Chapter 4:

Groaning, I maneuvered his form further into my arms as I threw open the front door, staggered only slightly as I almost lost hold of him. My body trembled as I stumbled into the small cottage with a gasp, struggling to support his weight as I kicked the door closed behind us, shutting the cold out. A relieved sigh falling from my lips as I noticed the forms of my mother and father as they sat at the fire, their expressions mirroring one another's in shock, curses freezing upon my father's tongue as his eyes darted to the man I carried upon my bag.

He was up in an instant, quicker than I had ever seen, jumping from the stool he sat upon to push me away, and taking the unconscious body of Gendry from my arms. Not caring in the least as he sent me stumbling to the ground, my half frozen palms and knees felt the earth's scorn, a sharp pained cry falling uncharacteristically from my lips, to which he ignored as I found myself listening as he tended to the injured man with urgency and strict attention. The boy's name falling from his lips over and over again with such concern that I felt myself shocked. His tone laced with concern that I had never before heard coming from the spiteful man's lips.

I drew in steady breaths, my eyes locked on the ground beneath me, noticing through my peripherals, the figure of my mother as she stepped close. Her beautiful aged face, wrinkled with worry as she grabbed softly onto my arm, helping me shakily to my feet, and leading me to the stool which sat in front of the fire, all the while remaining silent as she slug a thick blanket across my trembling shoulders.

Her expression soft as she gently pushed a loose curl behind my ear which drew a shiver from me as I pulled my eyes from my shaking hands, to her worried face. A violent shiver from me as she cupped my cheek in her warm slightly calloused palm, her molten colored eyes never leaving my face as I found myself nuzzling into the warm and comfort she offered as she stared at me. Those orbs voicing the concern she was prohibited to exhibit, before drawing away, her eyes darted to my father as he leaned over Gendry, who lie on his back, stripped of his shirt. My father's ear pressed against his bare chest, a look of terror crossing onto his face, before it eased and a sigh of relief left his lips as he drew back.

"Ipsa!" he called out, his voice suddenly stern as he gazed at the woman kneeling before me. His expression grave as he noticed my form, his lips peeling back in a sneer as his eyes narrowed before he threw them from me, forcing them instead on my mother, his dark eyes staring into hers, silently daring her to oppose him as he called out to her again.

In response, a fearful tremble rocked through her form, her body springing into action without a moment's notice as if programmed inside of her as she spared a glance back at me, her eyes speaking the apology her mouth could not voice. Her pale eyes sorrowful as she turned, bowing her head, nodding back at my father, pulling away from me as she went to stand.

A spark buzzed through me, and before I knew it, I reached forward. Grabbing her hand in my own, halting her movement with the gesture, causing her eyes to widen as they flew to mine. A soft gasp escaping as she watched in horror, halfheartedly attempting to pull her hand free as the words stumbled from her mouth in an almost terrified whisper. "Aristanae, I must go. He is my husband"

I shook my head in defiance, holding tighter still as the words spilled out "And I am your daughter, the single surviving fruit of your loins. Do I not deserve to be cared for as well?" I countered, my voice surprising calm, not at all exposing the panic I felt buzzing through me at defying my father.

Gulping, I drew in a breath, forcing my eyes upon the man, refusing a cringe as I felt the heat and venom of his glare. His face alive with anger, a scowl perched upon his lips as he spoke, his words mirroring the hatred he felt bubbling within him.

"You are no fruit of my loins, girl. I asked the gods for strong sons, and all I have left is a pathetic girl"

At his words, I found myself flinch away as if the words themselves had physically inflicted pain upon me as my breath caught. A child's face flashing in my minds eyes, a face similar to my own, as a faint giggle floated along, to which I frantically pushed away, struggling to remain breathing.

It took a moment before I could answer, and despite everything, I found my face exposing the hurt I felt stabbing within me, yet I stared him in the eyes still. My head held high in defiance as I addressed him. Eyes shining angrily, pools of molten gold swirling as I returned his violent glare "Do I not deserve your sympathy, father? I was after all attacked by that man" I hissed out, my voice wavering only slightly as I threw an accusing finger at the unconscious man laying before the fire, a blanket wrapped around his shoulders as my mother leaned across him, tending to the injury on his head, dressing the wound.

