Ann's Tale...

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Summary

After years of abuse, Ann's life goes from being hard to interesting, when visitors arrive from the other side of the Continent.

Genre:
Fantasy / Romance
Author:
Preston Tucker
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
30
Rating:
4.8 5 reviews
Age Rating:
16+

The Siege

It is the 2800s. Flying cars and space travel are forgotten dreams. In the year 2024 the world as it had been has collapsed. Fifty years of war over natural resources wiped out the planet's population of seven billion. Less than 150 million humans survive, many go without electricity, some even lose their freedom to slavery. Gone is society as it was known. In North America two powerful societies control the land mass. From Maine to Pennsylvania down to Virginia is a society called the Eastern Alliance by 2800s is something of a utopia, the Eastern Alliance is made up of 20 City States. But where there is peace and security there is always the opposite. The Empire controls nearly everything else with a few exceptions. The Chinopola are one of these exceptions, they have fought a long war but without allies or the funds for mercenary’s, they suffer defeat after defeat. They are currently backed into their capital city. Worse they are left with 8,000 men for the defense. They have a few pockets of resistance but nothing that can break this siege. It is only a matter of time before General Kemp orders his army to sack the Chinopola’s capital city…

Chapter One: The Siege

1A: Ann’s Point of View.

Focused on her task Ann pushes the needle through the rips on her brothers pants. Jim always rips his pants at the knees. This is the second pair Ann has repaired this week. With resources as tight as they are Ann’s family had to make do with what they had, even clothes are hard to come by.

“Ann honey can you please run down to the bakery we need more flour for dinner?” Asks her mother. Ann’s mother has bright blonde hair and a thin frame. Ann thought her mother is very pretty. Ann gushes when her father said Ann will look like her mom when she grows up.

Ann gets up from the kitchen table, she has finished the work on her brothers pants anyway. While walking towards her mom, Ann brushes her soft blonde hair out of her face, her pale slender fingers brush her bangs behind her ears.

Jill reaches is reaching for a jar on top of the fridge. “Mommy will we need anything else while I am out?” Asks Ann.

Jill reaches into the jar and withdraws a slip of yellow paper. It is a ration card.

“No baby, just pick up a bag of flour.” Says Jill.

Ann nods her head and skips out of the kitchen. Outside Ann covers her hand over her eyes, it is very bright out. She makes her way toward the market, Ann’s family lived near the other highborn families on Highstreet. Highstreet got its name because it is one of the tallest residential streets in the city. You see Ann’s city is built into the side of a large mountain.

From her street she can see the enemies siege engines and soldiers below. Every time she looked at the enemies cannons, it sends shivers through to her core. Ann had never been outside the walls; Ann’s father warns her about the dangers of the outside world, according to him it is a cruel and evil world. Ann’s father is a famous Knight and he serves the King directly. The King isn’t anything special in Ann’s opinion, he is just some old fat guy who tells her father what to do.

While she walks down the street Ann takes in the faces of the passing adults, as usual they look nervous due to the ongoing siege. Ann didn’t know why if an attack was going to come it would have happened already. She pulls her eyes from the nervous adults as she enters the busy city market.

“Hey Ann!” Says a voice through the crowd of people. Ann looks around for the familiar voice and when a cart moves out of the way she sees her friend Joy. Ann walks over and gives her friend a big hug.

“Hi Joy, what are you getting today?” Ann walks over to the bakery line there are twenty people in front of her.

“I am getting salt today.” Responds Joy holding up a purple ration card for the salt. Almost all the vendor’s sold or traded salt.

“What do you guys need salt for?” Asks Ann. With their power grid down, the Chinopola use Salt to preserve the meat. Joy smiles sheepishly at Ann before answering her friends question.

“My mom’s rabbits were butchered this afternoon. We have nearly 45 pounds of meat.” Joy says this in a low voice, so the other people in line don’t hear.

Ann is blown away; she couldn’t remember the last time she had real meat; let alone something as tasty as rabbit... Joy’s family had the rabbits before the siege started six months ago.

Joy’s mother spent considerable time trying to fatten them up. She is often seen picking weeds between the path stones. It looks like her efforts had paid off.

