Gygr: Black Rage Chapter 1 DISCLAIMER:
There is sex and violence in this story. Most of it is not pretty and it is definitely rated R. There is love and concern for peoples of different races, religions, backgrounds, sexual orientation and moral beliefs by people of different races, religions, backgrounds, sexual orientation and moral beliefs. If that is illegal or unpalatable go elsewhere.

Gygr is an Uber Xena character. That is, she came about because of my interest in the series Xena: Warrior Princess. Gygr has nothing to do with MCA/Universal, Renaissance Pictures or Flat Earth Productions. I own the rights to Gygr, Bina, Emilie, Bris, Hannibal, Tang Te and every other character in this story. I also own the rights to every map, city name, continental name and language mentioned here since they all came from my imagiNation. No one owns the rights to Hercules, Cupid, Tartarus, or any of the gods mentioned. They are public property and belong to all of us.
 


By
Frances Spinella
 




Gygr kneed her horse to the left and swung her sword at the oncoming assailant, striking him across the shoulder, separating his arm from his body. She twisted in the saddle, deflected a blow from another renegade and utilizing the momentum and her power, dislodged him from his mount. She kicked another who tried to grab Hannibal's bridle, which sent the man reeling backward into the side of a draft horse who panicked at the sounds of clashing swords and battling men. The animal sidestepped, raising his hooves high, only to be pushed from the other side by more fighting. The man fell to the ground and the horse tried desperately to get away from what was underfoot, lifting and slamming large hooves into the unaccustomed softness of a human body. Again Gygr twisted her torso, swinging the double edged weapon across her and down severing the head of another from his body. The woman felt a presence at her back and immediately turned to see a brigand swiftly coming toward her, sword raised, a look of vicious intent on his face. She quickly slid from the top of the saddle, twisting the reins forcing war trained Hannibal to fall onto his side.

The swordswoman leaped and landed between her horse's hooves. She faced her attacker and just as he approached went into a crouch. She sprang upward, sending a kick into the man's head, throwing him over his mount onto the ground where his skull was crushed against a boulder. Gygr grabbed a large man from behind and sliced his throat with her sword and pushed his body to the side. She reached for another who had sent his weapon sliding over her ribs. "Gods," the warrior hissed, then slammed the sword hilt into his face sending bone into his brain.  She grasped still another's neck and twisted it quickly, satisfied when she heard the snap of it breaking. She turned looking for more attackers and watched the few who remained ride or run from the area.

The warrior looked around and assessed the damage to the merchant caravan she was hired to protect. The three wagons were undamaged. Most of the cargo had been hastily removed, dumped by either the merchants in an effort to save what they could, or by the robbers who tried to take what they could carry and run. She nodded to Briscoe, Tang Te and Balador, three former gladiators, who were a part of her team, noting they were uninjured and already beginning to clear the area of the dead and supervise the packing of  the merchant wagons.

"Anyone hurt?" She looked down at a girl who had been beaten by one of the renegades, considered the bruises and scratches around her face, and sank to one knee beside her. "You all right?"

The girl nodded, dark hair falling around her shoulders into her face. She looked up, "just really scared."

"Yep," Gygr rose to her full 6'2" and rolled her neck from side to side until she heard the pop and felt the relief. "Come on, I'll have those bruises taken care of." She held her hand out to the girl and easily lifted her to her feet. "Tang, Balador get everything together as quickly as you can. I want to be out of here by midday."

Tang Te, a young man with straight black hair, nodded to her, "right Gygr," and proceeded with assigning various merchants and their slaves to tasks necessary to accomplish the mission.

"Bris check everyone out starting with this girl," she gently pushed the dark skinned girl toward the physician.

Briscoe's short, curly black hair was salted with gray. At just over 50 years he was a hand's breadth shorter than the warrior they served with. He gently took the girl's arm, led her to a fallen tree and inspected her wounds. "You're gonna have a black eye tomorrow."

