Blood and War

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Chapter 49 - Puppy

Catherine waited until all of the men slept before she walked over to the girl, who backed away, uncertain, afraid, but not aggressive.

She pulled the stake from the ground, and the girl frowned again, she easily picked up on the fact that Catherine was much stronger than Priest.

“Come, I know you don’t know any better, but a girl does not do her business before men. Ever. Walk,” Catherine stayed at her back and never took her eyes off the girl. She felt Priest move behind her and knew he would follow.

The girl did her business while she warily stared at Catherine. It was the one thing Catherine did not envy, needing to pee was gross enough.

Catherine’s body absorbed every bit of whatever she did eat. The kid rubbed herself on the ground like a dog and Catherine shuddered in distaste, something the girl picked up on. She was not dumb, just terribly abused.

“I think you need a bath,” Catherine said, and the frown was back as the girl mimicked washing.

“I mean a real bath, not washing your face. Walk,” they headed to a small stream near the camp and the girl stared at it, then at her tied hands.

“I’m not untying you. You understand I cannot take that risk? Now stand still, don’t move and don’t breathe,” the warning was clear, and Catherine almost smiled as the girl literally held her breath.

She still growled when Catherine tugged at the tattered clothes, and she was really trying to keep still, but her fear was almost palpable.

She cringed again and finally, Catherine just pulled her knife. The girl stilled completely. The growl turned to a snarl that turned to a yelp of fear, as Catherine simply took her by the scruff of the neck. It rendered the girl incapable of movement, and Catherine cut the stinking tatters from her before she let go.

The girl fell to her knees, skittered away and came up short on the rope before her brain kicked in and she realized Catherine only wanted her out of her rags. She whined at the loss of the clothes.

“Bath now, we don’t have all day,” the girl skittered again as a rag, a bar of sweet smelling soap and towel landed beside her on the leaves.

She made a little harsh sound at the cold water, then started washing what she could reach and ended up playing in the water. Catherine finally sighed, took off her own clothes, took up the rope with the girl starting to skitter again and thrash.

Catherine turned her around and held her by the scruff of her neck again, before proceeding to scrub her thoroughly as if she were two and not nearly a woman.

She also washed the tangled mess of hair, which ended up in a battle every time she had to rinse, but she didn’t stop until the girl was thoroughly clean.

Then she rubbed her dry with the towel and dressed her in a clean pair of trousers, one of her own blouses which hung on the much shorter and much more petite girl like bags, but at least they were clean.

Getting the hair untangled and dry was another battle, but the girl quickly realized that battling Catherine was kind of pointless.

“I had a Husky like you once, a dog. It was the prettiest thing, yet it loved getting dirty and getting it cleaned up was a chore. Until one day my father tired of me wasting my time and strangled it.

He got me a Doberman instead. I hated it, and it hated me. The damn thing lived for nearly sixteen years, and it could barely move in the end, but it refused to die.

Just half an hour before it finally did die, it bit me one last time. My father thought it was funny. I didn’t,” the little tale kept the girl still long enough for Catherine to finish. So she shortened the rope and put the stake in the ground.

“Keep still and sit on that rock, I’ll be finished in a minute,” Catherine instructed as she quickly took a bath herself. Long before she finished, the girl fell asleep, curled up on a flat piece of rock with her thumb in her mouth, like a baby trying to soothe itself.

“Priest,” Catherine didn’t raise her voice. She knew he was near enough to hear them, but far enough for privacy. He appeared within a minute, took one look at the girl, and his face almost softened from its usual severity.

“It’s almost wrong that something that could look so innocent, could kill a grown man with ease,” he murmured, and just then the girl woke. She skittered upright, tense, wary, but not mindlessly so.

“She has to have a name,” Catherine speculated, although by now she came to the conclusion that the there was some problem. The girl could growl and hiss, but she could not scream or talk.

“We’ll ask the guys to name her,” Priest took the rope, and she came without him having to say so.

This time she started for the camp without being told. It took her a moment to realize they were in no hurry and she began to investigate the mushrooms that grew everywhere, an animal that startled her.

She almost got at a rabbit that ducked from its hole, and it was like walking a curious dog, one that walked upright. She responded instantly to their commands.

Don’t get your hands dirty, don’t eat that and don’t touch that. She was almost like a toddler, and yet she learned quickly.

Poor baby.

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