[CHALLENGE] Rabbit Hole

I never meant to be a criminal.

Cliche, I know. But it’s true. I started out as a pretty good guy. I used my magic to make a living,
had a wife and children, was friends with everyone in town.

How did it all go wrong?

It’s a bit of a long story.

Many years ago, I lived in a town called Bell Village. A small town, tiny really, but a pleasant one. Days were spent idyllically lazing around in the sun, reading, playing with the kids, working on the weekdays with my colleagues, and going back home to the wife at night. I was a woodcutter then, and I lived off of using my Iron Magic to cut down trees. It was an honest life.
One day, I was walking home from work when I heard the news. Joe, good old Slow Joe, had been murdered. We were angry. We were grieved. Joe had been a good man, a good man like every one of us. We were going to avenge him.
Joe’s killer was a bandit. He was famous as the Grassland King, a guy who robbed and killed for a living. We agreed that he had gone too far, done too much. So we formed up. We got our magics ready. We brought our axes.
The greens, of course, tried to “dissuade us”. Bobby had to put an axe under that obnoxious scout’s nose before he let us go. Bloody bastard shot Bobby in the back. Of course we beat him up.
The Grassland King was hiding in a cave in the Bronze Grasslands, it’s how he got his name. We get there but he’s gone. Vanished. Must’ve seen us coming, we agreed. The whole gang headed off to go back home… but the greens are waiting. They didn’t take kindly to us beating up that scout either.
So the lot of us are being held in a camp. That’s when I hear it. The Grassland King has come back. He’s burnt all of Bell Village to cinders. Wife was dead. Children too.
I cried.
We all cried. The greens, they told us they would get them in the end. Bunch of fools. We didn’t want them to get the bandits. The bandits were ours. And these greens were holding us back.
That night, we escaped. Bobby, bless his heart, picked the lock on his cage, then broke us out of ours. We crept silently over the walls of the camp, and booked if for the Grasslands.
The King was there, laughing. Laughing. He’d killed everyone we’d known and loved and he was laughing. At that moment, all I could feel was rage. We rushed him, as one.
But we underestimated him. He was no ordinary bandit. Magic flames burnt all around us. I watched my friends, my brothers, the last people I had in the world die. Bobby died when the King cut his throat. Richard burnt alive. Quinn, the smart guy, the one who read all the books… the King cut his legs and left him to die by burning.
I was the only one who escaped. I ran.
I’ll never forgive myself for running.
I ran and ran and ran and ran. I ran all the way back to Bell Village.
You know what I saw there?

My house was the third one on the street. A beautiful wooden roof, plastered walls, big gorgeous windows. Burnt to ashes.
The children’s bedroom I had built myself. Every column, every wall, every window I made myself. It was a small but cozy room. It was our pride and joy. Ashes.
My wife… she burnt alive. Protecting the children. She too, was ashes.
The children…
They were burnt to ashes. They died choking on smoke and their mother’s burning flesh. Ashes.

When I saw it… I cried. I thought I would never cry again after they told us that Bell had burnt down. But I did. I cried for a day and a night. For my wife. For my children. For our home. For our neighbors. For my friends.
The greens found me then.
They arrested me for breaking out of prison.
But they made a mistake. They didn’t put me in handcuffs fast enough.
I struck then. I got all of them. All dead. Revenge for Bell.
It was a hard month. A harsh winter and the woods were full of trees but empty of food. I survived on whatever animals I could come across. The fish were hiding, and I had no way of catching them.
Spring came, eventually. The berries returned and I gorged on them.
Then I found a bandit.
The axe hitting his head was a beautiful sound. His blood and bone falling around him was a beautiful sight. I hit him until I was sure he was dead.
I kept going.
But you know what I found out? Everyone I met on the road, they had all been in on it! Everyone’s third cousin or best friend knew the Grassland King. I had to do it. I killed them all.
They got me then. Smart ones. Now here I am. Locked behind bars again. I don’t think I’ll be able to get out of Silent… but if I do… the Grassland King will never know what hit him.

That’s my story.

You ought to tell me yours!