"It's not like I haven't had them before." The girl lowered her head and twisted her fingers. "Look I have to help get everything packed."

"Bina isn't it?" Bris smiled, "Gygr said to start with you. What she wants, she gets."

"No, really I have to help," the girl tried to move toward the wagons but the man gently held her wrist.

"No. They have it covered." Bris nodded toward the group bustling around the wagons.

"You don't understand," she tried to pull her hand from his strong grip, "I'll get into trouble if I don't help."

Bris let go and the girl rushed to a wagon where a merchant wearing a well made, obviously expensive tunic flashed his eyes at her. "About time you got here," he said contemptuously.

Bina lowered her head, "s . . sorry." She pulled at a heavy sack from under the wagon, winced and fell to her knees in pain.

"Get that up there you lazy good for nothing," the merchant bashed the girl in the head with the back of his handt.

Immediately a large hand grabbed him by the neck and lifted him off his feet. "Mendrak right?" A low voice rumbled in his ear.

"Uh, yes." The man choked out the words.

"I really don't like to see big men beat small girls." Gygr smiled, blue eyes boring into the man's brown ones. "You want to discipline her, don't do it around me." She released him allowing the man to fall at her feet.

"She's my slave. I can discipline her whenever and however I want." He held his throat, his eyes flashing, first at the tall, red-haired warrior standing before him, then to Bina, then again at Gygr. "You've no right to interfere."

"As long as I'm being paid to get this caravan safely to Ciseaux I do have a right. I don't want anything or anyone to jeopardize the safety of these wagons or these people. Do you understand me?" She stepped closer looking down, knowing full well he was close to passing out from fright.

"S . . sure."

"You," the woman pointed to Bina, "thought I told you to have Bris take care of your bruises." She turned, "Bris . . do it." She hissed at the man then turned to the sack Bina had been trying to lift and with one hand swung it easily into the wagon settling it on top of others.

Immediately everyone redoubled their efforts, avoiding a look toward Gygr, Mendrak or Bina as they did so..

Bris led the young slave to the fallen tree and they sat as he looked at her face. "Nasty cut here on your neck, too. Gonna sting when I clean it."

"They usually do," she played with her fingers in her lap.

"Usually do?"

"It's not like I haven't had cuts before. Doesn't matter," she shrugged her shoulders and winced.

"Where does it hurt?"

"Here," Bina held her right side just under her breast.

Bris felt carefully his experienced fingers easily locating the problem. "Pulled muscle. Don't lift anything heavy and it will be all right in a few days."

"Sure," the girl breathed a shallow breath, "whatever."

As he cleaned the cuts Briscoe saw a familiar mark on the girl's shoulder and gently turned her so she had her back to him and lifted her shift. The physician caught his breath when he saw the raw stripes from a recently administered whipping. "Gods. Let me put something on that for you, child."

"I'm not a child. And you don't have to do anything." Bina rose.

"Oh," Bris held her hand and pulled her back down, "but I do. When Gygr gives an order you obey it. No questions."

He continued his ministrations letting her leave only when he had inspected, cleaned and gently rubbed a salve onto every wound.

"Thanks," Bina gave the man a small tentative smile.

As Gygr kept a close eye on the packing efforts she put a part of her mind to work on the ambush. Did they know our route? She watched each merchant supervise slaves as they packed the wagons arranging the stock neatly and efficiently. Heavy items on the bottom, lighter on the top, the more fragile secured firmly into small safe sections surrounded by items that would take the shock of the normal jolts and jerks of travel. The cleanup and packing had taken longer than she had planned and she swore oaths under her breath in Bret to let out a little of the frustration she felt. Gygr swung herself onto Hannibal, "Tang keep at it." The man nodded and she heeled the horse and rode through the trees that bordered the road.

She inspected the area and noted the small fire pit. Recent. So they did know our route. From the litter and amount of ash and partially burnt wood she figured they had been in the area at least two days. Only the merchants knew the route they'd take -- and anyone they told. Why?

