted to see if they were selling any fresh strawberries for your birthday. They were out.”
“Really? I just saw some when I went out with Bess.
“You were at the market?”
“Yes and while I was there some girl was hollering at me about jewelry! Can you believe that? She could've gotten all of us in trouble!”
Albus chuckled nervously. Sweat formed on his brow as he hastily changed the subject.
Later on Albus made dinner for Ariel and himself before ushering her to bed, stating he had some late job hunting to do. She surprisingly obliged to his request.
By the time midnight came Albus had been prepared for over an hour, he had on a dark cloak he found under the couch, his old worker boots, and a knife for emergencies.
“It's now or never” he thought.
He tiptoed to his bedroom, but heard only silence, his wife was probably out cold.
He made his way to the back of the house, pulling off the wooden beams that made his kitchen window, and ran behind his neighbors hut in a mad sprint.
The raiders were stationed around most of the houses to keep an eye on those who might prove to be problematic to their cause. Albus cautiously looked around, spotting seven raiders total, directly on the main road. He just ran straight for the town center in a mad sprint.
It was practically abandoned when he got there. The stalls were empty and the gravel streets were silent. The only sound being made was Albus with his own footsteps.
“Who are you?” a voice whispered behind him.
Albus jumped and turned, only to see a strange cloaked figure standing there. No features were visible other than a wooden crow mask.
“Answer me,” it said cooly.
“Please dont hurt me” he covered his face with his hands.
“I'm just on my way home from Sebs Tavern,'' he whimpered.
“Oh sorry then,” it lifted its mask to reveal the young woman from the market.
“It's you!” He said exasperated.
“My apologies, it's hard to see with a wood mask on. Follow me.”
She led him to a house just due north from the center. He had never been anywhere north, it was a land for the wealthy.
“I have something for you,” she said.
“Is it the necklace?”
“No, it's a mask, like mine. Cmon lets go”
She shoved the similar shaped mask in his hand, he could see there was a ribbon laced around the back and quickly put it on before following her out the door.
They rushed past larger and larger houses. Most had no light but an odd few still had candles on. Oddly there were no raiders around to question them.
“Where are the raiders?” He whispered.
“Don't you know?”
“Most of the rich left the village a month after the raiders came. The rest paid them off so they wouldn't be watched.”
Shortly after they reached the abandoned courthouse. It was no longer in use once the raiders took the law into their own hands and now sat there, from the outside it looked like it was falling apart.
“I'm not sure about this…”
“C'mon we are almost there, do you want that necklace or what?”
Albus thought of Ariel. He thought of how she cried when they took the necklace. She had pleaded with him to do anything to stop them, but he was too cowardly.
He followed her up the courthouse stairs with tense muscles, creaking every step of the way. They entered the main hall to see a dusty, empty room; devoid of people. He let out an audible sigh of relief.
“Expecting something else?” she asked.
He stayed silent.
She ushered him into the back where the doors to the actual court stood still. She hesitated for a moment.
“There's no turning back, are you sure you're ready?”
“Ready for what?”
“Nevermind, just sick close to me, if we lose each other I'm Ophelia.”
Abruptly she shoved the doors open which showered the area with light from dozens in large candles. Albus’ eyes widened behind the mask as he saw dozens upon dozens of people sitting on the seats, all staring at them for a moment before turning back amongst themselves.
‘Ophelia’ turned towards him and outstretched her hand, he obliged. They found a seat near the front and sat between a larger figure breathing heavily and ‘Ophelia’.
“My fellow neighbors, friends, and acquaintances,” a feminine voice suddenly boomed.
Startled, Albus looked up at the new voice and saw a figure donned in purple robes, wearing another mask.
“It has been half a year since we've had contact with anyone from outside our village. Those raiders who call themselves soldiers have stripped us of our freedom. So thank you all for coming once again to our meetings.”
She paused to let everyone clap.
“Doc,” she continued, “Please come on up.”
The man next to him got out and limped his way up to where she was standing.
“Thank you Dolly. Some of our scouts have been snooping around and found out some troubling news. The raiders are planning to start taking us away to their King, more than likely to force us to join them. This will be in three days. We must attack then.”
Albus’ eyes widened, “I've joined a rebellion group”
‘Ophelia’ noticed his change, “It's ok,” she whispered, “It's non committal, but I highly recommend helping us for that necklace.”
“Ophelia,” the man said, “Is something wrong?”
“No, sorry dad–doc”
“As I was saying, the plan is to burn down their tents. Their tents are hidden behind the old Mayor's house, bless his soul. Then we invade the Town hall where all their supplies are to take back everything they have stolen from us. Report to Dolly for more details. That is all.”
Collectively the group started to stand up and talk amongst themselves Albus just sat there in a pool of confusion, and anxiety. His hands were visibly shaking. Dolly walked up to him.
“What's your name sir?” she asked demandingly.
She stood silently for a moment, almost in shock, “Your codename you idiot”
“Ok Alfie, listen up, you don't seem to be cut out for this. You are more than welcome to go home.”
Anger bubbled up in Albus, “No! Ophelia told me this was my chance to get a special necklace for my wife, I'm taking it. What do I have to do?”
“Alfie you don't what your getting into, I can just get it for you tell me-”
“No! This is my chance to make things right for her, don't you love someone”
“...Fine. I'll have you join Ophelia and her team to invade town hall for supplies. The necklace is probably there. Meet back here in 2 days, just before the raiders plan to take us.”
The next few days flew by for Albus, he had more courage in those few days then he had in his whole life. Even Ariel had been kinder to him as of late. They even got to spend a night in for a romantic dinner.
