"Give me the child."
The soldier stared at the chained female, her eyes locked into his. She seemed to ignore the green trails rolling down her cheeks as she reached towards the dead body he was holding. Her voice was sweet but bore the unmistakable inflexion of authority. He didn't expect it. He froze, a dumb expression on his face.
"Give. Me. The child." She repeated with more conviction. A sob threatened to break her voice. She swallowed it back, frowning menacingly to make up for her passing weakness. Behind her, the young Disciple seemed to voice out loud her own feelings: She let out a long, mournful, heartbroken cry. That poor wriggler, sobbing into the garments of her beloved.
The soldier seemed dumbstruck, blinking at her. Her child, her dear wriggler's naked body was being dragged in the mud. The stench of burned flesh still lingered in the air and assaulted her nostrils as she lay her eyes on his mangled wrists.
"Archeradicators!" ordered a powerful voice. The air filled with the sound of tensing bowstrings. Still tightly bound and unable to move, the Psiionic called out the Disciple's name. The younger female looked up with grief stricken eyes. Her pain and disorientation were evident for all of three seconds. Three seconds in which her eyes met those of the archeradicator who was right in front of her, aiming to hit between the eyes.
Something happened - a miracle, she would later think - the archer hesitated long enough for the female's eyes to narrow, her pupils to dilate. She hissed, clutching the Sufferer's garments, leaped into the mob of surrounding soldiers, clawing left and right when calloused hands with sharp nails reached to stop her, and in a second she was running away, as fast as her agile legs would take her, followed by a group of archeradicators shooting at her.
No arrow reached her. In her sorrow, she smiled: she knew it to be her wriggler protecting his beloved. The soldier who had let her escape had fallen to his knees, shocked at his own hesitation. Quickly surrounded by others, he would probably get culled for his mistake.
All this happened in the blink of an eye. The military troll in front of her swore, dropping the body he was holding and directing his attention towards the commotion.
She reached out instantly, catching the limp, cold body in her arms. Her fragilized knees buckled under the new weight, making her kneel down in the mud.
Nobody was paying attention to her. They hadn't even bothered watching over her. Everyone was too focused on running after the Disciple - please let her make it - or making sure the Psiionic wouldn't free himself from his chains. No one worried about the kneeling, heart broken female who was unarmed and had no psychic powers. There was no one to interrupt her grief.
"My poor child," She whispered, lovingly tucking a lock of hair behind his ear. "I'm so sorry," her voice wavered. "Mother could not protect you
She unwrapped her shawl; the lump in her throat tightened so much she felt she was going to choke - he always used to hide under it as a grub. It comforted him as a wriggler and even when he grew up, when times were hard and he felt his resolve weakening, he would lean on his mother's shoulder and talk, feeling the delicate fabric.
She wrapped it around his hips, giving him back some modesty and dignity. Tearing a piece of cloth, she wrapped it around his abused wrists. As an afterthought, a ridiculous impulse, she kissed them, even if she knew that he luckily didn't feel pain anymore.
Just as quickly though, the body was snatched away from her. She lifted her arms and her tear stained face, trying to have it back, no please, just one minute, one second more with him, please be careful you'll hurt him.
Her eye caught the followers of the Grand Highblood lighting up a pyre.
Her heart sank. Someone came up behind her and set two powerful hands on her shoulders to keep her down. No, no, no more. Fire hurt him so much already, give him back to me, I'll dispose of him, what are you afraid of? He's dead, you killed him, you killed my grub, I'm sure you won't even sing the funeral song, let me do it, just let me do that one thing and you can dispose of me as you see fit.
Sparks emerged from the inferno when the Sufferer's body was unceremoniously fed to it. At that moment, she knew what dying felt like.
She felt like a stranger to her own fate, like an observer witnessing what happened afterwards as she floated between consciousness and letting her mind wander to long long ago when things were much happier and she held a small bright red grub in her arms. She walked by the Psiionic as he was being claimed by Her Condescension's trusted guards. He was able to stop just enough to assure her he would never give up and the Sufferer's legacy would live on, it wasn't over, it would never be. Her lips curved in a smile that never reached her eyes and was able to tell him how proud she was before he was taken away from her as well.
She would not give her child's cullers the satisfaction of seeing her distress. Tears were stopped, her gaze hardened. When she was told she was to become a slave, she faced the sentence with dignity, not lowering her eyes once.
It was only two days later, alone in a dark and dirty corner of a slave merchant's galleon, her wrists sore from the heavy shackles they wore, squeakbeasts dashing all around her that she let her sadness overcome her.
Her lips parted, and quietly, she began to sing the song of mourning.