Chapter 12: Battle for the Village
I went to sleep early that night ignoring the noise of the party coming from the main room. I wasn’t sure how these people had the energy to party every night, or maybe these were just a couple special days they were celebrating or something. I would ask Fire tomorrow. If I asked Sandy I was just as likely to get mean Sandy as nice Sandy. Hadn’t I asked Dan to train me? I felt like he would be a nicer trainer than Sandy…
At some point Rod woke me by stumbling into the room. “Lovely Liv, why not enjoyyyyy the party… Quite a lot of fun ya know…” His speech was slurring and I jumped up and helped him stumble over to my bed. I’d been so tired I’d forgotten he needed looking after. He fell asleep on my bed even before I’d made it around to my side.
I slipped into the bed and gently stroked his white hair. In some ways he was more innocent than me. I gently kissed his forehead and then lay my head back on the pillow to fall asleep.
I blearily blinked my eyes as I felt myself come slightly awake and forced myself all the way awake. My head leaning against Rod’s shoulder on the pillow. I forced myself to sit up and move away from him.
I got up and started putting on my boots when the door opened. I jumped up, but it was just Fire standing there in the doorway. “Liv, I brought ya a change of clothin’ so ya dona have ta use ya leather stuff no more.”
“I don’t know what to say… Thank you so much Fire. This stuff does get uncomfortable.” I felt tears gathering in my eyes and I wasn’t sure why. I felt… I felt like someone cared. I took the offered shirt and trousers. It was undyed and plain, but it was soft and seemed like it would be much more comfortable than the stiff leather I was currently in.
Fire looked around and saw Rod in my bed. “I would ask if ya wanted ta move in with me tonight ‘cause I noticed ya dona seem ta like da party, but I guess ya dona wana leave ya man.”
I look at Rod feeling this wonderful warmth spread through me at the sight of him. “I… I want to move in with you. I will move in with you tonight. I can be with him after we build a house. For now my brother, he, and I can simply share a house…”
Fire shook her head vehemently, “I would’n leave him on his own. He’s… pretty, and… different, new, neva’ seen before. I dona know, but I say stay or ya’ll lose him ta the pretty girls waitin’ for ya to slip and him ta wanna new girl.”
I felt torn. I didn’t want to stay in this building in the center anymore, but at the same time I wanted to be with him. I didn’t want to leave him to be drunk and stupid by himself.
I looked back at Fire who was standing quietly inside my room. “Do the parties happen every night? Will they end?”
“They dona hold parties like da ones ya’ve seen every night. This is da spring fest parties. There are gatherin’s here every night, but they’re calmer. Just people sittin’ ‘round talkin’ ‘bout life.” Her eyes were boring into me as she spoke. They were asking me to choose her and a place of peace or Rod and protecting him from the parties and the girls that would step in and take him from me in a heartbeat.
“I’m sorry Fire, but I think I need to stay with him and hold onto him. I think I love him. I don’t… I don’t want to lose what I just found.” I looked down not wanting to see the disappoint in her face, but then she was there standing in front of me and she lifted up my face. It reminded me of how Kevin used to lift up my head to look at him.
She was smiling. She didn’t look disappointed at all. “Dona worry, I understand completely. If it was one of da people I love… I would wanna hold ‘em to me.”
I found myself smiling in return. Fire was one of the nicest people I had ever met. She always seemed happy and helpful, and I couldn’t help but wonder if anything could get her spirits down.
“Wake ya man, change, and meet Sandy where ya were yesterday. I woke ya so ya would’n be late to Sandy’s lesson. She dona like it if people are late.”
“Thanks Fire! I’ll see you at the loom this afternoon.” Fire smiled, waved and left leaving me standing there holding the clothing.
I needed Rod’s help to get out of the corset… I would need to wake him. I should’ve asked Fire for help.
I walked over and shook him gently, “Rod, Rod. Time to wake up. I need your help.”
Rod slowly sat up and held his head, “Liv… is that you… my head… it hurts.”
“You partied last night and stumbled into bed late. You should stay away from the parties if you don’t want to wake up tired with a headache…” I sat next to him and pulled him close to me. He leaned against my shoulder, and I stroked his hair before suddenly remembering I needed to go out to meet Sandy soon.
“Rod sweetheart, I know your head hurts… but could you loosen the corset lacing for me?” But he just rubbed his head on my shoulder.
Damn it. I would have try and undo this myself. I carefully helped him lay back down against the bed. I struggled to reach the tie behind my back, and I finally managed to undo it and loosen the laces. It felt so good to take the corset and collar off. I pulled on the soft wool shirt Fire passed me and enjoyed the feel of the soft fur against my skin.
I switched into the pants as well and put on my boots. I walked over to Rod laying on the bed and gently kissed him on the lips and pulled away, “See you tonight.” He reached out to grab me, but I evaded his reach and left.
Sandy and Dan were both waiting for me at the training ground and Sandy was glaring at me. It was her voice that greeted me, “You’re late. And apparently ya asked Dan ta train ya… Well since I’m his trainer as well I’ll work with both of ya. Now, let’s go do our laps.”
This time I didn’t stand around and wait. I started jogging. Dan and Sandy took off and ran much faster than me, but I knew my pace could sustain me.
I came in breathing heavily to find Dan and Sandy wrestling on the ground. As soon as I walked up though they stopped.
Sandy taught me to punch correctly, and then I simply punched a straw man for a while, and then Sandy took me in the barn and taught me how to take care of Kingston’s feed, stall and grooming. Apparently I had to do this every morning and night before training and after weaving. She said she would teach me about tack later, and then she sent me away to go work with Fire.