Since Emperor Jauka's victory over Plydias at Limiam the month before, northwest Alaistria had been overrun by deserters and any of Plydias' troops lucky enough to escape slaughter or enslavement. Starving soldiers now roamed the roads looking for easy pickings. That was the reason she had been hired. That was the reason she decided to take the slightly longer southern route from Abumarn Port. It was much less traveled than the busy and sometimes congested northern road.

Jauka wore the crown of Creanistri which was his own Empire, Bretina, Doria and now Abumarn of Alaistria. Gygr and everyone else knew it was only time before he would slowly take every city-state in Alaistria adding yet another continent to his collection.

Jauka. May he rot in Tartarus.

There were so many people, her mother, sister, brother and Gygr all herded together with the rest of the residents of Xandar. Those who hadn't died. Those who hadn't held a weapon. Only women and children. Even the old men had been slaughtered. Gygr's mother held the girl close, hands over her youngest child's shoulders.

 A man wearing golden armor sat atop a beautiful gray horse surrounded by his army. He was obviously important and Gygr pulled away from her mother to get a better look.

"You all forfeit your freedom." He looked dismissively at the townspeople held at bay by soldiers carrying spears and swords. "You will be taken to Creantlisto and sold as slaves."

Gygr didn't know why she did it. She raced into the square, grabbed the man's leg and bit hard. She tasted the blood just before a soldier grabbed her by the neck and pulled her away. She spit something out of her now blood covered mouth.

Jauka looked down at the little child, fingered the small hole in his calf and kicked her in the face with his boot. "I like the fire in that one. Send her to Inferno Island for training. She should be something to see in the games when she gets older."

"Yes Emperor," the soldier saluted and lifted the child.

As soldiers roughly carried her away Gygr heard her mother scream. It was the same scream she’d heard when they told them her father had been killed.

The warrior urged Hannibal forward with her heels while she thought of an easily defensible position to spend the night. It was clear they would not be able to travel all the way to Ciseaux today. Best to camp and make a very early start in the morning. Although Gygr had been in Alaistria less than a year she had the ability to memorize landscapes and places then recall them just as if they were on a map. It was this mental map before her eyes, not a physical one. Her mental map reminded Gygr there was a series of deep caverns not too far away. They could make it before sunset if they moved quickly. But if one of them is connected to the raiders is it a good idea to lead them to those caves? She made a decision and urged Hannibal back to the wagons. Everyone was ready. They had just been waiting for her.

"There's a perfect spot to camp for the night. If we leave from there tomorrow by dawn we can make Ciseaux easily before dusk." She nodded and jerked her head for the wagons to follow as she turned Hannibal and set the pace. "Balador," she shouted over her shoulder. Immediately a young man settled his horse in a pace with hers. "How many are on foot?"

"Three, the slaves," he scowled, "never seen a merchant walk yet."

"Can Calliope handle another on her back?" She raised a brow to the man. It was uncommon for any of them to ride double and certainly only in the event of urgency, like when Tang Te's horse was killed during a fight with ambushers months before. Gygr had swung the man behind her onto Hannibal as they raced from the overwhelming numbers who pursued them, thankfully, only three leagues.

"Sure." Balador need not ask why. He knew she sensed something and it was enough that she asked his permission that someone ride with him. A stranger. At his back.

"Good," she nodded. "Get one of them then come take the point and we'll pick up the pace."

Balador urged Calliope around and raced to the very back where a heavyset slave, Malador, struggled to keep up. Balador knew his mount was strong enough to carry the man's added weight and he sensed Gygr would not appreciate this man, or any man, sitting behind her. Within minutes Balador returned with the slave hanging on for dear life as he bounced behind the former gladiator.

