The High Queen Sorceress (complete)
Author: jessicaw

Chapter 4
chapter 4

A man yelled angrily and a thick rope snapped against her bare back, breaking the skin as it touched her. Her eyes popped wide open in terror and pain. The man towered in front of her. His legs apart and his arms folded. The whip hung limply from his right hand.  

He was a tall, olive colored man with beady black eyes and a thick brown mustache that curled upwards at the end. He had thick muscles and thighs almost three times the size of her waist. He wore plain armor from head to foot. A purple feather was the only decoration he wore. The plumb stood erect from the top of his helmet. Purple was the color of royalty. Only the king’s personal guard wore purple.      

The man stared at her angrily. “What have you done you witch?” He shrieked. She looked fearfully up into the man’s angry eyes. She was still tied to the rock.  Confusion crossed her terror stricken face. She looked like nothing more than a baby in his shadow. She blinked and he smacked her across the face. The pain from the blow ran through her jaw. Her arms came up to shield her face. The sudden movement infuriated the man. He grabbed the rope that held her, severing it with his strength alone and lifted her into the air as effortlessly as sweeping a leaf off the ground. She shrieked in terror. He was going to kill her.

She clung to his massive arm as he swung her through the air. The wind whipped around her, licking at her flesh in hungry mocking tones. She whimpered in fear, trying as best as she could not to make a sound. The motion was too much; she was going to be sick. “Oh please Kama” She begged silently. “Please do not make me be sick.” She looked to the sky as she clung to the man like a pig on a roasting stick. He held her tiny waist in his large hand and shook her up and down, trying to shake her off, to let her fall and hit her head. She knew he was hoping she would smack it so hard it would crack, then she would bleed out and die a slow painful death.   

 “What is going on here?” came a loud, angry and sharp tone. Abruptly, the man stopped shaking her. He tried to put her down but she clung to him out of sheer terror. He did not force her off. The second man came toward them. His eyes interested in the situation. “She has killed one of my men!” The man shouted. She gasped, she had done no such thing, they knew she was tied up all night.                                           

The other man began looking her up and down. She was still attached to the man’s arm, hanging upside down now as his arm lay at his side. He had released her waist in an attempt to drop her, but she held firm, squeezing his thick arm between her stick like legs. “Stand” the man commanded. She let her legs go and flipped herself right side up. She was trembling so much that she could not support her own weight and fell to the dirt. She was going to be sick. She faced her head toward the ground and her body convulsed. The man leaned down next to her, his hand resting upon her back, right under the place where the other man had whipped her. He was gentle with her. “It’s alright” He whispered. “Take a deep breath.” She did as she was told. The air filled her lungs and made her convulse even more. If there had been anything in her gut to throw up, she would have. The man waited for her patiently. The other man stood at stark attention, he said nothing, his eyes staring straight ahead.                                                                         

At last, she was able to regain her composure. She stood, as she had been instructed. The man rose with her. He took a step back and began to look both her and the other man up and down. This man was shorter than the first. Well-built and handsome. He wore no helmet and his sandy brown hair lay smoothly on his head, resting just above his eyebrows. It tapered down his neck, stopping about half way down. He wore a red and blue embroidered tunic with fine detailing in purple thread. Silver chain mail covered his neck and arms. His shoes were made out of fine purple cloth. They were impeccable, free of creases or dirt. His light brown eyes had softness to them.  He was important and high ranking; only high ranking members of the King’s personal guard wore purple shoes.                                                         

She stood, rooted where she was.  The man looked her up and down too. He noted how thin she was. Her arms and legs were as thin as sticks and she wore what appeared to be a bag with two holes cut out for her arms, one for her legs and one for her head. She had shoulder length brown hair. Someone had tried to cut it not too long ago; it was jagged in places and matted with sweat, dirt and blood. She was covered in bruises and scars. Her feet were almost completely black. She was plain, but pretty. She couldn’t have been more than twenty years old.

Her brown eyes were wide in fright. He studied her eyes for a moment, stared in to them. He saw only fear. He knew she had done nothing. “Are you a witch?” He asked.  His voice was cool and soft. She looked down at the ground, too afraid to answer him. He reached out and went to touch her chin. She fell backwards as she jerked her head away from him in fear. He looked at her in surprise and stepped forward to help her up.

The other men had gathered now to watch the spectacle. She feared them; their eyes bore into her, ripping her apart. The man advanced again. She scrambled backward. He paused. “I could have your head for backing away from me.” He said the words in such a low tone that only she could hear him. His voice was kind though, it was not a threat, just a thought. She froze anyway, scared just the same.           

