Old 08-25-2013, 10:02 AM   #1
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Mary (Closed)

Story now closed for Incubo28 - OOC: Link and character pictures to be found here.

Mary sauntered through the woods enjoying the silence punctuated only by the sound of bird song and the occasional scurrying amongst the bracken. She felt a slight pang of guilt at having been tardy in returning to the village, for in truth fruit had been so plentiful that she had filled her basket in a merely quarter hour and then taken advantage of such bounty to tarry by the stream and dangle her feet within the chilling waters of the brook for almost twice that time. Even so, Mary calculated that she could take the roundabout route in returning and thus it was that more than 2 hours since she left home, she was approaching the edge of the woods which opened up onto the fenced enclosures where the livestock were held and through which she could pass to speed up her return and leave time for her to still aid in the preparation of the meal.

The sight brought her to a sudden halt. It was as if she was able to process what had occurred in her absence. Fences were broken, their slats laying askew upon the ground. Of the livestock there was no sign. She should have headed back into the protection of the wood, but irresistibly she was drawn closer. There was no sign of the young men who tended the animals, no sign of anyone tending the fields beyond and she now noticed the scent of smoke which rose up from at least one of the buildings of the village.

”Dear God….”

She managed to murmur before a large hand clasped over her mouth and pulled her off the ground. Automatically she tried to scream, the basket of fruit dropping to stain the ground as her arms and legs struck out as she struggled wildly. It was her instinct to fight, though in truth she knew not what had happened here or who it was who had a hold of her, but surely no friend would have taken hold of her in such a way?

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Old 08-25-2013, 10:08 AM   #2
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A female scream woke Marcus from his feverish sleep and with difficulty he forced his mind wake up. His left arm felt numb and the wound at his shoulder started to bleed again. It just seemed he never got enough time to take care of it. Carefully he looked from the roof he was laying on and cursed inwardly when he saw the group of men approach. They had found him already. He had hoped walking through the river would give them more difficulty than this.

He clenched his right hand around his sword but he knew there was nothing he could do right now. He couldn’t run, he couldn’t fight, he couldn’t negotiate. They would kill him on the spot just as they had tried a few days earlier. For a moment he wondered if his death would help the people of this town but he knew the men too well. Even if they found him and killed him, they would still end up killing most of the men present and raping the women and girls. As long they didn’t find him, they would be more careful with their actions. There was nothing he could do but wait.

There were a lot of screams that day and Marcus felt sick at each of them. He tried to block out the sounds and to focus on the pain of his left arm instead. Pain was a better feeling than most emotions he experienced right now. He was glad when the darkness came. These men loved the darkness of the night, but they wouldn’t try to find him without the light of day. They hadn’t found him today and he hoped they wouldn’t be luckier tomorrow.

Quietly he climbed down the building, careful not to be seen. Perhaps now was the time to escape the village but he knew that if he didn’t find some medicinal herbs and a way to close his wound, he would be dead before he reached a new town. It would be better to find those things tonight and pray for the best tomorrow. The biggest problem was that he had no idea where to find such things in this town… and that was just one of the problems. Suddenly he saw a girl approaching the town, and knew the men had a new victim for their lusts if she got any closer. He wondered if she would know where to find the herbs he needed. If not…, well than he had at least saved one life before he died.

Without a sound he moved towards her and when he was close enough he placed his hand over her mouth. ”I don’t mean you harm, but please be quiet for there are men around that do.” He spoke. The pain in his left arm told him very bluntly that right now even this girl would be able to defeat him in a fight.
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Old 08-25-2013, 10:23 AM   #3
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”I don’t mean you harm, but please be quiet for there are men around that do.”

His voice told her as she stilled momentarily her mind racing in indecision.
Mary felt his hand lift slowly from her mouth allowing her to talk.

"Who are you?"

She queried softly.

"What men do you speak of?"

She didn't understand what could have happened in her absence.

"Why should I trust you any more than they?"

