I do not know where my family are.
This is not my home. I was abandoned here.
The man said "I'm sorry," as he shackled my wrists. I didn't believe him.
"Why?" I pleaded. "What did I do wrong?"
"It has to be this way," he replied without emotion.
My parents stood before me, silent, eyes averted. My little brother was crying and struggling against my father's hands. "No! Don't go! Please don't!"
"I'm sorry, Alto. I don't understand why this is happening." I stretched my arms out to him but the man led me firmly away and I couldn't reach.
"Do not be angry with us," the man said. "This is for the good of the village." I was walked outside to where several horses with hooded riders were waiting.
It was a beautiful day. Birds were singing.
"No!" Alto broke free from my Father's grasp and took a few unsteady strides before being pulled back again. "Come back!"
The man holding the reins of the nearest horse lifted me onto its back, sitting in front of him. "I have to go," I said unevenly.
"Why? Where are you going?" Alto's face was reddening; his distress was turning to anger.
"I don't know," I whispered, frowning as I struggled to keep the mist in my eyes from condensing into tears. I looked at my captor but he offered nothing. His hood was backlit by the sun; I could only see a silhouette within.
The man flicked the reins of the horse. As it turned away I looked back; my father knelt and clutched my sobbing brother to his chest. He looked up at me with glistening eyes: "I'm sorry. Please forgive me, my son."
Mother took a step towards me as we started away, but my father placed a hand on her sleeve and she stopped. Her mouth opened slightly and she inhaled sharply, staring, then they were gone. I squinted, but they had drowned in the glare of the morning sun.
I buried my face in the horse's mane and wept quietly. The breeze danced around my ears, carrying the sounds of twittering creatures and the fall of hooves on the forest floor.
I don't know how long we were riding. I remember trees, dandelion seeds sailing on the wind like fireflies, flat stone walls, sentinel columns and a sea, green with ambiguity. I was taken down a cliff to a small boat and rowed to a cave. It opened out into a building, where at length I was led to a small, upright stone coffin.
One of my captors locked me in as the others, still wordless and anonymous, surrounded me. He stepped back, muttered "it is done," and without further ceremony they all turned and left.
After their footsteps faded, it was quiet for a long time. Nothing but distant whispers of ocean, and walls remembering trampled futures.
Hours later, something shifted and my coffin toppled over, releasing me. I woke on a tiled floor, surrounded by stone walls rising to a vaulted ceiling. The walls were full of coffins, just like mine. Empty, just like mine. The air was dry, cool and old. I couldn't see the sun. The wind fluted over broken windows.
I ran for a long time, but I couldn't find a way out. I don't know who lives here but I know I'm not welcome. I can feel them watching.
You know where I found you. I freed you, and now we share a prison of stone, wood and decay. This place has trapped us for an age.
I do not understand your power, your words, or why you are here. I do feel that you are as alone as I, and I know that we cannot escape alone. We are our family now.
Please. Take my hand.
This was a 1000-word-limit writing exercise, loosely-themed 'House', but really is a small tribute to this beautiful little game.