Chapter 1: A Cold Kosulian Winternight
Karla has never been a supporter of the Orens. The old one was a fool, believing that his closeness to the people would really mean anything. Yushkov, called The Usurper by many, was the worst Oren she had seen in her rather short life up until now. He said he wanted to make Kosul strong, ready for the world, ignoring the fact that Kosul was strong in its own way. And now, Svetya, the girl who came home. She may have fought against the Usurper, she may have defeated him, but she would never defeat the rebellion still living in the hearts of many Kosulians.
Or at last that‘s what Karla believed. She was a young woman who did not yet see her twentieth winter. She had been born on the street, she was raised on the street. This does by no matter mean she would‘ve been dumb, no. Beneath her golden curls was a bright mind, and it focused on one thing in special: Freeing the Kosul people from the tyranny of the Orens. No person should rule a whole country and have power over all its inhabitants. It was just wrong. Freedom was all that she wanted.
It all started years ago. Karla‘s parents were poor. They owned what they could carry, living from what they earned day by day. There were very harsh times, especially in the long and cold winters up in the north, when nobody needed someone to help on the farm. In these times, they lived only by what Karla’s mother would earn by making clothes. She was good in what she did, but often enough it didn’t pay out well enough to keep their stomachs full for a day. They woke up hungry, and when they went to sleep, they were still hungry. Sure, little Karla was good at begging, but some Breadcrumbs were the only things most Kosulians were able to spare in the harsh winters. The ones at the top, on the other side, the ones who would have been able to help them out and would still had enough to feed their their family, didn’t care about them.
As Karla grew older, she realized how the world was. The rich people got everything they needed and more, while the poor fought for their survival. And even then, the rich still took the work from the poor, leaving them with less than they could have, and so more and more of the poor died in the harsh winters, either by freezing to death, or starvation. Karla saw that something needed to change. Nobody had the right to own a palace, filled with food and warmth enough for all the people dieing in the streets. Everybody should work for what they earn, and everybody should earn enough to survive. But as long as a few people ruled everyone else’s life, the would abuse them for their own wealth.
It really got clear for Klara in the harshest winter the had lived through in her young live., her fifteenth winter The harvest in this year had been rather bad, so the prices for food rose higher and higher. Her parents were doing everything they could to feed them all, but Karla saw how they got thinner and thinner, slowly starving away. She herself didn’t loose as much weight, and she realized, that her parents were sacrificing some of their food to keep Klara as good nurtured as possible. But it was too much they did. One night, when they slept in their tent at night, a very cold wind came from the north. Everything froze over. Even Klara’s parents. As she woke up, the only thing left from them were two bodies, frozen to the core. Klara realized that they had put all their blankets on top of her so that she will survive the night, sacrificing their own life for her. With only their own warmth, they died, being frozen forever in a loving embrace. But Klara was alone now. Nobody would care for her from now on, she needed to take care of her own. She sat there, next to her dead parents, as hours and hours passed by. She cried, her tears freezing before they hit the earth. During this time, more than once she thought of just staying there, dieing next to her parents. But after half a day, she finally said good bye to her parents. She had no possibility to bury them, no way to ensure that they would rest in piece. Her eyes still filled with tears, singing a lullaby that her mother used to sing for her, she rolled up the blankets and put them into her fathers backpack, the biggest of theirs. There was not much else she could take with her, only a necklace from her mother. It was made from a bear’s tooth, engraved with the names of her parents. She shed some last tears as she put it around her neck, saying goodbye to her parents. Then, she left them inside the tent, going to find her way alone in this world.
