I felt my eyes move behind my closed eyelids. My whole world was surrounded with darkness. My body was stiff and throbbed everywhere. My head felt like it was going to burst into a major case of migraines. But it wasn’t the fact that I was in an enclosed space that woke me up, nor the steady hum of the engine in the background.
It was the slimy touch, slithering its cold fingers up my legs touching my skin. I shuddered. It felt like thousands of snails were slithering up and down my legs. I suddenly had the urge to vomit. I forced my eyes open and found a man crouched between my knees. I could barely make out his features under the moonlight, but to me he was a shapeless, enemy in dark silhouette. My enemy.
I quickly looked around at my surroundings. I was in some sort of van. My back rested against the door with the rest of my body sprawled across the seat. My hands were miraculously free; they probably didn’t think I could cause any more harm surrounded by so many. I didn’t know how many were in the vehicle, only that they filled up every empty space that I could see. For the most part, they ignored me, except for the man touching me. The man touched me with his cold hands and I couldn’t take it any longer. I pulled my legs back and kicked him as hard as I could. He yelled as I smashed my sneakers on his nose, blood splattered over his face as his nose broke to my satisfaction.
He let out a curse before he reached out to backhand me with his palm. My head thudded against the window, the pain felt like I was being split apart and my teeth rattled. My surroundings blurred but I kicked him again, catching his face. My hands desperately fumbled on the door to find the latch. I pulled it but the door didn’t budge. I screamed in frustration and there were more yells from the other guys as they all jumped from their seats to strap me down.
One of them tried to cut off my air by clasping his palm over my mouth and nose, but I bit him hard as I could. I tasted blood in my mouth as he reared back and punched my jaw. My head snapped back and I crashed against the window again. I so hoped I won’t get a concussion as nauseous bile rolled across my tongue.
“Oh, you little bitch, I’m going to cut you deep and carve your pretty face,” he threatened. His eyes were every bit murderous.
I didn’t wait to hear any more of his threats. I pulled on the latch again with such force and miraculously, it opened. Wind blasted through the vehicle and one of them managed to grab my hair. I gritted my teeth from the pain, lashed my hand out and struck his jaw. He let go and I jumped straight out of the vehicle.
I crashed onto the ground, covering my face with my arms. I cried as the hard tar slammed into me, peeling off my skin as I rolled off the road, falling down the steep ravine. I groaned and spat some dry leaves out of my mouth. My whole body felt broken from the impact. I felt as if every part of my skin was bruised and sliced open. I had cuts over my arms and a chunk of skin was torn off. My head was bleeding and I could feel a bump forming. I heard the van stop and the men jumped out of the vehicle, their footsteps fast approaching me.
Stifling a groan, I forced my broken body to get up and hobbled towards the woods. I heard shouts and exclamations not far behind me and I panicked that they might catch up to me. If I was caught again, I didn’t want to know what they would do to me. With a grim determination, I forced my legs into a run. I ignored the pain jolting in my right leg and ran like I did every night. I ran like my life depended on it. It was a good thing I was used to running. It was as if I was trained for this moment. As if my body knew that I would need to run for my life.
The trees whipped past, slapping my face with its branches. I ignored the stinging pain cutting through my cheeks like tiny knife blades.
As I ran for my life thoughts of my mother brought tears to my eyes. What was the use of my strength if I could not protect my only family? Now I was truly alone…an orphan. I angrily wiped my tears with the back of my hands and let the anger fuel my legs.
As I ran, I vowed to myself under the full moon that no matter what, I would not die until my mother’s death was avenged. I would not die until I hunted down and took revenge upon that evil witch for killing my mother. That evil witch would receive retribution for her sins. An eye for an eye. Lex-freaking-talionis.
I ran across an empty clearing and suddenly slammed on my brakes. Clusters of rocks crumbled down and disappeared into the dark ocean below. I hadn’t realised I was running right towards a cliff with the raging sea below. I peered down nervously. I didn’t know if I could survive if I jumped. It would be a miracle if I could avoid the rocks and plunge straight into the water but because of the vicious tides I would still be smashed against the rocks. Whatever happened, I would end up broken at the very least.
I turned around to look for a different direction but the men had caught up to me, forming a semicircle around me. I stood frozen in my spot, my brain quickly analysing which way would be the most advantageous for me. I couldn’t see any way out and they knew I couldn’t take them all at the same time. They grinned at me as they approached closer.
“Well, well, seems that we caught a rat. Ain’t that right, boys?” The closest one to me said in a mock tone.
