The thatched dilapidated cottage that leaned wearily by the clearing at the center of the vast woody expanse was filled with palapable tension. Inside, five moving figures could be found. The first noticable one was a tall and handsome, dark-haired man with such a stature that he’s easily recognizable as someone who held power. His striking golden eyes gazed sharply at the door before him and with folded arms, his stance never once wavered. Next to him was his most trusted right-hand man, Lucien. Though also standing firm and motionless his worried eyes and creased forehead reflected the emotions he was trying to hide. His eyes flicked back and forth between his lord and the closed door that led to the only room in the house where the other occupants were. Every now and then, he would distractedly run a leather-gloved hand halfway across his blond hair and withdraw it suddenly as if he was not sure of his actions.
Soon, the heavy wooden door creaked open and a woman in a white uniform and stained apron -- a midwife -- appeared. She wore a somber expression hinting that whatever news she came to bring was not good.
“My Lord--" she began but could not seem able to find the words to continue.
"Well?" The man inquired with just a slight hint of impatience.
Again, the woman hesitated.
Lucien could not stand it any longer. In a flash, he unsheathed his sword that was hanging in its scabbard by his side and pointed it at the woman's throat.
"Speak." He demanded, "if you still have value for your life."
"Lucien," his master spoke in a deep baritone. The strong and soothing voice seemed to had instantly calm Lucien down and he withdrew across the room where he was partially shrouded by the shadows created by the flickering candle light. "Do not be afraid." He continued, addressing the woman. "No life shall be in danger while I am in this house."
"They are twins."
The candle flickered and a heavy silence followed the pronoucement.
"I want to see her." He moved towards the door but the woman stopped him.
"I am sorry, My Lord," she said, even more hesitantly that before. "We tried. . ."
Without a another word, he pushed past her and hurriedly entered the adjoining chamber. The room was sparse. A single bed stood at the far left of the room and beside it was a tiny table barely holding a white porcelain basin filled with water that was tinged red with blood. The bed was occupied by a pale woman with flowing copper hai that contrasted sharply to the white linen wrapped around her body.
At the sound of his footsteps against the floorboards, the woman stirred. She called out his name with a low, hoarse voice.
"I am here." He said, taking her right hand and caressing it slowly in a circular motion. "You must have some rest now."
She smiled at him and that singular action seemed to have brightened up the entire room and his mood.
"They are... such beautiful babies." She softly said, turning just slightly to the corner of the room where a younger woman stood carrying two bundles swathed in soft linen. "My love, please do not surrender them to their cruel fate." She closed and eyes and breathed deeply. "I am afraid. . . I do not have much time left."
"No!" He cried. "All you need is some rest. I will call the best healer. Please! Do not leave me."
"You must promise. . . "
And with that she drew her last breathe.
♰. Word Count: 599
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