A Missing Sheep Part XXII

Fin was about to draw his dagger as Papa appeared in the door frame. “They’re coming,” he said.

Arthema groaned.

“How long?” Mama asked.

“They are already up the hill. A quarter of an hour, not more.”

“Then we have to run,” Mama said. “There is no more time to ready the cart.”

“No,” Papa said.

Both his parents looked at each other for a long time. Finally, Mama nodded heavily and Papa said, “I keep them busy. I know Karson from when we were kids.”

Mama stood up, rushed to Papa and hugged him tightly. “Be safe,” she said. Papa kissed her and said, “You too.” Then he looked at Fin and Arthema. “Come here you two,” he said and beckoned them to him. Both children rushed to their parents where they were embraced in a strong and warm hug. Fin buried his face in the clothes of his father. They smelled like wood and rain.

“Protect the children,” Papa said after a while and broke the serenity. Mama nodded and kissed Papa one more time.

Fin suddenly felt a knot in his stomach. “Wait!” he said and looked up to his father. “Are you not coming with us?” he asked.

“You go on ahead. I will follow you after I talked to Karson and his men.” And before anyone of them could say one more word, he hurried away.

“Ma?” Arthema asked.

His Mother stared into the hallway, before she answered, “It’s going to be alright, I’ll promise. Now come on, we must hurry!” She shouldered her and Arthema’s backpack and hushed them out of the room. Fin grabbed his own backpack and followed them, Ira by his side. After they put on jackets and shoes, Mama led them down the hall to her and Papa’s bedroom.

Fin hadn’t been there for a while now. After having a bad dream, he sometimes sneaked into their bed secretly. But only sometimes.

Mama opened the only window in the room. The still strong wind blew in and let the curtains dance in the upcoming twilight like some spooky ghosts from his nightmares.

Arthema climbed out first, with help from Mama. “Are you alright, sweetie?” she asked.

“I’m fine, Ma,” his sister said. But as she climbed out the window, she grimaced in pain.

“Fin, you’re next!”

Fin ran to the window and started climbing out. “Don’t need your help, Ma!” he said and jumped the last few feet down to the muddy ground. He had never called his mother ‘Ma’ before.

Mother just raised an eyebrow and said, “Fine, fine!” Then she climbed out and called for Ira. The sheepdog jumped gracefully through the window and landed next to Fin in a big puddle of mud which got sprayed all over Fin.

“Eww, Ira!” Fin shouted.

Ira barked.

“Were are we going?” Arthema shouted, because of the strong wind. Her hair swirled around her head. She pulled her hood up to stop the swirling.

“North!” Mama said. “We follow the road ‘til Old Black Mill and then we head straight to the mountain path!” She and Arthema started to move but Fin stopped after a few feet and turned around, looking at the place which he had called home for all his short life.

Why did it feel like he had to say farewell to the house now? Papa said, they would come back when it’s safe. Was it ever safe again? So much had changed in the last few hours. He touched his dagger and hoped his father would be safe. Then he turned around and saw that his mother and sister were already many feet ahead.  “Wait!” he shouted and ran after them.