Gygr nodded and turned Hannibal. Bris had understood the unvoiced message and a small, skinny man was settled behind him. The woman urged Hannibal along the line and eyed Bina walking beside Mendrak's wagon. Gygr leaned over and held out her hand to the girl, "grab on. You'll ride behind me." The merchant, who had been pawing the young woman's breast with one hand while he held the reins with the other, flashed an evil look to the warrior. Bina, not very reluctantly, reached out her hand and found herself swung easily behind the saddle. "Hold on to my waist." Gygr said softly, "I don't want you falling off." When she felt the tentative arms around her waist she heeled Hannibal ahead and raced past Balador who nodded as she swept by. She slowed the stallion once they were out of sight of the wagons.

The sun hung in the west and Gygr thanked the gods it was only August and not yet winter. There was still plenty of time before sunset and she was now certain they would be camped, fed and ready for bed before the bottom of the sun hit the horizon.

"Bina right?"

"Yeah," the girl was startled someone like Gygr would know her name.

"Why'd Mendrak bring you? I mean . . he should have brought someone . . stronger."

Bina laughed sarcastically, "Mendrak likes his pleasure too much."

"Oh." One of those.

Gygr leaned her head back to try to catch more of the breeze as it picked up and accidentally knocked Bina's forehead. "Oh, sorry. . I . . uh . . forgot . . you were back there," she finished quickly.

Bina laughed. Gygr couldn't help smiling to herself. The laugh was clear and open. And yeah free of cares. I'd like to hear more of that.

"It's nice here." Bina sighed. "Peaceful, know what I mean?"

"Yeah." Gygr kept her ears open listening for any sound that didn't belong in this setting. Senses alert for any danger Gygr sneaked a peek at the girl behind her. Bina was smiling as she watched the leaves flutter in the breeze.

"Don't you just love that sound?"

"Which one?" Gygr was at a loss.

"What do you mean which one?" The girl placed her hands on the older woman's shoulders.

"Birds. Rabbit over to the left. Squirrel going up that tree," Gygr pointed with her chin, "or the branches rubbing against each other or the leaves rustling or . . ."

Bina smiled. "The leaves rustling. I didn't realize there were so many sounds." She sat quietly, closed her eyes and listened. Gygr watched through the corner of her eye as the girl nodded. "Yes, I heard all that. Thank you."

"Uh." Embarrassed, Gygr swung Hannibal to return to the wagons.

"Do we have to go so soon?" Bina sighed then caught herself. "Sorry. I mean . . Sorry. Forgot my place for a minute." She moved her arms back to Gygr's waist and tried to hold on by just holding her hands together and allowing room between her arms and Gygr's body.

Gygr gently pushed the hands to her waist, "if you don't touch me you'll fall. If you fall you'll get hurt. If you get hurt Mendrak will be angry. If Mendrak is angry he'll beat you. If Mendrak beats you again in front of me I'll have to kill him." She turned to the astonished girl and smiled. "You don't want me to get in trouble for killing scum do you?"

"Uh, no." Bina held on tight as Gygr heeled Hannibal back to the wagons.

"Clear ahead, Balador." She shouted.

The former gladiator smiled and raised his brow up and down at the warrior.

"What? Oh don't start with me Bal, I'm not in the mood," she urged Hannibal on and stopped beside Bris.

"We going where I think we're going?" The big black man smiled.

"Yeah, west side though. More cover there."

"Why don't you go ahead. Relax. Give Hannibal a well deserved rub. You know?" Bris chuckled.

"You mean. 'Gygr why don't you go on ahead. Catch fish for dinner, get the fire started so we can eat as soon as we get there.'" She raised her brows.

"Yeah, now that you mention it, that's how it went." He chuckled.  "Really. Tang, Bal and I can handle it to the lake. Besides you need to get away from us people for awhile." Bris laughed. "We'll be there to be a thorn in your side soon enough."

"If you put it that way." Gygr heeled the stallion and again raced away from the small caravan, Bina holding her arms tightly around the woman's waist.

 "Ulgh lg lg. ." Bina tried to ask a question but the horse's gallop made it impossible to be understood.

"What?" Gygr shouted over her shoulder.

