Prisoner of War : A Certain Kind of Love
“You did the right thing,” says Dee, Catori’s ghost companion.
“Then why do I feel so empty? I can’t do anything but just wait for him to come in here to say something to me,” Catori says, her anxiety rising.
“I don’t imagine it will be good,” Dee becomes concerned.
“I’d rather face his rage than to sit here fearing it,” Catori notices how messed up this is.
“This isn’t like you, Catori. We got to get you out of here. Have you memorized the spell yet?”
“Yes. I’m still perfecting it. I need at least another day for the mix to ferment. By the way, the men are saying that there’s a ghost around camp, have you been snooping again?”
“Yeah, haven’t found much. Though, they are a lot wealthier than they appear to be and I found a trail south east that has a weak watch. It would be the best escape route once you cast the spell.”
“That could change tomorrow. The chief is putting extra watch around the camp,” her heart drops as she thinks about the barbarian’s plans, “They’re invading Bullinvard tomorrow morning. I wish there was some way I could get out to warn them.”
“Hmmm,” Dee ponders, “I could. I might scare the hell out of whoever I warn, but they’d believe a ghost right?”
She nods, “Most would. It’d at least give them a fighting chance and they’d be able to hide the children. You should be sure the person you appear to has enough influence to create the necessary defense.”
“I’ve been getting really good at becoming visible for at least 5 seconds at a time to just about anyone!”
She smiles at Dee’s enthusiasm. Even dead, he makes her feel so warm inside. Only those with extra sight are able to see ghosts without the ghosts’ effort.
“I miss you Dee. I love you so much.”
Cade comes abruptly into the tent. He goes straight to the far side to disarm. Dee departs. Uneasy about the silence she stands up. Staying on her side of the eating bench she attempts to break the silence as softly as possible.
“Thank you,” she offers as she must acknowledge he did save her from having to face another traumatic event.
He walks up to the bench, leans onto his fists and stares her in the eyes. She feels so small in comparison.
“Are you going to tell me how foolish I am?” she asks. He still doesn’t answer. She swallows, “At least tell me what I should have done.”
“What was your plan B?” he asks.
“If I hadn’t stepped in when I did… If using my status didn’t work to get you out of that, what would you have done?”
The thought of that moment makes her uncomfortable so she shakes her head.
“Don’t ever put yourself in a dangerous situation without a plan B or even a plan C. When facing an enemy it is crucial that you have weapons or at least leverage. You don’t have either. So what were you thinking?”
“What was I supposed to do? I couldn’t just stand by and let that happen to her, not when there was a chance I could stop it. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.”
“Yes you would. You have already. And that’s exactly what it takes to survive,” seeing her fight to hold back her emotion, he tries to give her a word of encouragement, “And you will survive. You’re able to disconnect from fear and hold your ground. That’s a large part of it. You need to pick your battles more wisely though.”
She reaches her fingers into her bustier and pulls out a dagger. She sets it on the bench between them.
“That’s my da…” he looks behind him at his weapon rack, “How did I not notice that?”
“I used it to cut the ropes the chief had the girl bound in.”
“He has to use ropes?” Cade ponders a moment in confusion before bringing his attention back to the dagger, “That wouldn’t have helped you. If any of them found that they would have used it.”
“I know. But it slightly upped my chance using the element of surprise to escape. And if that didn’t work, plan B was to try again with this,” she pulls a thin sharp piece of steel from her hair.
Cade cocks a smile, “Well, looks like you might just have what it takes, but I still say it’s not a solid enough plan. Now just because you got away from them doesn’t mean you’re exempt from me. Undress.”
There’s something else she wants to talk about, but she finds herself frozen between fear and insecurity. He leans in closer to her.
“Is that hesitation?”
“Could I what?”
“No. Little Miss-Element-of-Surprise might be concealing more than she’s letting on,” he steps past her to the bed, “On the other hand, why would you ask?”
“I want to say something I fear won’t be well received.”
“I find you attractive. Very attractive. Even though a part of me still hates you for all you do, all I really want to ask of you is that you care about me. Even just a little.”
The small silence feels way too long. He nods,
“Your tone and body language tell me you’re feeling more than just that.”
She nods in return, barely able look at him.
“You saw what happened to the other girls. The same would come of you if you become anything more to me than a captive. In war love is a weakness. I piss people off; they hold grudges. They’d use you to get back at me. Keeping you alive is the closest thing to love that I am able to offer.”
