The air was thick with heavy smoke reeking from foul stench of burning bodies and blood. Everywhere women were being raped by more than one man at a time, their shrieks were deafening. Live stocks were either killed or being stolen. The people were so desperate that they were using any means of weaponry to fight. Most lost, but they didn't die in vain. They died trying to protect the vulnerable and young, but the strength of the blood-thirsty soldiers was of no match. Amongst the carnage and wreck even lay dogs and cats; the whole village was being assimilated because they didn't share the need for greed and blood.
Though the sky was lit by the burning flames, it was actually nightfall. Marie hid behind a smouldering house which was dying down. She was covered in blood and sweat and now also in soot. She was a skilled fighter at the tender age of nineteen; so far she had killed twelve men since the raid began four days ago. Not much was left from what she could see. Her family had sent her here to find a husband, but she'd been practising her fighting skills more rigorously. Now she was glad she had. Gripping a bloodied knife close to her chest, she waited.
A scream caught her attention; to her left a child was pulled roughly by one of the barbaric soldiers. Crouching like a lion, she waited for the perfect moment to pounce on him. With all her might she threw herself all the while aiming precisely with the knife. The soldier dropped to her feet. Dead. A single stab to the heart; she'd aimed well.
The child was no older than six, he looked on in bewilderment at the dead soldier and then at Marie. Wasting no time, she grabbed his small hand and began running. They had to be careful as soldiers lurked everywhere. They ran behind what used to be a barn, the smell was nauseating, but at least she could let the boy go to run off and join the others; if found abandoned who knew what fate had in store for him.
"Hey you, where do you think you're going?" she was grabbed from behind and swung around to face one of the soldiers who reeked of blood and sweat.
"Run" Marie screamed, before stabbing the soldier in the thigh. She wanted to aim at his heart, but she didn't have the right angle.
"Ahhhhhhh you fucking bitch" he screamed falling down and putting pressure on the wound which was poured out blood. Using the opportunity, she fled; trying to be careful not to get caught.
Finding a place to hide was becoming increasingly difficult since the whole village swarmed with soldiers. The adrenalin pumped through her body and her ears strained to listen out for danger. Suddenly she heard three soldiers approaching her. They couldn't have seen her. Holding her breath she remained very still.
"It's no use, we know you're here" one of them said.
She assessed her situation, there was no way she could kill all three without being killed herself. Before she could think, one of them grabbed her by the hair and yanked her up. The eldest and youngest were dressed the same but in different colour probably one's rank was higher than the other; the youngest was a common soldier. The third one was dressed as a civilian.
"Well, well, look at what we've caught?" the youngest one said. He was probably her age or a year younger. He circled her like a lion would with its prey. Her bloodied dress clung to her curves. She had cuts along her arms and legs, she'd obviously torn away some of the material and used it as bandage for the deeper wounds. Her hair was matted to her head, but under normal circumstances would reach mid-back, they couldn't see her face clearly behind the soot and blood, but he wasn't interested in her face.
She didn't flinch nor cower, but just stood there with her head held high. She'd hidden the knife well against her thigh; she was simply looking for the right moment and aim. The youngest seemed to be her first choice, she didn't like the look in his eyes; they were the eyes of a sadist. The eldest could have easily been her senior of fifteen years didn't look as threatening, but he was still the enemy. However the third man was couldn't have been more than twenty-six made no move to approach her, maybe he had the highest ranking.
Just as the youngest one came to grab her, she lunged at him and stabbed him in the throat. She'd aimed well, for he fell without a sound as he lay there with blood oozing out and glazed eyes staring into nothingness. At first the two stared at her stunned, they'd underestimated her strength and skills, because when the civilian tried to pry the knife away, she missed his face by an inch. As she lunged out again she noticed the eldest had disappeared, then she felt something hit the back of her head; everything started to spin before darkness consumed her. Falling forward, the 'civilian' caught her before she touched the ground.