"N. .n. . neeeevvvrrrrr m. . m. . mmiiiiind."

The lake was a little less than two leagues ahead and Gygr slowed Hannibal when she saw the glistening water sparkle under the sun. "Now we walk." She held Bina's arm as the girl slid off the horse's back, dismounted herself and let the reins loose.

"Wow." Bina slowly turned in a full circle, "this is magnificent."

Gygr smiled. "I spent my first night in Alaistria here." They walked as Hannibal nibbled at the sweet grass. "I thought all of Alaistria was exactly like this and that it was the most beautiful place in the world." She swung her arm to encompass the lake, the forest that bordered it on the east, and the mountain directly to the west.

Bina watched Gygr gaze at the mountains, the trees, the clouds, everything as if she'd never seen them before. It was like watching someone blind see for the first time. Bina looked at everything and tried to see it with new eyes but could not.

"I guess you're not Alaistrian then."

"What tipped you off?" Gygr smiled amusement in her eyes. She bent over and pulled a long blade of grass as they walked.

"Oh, let's see." Bina lifted her thumb, "the accent. Definitely not Alaistrian." she raised her forefinger, "then there's the way you walk."

"What's wrong with the way I walk?'

"Nothing’s wrong with it. It's just the way you do it. Like you own the world and no Alaistrian walks around in Alaistria like they own the world. Warlords maybe, they think they own everything. But regular ordinary Alaistrians don't." She held up the middle finger, "and of course, there's the stories about Gygr the Gladiator. Gygr the Red. Gygr the Warrior. Gygr the this. Gygr the that. I mean no Alaistrians have stories like that except the warlords and of course, the gods." She held up the fourth finger. "Then there's the saddle on your horse. Definitely not Alaistrian. Not Bretin either. I would think from the east somewhere across the ocean. No Alaistrian uses a saddle like that." She held up the little finger. "And finally the color of your hair."

"Now I know there are Alaistrians with red hair." Gygr laughed.

"Oh yes, but your hair is not Alaistrian red."

"Alaistrian red? Is there such a thing as Alaistrian red?"

"Definitely yes. And you don't have it." Bina smiled and gently shook her head as she sat on a large rock and watched the lake water lap against it. She held out all five fingers in front of Gygr's face. "Ergo, you are not Alaistrian."

"Quite a mind there." She sat beside the girl.

"To tell the truth I just knew because of the stories." Bina blushed.

"Stories," the warrior's face hardened. "That seems to be all anyone knows about me. And I've never even heard them."

"You've never heard the stories about you?"

"Think about it. Who in their right mind will tell me a story about me?"

"Good point." Bina tried to suppress a smile.

"So I don't even know what people think they know about me." Gygr turned to the girl, "does that make sense?"

"Uh, yeah actually it does." They sat quietly listening to the water gently lap against the rock.

Bina slowly stood and looked down at the warrior. "Would you like me to tell you stories about you?" The question was so softly asked Gygr was not sure she heard it right. "I will if you want. I mean I'm not a real storyteller or anything. But . . ." Bina let the offer stand where it was.

"Yeah. Uh. Yeah. Would be nice to know what they believe." Gods do I really want to hear those stories about me? Gygr stood suddenly, "I've got to catch some fish for dinner. Come on race ya," she ran to the western side of the lake and quickly unsaddled Hannibal when the stallion reached her side.

Gygr, up to her thighs in the water, bent over, dangled her arms underwater and waited.

"What are you doing?"

"Catching fish," Gygr whispered back. Suddenly she straightened, pulled her arms from the water a fish between her hands. The warrior tossed the fish onto the bank and returned to her spot.

"Wow." Bina watched the fish desperately wriggle back and forth in the grass.

"You wanna try it?" Gygr stood hands on her hips smiling. "Come on I'll teach ya. It's a good skill to have."

"Uh, sure. Yeah. why not?" Both women were in their undertunics and Gygr watched the girl splash into the water, amusement in her eyes.

"First you gotta be quiet."

