Work (TWC ch2)

Story by MaddyFerret on SoFurry

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Chapter 2: Work    Anya, the beast-girl as her captures called her, had been following the camp for ten days now. She'd been counting. The first few days had been miserable as she had struggled to find a way out. By now though, the girl had given up trying to escape (for the time being) and had settled into the routine of the camp, which was bearable, albeit uncomfortable. The camp would rise just before dawn, work most of the day and settle in for supper by nightfall. Anya had always heard outlaws lived at night, to avoid being seen. Apparently they weren't worried about getting caught this deep in the forest though. They openly worked and traveled by day and never seemed to take any pains to keep hidden or quiet. They were constantly on the move though; they had picked up and moved camp twice  now in the short time she'd been with them. Those days were the worst, the men still hadn't found a horse Anya could ride so she had to ride behind them. The men had tied her to a greatly uncomfortable sled one had made by lashing a few logs together. Luckily the horses were willing to pull it, but it was a supremely uncomfortable ride, bouncing along in the dirt tied to that sled. She never knew where the outlaws were traveling to, they seemed to be riding aimlessly throughout the forest. One time she tried asking where they were going, and was reminded she was a prisoner and it was none of her business. To avoid potential beatings the girl didn't ask again.Anya heard footsteps approaching and looked up to see one

of the men strolling toward her. "Get up beast!" Shouted the unfamiliar at her. "Come over here." Anya looked up, blinked wearily and shrugged against her ropes. "I can't really move." She explained, needlessly. The man glared at her, but nodded and moved closer to untie her ropes. As she felt the ropes loosen around her body she heaved a sigh of relief, taking a deep breath and stretching her muscles, unimaginably cramped from days of sitting nearly perfectly still. As she stretched the man drew his dagger nervously and glared. Despite her small size and relative harmlessness the girl's strange appearance and animal-like features continued to frighten the men.      "You're on kitchen duty." He told her curtly, his dagger pointing over to the makeshift kitchen near the center of the camp. The girl looked at him, confused. Were they really expected her to help with her captures' work? "Go on." He said, more threatening this time, and pointing again.     Not wanting to get beat, the girl did as she was bid, stumbling toward the kitchen area on her wobbly, unused, legs. The man watched her go, but didn't follow. I could run for it now. The girl thought to herself, but quickly pushed the thought away. Even if her legs were in normal condition there were too many men watching her. Deciding she had not other choice the girl did as she was told and soon found herself in the kitchen. "I... I was sent to help." She explained, as she presented herself to the cook, a corpulent man with a bald head and a thick, black, beard. The man smiled amiably down at the girl. "Well lucky me, I've been complained I needed a helper since I lost that other girl." Anya didn't want to know what happened to the 'other girl', and she didn't ask. "I'm Chuck." said the large man, extending a hand to the girl.   Anya shook the cook's hand, his grip strong, nearly crushing the girl's frail hands. "See those dishes, over there?" He asked. Anya nodded. "See that bucket of water?" He asked, pointing. "Yes." Answered the girl."Good, then get to work." Anya looked at the cook, briefly confused before she put the pieces together. She gingerly picked up a plate, straining her sore arms, and placed it in the water. The small, light, plate was an impedimenta in the girl's scrawny, unused arms, and she struggled to carry it to the basin. Just as she managed to safely put the plate in the water she heard Chuck's voice again, "Scrub em good." said Chuck, tossing Anya a brush. So scrub she did, her arm trembling, hardly able to hold the

brush, let along scrub. Eventually though, the plate was passably cleaned. Once she finished  she carefully picked up the next plate and did the same with it. She did the same with the next plate, and the next, and the next. Each time she finished a plate the next felt easier. After enduring the pain of the first few dishes Anya's arms began to loosen up and remember how to work. Soon enough she no longer felt the fatigue in her arms and the washing became a simple, thoughtless task. She washed bowls, and eating-wear as well, once she had finished the plate. Once the cramps in her arms and legs had mostly faded the work actually felt pleasant enough. Having something to do was significantly better than the hibernative state she had been in before. The girl cleaned and the cook cooked, whistling a tune Anya was unfamiliar with.  After she finished with the mound of dishes Anya chopped onions for Chuck. "Your eyes watering girl?" The cook asked her, chuckling as she cut. "No sir." The girl answered. The man looked at her curiously. "Huh, they aren't. Why is that?"The girl only shrugged.And so the pair worked until the sun began to set. Anya, washing dishes, chopping onions, and completing other such tasks while Chuck did the more intricate cooking. Anya watched with the surprise the amount of care the man put into his food. The pair worked in friendly silence, speaking little but coming to a sort of understanding. Anya worked, Chuck cooked, they got along fine. Eventually, just as the sun was starting to dip below the clouds, the food was done and the men were coming back to line up after their work. "Get a bowl girl." Said Chuck. Which Anya did, hurriedly. She reached her hands out to hand it to him. Instead of taking the bowl the man filled it with steaming soup. The girl looked at him curiously. "You should prolly be gettin back to that tree of yours. Thank ya for the help" He said grinning and pointing her back. Taking her soup the girl walked back and sat beside her tree. A different man came over with a meal of his own in one hand and a rope in the other. Aparently she got to eat before they tied her up again. And eat she did. The warm stew flowed into her stomach, and spread throughout her body. The time she'd spent with the men she had been given the cold leftovers after the outlaws had eaten, and eaten seconds. Today she got the first bowl. She felt a strange sort of pride welling about that. The stew was the best she'd ever eaten, or at least felt like after the last couple of weeks. Warm stew in her belly