She challenged, her voice quivering despite her brave words.
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Old 08-25-2013, 10:38 AM   #4
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Slowly Marcus removed his hand from her mouth, very aware that if she screamed they would be found by the group of men. Perhaps he would be able to kill one of them, but even that he very much doubted right now. He was happy she stayed quiet, except for some questioning. She had very good questions and Marcus wished he had better answers to give her.

He looked at her, feeling rather dizzy from the energy it had cost him to move closer to her. "My name is Marcus and there is a group of 8 men in your town that have more experience with weapons than all the men in this town combined. I fear that in the morning their number will double." He didn't tell her his last name, he had lost the right to use his family name a long time ago, nor did it seem a good idea to tell her that he was the reason these men were in her town to find and kill him.

"You have no reason to trust me." He said and to prove his point, he took his sword from his belt. Rather than pointing it at her, he dropped it to the ground and looked at her. "I can only beg you for your help. I doubt that without your help I will still be alive two days from now and I cannot promise you anything in return for your help. Even with your help I might die, the men could find you, rape you and very well kill you eventually. The wise thing for you would be to leave this town and stay far away from it."

He had spoken cold to women before, but normally in attempts to get their cooperation and wealth, rather than to share the truth with them. He smiled a little as he felt how his legs no longer wanted to support him and was about to collapse to the ground.
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Old 08-25-2013, 11:05 AM   #5
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"My name is Marcus and there is a group of 8 men in your town that have more experience with weapons than all the men in this town combined. I fear that in the morning their number will double."

She had eased free of his grasp, her eyes casting desperately over the outline of her village buildings. Only eight men and yet they had brought so much destruction.

"You have no reason to trust me."

She turned and looked at him noticing for the first time that he was injured, that it seemed to take all his strength to take out his sword and to cast it on the ground before her.

"I can only beg you for your help. I doubt that without your help I will still be alive two days from now and I cannot promise you anything in return for your help."

Her eyes widened in alarm at his words. She found it difficult to calculate his age, but she would have judged that a man of his years would have more resilience, to be weakened thus must surely mean he had been fighting an enemy for a longer time than just that morning?

" Even with your help I might die, the men could find you, rape you and very well kill you eventually.

She blushed at his words. She had heard rumours of such men of course, but never expected her own existence to be threatened by such a fate.

"The wise thing for you would be to leave this town and stay far away from it."

Her head snapped back towards the buildings, sure that she could hear voices.

"Let us head for the woods. I know this place. We can find a place to hide and to rest."

She was already gathering her half empty basket of fruit and actually reached out to support the stranger beside her.

"Perhaps later we can return. I have family, two elder brothers, a cousin, she is but two years elder than I ... I cannot just ... "

Behind them voices grew louder and she hastened to guide him past the broken fences and drew him between the trees which instantly gave them cover.
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Old 08-25-2013, 11:15 AM   #6
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Marcus followed her, although he had no idea where he pulled the strength from. At times his energy was gone and did she have to support him a bit before he could continue. He knew they wouldn't dare to leave the town unless they actually saw him, not until morning came at least. When they stopped walking, he was surprised to notice that he has his sword clenched in his right hand again. He had no memory of picking it up from the ground, but at the same time knew he would never leave the weapon behind. To him, his sword was as valuable as his legs.

He looked up at her and opened his mouth. "Tha... Before he could finished his words, the world went dark and he collapsed onto the ground. His shoulder instantly started to bleed again from the deep cut a sword had made two days earlier.
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Old 08-25-2013, 11:52 AM   #7
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Whereas it had taken Mary a long time to reach the location where the berries grew earlier that morning, she managed to navigate the shortest route she knew and actually get past that point before her companion actually collapsed. She was strong enough to slow his fall, but not sufficiently so to prevent him from sinking to the ground. For long moments she hesitated, looking around and getting her barings after having pretty much put her head down and walked with the intent of putting distance between her village and them.

She calculated carefully and left her companion for a mere 10 minutes as she checked out their surroundings for a safe place for them to rest. It was with effort that she managed to pull his body inch by inch easing him around the thick gauze until he was clear of the foliage. Only then could she roll him several times into the shelter provided by the roots and the gauze. Soon she had him comfortably hidden, yet her relief was short lived. She was perspiring from exertion, but it seemed that he was sweating profusely. She put her hand to his forehead and found that it was on fire.

