There was nothing left. This place had once been our home. Now there were only burnt-out ruins, scars on a landscape already healing itself. The ruins now were overgrown, becoming landscape. The only traces of what once was soon would live in our memories alone.
Memories fade though as we grow older and time takes us on new journeys. Then we too are gone and nothing remains.
I knew it was a mistake to return. I could feel how tight my hands held the reins, making Whitecloud nervous. She snorted and I ran a hand through her mane, calming her.
Beside me, the woman looked around, probably wondering what I was looking at. Now there was little more than overgrown stone, haphazardly heaped up. All in shapes that bore no reminder of the building that once had stood up on this hillside dominating the valley below.
I looked around. What had once been our family’s land for miles around was now bare of grazing animals. What remained of the crops was wild and mostly overgrown.
Our hunting forest, though, still remained. A memory came back to me of a place where we would be safer than out here on the open ground.
If word of my return reached certain ears, then I knew they would come after me… again.
I edged Whitecloud closer to the woman’s horse. The woman leant away from me as far as she could without falling from her saddle. Obviously, she knew how to ride… that was something.
I checked the bonds around her wrists were still tied tight. She had made no attempt to escape for the last two or three days. I wondered, looking into her still fearful eyes, if her memories of her old life were fading too.
Then I turned Whitecloud to head for the forest and the secret waiting deep inside. I tugged on the rope leading the bound woman’s horse and it followed. I hoped that this remembrance of a place of safety was one memory that had not faded and grown false.
If it had then I would soon be dead, just like the members of my family whose hasty graves we passed on our way to the concealing trees.