and blood flowing through her limbs again the girl eventually had to allow herself to be tied up again. She still slept on the tree, but she slept comparatively comfortably. It was a warm night, with warm food, and she could swear the ropes binding her was just a little bit looser. The next few days were much the same. Anya began to be given odd jobs around camp. One day she helped Chuck in the kitchen again, another she spent all day fetching pails of water from a river, guarded of course.  One day Anya helped make sure the camp was kept clean, and another she sent to collect firewood.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Working these odd jobs Anya had begun to learn some of the men at camp. There was Brandon, the outlaws' leader. He was a strong wiry man, and had a surprising sense of honor. Not honor like the knights of Anya's books, but honor all the same; an criminal's sort of honor. He insisted on fairness and truthfulness among his camp. The largest man in camp, Horace, had been the one who first captured her. He didn't seem to be a bright man, good at following orders but little else. There was also Landon, the wealthiest man in camp, who had suggested selling her in the first place. The man's greed disgusted Anya, but she also knew that it was quite possibly the only reason she was alive. And of course there was Bruce, the man Anya had clawed on the first day. She suspected the four claw-mark scars would never fully fade, and she also suspected Bruce wouldn't forget who gave them to him. Some of the other men might bat her, and none were friendly, but only Bruce hit her hard, and her looked for any slight infraction as an excuse to do so. And there was

Will, the boy of the outlaws. He couldn't be more than a year or two older than Anya, and at least five years younger than anyone else at the camp. All the same, the boy seemed to keep up with the outlaws just fine, working around camp like Anya did, but sleeping in a tent and not tied to a tree. And there were two loners in the camp as well. They didn't eat with the other men, they worked but mostly on their own. The other men never seemed to look at them. They weren't prisoners, but minus the ropes they hardly seemed to be part of the outlaws any more than Anya did. There was Sahkyo, the savage. He only spoke a few words of Common. But he was the only man who could rival Horace in size, and probably exceeded him in strength, so Anya could see why they kept him around. And there was Tysha, the only woman in camp. Anya couldn't figure out too much about her, other than that the men made lewd jokes about her but seemed too afraid of her to actually do anything to the woman. She looked like a foreigner too, with dark skin and black hair. All the men seemed positively terrified of the woman. Anya wasn't sure why, but she knew the woman must be fearsome to ride with the outlaws at all so she didn't question it.      Some of the men called her "Beast", that was bad. Some called her "girl," that was better. But none of the men called her Anya, despite the fact that she was sure most had learned her name by now. Anya realized that's all the men saw her as, a girl or a beast. She could be an animal or she could be human, but she could not be a person. The outlaws would never see her as a companion. The girl had come to know some of the bandits, and some of them were friendly enough, but they were not her friends. The girl never forgot she was a prisoner, and neither did her captures. They still watched her with suspicion and tied her up at night. The girl had no friends.Despite the lack of companionship Anya was starting to grow content enough with the outlaws. Her life back at home wasn't particularly comfortable either. She was

probably eating just is good, if not better, with the outlaws than she did at home. She had spent her whole life in a little cottage in the middle of the forest with no companions but books and hard work day and night. At this point Anya felt she would live with the outlaws and not try to run anymore, if only they would giver her a tent instead of a tree.Except, she knew she couldn't. Mother was waiting for her at home, surely she was back by now. She knew she had new get back, her old Mam must be worried of of her mind. Anya had to find away back to the only family she had ever known. And soon the girl thought before they take me too far to get back. With thoughts of home, of her mom, and her books dancing through her head the girl fell asleep for another night against the tree. I'll find away back to you mom, I promise. "Hey girl." A voice from the darkness woke Anya in a startle. "It's Anya, right?" The girl nodded in the darkness. Her eyes focusing in on the silhouette in the night.

"Hello?" She questioned tentatively, wondering what her night visitor wanted, and whether she should be afraid. "For you." The voice said, dropping something into her lap. The girl leaned down to sniff the object. It smelled sweet. She gingerly poked out her tongue and licked it. Where did someone get cake in the middle of the woods? And why give it to me? The girl wondered."Thank you, but why?" She asked, looking up and finding her visitor missing. "Hello?" She called softly, receiving no answer.  She didn't know, but she lapped the treat out of her lap, savoring in the sweet flavor. She was tempted to try and save it, but she knew she couldn't explain where it came from so she made sure to eat it all. The girl sat in wonderment at the night's events. Was I dreaming? she wondered Am i going crazy? But she didn't really believe that. She was pretty sure the visitor and the cake were real, but she wasn't sure who, why, or how. Eventually, the girl fell back asleep. A head full of questions and a belly full of cake.

Caught (TWC ch1)

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Prologue: Burning

 Burning    They started a fire. The woman knew the end was near. The woman felt herself dragged across the stage to the pile of wood. The men tied her to the wooden pillar in the center of the pile, the rope so tight it dug deep into her flesh. She...

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