"Please, no .... "

She murmured.

There was nothing more to be done, but to seek out do her best to treat him. Deftly she examined his body noting the serious injury to his shoulder and that though the bleeding had stilled, the wound was far from clean and possibly infected. Somehow she had to cleanse it and break the fever ... It was risky, but she had to leave the safety of that shelter and collect her herbs and seek out water with which she could cool him.

Shelter:

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Old 08-25-2013, 12:55 PM   #8
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Her examination of his body revealed some other injuries, some recent while others were years old but the shoulder wound was the only that was a current problem. Marcus hardly reacted to her touches and didn't wake during her absence as she searched for herbs and water. When she applied the first bit of water to his face, it almost seemed as if a river of mud left his skin. He had been a disgusting mess with dried blood, mud and all other kinds of dirt on his clothing and skin.

As she managed to clean his face a bit, Marcus suddenly seemed years younger. It was still clear he was quite a couple of years ahead of her but it was doubtful if he was much older than 30. His chest and arms were muscular although the last few days hadn't done him much good. It didn't look like he had anything with him that had worth or told more about his identity other than the sword. It too was covered in mud, but precious gems... or perhaps just coloured glass... could be discovered under the mud. It looked more like a sword that got stolen from a Lord, than something that actually belonged to him.
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Old 08-25-2013, 03:52 PM   #9
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She'd had to travel further than she'd intended. She needed something to carry the water in and decided that if she headed back towards her village, but headed off at a tangent then she would find where her 'supplies' were stored, which in the long run would avoid her having to gather fresh herbs.

It was over an hour later when she was sat beside him, splashing his face with water in an attempt to cool him and seeing just how caked with mud he was. Hesitating only momentarily she reached down and tore at her petticoats using the cotton to wipe away the grime and then applying a fresh damp cloth to his brow as he continued to sleep. She considered lighting a fire, but did not dare drawing attention to them. Besides which she had to cool him down somehow.

Another strip of cotton saw the wounds cleansed. All she could do was continually freshen up the cloth and press it on his face, then take a second one and press it against his heated skin. Yet she knew that would not be enough. She had always been wary to practice her healing 'arts' as her family termed them, yet this was an emergency if ever there was one. There was the risk that upon reviving he might accuse her of sorcery, of summoning powers to heal, but his life was in the balance and so it was risk she had long decided to take. Selecting from the herbs she had taken from her hidden store, she ground them in the pestle and mortar, adding water to make them into a poultice. Carefully she pulled back his shirt, grimacing as she saw the depth of his wounds, but after cleansing the cuts once more, she set about pressing the paste into the cuts certain that it would cleanse the infection and thus reduce his fever.
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Old 08-25-2013, 04:36 PM   #10
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No matter what Mary did to his body, Marcus didn't respond to anything, which was not a very good sign. When she was done with her attempts to fix him up somewhat, Marcus continued to sleep and was clearly haunted by his dreams. He twisted and turned and very well could cause new troubles to his wound.

When morning came only a few hours later, jolted up awake. His sword was ready in his hand, ready to fight the demons he had seen in his dream. A loud curse, very unsuited for his present company escaped his lips as his body reminded him of his injury, but already he was feeling somewhat better.
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Old 08-25-2013, 04:48 PM   #11
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She tended him as he slept, keeping the cotton rags rinsed out and applying the cool clothes to his head and body. She headed out once more before dark to collect fresh water and upon returning found his body twisting and turning. All she could do was move to his side and attempt to hold his arms to stop him pulling his wounds open again. Weak as he was, the episode soon passed, but repeated time and again until finally some time towards the middle of the night, he finally slept deep and still.

It was colder now, yet she did not dare light a fire. Instead Mary pulled the old blanket she had brought from her store room and pulled it over her, then moved closer to Marcus drawing part of it across his now cooled body and finally slept herself...

