1...2....3......4 explosions. The clock read 3:36 am as she stared at the ceiling of her room. She awoke to the sound of explosions again at 2:11 and tried to go back to sleep. Tonight was different, however. It was - 5 explosions - unlike other days much more persistent. After an hour she decided to count - 6 - how many times they would go off each hour, half an hour, 10 minutes, and eventually each minute. The last explosion sounded exactly as the clock read 3:37. 7 explosions have gone off in the last minute. She sat up in her bed looking at the night sky beyond the archway. She stood up and, although the sky was covered in thick smoke, she knew it was a full moon. Why? Because the days when something different happened always occurred on a full moon. She stepped onto her balcony pressing her palms into the cold stone railing looking through the city. Thousands of small grey, black and white particles slowly fell around her - a mixture of ash and snow. The half molten snow gathered around her feet and hands. She let out a slow breath which formed a small cloud in the winter air. The city looked...new. It wasn't quiet and lifeless. Instead, the air was filled with explosions, cracking stone, clashing steel and screams - screams of desperate, dying people. Perhaps she was far too detached from this world to care or perhaps she never cared in the first place but they weren't the first nor last to die. The wind flicked her unbound hair, now covered ash, into her face making her brush it out of the way just as she spotted him. The man she saw when the war started again.
It was the same man - boy - she saw when the people started fighting again. Back then she didn't truly look at him but, although she didn't know why, now she did. He was young, perhaps her age. 17 or 20 at most. But he was different than when she first saw him. His torn grey rags now replaced with dark violet robes adorned with black embroidery at seams and a matching hood. His hair was longer as well, tied back with few strands falling over his face as he took in his surroundings. No, it wasn't just observing his surroundings. He was following the royal guards running through the dark streets. Clever, and clearly skilled if they didn't spot him. Then again, all men seemed to be so dull he could probably go unnoticed if he stood right in front of them. He pulled his hood up to cover his clearly better-fed face, hiding the light stubble and furrowed brows as he jumped onto another roof following onwards. He disappeared out of sight as the light from the burning building dimmed. 'How did he get so close to the palace without being spotted' comes right after 'How did he not get killed when he signalled the rebels in the market'. None of the rebels survive unless they surrender and even then they get tortured to death. Not that she paid attention to the rebellion but she found herself curious about their renewed efforts against her parents. And her. The last rebellion stopped when she was 9. It was also the last birthday she remembers celebrating. Celebrating is a strong word. She merely witnessed the execution of the rebel king - 'King of the Plagued' as they called him - and was given his signet ring, which he stole and wore for the entirety of his rebellion. The signet ring depicted a crown surrounded by flames - The royal seal. The Rebel King engraved a line down the middle of the crown. A single swipe of a blade to break your entire kingdom, that's all it takes you monster. Or so the rebel king claimed as a reasoning behind it. The Queen wanted it molten down to show the rebels none shall dishonour the royal family but the King said otherwise. He decided that the king should be given to their heir to show that what they did meant nothing - that anything they do merely gives them more power. So the ring was stashed in the library so she could easily find it if her father asked but left alone otherwise. She blinked as the loudest explosion yet sounded in the air. She could feel the shockwaves rush through the stone of the castle. It was merely 5 streets away from the castle. The royal guards were leaving the castle continuously using the market square as a crossroads. She knew the rebels couldn't possibly break through their ranks. Plague and famine took most of their lives, they had no weapons or armour, and they had no chance to plan as the king ensured citizens to be kept in their homes unless they were given permission to leave. Their only strength was their numbers - they outnumbered the royal guard 5 to 1. They wouldn't for long though.
Last week her father summoned her to a meeting regarding 'recent events'. She didn't listen to any of it and she merely studied the war room which she last visited when she was 5 and ran in because she was scared of the explosions. It remained the same except the plans laid out on the table where now put away. Once he realised she didn't care for what he had to say or for the rebellion she asked for the listings of citizens and all documents regarding the remaining population. She claimed she wanted to compare it with those she found recorded in their history books - the books that the king immediately wanted to be brought to him... and the books that didn't exist. Lying was too easy. Simple and straightforward. She merely said it was somewhere in the north-east section of the library. It would take them at least a week to realise they can't find them. She, however, managed to get the records. It seems that the king forgot to give her the records dated after her 16th birthday - that was 3 years ago as she recently learnt from one of the library scribes. The records revealed that during the last rebellion the population fell from roughly 800,000 to barely 400,000. During the years between last rebellion and her 16th birthday, the population grew to 450,000. Considering that since the rebellion reignited the execution block was used daily, she could say that the population could be at about 400,000 or less as the attacks claim more lives each time. It was alien to pay attention to such details but it was something that finally changed the life she was leading for the last 10 years. It felt like an eternity but still, she could sum up the events of her life in one word. Interminable. Either way, after today's attack she could predict that the rebels would lay low once they lost...they lost too many numbers. If they didn't win with 800,000 they certainly won't with less than a half.
She was brought back to reality with another explosion, louder than last, sounding closer than before. A belltower fell over in the distance and the rebels' screams were getting louder. Could they ever win against her parents? Could the rebels break into the castle, defeat all the armed soldiers and kill the most guarded people in the known world? Not without a - miracle. No, she's become restless just like she was as a child creating wild and childish scenarios in hope of adventure... But what if it was true? Was the full moon more than just a way to gather all the rebels to attack at once? Another explosion sounded and the flames shattered the roof of a building just - 4 streets away. Did they break through the soldiers' lines? It seems unlikely. How did the rebels gather so much gunpowder or otherwise to create so many explosions? She never thought of it. She grew up with the sound but surely her father would have cut off their supplies by now. She closed her eyes shaking her head. Childish, stupid, ridiculous ideas from books that you laughed at for your entire life. She took a deep breath when she realised that the screams changed from terror to assurance and roaring - before turning back to screams of pain and cries for help. She opened her eyes and her heartbeat quickened for the first time in 10 years. This time it was the royal soldiers screaming.