She did not find anything to eat this day. Nor did she the following day. She just marched on and on down the road, hoping to find something, anything giving her new hope. And she found something inside herself. Somewhere deep inside herself, she knew what she had to do: she had to fight for her right, for her freedom, for the lives of everone living on the Kosulian streets. It were this goal that kept her going onwards, until finally, at the third day walking lonely along the road, she saw a little farm with smoke coming out of the chimney. The last nights, she slept in a ruin and a cave, but she saw the possibility of sleeping in a warm house, next to a fire, and maybe eating something. Her mouth formed to a smile, as good as they could, as Karla was weak and tired. So she walked up the way to the door of the house. There, she fell to her knees, feeling the cold and the grief and the pain coming over her. She knocked, not strong, as she passed out.
At this moment, she thought she would die. All this pain, the sacrifice of her parents, for nothing. She still died, close to being rescued. But she wasn’t able to cry as she fell to the floor. Her last thoughts were for her parents, that she loved them and that she’d meet them again.
Then, she opened up her eyes. She was in room, warm and bright. She smelled a stew being cooked. She was still weak, but she was sure it would end soon. After all, she had died. She was in the Afterlife, and her body, no, her mind just needed to realize this. Now, she would see her parents again. She smiled, still weak, as she heard some footsteps coming close. She was ready to look in the face of her parents, as a head came into her view. But it wasn’t her father nor her mother. It was an old woman, looking down on her. As the old woman saw the open eyes, the smiled and turned away, shouting. Klara did not understand what she did shout, she was not strong enough to understand anything. The woman went out of her sight, just to come back shortly after, with a bowl filled with stew. The smell of the food awoke something in Karla, a will to survive. She was not dead. They saved her. With pain and a lot of effort, she sat up, taking the bowl and a spoon with shaking fingers. The old woman still smiled and laughed while she helped Karla eat her stew. It was the most amazing stew she ever ate.
While still eating, the room started to clear up in Klara’s sight. It was a little room. There was a fireside and a table with eight chairs. A big iron pot hang above the fire, and there was a door leading out of the room. Knittings hang at the walls, and a window showed her the outside. The snow was still lying at the land, keeping nature in its cold, deadly grasp. She sighed. At this moment, the door into the room opened up, and the room started to fill. In came two adults, close to the age her parents had. They surely where the owners of the farm. Three children, a girl and two boys, younger than herself, entered after her. The last persons entering were two young men, obviously the farmhands who were allowed to stay here during the winter. They all looked at her, and she started to feel uncomfortable. She stopped eating, looking at them. The older man, the owner of the farm, smiled as he went to her.
“Good morning, girl. We almost gave up on you. You were passed out for almost a whole day. But Grandmother said that there is nothing like a good stew to wake up the dead. Without her, you would have surely died.” Karla nodded weakly with her head. She understood what he said, but she wasn’t able to answer him.
The woman, the wife of the man who just talked to her, came over. “It’s okay. Eat up, girl. You can stay here while you recover. It’s our duty and our pleasure to help you get well.” The farmhands, not much older than Karla was, looked at her, but stayed back. The children, on the other hand, came close, laughing and playing. Karla smiled, while pain flodded through her mind. But she finished eating the stew. With a weak voice, she said. “Thank you.”
The man laughed. “Nothing to thank us for! Let me introduce you to the family!” He wrapped his arms around his wife. “That’s Anna, my wife. The best wife on this world!” Anna laughed and kissed him at the cheek. He pointed at the children. “They are Viktor, Vladimir and Natalya, the sunshine of our life.” The children came, introducing themselves again, before they started running around in the room again.
The old woman stood up. “I don’t need you to introduce myself, son. I’m not too old for this!” The man laughed. “I’m Erika, the good soul of this house.” She smiled, as she stroked the hair of Karla.
Then the young men came closer. The first,packed with muscles, smiled at her. “I’m Aleksandr. Pleased to meet you, girl. Hope you get well soon!”
The other one was a bit smaller and not as muscular and stuttered a bit as he introduced himself. “I...I’m Michail. I work here. Get well soon, y...you hear?” Klara smiled at him and nodded again.