"Oh," Bina flushed.

"You don't want the fish to know you're here. See?"

"But we're standing here. Don't they already know we're here?"

"Uh yeah. But they don't know if we're here to catch them or if we're just posts holding up a dock." Gygr raised her brows.

"Okay I get it."

"Just bend over and let your arms hang loose. Wait," Gygr straightened. "Let's move just a little further out. She took four steps further into the lake and waited for the girl to join her. "All right. Just bend over and let your arms hang loose in the water." Gygr watched as Bina followed her directions and mimicked her motions. "Bend your knees a little. Comfortable?"

"Actually yes."

"With your hands about a hand width apart gently wriggle your fingers. That's to make the fish think it's food."

Bina raised her head. "You mean it's going to bite me?"

"Course not. Fish don't have those kinda teeth. They just sort of nibble on ya."

Suddenly Bina straightened. "I got one." She screamed, "what do I do? What do I do?"

"Throw it on the bank.” Gygr yelled as she rushed to the girl's side, lifted her and carried her to the bank, "throw it on the bank." Bina threw the fish onto the bank and turned throwing her arms around the warrior's neck.

"I got one, can you believe it? I got one." Gygr fell back into the lake laughing, then she stood totally drenched. Bina gained her footing and pushed Gygr backward. Gygr slipped on the slimy bottom and hit the water again in surprise. No one had ever done that to her before.

"I'm gonna get you for that," she chased after Bina in mock anger and the two were splashing water and trying to dunk the other when the wagons came into view.  Gygr stood and swore in Bret. She regained her composure and dropped the smile from her face. To Bina it was like a totally different person suddenly stood before her.

"What was that you said?" The girl whispered.

"Gosh darn." She glanced at Bina, "In Bret."

Bris smiled as Gygr approached. "Don't ya just love those toasty invisible fires?" he raised his brows. "Have a good time?"

"Give me a few more minutes for the fish," she shot a fierce glance at the man, "and the fire."

"Gygr you're allowed a good time now and then. Don't worry about it."

"Drop it Bris." Gygr's mouth was tight and Bris recognized this was the prelude to genuine anger which preceded blind rage which no one could stop.

The man put a hand lightly on her shoulder. "I'll get them settled while you get back to the fishing. Tang," Bris strode to the man and Gygr watched him wave his hands as he gave directions as to how he wanted the camp to be set up. You're a good man Bris.

When Gygr returned to the bank she smiled at the pile of fish that lay wriggling. "Hey," she shouted to the young woman waiting for another catch. "You can stop now. We got enough."

"Just one more. I'm starting to get the hang of it."

"Suit yourself." The warrior watched the men arrange the camp and decided it was safe to make a trip to the bushes for some personal business.

Gygr washed her hands in the lake and inspected the camp. Bina was gutting and cleaning the fish while Bal struck a flint to start the fire. Satisfied the camp was in a defensible position should that be necessary Gygr pulled her saddlebag to the side and lay it beside a huge fallen tree trunk where she had laid her armor and leather tunic earlier. She arranged her bedroll and set aside the pouch which contained Hannibal's brush, comb and snacks then laid down and yawned. She was asleep in less than a minute.

She'd felt the presence and swung to get out of the bed. Rough hands held her down and struck her in the face, chest, anywhere they could reach. "Bitch," one said between clenched teeth and she recognized the voice. Menden. "You ever beat me in practice again I'll come and slit your throat."

The beating continued until footsteps were heard outside the door to the room. "Not a peep," Menden hissed. She had not made a sound throughout the beating and was damned if she would call for help now.

"Little One," she heard Briscoe's familiar voice as the door swung open and could see one of the boys who had just beaten her go toward the man. Suddenly, for some reason beyond her comprehension, she became angry.

With fewer hands holding her down Gygr pulled herself away, her fist connected with a nose sending blood spattering over her and the unfortunate owner. A roundhouse kick to the gut sent another against a wall and she tripped a third with a sweep of her foot hearing him thud heavily onto the floor. The fourth she found on the floor at Bris' feet.

