The Warrior's Heart Ch. 01byLucyKing101©
this is my first submission, no sex in this chapter, just setting the story, hope you like it, constructive criticism welcome,
The crushers were coming. General Leo FreeRoy felt the hot sun on his back, and turned to Jacobs his second in command and nodded. "Prepare to leave, we can't take them here, we're too exposed." He paused, "We'll need to get out of the plains, towards the hills, where we'll have more cover."
Jacobs left without a word.
Leo sighed and headed towards his tent, the wench he'd had last night had left, thank god. He was the leader of the first army of Acillus, with over 40,000 men at his command. There were 7 armies in total. Though Leo didn't know what had become of the sixth, they had heard of the terrible battle. The crushers were stronger than they had been in years. A strange breed of men. Terrible. Who had come from the North and seemed to fight for the sake of fighting. Their only purpose seemed to be to conquer and destroy. Ransacking whole villages, leaving nothing behind. Killing. Raping. Mutilating.
The armies of the kingdom of Acillus had been fighting them for three years now. To Leo it felt like they had only temporarily stalled them on their crusade for domination.
He walked into his tent and flopped into his desk chair. He was so tired now, so worn of it all. He longed be home, to sit by the river, fishing or reading in the shade. He put his head in his hands and breathed deeply, this could not go on forever he prayed.
Two Days Later
Matilda lugged the heavy jug of water to her father's house. She put it down to wipe the sweat from her face with the back of her hand. Picking it back up she leaned it on her hip and continued to struggle up the hill. The small cottage they lived in was on the outskirts of the village. Her mother had died last year of the wasting illness. Carried away in pain and madness. Now her father lay dying. Their fields which had once been green and full of cattle, now lay dusty and barren.
She reached the door and noticed it was open...There was blood on it. Raiders she thought. She had heard that the crushers were nearer than ever. That there had been stories of them crossing the battle lines in small parties to steal food and supplies. Carefully and slowly she put the jug of water down. She nudged the door open further with her foot. She peered into the darkness. Run a voice screamed in her head, RUN RUN RUN RUN!
Her father was in there.
She felt paralysed for a moment; a coldly dark fear crept into her belly. Trying not to make a sound, telling herself she was being silly, she slowly stepped in. Then she saw him. Her father lay splayed out on the floor, his throat slit, his stomach open. She fell to her knees, silently to the floor. Her eyes widened and then her head snapped to the side as she heard a voice.
"Nothing 'ere" a coarse voice called. Another grunted. Her eyes round like saucers swivelled between the sound of the voice and her dead father. Some survival instinct kicked in then. She edged back as quietly as she could, tears streaming down her face. Run the voice said RUN RUN RUN RUN!
She pushed herself up and out of the door, but her foot kicked the forgotten water jug, causing a loud crash. She stumbled but didn't fall and kept running. Her father's killers had heard and were after her now. She tumbled down the hill wildly, arms flailing and crying violently. An arrow sailed past her, she heard yelling but did not stop, she weaved slightly to give them a more difficult target, until she figured they'd stopped trying to shoot her. She jumped over a log, trying to lose them as she reached the trees.
She was tackled and felt herself fall on her front. A large heavy weight pinned her down as she thrashed about crying and screaming. A man leaned over her, his rank breath breathing in her ear "What a pretty catch we have 'ere, well you've given us a merry chase lass" She heard him unbuckling his trousers and she managed to free her hand, scratching him. He roared and lifting her head banged it down on the hard earth. Then he rolled her onto her back. Half-conscious now she weakly tried to fight him. He punched her. She could feel him still pulling her around, pulling at her heavy skirts, but she could hardly see through the blood and sweat now and her hands came up to try and push him away. He batted her arms away and pulled at her blouse exposing her breasts. Then she heard a noise and felt him get off her, she heard the clang of metal as she finally lost consciousness.
Leo had heard the screaming and set off, telling Jacobs to warn the camp and get some men ready and follow. He had taken his horse and found two men brutally attacking a young girl. As he had with swift movement dispatched of the man watching, the other had turned and stumbled towards him. He was in a state of undress and Leo could see he was about to rape the girl. The man grabbed at the old rusty sword by his side and tried to slash at him. Leo's sword deflected this clumsy attempt and then buried in his stomach. As the man fell forwards Leo withdrew his sword.
Leo reached the girl. She wasn't as young as he first thought. She was probably in her early twenties. She was a mess. Her blonde hair was tangled all around her. Her face, undoubtedly beautiful was covered in blood. Her skirt was hiked up and her blouse torn open. She was still breathing. He heard his men then and hastily he pulled her skirt down and covered her breasts, then lifting her up, he went to his horse. He slung her on and then climbed up.