Then the man started again. “Ok, if you’re finished now...My Name is Leo. I’m the owner of this farm. And I offer you to stay here as long as you want. Once you feel better, you can surely help us. But for now, how about you introduce yourself? What is a girl like you doing out in the cold at this time of the year?”
Karla gulped before she started to answer in a weak and low voice. “My name is Karla. I’m all alone. My...my parents...” Her eyes filled with tears as she started sobbing. “They...they died. They died, sacrificing themselves for me. They froze to death, out in the wild. They gave everything for me…” She started crying as the memories filled her head with pain. Anna sat down next to her and embraced her.
“I’m so sorry, Karla. We’re all sorry to hear that. As Leo said, you may stay with us as long as you want to. First, we’re going to make sure you’re back to health, and then you can work here. We’ll make sure everything will be fine.” Karla put her head on Anna’s shoulder and cried everything out, she cried and cried until everything started to go numb. Then, she layed down again and fell asleep, with tears still filling her eyes.
Chapter 2: A nice Life on the Farm
The next days were hard on her. Recovering from the hardships of three days out in the cold and nothing to eat had taken their toll on her. And even though the family was good to her, all she thought about were her parents. Their death, their sacrifice. The injustice of the world. They, who had nothing, never had the chance to earn anything, and this led to their death. On the other hand, the people owning more than enough accumulated more and more wealth, sitting in their palaces, safe from the hardships of the freezing winter.
On the third day, she was strong enough to walk around. She wasn’t able to do much else, but she did stand up and walked to the table and back. And the whole family stood there and cheered. Karla smiled. At this moment, she knew, she was now a part of this family. She sat down at the table and kissed the beartooth hanging around her neck. She softly whispered “Father, Mother, I’ll never forget you. And I thank you that you have led me here, even from your icy tomb out in the wild. I love you.”
The following week, she was strong enough to help in the household. She helped cutting the flesh and the vegetables to add to the stew, she even sweeped the house once. It was a good feeling, giving something back to family that saved her life. And with each passing day, her bond to them grew a bit stronger.
In this fashion moons passed. The nights started getting shorter and the days longer. The sun started heating up the land, and a wind from the south brought some warmth with it. The snow on the fields of the farm started to melt, and it was time to work the land. At this time, Karla was more than just an orphan the family watched over. She now was a true part of the family, and as such, she started going to work the first day it was possible. The wheat that was grown during the cold moons was harvested, and new seeds were brought out. Karla was not as efficient in doing all this as the two farmhands were, and not even close to Leo’s speed and efficiency. But she did something. Even though it was only a fraction of the work, it still took some weight from the shoulders of the family. And Karla went to bed with a big smile. She worked the land, readying it to feed the family. It was a feeling she swore never to forget.
And she realized another thing working out on the fields. Aleksandr was the better farmhand. He worked hard, ensuring he did not miss anything to do. Michail, on the other hand, worked the land because it was nature. She saw him more than once just looking to the sun, smiling as the rays warmed his face. He stopped to listen to the sing of the birds. He helped her harvesting the wheat, he helped her finding the right rhythm to bring out the seeds. Thinking about his hands grabbing her arms and showing her the right movements to throw out the seeds filled Karla with warmth.
Erika nudged Karla. “Hey, sweetheart! No time to think about whatever you are thinking about! The plates will not clean themselves!” Karla had completely forgotten where she was. She had stood in the kitchen. Dinner was eaten, Anna was bringing the children to bed. Leo, Michail and Aleksandr sat in the living room, drinking some kind of alcohol, destilled out of the wheat. And she and Erika where cleaning the dishes. “Now come on! If you keep up that speed, I’m dead before I dried off the last of these plates!”
Karla blushed a bit. “Oh, yes, sorry, Erika.” She gulped and got back to work. She did now only concentrate on cleaning the dishes so good, that not even the slightest hint of a stain would remain.