“I wish we had some meat; I am getting sick of bread. Jim did bring home a cat several days ago, but I couldn’t eat it knowing it had been someone’s pet.” Says Ann.

“Well how about this, my mom wants me to fix my father’s shirts, if you can help me I’ll share my lunch with you, we are having a stew...” Offers Joy.

Ann’s mouth is practically watering over the idea of chewing protein. “Okay let me drop off this flour and we will walk over to your house.” Says Ann. She soon stands before the baker. She hands him her ration cards as she says to him.

“My mommy sent me here for a bag of flour.” The baker offers Ann a smile as he takes the yellow slip. He returns with a decent size bag of flour. He hands the dense bag to Ann.

Ann has to carry the bag of flour with both hands. She makes her way back home with Joy following, on the way the girls chat about various things. They recap what happened in their lives since they last saw each other, mostly they just discuss the siege. Like Ann, Joy thought if the Empire was going to attack then they would have done so already.

On their way back to Ann’s house they spy a crowd gathering near the foot of the gallows. Curious Ann and Joy wade through the crowd, being as thin and small as they are the girls have no problem wiggling to the front. Tied to a post on the platform of the Gallows is a shirtless man that Ann recognized.

He is a Knight, Ann has a hard time placing his name, but she had seen him come over twice for dinner with his wife. Ann wonders what the man did to be chained up here. The King’s Steward comes forward.

Ann sees several Knights keeping watch over the crowd in their shiny armor. The steward addresses the crowd.

“Sir Fillmore has been tried and convicted of stealing; he stole nearly 2 tons of flour from the Kings stores. He has since sold it on the black market. The punishment for a crime for this level of theft is death, but the King has decided to be merciful. The accused is to be given 200 lashes with a lead tipped whip.”

Ann looks at the Knight’s face he looks scared. Then Ann looks around Ann sees another Knight making his way up the stairs. He hands the Steward a folded note and when he walks down the steps he spots Ann at the foot of the gallows...

The Knight is her father, known around the city as Sir Roger he is over six feet with long blonde hair. He is the most honorable man Ann ever knew. But he is also one of the most serious. By the look on his face as he comes towards Ann he is not happy to see her here.

“Ann what are you doing? Come here!” Demands her father as he roughly pulls her from the crowd by her forearm.

Joy waves goodbye to Ann. Just then Ann’s ears pick up the scream of the man being whipped. She hears gasps from the crowd as he is being whipped bloody.

“Daddy I didn’t know what was going to happen I swear! I just wanted to take a quick look.” Cries Ann, she needed to voice some sort of defense.

“Ann your mother and I have told you over and over that you are not to go near the Gallows for any reason! There is nothing there for you to see.” Ann knowing, she is going to be punished stops moving her feet, she stomps her foot on the ground in frustration.

“Daddy I don’t see what the problem with seeing it once is. I have seen you whip Jim. It is no big deal...” States Ann defiantly.

“A man is whipped to near death... You think that it is no big deal? That just shows how completely unready you are. My whipping Jim for misbehaving and that man being flogged for theft are two completely different things and you know it! The way you kids live with your heads in the clouds. You don’t think that any day it could come crashing down! It is like you kids refuse to recognize that our city is under siege...”

Her father escorts Ann into the house, her mother looks surprised to see him. Ann places the bag of flour onto the kitchen table.

“Roger honey what are you doing home so early?” Asks her mother.

“I needed to deliver a letter from the Prince to the Steward. I found the Steward. You will never guess who I also found at the foot of the gallows…” Says Sir Roger. Ann’s mother casts an angry look in her direction.

“Oh, she was not!” Ann quivers as her mother walks crossly towards her. “Ann what is the meaning of this?” Demands Jill sternly.

“I didn’t know what was going on! I saw the crowd gathering and just wanted to see what the fuss is wa---” He mother cuts her off mid-sentence. Ann is made to look into Jill’s serious blue eyes. She firmly holds Ann in place as she stresses.

“There is nothing there for you. If you had saw that man punished you would have nightmares for years...” Says her mother. Sir Roger turns around and makes for the door.

Jill calls to her husband before he walks out the door.

