She lay curled on her side. Breathe in, breathe out. Listen to the rasp of each inhalation, the slight bubble of the exhalation. The pain had long ago turned to numbness, she knew if she moved it would return, so she lay motionless, barely breathing, waiting. Eventually they would remember her and it would start again. They would make her move, make her do chores or submit to another beating. The only thing she could do was wait for it to begin and enjoy the numbness the cold brought to her limbs.
“Are you certain it is this house, Sir? They do not have any young children that I am aware of.” “Yes, this is where the Companion says she is. Now please, can we go, the child is in pain.” “Oh yes, of course. It is a farm on the edge of town.” After fighting their way past the two men and a shrieking woman, all denying that there was a child there, he began searching the cabin. It was a wooden box next to the dark, ash filled fireplace where he found her. She lay curled in a tight ball, rags stained with blood. Gesturing for the healer, he stepped away from the box. The three adults watched him back with steely eyes. They felt no remorse. Now he was glad he had the power to make them speak the truth. The truth spell would show just how dark and twisted their minds truly were.
“Can they be taken in for questioning? I want to get the girl back to town for more healing. Can she be moved?” He directed the last question to the healer tending the child.
“Honestly, this is beyond my ability. She has been starved for most of her life, bones broken and never set, whip marks and burns across her arms, chest and back. There is not a part of her body that is not bruised, scared, or bleeding. I can get her stable to bring back to town but she will need more healing than I can give. If we can bring in a healer or two to get her stable to travel and take her back to the capital she might make it. But there is little I can do here. We are going to need some strong backs to move this box because we cannot move her out of it yet. She has some spinal damage.” The man cursed and watched as the abusers were pulled from the cabin by the guard.
She lay drifting until something jarred her, drawing a cry from her lips. She could hear men talking and bird song. When did she get outside? Struggling she opened her eye only to be blinded by sun. Blinking her vision cleared enough to show a large blue eye watching her. The blue seemed to expand and swallow her as a voice, whispered, “There you are, my rider. Sleep now, I will guard you.” A swell of comfort filled her as darkness dragged her deep.
“It’s fine. Cassius has bonded with her and will make sure she sleeps till we get her in a real bed.” It was nearly an hour later before they managed to get the box into the guard post’s healer’s room.