We never smelled the smoke or heard the march of soldiers through the trees. I was walking to greet my father when the first arrow flew straight through his skull. His limp body fell to the ground, soon followed by all the other men. The boys were all bound still by nets and the mothers were grabbed by vicious looking men in leather and iron armor, some with bows at the ready. I hid in the bushes in front of the Town Hall.
The boys were taken away, still caught in the nets. The women were dragged by whoever had caught them, my mother was just beyond the tree lines, another man on top of her. I curled up and rocked myself to stay quiet. The clomp of horses hooves sucking on the soaked ground startled the men who had decided to do their business with their new slaves stopped just short of where I was.
Two gray, almost white, mares stood still as their riders fastened them to the poles of the halls awning. The older man scowled at the impropriety of his soldiers, his graying hair held out of his face by a band, his armor almost entirely iron, only his helmet was made of leather. On his left was a boy, who seemed only a few years my senior, with black hair cut short and pushed back. He looked just like the man next to him.
"Lieutenant, I hope you got a head count first before playing around." The old man said, his permanent scowl breaking long enough to show his displeasure of his men. A scrawny man lazily saluted the man with a devilish grin.
"Of course commander. All twenty men are dead. The sixteen boys are accounted for and the twenty-six women are here. Seventeen of the eighteen girls have also been counted. We have assumed the one missing is either dead or ran to the woods. The trackers are searching now, since they hold the same 'virtues' as you do, sir." His voice reeked of too much ale and not enough actual food.
"I hope one day you realize your stupidity is what will kill you, lieutenant." The commander said in such an even voice, you couldn't tell if he was serious or not.
"What do you mean by that, sir?" The lieutenant asked with such fear, half the men let out nervous sputters of laughter.
"You know full well what I mean. Now all of you go back to camp. I must finish up here alone with my son." He shouted. The men all jumped up and rounded their new 'toys' up and trotted away and when the last of them were gone, he looked right where I was hiding.
"Come out child, I promise no harm will come to you. My son as the witness." His whole demeanor had changed from stern, to soft and sympathetic. I was timid and couldn't trust him, except his son seemed confident in his father and believed him. I was sure he had seen far worse than the current situation. I slowly stood and stepped out of the shrubs.
"Come, help me bury those who did not live. I know your burial rites require one of the clan to preform it who is not in chains." He made a wide sweeping motion, beckoning me towards the pile of bodies stacked hectically at the edge of the village.
"Father, why does only she under stand you? You are not even speaking out loud." The boy said in a high pitched voice I could hear.
"They communicate telepathically or in a incomprehensible spoken language. She understands us, but she cannot mimic our spoken tongue." He explained in a deep baritone rumble.
"I can.... speak." I stumbled for the right words. It was weird, but I had always spoken with my voice. The boy was surprised, but his father wasn't.
"The village Voice, or, the next one anyways. I am glad that you are a girl still, otherwise you would be killed. I can offer safe refuge with me. Most village Voices are male. That makes you a valuable ally." His surprise was well hidden.
"My village was destroyed because of you. To speak as if you had not done anything urges me to walk away from your offer, but I know better. But you must know that I am also the wrath. It is my duty to seek vengeance for the death of my people. Allow me this one peace offering to their suffering souls and I will go with you." My speech had evened out by then and my path was clear. I would not tell him for years that I was the Seer for the tribes he had killed. He allowed me to kill the three lieutenants that had led the attack after I burned the village along with the fallen.
To be the rising sun, the ashes must float along the shore
Please wait by the rushing winds as the death of many carries on
Here the cries of the fallen and wait for tomorrow.