“Roger why don’t you stay for a little while; I have just finished a loaf of bread. I even have some butter around here.” Roger smiles and walks over to Jill. He gently places his gloved hand on her lower back. His iron armor made noise as he embraces his wife, he gives her a gentlemanly peck on the cheek.

“I would love nothing more than to spend a few minutes with you Jill, unfortunately I have to ride with the Prince today. I think we might try and surrender. He is going to parlay with the Empire.” Roger leaves his wife to chastise his daughter and begins to make his way towards the stables at the city gate.

1B: Sir Roger Point of View.

He walks through the city; everyone’s morale is hanging by a thread. They look to him like he should do something, but what? The fact remained their army is not even a quarter of what it was. Their last defeat in the field, led them here to the current situation. They were outnumbered and outgunned.

Sir Roger finds his horse has already been saddled by the stables groom. Sir Roger pulls his rifle off his shoulder and places it into a boot on the left side of the saddle. Riding his horse out of the stable Sir Roger notices the Prince and several other Knights are gathering by the gate.

“Sir Roger would you like to hold the Kings Standard?” Asks the Prince.

The Knight extends his hand to lift the banner, once he has it the gate is open just enough to let the seven men exit in a single file line. Prince Henry rides at the front, he is tall and strong with thick ginger hair. He had fought hard during the war, yet he like everyone else, the Prince retreated to the city after the armies defeat.

Roger follows after the Prince carrying the standard, he hadn’t ridden his horse in a long time. Only the cities best horses were spared slaughter, the rest had been eaten months ago. Food was becoming scarcer by the day, he glances back at the city, he zeros in on the castle at the top of the mountain and wonders how long the city could hold out for.

Near the bridge several hundred yards from the city gate they spot a cluster of riders from the Empire. The Prince’s calls out to the enemy as they approach.

“General Kemp how fares the day?” Shouts to Prince to the enemy. The General pushes his mount forward to ride up alongside the Prince. Tall even on horse back he could possibly be a foot taller than Sir. Roger. His cold eyes show arrogance and certainty…

“It has been productive... We are just preparing to take your city. I found it curious timing that you wished to parlay. So, tell me what you plan to offer me?” Asks the General.

“My father the King wants this siege over, he’s prepared to surrender the city.” Informs the Prince.

“As you can see after last night’s delivery, I have the firepower necessary to level this city.” States the General. The Prince nods his head in acknowledgement.

“Yes, you have the guns, but you also have other wars to fight surely sparing the lives of thousands of your men is something of concern.” Says the Prince. The General smiles like he is hearing a funny joke for the first time.

“So, what are your father’s conditions to this surrender?” Asks the General.

“Simple, you allow our people to leave the city unharmed. My father and I will submit to your custody. In return our men will lay down their arms. When we are given passage, we will abandon everything else leaving the city to you.” Offers the Prince.

The General shakes his head…

“Your people are part of the city we wish to plunder. If I recall your nation did not have much wealth to start with. Therefore, we will be hard pressed to find any stockpiles of gold. In fact, one could argue that your only worthwhile export are all those pretty woman of yours... Wait, that might work, my men have been away from their wives for so long that they are starting to become ravenous. If you send me out two women for every one of my soldiers then your King can have his peace.” Says the General with a mocking tone.

“General… Slavery is taboo among my people we don’t believe in selling something that is born free.” Says the Prince firmly.

The General begins to laugh, the laugh chills Sir Roger to the bone. Sir Roger inches his horse closer to the Prince, something felt off.

“Listen young Prince, truly there are no terms you could offer that will save your people from their fate. If the Emperor asks for this city to be raised, the men put to the sword and the woman and children sold at auction that is just what I plan to give him.”

Just then the bang of a large gun in the distance is heard! Out of nowhere a large shell smashes into the main wall with a massive and fiery explosion!

At the same time dozens of men with rifles had slipped under the bridge undetected, Sir Roger seeing the soldiers, ignored the cannon fire and puts himself between the General and the Prince…

He knocks the General off the saddle with the King’s standard! The enemy fire at the Prince from under the bridge and strike him several times! The armor piercing rounds punch right through his breastplate. Sir Roger brakes away from the chaos with the Prince draped over the horn of his saddle, he rides back to the city at a thundering canter!