“Stand up.” He said. She did as she was told. He brought his hand back up to her face and with one finger, gently lifted her chin until her eyes met his. He smiled. Compassion flashed through his eyes. “Are you a witch?” He asked her one more time. She had to answer him now, if he had to repeat the question a third time, he might cut off her fingers. She had seen men do that to a stubborn woman before. She did not want to lose her fingers too. “N-no” she stammered.                                                            

He placed his big hands on her thin shoulders and walked her over to one of the men. “Where is the body?” The man looked and him, then stepped aside and pointed. The man led her in the direction the other had pointed. The rest of the men followed them, eager to see what their commander was going to do to her.                                                     

The body was mangled. The head was covered in scratch marks and blood. In some places, the man’s skin fell away from his bones almost as if a butcher had carved him up for supper. The legs were twisted and sat in directions that legs should never sit. His torso was almost completely severed in half. One of his arms and a large chunk of his stomach were missing. Some of his guts lay spilt upon the ground. Already he had begun to stink. The sight of the man and the smell of him brought her to her knees. She began to weep. She tried to hold the tears back, but it was all too much. This man had been eaten by something and they were going to kill her for it. 

 “Come now” said the man, his big arms wrapping around her, he was trying to comfort her. The man in the purple boots, the man who held high rank and regard was trying to comfort a prisoner. She stopped crying out of pure shock. Her eyes grew large and she looked up into his face. He looked at her and asked, “Did you kill this man?” “No.” she whispered the word. Her mouth had gone completely dry. “What proof do you have that you did not murder this man?” She stared at him, her body beginning to shake uncontrollably. “I-I was tied to a rock all night.” “What’s to say you didn’t slip out of the rope in the middle of the night and drive a knife through the man yourself?” Her head began to spin and her stomach curled into knots.               

“The rope was too tight around my waist. I have the bursies to prove it. I have no knife, if I did, there would be nowhere for me to hide it.” The man grinned a little grin and looked to all his men. “What say you?” He called out to them.    

The large man who had swung her over his head stepped forward, but as he started talking, the man with the purple shoes cut him off. “You have had your fill, Tandis. I seek contribution from those who have held their tongues.” Embarrassed at the insult, Tandis stepped back and looked at her. He gave her an angry glare and glanced down at the ground, still blushing. No one stepped forward.                         

The man looked around. “No one will speak for or against this woman?” They adverted their eyes, no one said a word. “Then I shall set her free, as no one here will bring a crime against her.” The men looked up in a panic. She sat rigid on the ground. What was this man doing? She knew he would not let her go. He turned to her and offered her his hand. “Stand.” He commanded. She slipped her shaking fingers into his outstretched palm and he pulled her up to face the men.                                               

At length, a short, blonde man with a thick beard wearing the same armor and feather as the man who whipped her stepped forward. “I do believe that this…” He paused and looked her up and down. His eyes on her made her feel violated. “This woman…” the words left his lips as if he had tasted something foul. “Is accused of murder.” The commander looked at him, a childish grin trying with difficulty to leave his lips. She stood frozen. Her head had detached from her body. She felt as if she were floating. “Murder of what?” His tone was light and unburdened. “She has been accused of murdering a man so that she might take his fields and sheep as her own.” The man in the purple boots was amused. “Sheep? Why sheep? Why not the cows or the chickens or the horses? Why sheep?”  He was openly grinning. The man wavered under his smile. “I don’t know why, she is a woman, they do crazy things in the face of power.”

The man in the purple boots turned to her and looked her up and down. “Crazy things, perhaps, but do you think this scrawny scare crow capable of killing a full grown man of her own accord?” Another man stepped forward. He was tall and lean. His nose was too big for his face and his teeth were crooked. He had a long, dark mustache and bushy eye brows; they did not match the tufts of sandy blonde hair spilling out from his helmet. “She is a witch!” he cried, pointing a spear at her. “Well how do you know she is a witch? Have you ever seen a witch?” the commander folded his arms across his chest as he waited for an answer. “Well, no..” The soldier faltered. “But...” “But what?” The commander cut him off. His face grew grim and serious. The expression was frightening. He had murder in his eyes. The man withered under his glare.       