I took care of Kingston that night, and got back to find Rod surrounded by girls. They backed off as I came in. I was so tired I didn’t want to deal with it… But I had to. I walked up and kissed him right there in front of them. He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me close when our kiss finished. He whispered in my ear, “I’m always yours dear Liv. I know your tired, but you don’t have to worry.”
“Can we go to bed Rod? I’m so tired. Between Sandy’s lessons and Fire’s having me weaving… I just want to spend some time with you.” I stood on my tippy toes so I could kiss him again, and I tried to pull him toward my room while kissing him, but he pulled back and away from me.
“I’ll be in later tonight. I just want to get to know some of the people of the village better since it seems like we’ll be staying here. You should get to know them as well. In fact, there’s a girl here that has the same name, but she goes by Liz. Liz,” He motioned someone forward with his hand and a beautiful girl with soft brown skin and curly black hair falling in beautiful ringlets to her shoulders stepped forward and smiled at me.
“Liz, I want you to meet my beloved Liv. Liv, this is my good friend Liz whose been showing me around and convinced me to go to the parties. There’s only tonight’s party and tomorrow’s party left before the partying is over.” Rod sounded so sincere, like he thought I would want to go to the parties and watch his groupies hang onto his every word.
And Liz. I would bet she wanted to be more than just friends with those seductive looks she was sending his way. I felt… terrible. I didn’t want her to be with him. I wanted to launch myself at the little bitch and tell her to back off.
Instead I forced myself to politely smile at her, “Hi Liz. I would love to come to the parties, but the training I am going through is quite exhausting, and I think Sandy would be really mad if I missed training in the morning. She has way too much early morning pep.”
Liz nodded understandingly, “Sweety, I understand, but ya should meet who all is here right now. Like over in da corner, that’s my man Roger. Ya met his best friend da other day, Dan. And of course ya know Sandy over there dancin’ with ya brother. I dona know where she gets all her energy from. And this is my best friend Jasmine, or Jazz as we all call her.” She motioned to a black haired girl with olive colored skin. She smiled and waved excitedly before going back to animatedly talking to the girl next to her.
There weren’t as many people as the first night, so either people got tired of the parties, or they simply hadn’t all arrived and were still coming in.
“I would love to meet all of you but I don’t have Sandy’s energy, and I would have to change into my nice dress.” I was fishing for excuses not to go, and I think Liz could tell from the suddenly gloating expression she sent me before turning back toward Rod.
Rod pulled me close and kissed me before stepping back, “If you’re that tired go ahead and go to bed. I’ll be in later tonight. I promise.” His face was so earnest and innocent. I wanted to trust him. I just didn’t trust any of the other girls.
“I love you dear Roderick. I’ll see you later tonight then.” I stepped forward and pulled him close, and we kissed one last time. We savored it, and when we broke apart both of us were gasping for air.
He wanted me to stay with him, and I wanted him to come with me. Neither of us actually wanted to leave each other, but I was tired, and I didn’t like the parties, and I didn’t want to put on my dress, so I simply turned and walk away feeling like I was leaving my heart behind me.
I lay down on the bed and then he was there trying to climb in quietly, and I sleepily pulled him close and kissed him. We made out that night, but he respected my wishes, and we went no further. He didn’t even ask; we just didn’t go further.
In the morning I woke up to Fire standing in my doorway again, “Come on sleepy head, you have another day to go.”
And I did. I went through about a week in the same training and work regime. The parties became gatherings at night just like Fire promised they would, and Rod slept with me every night much to Kevin’s dismay. He kept trying to tell me something every time about Rod every time I saw him, but whenever he started to talk about Rod I ignored him. I didn’t need his brotherly overprotective self, looking after me. I was a capable woman.
And as time passed the community came together for an hour every evening, and all of us worked on building a house on an empty lot.
My fighting skills were improving. I started to being able to hit the target sometimes when I shot arrows. And I progressed from hand fighting to hitting things with a stick. Sandy reassured me that if it came down to a fight I was safer hiding than trying to hurt anyone. I should have listened.
I was in the clothing making room when I heard the horns that the guards sounded in case of attack, and suddenly Fire was next to me gripping my shoulder, “Go, Get ye leather gear, and then get ye bow! We must defend the children.”
The children? What did the children have to do with this? I started to run to grab my leather clothing, but changed my mind. I should grab my bow first so I had some weapon to protect myself. I didn’t want to fight. I didn’t want to hurt anyone, but I felt scared and worried. I wanted Rod, but I didn’t know where he was.
I found my way to the archery range and grabbed my bow and equipment and quickly strung my bow. Just in case…
Just in case what? Who were these attackers? Why were people attacking this peaceful village?
I saw a man I didn’t know approaching wielding a sword, and I grabbed an arrow and put it on the string even though my hand was shaking. I didn’t even know if the arrow heads on my arrows could penetrate armor.
He saw me lift the bow to shoot and he started laughing. I released the shot and it bounced off the armor on his legs. Shit. Damn. I had the wrong arrows.
“Practice arrows little girlie? Did ya think practice arrows would hold off a ravenous man like me? Well they won’t little girl. I’m goin’ to put my seed in ye sweet little body, and take ye back to my village to raise little ones since ye obviously don’t have the training the rest of the girls ‘ere have. Ya a spoil of war already little birdy.” I was slowly backing away, and when he said that I turned around and ran.
I wasn’t sure where I was going, but I had to get away from him. I had to find someone to kill him for me. I shook with fear as I ran and I pushed my legs as hard as I could to run toward something, but I found myself cornered and he was there behind me laughing. He walked up laughing and I dropped the bow and backed up against the wall.
He grabbed one arm and I punched him. I started kicking and screaming and trying to punch him, and he started trying to shut me up and cursing. Finally he hit me pretty hard. And I started seeing spots, and as my knees buckled, my vision went dim. I thought I saw someone else in the distance. But my vision was gone and I collapsed with the man holding me.