Sir Roger makes it through the gate without being shot. His horse is not so lucky the animal limps to a stop. Sir Roger sees two midwives and several guardsmen approaching, he pulls his rifle from the boot of his saddle and barks information to a group of nearby soldiers, then the two midwives.

“They have started the attack! Call all men to the walls, get the Prince inside he’s been shot!” Leaving the prince with the woman Sir Roger runs from his injured horse and makes for the battlements. On his way he spots his son, Jim is frozen in the courtyard from fear...

The boy looks up as rockets streak across the sky. Just then a rocket barrels into the courtyard and punches through the front of a shop! The building explodes and knocks both Jim and an approaching Sir Roger over...

He stands up and his ears are ringing, Sir Roger feels a trickle of blood sliding down his face.

“Jim. Jim!” He shouts. Roger assumes his son must also have his ears ringing. It takes Jim a second but the boy settles down slightly, Jim listens to what his father has to say.

“Listen to me boy!” his son looks like Sir Roger; except he has same fair skin and soft blonde hair as his mother and sister. “Jim, I need you to get your mother and sister. Run as fast as you can, don’t stop for anyone go to the temple! Go there now we won’t be able to hold them off for long!” Shouts Sir Roger over the noise of encroaching gunfire.

Sir Roger runs from his son shouldering his rifle. He starts up the stairs to the battlements. His Son is still looking to the battlements, but Sir Roger is going to have to try and buy the city some time.

1C: Jim’s Point of View.

Jim is frozen for a second watching the men on the battlements firing their rifles below at the enemy. Tearing his eyes away from the fighting, Jim begins sprinting towards his home. He will have to climb all the stairs to the top of the mountain, he does not seem to recognize fatigue, so faster he sprints...

As Jim runs up the hill towards his house, he wonders why the alarm bells hadn’t rung yet. Then as he glances towards the bell tower he sees the fire trail of a rocket; it smashes into the building! Jim actually feels the heat from the rocket even being 200 yards away.

He takes ten more steps before the heavy bell from that tower lands several feet in front of him!

Jim dives out of the way as the bell rolls down the hill! Getting to his feet Jim resumes his desperate gambit to reach his home.

Jim bursts through the front door and he finds Ann huddled under the kitchen table. His mother runs down the stairs.

“Mom! Dad says the city is under attack you have to come with me to the temple!” Jill runs over to the table and grabs Ann by the hand and passes Ann to Jim.

“Ann go with Jim; listen to everything Jim says he is going to take you to the temple.” Says Jill.

Jim begins to argue with his mother, she needed to come with him he couldn’t leave without her...

“Mom you need to come with me and Ann, dad says you need to come, please...” Begs Jim pulling her towards the door.

“Baby I will be right behind you; I have to help Grandma. I promise, I will meet you there get Ann to safety now!”

Jim grabs Ann’s hand and sprints down Highstreet towards the temple. The temple is just on the street above them he sprints up the steps and eventually sees the bell tower. Near the castle they see scores of people begging to get in. There are no assurances that the Empire will leave the Temple untouched. Seeing as Ann’s people share the same gods as the Empire they might not want to burn it down.

When they approach the temple, they see guards pushing clusters of scared people out of the way, Jim and Ann slip under the legs of the adults to get closer. The Bishop stands at the top of the temple stairs, he speaks loudly to address the crowd.

“Only highborn woman and children my seek refuge here!” The guards push people back to let the noble woman through. Jim and Ann fall into line. He shouts to the guards.

“Our father is Sir Roger, he commanded me to bring my sister here!” One of the nuns heard Jim and she says something into the ear of the guard blocking their passage. He lets them by, they are ushered inside the temple.

Scores of terrified woman and children sit in the pews. Some of the woman pray to the gods, some of them hug their children, others just cry. Jim didn’t want Ann to see any of this, to prevent this he leads her to the stairs, they climb all the way to the tip and sit down next to the temple bells.

