The value of gold
The Dragon employed a scorched-earth policy, burning villages along the route of his enemy
|Sweat trickled inside the padded gambeson under the weight of the armor overheated in the scorching sun.
The fire burned cottages on both sides of the road as their inhabitants trailed towards the waiting wagons ready to carry them to a safe place.
Duncan didn't need to look at the villagers' faces to know the helplessness of the bleary choice they faced.
"Grandma" he heard a child's voice nearby. He squinted his eyes as he tried to focus through the thick smoke. A child-size shadow in the middle of the road prompted him to spur his horse. In one motion, he grabbed the wraith-like child and pulled him up off the ground.
Sitting on a crude bench, in front of one of the remaining cottages, an old woman looked through him, impervious to the smoke and fire closing on her.
He gestured frantically, urging her to join the line moving away from the village.
"She cannot see you, she is blind." the little child whispered.
He gave the child to a passing knight and motioned at him to take the wraith to safety.
He then dismounted and commanded as he approached:
"You must come with me."
White, glassy eyes turned on him.
"I beg you, my lord, take care of my grandson. I wish to remain here, with my husband and children."
As he turned to leave, she pressed a white flower in his hand and murmured. "Thank you."
Duncan mounted his horse and watched the fire claiming cottage after cottage. He completed his mission.
He let the flower drop and didn't look back to see it trampled by horses as they rushed out of the blazing village. He had already received his pay, in gold, in burning, shining gold. Yet, a question lingered.
The answer though, was blowing in the wind.
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