The evening air dried the day’s sweat on their skin, pushing it past the surface and into their bones. The slavers didn’t care if they succumbed. Only the strongest were fit to serve; the rest they left to the scouring sand.
Finding themselves too thinly dressed for the cooling weather, two young women hugged themselves for modesty and warmth.
The cleric’s cruel eyes noticed, gleaming in lustful anticipation.
They noticed him too.
Hakina, the bolder of the two, dared to narrow her eyes in haughty defiance.
With a sneer disguised as a smile, the cleric sauntered his way over to where they sat in their own filth, chained to each other and a heavy steel pole, his nose wrinkling at the stench.
He turned to the bent-back whose duty it was to shadow him and obey his every command, no matter how abusive, disgusting, or self-abasing.
“Clean this one and bring her to my tent at the edge of the camp.”
“Nameless hears and obeys, Cleric Hameen.”
“Nameless pleases. Now go.”
The bent-back shuffled off as his master turned his attention back on Hakina.
She wanted to keep quiet but her hatred wouldn’t allow it.
“One such as you seeks to break me?”
He slapped her down, kicked some foul sand toward her eyes.
“Little bitch, I will shatter you before this night is done.”
“You call me ‘bitch,’ but it’s you who shall howl, pretender!” Her eyes burned and stung as she wiped at them, trying to gain her footing .
He punched her, slamming her down again.
Her mouth was bleeding.
He pulled her hair to tilt her head, wiped her lips hard with a rough hand, smearing the blood on her cheeks as she sought to dislodge herself.
For her defiance, he pressed her cheeks in hard on both sides until she drooled and cried out from the pain. Her hands came up to throttle him, but the clinking of the chain checked her.
The movement and its intent wasn’t lost on him, and he sneered again.
“We shall see.” His quiet voice belied the storm in his eyes as he shoved her away and walked off, leaving her gasping for air and rubbing her jaw.
Her fellow captive went to help her up, but Hakina slapped her hand away.
“Do you seek to have us die before sunrise?” Isani asked.
“I seek to have us free by moonrise, if you’ll help me. The fate of women is ever the same in these places.”
Hakina gained her feet without assistance, looking up at the evening sky as she wiped the tears the cleric forced out of her with the back of her dirty sleeve.
As for Isani, this was the third time she was captured, and she vowed it would be the last. They’d taken her mother and sister too, slaughtering her father as he knelt, crying and pleading for the lives of his family at the expense of his own.
They granted his wish and took their time enjoying it, but set no one free.
She’d managed to escape through playing the ‘broken woman,’ and endured their sick games as they used her. When they were confident she understood her place, she quietly killed them. Blades, poison, acid on their groins after they were gagged. Whatever lay nearby.
The camp guards never questioned her when she left the camps crying, her face puffy and her clothing torn. They sneered, making their own lewd remarks and rubbing themselves as she passed, offering their own crude versions of comforting her.
By the time they discovered their dead, she was long gone.
She sighed, looking after the retreating form of the impious, impure cleric.
“Done, if you manage to include me in the tryst.”
Hakina looked her over, a mirthless smile on her lips.
“I think I can manage that.”