From up here Jim looks out of the open tower windows and hears the rolling sound of gunfire. Jim and Ann watch the fire trails of rockets as they continue to bombard the city. From the direction of the main gate, Jim suddenly notices a giant mushroom cloud of fire and smoke!

Ann squeezes Jim around the waist hiding her face from the world. Jim lifts her face out of his shirt he sees tears swelling up in her pretty blue eyes. “Is Daddy going to be okay?” Asks Ann. Jim didn’t want to lie to her, but he couldn’t and wouldn’t scare her more.

“He’s tough I am sure he will fight them off.” Lies Jim.

Jim’s words are utterly meaningless, twenty minutes later the screams of terrified women drift up to the tower of the temple. Jim looks down and sees a massive stampede coming from the direction of the gate. The people run by the temple and sprint towards the direction of the King’s castle. Behind the herd are hundreds of enemy soldiers in pursuit!

He isn’t prepared for what he sees, and to boot Jim isn’t quick enough to cover Ann’s eyes from seeing the men fire their rifles into the backs of the fleeing civilians. After Ann sees a woman carrying a child ripped apart. Jim forces Ann’s head into his chest.

Jim unfortunately is unable to look away at the horrible sight the continues to unfold. Jim hugs Ann uselessly telling her over and over they will be okay. Covering her eyes did nothing to stop her from shaking, because she still hears the screams of their people, the sounds of war brought by their enemies is overwhelming.

His heart wrenches when he watches as three men run down a woman just outside of the temple. One of the men knocks her to the ground with his rifle, in her arms she carried a toddler, he falls from his mother’s arms as she is hit! The man who hit her rushes forward and smashes the child’s head with the butt of his rifle!

One of the soldiers pulls the woman towards the flat platform of a nearby wagon. With her son’s brains leaking into the gutter the men tear at her clothes, they begin to defile her in broad daylight, in the middle of the street!

Jim tears his eyes away from the men attacking the woman. It is no use as fifteen feet from that Jim sees half a dozen women and children cowering under another wagon 30 yards from the temple. The enemy soon finds them and draws their swords, once they dragged them out, they aren’t spared any violence.

One woman shouts above the noise of the slaughter, Jim’s eyes are drawn to her in an instant.

“PLEASE LET HER LIVE!!”

A man holds the howling woman, as another man roughly rips a baby from the bundle on the ground. The man holds the baby by the folds of its small and soft feet... He grips the feet tightly together and uses one hand to swing the baby like a club!

Jim covers his mouth as the soldier cracks the baby’s head onto a stone wall!! The soldier holds the limp body of the infant and blood pours out of her little body... Laughing the soldier drops the corpse of the infant, walks towards the now shrieking mother. To end her wailing one of the men cut her throat, the soldiers move on to their next victims...

After that Jim could no longer stomach to watch he closes his eyes and has no choice but to listen to the screams. This chaos went on for hours and yet during all of it not one soldier attempted to touch the temple.

The sun was setting when a sullen silence creeps through the city. Jim opens his eyes only to see bodies and blood. His attention is suddenly captured, when Jim hears the clicking of a horse’s hooves on the cobblestone street outside. The person causing this disturbance is what looks to be an officer riding towards them, his plate armor is covered in blood. The officer trots over to a group of soldiers clustered in front of the temple.

“Centurion!” Says the officer with authority.

The soldiers snap to attention, as one of the more senior looking soldiers steps forward, out of respect he holds the officers horse as he dismounts. The Centurion is covered in gore himself; Jim can hear the men if he listens closely.

“Yes Sir” Inquires the man addressed as Centurion.

“Has this temple been touched?” Asks the officer.

“No Sir! It has been left unmolested as per the General’s orders. I have been giving the building my full supervision, no one has entered or left since the city was sacked.” Answers the Centurion.

The officer walks up the steps of the church and knocks. Jim can hear the people whimpering downstairs. “Jim are they going to come in?” Asks Ann he can hear the fear in her voice.

“I don’t know...” Says Jim unsure he listens to the officer outside the temple.

“I know you are listening. I will grant you temporary quarter if you come out peacefully. If you attempt to hurt myself or my men, I will order everyone inside to be butchered like the rest of the populace! You have two minutes to come out or I knock theses doors down and pull you out, make your choice quickly!”

