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The Seven

Today’s 500 club prompt was a bit tricky, I think, so I decided to dust off the old blog and take a crack at it. If you want to play too, you can here.

The Seven

The leaves fell with every breeze, fluttering down in red and gold showers, oak, ash, and elm. They made me think of the parades I’d seen in the newsreels, the fluttering storms of tickertape raining down onto the heads of the victorious. But that was them, and this was us.

My scabbard hung naked at my side, empty and purposeless. It slapped my leg as I rode. They’d let us keep our horses, a gesture of goodwill. What did they need with horses, anyway? I scratched Damon’s neck and he danced for me, arching his neck and picking up his feet. Still proud, my Damon.

Three of us left; six if you counted the horses. Elissa rode beside me, her scarred face and arm hidden by her dark green hood. I know I didn’t look any better; I lost the top of my ear and a third of the hair on my head from the same shock-blast that’d mangled her. Should’ve killed me outright, but Elissa’d grabbed me just in time. Achima rode behind us, silent. She didn’t have a mark on her skin, but still she woke screaming, night after night. She never cried with words, the last words she’d said, after they caught her, were “fuck you.” I know this because we were belly-down in the scrub, looking for the chance to steal her back.

They had a witch with them, and the witch crawled inside Achima’s head and tried to make her tell, tried to make her say our names, to reveal the dreaded Night Rebels that harried their forces for so long were seven girls from Aeaea.

But Achima knows magic too; we all do. Just little makings, otherwise none of this would ever have happened. I guess she burned out the language center in her brain instead of give us up. I’ve tried to teach her some sign language, but she just stares at me. I can’t tell if she won’t learn, or can’t.

Before they came, Elissa was a birder. I was a horse trainer. Achima was a poetess. The others I will not name without incense to burn for them, to carry them to heaven. Time was, you could cremate a person properly, but of course that’s done now. Incense was our answer of austerity, but they took ours when they took our swords. They knew what we did with it.

“Almost there,” said Elissa, as we passed the bent old sign that pointed to home. Surprised they hadn’t torn it down yet. Suppose they can’t be bothered with these island roads just yet.

“I want a bath,” I said.

The forest diminished as we rode, the sky beyond clear and blue. The rustles of the little creatures that we startled as we rode grew less frequent; the scolding birdsong sporadic. Soon there would be no woods to hide in, no leaves to flutter down to say hello, to say I’m sorry.

Achima pulled her horse alongside Damon.

“Ready?” I asked.

She cocked her head at me, her lips bending into what could nearly be called a smile. And I looked into her eyes, and saw the thing I feared the most.

 

 

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