His men arrived and surveyed the carnage. "My Lord, you've been busy." Jacob said dryly.
"These two men, they're raiders, the crushers are getting cocky, I found them about to rape this girl. The first one is only unconscious, bring him in for questioning, clear this up, scout for others, I'll take the girl back to camp."
Her rode back with her supported in his arms. When he went to dismount, he held her steady. She whimpered. Her eyes fluttered open and he gazed into deep green eyes. She jerked back from him, scaring the horse. Cursing, he held her tight and then pulled her down.
"Who are you?!" Her voice full of fear came out.
"I found you in the woods with those men." He grunted, wishing that he could sound softer, gentler
"I...thank you" she whispered
He was silent for a second and then nodded; she tried to squirm away but he only tightened his hold "You're safe now, my name is Leo, you're with the first army of Acillus, you'll need medical attention now."
"No, I need to see to my father....oh god..oh no" She looked like she might pass out again. Tears shined in her eyes, dropping in big perfect blobs. Not knowing what else to do he carried her to his tent. He sat down on his bed, cradling her still, sending the maid for the doctor. When he went to get up, her arms instinctively tightened around his neck. "Please... they killed him.. I.... they killed him"
"Tell me what happened"
The story poured out of her as great sobs racked her body "I will send some men, they will bury his body, do you have anyone else?" She shook her head no.
He wiped away her tears with his thumbs, cradling her face and gazing at her. She was the most beautiful girl. He felt like he'd met her before, though he knew he hadn't.
The doctor came and advised rest and fluids and an ice pack, no bones were broken. He left her curled up on his bed, almost growling at the doctor when he suggested other accommodation. No place he could think of seemed safe enough. No he would leave her where she was. He scowled at everyone till they left. Knowing he was being completely unreasonable, she wasn't his. Yet he felt so protective, so possessive. He frowned thinking this, then he heard her whimpering and thrashing around in her sleep.
He gathered her up to himself without thinking, murmuring endearments and reassurances. She quietened, and then whimpered in her sleep again when he went to get up. He settled down behind her, pulling her back into his warm body. He lay holding her for a long time, the day running over in his head, before he let himself relax and fall asleep.
Matilda awoke in the early hours, warm and comfortable. She had never felt so safe. Then she almost stopped breathing when she realised she was pressed against a hard masculine body. She shot up, making herself topple off the small bed, pulling the sheets down with her. The man sat up suddenly alert. His arm going down to shield her as the other brought out a knife in a split second. She gasped and held still. He gazed around the room and once seemingly happy there was no threat he put the knife down and held his hands down to her.
Matilda didn't understand the sudden urge to go to him, to nestle in his arms and feel safe and to feel...
She was in his arms before she knew it, not sure if it was him or her. He was murmuring in her ear, his hot breath causing shivers down her spine. "You're okay, sshh, it's okay, don't worry, I've got you, you're safe." She felt herself relax into him, then he kissed her. She shot off the bed again, her eyes frantic.
Leo didn't know what had come over him. What was he thinking? "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that, calm, ssh, I won't hurt you, I'm sorry little one, I'm sorry" She was still wary of him, tense and gazing at his hard naked chest.
"I want to go home" She said
"Do you remember what happened Matilda?"
She nodded, tears streaming down her face. "I need to go home, to see my father, to see that he is buried properly."
He thought quickly "We will pass the house tomorrow, my men will already have buried him, you can see the grave then."
She seemed to lose all strength then, she nodded and he gathered her into his arms, he kissed her hot tears away and she didn't seem to notice this time.
She awoke in the early morning, the bed was empty, but she could hear Leo outside shouting orders. He sounded frustrated.
She contemplated the man. He was tall and broad, obviously strong. His body bronzed from the sun, his hair was a dark brown, curling slightly at his neck. He had deep brown eyes and a scar that slashed across his face, barely missing his right eye. She guessed his age at around thirty. He had a kind of savage beauty, yet he could be kind. She felt like she could trust him. She didn't want to think how she felt about him. She had just lost everything she'd ever known, and he'd rescued her, of course she was going to react strongly to him, it was nothing more. She felt a deep bleakness settle on her, her father was dead. She had lost everything. What was she going to do? She wiped angrily at the tears falling down her cheeks. She would survive. She would grow strong and she would have vengeance.
Later that day she knelt by her father's grave, she touched the soil and then touched her forehead. "I will not forget father."