The man in the purple boots turned his attention and swept his hard stare over all the men. “You are all aware that magic does not exist. Witches and wizards, sorceresses and magical things, none of that is real, at least not in this world. The Sorceress they killed long ago for murdering the town was brought down only because her magic diminished here. She could not fight them off; she became mortal the longer she breathed our air. Do you think this scrawny little bit of a thing could be that powerful of a witch that her magic would out last that of a sorceress?     

 The men were silent for a time, then one of them looked up, a light of recognition glistened in his eye. “She’s a sorceress!” he screamed. The other men began to cheer and yell their agreement. “Tandis shouted the loudest. They were throwing their hands in the air, their fingers curled in fists or holding spears. 

The man in the purple boots looked at her and sighed as he rolled his eyes toward the heavens. These were good men, thick headed and daft, but good men. He held his hands up and called for silence. When the men had settled down, he looked at the girl and asked her “Are you a sorceress?”  Her eyes swept the ground. She wished she was. Then she could escape, she could turn into a bird and fly far, far away from these men.   

She didn’t know why the man in the purple boots was doing this to her. There was a small flutter in her heart. Deep down, she felt the tiniest glimmer of hope that this man would set her free. She knew that was stupid. He was in charge, but he still answered to the king. He was having some fun with her, fun at her expense. He face grew hot. “Well?” His voice snapped her back to reality. She looked up at him. Suddenly she was aware of her body. Her head slammed back to her neck and re-attached itself.     

His eyes found hers. “Well?” “No, I am but a homeless beggar, living off the kindness of strangers,” She swallowed the lump that was welling in her throat. “Living off the generosity of the men who would otherwise command my death.”  The man did not show any emotion as the tears welled in her eyes. “ahhh” He whispered. “A beggar. And beggar, if you really are so, how many years have you walked among this earth?” The question was a trick; he was testing her to see if she answered as a human or as a sorceress from the mirror world. “Twenty five years and three months now.” Twenty five. She was much older than he had expected. The number surprised him. He marveled at how such a scrawny little thing could survive so long. He would try another question. “And how long since your birth?” He was trying to back her into a corner. Maybe she was an orphaned beggar and she couldn’t handle pain, but she was a smart girl. “Twenty five years and three months” She replied without batting an eyelash.                            

 Satisfied with her response, the man in the purple boots turned back to his men. You have heard for your selves that this woman has walked this earth for twenty five years and three months, since the day she was born. She cannot be a sorceress or a witch or anything of magic. Need I remind you all that the sorceress they killed had been on this Earth for not more than three weeks when her powers had diminished to the point that common men could overtake her.” His attention turned back to her. “You shall be brought to trial, as promised, but until we reach the palace, not a single one of you men shall lay a hand on her.” The commander turned from her to face his men as he spoke. His eyes swept the ten men who stood before him, resting on Tandis. He held Tandis’ gaze for a moment before turning his attention back to her.

“Where are your shoes?” The men shifted uneasily. She looked to the ground. His hand caught her chin and pulled her eyes level with his. She said nothing. The man waited quietly. “The soldiers took them when they captured me.” She whispered, her voice so low that the man with his purple shoes had to strain to hear her. “I see.” He said flatly as he turned his attention back to the men. “Bring me her shoes.” No one moved. “Bring me her shoes or I will make you all walk barefooted."

A man stumbled forward, he had been pushed by the men on either side of him. The commander’s eyes snapped to him. The man stood with knocked knees, trembling. “Sir” He stammered. “We sold her shoes after we caught her. A woman shouldn’t wear such nice shoes. They should remain barefoot to show their rank.” The commander rolled his eyes. “Barefoot.” He repeated the word with distain. “And what happens when something jagged cuts her foot open and lames her. The King wants her alive. If you lame her, she will be no good for his purpose.” The men shifted uneasily and looked at each other. They hadn’t thought about that. If the king could not do as he wished, he would have all of their heads. They might not have been given orders beyond bringing her back alive, but bringing her back useable was an unspoken expectation. 

Because of your ignorance, you shall all walk. She will have to sit on the horse to ensure she endures no injury. It will be all of your jobs to make sure her horse does not run away. He was looking at Tandis as he spoke. There were two horses; the commander’s and the second in command; Tandis. An indignant look plastered itself to his face as he scowled at the woman. 

