She was trapped. Enemy troops were moving into the field from the tree line. She could see the red and yellow trim of their dark green uniforms and hear their footsteps as branches broke under their feet. What a fool she was to believe she could get away with a walk that afternoon. She just had hope for something different, more than the walls she had been confined to. It had paid off. Her hopes turned away, things were going to change.
She crouched down in the bushes as the troops drew near. She closed her eyes and prayed that the thin branches and tiny yellow and green leaves were enough to shield her from detection. The footsteps became so loud that she found herself wishing they would pass quickly and return never again. She waited, prayed, wished, and then, there came an eerie silence.
The quiet was broken by the sound of her own voice screaming as she was wretched free of her hiding place. Hands wrapped around her arms so tightly it was certain they would be bruised as she struggled to pull free. The two green clad soldiers did not even flinch as they dragged her out into the open.
“Sir, we found this one spying on us from the bushes.” The soldier stated as he threw her to the ground before him.
Her hands bled from scraping against the hard soil as she landed at the soldiers feet. Her soft blue dress was covered in the dusty earth and was torn from her ankle up to her thigh. Yet, she forced herself to gaze upward at the one the soldier had called ‘sir’ as he glared back down at her.
“Who are you?” The man asked loudly.
“I am no one.” She replied softly as she stared at the scar on the bitter man’s cheek.
His polished black boot slammed into her ribcage taking her breath away. As she rolled over onto her back with a gasp, her left hand reached out and cradled her throbbing side. She tried to focus on the blue sky and not the pain or the faces of the men hovering above her.
“I asked you a question woman!” The man shouted as he knelt down beside her.
“Where are your comrades?” He asked as his hand pressed down on her chest.
“There are none.” She wheezed.
“I do not believe you.” He replied.
There was something evil about his smile. She couldn’t stop herself from shivering. His hand slowly moved up her chest to wrap around her pale throat. As he squeezed the breath from her his grin did not fade. Her hands came up, and her eyes went wide. As she struggled for air she clawed at his hand until it bled.
“I will not ask you again. There was a reason you were out here today. If you do not wish to tell me, then you can meet the man that you will find to be far worse than me.” He released his hold on her.
She rolled over on her side as she gasped, breathing in as much air as her lungs would take.
“Escort her back to base camp and let the corporal decide what to do with her.” The man said as he turned away.
“Yes sir,” The two men replied as they snapped to attention.
That was the last thing she was permitted to see. The one called ‘sir’ turned back quite suddenly and with a well placed kick to her temple, rendered her unconscious. As her hands and feet were bound the soldier received his final orders.
“When you are finished with her join up with the second team and meet up with us at the designated position.”
“Yes sir.” The soldier saluted before he picked the woman up and threw her over his shoulder.
The main force continued forward leaving the soldier to turn back with the woman. He trudged back through the harsh brush carrying the hundred extra pounds of weight. He had barely broken a sweat when he emerged from the thicket near the country line. He passed quickly through the farm land and entered the main encampment. He carried the woman past the make shift barracks toward the corporals tent and then placed her on the ground as he waited to gain entry. Once his presence was announced the corporal met him outside.
“Corporal, sir.” The soldier saluted.
“Soldier, report.” The corporal demanded.
“This woman was found in the woods as we passed through, sir. She refused to speak in the field so I was dispatched to return her here for questioning.” The man replied.
“I’ll take her in from here soldier report back to the barracks. Another team leaves for capitol city in an hour.” The corporal stated.
“Yes sir.” The soldier saluted and marched quickly away.
“Bring her,” The corporal ordered his personal guard, as he marched off toward the stables.
The soldier lifted the woman up in his arms and carried her behind the corporal as the man continued to bark out orders. They weaved through the tents until they came out by the fence that housed the horses.
“Prepare my horse quickly.” The corporal shouted at the boy.
As the boy excused himself to prepare the corporal’s horse, he busied himself with preparations. He covered his hands with his leather riding gloves before turning back and covering the woman’s head with a black cloth. Once his horse was beside him, he climbed up in the saddle and motioned that he was ready for the woman. She was hoisted up by the soldier that had carried her, and placed across the corporal’s lap.
