She wakes in the wee hours of the morning, the world outside still dark. Glancing to the sleeping form beside her, she slides from beneath the covers, taking care not to wake him. A loose shirt of silk is slipped on, and buttoned to keep the chill from her bare skin. Her feet carry her to the window, and the sight of the water, lit softly by a dying moon, seems to help the thoughts flow.
She knew why she couldn't rest. She'd let her temper get the best of her again. That dreadful slaver woman...and her just as dreadful "pet"...with their talk of hunting and selling of people. She'd wanted to spill blood last night, wanted it so badly she could taste it. Hatred twists in her heart, and memories assault her. Hands clench the window sill, and her head lowers, as she lets the memories wash over her in a bitter storm. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
She'd been foolish to have had so much to drink, and that fact had made it all the worse. It had been followed by another foolishness, a walk in the dark, down an alley, a shortcut to where Aengus' ship waited. They had been waiting for someone to be so foolish. She'd felt something hit the back of her head, had seen stars, then only darkness.
When she woke, her hands were bound behind her by what felt like rope, and above her were several leering faces, staring at her naked figure. They had clearly been waiting for her to wake. She'd fought them as best she could, but there were so many, and the ropes that bound her were attached to something, limiting her movement. They'd forced her legs down and had her, one by one. She'd glared at each of them as they took their turn, setting features to memory, and there was not a one that she'd forget, ever. One of them had started to retreat, in the face of those glaring eyes, as if he could feel the knife already slipping between his ribs. But the jeering of his comrades had been enough to make him continue.
She'd been weak afterwards, weak with the violation of her body, weak with hate and vengeance that she could do nothing with. She'd not struggled as they dragged her off, and stuck her in the hold of a ship. Her eyes adjustedto the dim light, and she was only foggily aware of her ropes being undone,to be replaced by manacles. There was a brief struggle, spurred by the touch of cold metal, but she had no weapon, and they were stronger than she. They left her then, her cheek stinging from the cruel contact of palm to face. She'd been expecting a punch, but considering where she was, perhaps they didn't want to mar her pretty face with bruises. A tug at her chain revealed it was connected to the wall, low, so she couldn't stand if she tried. The manacles cut into her wrists painfully. Looking around, she noticed that the others were chained similarly. There were many others, men and women, mostly young, some almost children. A few looked her way with sympathetic eyes, but most of them had been broken already, no longer caring what lay in store for them. The floor of the room rocked as the slaving vessel put out to sea.
She'd slept when it was dark, eaten when they brought food, and envisioned countless different ways to kill them with every waking moment. They did not touch her again, though she saw other girls being taken out of the hold, to be brought back later, limp bodies and empty eyes. They'd not moved at all when rechained, though occasionally she would hear a whimper as sore flesh was met with a groping hand.
It had been several weeks into the voyage, or so it seemed...one day blended into another so well that it was hard to keep track. They'd left only one guard this night, and she could hear the laughing of the others above, and the clinking of glass against glass. There was enough light for her to see his face. He was one of the ones who had taken her that first night, and she ached to hurt him, to show him one fraction of the pain he'd given her. Instead, her head raised, and she shifted, chains rattling against wood. The sound and movement caught his attention, which was what she desired. Her eyes beckoned him, raking his body...noting where the keys were, and his weapons...as her eyes rose to his again, her tongue darted out to wet her lips in invitation. It was enough. He came to her eagerly, all sweating hands and fetid breath. A smile had curved her lips in welcome......closer...closer...
Her legs whipped around his head, squeezing cruelly, then twisting. She could still feel the vibration in her thighs as his neck had snapped. There had been long, agonizing moments as she tried to get the keys, certain that another slaver would enter at any moment. But they'd been too busy celebrating above. Her wrists finally freed, she grabbed his sword and moved to free the others, casting furtive glances to the door. Several of them rose to their feet, though some could not comprehend their sudden freedom. No matter, she had enough of them to help. In rough whispers, she describedwhat they were to do. Some of them grabbed the fallen slaver's remaining weapons, and some took the chains they had been bound with. They'd crept upstairs to find the majority of the slavers drunk and near to dozing.
The deck had run red with blood.
Those slaver's faces she'd memorized had looked very different in death.
A sigh slips past her lips The replayed memories, satisfied for now, slipped to the back of her mind, to return to haunt her another time. She turns back to the bed, pulling the shirt off over her head and slipping back under the covers, curling against the warm body that awaits. She needs his touch...not for comfort, of course...but to remind her that she is alive...and free.
© 2001 by K. Thornberry