It was the screams that she could recall the easiest. Not her mothers face, her fatherís voice her friendsí antics, but the screams. Men dying, women being ravaged, children moaning, all collected into one loud scream. Loud and mournful enough that she thought it could reach to the highest terrace of heaven and the deepest pit of hell.
She was seven when her village was destroyed. She had been hidden well, so well that while everyone was being killed or captured she had remained undetected, the screams ringing in her hears.
When the Army came 4 weeks later they barely refrained from killing her on sight. Ghost and Demon of the Village they called her upon sight of her. A young solider in the ranks recognized her and brought her to his Captain in the dirty camp out side the destroyed village. Entering the tent she was met by a Captain, his tunic worn and dirty but his armor perfectly kept up. Not expecting much, he asked her to describe her attackers and what she knew. Parting her lips the girl-child began to describe the atrocities that had befallen her village. When she finished a great shiver befell the Captain. He had never heard anyone give a report in such detail but not seem to care, let alone a small child. Rising he swept on minimal armor and his weapons and lead the girl outside. Striding across the mud formed from the days of rain when the world itself seemed to moan the loss of innocence the Captain placed the girl in a chariot, its wheels dripping of blood and mud of those that had fallen. Showing her how to plant her feet and grip the rail he wiped the horses and raced out of the camp and up the gentle slope the village children had once played on. Skidding to a stop near the Generalís tent he stepped out onto the caked dirt and led the girl-child forward. Waiting for admittance next to the Captain the girl, her eyes haunted pools of loss, waited silently.
Entering nothing changed from her expression, save a flash of interest when she beheld the General. The woman had deep red hair sheared short to prevent irritation in battle, her face was scared but still lovely in its own way, even after 20 years of service in the Army. The woman listened to the Captainís explanation before gesturing for the girl to speak. Once again the girl opened her mouth and allowed the haunting tale to pour forth into her listenerís ears.
The female General listened carefully, not allowing any emotion to play across her face or in her heart. When the girl began to relate what the attackerís General had said within her hearing she leaned forward listing for any detail to help her catch her foe. The childís story finished, the woman leaned back and called for her attendant to clean the girl up and feed her. As the girl was lead away and the Captain who brought her returned to his troops, the General allowed herself to feel. 20 years ago she had been that child, relating all that she had seen and heard to the General of the local Army. She had known where her attackers were heading but the man was bloated on his own self righteousness and had not headed her advice but dismissed her as over exerted.
Standing the woman crossed the room and looked into the mirror hanging from a pole. Tracing a finger along the scar from her chin to ear, her eyes showed their pain as she remembered what she had done. Not caring about the fat Generalís orders she had tried to convince the Captainís to attack but they just laughed her off and shoved her away. The loss she had experienced was harden by the humiliation of being turned away she had sworn to any and all deities that had ever been and ever would be that she would avenge her family. She had stolen a dagger from the drunken guard one evening and left the despicable camp, heading to the location she knew her villageís killer would be. Stealing into camp she made her way to the gaudy tent at the edge of the main camp. Entering it quietly she allowed her eyes to adjust before stealing over to the man asleep on his cot. Holding the dagger in her hand she stared at the man below her, oblivious to his immediate danger. This was the man who had ordered the destruction of her village; this was the man who had personally killed her mother and her brother; the man who had then proceeded to desecrate the deceased. This man that she had sworn to kill lay beneath her blade now and she could not will it in. Blinking her eyes shut she recalled the screams, all encompassing screams. Opening her eyes her mouth dropped open. The man was a wake and had been. Grinning he yanked the dagger from her hand. Pulling her along, he dragged her out to the middle of camp where he bellowed for his compatriots to wake up.
Laughing as if it was just another amusing tale to relate over the fire he related how she had sneaked into his tent and been preparing to kill him. With the grin of a skeleton he ordered a post to be planted in the middle of camp and her to be tied to it, a memento to the Army and its pompous General when they finally got around to coming here. To add insult to injury the man crouched down to her level while she was being tied. Whispering he told her how much he had enjoyed killing her family and her village and would do it again in a heart beat. His smile turning feral he gently slid the blade from the base of her ear to her chin, slicing perfectly to give the most pain with the least blood, guaranteed to leave a scar. Laughing he planted the dagger just beyond her reach and ordered everyone to pack up.
Days later, when the Army had finally come upon the deserted camp she was still there, more determined then ever that she would kill that man. She stayed with the Army from then on. Cleaning and cooking in return for lessons in the art of war. Everyone in camp admired her for her skill with the blade and cunning in planning a battle. She began to rise in the ranks and eventually became General, the pompous man having been killed earlier by a bout of arrogance. And now her she had gone full circle; a little girl was once again telling a General that she knew where the attackers would be camping for the next 2 months. Dare she believe her? Dare she risk not continuing her appointed rounds and chase after the man that had ravaged the country for 20 years? If she succeeded in killing him she and her men would be greatly rewarded, if she failedÖ.she wouldnít even think about what would happen then.