Disappointed, she bites her lip. She’s incredibly attractive but he leaves very little room for those thoughts so deems it best to be honest with her,
“Look, war messes with a person’s head. It confuses us. What you’re feeling right now is not love. It’s a common female survival instinct.”
“Then why does it feel like love?”
“Because in a sense it is. But it’s much stronger, less conditional, more irrational. Captives will gravitate toward whichever man will give her best chance to live. Then she needs to give him a reason to want to protect her. Since she’s got no life to return to anyway, she re-identifies herself as his and re-molds her way of life to fit here, which often includes submitting to his sickest fantasies. In the long run it never works out for them. Our culture tends to stay on the move and it doesn’t favor your gender.”
He gives her a chance to speak, but she’s lost for words.
“Confused? Tell me if it’s not true. As long as I give you an adrenaline rush, food and minimal comfort you will feel that you love me. So much so, that you don’t even have the urge to run away. Hence I don’t need ropes to keep you with me.”
She never attempts to escape because of the camp’s watch. The use of mental chains hadn’t occurred to her. She realizes he’s not wrong, but it still doesn’t change how she feels,
“You forget the part about not letting anyone else hurt me,” surely that must be a sign of something more.
“That’s because it’s irrelevant,” he smirks.
“Even if I had let my men have their way with you, you’d still see me as your best chance of survival and those feelings would come back.”
Her urge for companionship becomes very apparent. She doesn’t want to leave. She wants his approval, his affection. Her breath shakes and she sits back down on the bed’s edge.
“So how do I break it?”
“Break it?” he gives her an amused look, “I’ve never seen that happen.”
“So what am I supposed to do?”
“Recognize it for what it is. Go with it for as long as it serves you. Then when it’s time, you throw it all away and don’t look back.”
She has nothing left. How’s she supposed to just throw it away? Her eyes tear up.
“Don’t be hard on yourself. We all have our issues and wanting love isn’t the worst of it, but under your regular circumstances you’d really hate me,” he isn’t sure if he’s saying this more for himself or for her. Connecting with feelings isn’t something that can have a good outcome at this point in life.
“I know,” she says, “Still… what’s the shame in feeling human connection while it’s an option?”
For the first time his eyes turn soft and this night is the closest they ever come to loving each other. Instead of feeling like a captive she embraces passion and for this moment only all her agony and confusion disappear.
As they lay side by side in a mutual bliss she can’t help but to express her curiosity about the realm of monsters,
“Can you tell me more about the realm you are from? What are these monsters?”
“Ah, they’re creatures that tend to have both human and animal aspects. It kind of sits between this physical realm and the spirit realms.
“How do you get there?”
“Fairy dust” he responds. She laughs aloud for the first time.
“Mixed with the blood of a virgin no doubt,” either the alcohol is hitting her differently today or she’s actually easing up about all this.
“Looks like she’s got a sense of humor after all,” he approves.
“Can I come back with you? I would love to see it.”
“Not a good idea,” he says and changes the subject, “Your ghost story, was that true?”
“No,” she admits. He laughs.
“That was good. I think they believed you.”
There’s been one other thing that she’s been curious about since she first arrived,
“You mentioned you have a goddess, but I don’t see you guys giving tribute to any deity.”
“Our existence is tribute to her. Our raids are our rituals.”
“A dark goddess.”
“Not exactly. Eris is more a force for change and free will. Destruction at worst, but to make room for new things. Though I wouldn’t expect you to see it that way.”
“Interesting,” she tries to make sense it in her head.
“We head out in the morning for Bullinvard, I will try to find some things for you to take when you leave tomorrow evening. I recommend getting off the island. I can’t say for sure how much further our raids are going to go.
Do you have anywhere on the mainland you can stay?”
She’s never been off the island. But there is one place she has interest in,
“Have you ever heard of Thyatira?”
Cade lays there carefully thinking his reply. Not only is Thyatira far and difficult to find, it’s a nexus that skips right through the their realm of monsters landing straight into the dark realm. He wants her to leave so that she’ll be safe, not to land in the path of demons.
“No,” he says and shifts into a comfortable position to sleep. She lays awake a while longer pondering on where she will go and what she will do after tomorrow.
To be continued …
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