The Dawn of the End of the War.
She was dead – A rumble of shock issued through the troops as they slowly recovered from the nauseous dark tar. The Prince had been recovered from his flight, reunited with his companions with the captured jewel. Arrangements were made swiftly to decamp and march home to the capital to the King. Runners were sent ahead in a relay to announce their return and the triumphant news.
The captives were rounded up as the military encampment was packed up around them, there was some debate as to whether they should be slaughtered and left with the rest of the rubbish, however the Prince concluded that they would be more valuable sold as slaves back home, those that survived the march. Hara was among the women, she had already guess the fate of the young woman she had raised and protected from a small child. Her heart was broken, torn and she struggled with her grief, attempting to hide her tears, shuffling along sadly with her fellow female captives. She questioned her ability to walk the distance to the capital, her old legs and swollen feet pained her so each step caused her hips to crack. Best to die here in the same field as her precious girl, an old woman would not be worth much on the open market.
As the male slaves were forced to work, carrying equipment and supplies, Hara craned her neck with some hope she could catch a glimpse of the Guardian, if they had let her live, they would have kept him for fighting stock. At least, that was her speculation… She watched with anticipation…
… But it was the Priest who noted the old woman and ordered her over… Hara had half expected this, she stood out (beyond her actions) clearly she was no peasant nor farmer, her robes, her facial tattoos and her age would identify her as a Witch, a Soothsayer, Wise Woman, Hag… However you wanted to label her, The Priest knew exactly the truth of her nature.
“Your prophet is dead.” He sneered at Hara. “You’re a remnant of an old time, you have no place here, in society, in the capital. You’re a child of the wilds and smell bad too.”
Hara sighed and raised her chin, swallowing back the angry lump in her throat that held bitter words she desired to snap back, instead she remained silent.
“But I am a scholar of the old ways and I’m going to make you a simple, singular offer.” He lowered his voice and leaned closer. “Work for me, I shall employ you as my maid, but in reality, I should like to probe your wisdom.”
“Do I look like a maid?” Hara cracked a smile, she had met religious fanatics before. They either saw her as a threat or a curiosity.
“No… but if I chose a ripe farmers daughter, they would consider me a pervert.”
“There was a man with us, a soldier, what is to be his fate?”
Anne Harrison 31.10.16