• The day proved to be bright and cloudless, to our group's dismay. In an open field such as the one we beheld that day, hiding was a fruitless cause. Every moment we spent riding, we knew that our pursuers were just as close behind us as they had been for day after tiring day.

    Even during the night, we rode, everyone, even the youngest, until exhaustion forced us to stop. I especially felt for the younger one, who was but ten years old. When we were riding, all of our faces were set in grim determination. Looking over at Kyo, I was not surprised to see him keeping his usual attitude, stoic faced and straight backed, despite the shadows under his eyes.

    It was the youngest who broke first, nearly falling off of his mount, eyes the deepest possible hue of black. With slow, hesitant movements, we all dismounted and most of us began to break for camp.

    Not wanting to be a burden, I kept back and watched with the young boy as all of the others set up camp. I, myself, was grateful that none of the burdens of work had to fall to me. I deserved it, after all, since I had endured that final night with my former master, and received little sleep. If there was sin in staying up all night with their former master, and enemy, by force, then please, whichever god detests things such as this, send your wrath down from the heavens and kill me there. I am ashamed to say I actually wished, then that very thing would have happened to me. I trembled without thinking, closing my eyes tightly against the tide of the memory. The pin slowly, slowly breaking through my masters skin and piercing his heart. He didn't know what hit him.

    I killed someone. I killed someone who had nothing but trust and love for me. That was the only thing I could think of.

    For a second time, I wished I was dead, shaking uncontrollably, laying there on the cold, solid ground. After a long time, I fell into a sleep that left me feeling more tired than rested the next day. I did not believe that later on in the journey I would be any more to the others than another mouth to feed.

    It happened five days later. We had stopped once again, giving our mounts the rest they needed lest they ended up floundering on us. We had reached a grand forest a couple hours back. In it lie much needed wood and, god be thanked a thousand times over, water. I had been set to the task of filling the waterskins. All the while, the younger boy, whom I discovered was named Eldric, sat behind me, watching with a childlike curiosity over my shoulder.

    Since my patience with children, unlike Kyo, was none too long, it was an extremely difficult thing to ignore. I would have had it instead that he had been with Eldric instead of I, but, alas, he was occupied elsewhere, and it is a good possibility that he was chopping down wood from the trees, breaking them up to be fit for the firewood for the night.

    About a quarter of an hour later, I had finally completed my task, and Eldric was busy singing to himself and running back and forth with energy no one else had. I shook my head in both wonderment and amusement, for I had no energy to spare from the long hours of riding on horse with little food.

    That was when I heard it. The terrible beat of hoofs on the dirt floor and branches breaking. It was a quiet sound, and still distant, but my ears were trained for such things, thanks to my earlier training in the arts of covertsy before I was forced into slavery.

    Before I did anything else, I made Eldric get quiet, and bid him hide in the trees, so no one could see him. "Don't come out unless one of us tell you too, okay?" I told him, bending down to stare him in the eyes.

    There was a look of terror in his eyes that sent a bolt of sadness through me. He was so young. He didn't deserve what had happened to him before. Even I, who had been there for a lesser period than everyone else, knew what the women had done to the poor boy. Eldric nodded, obedient, and with a sad, reassuring smile, I patted his head and ran on towards where I knew the men would be.

    The hoof beats were getting closer, and I knew in just a couple minutes or possibly less, they would be on us and I had the horrid feeling that someone would die.