Chapter 1:

The End

Beyond The Flowers

“Arthur—“, Leonardo spoke as he stepped off the wooden stairs of his small, wooden house. Bookmark here

“Yes?”, was the response he got from the boy he had called out to. Leonardo looked at the boy named Arthur. Arthur was no taller than him, but his hair certainly was longer. Despite being a male, Arthur’s blonde, lank hair flowed all the way down to his waist. Arthur’s swept-back hair revealed his clear, hazel eyes and his turned up nose. Bookmark here

Leonardo was far more different. He had black, shoulder-length shaggy hair, which had been cut by Arthur in layers. His hair covered his dark blue eyes ever so slightly.Bookmark here

“Let’s go outside”, Leonardo spoke once more, proceeding to walk down the rough, wooden steps. Arthur followed.Bookmark here

The both of them exited the small house, pausing as they looked at the dark, cloudy sky above.Bookmark here

“The weather’s bad”, Leonardo sighed as his wind-blown, black hair flowed along with the winds direction. Bookmark here

“I find it quite pleasant.”, said Arthur, as he gave a soft grin to Leonardo.Bookmark here

“You’re odd.”, Leonardo replied. He turned to the side to face Arthur as he grabbed the other boys hand. “Let’s go to the market, our parents should be there.” Bookmark here

After hearing this, the grin on Arthur’s face was gone. Arthur muttered something under his breath, looking sad. Bookmark here

“Sorry, what was that?”, Leonardo asked, even though he had heard Arthur’s words perfectly.Bookmark here

“…Nothing—“, Arthur quickly said as he removed the rubber band on his wrist, tying his long hair in a simple ponytail. Bookmark here

Leonardo shrugged it off, walking across the small street which led to the market, Arthur staying behind him. Bookmark here

The town was almost empty, Leonardo had figured it was because of the unbearable wind. Bookmark here

It seems like it’s going to rain today, Leonardo thought.Bookmark here

“Good evening, boys.”, a female voice interrupted Leonardo’s thoughts. Bookmark here

“Mary!”, Leonardo chuckled as he looked up at the tall, slender lady. Her tousled black hair reaching her shoulders.Bookmark here

“What are you boys doing outside?”, she said as she glanced at Arthur with a somewhat concerned look. Bookmark here

“Finding our parents.” Leonardo responded, considering Arthur wouldn’t respond. Although Arthur tried to make it seem not too obvious, Leonardo could tell that he didn’t like her. Bookmark here

“Ah, I saw them at the cemetery earlier. They might still be there?”, Mary spoke, her light brown eyes glistening.Bookmark here

“The cemetery? Why would they be there?”, Leonardo inquired, not expecting an answer from Mary.Bookmark here

“I’m not too sure either—“, answered Mary, “—but anyways, you both have fun. I’m heading off!”Bookmark here

Leonardo nodded. Mary patted Leonardo’s head and then looked at Arthur, giving him a soft smile.Bookmark here

“Why don’t you like her?”, Leonardo asked, rather curious. Bookmark here

“I don’t hate her.”, Arthur responded Bookmark here

“Okay, then you like her?”, Leonardo asked once more.Bookmark here

“No”, Arthur answeredBookmark here

“Why?”, asked LeonardoBookmark here

Arthur disregarded his question, “Let’s go.” Bookmark here

Leonardo looked dissatisfied but nodded. He moved forward while Arthur followed him.Bookmark here

———Bookmark here

It was dark now. Small snowflakes fell from the sky as the two boys arrived at the cemetery. It was empty and the air around them seemed eerie. Bookmark here

In the distance the backs of two figures could be seen, a woman and a man. The man had short brown hair whereas the woman had short, dishevelled hair, possibly from the wind. Bookmark here

“They’re over there.”, Leonardo spoke. Bookmark here

Arthur responded with a nod, but tugged on Leonardos sleeve.Bookmark here

“We should go back, Leo.” He said as he noticed the bright moon in the vast sky, slightly covered by the clouds. Bookmark here

The boy nodded, speaking, “Alright.” Bookmark here

Before Arthur could pull Leonardo away from the cemetery, Leonardo shook Arthur’s hand off of his, stepping closer.Bookmark here

“What are you doing?!—“, Arthur asked, with a nervous look on his face.Bookmark here

“Calm down. I’m checking which grave they’re at.”, Leonardo said, as he stood on his toes, counting.Bookmark here

“Row 6 and it looks like it’s the 4th grave, I think. Let’s check it out tomorrow”, Leonardo grinned at the blonde boy as he began to walk.Bookmark here