Erika laughed as she dried off the plates. “How I miss being young again. Oh, I can ensure you, there’s nothing like the first love rising up in your heart! I’d give everything to feel this feeling again! But I lived my days, I gave birth to an amazing son. My life has been everything I could have hoped for.” She smiled at Karla, but she did not answer. She was wondering, how Erika did know what was going on in her.
Days became weeks, weeks became moons. During the days, Karla helped out on the fields, at the evenings, she helped cooking and cleaning. She spend most of her little free time playing with the children. Viktor and Vladimir were nice to her, even though they liked pranking everybody around the farm. But Natalya was a real sweetheart. She showed Karla her dolls, made by Anna. They played with them, Karla told Natalya about the beautiful days at the streets, Natalya showed Karla how to knit. It wasn’t very good, but Karla appreciated every second of it. She realized that she never had this kind of a childhood. In hindsight, she missed not being able to play silly games with siblings and living a life free of sorrows, but on the other hand, she was happy and thankful that she was born to her real parents. For nothing on this world she would have forgot the beautiful times with her parents.
Her relationship with Michail was something else. She never approached him. She had not even the slightest clue of how to start a conversation with him, and she wasn’t daring enough to ask either Erika or Anna. So she admired him and his ways from afar, each day telling herself that she would talk to him the next day.
As the cold winds started to reclaim the land again for another winter, it was time to say good bye to Aleksandr. It was his twenty-first winter, and during his trips to town to sell the goods of the farm, he started a relationship with the daughter of a merchant. This relationship had went on for two moons, and the father offered him a place in the family business. He had only stayed at the farm until winter because he felt that he had to pay off his debt to Leo. Saying goodbye to him was a hard day for all of them. He had been part of the family for four years, and even for Karla, he had been something like a brother. Not the most caring brother, but still somebody ho shared a bond with her.
This evening, the living room was mostly silent. Leo started drinking early, even before dinner was served. The last harvest of the year was brought in and the new seeds were planted. He now had some moons to find a new farmhand. Because even though Karla started getting better and more muscular, mostly thanks to Michail, she was in no way able to take the part of Aleksandr. She helped where she could, but she still was not strong enough to flail the wheats like she would had to. Her main focus was the household, where she helped Anna and Erika with everything.
Some days later, Leo had decided that his sons were old enough to work real work at the farm. They had watched the men working the fields during the last summer, and with this being their tenth winter, they were old enough. This would mean a complete change for them, from being childish and free to having to be mature, to an extent, and working on clear times of the day.
As winter went on, the deathday of Karla’s parents drew closer. She got very silent during this time, some days crying herself to sleep in the little room she had gotten earlier this year. She again realized how much she still missed them, hearing their laughter, their voices. And the family understood what went on in her and left her much free space. During this time, she build a little memorial from wood for her parents, with help from Michail. After it was finished, they both stood there, looking at the finished work. Karla cried as Michail started singing a song for the dead. His voice was clear, with a hint of sadness. As the song traveled over the fields, Karla wasn’t able to do anything else than crying and listening. Not even a single thought went through her head.
When the song ended, Karla rested her head against Michail’s shoulder. “Thank you, Michail. This meant much for me.” She smiled while looking at his face.
“No problem, Karla. After all, you’re my little sister now!” He ruffled through Karla’s long, golden, curly hair. “And it was an honor for me helping you build the memorial for your parents. The dead have to be remembered, because they live on as long as the memory of them does. As long as they are in somebodies heart, they are still here.” He smiled back at Karla.
But Karla’s smile crumbled inside of her. She kept it up, but his words washed away the happiness she had just felt. ‘you’re my little sister now!’ She should have expected this. She was like a sister for him. There was no possibility he would even THINK about starting a relationship with her. She sighed and let the smile fade slowly. “Thanks again, Michail. For everything. But I have to help Erika in the kitchen.” She turned away, leaving Michail out in the cold. He looked after her, a bit confused, before he followed her back to the house.