Finally it was time, Albus had dressed himself back in the robes and had carefully suggested that Ariel get some early sleep for her birthday in the morning. When midnight struck he hurried the same path, none of the raiders were around.
Halfway through at the trade center he ran into another figure.
“Yea it's me, cmon, we are going to the town hall.”
Together they ran to the far Northeast of the village, where a lit up town hall stood. Raiders were viewable through the windows. ‘Ophelia’ ushered him around the back to a group of five huddled around.
“Snake, Burton, Milly, Dean, Drax, this is…”
“Alfie. He's gonna join us. When the tents light up and the raiders rush out, we are gonna sneak through the back door and grab everything we can. Dean, do you have the potato sacks?”
‘Dean’ handed out potato sacks to everyone, including Albus.
They stood around a little bit, ducking down whenever they thought they heard a raider.
Without warning a large BOOM was heard in the distance. All the tents went up in flames at once. The group could see the fire itself growing and growing.
The raiders within heard the commotion and ran out once they realized what had happened. Angry babblings of the raiders rang out and the group watched a horde run straight past them to protect their tents.
“Cmon, now!” ‘Ophelia’ signaled.
Sneakily they all one by one entered the backdoor of the town hall. The back was previously used to store important documents and to organize letters. Now parchment was everywhere on the floor. A makeshift lit fire pit was ablaze in the center.
Albus noticed an oddly shaped sack in the far right corner of where they were. Carefully he inched closer and closer until he could hear a low snoring. He froze in place.
“What is it?” ‘Milly’ asked.
“I think someones sleeping in the sack.”
A noticeable pressure entered the air as Albus pulled at the sack, revealing a raider sleeping peacefully.
The group gasped in unison which caused the raider to awaken with a startle.
“Who are you!” he screamed.
‘Ophelia’ sprinted toward him and jumped directly onto him, attempting to whack him on the head. They scuffled for a short while before the raider managed to pull a knife from his belt, slicing into Ophelia's arm
She screamed out in pain while the raider calmly stood up. Albus clutched his knife under his cloak tightly.
“What the hell is going on? I want all your names now!”
“We are the rebellion…” ‘Ophelia whispered weakly.
“Shut up! His majesty will not tolerate any of this. Give up now or I will be forced to hurt you.”
Both Albus and the raider stood face to face in a standoff. His hand was still clutching the knife like we would die by letting go.
As Albus looked down at Ophelia bleeding out he couldn't help but look back to that day once again. Ariel had attempted to fight off the raiders but was knocked out for two days for her noncompliance. Remembering this causedcaused Albus’ face to turn red, his knuckles turned white from such a strong force on the knife.
Quickly he lunged toward the raider knife in hand with a war cry to kill a god. The raider took a quick step back and dodged just barely passed by moving to the left.
The two entered a furious scuffle while the rest carried ‘Ophelia’ further into the building to avoid the potential backlash. Albus' mind was tunneled into killing the person in front of him. He furiously slashed and slashed until he managed to get a hit across his eye.
The raider fell backward into a shelf, knocking him unconscious. The reality finally set in as he heard the crash of his limp body hitting the floor.
“Im…sorry” he whispered.
A few minutes later he caught up with the group upstairs in what looked like a makeshift dragon cave. He could spot the valued possessions of his neighbors and friends. Then he saw it, on top of a sack filled with other pieces of jewelry, Ariels necklace.
The rest of the mission went smoothly for the team. Everyone managed to gather the rest of their fellow neighbors belongings and agreed to store it with ‘Ophelia’ for safe keeping. The moment Albus got home he could barely get the energy to walk into his home, so he opted to throw the cloak and mask under the house and just fall asleep on the couch.
In the morning Albus shook the grogginess off his face. Sunlight poured in through the open windows. Sunlight? Ariel was usually awake by now. Fearfully he stepped toward their shared bedroom. The door was tightly shut.
He put his ear up to the middle of the door, attempting to listen for her breathing, to no avail. In a panic he slammed the door open, revealing a completely empty bed. At the same time he heard a loud knock on the door.
“Ju-just a second,” he stuttered.
He rushed to the door hoping to see his beloved but was met by a battered up raider.
“Come with me” he said, “Due to an attack from a horrendous rebellion group, we are publicly executing those we believe to be the leaders.
They silently walked to the center of the village, where a makeshift gallows had been set up. He was corralled with some of his neighbors. He stared up to three figures hidden under masks.
“Now we shall reveal those horrendous people.”
The first mask came off revealing Ophelia's trembling body.
“Ms Brienne, how disappointing.”
The next came off the largest figure, revealing ‘Doc’.
“I'm sorry my daughter, don't be afraid.”
‘Doc’ clutched Brienne's hand.
Finally they took off the hoodie of a woman with a blue cloak.
The raider slipped it off revealing a beautiful woman with a fierce face, his Ariel.
“Down with the invaders!!! My love! The necklace!”
In surprise he sprinted through the crowd and grabbed the necklace from his back pocket and tossed it in her direction. She snapped her neck toward it and fell gently around her neck.
The village was suddenly covered in an aura of white light. Albus smiled knowing what was happening next. His mother had given her the necklace. Magic surrounded their world yet only the rich could afford it. This was her power.
As the light settled Ariel's eyes glowed with an angelic light. Her face appeared devoid of all emotion. She jolted to free her hands from the binding ropes. The raiders bared their weapons to her.
She lifted her right hand to yank a raider above herself, “Leave now you scum! I won't hesitate to kill every last one of you!”
The raider shook where they stood before running off toward their tents. By the end of the day they had all fled the village. Night finally came and the two lovebirds were cuddling in each other's arms.
“Happy birthday Ariel. I had a gift but-”
“Shush! You saved me my dear and risked your life for my necklace. I love you”
“I love you too”