Freidrech's face lit up in elation, in awe with the painting-like flower plantation.
The blooming flowers were arranged according to color. They sparkled as the moon's light touched its petals as if fairies were dancing on it.
Purple flowers as big as a ball lined at the leftmost and each seemed jumping up and down in random.
Followed by tiny yellow bulb flowers which were like crawling in circles on its place.
The next was white gardenias as big as a human's head and its whiteness glistened somewhat like it was blinking at him.
The middle was occupied by hydrangeas that changed its hue from light violet to dark violet, red, blue, and vice versa as it swayed by the wind. So was his emotions, changing from happiness to loneliness.
Pink tulips as big as the head of a child was next and more colors lined up that he could not recognize as tears blurred his vision.
The hydrangeas and tulips were painful reminders of his parents. He recalled his father gifted his mother those flowers on their last wedding anniversary and made his mother cry in joy.
"If they were still alive . . ." and Freidrech clutched his chest, the word 'alive' tugged his heart. From the heart, pain seared throughout his body, letting his feet to wobble and gave way. His body gradually fell on the grassy ground. But he didn't feel the pain from falling.
The only pain he felt was of losing his father, mother, friends, and everyone else in his village.
He felt . . . so lonely . . . so angry...
"AHHHHH, Why????? Why??!? Why?" He wailed out all the suppressed emotions buried deep inside him for months. He cried all the hatred, bitterness, and loneliness as a child longing for his parents' presence and comfort.
Freidrech curled into a ball as he groaned. His body shuddered as stream of tears fell unhindered.
He thought all tears had been shed but in reality, he was not given time to mourn.
After the knights found him floating in the well and saved him, they only let him recover enough strength to move around. They did not tarry and left the village turned graveyard in haste. Not even sparing some time to let him bury the dead.
Freidrech asked to stay for a while to mourn but the captain of the knights, Sir Riquier Vaesey, insisted they leave soon for their own safety.
Now, those pent-up pain resurfaced. His agonizing cries spread throughout the flower garden.
While Freidrech mourned, the flowers also mourned with him. The pretty heads drooped and a drop of water fell from each as if it was their tears. Then as it dropped it was caught by a shadowy figure in a flash.
After catching all teardrops, the black figure flew on top of Freidrech and poured it on him. It shimmered as it fell and provided a comforting embrace on Freidrech's body. His cries subsided and he slowly went to sleep.
The black figure transformed into a silhouette of a robust man as it landed on its feet beside Freidrech. It carried him to his room and laid him on his bed.
As the figure was about to leave, he heard Freidrech moaned. He looked back and saw Freidrech's face in distress. The boy was having a nightmare.
---- o ----
In Freidrech's dream.
He saw himself standing beside a water-well while watching his neighbor's children playing near a vast field of long-grained black wheat. A few ladies drew water from the well, filling the barrels readied for the harvesters to drink.
In the field, men and women swung their long-handled sickles with a smile on their faces. With every strike, stalks of wheat fell on the ground.
Then he saw his father playing the specially-made musical instrument and weapon called the Dierd bow. The bow had three holes and three strings attached on its tips.
His father merrily played the instrument using his skillful fingers, making the harvesters dance and sing with the melody.
The sun was still about to rise from the hills when they heard howlings. Hundreds of jackal-faced Naymagi rode down with their horses from the hilltop.
Freidrech looked up but couldn't see anything as the sunrise was blinding. He covered his eyes with his palm and partly saw the running horses while the Naymagi struck every person they pass with their sharpened bone weapons, sparing no one.
The villagers tried to defend using their sickles, but they were no match against the horses' speed.
Cries of fear and death pervaded his ears. Freidrech turned to his father's direction and saw the former knight garbed in his full armor for battle.
Louvel picked stalks of black wheat and inserted the sharp tips on the holes of the Dierd bow. He lifted the bow horizontally and stretched the strings as far as he could with the stalks' ends in his grasps. As he let go, the stalks flew and struck three Naymagis, and they fell on their horses. Freidrech followed his father's example and killed a few Naymagis as well.
In a short while, the black wheat was soaked in blood.
Then he heard screaming women and children and glanced over, only to witness a Naymagi striking his mother's head. Freidrech shouted in despair but no voice came out as her body fell on top of the dead children.
He released another stalk from the bow, and he instantly struck the Naymagi dead. Freidrech was about to run to his mother's side but a hand stopped him. He looked back only to see his father shaking his head.
Fearing no one would survive, his father hugged him and told him, "Live a good life. We love you," and pushed him into the well. Freidrech yelled "No" but still, no voice came out until his body dove in the cold water.
Freidrech swam up, gasping for air, yet he couldn't see a thing. Total darkness enveloped him. He swam to the side and touched the brick walls. He tried to climb but slid back to the water.
He felt helpless, so . . . alone . . . in the dark. He tried to shout again. The result was the same.
Freidrech was so desperate to know if his father was still alive, but he couldn't even get out from his tragic state. Alas, his only outlet was to cry and pray.
For how long he was inside the well, he couldn't tell.
Then he heard yells of human language, and he squinted his eyes as light slowly streamed down the well. He felt splashing of water as if something was thrown in.
He vaguely heard somebody shouting.
"Hold tight on the bucket handle, and we'll pull you," said the man in muffled tones in his ears, but Freidrech was very weak. He couldn't even lift a finger.
He saw a man jumped in with a rope and a strong light radiated, ending the dream.
---- o ----
In Freidrech's room.
The black figure placed a palm on Freidrech's forehead and cast a stream of light into his brain until Freidrech's face became serene.
The silhouette flew back to the garden and vanished.
The next day, Freidrech woke up when the sun was high up in the sky. For the first time, after days of travel, he had a long deep sleep without interruptions.
Out of body reflex, his body moved to stretch out, and he was amazed. There was no pain.
His body had been aching for days. The outcome of their long journey on horseback and fighting against the road bandits. Yet, today he could move with ease.
He slowly lifted his arms and twirled his shoulders. Indeed, he confirmed, no more pain present.
Then, his eyes darted at his dirty clothes, in contrast with the white linen where he sat on. And realized he was sleeping on the clean bed the whole night without taking a bath.
After much thinking, he could not connect on how he got on his bed when the last thing he remembered he was lying on the grass lawn while crying.
He scratched his head.
Again, he tried to recall last night's events and the flowers came to mind.
"Ah!" he said with a wide grin as he turned his head at the side door but the curtains blocked his view.
Freidrech stood and rushed out the side door, anticipating to witness the beauty of nature basking under the sunlight. However, his jaw dropped, not in joyful bewilderment but in a dismayed shock to see nothing but a plain grassy yard and a huge stone wall blocking his line of sight.
"What happened? Where are the flowers?"
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