 “What of Kidge?” The man with the crooked teeth and big nose asked, indicating the dead man that lay next to her feet. The commander turned to him and blinked, then turned to the woman and asked her, “Do you have a more reasonable idea than witch craft for what may have happened to soldier Kidge?” She looked into the man with the purple boots eyes. He was a kind and benevolent man. He was going to let her ride the horse. He had stopped the men from hurting her anymore. She looked to the body where flies and beetles had already started to gather. The long, jagged wounds across his face and the ridged line around the wound of his stomach looked animalistic. “I think an animal got to him.” “Good!” said the man. His response startled her. “What kind of animal?” He pressed. “Maybe a bear or a wolf?” She responded; her response was more of a question than a statement. “I would have to agree with you my dear. Bears and wolves both comb these forests. It’s best to be on our way before it comes back.”                   

He turned back to the men. “Bury the body and pack up the camp.” The men scrambled to do as they were told. His eyes turned back to her. “You are a scrawny little thing, how on Kama’s good Earth have you possibly managed to survive so long?” Her breath caught in her throat. The man in the purple shoes worshiped the same God as her. No one but outlaws and pagans worshiped Kama.                                     

“Kama?” she let the word slip past her lips, she didn’t mean to, it just happened. The man looked at her with a twinkle in his eyes. “It is not wrong to worship something other than what another has told you you must.” That was true, she knew it was. That was the teaching of Kama, the God of forgiveness. Men didn’t believe in forgiveness, they believed in making the women pay for things they did not do. If a man could carry and raise a child, they would kill off all the women. It was a man’s world. They worshiped Rahanda, the God of power, and Talveradin, The God of men. There was no God of women. All the Gods were men. Women could not be Gods, they were not worthy of the title. As such, a God would not waste his time protecting women as they protected the men. There was no need for it.                        

Most women worshiped Kama. They were outcasts after all, and he was the God of forgiveness. Even though the Gods were all men and mostly there to protect and bless the men, Women needed something to believe in too. They had to have someone to confess their sins to and ask for forgiveness. They needed someone to grant them entry into the worlds of serenity when they died. Most women died at the hands of men for their sins. They would beg to Kama in the final moments of their lives. Beg to him for his forgiveness. Kama was a gentle God, who did not judge because a woman was not a man. If a woman begged Kama for forgiveness in her final moments, if she came to terms with her crimes and accepted them with an open heart and no bitterness or ill will towards those that brought her crimes to light, then Kama would save her and she would be granted access to the worlds of serenity. But, if Kama could detect a single ounce of bitterness, no matter how deeply buried in the chambers of her heart, Kama would turn his back to her and allow the Girelight to take her to the plains of hell.                                                          

    Girelight was a fearsome beast. A woman with the wings of a monster. She had burnt red hair and charred black skin. Her wings were made from the bones of those whose sins had gone unforgiven. Burnt black from the heat of the geysers that covered the landscape she lived in. She did not have a nose, but two large holes on the front of her face where the nose should have been. Her eyes were small and yellow with cat like pupils. One look and a person’s soul would forever burn, unable to move on. She had a mouth full of tiny razor sharp teeth and two long, thin fangs that curled slightly at the ends. When she spoke, her words came out in hisses and her long snake like tongue would flicker about, running up her face and across her bare breasts.  She had a long tail covered in spikes that would tear open flesh like a blade through butter. She was worse than living in a world of men.                                                  

The legend spoke of the Sorceress from the mirror world. The one who came here and killed all of the people. They spoke of how she resisted the strong and brave men, killing them as they advanced. For weeks the war raged on between her and the men. She killed thousands. Mostly men, but male children too, the sorceress had killed innocent children!                             

She had tried for weeks to escape this world and go back to her own, but times were dark, the sorceress could not return. She had been barred from her home planet. She lashed out at the mortals killing all that came close. Her rage grew the longer she remained on this world. After weeks of fighting, three weeks that is, she had become weak. Her powers had flown out of her body. Her light brown hair with its golden strands turned dull and grey, her pure white skin, skin whiter than the purest snow fall had become grey and ashen. Her long and exquisite turquoise gown was ripped and torn, stained red with the blood of her enemies.   

The men came with torches and irons. They arrested her. She was too weak to resist them. They bound her hands behind her back with the irons and blind folded her. It was thought that blindfolding a sorceress or witch would remove all of her power. They took her to the king. He immediately sentenced her to death. The townspeople had cheered. They were rid of a monster. She was dragged down to the dungeon and left there to rot. They did not feed her or untie her. Sorceresses did not need food and to untie her was to ask for certain death.

They questioned her for weeks, but got little information out of her. One day they went to her cell to question her some more. She was slumped over on the floor. She was dead. The men could not understand, sorceresses lived for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years. They did not die, especially not because of a lack of food. What they had failed to remember is that she had turned mortal, that was why they were able to capture her after all. 