Under normal circumstances his sudden awakening would have brought Mary from her slumber, but she was lain beside him, the blanket now half covering her body, the majority of it having been used to warm him. It was the expletive which caused her to stir and murmur as she instinctively fought against returning to consciousness.
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Old 08-25-2013, 05:08 PM   #12
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Slowly the memories of the past day returned, or perhaps it was already longer ago... Marcus had no idea how long he had slept. He looked at the girl next to him, a woman to the standards of present day, but clearly still fairly young. He believed she had mentioned a family but he didn't believe she had mentioned a husband. He softly chuckled, really something for him to focus on that.

He checked his shoulder, happy that the girl had been wise enough to take his disgusting shirt off. He knew the mud and dirt was no good for his wound but walking around without a shirt would quickly draw attention. He noticed she had cleaned the wound, most likely the reason he could think a bit better now. He noticed she started to stir more, so he placed the blanket over her.

Part of him wanted to head back to her town to see what the men were up to, but he feared that was not the best of plans. Perhaps he should just flee further away from them. There was nothing in the world more important than his life after all. He watched the girl and grimaced. She had helped him, he wondered what reward she wanted for that.
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Old 08-25-2013, 05:19 PM   #13
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Ironically it was the placing of the blanket upon her which drew Mary from her slumber. Slowly she sat up and blinked and the focused on him

"You're awake!"

She exclaimed delightedly casting off the blanket and moving over to where he lay. Automatically she pulled his shirt open and gently worked her fingers over the wounds realising belatedly that this time he was awake and able to react.

"They're clean and healing."

She told him drawing back with a blush.

"You had a fever, but I managed to bring it down."

She told him simply.

"You should drink."

She brought him a cupful of water and gathered her basket and placed it before him.

"Only berries for now, but it's something.... "

She told him offering him the only food she had gathered.

"What do we do now? If there were only eight of them then perhaps.... "

Surely her family and friends would be back there, or hiding out somewhere, or at least some of them.

"I can't be the only one who escaped."

She told him tremulously.

It was the first time she had allowed herself to even consider the possibility.
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Old 08-25-2013, 05:41 PM   #14
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Marcus couldn't help but smile as the girl woke and started to touch him and spoke to him. So many things she seemed willing to tell him in just a few words. Of course the smile disappeared from his face as the subject went back to her village and the men. He looked at her and shook his head.

"Yes, a few might have gotten away but I don't think that will bring your village much good." He said to her, leaving out the part that the men would most likely follow any tracks leading away from the town in hopes of finding him and killing them when they found out they had been following the wrong tracks. Unless it just happened to be some pretty girl, who would be brought back to the village for further use. Or just raped and killed at the spot.

"The problem is that by now it are no longer 8 people in and around your village. It are at least 16, but I will assume 24. Enough that they can keep control of the town without having to worry about the militia of other towns. The only one powerful enough to deal with a group of 24 men is the army of Lord Darkfire." He told her and forced his lips into a smile.

"Do you care to guess for who the bad men in your town are working? I will give you a hint, it starts with a D and ends with Arkfire. So no, your town won't get any help until it is too late. By the time it is safe again to be around the village everyone will be dead and the official story will be that it was a random group of criminals." Marcus told her and then ate a few berries.

"Lord Damian Darkfire has an army of 250 well trained men, so I am going as far away from him as I can. I suggest you do the same while you still can. You helped me, so you are welcome to come with me."
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Old 08-25-2013, 05:46 PM   #15
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He spoke and spoke, but the only words she heard were;

"By the time it is safe again to be around the village everyone will be dead ..."

She blinked as she tried to take it in.

"Dead?"

She questioned him numbly.

"My parents, brothers ... my cousin and her child ... ?"

She shook her head denying the truth that she knew to be true.

"But ... why?"

Their village had been peaceable, caused no one any trouble.

"Why would anyone ... ?"

Her voice broke as the tears began to spill.

