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From the Darkness of Our Souls (Part 2)
“Madie…” He reached a hand toward me but stopped short at the reminder of Ash’s knife. The man with the weird language was then backed by two more of his men. MountainPeak and RainingCloud stepped forward to attack. The other men took it as an advance and charged with weapons drawn. RainingCloud quickly disarmed the shooting weapon from each of the men and knocked one of the men to the ground. The killing was quick but ruthless. I buried my head into Ash’s chest, fisting his vest as the downed man gave a gurgled shriek. A second one soon followed, only louder. I waited, waited for the death of the third man. The echoed sound of metal hitting wood with a clack stopped my breath. Turning around fully, I met the deep blue eyes of my attacker. He reached out to me, obviously forgetting that he was locked in battle. Ash pushed me back, stepping in front of me. In the lapse of time of the man’s memory, RainingCloud and MountainPeak were on him.
“Hold him, he’s mine.” RainingCloud and MountainPeak tackled the man and hauled him up by his underarms, pining his arms behind his back. MountainPeak grabbed the hair hanging down in the man’s eyes by the fistful, pulling his head back to better expose his neck.
Sweat steadily dripped from his neck onto his collar of his shirt. His throat knot bobbed as he swallowed and the veins in his neck throbbed with the strain of the skin pulled taunt.
Someone from behind me took hold of my arm but I yanked it free.
Blood was on the air.
I could taste it.
My blood thundered threw me, but this was a different fear. In the pit of my stomach, I didn’t want him to die. I didn’t want Ash to kill him.
I would feel a thread of hate towards Ash if he killed this man. I didn’t want to hate Ash, I loved him, I wanted to love him.
Ash raised his knife above the level of his shoulder. He took the two steps left in distance between him and the defenseless man.
Someone was holding me back again and I fought against their grip.
“Ash! Don’t! Please!” His step faltered slightly but he still went on.
‘No! Don’t kill him!’ My thoughts screamed at me.
Breaking free of my confines, I slammed myself into Ash’s back with my face squashed between his shoulder bones.
“Ash, please don’t. Make him work, or something. Just please don’t kill him.”
My instinctual thinking seemed to have stopped Ash. He turned around and forced me off him. He stared at me and only when I met his eyes did I know that I had failed. His eyes were cold and distant. He scrutinized my face carefully then spun me around and gave a good shove.
I stumbled into another’s arms.
“Take her home.” Those three words shattered my heart. The pieces fell like broken pottery at my feet. Someone started to pull me away by my wrist but I didn’t care enough to look at who it was. My breath hitched and my eyes stung with tears.
“Ash, no.” The man stared at us, judging the finality in Ash’s decision.
I stared at Ash, pleaded with him with my eyes.
I gazed so hard my vision swayed. Digging my heels into the earth to steady myself, a vision played before my eyes.
It was cold, cold like winter.
Before me, I saw the fields high with grass swaying in the late spring winds and the large drifts of snow weaving through the trees of a wood.
People were trudging through the ankle high piles.
“James, stop for a second. I’m tired.” The girl dropped to the snow, her stockings keeping the freezing snow off her legs. The boy stopped, turned half way around and chucked a wad of snow at the girl. She complained and the boy went and sat with her.
“Come one Madie, we need to get home before dark.” The girl sighed and fell back in the snow. The boy followed suit, shivering as snow made its way onto the back of his neck.
“We’ve been walking all day.” He ignored her complaints, closing his eyes against the burning sun.
The image flickered back and fourth.
I viewed two worlds at once. My blood flooded my veins, pounding in my ears.
My weight seemed too great for my knees and I fell in the grip of the man who was pulling me.
“James! Don’t die!” The last thing I hears was my scream. It seemed to make me deaf to anything else but the fact that I had just cried out a name I had never heard before in a language I didn’t know.
It was dark.
The days had only become longer as the summer wore on. I had awoken that day in a pile of furs not my own.
I had awoken to the pale stream of light slipping past the hide tent door as someone entered. I had sat up and realized I was with Ash. He had just entered his home and there I lay, in his bed, just staring. He gave me a dark look, his face cast in shadow.
He stood near me, and when I reached out to him, he turned sharply and headed for the door.
“Your captive is alive.” He left me there. Sitting there.
He hasn’t talked to me since.
He has hasn’t talked to me in three days.
He hates me.
I hate me,
Because of my run in with the man, because of my crying and pleading and begging for him to be spared. I have been shunned by most. Those few who will talk to me are ones who benefit from talking to me.
They keep me extra busy now. I go home dead as drift wood. They keep me in the fields, in the sun till my skin is as red as the mud from the river. Nana bickered when I came home as sore as if I had taken a long ride on MourningDawn. She ranted on that she would have to confront the Elders about my being treated such a way. I told her that she shouldn’t worry about it, I would be fine.
My silence tonight led Nana to believe I was ill. She handed me a cup of tea and some smoked meat. The spices in it were a bit too much for me and I to push them off to the side. Nana put her hand to my head and the back of my neck. Her hands were warm and I shivered.
She placed a blanket over my shoulders.
“Zeta, what ails you? You hardly eat, you hardly speak but in sighs. If I didn’t know better, I would say you find fascination in someone, but that can hardly be the truth. Your bonding is less then three moons cycles.” She just didn’t understand. Ash hated me, he refuses to talk to me. Why would he want to bond with me? I would not hold him to a promise that would make him suffer.
“Nana, perhaps you should take a break from making my bonding dress.” She looked up from her stitching and stared me down.
“Now what is up with you girl? Did you not hear me tell you that your bonding is in less then three moon cycles? Last I knew of, you were counting the days down-” I cut her off.
“There probably won’t be a bonding.” This couldn’t go on, she needed to know. She had been so excited when Ash had approached the council with his intentions. She put her stitching down. Nana had spent long hours with the dyes, trying to make the perfect shades for the dress. The woven cloth sucked up the dye quickly and was very fragile. Nana had spent a fortune on the cloth as she intended it for my bonding.
“Why Zeta? You’re not having regrets, are you?” Nana took my hand, her fingers a darker color then her skin tone. Shaking my head, I pulled my finger away.
“You don’t understand. It isn’t me.” Getting up, I left, wrapping my arms around myself. Stumbling in the darkness of the night, I made to fins somewhere warm. I found it in a low tent with a few burning embers in a sand pit. It was dark, just like every where else. Stoking the burning heart with a stick, I placed a few logs within reach of the spluttering flame. The biting chill slowly slipped from my bones and the sand warmed. Tired from my day of work and stress, the dull orange flame lulled me to sleep.
Waking to a chilled room and a dead fire, I wasn’t quite sure where I was. It was early, early enough that the warmth giving sun had not been seen yet. Heavy sleep still tugged at my mind and eyes, trying to pull me down into my dreams once more. The fire didn’t even hold the glowing embers, telling me that it had been out for some time.
This spell of sleep had me lay my head down on the fine sand, staring out across the room. My eyes slid shut; my attention caught a glint barely seen in the darkness. Pale skin, lanky limbs and blue eyes. My mind was to tired to rise to the panic and fear, but I knew very well that I was not alone.