The men were afraid, so they left her there for several weeks. She did not move. Her chest never heaved with the exhale or inhale of air. Her lips stay half open, never closing. A guard would touch her now and again. She as cold as the air around her. Her skin was stiff and hard, but her appearance had not changed since the day she died. Her soul hadn’t left her body. There was no other explanation for it.                    

The men needed to burn her and release her soul, if they did not, she would come back for them and kill them all. On the longest day of the year, the hottest one in years, the sorceress was bought forward, her hands still bound and her eyes still covered. They laced the lifeless body on a steak and burned it. As they did, the sorceresses head shot back, slamming into the steak and she began to wail, it was a high pitched scream that made everyone’s blood run cold. The blindfold burnt in the heat of the flames, crumbling as the flames licked it. Her clothes burned off too. She remained pinned to the steak with nothing on but the irons around her wrists.               

Her eyes popped open and red light streamed out of them, obliterating a good thirty men in the process. Their shrieks filled the air and those left alive ran for cover. The Sorceress stood un-touched in the flames, her body contorting against her bonds; her head still back as far as it would go as the deafening shrieks continued to pour out from her lungs. An eerie sound drifted up above her wails, the spirits of the men she had killed rose towards the heavens. Their white forms turned towards the square as they drifted steadily up.    

 When they were almost out of reach, the sorceresses’ body burst into flames. The red hot fire crackled and popped with a life of its own. Her body turned to ash and as it fell back into the flames, a dark shadow shot up into the sky, tearing several of the white spirits to shreds.  Their pained shrieks filled the air as their forms dissipated. The dark form dove towards the people who still fought to gain cover. It touched several of the men. They fell dead where they stood. The figure began to take on shape as it swooshed around the square. As it dove into the ground and disappeared, thick wings broke from it and a long, barbed tail swished back and forth, ripping the flesh off of the dead men’s bones.                

After several days, when the smoke had cleared and the world was quiet again, the townspeople were rounded up below the king’s balcony. The king came out, slowly and, surrounded by a large group of heavily armed guards. He came to the ledge of the balcony cautiously and peered down at the frightened people. They were desperate for help. They needed security and safety. He spoke to them. He asked them, if women were not evil, then why did the sorceress only kill men that day. There had been plenty of women around, but their souls and lives had been spared. It was because they were evil, he had said. They were with the sorceress, they wanted to crush and obliterate the world they knew. They wanted to control it.                           

 The men were pure of heart and it was their responsibility to defend the lands from the evil women. The men had killed the sorceress not only to protect themselves, but to protect the women as well. The king made a proclamation, labeling all women as evil spirits with nothing but bad intentions. He diminished them and placed their importance level with rats. Women wailed in horror and disbelief. The men cheered. Some of the women did too because they were so afraid.

That was the story of how the lands of serenity and the plains of hell came in to being. The spirits that made it to the heavens turned into the Gods they knew today. They were the guardians to the lands of serenity. The sorceress turned into the Girelight, name after everything foul and impure that walked the Earth of mortal men. 

It was said that when a person who had sin in their heart was about to die, the Girelight would come and stock their home. When her shadow passed over head, the townspeople would run and hide. Women were locked out of the houses so as not to draw the Girelight to the men because she might steal their souls. The Girelight no longer chose sides as she could no longer tell the difference between male and female. The large holes in the middle of her face where her nose should have been was used to sniff out bad intentions and criminals. She could see all the way down into a person’s soul. If a person came across her who was still living, they shielded their eyes and walked slowly, always slowly.                               

Walking too fast would draw attention. If she looked into your eyes and saw any ill will towards another, she would mark you right then and there, while you were still alive. She would mark you and wait for you when you died. If you were marked, there would be no judgment day, you would be her’s and there would be no chance of standing before the Gods or entering the plains of serenity, you would be hers and you would suffer for your sins just like she has suffered for hers.     

These were the legends she had grown up with. She looked back at the man with the purple boots. He had been staring at her intently for a long time; she had not answered his question. “I’m not sure” She said, frowning as she thought about just how, exactly she had survived. The day her mother died was the day she no longer had a home. The men came and took it. They took everything. They had thrown her into the street, laughing as her head slammed against the ground. She watched them where she had landed, the tears streaming down her face, leaving trails in the dirt that covered it. Her hair in a wild mess on one side of her head, as if she had just gotten out of bed. They took her things, her books, her dresses, her doll, then they shredded them in front of her. Laughing as they did.                                                                           

When they had gone, she got up and left too. She was too afraid to go back to the house, to see if they had left anything. She was afraid of what they would do to her if they caught her in the house. She wandered through the town. Windows and doors would close and lock as she approached. No one was going to help a female orphan, no one would even help a woman.    

