“On the 8th day of December, in the 1618th Year of Our LORD Jeʃuʃ Chriʃt,
It has been but ʃeven winterʃ since the Almighty GOD sent the Avenging Stars down onto the ʃo-called Great Houʃeʃ of Europe, ridding Hiʃ kingdom forever of their warring, politick and duplicity. We, the People of New Europe, have built a new world order in the ruinʃ of Geneva, where lord and ʃerf stand hand in hand to ʃhape the future according to the viʃion of Our Lord and Saviour Je-“
Ambrose Chambon screwed up the pamphlet and hurled it back into the charred soil of what was once a vineyard on the outskirts of Dijon. The sun baked down on the burnt earth, the bone-white frames of the vine trellises making the scene even more macabre.
“Priests.” supposed the Englishman. Ambrose had not managed to discern his name, merely that the sinking of his country had scarred his mind irrevocably. He virtually never spoke, throwing up the odd interjection in French competent enough that he had obviously received an education in it long before the Falling of the Stars. Still, he was better company than most of the other looters, desperates and malefactors who prowled the remains of the countryside.
“It would appear so. I think it would be best not to draw the attention of the Almighty anyway, just in case He decides to finish the job.” He paused a moment. “Anyway, who wants to build a new world when the old one is still lying around for the taking?”
The Englishman had drifted back into his reverie, staring over the horizon. He said nothing in reply.
“Come on then, Rosbif, we have not lasted this long without food and shelter. Let us see if the winery is not already occupied by brigands.”
The sun-scorched door of the vineyard was nailed shut, but the wood was rotten and it was easy enough to force open. Inside, several barrels had been smashed open and their contents long since drained away, and the baskets that had once carried the grape harvest had been gnawed out of desperation by the local rats, which scurried for their holes as the sunlight broke in.
The two men went inside, brandishing the sticks that were their only defence against a cornered dog – or worse. The Englishman walked dreamily over to the back wall and paced up and down staring at the stone floor. Eventually, he found a spot that was apparently to his liking and tapped his staff on the ground.
“What have you found?” asked Ambrose, hurrying over. He hauled a sack out of the way, disturbing yet more furiously squealing rodents, to reveal a trap door, bolted shut.
With the bravery of desperate men, they threw open the door and cautiously descended the stone spiral staircase. Torches flickered on brackets in the hall below, and liquid – presumably water – dripped in the corners of the room.
At the centre of the room stood a solitary child – a girl.
~ Nathan @Baboonicorn, 2015