Ch 3  The Line of Red and Black It was morning, the sun had already risen, and I was sitting eating breakfast with my parents. “Why do we have storms?” I asked my father. “It’s just the weather, dear,” replied my mother. She was preparing the tsampa. They liked it with cheese, but I would eat it just mixed with the tea. “But why does the weather sometimes be nice and sometimes be not nice?” “Because life is like that,” my father replied, shaking his head in a tired way. Last year’s storms had come, literally, out of a clear blue sky and had all but devastated that year’s crop. My parents, like most of the people of the village, were quite traumatised by the violent rain, the fear of which kept everyone a little stressed. We were now coming to the moment of harvest, the day when everyone could start to live normally again, but we hadn’t quite got there yet. People had become very nervous those days; it seemed that there was a real threat of storms. “Jangbu, here, eat your breakfast. These are not things that a boy of seven should be worrying his little head about.” She ruffled my hair as she placed the bowl in front of me. “You are too young to have such worries and concerns.” She then turned to my father. “Children should be protected from the ugly side of life. They are too pure and too fragile.” My father put aside his salty tea and smiled at us both. “Yes, children should be protected from life’s ugly sides. When you have finished breakfast, you go and play in the fields, and leave all the worries to your parents.” And that is just what I did. The day was peaceful and warm; I liked to pass the time in the fields, away from all the noise and activity of the village. The other boys and girls of my age seemed to like all the work and bustle and commotion—many already had their own jobs and responsibilities—but my parents were happy to leave me, lost in the fields, lost in my dreams. The thunder seemed to be coming from far off; I opened my eyes and looked to the heavens. I expected to see the heavy grey clouds amassing overhead, but I saw nothing, only a clear blue sky. I looked further off; yes, to the west, I could see the threat coming, the ominous black clouds, streaked with fiery red lightning bolts. Not that far off, but then again, not close enough to create the deep, rumbling thunder I had heard. Sitting up, I realised that I couldn’t hear it anymore. I lay down again and there it was. The sound was being transmitted through the ground, but what was it? Moments later, the explanation emerged from the tops of the barley, into my field of vision: a line of horsemen dressed in armour of red and black appeared. I watched as the line of red and black rode quietly towards the village. It was a quiet that I would remember for the rest of my life. That quiet and the noise and screams that followed... I didn’t know what to do. Should I run towards the village to seek the safety and protection of my parents, or should I run away from the terror that I could hear from there? In my uncertainty, I took the other track—I froze. Suddenly, bursting into the field, I could see first my mother, then my father, rushing towards me. I was quite far towards the other end of the field. I had made a little protection with some pieces of wood that I could hide under if I wanted to; they knew exactly where it was. Even from that distance, I could hear their heavy breathing; they must have been running very fast to have escaped the mounted demons. It was then that I could also hear the panting of the horse. He was big and black, as was the rider who was pushing him hard to catch up to my parents. As he caught up to my father, he reached over to the side and pulled out a short spear. He hardly had to throw it at all; the speed at which he was riding meant that he only had to direct it towards my father’s back to impale him totally. I watched in horror and fascination as the metal point appeared, out of nowhere, exploding out of his chest and into the air. My father’s momentum kept him moving for a few more strides, as if the spear was dragging him further forward.  My mother was ignorant of all this; she was only aware of running away from the badness and coming to try and save me. I suppose that she must have heard the stamp of the hooves as the horse and rider gained on her, but she gave no sign of it. As he had already used his spear on my father, he detached his axe to kill my mother. He passed her on her left side, the axe in his right hand.
Adventures with the Master
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