Hilda stared at her an instant before she turned on her heels and walked away. The shades of the forest swallowed her as she kept going on the dirt road.
Ohne lowered her head and clenched her teeth. Goodbye, sis. She turned towards the stockpile next to her cabin and grabbed the splitting maul she had brought outside moments ago. The tool had a rather heavy head but she had little trouble using it. She almost enjoyed the feeling of the wool rubbing against her hardened palms, hot and somewhat soft.
Soon enough, she had split enough wood for the week, so she started hauling it inside her cabin. That’s when she heard a scream in the distance. Ohne stood by the door and scanned the surroundings. Was that Hilda? She had to find a weapon, quickly. The maul would be too heavy for her to run. She had a bow, but doubted she could use it against someone.
Another cry, closer. It couldn’t be her sister, too low-pitched.
“Come back here!” a man yelled.
Ohne grabbed the knife on her belt when she realised they were coming from the East. The Easterners had given her father a bad knee and taken one of his fingers. Hilda had been right; she shouldn’t have joked about war. The Gods had taken offense.
Moving faster than anyone she’d ever seen, a young black-haired man emerged from the ferns and made a beeline for her cabin. You’ve got to show character. Ohne stepped away from the entrance.
“Get in,” she told the stranger.
The unknown teenager didn’t even look at her. He just obeyed, almost crashing against the door as he jumped inside.
A couple followed him out of the trees, so similar they could have been brother and sister; brown hair, tall, muscular, with a stern look and broadswords. Ohne didn’t like it. She knew the first thing about fighting, but not much else, and a longer reach often meant an easy victory in the open field.
“Where is he?” the man asked.
“Inside,” the woman replied. “I saw him. The boy let him in.”
Ohne frowned as she saw the woman gesturing toward her. She flipped her knife open with her thumb. She had only used it as a tool so far, never a weapon.
The man started running towards her. There was no way she could parry his sword with that knife, no way she could get close enough… Not in an open space. She rushed inside her cabin. Remember dad’s stories. Bigger isn’t better. People bleed easily. They can die just as much as you can.
She knelt near the pallet where she slept and kept the blade close to her chest, her thumbs rubbing against her hide coat. She lowered her head and focused on the rushed steps. When she heard the foot step onto the wooden floor, Ohne thrust her knife up, beneath the knee, and sliced swiftly.
The broadsword circled around, trying to catch her head, but she fell on her side, effectively dodging the attack. She kicked the man in the nose after he collapsed from his wounded leg. He groaned. She kicked again, twice, before the woman reached the entrance as well.
Ohne sat up and dropped the knife in order to grab the woman’s wrist before she could impale her. The Easterner yanked back to free her hand and almost tripped on her companion. Ohne seized the opportunity to get on her feet. Her opponent was obviously experienced with a sword but still had some trouble manoeuvring in the tiny cabin. After a few dodges, the blade stopped against the mantel of the chimney.
A handful of ashes blinded the woman before she had the time to hit again, and Ohne kicked her as hard as she could between the legs. She glanced at the dark-haired teenager that had curled into a ball, next to her. He even winced when she reached towards him. However, her hand was aiming for something else entirely.
It turned out cracking skulls didn’t require any more strength than splitting wood.