Arthur just nodded, walking behind Leonardo.Bookmark here

The somber clouds following behind them. Bookmark here

———Bookmark here

The snow continued to fall as both the boys warmed themselves in front of the fireplace in their house. The wooden table behind them had two plates of goat meat on it. Leonardo’s family wasn’t extremely wealthy, his father worked as a blacksmith while his mother worked at a small pub, but they could afford meat on some occasions. The two boys began to fill their mouths with the tender goat meat, their taste-buds savouring the deliciousness of the meat. Bookmark here

Arthur yawned, speaking, “Well, I’ll be off then. Thank you for the food and—“Bookmark here

“No.”, Leonardo interrupted him.Bookmark here

Arthur looked puzzled at first but then understood, “It’s fine. I don’t want to intrude in your house all the time.”Bookmark here

“It’s your house as well. Mother even said so.” Leonardo said, furrowing his brows. Bookmark here

“It’s not my house.”, Arthur responded.Bookmark here

“It is.” Bookmark here

“No”Bookmark here

“It is.”Bookmark here

“No.”Bookmark here

“Alright, whatever, but just stay the night. It’s cold outside”, Leonardo sighed, letting out a small yawn as well.Bookmark here

“Okay…”, Arthur said, “…thank you for your hospitality.” Bookmark here

Leonardo nodded as he put out the fire in the fireplace. Bookmark here

———Bookmark here

The both of them walked up the wooden steps, to Leonardos room. There was a small bed, with two blankets laid on top, with a single wardrobe and a two seater couch.Bookmark here

“I’ll sleep on the couch, Leo”, Arthur insisted.Bookmark here

Leonardo nodded his head, grabbing one of the blankets and throwing it to Arthur. Bookmark here

Leonardo placed himself down on his bed as Arthur did the same on the couch. Bookmark here

“Goodnight.”, Arthur spoke softly.Bookmark here

Leonardo didn’t respond. Leonardo stared up at his ceiling, closing his eyes.Bookmark here

After a few seconds of keeping his eyes closed, he opened them, sitting upwards on the bed.Bookmark here

“Arthur?”, said Leo.Bookmark here

“Yes?”, responded ArthurBookmark here

“It’s getting late.”, continued Leo.Bookmark here

“Yes, which is why you should go to sleep”, Arthur responded.Bookmark here

“Mother and father aren’t back yet.”, Leo mumbled slowly.Bookmark here

Arthur sighed, looking at Leonardo. “They’ll be back soon, don’t worry,”, Arthur gave him an encouraging smile.Bookmark here

“What are they even doing there though?”, Leonardo said, feeling a bit more reassured.Bookmark here

Arthur didn’t answer, how would he have known.Bookmark here

“I’m going to go get them.”, the naive, black-haired boy mumbled.Bookmark here

“What?!”, Arthur sat upright on the couch, staring at him, “It’s dark outside…and…they might be there.”Bookmark here

“Pfft—, you believe that, Arthur?”, Leo said, letting out a snicker.Bookmark here

Arthur sat cross-legged, looking down, speaking once more, “…I do.”Bookmark here

Leo looked at Arthur, with a smirk, “Well, if they are there, I’ll punch their red-eyed faces to a pulp.” Bookmark here

Arthur’s eyes glared at Leo, “Oh, be pragmatic, will you?”Bookmark here

“I don’t know what that means.”, Leonardo said, grinning.Bookmark here

Arthur didn’t respond, continuing to glare at the other boy. Bookmark here

“Fine. I won’t go.”, Leo said, almost intimidated by Arthur.Bookmark here

———Bookmark here

The boys had gone to sleep after a few minutes of silence from their conversation.Bookmark here

They felt out of harm’s way, snuggled warmly under the blankets during the enchanting winter night.Bookmark here

The blood red Camellia blooming in the garden of their cozy home.Bookmark here

———Bookmark here

It was morning. The birds chirping could be heard in the distance.Bookmark here

Arthur was the first one to arise in the morning. He folded his blanket, exiting the room, walking down the wooden stairs.Bookmark here

He paused at the sight he saw at the bottom of the stairs, petrified.Bookmark here

The boy placed his hands on his mouth, resisting the urge to throw up. His body staggered, turning around. What do I do, what do I do, were the only thoughts going through Arthur’s head. Sweat dripped from his forehead despite it being Winter. He felt like he was burning up. Tears swelled in his eyes as he ran back upstairs to Leonardo’s room.Bookmark here