"I-It just... can't be ... "
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Old 08-25-2013, 05:57 PM   #16
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It still didn't seem the best of times to admit to her that he was the reason the men were in her town. That they somehow had been able to follow his tracks and that he was to blame for everything that had happened. "They are very bad men and Lord Darkfire is the worst of them. If people survive they will tell others the truth so in time they will have to murder the ones that can. A few of the troublemakers in your town, the kids and adults that rather get rich doing bad things than work, might be enlisted in the army and survive that way. The pretty women might get to live a life as personal slave to one of the more important men."

He wondered if she should tell her more, but he feared that would give her some hope that there was something that could be done.
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Old 08-25-2013, 06:09 PM   #17
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[i]"They are very bad men and Lord Darkfire is the worst of them. If people survive they will tell others the truth so in time they will have to murder the ones that can. A few of the troublemakers in your town, the kids and adults that rather get rich doing bad things than work, might be enlisted in the army and survive that way. The pretty women might get to live a life as personal slave to one of the more important men."[/]

She shuddered at his words and wondered if he had any idea how it felt for him to describe the fate of those she loved in such a matter of fact way ... but then she assumed that he was a fighter and as such used to seeing death and worse.

"They would be better off dead."

She murmured.

"No one I know would side with such men."

She told him with certainty.
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Old 08-25-2013, 06:15 PM   #18
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He nodded at her. "Not many will, but people are willing to do a lot to stay alive or to have their loved ones stay alive. What if someone told your brother... we will kill your sister unless you join us. Most brothers will at least consider it although most sister will rather be dead than have the faith that awaits them. And in time the ones that join will be as bad as the ones they have joined."

He looked at her and knew she was one that would stay alive because of her beauty. "If the men capture you, you will most likely be given to one of the generals. If you had red hairs instead of brown you might very well become one of Lord Darkfire's personal slaves. So trust me, the best thing you can do is to leave."
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Old 08-25-2013, 06:27 PM   #19
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He was brutal in his honestly and seemed to ignore the tears which flowed unheeded down her face as she wept silently.

"You speak of this so easily."

She accused softly.

"If I leave, where would I go?"

She asked as her mind tried to work out her next move.

"Perhaps it would be better for me to return, to know for certain what has happened to those I love, to share their fate .... "

She suggested.

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Old 08-25-2013, 06:49 PM   #20
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He looked at her and sighed. She had helped him so he wasn't eager to see her get a sentence worse than death. "You really are welcome to come with me. I don't know where I am headed but..." He sighed again, he had caused a fair share of crying women but this was different. This time he wondered if there was anything he could do to make her stop crying. Perhaps there was some way to deal with the men but he knew that even he couldn't deal with 24 men.

He sighed again and blamed his injury for making his willpower so weak. "Perhaps... we can take a look at your town later and see if there is anything I can do." He said and sighed again. He really didn't want to give her too much hope.
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Old 08-26-2013, 03:18 AM   #21
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"You really are welcome to come with me. I don't know where I am headed but...Perhaps... we can take a look at your town later and see if there is anything I can do."

She shook her head firmly.

"No. If I go back, I go back alone. You've already said that the number of men will have multiplied and you're in no fit state for a fight."

She told him firmly.

"Either I leave with you, or I go back and join my family. There really isn't a third option and we both know it."

She attempted to dry her eyes and compose herself. She didn't know if she could walk away and just leave the others to their fate, never knowing what had become of them, but if she did know then the reality might be more than she could handle.

"I don't know if I'm strong enough to do either, that's the problem."

She confessed.

"But I suppose wasting time hiding out here merely adds to our danger?"

If they were leaving then they had not put enough distance between themselves and her village as yet.
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Old 08-26-2013, 07:46 AM   #22
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He almost grinned at the firm voice she tried to use on him. It might work on a younger sibling but he was not really impressed by it. Still she wasn't wrong with her words and he nodded. "As I said, most likely there are 24 men in your town, three groups of 8. One group will secure the town, find anyone that is hiding in town, and try to find anything of worth. One other group will start tracking the people that managed to escape. They will start with the tracks that directly lead to other towns and stop them before they reach it. The last group will... guard... the villagers." He told her. He didn't mean 'guard the villagers', he meant 'rape the women' but there was no need to say that. She either understood the truth, or she was naive enough to believe the lie.

