Crushed Hope

 

CONTENT WARNING: Sexual Assault

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Wei quaffed the last of his drink and slammed the tankard on the table before standing up, lifting his spear and adjusting the sword on his belt.

“Going somewhere?” Agrona asked his companion over the rim of his own drink.

“Yeah, I am,” Wei replied. “We’ve conquered this town, and I think it’s about time we celebrated.”

“Our unit has emptied three kegs just this afternoon… is that not celebration enough?”

“The ale is good, but now I’m craving other spoils,” he said, adjusting his belt again as he turned to the door. “You coming or what?”

Agrona sighed, emptied his drink, and followed Wei out into the streets. The sunlight dazzled him for a moment – victory or no, he wasn’t accustomed to drinking so much before dark. He made a mental note to better hold his liquor – he had contributed to a victory against a long-lasting thorn in the side of his kingdom, and should learn to play the part of the hero. This was a factor in why he was following Wei; to learn from a seasoned warrior.
He blinked again, and caught sight of the rust-coloured cape of his comrade heading off into a residential district.

As they walked down the street, the villagers scurried into their homes and shutters were pulled in. Wei laughed darkly.

“See how they run from us?” Agrona boasted. “We’ll show them what true soldiers are like.”

“Ye-es…” Wei responded distantly – a woman scurrying from her home had caught his eye. “Go after that one. Show her what a Tolemian can give a woman.”

“B-but… what about you? I can bring her back for you, if you’d like.”

Wei laughed again. “Don’t tell me you’ve never taken a woman before?”

“N-no, I– that is… I’ll catch up with you later.”

Wei smiled as Agrona scurried off. It was clear that the boy had never tasted the spoils of war, and perhaps had never tasted a woman. It didn’t matter whether he took that woman, just so long as he kept her away for long enough.

He tried the door to the house she had fled from – it was locked, as he suspected, but put up little resistance to the weight of his shoulder. Wei pulled the door shut behind him, and paused in the entryway, listening. He had seen her speaking to someone inside before she left…

Creak.

“Thank the gods for old homes,” he thought, and climbed the stairs to find only one of the doors closed. He leaned his spear just outside and gingerly opened the door to reveal a small bedroom.

“Don’t worry. I’m not here to hurt you. Look, I’m going to take off my sword,” he said, and unbuckled his belt, dropping it to the ground. “I know you’re in here. Your mother told me to watch over you while she was away.”

“She’s not my mother,” said a girl’s voice from under the bed.

Wei grinned wider. “No? She seemed worried about your well-being…”

“Well yeah, she’s my foster parent. She HAS to take care of me if she wants to keep getting the payments,” the girl said, scuttling out from under the bed. She didn’t even have time to look up at the man before she was lifted off her feet and pinned face-first on the bed.

“You’re going to give me payment,” Wei breathed into her ear. “For your town’s prolonged resistance,” he hissed, pressing her face down harder to muffle her screams.

Her struggling only served to increase his excitement as he indulged in his favourite pleasure.

“This is what losing feels like,” he grunted, then paused for a second, not liking that thought.
“Actually,” he resumed, “this is what winning fe–”

Wei’s last words were turned into a gurgle by his own spear piercing through his left lung.

Valeria ripped the spear out of him, threw him onto the ground, and proceeded to stab him several more times, until the sight of her sister’s wide tear-filled eyes caught her attention. Valeria looked down at the body, threw the spear to the ground with a clatter, and fled back out of the home she had just entered.

Hope was praised for killing a foreign soldier despite her young age, and was celebrated as the inspiration for her village’s recapture. The sisters never spoke of that afternoon, growing even further apart, were that even possible.


A slice of Valeria’s backstory by Kate Hagemeyer

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