The officer walks down the steps and not a second later the temple doors are open, people start filing out.

Jim and Ann watch dozens of people walking in a line filling up the street. Jim heard the officers voice.

“Search for anyone inside.” Orders the officer.

Jim hearing his order decides to leave the temple’s bell tower. He walks down the steps and three soldiers approach them. Jim can smell the sweat and blood on their clothing.

“We found two, get outside quickly!” Orders the soldier pointing towards the doors. Ann his slow to move, one of the soldiers loses patience with her pace, he kicks her hard in the backside. Ann falls forward hitting the ground, Jim helps her up and clutches his fist giving the soldier a dirty look. The enemy soldier takes this look of Jim’s as a sign of aggression.

The soldier rips Ann from Jim’s grip, Jim’s heart skips a beat seeing her helplessly lifted off her feet. He bends her over the pew, and he holds a struggling Ann by her neck. At the same time the soldier pulls Ann’s britches down! He smacks her bare bottom hard and leaves a glowing red handprint.

“You still want to hit me boy?” Challenges the soldiers. Jim falls to his knees and bags the soldier to let Ann go.

“No, I swear I don’t want to fight! Please Sir don’t hurt her!” Begs Jim. The soldier laughs in Jim’s face.

“I am no Knight boy!” Jim looks at the man afraid, he doesn’t know what to do… The soldier laughs again seeing Jim’s face. He smacks Ann even harder on the bottom.

“That’s right boy this should scare you, I could fuck her bloody and what could you do about it?”

The man leaves Ann bent over the pew and lifts his foot towards Jim face. Jim on his knees begging for Ann’s life. Felt his head turn and his nose painfully pop. His face fills with blood he would have black eyes in the morning for sure!

“He can do nothing but if you defile that girl in this temple. I will have you castrated!” The voice cracks like a whip and the speaker is none other than the officer who ordered the temple to surrender. The soldier releases Ann who slides forward into the pew and curls up in a fetal position crying.

“Ann come on we can’t say here” With her eyes filled with tears Ann follows Jim out of the temple.

Jim ignores the blood running down his face, he gently helps Ann to pull her pants up as they exit the temple. They are forced to sit with the other children. Ann and Jim are tied back to back and left sitting on the cold ground.

They sat there all night; they heard the sounds of battle as the King’s castle fell overnight. Once the castle falls the enemy soldiers danced and drank. Ann, Jim and the other children are forced to watch as several of their guards take the older highborn woman nearby.

The sounds of their cries are almost as bad as what happens next. Several officers ride up to their spot and one of them has a list in his hand.

“Sir Nigel, we have found the highborn registry.” Sir Nigel as he is known, takes the list and addresses his soldiers.

“Ask their names, if they are not on this list, take them off to the side and cut their throats.” Orders the Knight with no remorse.

It is a fresh horror to behold. They watched as a boy no older than Ann reveals himself to be a commoner. They pull the boy by the ankle; nothing could save him as the 170-pound soldier easily pulls him away from the crowd. With a clear shot on his neck, the knife is plunged into the boys flesh!

Ann squeals in pain she isn’t used to seeing people murdered in cold blood, Jim isn’t used to it either, but he had felt numb to feeling after the last several hours.

A soldier, the same soldier who hurt Jim in the temple, kicks Jim’s foot to get his attention.

“Who are your parents?” Presses the soldier.

“Sir Roger and Lady Jill Summers, this is Ann and I am Jim.” The soldier looks at the list with his torch.

“Looks like you are saved again kid. Sir Nigel I have two over here.” Sir Nigel walks over and looks them up and down. Jim sees the dried blood on his armor, he avoids eye contact.

“Put them inside the temple.” Says Sir Nigel. Only twenty children were spared. The woman were marched off somewhere else, Jim assumes to be taken again.

All night they are kept inside the temple at some point Jim dozes off...

The temple doors slam open! Jim jumps as the sunlight comes pouring in it is so bright is blinds him.

“Get up!” Orders a soldiers.

They are forced out the doors. All the children are bound by their wrists and are led through the streets. The children sniffle and cry, as they are paraded by the rotting corpses of their elders and countryman.

