The distant storm clouds billowed acrid black. The flash of bright light and low murmur of thunder briefly interrupted their violent swirl. Still, they lay comfortably far off, hugging the horizon for days.
I had moved my family from the city years ago to avoid the coming tempest. Well beneath the radar of the sophisticated, I accepted the banal yet satisfying life of the country gentleman. Careful to till my fields to produce enough to feed my family and still have enough to sell on the open market, I happily embraced the simple life to avoid the whizzing whirl of the civic wasteland. I was safe. My family was safe. My home was safe.
Or so I thought.
For soon those once distant clouds began inching forward. And to my regret, I discovered they were no mere natural nimbus, but rather the raging dust of a thousand armored hooves.
I honestly thought I would prove a target too lean for them to bother with. But their impending approach shattered that hope. As we watched the coming fury from our front porch, my children’s eyes revealed a dread I had failed to protect them from. Not just me, but all of us.
Why had we left the city content to remain individuals? We knew the storm brewed. Why didn’t we settle the countryside as a group? At least we could then offer ourselves mutual protection. Why did we let the purity of our philosophical conviction blind us so? Divided, the barbarians will easily conquer us.
But as the army came within sight, I noticed something strange, something worrisome, something terribly foreboding. The horses were the king’s sleek horses, not the brutish animals of the Hun. The men were the clean cut king’s men, not primitive savages. But they had the same blood lust in their eyes.
And they were coming for me.
They cared not for my family. They cared not for my home. They cared not for my mind or my soul. All they wanted was my body – and the goods it produced.
I held my children one last time.
Why didn’t we act as one?
Now it’s too late.