Alone

Then she remembered what had happened that night and how her Grandpa died, the blurry image of Rider's headless body falling again the ground lifelessly filled her head.

Pain cut across her and she squeezed her hands tightly against the mat. She felt his lips on hers as he kissed her, forcefully. Hate and disgust filled her up and she drew up her knee and struck him between his legs.

He fell away from her immediately, holding his loincloth in pain. Using this opportunity, Diamant stood up immediately looking around for anything that could help her. Her eyes fell on a dagger placed carelessly on the table.

I'm sure he thought I would be way too easy. She thought as she ran over to the table and grabbed the knife.

She held it close to her, threatening to kill if he moved close to her as he was making it up slowly. His eyes were filled with rage and a silent mischief.

"You are tough, uh. Well, I have met girls tougher than you." He laughed bitterly and with that, he covered the distance between them in three large steps.

Not being an expert with the dagger, he twisted her hands backwards letting the knife fall off, he hit her to the ground and she fell with a thod. Her eyes blinked furiously, trying her hardest to maintain consciousness.

"Not now! I can still kill him once and for all, I can't give up now!" She screamed in her head.

He had already dragged her to the mat and was already on her, as he straddled her movement preventing any form of escape. She looked around and saw the dagger again on the floor. God must be on her side. She stretched her hand so much that it ached, her fingers only touching the cold pointed edge of the dagger. He was too distracted in his act to defile her that he didn't notice when she grabbed the daggers. He looked up to her face and she dug the knife into his right eye and pulled it out quickly. He screamed in utter pain, falling off her. She stood up immediately, looking around for something to end his shout before he would call any attention. She saw his amour laying near by and his sword just plainly in sight.

" Pure luck!" She thought.

She ran to the armour while he still trashed around trying to grab something but falling back on the ground. She came to him, dragging the sword along from how heavy it was and how exhausted she had become. Her determination rouse and she stabbed him endlessly.

"For you, Grandpa!"

"For you, Rider!"

She chanted repeatedly in her head.

At first, his gasp of pain and surprised could be heard then it became silent.

"Dead." She smiled with a bloody face.

Blood was everywhere, she mustn't tarry. She must not allow herself to be caught because if she was, then she would be in real trouble. From the size of the tent she concluded that the camp was too big and she felt that she wouldn't be able to escape but she still had to run, at least she must try.

She couldn't be certain, at least her trying was what brought the Major General to his end and how lucky was that.

Someone was bound to notice that something was off somehow. She couldn't afford to be here when that happens, so she grabbed her gown by the other side of the mat. She didn't have time or patience to wear the tons of dressing accordingly, she contemplated only wearing the inner gown and her undergarment. Still if she was caught looking so underdressed, she might arouse suspicion. So she tried to smoothen out her hair, wore her gown as properly as haste could allow her then she cleaned the knife and tucked it into the gown somewhere hidden.

When she got out, everything seemed normal and it angered her that the normality was absent in her life at that moment. Her heart was beating wildly with each step she took yet she tried her best to look as composed as her disheveled state of mind could permit. Her mind kept flashing back to what happened in the tent though she tried hard to banish the thoughts away, assuring herself that it had to be done. She could still feel the heaviness of the dagger, still feel like she was bathed in blood. Her hands trembled slightly and she hid them behind her gown.

She met few people tending to their businesses as she was trying to find her way out of the camp without suspicion. No one seemed to pay her attention, they were all occupied with drinks and women.

"Spoils and glory of war." Her mind mocked distastefully.

With each step she tried to hasten the next one. She didn't even know where she was headed, her aim was to move towards the forest. She hoped that she would come across another village that wasn't far from the border.

She hoped...

She hadn't gotten to half of the camp yet when she heard the drum. Her heart skipped a beat.

"No way! No way they discovered so quickly. I won't make it out of this. Oh Lord, please let me make it out of this." She lips trembled in a silent prayer while she tried to walk faster towards the forest.

