She'd known this would happen. Aea's head hung low, fury burning her heart as she was weighed down by ropes in the mud. All it took was one slip up, and the outsiders came and took everything from them. Aea almost wished she was dead. That she had died fighting. But she still had someone left to protect.
Aea wasn't entirely sure why or who had shot first, but now, with her brother and father dead, she only desired that more of the invaders had been slaughtered. The tears for those she and her village had lost had since stopped flowing, only to be replaced with bitter, hollow grief and rage. But she had to be strong. Aea's little sister, Lyz, was at her side. Only 9 years of age. It wasn't fair. A quiet kid. Aea would have her hands around Lyz, but of course, she was bound. Lyz was quiet, hugging her knees to her and staring at the dirt.
The leader, this lady that the cowards catered every need for, strutted about the place like she owned it. Like the burning village deserved it. Aea glared daggers at her. She was somewhat surprised when the leader held her gaze. Aea wouldn't allow herself to look away. She wouldn't be intimidated or bullied.
Aea blinked in surprise when the he lady commanded that she be brought to her tent. Unbound? Put to work? Like some servant. Of course the thought immediately entered her head that she would murder the lady where she stood. Stick her thumbs into her eyes and bite out her throat. But the following threat struck down any such foolish notion. The words themselves like a physical blow.
Lyz reached for and hugged Aea's arm.
"It'll be all right." Aea lied quietly, soothingly.
Aea rose to her feet. She had sharp green eyes, an athletic build, and short, light blonde hair that fell down in a wavy bob to her chin. She had the leader beat in height by two inches, standing at an impressive 5'8. Aea had her chin tilted upward, attempting to retain her dignity.
With her hands and feet unbound, she allowed herself to be taken to where the bucket of water was. She had to be directed around the place- she had no idea where anything was. Cheeks burning, she fetched chopped firewood and built a fire. Aea was an experienced farmhand, and had done much work to take care of the family home. With some flint and tinder she lit the flames to heat up the iron cauldron. Then she grabbed a bucket and walked down to a nearby creek. The same creek that trailed into town and a nearby lake where she and her siblings would play on the shoreline. Those days were over now. Aea found herself weeping once again as she filled up the bucket with fresh water. Wiping her face, she brought the bucket full of water back to the cauldron and poured it in, face stern and unemotive. In and out of the tent she went. The cauldron and the fire were right next to the bath, lighting the whole thing up with a warm glow.
She repeated the process until the cauldron was full. Menial work, but a job that she had found fulfilling in the past. No longer. Trying to conceal her elevated breathing, she stared at the surface of the water until it began to boil. Boil and boil. Aea hoped it would boil over and explode, evaporating every invader into nothing but steam and dust. Unfortunately, it did not. It just boiled under the surface, until it would inevitably become a hot bath.