Based upon a dream. Please review.

The tall woman gazed into the eyes of the dying figure on the ground. She pressed her handkerchief tightly against the pale flesh, but failed to stop the bleeding.

The figure's eyes fluttered open and landed on a sobbing five year old child. The victim looked up again pleadingly at the woman.

Nemesis glanced at the young girl and then back towards the mother. Her facial muscles became tight with inflexible determination.

"I'll take care of her." She said. "I'll look after her as though she were my own."

The woman in her arms shot her a grateful look. Her eyelids fluttered, and Nemesis felt the stiff body relax in its final repose.

The young toddler was frightened and upset. Her blue eyes were wide with the shock of sudden calamity- yet she obeyed with a prompt gravity which belied her tender years.

At Nemesis's command she wrapped her arms tightly about the assassin's neck and held on. Somehow the young girl did not need the instruction for silence. Fear held her dumb.

The assassin moved swiftly, crouching low before ducking into the channel. She was hoping that the use of the waterway would aid in evading their pursuers. They were becoming closer- too close. She stopped and pressed her body closely against the low wall of the channel.

There was a rattle of firearms. Somebody cried out and a body splashed not too far away. Nemesis felt the chubby arms around her neck tighten. She remained in a steady crouch, listening intently.

They were talking quite loudly in their jubilation. Already fifteen cottages had been overrun and their occupants murdered. Krasten had ordered them not to stop until the entire village was decimated. It was an order, brutal and unjust in the extreme. Krasten justified it as the appropriate punishment for any village harbouring the assassin, Nemesis. That none of the villagers had even known Nemesis was present had not been sufficient reason to curb the man's murderous tendencies.

The weight upon her back shifted. Nemesis held her breath. The slightest noise from the child would betray them both. Thin lips tightened angrily. Already the fierce warmth of protective motherhood had stirred to life within her. She would fight, and die, if necessary, to fulfil her new responsibility.

The little girl made no noise. The weight stilled. The strain of maintaining her position began to tell upon her protector's physique. Yet still Nemesis did not move.

And then it happened all at once. There was a sudden splash and Nemesis saw in horror that the little girl had fallen off her back and somehow landed in the channel before her -in full view of Krasten's men.

A shout of surprise- and then silence- and then again the rattle of firearms and all was still.

Nemesis remained in her pose- crouched within the shadows, her eyes on the spot where she'd seen the little girl fall.

The little girl was dead. Somehow, she- Nemesis, had failed to protect the life under her charge- the life she'd sworn to protect as though it were her own.

It was too late to move. Nemesis knew from hard experience that no action of hers could now restore the young life so cruelly lost. Her throat burned- yet anger seemed an insignificant thing against the torrent of bitterness and loss which now possessed her.

She had loved the child, the little girl whose name she'd never even known. And now the child was dead.

An entire village massacred- at the will and command of one man.

The assassin turned her head. The men's voices had faded somewhat, yet she could still hear them. They were beginning their departure.

Two hours later Krasten's rider appeared in the village. He carried orders from an irate master to his men, demanding immediate return and explanations for the delay.

He left it quickly, alone and terrified for his life. The bright moonlight had revealed a second and unanticipated, massacre that night in the village of Trunkovo.