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She was young, only fifteen when he first spotted her. The village she was from had been ravaged by war, and there was little to be had. Children starved in the streets, there was no food, or clean water, homes were reduced to shambles. There was so little to be had that no one was willing to give or share. Those orphans like Erika stood no chance in this place.

She was small for her age, petite, and delicate. Though her will could be strong, her behavior had always lead others to treat her badly, she was so quiet and polite, no one believed she would stand up for herself. She never proved otherwise, no matter the abuse they had put her through.

He found her one night when the night sky was tainted gray with clouds, and water fell so heavily one could not see through it. The villagers took shelter where they could, huddled together in their little homes, and Erika curled up beneath a tree just outside. The tatters of her dress were just enough to soak the water up and give her a nasty chill, and her long blonde hair fell around her, tangled and matted.

She had panicked when he’d first walked up to her. Tall, with styled black hair, and eyes so piercingly blue they were nearly purple. His clothes were made of fabric you could only get in the towns, and only if you were very wealthy. Erika had heard tales of what men from places like that wanted when they came to small run down villages like her own. Had she not been so weak, she might have picked herself up and tried to run, but she could not easily remember the last time she’d had food, and her body could barely lift itself.

The man knelt down before her, reached out a gloved hand. Erika flinched away, turning her head away from the man, only to have him caress along her hollowed cheek with his knuckles. There was no warmth in his touch, and the slick leather glove felt oddly rough and slimy against her skin. She tried to shy away again, but his touch followed her movements.

After a few moments, his touch slid down to her throat, fingers seeming to search for her pulse. She tried to bat at him, but he was persistent, and she was too weak. When he finally gathered her up into his arms, lifting her like she weighed nothing. Which she almost didn’t. Even as he opened his coat and bundled her inside, despite all her struggles and hoarse voice trying to make her protests verbal, there was still no warmth. Even as she was pressed against the man’s chest, the only thing the coat could provide was mild shelter from the rain, as he carried her away from the tree.

By the time they reached the edge of the village, Erika had lost the strength to fight, and lay docile as a doll in his arms. Her cheek, slick with rain and frustrated tears, rest against his shoulder, and her eyes fell half-lidded with exhaustion as he walked away from the village, and into the forest. It was a long walk, and she dozed in and out of consciousness for a long time before succumbing to the warm safety of sleep.


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August 2017

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