She started hearing voices behind her, the brightness increased as the torches behind her increased.

They knew.

They were after her, they knew it was her. She began to run and a hot chase followed her. As they grew closer to her, fear paralyzed her legs and she tripped. She stood up immediately, refusing to give up, the legs swung into immediate action.

"After her!" She heard someone order. It didn't take too long before they caught her, dragging her by the hair to the center of the camp.

She tried to yank herself from them but with her vehement struggle came wreaking pain.

The crowd that had formed at the center of the camp pathed a way for one of the warriors, as he walked and stood in front of her. He looked pissed like he was interrupted from a certain enjoyment. His lips were drawn into an angry line. She was pushed to the ground violently by one of the men who caught her.

"Lieutenant General," he bowed swiftly then rouse "I was at the Major General's tent some minutes ago and I saw him in the pool of his own blood. This good for nothing slave murdered him! Murdered him in cold blood!" He said, pointing a finger that trembled in rage at Diamant.

At the mention of Cold blood, Diamant's anger spiked. Who was he to accuse her of murdering anyone in cold blood? Was he not, himself, a murderer? Was the Major General any guiltless?

"Cold blood? Cold blood?! He murdered my family in cold blood. I can only say I returned a favor." Diamant replied with a choked evil laugh. The Lieutenant General hit her hard across the face and she fell again.

"She is unrepentant!" A feminine voice from the crowd of warriors surrounding Daimant cried in distaste.

"Tie her to the tree and strike her fifty times while I think of what next to do." The Lieutenant General commanded, his huge figure casting a shadow on Diamant, the scar which covered half of his face seemed to have moved.

Diamant heart jumped, she searched the eyes of the crowd quickly for sympathy but found rage and bitterness. She started trashing around in fear.

"No! No! You can't do this! You can't. Please!" Diamant pleaded as she got dragged away.

The Lieutenant General turned to leave and the crowd scattered. Everyone went back to their business but more careful now, no one wanted to be another casuality.

"We must present evidence when we return to Alusa. You and Gingin will have to take care of the tent, clean the body and ask one of the expert to preserve it. His Majesty will request for everything and the Major General's family will want him to be rightfully buried." He said to the two warriors by his side with a frown, he couldn't go back to his pleasure anymore. Diamant had ruin his night.

******************************

(Memories)

The market was noisy as usual. She still hadn't seen something that she absolutely loved to the extent of giving up her coins to get. Haggling of prices, advertisement of goods, noises of children playing and laughter filled the air. The sweet fragnance of flower, aroma of cooking, burnt baking and dust filled the air too. Grandpa Gloss had to get something so he left her to continue searching for what she wanted.

"A special day and you want a special gift." A woman spoke from behind her. Diamant stopped, she turned to look at the woman who had on a creepy smell. The long black gown she wore complimented her fair skin, her voice was smooth and sounded pleasing to the ears...too pleasing. On her forehead head was the image of a black crescent moon, around her eyes were painted black circles and they looked empty while she stared into space.

"Shall I tell you your future for a few coins?"

Diamant gulped, a dark aura spilled out of the woman, consuming her. Then the woman gave Diamant a look that penetrated into her very soul.

She stretched out her right hand to Diamant, urging her to take it.

"Do you want to know?"

A slow smile played on Diamant's lips and she suddenly no longer felt fear. 

She complied and the woman smiled at her. She lead her away from the market till they got to a really small house that wasn't far away at all. 

Some people stopped and stared while some hurriedly moved out of the way not to bump into them. They didn't stare for long as they got back to their business.

When they entered the room, it was dark and had only two chairs at the center while the corners of the room were hidden in darkness.

So unusual for an harmattan afternoon.

"Put the coins over there, now sit." 

Diamant obeyed again, not questioning anything.

"Do you know me?" She asked.

Diamant shook her head. "You must be new," she whispered to herself thoughtfully then spoke to Diamant. "I am the Crescent Witch."

Diamant blinked when she said nothing after that.