Jim sees where they are bringing them, towards the gallows for some reason he isn’t that upset about being killed. ‘At least it will be over quick.’ He told himself.

Looking in front of him to his little sister he wishes he could save her from this fate, but a quick death is better than living without a family.

There had been another platform erected with two thrones. On one throne sits the General for the Empire, in the other throne sits Jim’s King. They overlook the gallows like they are waiting for some event to begin.

“Jim look, oh no, it’s Mom…” Mentions Ann.

Jim’s heart sinks when looking at mother. Jill is naked and filthy; she looks had been tormented all night. Jim looks away in shame he didn’t want to see her like that on display. They are pushed to the foot of the platform. The women are all brought up first.

A well dressed and comely soldier walks up the steps of the gallows, by the cheers of his fellow soldier the man is well liked. He is a smooth-talking person when he speaks.

“My Lords the highborn auction will now begin. This is held away from the other commoners. Here you will find only the prime beauties. Maybe you want a nobles wife to keep you warm at night, or perhaps one of these children. These girls will make fine wives for that third or fourth son or maybe even a toy for yourself…” He let the words linger as the men cheered his words.

Jim watches as the woman are sold one by one, of the woman his mother, is the second to last to be sold. The enemy soldier walks her up, Jim closes her eyes he couldn’t bear to look at her.

“As you can see we saved one of the prettiest for last. Lady Jill Summers is the wife of Sir Roger , if you would take a look at these...” The auctioneer went behind her and grabs her bare breasts, as tears slide down the woman’s face. “As you can see even after having two whelps these don’t move an inch. I am unhappy to say she has been spoiled throughout the night; but used meat is still good meat. We will start the bidding at 30 coins.”

When the bidding is done a fat Lord stumbles forward to pay the 205 gold coins for his mother. Soon it was Ann and Jim’s turn to be sold they were both brought to the top of the gallows.

“Next up we have the children of Sir Roger for sale.” Jim looks out to see a sea of smug faces laughing at his turmoil.

“Here is his son age 11, as you see he will become a strong boy. Who would like to purchase him?” The General stands up and addresses the auctioneer as the crowd listens.

“No offer will be given for the boy, remove him from the block and place him with the children bound for the Conscripts.” Says the General.

1D: Ann Point of View.

Ann looks towards Jim’s terrified face; a guard tries to hall him off but Jim kicks and fights his hardest. “Wait you have to sell us together!” Begs Jim.

Ann listens to the men laugh while Jim is hauled away kicking and screaming for them to be sold together. Then Ann looks down at the ground and hears more snickers. She looks up and realizes for the first time she is all alone…

Her legs shake, the men look hungry. Even though many of them wear shiny and expensive looking armor they reek of scoundrels...

“The last one of Sir Roger’s family for sale is a beauty of seven. You saw what her mother looks like wait until you see this cutie blossom…” He then says in a creepy tone to the men. “Or maybe you won’t.”

He bends down to smell Ann’s hair, shivers flow down her spine. Then she couldn’t hold it anymore she was so scared... With the men laughing at his joke and the auctioneer smelling her hair… Ann’s fear finally boils over; she can’t hold her bladder! When she wets herself, her cheeks redden. This is not missed by the auctioneer…

“Look she is getting wet just thinking of the possibilities!” Mocks the auctioneer.

His tone makes Ann more scared she feels the tears building in her eyes. The men in the crowd laugh like it is the funniest thing they have ever heard.

“Let’s start the bidding at 15 gold coins” Ann didn’t know why almost all the men start to bid on her. Every time the bid got higher the more scared she became. Then there was one final offer.

“I will give 275!” Says unseen voice.

“Sold!” Says the auctioneer.

Ann didn’t see who placed the bid, she is ripped from the stage and handed to a man with blonde hair. He carries Ann away from the crowd and sets her down. When they were away from the gallows the man cuts the rope from her hands.

“You cost me a lot of money.” He says.

Ann didn’t answer she didn’t know what do to do now that she was free of the ropes. She looked down the street for a path of escape, but she saw Empire soldiers everywhere.