My father scoffed, shaking his head as if I had said something foolish. "He is to be your husband, you impudent girl. You are his, and that is why I told him to do it" He responded, his voice not at all losing malice as he admitted his wrong doing.

Twin gasps pierced the air, escaped from both my mother and I as we stared at the man in shock. I felt a body numbing cold take over me as I took a step back in shock, my eyes widening, locked upon the seething man standing before me. And despite myself, I found myself shaking my head, back and forth. My tresses falling loose with the furiosity of the action as his words echoed over and over through my mind as my gaze drifted to the man lying unconscious on the floor as a flash of Gendry appeared in my mind. Back to when we were in the forest as he sat staring at the blood on his fingertips, his eyes glassy. A single shattered sentence falling from his lips in an almost distorted way as they sounded ' I don't understand, he said it would work. He said. . .'

I drew in another gasp, my hands flying to my mouth to stifle the sob I felt attempting to make its way from me. Any and all ill feeling I felt for him in that moment, disappearing, and despite everything, I felt the telltale twitch as my lip began to tremble. My mind's eye replaying my father words over and over again while I remembered the way Gendry gazed at me, his eyes filled with emotion as he played my body. I felt myself begin to tremble as I threw my gaze upon the man gazing almost lovingly at my mother as she whispered to him in a soft tone, her voice breathless with shock as she gazed upon him with widened eyes as if pleading with his confession to be false. She took a step toward him, cupping his cheek as she stepped in front of him, her eyes searching across his face pleading to be able to dispel his words as just foully placed, but I could tell, she found none.

"No" The word came as a soft whisper, the sound but a soft whimper, before yet another found its way from me, this time louder and more forceful. The shocked trembles, turning into rage filled trembles as I took a step toward him, the word bubbling loudly forth from my lips in anger as I glared at the evil man I called father, tears welling within my eyes despite my willing them away. "NO!"

My limbs, they trembled, yet I stood my ground. Staring venomously at him, all of the hurt I felt, being instead replaced with anger as I spat my words at him as if they tasted foul upon my tongue. "How dare you, you cruel unjust man. Have you no shame?"

" Shame?!" he countered in shock, the word sounding foreign on his lips in surprise before he took an authoritative step toward me, glaring down at me with enough malice to kill as he scoffed. Suprising, I felt no fear as I usually did when it came to this man, and I did not falter. My eyes glaring into his own as I stood our faces so close that his breath caressed across my cheek, as he hissed his word through his tightly clenched teeth "You should be lucky someone even wants your hand, you useless girl. Lucky, that someone wishes to bear children with such a useless woman"

My nostrils flared, a ping pierced within me at his words, and despite myself, my head lowered as I took a single step back, turning from him. At this, a chuckle sounded from above, falling from his lips as the amusement rumbled through his chest at my sudden submission, as I whispered out a single sentence. A single sentence in retaliation, falling from my lips in a soft, pathetic whisper, " I will not wed him" But he heard, and in a rage, her grasped my shoulders, twirling me on my heels, reeling back, and before I could even fathom moving, struck me upon my cheek.

The sheer force of the strike, sending my head whipping to the side, my curls whirling, and as swiftly as I could, I turned to face him, glaring again at him. The pathetic feeling that had only moments before clutched me, disappearing in an instant. But before I could voice a word, he struck me again, this time against my opposite cheek.

And despite everything, a yelp fell from my lips as I struggled against him, attempting to pull away as he grabbed my arm in his tight grasp, pulling me toward Gendry's form.

" Lie with your husband" he spat, throwing me to the ground like a sack of flour, taking no sympathy as I let out a gasp in pain, my knees slamming down against the hard stone floor as I fell roughly beside the unconscious boy in a heap of limbs.

It took a moment, but wincing, I pushed myself up. Spitting blood upon the floor as I turned to face the man yet again, renewed defiance alive and dancing within my eyes as I avoided touching the boy out of pure defiance as the words left my lips loud and clear, smiling internally at the scowl in my father's face noting my disobedience. "I will not lie with anyone"

I couldn't have fathomed what would happen next.

