A.N.: This was just an idea that should become a story, but because I'm very lazy and there is just too much things to do..., this became a one-shot.


Hope

She was so tired, so dried up. She looked at the body that lay beside her. Long black hair was covering the face.

She reach out and tucked the hair them behind lying girl's ear. Girl's pale face looked so peaceful, so beautiful in death. No more was there frown on the pale forehead, no more fear and caution in dead blue eyes, in the stillness of movements.

She wanted to cry, to scream in pain of loss but couldn't. All the tears has been dried-up such long time ago. It's not fair. It's just wasn't fair.

She picked up her sister's hand, she weaved their fingers together, and laid her head on her sister's chests. The body was still warm. It felt like old times, like yesterday when after they found shelter for the night, they squeezed, snuggled together, to stay warm through the night, to give each other comfort. The only comfort they had known for the last two years and even this was now gone.

If she tried hard she could remember a mother's hand brushing her cheeks and mother's kiss on her forehead for a good night. Could remember the meals they had together, the light that shone through the window when they sat in small kitchen eating the modest meal, talking and laughing together. Those were such joyful times. They hadn't had much but they had each other, her father always pointed that out, when she or her sister wanted something they couldn't afford.

It was the war that changed all. It was neighbour against neighbour, brother against brother and for what? So many people died because somebody became greedy.

Her father was peaceful man, he never argued, he was always kind to others; and he said that this was not their concern, that they can't change what was going on that the battlefields far away and that the war shouldn't touch them.

But it did.

One night they came; looking like beggars with their clothes all torn up, dirty and smelly. They said that they were solders and that they need food and place to stay over the night. They were more likely deserters she thought as she noticed that they hadn't carried weapons.

Father should pick up that old gun that was hidden under his mattress and throw them out.

But father was a good man, and he wouldn never turn down people who asked for help, so he stepped aside and invited them in.

She was only fourteen at the time, her birthday celebrated only a week ago but she saw that they were trouble; she never got within their sight.

It seems that everything was going to be all right, that everything was going to be fine when the men left the house and went to the barn after their meal to sleep.

But it wasn't.

In the middle of the night they sneaked in to the house and then…screams, which still echoed in her ears, sobs…

She and her sister had hid in the attic and through the slot between planks they saweverything. She tried to advert her eyes, but couldn't …the terror in mother face when they slit open father throat, blood, mothers screams when they rape her, taking their turns.

She tasted salt in her mouth and realised that there was tears flowing down her cheeks and that in her mouth were her hands suffocating the sobs. Through tears she looked at her sister who was doing the same.

"We must get out of here." She had whispered to her.

Her sister nodded.

She still couldn't comprehend how they had managed to leave the house unnoticed. They stayed in the woods hiding in the treetop all night scanning the scene before them and in the morning saw the flames destroying all her family possession. Then the neighbours houses started to burn. In the minutes the entire village was burning and when the sun rose up there was nothing left except the ruins and the burned bodies scattered among them.

She tried to close her mind from the memories, tried to hold them at bay. She must think on now. What will she do now that the only person… ?

A single tear slipped from her eye. She angry wiped it.

"There is no shame in crying," a soft whisper came.

She looked at the man sitting in the corner. "What would you know?"

He stood up in one elegant move and strode toward her, where he kneeled down beside her. "I know how you feel."

He tried to sooth her, to show that he cared but she only turned her face in soft, dirty folds of her sister's shirt.

She griped sister's body more tightly. She didn't really care if he knew how she felt, she didn't care for anything anymore. With his sister gone the last hope she was carrying has been extinguished out. "You don't know nothing."

Snuggled together in some box they had found in alley when rain was falling down they had tried to stay warm and they talked about their dreams.

They had drams, they had hope that they will make it, that somehow they will survive this nightmare and will find a place of their own, that there would be roof over their heads, warm bed waiting in the evening. Little field where they could grow vegetables.

Now… Now… that dream has been torn away from her.

In her former life those dreams would have seem so humble, so modest… and every since that day when her life has changed, when the world for her has stopped spinning they seem so unreachable, possible, but so far away. But together, together they would manage, alone - it was impossible.

"Come on boy." The man grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her up. "Time to go."

She tried to kick him, to pull herself out of his reach when he carried her out of the room.

"Stop it. Stop it," he tried to reason her. When her struggles continue he slapped her. "Do you want to stay here, do you want to be here when the bodies are found? You will be shoot on the spot."

She stopped and when he released his grip on her she collapsed on the floor. "I rather die now then a week from now. But die I will, like she has died."

He lowered himself down so that his brown eyes were level with hers. "You give up so easily."

"What's the point? " Yes, what is the point? If her sister and her had died that day with her father and mother she would suffer but that would be the end of it. They wouldn't have come across plunderers and her sister wouldn't have to wave her body before them like a whore in hopes to save her more than once. There wouldn't be guilt washing over her every time she allowed that. There wouldn't be a burden of quilt for allowing fear to get hold of her, to make her rotten on the spot while her sister had…

"Why is life so hard? Why …" she whispered.

"Don't know." He started to stroke her short hair. "Don't know," he said, even when he knew. He remembered the old man, the words the old mand said when he saw him the last time.

"Generally people are just sheep and they follow whoever sold them the most promises of good pasture, of good life. They don't think for themselves. If they did, they wouldn't so easily and docile follow a path to slather." Old, wrinkled fingers were absently stroking the blanket that covered his knees.

"There wouldn't be wars, if people would just think for themselves self. " The old man has sighed. "If they would just think for themselves."

He didn't agree. Things weren't so easy and plain like old men imagine they were, which he told him.

" Tell me something, son. If a man came to you and said to you, you must go and fight so that his estates would become larger, so that his pile of money would grow, so that he would gain more power, would you do it?" Old grey eyes intensely gazed at the black-haired youth.

At that young man shook his head.

"Yes, of course you wouldn't. But you would if they would say that the way of life you know it is threaten and point at your enemy, people whose believes are different. When they say that there is a better future waiting for you when this enemy is eliminated. You would attack them? But this are just words like a shiny wrapper wrapped around rotting box where lies the truth. Some men wants to have a power and they use other men to get it. What is the war than slaughter of men for the gain of what? For glory, for better future?" Frown deformed already wrinkled forehead.

" Haven't you notice that life after war is always worse than before? How many lives have been sacrificed so the one man could rule over others? And those tyrants rule with the iron fists and who put them there? The people who are now squashed under it. " The sadness on the old man's face was visible.

"Yes, yes…" The old man waved with his hand. "I know what you are thinking. What about those who are defending their lands, their property? Everybody should stand to defend his life, the life of loves ones, I agree, but that wouldn't be necessary if there wouldn't be the attackers, would it? Let the men with the big bellies and with greedy fingers fight their own battles." The old man grinned.

"That is the sight I would like to see." The black-haired youth smirked.

"Ah, boy, there was a storyteller David Gemmell, wise man who said once, that most people are just sheep in world of the wolfs and he was right." The old man nodded. "Yes, we are nothing more than sheeps in the wolf claws. "

"Why are you telling me all this, old man?"

"Why am I telling you this?" The old man has stomped. "Because you want to be a sheep! Why else?"

The young man voice was calm. "Calm down, old man. I'm going in army to learn, not to be a sheep."

There was no way the old man could change his mind and they both know it, so the old man has just sighed. "Yes, to learn and to take your revenge. That is what you are thinking, don't you."

Yes, that what was his thought.

He held her for some time in his tender embrace than he stood up and drag her up with him. "Time to go."