Storms May Come

Storms May Come

After the storm, in the silence and the calm, he came, like he was ushering in the sunlight himself. Later, I thought it more likely he had pushed in the storm. But when you’re desperate and someone offers aid, you don’t question it.

So we began the rebuilding, along with Dreven. And his presence made us believe that this time everything wouldn’t be destroyed. I don’t know if we thought the sirens would no longer come or that the foundations he helped us build would withstand them. Or maybe, incredibly, we thought he would make a stand against the sirens – and win. We should have known better, he was a man after all. Either way, we had hope for the first time in a long while. 

Normally we build enough to make us comfortable, but we don’t invest too much into it. After all, it won’t last more than a couple of years. But this time was different. 

Instead of slapping up some wooden walls and stuffing the roofs full of straw, we built foundations and laid bricks. We even decorated our homes. Slowly, we brought out the boxes of our most prized possessions from the underground shelter at the most inland part of our territory. We built shelves to display them and crafted beautiful furnishings and even built shops instead of simple stalls. We got comfortable, and it felt wonderful – until it all came crashing down.

You may wonder why we chose to live like this in the first place, next to the seas ruled by sirens, knowing nothing we built could withstand their storms. The answer is simple yet significant. We wanted a home of our own. We craved freedom. 

In another land, we would be living in their home as their subjects under their rule. Constantly rebuilding your own home in a land of freedom is better than a sturdy house in a land of oppression. But that didn’t mean we still didn’t long for safety and permanence. So we accepted Dreven’s help and took his direction until it became a habit to look to him even when the rebuilding was finished.

And he was a good leader. He gave wise advice and settled disputes fairly and helped when needed. He played the long game well, I would soon learn. 

When the sirens finally did come, their sweet and sinister song floating through the humid air, the raging winds and pounding waves took everything from us. We had learned to recognize the signs well by then, and the men were safely huddled in the shelter with their ears stopped up to keep from being enticed into an underwater prison. 

But I stood back, watching and listening as always, the wind whipping my hair and tearing at my drenched clothing. I even felt exhilaration as I watched my home being destroyed yet again. The song did that to you. Even women couldn’t fight back. The music told us a tale of something wonderful. I couldn’t put it into words; I couldn’t tell you what the story was about. I only knew I wanted to hear more. 

And then came the silence and the calm. I blinked as if seeing it for the first time, unexpected even though I had watched it happening. Destruction all around. I fell to my knees and wept, yet again.

It was then that Dreven’s true intentions became clear. He had helped build us up so the fall would be harder and built our trust so we’d turn to him when it happened. The shock and agony on his face looked real to everyone but me. But I wasn’t sure what his goal was yet. So I kept quiet, watching.

At first, he sighed and went on helping us rebuild. He couldn’t be too obvious. On the third day of our struggle, when everyone was worn down, he planted the seed. Why did we stay here? Why did we futilely keep rebuilding? But he offered no solution. He wanted the dejection to sink in.

And it did. Because if Dreven had lost hope, if he had no answer, then how could we? So on the fifth day, as if he had been wracking his brain for an answer for two days, he finally played his hand. Why didn’t we move? Surely the neighboring kingdom of Zorin was not as bad as all this? He had passed through there, and the people were friendly and the homes beautifully built. 

As he said this, he kept on hammering away, as if he had not already made the decision for us. As if we had a choice. 

Over the next few days, people began asking for tales of Zorin. Dreven waxed on about the brick homes, like the ones he’d helped us build, and the opulent furnishings they could afford because they didn’t have to rebuild every couple of years. There were enormous gardens with fountains. People had sturdy shops that they had owned for generations. He never mentioned the selfish King or his ruthless guards or high taxes. None of the reasons not to go.

I knew it would not be long before he convinced everyone to leave for Zorin. What I didn’t understand was his motive, or how to stop him. So one day, while the rest of the town was peppering him with questions, I snuck into his hut. 

It was a simple home, like all of them near the siren’s sea. It didn’t take long to search. I had checked all the obvious places, so I began to think of where he might try to hide something. I lifted up the mattress but found nothing there. I began to pace. It was then that I noticed one of the floorboards didn’t feel quite right underneath my feet. 

I knelt down and pressed on it; it was loose. Glancing at the door, I pried it up. Underneath was a small leather pouch. I took it out and looked through its contents. It contained letters, marked with the seal of the King of Zorin himself. 

My hands shook as I read the one on top. I don’t know if it was from fear or rage.

Dearest Brother,

Your reports of the village by the siren sea are troubling. We cannot have our people getting the idea that they can defect from Zorin and survive on their own. I have a unit of troops ready at the border. You must convince these villagers to come live in Zorin. If you cannot, you must destroy them.

His Royal Majesty,

King Zayin Drakkar Heliot

What do you think of the story so far? What do you think will happen to the village? Let us know in the comments. Click here to continue reading Chapter 2!

Thanks so much for reading!

-Clever & WTF

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