She could hear them breathing, hear the slight movements of their hands and arms coming from the signals they gave each other about her perceived whereabouts. This, along with the crunch of snow beneath their boots and sharp intakes of breath from the frigid air they were breathing gave away their exact locations. But, it was clear they did not know where she was. Knowing her location was unacceptable.
And why would they know where she was? Boys. They sent boys to kill her.
The last light of the day was slowly fading below the trees and their shadows began to stretch across the earth as if reaching for her from across a great distance. “Join the club,” she thought.
She wasn’t sure which was the bigger insult — that her ex-captors still wanted her dead after what they did to her, or that they sent these boys all this way to finish the job. After robbing her emotion and feeling, you would think they would leave it at that. Be satisfied that that was enough. That to leave her alone with the memories of their brand of torture would be punishment enough for her escape.
Alone, she was. Left alone, she was not.
She would always be alone after what they did to her. Nobody could possibly know how she felt, what she experienced in those caves. Nobody that was alive, at least. Women never left those caves, only entered. She was the first. She was on a mission of firsts, and if all went accordingly to plan, also of lasts. She, the one for whom the shadows were cast.
Boys. She couldn’t get over this. They sent boys to kill her — four to be exact.
Touching the gash under her left eye, she was reminded that even boys get lucky from time to time. But she would use their small victory hours earlier to her advantage. Use this boost to their egos against them and manipulate the confidence they now had, but didn’t deserve. Let them come closer, let them let their guard down and believe they knew what it took to get past her defenses.
Defenses she never let down unless by design.
A light snow began to fall and the touch of flakes on her face signaled her instincts that it was time to change the fact that these boys were still warmly, breathing bodies on the other side of the crumbled wall she was hiding behind and not cold, dead corpses lying at her feet. It was also at that moment she decided to give her attention first to the one who was trying to crawl up behind her, the one who did know her location but also thought his companions were successfully serving as decoys.
The look of surprise on his face as she smoothly turned to block his attack almost made this all worthwhile. Her pivot was perfectly timed and she blocked his blow with her armored forearm while burying the dagger held in her other arm into his chest. It was no coincidence her dagger punctured his lung, no coincidence his knee shattered from the kick she issued immediately afterwards. He would be dead before the sun set.
All in one motion she rose from her crouch and pulled the ax from behind her back. The remaining three were already approaching her location after hearing the scuffle and now had their swords drawn.
Boys. They sent boys to kill her and it didn’t take her long to finish them off, the last of which she took from behind as he ran away in fear once he realized they were greatly misinformed about who they were sent to kill.
If she cared, this would be the moment when she vowed revenge on those who sent them to kill her.
But, she didn’t care. They had made sure she would never care again.
Her mind slowly came back to the present and her eyes focused on the boy asleep next to their camp fire. She knew her son was as lost as she was, and for that she almost felt something. Almost.