--Chapter 1--

Part 1

Screams and gunshots rent the air and the wind drove devouring flames to lick the night sky, adding to the confusion created by the strange men in black clothes. Already, bodies and blood mixed in an angry mud that threatened to drown those left living, sucking at tattered clothes, slowing movements to help those who sought the death of hundreds of innocents. The once pristinely-kept streets were now a deathtrap to villagers trying to keep their families safe, only to fall victim to bullets and sharp blades. Even though the rider that now rode through these streets tried to avoid them, bones crunched under the heavy hooves of his black steed.

To his left, he saw a woman trying to flee, mud dragging on the hem of her dress, a babe tucked in her arms. Knowing that without assistance she would not escape with either her own or the infant's life, he moved to her side and easily swing her into the saddle, keeping a tight hold around her middle as she fought back a scream, still holding tightly to the baby, who as yet hadn't made a sound, making the rider wonder if it was too late for the infant.

He turned away from the sources of the gunshots, far to his east, if his hearing was correct, and galloped for the forest, where his men were waiting. He stopped and gave the low whistle that sounded like the wind and one black hooded figure rode forward and relieved him of his burden. With a few hand signals, he passed his orders to the man and soon was satisfied that the woman would be safely escorted to a town in the south, with plenty of money to support herself and the baby. Without looking back, he plunged back into the deathtrap, pulling the dark mask closer over his nose and mouth to keep from inhaling the deadly black smoke.

The gunsmith's shop exploded to his right as the flames greedily devoured barrels of gun powder and the rider jumped with his horse out of the way, shielding his body with his arm from the spraying glass and embers. He waited until there were no more explosions and cautiously moved his steed forward once more, his hand on the brand new pistol that held enough shot to give him a clean getaway. However, as he moved farther from the roaring flames, the sounds softened to the point where he could verify that the guns of the enemy had stopped firing, and for that he was partly grateful. He wouldn't have to worry about receiving a bullet in his side. However, it also meant that there were no more survivors to shoot at.

This time, he had managed to save two lives, but even though that was two more than he had managed in the past, his heart hung heavy. He forced himself to ride through the silent streets, forced himself to look at the dead bodies, to memorize the faces and to imagine the families that had been destroyed in an act of violence, one that had destroyed yet another town. He forced himself to look into buildings, hoping against hope that there would still be more survivors, though his enemies were thorough in their slaughter. Finding none, he collapsed upon the horse's neck, and the horse turned back to the forest, knowing that his master had finally seen enough. The man signaled his men out from the trees, and as now become a habit, they explored the grounds, hoping to find the person who had done the damage, the person who was using their leader as cover.

Sorry for the really short update...I wanted to get something up before I went to work and hopefully I'll type the second part of this chapter, introducing the new character tonight...maybe update tomorrow morning...wish my imagination luck! Please review!