I barely had time to respond before he fell upon me.

His large body pinning mine beneath his as he wrestled with me, attempting to control as I thrashed about.

His lips moving, curses and insults I imagined flying freely, yet any and every other sounds were drowned out by the sound of my violently pounding heart.

I watched as he again drew back, and I felt myself tense, bracing myself as he slapped my hands away as I attempted to push him away, striking me again upon the cheek, ignoring the cries flowing from my lips, and the cries of my mother as she stood overhead, confused on how to end the quarrel.

By the 3 or 4th slap, I felt blood began to trickle down from my crackled lip as I found myself reaching out, brushing against the stone floor. My vision blurred as he attacked, my ears ringing now out sounding the pounding of my heart. My palms open as I searched for something, anything that would get him from me.

The gods they seemed to be looking down upon me, and I felt something brush roughly my hand. I let out a gasp; wincing as he again struck me, shaking my form as I reached further, found my hands crashing against something. And with a final gasp my hand closed upon the unknown object, and closing my eyes, I swung with everything I could muster as I let a loud cry pierce the small cottage.

A groan is heard, and suddenly, a weight falls atop me, crushing me.

With a surprised gasp, my eyes spring open, landing on the man lying limp on me, his grip on my shirt lax, and swiftly, I pushed him away. Jumping to my feet as I took in the sight, my hearing returning in that instant as I watched my mother fall to her knees. Not at all wincing at the impact of the ground on her knees as she crawled toward him, a pained cry falling from her lips as she flipped the limp body of my father over, pulling his body onto her lap as she clutched his head in her lap. Her thin fingers smearing away the blood as it fell from his forehead with her apron, cries falling from her lips as she repeated his name over and over again as if to rouse him as I stood frozen, locked in place.

It took moments, before I was able to successfully draw in a breath. My eyes locked on the ruby beads as they continued to leak from the wound, a small gash that bled angrily no matter how many times my mother seemed to wipe at it.

I found myself calling to her, my voice raw and wavering as it squeaked out. "Mother" I whispered out, as I dropped the object, which fell upon the ground with a dull clank. The object catching the light of the fire as it popped and crackled, reveling itself to be a metal kettle, and upon its side, blood.

I gulped, closing my eyes as to draw my eyes from it as I took a hesitant step toward the crying woman. My hand outstretched toward the pair in disbelief.

But before I could touch either of them, she drew back, her head flying up as she glared at me.

Her normally soft pale colored eyes, violent like I had never before seen.

"No" She yelped out, her voice high in pitch as she clutched the man's head protectively to her chest as she held a hand out as if to keep me away, tears streaming down her dust littered cheeks as she called out for help as if afraid I would attack her next, as if I was not her daughter, but a thief having just broke into her home and injured her innocent husband.

I found myself frozen to the spot as she called out to them, fear clinging to her tongue with every word.

"Guards!" she shrieked, her voice growing louder as she continued to call out "Guards!"

A gasp escaped, my eyes widening as I whirled around, sliding against the dirt as I darted for my shoes, thankfully managing not to fall as I ran from the door, tears spilling from my eyes as I was yet again met with the chilled bit of the wind against my body as I threw the door open.

My mother's voice wailing still in my ears as I spared a single glance past the doors threshold, noting the guards as they rounded the corner, swords clinking in their sheathes as they ran toward the commotion.

I ran, ignoring their calls for me as I allowed my feet to carry me once again toward the forest.

It too only a moment to reach, and I tore in. Ignoring as the branches caught my shirt, ripping as I ran, my tears stinging their way down my cheeks as I ran.

The voices calling out after me growing farther and farther the faster I ran, once again ignoring the ache I felt burning through me.

The only thought on my mind to flee.

To get as far as I could.

An:

So, I hope you've enjoyed the story thus far, and that all is making sense.

But most of all, I hope that I've captured your attention enough to keep you reading on. .

Oh, before I forget, in chapter 1 I believe I implied that Gendry made needle without realizing it, and I kind of like it, so I'm going to keep it that way.