"Should I be afraid?" She watched her carefully as the witch looked intensely at Diamant's palm.

"That is up to you to decide."

"Well, I am not." 

The Witch nodded a coy smile sneaking up her lips. She started tracing the lines on Diamant's hand while she mumbled words to herself. Diamant still didn't take her eyes off her. The witch's eyes turned white, her hand tightened on Diamant's with so much force that she couldn't feel blood flowing through it. When the Witch spoke her voice was hoarse and inhumanly.

Fear jerked across Diamant's body now, so much that she felt her heart jump into her throat. She fell off the stood, groaning in pain. She tried to break away from the witch but her grip was too tight and she kept on repeating the same thing, her gaze fixed on her. She finally stopped struggling and listened.

"Leave the past to a gentle sleep, do not provoke it of its dark secrets. Do this and you will sail away free, unscratched, untouched into the future." 

Seeing that she had heard, the witch let her go. Diamant immediately sprung up from the floor and headed towards the door.

"When the moon is high in the sky, come back here. There are things I will like to show you." Diamant looked back at the witch and nodded, fearing what could happen if she refused. Then she bolted out but her mind was filled with worry. 

The image of the witch kept flashing before her eyes and as she ran she noticed what had felt different at the last moment. The Witch's eyes were no longer white, they were night black. Was that normal? 

She continued to run back, into the market until she got to the spot where her Grandpa left her in the first place. She stood there for a while, blinking her eyes and trying to steady her breathing while she was trying in vain to forget everything.

"Where were you? I have searched all over for you." Grandpa Gloss cried anxiously from a distance while he leaped over to her. He pulled her into a tight hug, digging his face into her flowery hair. His hands was shaking slightly and his eyes were glassy.

"I ...." Her heart raced at what she was about to do. She blinked vehemently, then she looked up at her grandpa. "I got distracted when I saw some cakes over there. I am afraid I spent all my coins on it." She said in a small shaking voice.

He laughed and brush the tears away from his face, "that is alright! I was afraid you got lured away by the Crescent Witch." He whispered the last part to himself and pulled her into a hug again.

"If that makes you so afraid, I am glad that I didn't run into her." She whispered. Her eyes welled up with tears and she rested her head on her grandpa's chest. She bit her lips to stop herself from crying loudly.

For the first time she had lied to her grandpa and it tore her heart.

She pulled away from him and flashed him a smile. "We have to go home now and send flowers to the sea in remembrance of my parents."

"You want to do that already? You don't want to wait for nightfall?" He asked, his eyebrows furrowing in concern.

"We are free now, why not do it now?" She giggled and they started heading home. She glanced back at the corner that led to the witch. By nightfall, she would be coming back.

The scene before her eyes disappeared slowly again and she could hear someone mumbling a jumble of words.

**************************

Diamant woke up with a start. This night, she thought, was probably the worst night of her life. She had done a lot of passing out and suffering for one night. Every muscle in her body ached and she felt that her skin had been badly ripped in several places. She looked down at her feet, they were hurting badly. There were long cuts on her legs and she felt every inch of her body scream in pain. Her hands twisted painfully behind the tree, the rope used to tie her eating into her flesh. She had bled and it must have been some hours ago as the blood on her skin was dry and dark. She could still hear someone mumbling words but now she could hear them.

"The dead are gone and they are happy. The dead are gone and they are happy." The person mumbling sniffled and suddenly stopped.

It was quiet for a while.

"They thought you were dead, I thought the same. You passed out for sometime."came a tembling whisper from a young lady of Diamant's age. She must have been the one mumbling those words.

She was fair and looked so slim that it seemed like the tree would consume her. Her curly black hair looked untidy but her distinctive feature were her large sparkling eyes. They were so beautiful, bright and full of hope. Too much hope that it sickened Diamant.

Diamant took a look around, hurting her neck in the process. She saw that they were all tied to trees but most of them looked dead.

"What brought you here?" Diamant asked, her voice a little hoarse.