Marie opened her eyes slowly; her head throbbed from the blow. She sat up quickly which was a bad move because it made her dizzy. Shaking her head clear she scanned her surroundings and realised it was some sort of tent. Looking down she realised her hands were shackled but not her legs. The bastards.
The flap pushed open and in walked two men, one limped more than walked. She immediately stood up as they approached her, she recognised them. The one limping was the same soldier she stabbed in the thigh; pity she missed his heart or throat and the other was the same man who had approached her with the other soldiers.
"That's the bitch that attacked me" he spat, but his eyes roamed over body the same way the other's had. She attempted to hit him with the shackles but he stepped back in time. His eyes went dark because if she had not missed, it would have been humiliating. Instead he backhanded her hard sent her reeling across the floor. She could already feel blood sliding down her open-split lip and it tasted metallic. Had it not been for the Godforsaken shackles she would have taken her chances and attacked the prick.
As if the other man read her thoughts, he threw the soldier out and barked some words before coming back in. She had already shown great skills especially in aiming, it was a miracle she'd been caught, they'd already lost fourteen men to her single handedly. The fall had caused her tattered dress to ride dangerously high, as she was in no position to move she lay there and stared up at him. For the first time, she actually looked at the younger man and noticed his well defined features which made him handsome.
She looked very tempting sprawled out like that and an easy target, but instead he bent down and helped her up. His still couldn't see her face. He'd given strict instructions that no-one was to touch the girl, that's why he'd been furious at the soldier who'd backhanded her. Taking a cloth he dipped it in water and started to clean the cut. She flinched from his touch.
Why was she doing this? One minute she was a tower of strength and the next a meek as a new born kitten. Then it dawned on him, she was acting. No woman who fought tooth and nail could have a sudden change in her demeanour.
"I'd prefer if you stopped pretending to be frightened of me. The way you aim a knife does not compliment your behaviour now" he said calmly as he stood.
"I see you are smart for a pig" she spat. He was a difficult one to fool; she had to be extra careful with him.
"Silence wench" he barked. "You're lucky to be alive. The penalty for killing a soldier not in battle is death and tonight alone you've killed two of which one there were two witnesses" he said with his nostrils flaring from anger.
She opened her mouth to say something but closed it again against better judgement. She sat back down and looked around the tent. "It's no use to plot escape. I have men surrounding this entire area. They'll kill you on sight if unaccompanied" he informed her and with that he left her alone with her thoughts. She tried to lie down and think, but her body was exhausted and the new blow to her face didn't allow her to think clearly. Her eye lids grew heavy as sleep took over her.
Her body jolted awake when she heard a loud scream. Sitting up she realised she wasn't in the tent anymore, her belly grumbled loudly; she couldn't remember when she'd last eaten. Then she saw a tray on a table near her. She got up and ran towards it, as she grabbed it, she realised her hands were not shackled anymore. She was still wearing the same clothes and reeked, but her hunger was too great to suppress. Hungrily snatching the bread she barely chewed it before washing it down with the hot liquid which had a natural sweet taste to it.
Looking around the room, she realised it was far away from the village. Wherever it was, the owner had to be very rich because luxury filled the room with its rich linen and colours. Gold and apple-white draped from every corner. The floor was tiled, but again expensive rugs covered it. She looked across to the bed where she assumed had been placed on and had remained. The once crisp white sheets were rumpled and dirty because of her, how she wished she could wash; her skin felt grubby and oily.
A knock on the door startled her, but before she could answer the door opened and she braced herself, but instead a mature woman and two young girls entered. She stopped when they saw her standing in the middle of the room. Maybe they'd expected to see her still asleep she mused. The woman walked to the bed and began to pull off the sheet and fold it unevenly before heading to the tray and placing it on top. She then turned to Marie and stopped. Neither of the young girls had moved since entering with her.
"My name is Esther and those two are Rachael and Shannon. I'm in charge of you whilst you're here. They're my help" she said bluntly.
.... There is more of this story ...