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She knew. From the moment he lifted the flap of her tent and stood there, silhouetted by the sunshine outside, just a dark shadow whose face she couldn’t see, she knew.

All she asked was, “How?”

He left her weeping, expecting her to come to terms with her grief in due course, but she didn’t. Days she spent weeping, clawing at her cheeks, her nails leaving red tracks for her tears to flow down. She tore at her hair and writhed on the floor in fits of despair.

They took care of her, in a way, leaving food outside her tent at first, and carefully pushing it through when it was left outside untouched. None went to see her; it was not the way.

After a while, they became uncomfortable with the ever-present air of despair around her tent, and after a long meeting he was sent to her tent once more.

“Get up,” he said, standing over her. Her shoulders shook, but she did not otherwise move.

“Get up,” he said again. She turned her head slowly, staring at him with bloodshot eyes.

“Your parents did not raise you to bask in despair,” he said. “They taught you everything you need to avenge their deaths.”

She watched him silently as he poured wine into a cup and held it out to her.

“Drink,” he said. “Eat. You will need your strength for the task that lies ahead of you.”

She took the cup in silence, and he nodded brusquely as he turned and left.

A day later, her tent flap was pushed open and she crept out. Her bow was slung across her back, and her sword was in her hand. They embraced her, said prayers and blessings over her, and waved their farewell as she set out in search of her destiny.

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: Three Word Wednesday this week gives the prompt words Bask, Grief and Raise. This, I think, may be a seed to grow later…)