Last Stand of the Ill Fated
Additional Notes: Lasenia, being about fifteen years old at this time, was kept in the dark about the conquest of the Dargonians. But every adult in Dosjorya by now knows about the threat they face.
The Sythen region and the Scatlin River area to the south are pretty much seen as sacrificial lambs; the Dosjoryans are hoping the Dargonians take over those two rivers and leave the rest of the land alone. After evacuating Tanfor, no other soldiers were tasked with defending these two areas, as they were sent to defend other, more important regions. Even if it worked out like that, many Dosjoryans have been sentenced to death or displacement.
More on the Sythen region in the author's note at the end of the chapter.
POV: Lasenia Sucoret
Though she hated to do it, Lasenia spread her newly finished quilt across the floor of the main room, cringing as dust billowed up and settled on her latest creation. The underside had to have picked up much more dirt and dust, but as with all things, her quilt would not stay new looking for long. Indeed, all the cloth she used came from old clothes that were too worn in places to wear, or too small for even her to fit into.
It was a modest quilt, but no one in Resendou had enough spare resources for fancy cloths. And it was her first full sized project. Lasenia was growing up, she knew, and she had to learn all the skills a woman would need, just as Mama did, and just as Papa and Lavel learned the skills a man needed. After all, without women to sew the clothes and make meals, men would quickly grow hungry, or if they can feed themselves, slowly run out of wearable clothes.
She sighed. Winter was quickly approaching. The second winter for her brother out in the wilds, never to be seen again in settled Dosjorya. If she had been older at the time, she could have made a quilt for him, and extra clothes in general. Lavel would need a good blanket; he was always more sensitive to cold than most.
Mama walked over from the pot she had sitting over the fire. "Looking good, Lasy."
"Not all of the lines are straight. It's rough."
"It's your first. You'll get better in time. But from up here, it's hard to see those imperfections. The maker is always the harshest critic, my mother always said."
Lasenia looked back at her quilt. It would do as a blanket for the cold months. If nothing else, she could sell it for a few coins or save it for when she married. Or, give it to the Oundat that occasionally visited them with news that Lavel and Vasem still lived.
"Mama, do you think this quilt could make its way to Lavel?"
She shook her head. "You never know, but it's unlikely. Any news of them has always been passed word of mouth. The two go wherever they can survive, not where they can be close or in contact with the nearby clans."
Mama's voice mirrored the sadness in her heart. Lavel did not deserve his punishment, she thought. He would never willingly hurt anyone.
She wanted her brother back. Mama wanted her son back. Papa wanted Lavel to have never left Resendou in the first place. None of them would ever banish Lavel and Vasem from their hearts. Even if he did kill those people.
Gently, Lasenia folded the quilt and placed it on the table. Sewing it together had been fun, despite all the gloomy thoughts that went through her head.
The door slammed open, and Papa rushed in, panting heavily. "What's wrong, Papa?"
Raelat put his hands on his knees, supporting himself as he caught his breath. "Invaders…
"They made it here?" Mama asked, eyes wide.
"What? Who?" Lasenia asked.
"Darg'ans… Wha'ever, they got Flagsden."
"Dargonians. They attacked Flagsden?" asked Muridan.
"Yeah, killed 'em. Pack up an' run!"
Papa rushed back outside in the direction of the tool shed. "Grab a change of clothes and some food. Hurry," said Muridan.
Lasenia did not move for a moment. In town she had heard the name "Dargonian" and the Sythen version "Darg'an." Neither name meant much. All she knew about the names was that they named a group of newcomers. News beyond that had not reached her ears.
Shaking her head, Lasenia rushed to the chest that held their clean clothes and grabbed a set for everyone. At the bottom of the chest was a spare burlap sack Papa sometimes used for big trading days. In went the clothes, and Mama came in carrying a wrapped loaf of bread and a basket of vegetables.
"Good, good, that sack. Can you carry that?"
She nodded. Even with all the weight, she could hoist it over her shoulder without much difficulty.
"Sorry for not warning you beforehand, my dear, but these people have been attacking villages and towns on this river these last few months. We thought they would overlook us, so we said nothing to you. We were wrong."
"Mama, they want to attack us? Why?"
Muridan had tears running down her cheeks as she directed Lasenia towards the door. "I don't know, Lasy. But we need to get out of the way."
"What about Papa?"
"He'll guard us. He served in the army long ago."
Long ago. Papa served during a time with no conflict, and only did so because of the gold coin salary. Not to learn how to defend his future family. Lasenia knew all about that chapter in Raelat's past, for it was the reason he met Mama.
Papa met them at the door, a pitchfork in his hand and a knife in the other. "Take 'em, Muridan. Defend Lasy."
"Don't you stay here. Run with us."
"Have t' stay, it's our land. Not gonna give it up."
Lasenia's heart sank at the realization of what Papa was saying. Dropping the sack, she hugged him tight. "No, Papa, run with us."
Papa dropped both tools and hugged her back. "Love ya, Lasy. Go with yer Mama. I'll protect ya," he said softly.
"How far are they?" Mama asked.
Papa let go of Lasenia. "On the way… Muridan, Lasy, I love ya… the others are gonna fight. Get far away as possible." Then he whispered, almost low enough that Lasenia could not hear. "We're buying time fer ya."
As Lasenia grabbed the sack again, Mama and Papa hugged each other, whispering to each other and occasionally kissing. Both had tears running from their eyes and it made Lasenia even more scared. They had to know things. Something bad was going to happen.
A moment and an eternity passed before her parents let go of each other. Mama grabbed the pitchfork and the knife. "Raelat, don't take any unnecessary risks."