They all laughed.
“Aye. The lass is a wee bit feisty, but I think we can find someone who’s up for a challenge.” One of them leered at me and I had the sudden urge to clock his head. How dare he looked at me like that.
“What do you want from me? You killed my mother!” There was a hint of desperation in my voice which I failed to conceal.
He shrugged. “Nothing personal, Poppet. We only did what the Madame told us to do. Unfortunately, because of your mother, you have to carry the burden of her sins too.”
“W-what are you going to do with me?” My voice wavered. My hair tumbled in a tangled mess.
“We’re going to sell you. Might as well earn some more cash on the way. Many people would be interested in you. You’re a beautiful woman.”
I choked back the hysteria. Sell me? Oh god, I might be sold in a slave trade or some sort of human trafficking, and shipped off to goodness knows where.
“Here’s a little warning, which might be a wee bit late,” he continued on as he approached closer towards me. “Don’t ever seduce a woman’s man. Especially if the woman is the wife to one of the richest men in the country.”
“Don’t come closer,” I yelled as my feet moved towards the cliff. I tried to balance myself as half of my feet were already dangling in the open air.
“Or what?” he mocked at me.
“Or I’ll jump. I won’t let you have me.”
They all looked at me for one second before they burst into laughter.
“You’re choosing death?”
“Death is a better escape compared to what you have in store for me,” I replied.
“So? You’re just going to…” he waved his hands about, “-jump?”
“My only regret is that I won’t be able to avenge my mother. Tell that evil witch, in life or death, I will find her. And I will kill her with my own hands.” My voice was cold and I felt my heart enclose in a fortress of ice.
In the end, love failed my mother. Love destroyed everything. Love was the downfall. I vowed that I would do anything to survive and seek my revenge. I would bring forth justice myself. Love may have failed my mother, but I will not fail her.
I was after all, my mother’s daughter.
“Peas in a pod, you and your mother,” he scoffed, his voice was arrogant. He nodded to the other men. “Grab her. An Arabian lord has already bid on her. I will not lose my money.”
They rushed to grab me. This time I didn’t hesitate. I jumped and dived straight into the ocean. I didn’t see my life flash before me in the last moments before my death. My eyes stung as the wind whipped past me. I should have been afraid of the fall, but strangely, I was calm. I held on to revenge. I held on to the anger wrapping around my body like a mother’s hug. My mouth was set in a grim line and my eyes were filled with determination. Whatever happened, I would find my way back. Be it in life or death, I would find my way back and destroy that woman.
When the dark ocean burst in anger, I closed my eyes and embraced the impact. I felt my body break into millions of tiny pieces, cold seeped into my body and fractured me before darkness finally consumed me.
My mind broke through the fog. I felt a heavy weight on my back, like a boulder crushing me. My skin was on fire, raging with blisters. My eyes were closed, my eyelids glued together. I moved my fingers, testing whether they were still functional.
From a distance, I heard a clamour of shouts and metallic twangs that sounded like heavy clashes of swords. There were muffled yells around me and men screaming and wailing like dying pigs.
I forced my eyelids open and peered through the folds. The glare of the sun made my eyes watery and my eyes closed slightly before adjusting themselves to the light. What happened? Was I in Saudi Arabia? I felt like I was burning in a scorching desert. Sweat trickled down my face in little streams.
I opened my eyes, the side of my face still plastered to the ground. I saw swords reflecting dully against the sunlight. I saw arrows buried in the ground and half broken shields. The grass was covered in blood. There was a crushed helmet near my side and a dismembered arm in my line of vision. I tried to heave off whatever was on my back. My hands pressed against the ground as I tried to rise, and I managed to push the thing off my back. It fell on the ground with a loud thud. It was a dead man. Surprisingly, his clothes were free from blood but his neck was punctured by an arrow.
My eyes widened and I stifled a scream. I stood up on shaky legs. My hands trembled as I looked at the surroundings around me. My mind must’ve been confused, half asleep, because everything around me was surreal. I closed my eyes for a few moments and then I opened them again. Perhaps I was still dreaming or in a coma in a hospital somewhere.
Or perhaps I was dead.
There were dead men littering the ground. Death. Death was everywhere. There were swords, not like fencing swords, but real, medieval kinds of swords. My mouth gaped open and my eyes widened. I looked around me and it felt like my skull was exploding from insanity.
I must’ve died and went straight to Hell because I was standing right in the middle of a battlefield.