"A little stubbornness. I refused to lay with any one of them. They had ripped my family apart in the war. They brought me here and flogged me. After that, I realized how much I don't want to die. I will do anything they want now, I just... I just want to live." She replied choking on empty tears. She looked down at her chest and gazed at the dangling necklace and then whispered, "the dead are gone and they are happy after all."

Diamant looked on blankly then breathed heavily when the pain got the better of her.

"What is your name?" Diamant asked.

"I am Sunain Sanoris. You?" She asked, sounding glad to be making a friend.

"Diamant." She replied feeling drained.

Sunain expected more but realising that wouldn't happen, she spoke, "Of all the people here tonight, you were flogged the most. I really thought you would die. Some who didn't receive quite as much beating as you did are already dead." Sunain sighed.

It felt strange. They both had no idea what awaited them, yet they were waiting not withstanding if they wanted to or not. Sunain spoke again, trying hard to talk her fears away.

"So, what crime have you committed?"

"You know I didn't want to pleasure the warrior, remember? They will soon be here to untie me and have me lay with them." She paused then added after as silently as the sadness that had now clouded her voice could allow "They told me to my face."

Silence reigned between them and Sunain started chanting again.

"The dead are gone and they are happy."

Someone growled in pain some distance ahead of them, Sunain kept quiet immediately. A man tied to a tree some distance away was crying out for help. He died after some minutes and it fell silent again, he seemed to had lost a lot of blood.

"That is how they've being dying. You know, Lobina is really unlucky to have Alusa attack us." Sunain wept.

"Alusa?" Diamant whispered.

Diamant's heart stopped, she hoped it wasn't the kingdom she had in mind. Her face paled as she dared to ask.

"The Sadist King?" She chocked on her words, fear gushed back into her blood. This was worse than she thought, no wonder their shields had the arrow and sword crossed and at the middle, a dragon. Alusa is such a big kingdom and many people shivered at the mention of the name. That was all she knew, she hoped that it wasn't so much more.

"Oh, only the Sadist King? That is all you know about it?" Sunain's voice jerked her back from her thoughts. "I know so much more to thank my stars that my crime isn't that grave. Have you heard that he killed his fiancé on his wedding day because he caught her cheating? He beheaded her right in front of everyone who had gathered with the thought of a wedding feast and all who raised objection followed her immediately. Heaven or hell, who knows? The number of people he killed with his bear hands for little crimes can build one of the great Walls of Alusa and I haven't even talked about those he killed in battle." Sunain stopped, fear gripping her again, the fear was so much worse than the cold even though they could already feel some parts of them freezing.

"If you have killed, then it will be so much worse. You know, my uncle used to trade in that land before he died. Almost everyone lives in fear and everytime coups rise up against him but they have never been successful. You take a wrong move and you might be headless in the next heartbeat." Sunain paused to catch her breath then started speaking again in a whisper.

"Rumour has it that his family was killed because of the throne when he was on a holiday with his Grandmother and that made him a Sadist. I really wished..." Sunain stopped abruptly, biting her lips to kill the words of trouble that died on her tongue.

"I wished he was killed along with them." Diamant said icily.

"Sush! Someone might hear you!" Sunain whispered harshly.

"We are the only survivors among those tied to the tree, at least that is what it looks like. Now tell me, what your crime was?" Sunain pressured.

Diamant thought for a while then pressed her lips, the ghastly images of her kill flashing before her eyes.

She finally said through gritted teeth, the heavy words burning her tongue.

"I killed the Major General."

Sunain almost screamed, then she realized that her life would be on the line.

"You what?! Not even the slave boy or just a common warrior, not even one of those dancers but a Major General. You are in danger. H-He could feed you to his Dragonair." Sunain stuttered, her eyes widened in fear.

"Dragon? It isn't a myth?" Diamant panicked.

She might just value her life after all.

Her voice came out in a calm whisper.

"Congratulations hopeful one, you are the only survivor."

Well, that for one, rang true.

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