Gygr felt the presence and awoke immediately grabbing the assailant and pushing the dagger to his neck.

"It . . it's only me."

The warrior heard the soft voice and quickly released her. "Bina, uh, . . . ."

"No. No it was my fault. I should know not to wake people like you like that."

Gygr took in a deep breath and then another. She noted the dagger still in her hand and the spot of blood where she had pressed it into the girls skin. "Oh, I'm sorry."

She rose in one fluid motion and slipped the dagger back into the sheath at her belt. "Bris." The man was beside her in seconds. How does he do that? "Take care of her neck. I . . uh . . take care of it."

Bris knelt beside the girl and looked at the small prick. "It's really nothing. Not even bleeding Gygr." She flashed a look at him that sent a shiver down the old gladiator's spine. "But I'll clean it anyway," he swallowed.

Gygr retrieved her sword and disappeared into the forest.

"I . . I just came over to give her something to eat." Bina whispered.

"Don't worry child. She's not someone who can let defenses down easily."

 "She seems so . . "

"So what?" The man raised his brows. What could this slip of a girl know about Gygr?

Bina turned to face him and looked into his deep brown eyes. "Lonely," she said quietly. "I have to get back to Mendrak." She rose slowly and her shoulders dropped as she approached the merchant's bedroll as he opened it to her.

Gygr found a quiet place to practice with her sword and went through her exercises.

"I hear you Bris."

"Yes Little One."

"I could have killed her." She stopped the sword in mid air and turned to her old friend.

"But you didn't."

"No. Lucky girl."

"I don't think that ever went through her mind."

"No?"

"No, Little One."

"Would have gone through mine." She sat with her back against a tree.

"You expect people to try to kill you. She does not."

"Yeah. One of those little differences that you keep telling me about, huh." She smirked to the man who sat cross legged at her side.

"Yes."

They sat for a long time. Silent. They were comfortable with the silence. Gygr had always been comfortable with silence. She had surprised herself when she'd been so vocal with the girl. Probably said more words to her in one afternoon than I have to Bris in, what? Nineteen years. But she was easy to talk to. Nice. Friendly. Open. And she got me to laugh. Gosh. Can you believe it?

"She was good at catching those fish." Bris smiled. "You are a good teacher Little One."

"Yeah, she was good wasn't she." Gygr didn't realize she had a smile on her face. "Picked it up pretty fast too. I remember when you taught me. Gods it seemed to take forever before that first fish slipped into my hands."

"Do you like her?" Well, Bris, better bite the arrow shaft and get it over with.

Gygr thought a long moment. "Yeah, Bris." She nodded her head. "I do. She's smart. She's funny. She makes me laugh. Yeah. I like the kid."

"Then maybe you should buy her."

"What?" Gygr stood quickly and looked down at the man. "Buy her?" She hissed, "buy her?"

"Gygr," Bris stood and held up his hands.

"Buy her?" Gygr pulled the man toward her and stared into brown eyes she thought she knew.

“Little One," he said softly, “Mendrak is taking her to Ciseaux to sell to a brothel."

"What?"

"It's true. It seems his wife demands he get rid of Bina. The woman's brother owns a brothel and they made an arrangement."

Gygr let go of her friend and stared at nothing for a very long time. “Arrangement?"

Bris settled his hands lightly on the warrior's shoulders and gently pushed her down. “Sit Little One.” She sank to the earth, pulled her legs up to her chest and lay her head on her arms across her knees. “We can buy her Little One."

"I don't buy people Bris." Her voice quivered and her friend softly rubbed her back.

"Maybe we should call it something else then." He said softly.

"Buying people is still slavery, Bris. There is nothing nicer to call it." She rose slowly, "gonna check the perimeter then take care of Hannibal."

"Bal has taken first watch. I'll take the second then Tang. You need more sleep. Try to get some."

"Yeah." She curled her lip and strode quickly away.