"I think we have one day to gather a bit more food and water but no more than a single day. For now the groups will stay close to the town for defence and control." He sighed as he looked at his shoulder. "I hate placing myself at your mercy but I fear I will have no choice but to rest and regain my strength while you do the gathering."

He gave her a firm look. "Don't go anywhere near your town! Not to get stuff, not to surrender yourself to them. You will only give your family and loved ones more reason to cry and you will experience a life of slavery until one of the men beats you too hard." Unlike she, he had lots of experience with a firm voice.
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Old 08-26-2013, 09:18 AM   #23
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"As I said, most likely there are 24 men in your town, three groups of 8. One group will secure the town, find anyone that is hiding in town, and try to find anything of worth. One other group will start tracking the people that managed to escape. They will start with the tracks that directly lead to other towns and stop them before they reach it. The last group will... guard... the villagers."

The way he said that and what he had spoken of before made Mary speculate that he meant more than to merely 'guard'.

"I think we have one day to gather a bit more food and water but no more than a single day. For now the groups will stay close to the town for defence and control. I hate placing myself at your mercy but I fear I will have no choice but to rest and regain my strength while you do the gathering."

She brightened.

"That will be no bother, I know these woods like the back of my hand."

Her enthusiasm was cut short by his firm words.

"Don't go anywhere near your town! Not to get stuff, not to surrender yourself to them. You will only give your family and loved ones more reason to cry and you will experience a life of slavery until one of the men beats you too hard."

She flinched at his words, but some of what he said did get through. No matter what her family were going through, the fact that she had escaped would be a comfort to them. It seemed there was little else in reality she could do, even assuming they had survived the raid.

"I have some other things not too far from here. I used to be much in these woods, foraging, gathering herbs... "

She watched him warily uncertain as to how he would feel if he realised that she had been the 'healer' of the village.

"After all you've said. Perhaps getting out of here as soon as we're able would be the best plan ...?"

She suggested shyly, aware that she was now to all intents and purposes without family or friends.
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Old 08-26-2013, 01:16 PM   #24
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He nodded at her words that she used to be lots in the woods and didn't think much else of it. He was happy he had found someone that actually was of use rather than just be a burden and he was quite sure he wouldn't be feeling this good if it wasn't for her.

"Well, I will need my rest as I have no idea when we will be able to stay at one place longer again and the same goes for our supplies. I rather spend an extra hour now to gather what we need than that we risk running out of food and water when we have no chance to find more." He said and grinned. "And again, with we, I mostly mean you when it comes to gathering now. But yes, it won't hurt to hurry a little and the quicker we can leave this region, the better it is."

He thought for a moment. "I think it is best to head south when we leave, so should something happen that causes us to lose each other, go in that direction. They won't worry so much about people going in that direction as there are no direct towns there." He told her, not sure if she knew much about the region.

He made himself comfortable on the ground as a clear sign that now would be a great time to start her gathering. He only waited a few minutes however before he got up again and snuck away... towards the village. He needed information and perhaps he would find something out about to repay her help. He hoped she hadn't seen him leave, as surely she would use her firm voice on him again if she had.
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Old 08-26-2013, 02:48 PM   #25
DeliciousMaiden
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She knew he was right when he told her that he would need to rest whilst she gathered supplies.

"I think it is best to head south when we leave, so should something happen that causes us to lose each other, go in that direction. They won't worry so much about people going in that direction as there are no direct towns there."

He seemed to know much about travel, whereas although Mary knew the woods, she was totally unaware of what lay beyond them. She saw him settle and considered her options. She had more items that she could bring from her own supply store. She had spent long days out there at times, yet she had usually brought food for the day and left none there. She would have to forage as best she could. Fruit was in abundance and she knew how to seek out leaves, roots and herbs which could also be eaten when heated together. And so she headed out to her store seeking out her carrying sack which she used for harvesting herbs to take back for use during the winter months and carefully set about gathering supplies for their journey.
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