It's 4050 and the world has had to revert back to basics. Kacela is possibly the best huntress and hired asassin in the entire of Escocia. The country is alive with thieves, killers, and hunters. A new sickness known as the Mal Plague is striking Escocia, and the people are dropping like flies. The only way to stay immune is to stay away......


4. Plague Strike

Kacela twisted awkwardly under the stall, trying to see. A forest of legs had planted themselves in front of her view, and, grinding her teeth, she began to crawl through them.

As she neared the screaming, she straightened up carefully and peered over several shoulders. Kacela had always had a height advantage.

There was a large space in the crowd, and in the centre of the space was a young woman on her knees. A quick look at the raggedy grey dress with no blouse, no apron, no headscarf, confirmed she was not just a peasant. She was a beggar. She had thick, unruly, matted black hair, and wild eyes. It was only when she looked up that Kacela saw the angry purple pockmarks over the skin on her arms, her legs, her face.

The woman seemed to be delirious. Twisting and shouting, kicking and punching, she writhed on the floor of the market, screaming at something only she could see. Kacela's chest went tight. She had seen this before. Someone went mad - they began to fight against something non-existent. They talked to thin air. They asked whether you could see what they saw. Eventually they were all hung for witchcraft.

But never had she seen that hideous pattern of blemishes on the skin. A new sickness, perhaps? Or.....


The Mal Plague.

The Mal Plague had struck when Kacela was only three years old, killing her mother. She remembered those horrible marks on Mama's skin. She remembered Mama's agonized screams as she thrashed about the bed. The worst time, as well, when she had come home and Papa had said in a flat voice, 'come now, Kacela. We have to leave Mama for her to get better.' Kacela had rushed upstairs and seen the still, glassy-eyed corpse. Her Papa had then dragged her from the house and taken them away to another place. A tiny room. The place Kacela lived now.

Of course, Kacela knew now that Papa had taken them away to prevent them catching the Plague. But at the time, she had thought Papa had just been leaving Mama all alone without them.

But Papa had been taken too. Not by the Mal Plague, this was some years later, when the epidemic had ceased. No, her Papa had died at the whipping post when Kacela was just eight, for stealing some fruit.

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