That's the signal… but so soon? Mathias stopped in his tracks as he spotted Edwin rolling himself a cigarette up ahead. Robin stood beside the Ahglorian shopkeeper as the pair stood idly by in the street. I'll be damned, that’s the signal! Mathias watched in shock and disbelief as his cohort lit the freshly rolled cigarette, turning in his own tracks and heading towards the town centre as per his own directions. No deterrence. He'd made eye contact with Edwin even as the Ahglorian lit his smoke, seeing the look of frustration and desperation on the trader's face as Mathias deviated from his course in light of the blatant, albeit premature, signal.
Approaching Calais' chapel, Mathias walked around the rear of the building and passed through the side entrance into the town’s cemetery. Though there was some light traffic in the streets, the cemetery was empty- as was the chapel. Looking around as he approached a window on the ground floor, Mathias saw this for himself too. The imperial removed the outer vest he wore over his loose button-down shirt before wrapping it around his right hand, balling it into a fist as he tightly gripped the best like a glove. Taking one last look to check that the coast was clear, Mathias smashed his fist into the window, shattering it and forcing his entry unbeknownst to anyone in the town…
Claude was walking towards the chapel from the East Road from where he'd just relayed directions to their fellow insurrectionists. The fellow conspirators had awaited him in an outdoor café on the eastern side of town, as instructed by Edwin, and they were each leaders of their own squads recruited over the course of the insurrection from it’s beginning. He'd relayed Edwin's instructions to the fellow protest organisers and together they departed to carry out each of their own ends of the plan. Though he couldn’t put his finger on it, something was off.
“It smells like something’s burning…” a passing imperial spoke up as the unsuspecting citizen passed Claude by in the town centre. Their fellow conspirators had only just begun mustering the protestors to gather; it was too early for the church to go ablaze. What cause is there for this deviation from the plan; what’s happened?
“Bonjour, mon ami! Comment vas-tu?” Stefaan called out in greetings as Claude spotted the Ahglorian from afar. Looking towards his fellow and then in the direction of the chapel, Claude called out and pointed in it’s direction even as a wisp of smoke began to trail up into the sky.
“Mon dieu! What is going on?” Claude exclaimed as the pair intersected in the street. Stefaan had delivered Edwin’s instructions to their fellow northerners and Imperial-Ahglorians holed up in a tavern on Calais’ northern outskirts.
“Verdorie*! That’s odd; let’s investigate!” Stefaan exclaimed in his native tongue before switching to the Common Tongue. The pair rushed towards the chapel even as some shouts began to arise nearer to the scene of the fire as it began to unfold. Townsfolk were already beginning to gather around the chapel were they gaped and pointed in shock as the imperial soldiers stationed in the town rushed to respond. Some of the insurrectionists were beginning to gather as well, though the majority of the crew leaders were still informing their fellows of the plan and its details. The fire was eating away at the chapel and it had begun spreading to the thatched roof, quickly sending it up in flames too.
“Behold the wrath of the gods themselves at this unholy war against our northern neighbours and the unjust taxation of our people!” one of the insurrectionists called out as soldiers arrived to the scene. The rowdy townsfolk had begun to clamour together voicing their discontent as the situation quickly turned towards a protest.
“Look at how the gods punish us for our inaction and subordination! This plague that assails us is unnatural in its nature; from where do these hornets originate? We've yet to discover their source, or even their nests! These abominations were sent upon us by the gods themselves to push us beyond our comfort or push us for the inability!” another called out.
*Ahglorian. Translates roughly to gosh. Exclamation of shock or surprise.
“What treason is this!” a soldier called out turning in their direction as he drew his sword.
“They speak the truth!” a woman shrieked, flinging a tomato at the imperial troop as he walked towards the protesters. His fellows were preoccupied with containing the fire and putting it out, though a couple snickered as they witnessed their kinsmen pelted by the fresh fruit.
“For how long should we tolerate this oppression? This king is out of touch with our suffering- living off the fruits of our labour while these soldiers only have a useless war to profit themselves and their king at our expense to show for? Our country is starving and all this kingdom cares about is profits and production, but thanks to the king's tax we see nothing of it!” townsfolk began to flock to the outcry of the insurrectionists, shouting in unison at the imperials turned their attention away from the chapel to focus on quelling the unrest that was only continuing to grow. Some of the insurrectionists and protesters were and more were beginning to rush out seeking arms and improvised weapons in preparation for the clash that was on the verge of unfolding.
“Cease and disperse immediately! Martial law is in effect and anyone caught outside will be arrested and executed for treason. Depart immediately!” the captain of the guard shouted, drawing his own sword as he ordered his men to turn away from the burning chapel to focus on the mounting insurrection at their back.
“Va te faire foutre*!” another protester rebutted vehemently. The man reached for a blacksmith’s hammer before flinging it at the captain, denting the soldier's helm as it resonantly clanged upon making contact with his head. The captain crumpled to the ground and his men rushed the crowd, clashing the townsfolk openly in the streets.
*Imperial. Translates to “fuck off”, “Go to Hell”, or “Go fuck yourself.”
About the author
Kelson Hayes is a British-American author and philosopher, born on 19 October 1994 in Bedford, England. His books include Can You Hear The Awful Singing, The Art of Not Thinking, and The Aerbon Series.