“Relax girl I am not going to hurt you, show me where you live. We need to get you a different change of clothes. Unless you would rather ride for two weeks in soiled clothes.” Ann nods her head and leads him to what was once her house.

When she arrives, she is not surprised to see her front door smashed to pieces. She leads him through the wreckage.

“Take two changes of clothes and a cloak if you have one. It will be a cold ride. I doubt you want to ride the entire way under my cloak.”

“Can I please take a picture.” Begs Ann slightly hopeful.

“No, this life is behind you now. Your family as you know it is dead, accept it girl, it will make this life will be much easier on you.” Says the man harshly.

Looking at the hurt on her face he says.

“You may take a toy if you have one.” Ann looks up and nods her head.

She goes upstairs to her bedroom. On the way she looks into the kitchen and sees the bag of flour she picked up yesterday spilled all over the ground.

Inside her room she changes out of her soiled clothing and dresses in the warmest garments she had. She then walks over to her flipped over bed. She had a very soft stuffed lamb. It was accidentally made without a fourth leg. She loved it all the same, her father bought it several days before her fifth birthday. She named the toy Peg. Taking her items Ann hugs her toy and clothes to her chest.

But inside the dining room she sees something and runs over to it. The object is her grandmother’s corpse, she was stabbed so many times. Ann loved her grandmother. She sometimes slept in her bed when it was cold, she would teach Ann songs and how to count. Ann couldn’t help it tears flowing and don’t stop. Her crying brings the man into the dinning room, he drops to know knee and pulls Ann into a hug.

“Oh, don’t look at that sweet girl, come on let’s get you out of this hell.” Says the man.

The man lifts her up and carries her down to street to the main gate.

He nears his horse and places Ann side saddle on the horn. She sees that an escort of almost 50 men ride with them. They ride out of the gate.

Outside the gates Ann sees that the entrance had been cleared of the dead. More horror seems to show its ugly face. Fifty yards from the bridge she saw their faces. Many are still alive and struggling for their last moments of life. They were Knights! She knew all of them, she saw at the foot of the bridge her friend Joy’s father.

All the men had been nailed to crosses. The line of crucified men continues all the way until the foot of the bridge. Ann looks and doesn’t see him until the last face.

She leaps from the saddle causing one of her masters guards to chase after her. “Wait” Says her master stopping the man from grabbing her.

Ann doesn’t pay them any mind. She looks up at her father they had stripped him of his armor, he is covered in cuts. Thankfully they have allowed him to keep his clothes.

“Ann what are you doing here?” he coughs.

His arms are spread out on the rough splintering wood, at his forearms metal spikes had been driven through the bone and wood. He is able to stand, this is meant to prolong the pain, he is even chained to the mast of the cross not that he is going anywhere.

“Child what are you doing you don’t need to see this…” Says her Master.

He looks up at the man that is her father.

“Where are you taking my daughter?” Demands Sir Roger.

“This is your daughter? That explains why the General had your son conscripted.” Speculates the man he introduces himself to Ann’s father.

“I am Sir Robert Cottington, I am taking your daughter back to my lands in the Empire. She will serve as my daughters maid and in time I will find her a good match with a kind man.”

“If you hurt her…” Warns Sir Roger.

“I don’t think you are in any position to issue me threats Sir. I can assure you she will be treated kindly. My children are friendly, and I have no doubt they will regard her as a friend rather than a slave. I promise you that on my honor as a Knight.” Says Sir Robert passionately.

Ann’s father nods his head he looks down at her with tears in his eyes.

“Ann honey I am sorry this happened. You need to be a good girl. Listen to what this man says and always be that sweet girl everybody loves, if you do that I am sure you will find a place. I love you.” Says her father.

Ann runs forward and hugs her father.

“I love you too, I won’t forget you.” Says Ann.

Sir Robert picks up Ann and carries her back to his horse. Ann watches the silhouette of her father at the foot of the bridge as he got smaller. When he was out of view Ann look one last view at her home. The entire mountain has a cloud of smoke covering the top where the castle stood. The city showed no flags, or life. In that moment outside the in the world she had been warned about, she never felt so small and scared. Unsure what else to do Ann buries her face into Sir Roberts cloak and cries…

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