‘I didn’t do it. It wasn’t me!’ Sam races past brightly-lit cottages, into the town centre. In the hills above, explosions rock the mountain pass. People flood the streets. Yule fires burn unattended in the grate and mulled solstice wine sits untouched beside empty chairs.
A tall man with a bushy beard catches the breathless boy in his arms. “What is going on, son? What’s that noise?”
“It wasn’t me, Pa! Honest. I was sneaking up to the guard house and suddenly the ground started bursting around me.”
The crowd surrounds him like a human wall and the boy tries not to feel trapped. Some people stare up at the hills where bombs seem to ignite the sky itself. Others look at him with narrowed eyes.
“It’s the Resistance.” A rare smile splits Pa’s face. “The bombs are destroying the blockades. At last our valley cousins will be free.”
Sam relaxes in his father’s embrace. Finally someone else will be blamed for all the mischief on this side of the mountain. Maybe they’ll even blame the Resistance for the cakes stolen from Widow Shayla’s cellar.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Burning sun-wheel at Yule by Amon Amarth