The man studied her face. Her eyes were far away and cloudy. She wasn’t listening to him. She was in another place. “A memory, perhaps.” He thought. He stood up and placed his hands on her shoulders. She gave a start and turned her eyes up at him, terror had replaced the memories. He smiled a small, tight smile. “I don’t know about you, but I’m starving. I’ll have to keep an eye on you so you don’t run away, so that means you’re going to be forced to dine with me this fine morning.”                                           

He led her into the only tent their camp had and indicated that she was to sit. She did as she was bid and watched him as he opened a small trunk and pulled out a loaf of bread, some dried meat, a chunk of cheese and a bottle of wine. He turned and set the items down between her and him. He turned back and pulled out a cup, just one cup. Her stomach growled longingly. She tried to quiet it. He was going to have breakfast and she would be forced to watch him eat. She decided that she would feast too, feast with her eyes and fill her mind up instead of her stomach.   

The man poured the dark red wine into the cup half way then put the bottle away. He pulled out a sharp knife and used it to cut the bread, the meat, and the cheese in to two pieces each. He wiped the knife clean and put it away. Her stomach growled again. He looked to her and chuckled, then picking up one half of each thing, he turned as if to put them away, but instead placed them on a separate cloth and set them down in front of her. She stared at the food. She was so hungry. The men had fed her little in the last two days. “Eat” said the man. Your stomach cannot hide your hunger. She glanced up at him. He was holding the cup of wine, offering it to her. “Drink it all and it will help take the sting out of your wounds.” She reached up, steadying her hands as best as she could and took the cup from him. She brought it back down to her face and watched as the liquid gently lapped at the sides of the simple tin cup. She touched it to her lips and took a small sip. It was incredible, unlike anything she had ever tasted.  

She set the wine down and reached for the cheese. The man watched her, fascinated with how slow and careful she was. He knew she must be ravenous, but she was so calm. He smiled inwardly to himself. She wanted to be as quiet and invisible as possible. She wasn’t a murderer. She just wanted to be left alone.   

She glanced up at him, he was watching her. She felt her cheeks turn red as she looked at the ground, the cheese cupped in both of her hands. She was so hungry. The man picked up his piece of cheese and dipped his head to her slightly, signaling that everything was alright. He bit into the cheese and indicated that she should do the same. She gladly obliged.                 

 When their meal was over, they headed back outside. Several of the men began to pack up the man in the purple boot’s tent. He lead her to where the two horses were, grazing on the tufts of grass that sprang out here or there. She shrank back, running into him. He chuckled. She was as innocent as a new born baby. “Come, do not be afraid” he said to her. They walked up to one of the horses. It was a tall grey mare with a black mane and tail. It snorted it’s greeting as they approached it. “hold your hand out to her and say hello. You cannot ride a horse if you do not greet it first.” Timidly, she did as he instructed. The horse sniffed her hand, nudging it slightly, then let out a small whinny. The Man patted her neck. “She likes you!” He winked at her.

Now my dear, I am afraid it is time to go. I will help you onto the horse, then you must be bound so that you do not try to run away. Bound. The thought terrified her. “How will I stay on?” She asked. The man grinned. “Do you see her bridle?” He asked. She nodded. “I will tie a rope around your waist to it to hold you steady. Your hands will also be tied here. If you should feel unsteady, you can hold on to it. You will not fall off. She didn’t want to be tied to anything, but she was glad the man was kind enough to explain it. He lifted her up and had her place her feet in the stirrups. He took a thick rope and tied it as he had said around her waist to the bridle. Then he took a cloth and cut it into strips. He wrapped the strips around her wrists and tied them to the bridle. They were soft and did not cut into her flesh like the rope did. 

 “We will leave soon” He said, and walked away. Tears began to well up in her eyes. She might be a prisoner on her way to be tortured to death for a crime she did not commit, but this man, a man had shown her mercy. She began to long for them to never reach the palace. This man had turned her hell into serenity. She had been shown kindness, something she had never been shown before, not since her mother died. He had fed her and eased the pain she felt. He made her feel as though she mattered. She was not nothing any more. She was a person now. A real person.

 

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