Once again, I catch myself staring at the stupid velvet bag on my mantel. It took me a week to find it and nearly an hour to recover from the shock of its contents. Twenty gold pieces.
A fortune to a peasant girl like me, and yet I can’t bring myself to touch it.
That stupid man has made my life even more of a living hell than it was before.
I’ve had to douse six fires that someone had lit in the brush around my house. My painstakingly tended vegetable gardens and fruit trees have been destroyed.
My home has been pelted with rocks and stones, all my windows smashed.
With those stupid gold pieces I could leave.
I could pack up my belongings and take to the roads with Bow and Arrow by my side.
But I can’t bring myself to touch those blasted coins!
And what of the boar? What would become of them should I leave?
I go back to tending my remaining plants, the harder to find herbs of the forest that I found and replanted in my home.
I am woken by screams. Not human screams, and to me that is more terrifying.
I run from my home as one of the boar comes crashing through the brush toward me, tears streaming down her face terrified snout.
There are spears sticking out of her hide and blood coats her body.
Before I can do anything, before I can help even a little, an arrow hits her eye and she crumbles.
She wheezes out her last breaths at my feet and I feel my heart break.
But I don’t have time to mourn. I am surrounded.
A man takes hold of my arm and, without hesitation, I turn and jam my knees into his ribs.
I hear then snap as he doubles over and the rest descend.
A searing pain my ribs alerts me to the fact that I have been stabbed and then I am forced into the dirt.
The men tear at my clothes, leaving me naked and bleeding on the ground as they laugh and sneer.
They throw my belongings into a bag and poke me with my own blades.
I feel cuts open up all over my body.
“Woah! Goran, look ’ere!”
There is panicked shuffling, rapid puffs and grunts and my beloved horses are bought out for the crowd to see.
I am kicked brutally in my ribs, the breath knocked from my lungs and the bones crunching.
But I fight harder. They can not have my horses. Not my Bow and Arrow.
I roll, naked as the day I was born and kick the legs out from beneath the men around me.
My vision is blurred, telling me I’ve lost more blood than I thought, but I keep going. Arrow has seen me, my beloved Arrow, and is trying his best to struggle against his captors to get to me.
Bow is struggling too, but she does not have the strength that Arrow does.
More men take hold of their reigns and manes and I am tackled to the ground.
I am beaten, beaten until I can no longer move, and then a man throws me over his shoulder.
“Got ya now ye evil whore,” he growls into my ear.
I watch over his shoulder as my home is burned to the ground and I can not move.
“Gather villagers, for I have conquered the Witch!” Shouts the man someone before called Goran.
The villagers exit their homes, some cheering, but others look at me in horror.
“What have you done to her?!” Exclaims the Baker.
He looks appalled.
His wife, the reason the Baker was the most subdued of all the men in the village, is crying and clinging to his arm as she watches these men parade me around the village square.
“Well, well,” gloats the Blacksmith. “Look at that. The bitch has finally gotten her punishment.”
“For what?!” Cries the Bakers wife, stepping out into the clear. “All she ever did was heal our children. How could you hate her for that!”
“Now, now Mildred. I think the violence might have made you a bit hysterical,” the Bakers panicked voice floats to my ears as he shuffled his disgusted wife back inside their home.
It would have been nice to know I had an ally in this town before now.
Her crime is cowardice, and she is just as complicit in this as the rest of the village.
I am thrown into a small, cramped, iron caravan. I land on my face, possibly braking the bone of my cheek, and the door is shut to the sound of cheering and my horses panicked shouts for me.