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Red and White
Blood with snow
A mangled figure
Mingled in the ice
To all but she
Iron shackles bind her to the wall, a bow and quiver lay deep in snow to her left. The body barely took any space, skin drawn tightly over the wasted frame.
Ice formed a painful layer coating the entirety of her, ribs lifting faintly, just enough to keep her alive. Bloody bruises seeped red under the ice-encrusted skin. Only her face was her own. It may have belonged to an eighteen or nineteen year old, with sculpted features, full lips, long lashes, rosy cheeks and long silky hair.
But the sculpted face was black and blue with a haunted expression. The full lips now the same colour as her frost covered lashes. Rosy cheeks sunken and pale. Her long silky hair, hacked savagely to a point at the nape of her neck, lay limp and dull.
Wind howled over the smooth tundra plains and scattered particles of snow over the girl, ruffling her hair. The breezy coil slammed against the outcropping of a building in the bare plains, wailing in confusion as it hit solid stone fortifications where there should have been only snow-white earth.
Though the wind may have been baffled the girl was not. She knew. The chain that bound her was 3 years old. It had been three years. And the Chain Master had been here for more than that.
The house itself showed barely any sign of age, it looked ugly, tall impersonal stone walls, chimney that spewed fume and dared her to try to dash in and warm herself.
And worst of all, the heavy wood door, it was she dreaded the most. The slightest creak of it could send her cowering against the wall. The fear of her Chain Master coming out of it, angry and drunk, smelling of tanned hides and smoke, it ruled the girl' life.
The Chain Master always let out her irritation and drunkenness, on the girl. She did her best to shield herself from the blows, but at best she could barely guard her face.
She could almost feel the freezing droplets of water that the Chain Master would often dribble over the girl for amusement. She loved to laugh as the girl wriggled and writhed as the drops touched her iced skin.
But lately the girl no longer felt the pain, fading away from the nerve warnings.
Just hung between life and death.
The girl knew she should try to stay aware, and at least attempt to keep her body moving. But she couldn’t, she felt fuzzy and sleepy just wanted to let her mind stop whirring. Hypothermia.
That was it.
She never thought the Chain Master would actually let her die, the girl had always been confident that the Chain Master keep her alive.
But now she was on the brink, she could go either way.
The wind was obstructed once again, her trained ear made out the hindrance was a human figure, and she tried lift her eyelids to see who the intruder was, but her muscles wouldn’t follow her commands, her lids too weighed down with frost.
All she could do is lie immobile, and wait, fright running through her but no vent in which to free itself so it clogged in her mind making her tremble in horror of what came.
What was it, what came to torment her next?
Oh, Hodh, hadn’t she had enough?
Obviously not, the crunching footsteps came relentlessly, wind bending around its shape.
Now they were so near, she could determine that the shape was masculine.
By some miracle her eyes cracked open slightly, and she saw a pair of barbed boots, very close to her, frost covering them and wind uncovering.
Terror spiked through her, blood boiling in panic. Her fear found an outlet, somehow reaching her dormant limbs, shocking them into action.
She dragged herself away, scrabbling in uncoordinated movement to get away from the man in barbed boots, ice covered limbs heaving themselves free from the snowy bonds that froze them tight.
In pitiful pushes her legs struggled, the heavy frost layer shoving them down mercilessly, yet she continued her hauling progress, fear sparking life in her corpse.
She hit the stone walls, where to go now, the steps came again, frightened she tried to go along the length of the wall.
The iron fetters stopped her every effort, the chains held her down, she had stretched their span to the end. She flailed against them uselessly but to no avail, they were implacable.
She could not escape them, flee from this new menace.
Dread tore at her, as she shuddered against the wall, crouched helplessly a hand screening her face from the blows sure to come.
Wouldn’t the Chain Master come? The Chain Master had never let anyone besides her to strike the girl, surely she would come again?
The girl would rather face the Chain Master than this enigma.
