Want a little sneak peak into Soul of Asimina? Then read on!
Sabina sat down on a cot beside one of the children and gently applied a burn salve to the blisters. “Go get some rest, Aunt. Gabby and I will take care of the children.” She turned to the child and softly introduced herself as Lianna left the room, finally allowing herself to cry.
The small girl looked up at her with eyes as wide as saucers and filled with fear. “We not bad, I promise.”
“I am sure you are not bad at all,” Sabina responded gently. “No one here will hurt you. You are safe now.”
She shook her head, matted brown hair moving stiffly with the motion, ash rising into the air. “Never safe, never. They find us. The Oprimata find us!” Her voice rose to a panicked cry, and the oldest of the boys quickly came and sat beside her with a look of protectiveness that bordered on hostile.
A man in the corner lifted his head sharply at the child’s cries, and the movement drew Sabina’s attention. He was seated on a low cot that had been pushed against the corner, one leg drawn to his chest, the other extended in front of his body. His short hair, so dark brown it was nearly black, was plastered to his skull with grime and sweat. Blood from an arrow wound trickled down his chest, the shaft still protruding from his skin. Strong black lines had been inked into his chest, the design beginning at his neck, extending to fully surround his left shoulder, and then snaking down to cover the left side of his torso, dipping below the waistband of his pants. Strong arms bore a series of long lacerations, each weeping fluids, but the blood had clotted on its own accord
Sabina felt her head spin as she looked into his eyes, a deep purple hue that she had never seen before, and realized the agony he must be enveloped within as he sat, untended, on the cot.
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Sabina stared at him a moment, before carefully walking forward. She approached him as she would an injured wild animal, slowly, calmly, keeping her eyes fixed on his face and shoulders, aware of every slight motion.
“My name is Sabina. Do you understand our language?”
The man kneeled on the ground, breath coming hard, the arrow shaft rising and falling as new blood trickled around the smooth wood. His eyes narrowed in concentration, and then he shook his head.
She sucked in her breath as his head dipped down in exhaustion, the action revealing his neck, and a black circle with a jagged sunburst and series of lines. Though it was sharper and darker, it was an exact replica of the curious marking on Alcine’s neck. On a hunch, she tried the language that her mother had taught her as a learning game, the language that her mother had began to learn from Alcine’s mother, Mairi.
“We are friends. We mean you no harm. You are safe here.”
At that, his head shot up, his taxed muscles shaking from the quick movement. “How do you know to speak Zajedica?”
Cold seeped through her trousers as Sabina kneeled on the wooden plank floor, ignoring the quiet warning sounds from Henri. “My mother learned it from a friend, and taught it to me. What is your name?”
He looked toward the sleeping children. “Names are dangerous. You are already in danger by having me, and them, in this room. I do not wish to further the danger to you. People have been killed for harboring my kind. It is better that you let me leave, now, before my presence is discovered.”
She shook her head in disagreement, though unclear of the accuracy of her translation as he spoke quickly. “There is no more danger here. My father and my aunt rule this land. It is a different place than the one from whence you came. The men you and the children speak of, the Oprimata, do not exist here.”
A brief flitter of happiness flashed in the man’s eyes. “If they do not have a hold here, there is hope. My name is Darian. Thank you for your help. Be sure to guard the children.”
Sabina and Henri lunged forward as the man fell, managing to push his body away from the arrow shaft at the last moment. Sabina hurriedly felt for a pulse, relieved when the gently thumping vein in his wrist showed life, if not consciousness.