"I promise. Go."
Muridan grabbed Lasenia's hand and they set out to the east. Lasenia glanced back at Raelat, who had jogged again towards the tool shed. No time to waste.
Before they reached the last of the farmlands, she and Muridan caught up with several other evacuees, all elderly, women, and children. Some had sharp or pointy farm tools, but most only had belongings. No able-bodied men were present.
No one spoke. The tension and fear in everyone oozed like cool morning fog off the river, spreading to everyone. Babies too young to walk cried in their mother's arms, no doubt aware of the prevalent mood. Boys grunted under the weight of the sacks and chests they carried; their families were lucky to have someone to carry bigger loads. Yet they did not look like they felt lucky. All were leaving their houses, unsure of what they would return to. Lasenia wiped her eyes, wishing this was all just a dream.
Not that far in the distance, Lasenia heard a low boom, followed by several pops. An older man near her cursed under his breath. Someone else screamed.
"Mama, was that them?" Lasenia asked.
Eyes focused forward rather than behind, she nodded.
Onwards they walked, still without any conversation. Occasionally they heard the popping noise, but not the louder boom. Behind them, the sun sunk lower, nearly touching the horizon.
"Run!" someone yelled amongst them. Lasenia looked behind and noticed a large group of men running after them, various weapons in their hands.
She could see their weapons. They snuck up and were so close.
"Drop the sack, Lasy. Run!" Mama cried, gripping the pitchfork in both of her hands. Lasenia did as she was told and ran as fast as she could. It took her a few moments to realize that Muridan was not following.
"Mama!" she yelled back. No answer. Someone else pushed her forward, but that made her stumble. Another hand helped her up.
People started screaming. The world descended into chaos and Lasenia did not know what to do. Screams and wails assaulted her ears. The metallic scent of blood flooded her nostrils. Pain, so profound that she could not determine if it was physical or emotional, became her reality. One moment she was running, the nest she was on the ground, facing the darkening sky.
A dark face hovered above her. "Ah, you are young, I see. You would make a good laborer, perhaps more."
The man smiled, and Lasenia screamed. He kicked her ribs, not hard enough to injure her but enough to get a point across. Stay silent.
"You do as I say, and things'll be alright. Got it?"
She nodded and whispered a little.
"Pathetic little thing."
The man tied her hands together and pulled her up to her feet. He placed a cloth over her eyes and tied it tight.
"If you have any brothers or a father here, they're all dead in town. Even the lance wielder, if he is your champion."
Her heart sank. Papa was trained in using a lance while in the army. Lavel chose the same weapon to have when he became a full Innen. But Lavel was not here, only Raelat. No one else in Resendou used such a thing.
If this man is right, then Papa is dead. But he fought valiantly.
"If you're related to any of the women or old ones who fought back, then they're dead too."
Mama had that pitchfork. She must have fought. She must be dead. Lasenia's legs went weak. So quickly she has become an orphan. Both of her parents are dead.
"Ah, you get it. Fight back or struggle, and you die. Do as I say, and you live a decent life, no more than you deserve. I'll bet both your parents fought from the way you react. Maybe that makes you more useful for certain things."
Eyes forced closed by the blindfold, Lasenia could not cry freely. Mama and Papa were dead. She was captured. Lavel was alone somewhere out in the wilds with Vasem. Her whole family had been torn apart.
She was so young. Not yet fully aware of the nature of the world. She knew that the adults hid things from her. Papa told her that when she turned sixteen, he would explain to her the harshness and beauty of life. But she was not that old yet. She had no idea. That people could kill so freely, so willingly.
Lavel was a little younger than she is now when he and Vasem were attacked. How did they endure such a thing? But no one died then. He still had Vasem, still had his family back home. She has no one.
The man started walking her somewhere, and Lasenia was glad for the blindfold. Glad to have whatever carnage and death there was blocked from view. Because the sight of a dead body, whether from her parents or from another villager, would shatter her completely.
(This is a long one)
When the expedition of Iksen people first landed in Dosjorya, slavery was commonplace as a way for people to pay their debts. No other reason. Usually the slaver and the one in debt would negotiate the terms of the servitude and often this made things fair.
But when they reached Dosjorya, fighting with the Gendirlo and the task of building settlements made their situation dire, and slavers started asking more from their slaves than originally agreed upon, including the enslavement of the children of slaves. These children were put to work alongside their fathers, and the mothers were encouraged to have more children so that there were more laborers around. Food and shelter were still given, and with decent living conditions many never complained.
For a couple of generations, this happened, until many slaves, the last of the ones who originally negotiated their terms and their direct descendants, started escaping. These were the ones who once knew freedom, once knew what it was like to work for themselves. They took their families with them and traveled far to the river they named the Sythen. Tanfor was their village, which eventually grew into a city. They vowed an end to slavery in their village. Slavery would completely die out soon after in the rest of Dosjorya, but it was more because fewer people could afford to care for slaves, and so let them go, all debts null and voided.
The Iksen people prided themselves on having a fully literate populace, whether man or woman, child or adult, rich or poor. The families of slaves were denied this luxury as they needed to build settlements. And in Tanfor, they still did not receive this education because they had absolutely no help and had to work so hard to build a new life. So never would the rest of Dosjorya see the Sythen region as anything but a bunch of under educated farmers that grow crops mainly for themselves instead of for everyone, even if this view by now is no longer 100% true. The Sythen produces a good chunk of the crops eaten in Dosjorya and a vast majority of residents can read and write, albeit with less proficiency.
Two thousand years later, their descendants still suffer.