The Chain Master would not come, it was market day, and the Chain Master wouldn’t be back until late tomorrow.
The girl shivered, when she never thought she would, needed the Chain Master, the woman was not here.
The irony was quickly consumed by her fright.
Yilin, the fair-haired young man who was the Chain Master’s slave cook, couldn’t help either, ever since the Chain Master had found Yilin had been secretly bringing food the girl, he had been chained to his post as well.
No one would hear her in this wasteland, screaming wouldn’t do.
But all the same she wished she could be human enough to scream or cry, alas she was nerveless in pain and fear.
The boots were in front of her, she cowered pathetically against the wall, terror driving her into severe quivering.
The shape bent down and grasped her manacled hands, she gasped in shock, and the hands were warm and incredibly gentle.
What was this?
It had been so long since a person of flesh and blood had touched her, is this what it was like? The only touch she had ever known was cruel and inhuman, yet these fingers were human and soulful, were there really people with souls?
Was there really such a thing as goodness, something she couldn’t remember?
Yet she had no heart left to feel with, it was frozen and shattered, the Chain Master and ripped it from and left it to die.
The girl wished she could reawaken it, pour life into again, but her heart was too tormented to live, it had seen too much sorrow to go on, and it had abandoned her.
Without it, her animal instincts took over; she shrank away from the man’s hold, tucking her left ankle underneath her protectively.
Her vision swirled before her as she tried to hang on to her sight, again the man took her hands, this time a strange device in his hands, he clicked it into the manacles’ key holes, the fetters fell away, revealing the chafed and bleeding flesh beneath.
Her horror turned to amazement as she peered at her hands, they were free, the iron, lay useless in the ground.
How long had her broken soul wished for this?
When was it that she had given up?
How could this be, she was captive no longer, as the man proceeded to do the same to her legs.
She was no longer a chained brute, humanity stripped away from it.
Could she be human again?
Could her heart and soul be one and whole once more?
She wished it so badly.
She tried to see more of the man, lifting her head as much as she dared without hurting it.
He cut a menacing figure, all black, pants tucked into the spiked boots she had seen earlier, several armored jackets covered his slim figure, a long black cloak overtop.
The hood pulled over, she could not see his face.
For some reason this frightened her, and she shied away from him, her iced skin touched the cold stone making her quake violently against the cold.
The man made soft shushing noises, quietly inching closer to her, gloved hands indicated he meant no harm.
She stayed still, head hung, as he came closer, his warmth enveloping her like summer she had forgotten, He encircled her with his arm, and she yelped the touch of his skin against her bruised frost-encrusted skin, pained her badly.
Was there any other way?
He, sensing this swept off his cloak, and veiled her in it, the fabric still warm from him, it felt so good to her, this new warmth.
The man wrapped his arms around her and lifted her off the ground, it still hurt, but with the thick cloak as a barrier not so much.
He held her to chest carefully as one would with a child, his arms surrounding her weary frame easily. He turned around and began to walk the way he had come.
She looked up at his face now that it was exposed, curious of what her liberator looked like.
He was around twenty three, dark russet colored hair in a short untamed shock, gray eyes staring sadly and resolutely ahead, cleanly shaven jaw and high chiseled cheekbones, his mouth curved decisively.
A long scar drew her attention; it began at the edge of his ear and traveled down the side of his jaw, down the tender skin of his neck and half wrapped itself attractively around his throat.
The girl followed it with her eyes; wanting to trace it with her fingers it felt so familiar, cut of it, the deepness, how the weapon had sliced, the angle, it all seemed so vaguely familiar.
But she couldn’t remember, her mind tired, it had never tried to think so hard before, it used up what strength she had and left her drained and worn-out.
She let herself hang in his arms; her corpse take its usual dormant state, except now his body heat kept her warm, it seemed that the ice casket that so long held her body was starting to thaw.
Could this be her chance to live again?