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A Plague Tale: France

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Aquitaine, France

Amicia was barely out of her childhood when the plague came about tearing apart any innocence or happiness she held in her heart. She and her father, Robert, traveled to the apple tree to take the knight’s challenge, a game he made up to perfect her sling skills. He had prepared Amicia beforehand as he wanted his daughter to be strong against any man she would be married off to, even with a simple sling. This was a wonderful day as they found a wild boar only for her to follow it deeper into the forest only to Lion to whatever lived inside the hole.

Heartbroken over her dog, Amicia and her father fled back to their home to look for answers only to find unknown soldiers invading their home. Béatrice quickly had her daughter take her brother, Hugo, and flee towards the river as she and Robert tried to figure out what was going on. It was not long before the parents and children found each other. Robert finally told Béatrice that it was time to tell their eldest child what the men were after as they made their way to the town they lorded over.

While her mother and father kept the family curse, Prima Macula, a secret from their children they eventually had to tell her of it when they had to flee from their home as soldiers of the Inquisition chased them down. The family curse was tied to their blood and the awakening of each plague that led to the destruction of humanity. Béatrice eventually told her that she didn’t know which child held it as Hugo was sick but showed no signs of the Macula and while Amicia was healthy and strong. It was too late in the century of the prediction for a new plague to accrue.

The firstborn de Rune swore to keep her and her brother from continuing their blood only to find out that even if they tried to stop it the Macula would still continue as there were other lines that shared their blood. All they could do is to study it, learn how it works, and stop it as soon as possible and spare their other lines and control it with theirs. They talked about the curse and why the Inquisition was after them, her mother claimed not to know, as they pushed onto Béatrice’s alchemist acquaintance only to find him infected with the plague and only his apprentice alive.

Robert led them through the town he formerly lorded over only to discover in the short time it went mad and his children witnessed a poor woman being burnt at the stake. Amicia and Hugo had to flee in the opposite direction as their parents as the mad town’s people came after them. Amicia found them a safe place with an old woman who had no one left and took pity on them. The siblings fought as Amicia tried to be level headed and guide her brother but he didn’t understand and wouldn’t take the situation seriously. She thought it was lucky that he managed to find the church only to face Conrad Malfort the villager that had confronted them separating them from their parents.

Amicia, sadly, had to fight him and took him down with just her sling. She knew the man was mad with grief but she still felt anger towards him as he tried to kill her and her brother. Upon entering the church they found Robert and Béatrice there and a monk that led them to the only exit out of town. The last two monks did not make it, the rats got them and the family barely made out themselves but thanks to Amicia’s observations and skill with the sling to escape.

Béatrice led them to Laurentius’s farm only to find him succumbing to the plague leaving only his apprentice to assist her. Lucas promised to help them as he knew all of his mentor’s progress only to be interrupted by the rats. Lucas taught Amicia how to create fire with her sling that assisted them greatly in escaping through the farm at night. Unable to leave his mentor behind, Robert carried Lucas as they fled the crumbling farm with the rats on their tail. Unfortunately, the Inquisition had also found them making Robert stand and fight Nicholas’s men allowing his family to have as much time as they could.

Béatrice didn’t look back as she dragged her two children along as Robert stood and fought the captain. Amicia watched her father fall to the man’s blade as his murderer watched them flee. She felt as if the man was staring at her into her very soul. She knew that war was not kind, her father told her so, he had done many things under the name of the French Crown and he took no pride in acts his own men partook in at least now. Amicia felt that this man had plans for just her brother and she didn’t want to find out she needed to survive.

During the travel downriver Béatrice finally spoke, “Your father...was part of a secret society. He joined them to change the world but the war changed his view on how they went about it. Once he returned from the war he was granted land and the town we helped protect it was only when you came along did he decide that it was too much.”

“What order, mother?” Amicia asked as she held Hugo as he slept.

“He never told me. He kept that part a secret so we could live after his untimely death. I suspected what order he was in as I had to do research to protect you and your brother if the Macula came about with you or your children. I did not look into those routes as those orders have their own war one in which has gone on for centuries.”

She noted her mother suddenly looked very old and very tired, it made Amicia realize that despite all this Hugo did not hold the Macula. He was just sick, it was not unheard of, but… “If neither I nor Hugo have the Macula then who?”

“I do not know, child. As I said I thought Hugo had it and you are too strong to have any of the symptoms of it. Take this.” Béatrice handed her daughter a journal, “You may not understand it but this is all the facts I have gathered over the years of Macula. If anything was to happen to me search for the name in the journal when you escape the country.”

“Happen to you? Mother no! We need you!”

“Amicia! We are a target and we are coming to a warzone. Death will happen and I plan to make sure you two survive long after me… You also have to be prepared to trade what this world values to be the most precious thing to a woman.”

“You don’t mean…”

“I do, and expect foreign soldiers to take advantage of that. Remember don’t fight it, it’s a useless thing in this time and you will find someone that doesn’t value you for that. The second page has a list of ingredients to prevent such acts from taking seed.”

After several moments Amicia finally took the book and hid it. She hated her mother in that moment but it was true. Her life as a noble was over and it would be near impossible for her family to regain any of their status back without Robert. She was little more than a peasant now and while her higher status would at least get a better husband she didn’t think she would want one after this.

* * *

The group found the aqueduct which they hoped would lead them to the Chateau d’Ombrage. Hugo was excited to see frogs for the first time, only to lead the boy to find an English shield. Béatrice became worried as a smell became stronger, only to find a field filled with the French and English army. Something strange began to happen to Amicia. She began to hear something and she did not like it but chose not to tell anyone. They had too much to worry about and it probably had to do with the trauma she was experiencing.

As they traveled they spotted two people scavenging on the dead. Her mother snarled at the disrespect but she understood. The path to the aqueduct was hard and long while Amicia did things she knew she shouldn’t her mother tried to find longer ways around which would take more time. She finally had enough when Amicia saved an English soldier instead of letting the rats have him.

“Mother! I know this is war but that doesn’t make us monsters! I don’t want to kill if I don’t have to! I killed enough to get through here! We can’t go around. We have to go through this disgust to survive! If you can’t accept that mother then we are doomed!”

Béatrice was stunned but understood, they were not above the men that they had to step over. They had to survive and the comforts that they had were gone. They soon moved on and were nearly out of the field when they came upon the scavengers from earlier cornered by a single soldier. They hid behind broken walls until they were spotted.

“That’s my sister, you bastard. Now let us go!” the boy exclaimed.

“You’ll never see us again, I swear!” the girl followed.

“Haha! Not a chance! Where I come from, we execute looters on the spot!”

The girl saw them and yelled, “Hey! What about them? You just going to let them go?”

Amicia witnessed the two take down the soldier and quickly ran off. Béatrice quickly pushed Lucas and Hugo ahead as she grabbed her daughter.

“Quickly! We need to run before others come!”

Before Amicia could follow, something slammed into her skull and she heard her mother scream her name before her vision went black and she collided with the stone walkway.

“Stay away from her! Amicia!”