“Leo…Leo…”, Arthur whispered, shaking the black-haired boy whilst letting out uncontrollable tears.Bookmark here

Leonardo woke up, yawning. He looked at Arthur, clearly concerned. Bookmark here

“What?! What’s wrong?!”, the boy asked. Bookmark here

“I-it’s, I don’t know what happened, Mrs Fiera and Mr James…I-I’m sorry—“, Arthur stuttered.Bookmark here

“What? What happened to my parents?”, Leonardo said, springing out of the bed. Bookmark here

Arthur collapsed to the ground, sobbing, pointing to the stairs. Bookmark here

Leo sprinted out of his room, looking at the foot of the stairs.Bookmark here

Silence.Bookmark here

The two corpses laying down on the floor with their rheumy eyes wide open, froth dripping out of their mouth. Bookmark here

Leonardo stood there, mouth agape, looking at his parents’ dead bodies. He retched at the smell of their corpses. He didn’t cry. Bookmark here

All of a sudden, the entrance door opened. A woman had entered their house, it was Mary. Bookmark here

Mary looked horrified as she entered, stepping over the corpses of Leo’s parents and running upstairs. She gripped Leonardo’s arm, sniffling. Her eyes were red, as if she had cried. Bookmark here

“Im sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”, the girl said continuously.Bookmark here

Leonardo just stood there, unable to process what just happened. Bookmark here

Arthur came running out of Leo’s room at the sound of Mary’s voice, he was still crying. Mary looked scared, but she remained steadfast, grabbing both Arthur and Leo’s arms and running downstairs.Bookmark here

“We have to go, the village has been invaded.”, she muttered to Arthur.Bookmark here

Arthur nodded, letting out a sniffle.Bookmark here

Leonardo didn’t speak, but followed Mary.Bookmark here

———Bookmark here

They exited the house, corpses everywhere. Leonardo stared at the corpses scattered on the ground, all of them looked like adults. Bookmark here

A baby crying could be heard in the arms of one of the corpses, but Mary didn’t stop running. “Stop.”, said Leonardo.Bookmark here

Mary ignored him, continuing to run. Bookmark here

“Stop”, Leo repeated, shaking Mary off of his arm and walking back to where the cries could be heard. He looked down, an old, wrinkled, grey-haired woman laying on the ground with her arms wrapped around a baby. He looked at the scene, the woman had froth dripping out of her mouth just as his parents had. He pushed the arms of the woman, carefully picking the baby up. The baby looked about a year old, it had a few black hairs on its head. It stopped crying when Leonardo had picked it up. Bookmark here

Leonardo turned around, with the baby in his arms. Mary hadn’t tried to stop him, she just watched. Bookmark here

“Let’s go. They have horses waiting for us.”, Mary said softly.Bookmark here

“We have to wait for my parents”, Leo said.Bookmark here

Mary’s heart sank, tears swelled in Arthur’s eyes.Bookmark here

“They’ll meet us there”, Mary lied, a tear dripping from her eye.Bookmark here

“Okay”, said Leo as he followed Mary when she started to walk ahead while holding Arthur’s hand to comfort him.Bookmark here

The town was silent, every now and then an adult corpse could be seen lying on the floor, saliva bubbles dripping out of their mouth.Bookmark here

The three of them had reached the outskirts of the small town, a few soldiers, wearing plain white shirts and tight black pants, standing with horses next to them.Bookmark here

Mary placed Arthur on one of the horses, then walked over to Leo.Bookmark here

“The baby”, one of the male soldiers said to Leo.Bookmark here

Leo gave the baby in his arms to the soldier.Bookmark here

“What’s your name, son?”, the male soldier asked Leo.Bookmark here

“Leonardo. Leonardo Francis, but Arthur and Mary call me Leo.”, he said to the soldier.Bookmark here

“Thank you, Leo, for saving the child”, the soldier said.Bookmark here

———Bookmark here

Soon after, the three of them had been placed on horses.Bookmark here

“Where are we going?”, Leonardo asked the soldier.Bookmark here

“To Durnic, this place isn’t safe for you anymore.”, he answered.Bookmark here

“Will my parents be there?”, Leonardo asked once more.Bookmark here

The soldier opened his mouth to speak, but stopped as he saw Mary eye him.Bookmark here

“Yes, they’ll be there.”, he answered.Bookmark here

Leonardo nodded.Bookmark here

“You’ll also be there, right, Adam?”, Mary asked the soldier.Bookmark here

The soldier named Adam nodded, giving her a reassuring smile.Bookmark here

And so, they rode off to Durnic, the capital of Fer.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.