After checking the perimeter she grabbed her pouch with Hannibal's gear and silently walked through the camp. She saw Bina's dark hair stick out from Mendrak's bedroll and moved quickly away.

The warrior was glad to see Hannibal. "Hey boy." She slipped an apple from the pouch and cut it into quarters with her dagger. "Want a treat?" Hannibal tickled her palm as he lipped the treat from the hand. "Yeah, that was good. Here's another." She pulled the brush from the pouch which she let drop to the ground then opened her palm revealing another quarter of the apple which Hannibal took with care. “Well, let's get all that dirt and dust out of your coat now. Bet you're itchy.” The warrior took her time. Grooming Hannibal was one of the few chores she actually enjoyed and did not even consider a chore.

“Well Hannibal. I've got a dilemma on my hands. Do I buy a slave? And if I do what do I do with her after? If I emancipate her where will she go? She'd probably starve somewhere." Unless she's near a lake where she can catch fish. "She'd probably end up in one of those places anyway. No money. Nowhere to go. Would I be doing her a disservice? At least as a slave she has some rights." Yeah rights. The right to be whipped for any reason. "She'd have food and shelter and something to wear. By law all slaves are guaranteed that." Yeah and to work in a brothel till she dies of some gods awful disease. "Or overwork. Or a beating at the hand of some monster." She lay her face over Hannibal's white mane. "Gods Hannibal that's what I get for liking someone. Suddenly I'm responsible for their life." You're not responsible for anyone's life but your own. Remember that. "Yeah. Remind someone who doesn't kill for a living."

Gygr watched the sun peek over the tree tops. She enjoyed dawn. The start of a new day somehow refreshed her. It always brought the possibility of something new. And in the light of day there were no nightmares. The warrior stoked the fire as Tang Te checked the perimeter once more. She kept her eyes away from Mendrak's bedroll as she picked up the empty waterskins.

The lake was calm. The surface unmarred by even a ripple. Gygr kneeled at water's edge and filled the skins. The sun's rays finally hit the water and it glistened. Like it did yesterday. What a great day. Gygr smiled to herself and started to rise when something halfway in the water caught her eye. Old log. She tossed the waterbags over her shoulder and went to investigate. Sometimes good herbs could be found near old logs. She heard a commotion at the camp and shrugged it off as she drew closer to the log. Gygr stopped when she saw slim brown legs stretched onto the bank. Black hair floated in the water. Gods no. "No," she sank beside the body and turned it over. Bina's gentle face was now bloated. The commotion grew louder in the camp but Gygr didn't hear. "No," she screamed the word tearing at her throat. And everything became quiet. She lifted the body into her strong arms and held it close.

The thuds of running feet forced Gygr to look up. She was on one knee holding the body of the girl tightly to her chest. "Bris?" She rose slowly and stood, chin quivering not quite certain what to do. "Bris?"

Her old friend had never seen Gygr like this before. He was scared for her. Gods she hasn't had a friend since . .  "Little One . . ."

"Little One?" She whispered. "Little One?" Gygr shouted. "This was a little one, Bris." She held up the body. "This girl, not me. This is what we should be protecting," she spat the words out, "not fat, selfish merchants who satisfy their lust by taking advantage of children." She hissed to the man, "I failed this girl Bris, this innocent." she pushed the body into the man's arms and quickly strode away.

Gygr saddled Hannibal and heeled the mount away from the camp. Away from the lake. Away from what had once been the most beautiful place in the world. She didn't know which direction she went, didn't care. Hannibal dutifully took his mistress far away as fast as he could.

Bris and the others watched her go. "Tang Te," the older man pointed his chin to the disappearing figure.

"Right." The younger man would follow as best he could knowing the warrior's stallion was fast. He'd never catch her. Didn't want to catch her. Just find where she went. Keep tabs on her. Till she was ready. However long that took.
 
 

 Copyright 1999 by  Frances Spinella .
All Rights Reserved.