The corporal then spurred his horse on a slow walk up the road toward the capital city. The rolling hills and farmland eventually gave way to the brick and mortar buildings of the outskirts of the city. He continued past the shops and the houses as he made his way deep into the heart of the city. It took him a little longer than an hour, but at last the prisoner was delivered to the dungeons below the large residence that housed the royal family of Kohn.
“This one was captured spying on our scout patrol this morning. See what you can get out of her.” The corporal said as he threw her to the floor.
“Of course, sir,” The man replied.
Satisfied that his duty was over, the corporal exited quickly leaving her in their capable hands.
“Let’s get you settled shall we?” The man chuckled to himself.
He pulled the hood free from her face and nearly gasped aloud.
“You’re a lovely one. Going to be such a shame if you choose not to talk.” He smiled, grabbed her by her long red hair, and dragged her unconscious body across the damp stone floor.
He sat her down in the metal chair in the center of the room. It was bolted securely to the floor. He tied her wrists to the chair arms and her ankles to the chair legs. Once he was certain she wasn’t going anywhere, he picked up a bucket of cold water then proceeded to dump it over her head.
“Time to wake up deary.” He said as she choked and gasped for air.
Her hazel eyes went wide and she began to struggle against the restraints.
“Who are you?” She demanded. “Where am I?”
“I’m the one that asks the questions around here.” The man growled as he back handed her across the cheek.
She winced as the sting settled in but continued to glare at him defiantly.
“Now, we can do this the nice way or the painful way. But I promise you, you will speak to me eventually.” The man said as he moved around behind her.
He grabbed her by the hair, pulling it so harshly that she was forced to tilt her head back and look at the man.
“Tell me your name.” He said completely calm.
“I am no one.” She replied just as calmly.
“I find that hard to believe. But, let’s try another question.” He said releasing his grip on her hair.
“Why were you spying on our troops? Who do you report back to?” He asked as he returned to look in her eyes.
“That’s two questions.” She smirked. He struck her across the cheek again.
She hissed out in pain and said, “I wasn’t spying. I was hiding. Your troops frightened me.”
“Again, you try to disorientate with your lies. You’re going to make this very difficult for yourself.” The man said as he disappeared into the darkness.
“It is the truth.” She yelled.
“You Cadurans were bred to lie.” He said as he returned with a contraption that looked like a steel reinforced corset.
He strapped it around her ribcage and began twisting the dials on it until it fit snugly around her waist.
“Now, let’s try this again. Who are you?” He asked.
“I am no one.” She replied.
He tightened the dials restricting her ability to breathe just a little more. “Again,” He said.
“I come from a land where a woman’s opinion has no value. So again I say, I am no one.” She replied.
The man shook his head and tightened it further. She could feel her ribs as they began to bend under the pressure. The pain took her breath away.
“I can do this all day if you like. Or you can let go of your pride and answer me.” He stated.
“I have nothing of value to tell you. I am just a girl.” She said with tears in her eyes. “I was out picking wild flowers when your brutes kidnapped me.”
He snickered, shook his head and turned the dial until he could hear her first rib snap. The pain shot through her chest. She gasped for air as her eyes rolled back in their sockets. Then her world went black.
The man sighed as she fainted, “I guess that’s enough for now. Pitiful weak woman.” He disconnected the device and put it away.
The man removed the restraints from her wrists and ankles. He then picked the woman up and dragged her over to the corner of the room. He tossed her into the iron cage and watched as she lay there on the filthy straw. When he was certain she was still unconscious he bolted and locked the cage door before he left the room. He bolted the outside door just in case and then made his way up the stairs to the common room and waited to make his report to the king. Once he was permitted to enter he bowed quickly and waited for the king to speak.
“What news do you have for me today Vaughn?” The king asked rather impatiently.
“I have nothing yet, my king. The woman does have a low threshold for pain so I’m certain with enough of it she will tell us everything.” Vaughn replied.
“Return when you have something.” The king grumbled.
“I shall, my king.” Vaughn replied, stood, and left quite quickly.