It was a happy time, a pure, innocent time. They lived in a cottage in a forest that blossomed with bluebells and crocuses in springtime. His father had been a soldier but was at that time a carpenter. He made chairs and tables that he took into the city and sold to rich merchants and their wives. His mother painted pictures and knitted colourful blankets that she sold in village markets.
His father was Andook. He was a tall man with a short mop of brown hair and arms toned and tanned from years of working in the sun. He was not a talkative man, preferring actions to words and the delight he took in his work was only surpassed by the love he had for his family.
His mother was Zelda. She was the only daughter of a wizened gypsy matriarch who had only permitted Andook to wed her after he had completed seven tasks to prove his worth. Zelda had raven hair that hung straight down to her waist and owned a huge collection of dangly earrings - some gifts from her clan; others from her husband.
He (their only son; their only child) was a perfect blend of them both. He possessed his mother’s features and wore his own raven hair long, in the manner of her people, but in character he was his father. He too preferred action to words and enjoyed working with his hands.
There was love. He remembered that so clearly, though other details had become hazy over the years. There was love.
His parents had loved each other. He had never seen either of them upset or angry with the other. They kissed often and enjoyed all the tiny physical touches: the holding of hands, the touching of fingers as they accidentally brushed against each other and the hugs. They danced often - sometimes going into the village to enjoy the festivals; sometimes just dancing in the little garden surrounding their home. They went together so perfectly, seemingly made for each other. So much so that they were both halves of one whole. They knew each others thoughts, completed each others sentences and even when apart seemed to know if the other was well or not.
They loved each other and they loved him.
They kissed him and held him. His father read stories to him at night and his mother taught him how to paint. In their presence he was loved and he was safe. There was no fear and there was no pain. He had not known sadness or loss. He knew nothing of hatred or violence.
All that changed one balmy summer night.
He was ten years old when the soldiers came. Ten years old when the image of a cruel man with grinning eyes was imprinted on his mind - an image and a desire for vengeance.