The next two years were pretty boring. Nothing special happened, just harvesting, seeding and harvesting again. The seasons came and went, and Karla started to completely accept the life of a farmer. It was nothing big, but still important. Nothing changed.
Then there came the night when Kosul’s fields were drenched in blood.
Chapter 3: Blood-red night
Winter again started to stretch out its claws to claim Kosul. The last crops were harvested, the last winter-seeds brought out. The family started to huddle around the warmth of the hearth, and a pot of stew hung above the fire. It would be refilled every day with new ingredients, so that there would always be some warm food for the case that wanderers or other guests would knock on the door. It was a tradition in the cold moons.
It was a cold night. Karla, Leo and Michail were the last ones awake, with a glass of alcohol and playing a game of cards. Karla was not very good, but as the evening went on, the men drank more and more, and she started winning. They didn’t play for money or anything, just for fun.
It knocked at the door. As the last kinda sober person, Karla stood up and opened the door. Whoever knocked this late in a night like this would surely need some warm stew. She smiled as she remembered that almost three years ago, she was the person knocking at this door, starved and freezing. Maybe, it was now her turn to give the same thing back to the world. “Coming!” She shouted, and opened the lock at the door..
As the lock clicked, telling everybody near to it that it was open, the door was opened forcefully. Some men clad in armor and pelts shoved Karla away. “We’re here in the name of Oren Yushkov! He needs every man able to wield a weapon!” The man speaking, a scarred man of about thirty years, started to muster Karla. “And you would surely make for a fine wife for one of his loyal soldiers. The new Oren is generous.” He licked his lips, and Karla nearly vomited.
Leo, with eyes clearer as Karla expected, came out of the living room. “Go away! We are a family of simple farmers! We have nothing to do with the Oren! And as far as I know, the Oren is not named Yushkov. And even if he had died, his daughter Svetya would be his successor. So, tell us...” He wasn’t able to finish his sentence, as a punch in the guts stopped him. “I said Oren YUSHKOV! Are you deaf? The old Oren was a coward! And his daughter even more so! They fled when they should have fought! And the girl even fled after her family was killed! I serve the true Oren! The one who will make Kosul great again!”
The soldiers swarmed out inside the house. The rest of the family was awakened as they entered the rooms. One of the soldiers came back, carrying the two boys. “Sir, these two should make fine additions!” Another one came from the living room, poking Michail with his sword. “And look at the muscles this one has! He’ll be quite the soldier, don’t you think?” Leo was still writhing in pain on the floor, but Anna took a step forwards. “You won’t take our boys with you!” She stormed forward, clawing at the soldiers with her fingers. “You won’t take them to send them to their deaths!” Erika stood behind her, quietly embracing Natalya. Karla cracked her knuckles.
The soldiers started to laugh. “What’re you gonna do, girls? Fighting against us, clad in armor? Just stay still, and we promise, we won’t hurt you. Unless you WANT us to hurt you.” More of the soldiers started looking at them and licking their lips.
At this moment, Leo recovered. Silently, he stood up and grabbed a small table. “Noone dares looking at my wife and my daughters like THAT!” He swung the table, hitting on of the soldiers at the head. The soldiers grabbed at Leo’s arm, before he started tumbling and fell to the floor. “You won’t get anyone of us. We have no problem with the Oren, but we...” Again, he was interrupted. This time not by getting punched, but by getting a sword stabbed into his stomach. With a perplex expression in his face, he coughed, spitting Blood all over the armor of the soldier standing in front of him.
“You dirty Bastard! Nobody dares attacking the soldiers of the Oren!” He pulled his blade out of Leo and cleaned it with Leo’s clothes, before Leo fell forward to the ground, still coughing and holding his stomach.
Anna screamed, as did Karla. They started hitting the soldiers with their fists, but they just kept laughing. They chained up the boys and carried them outside. “We’ll come back for you, girls! We like it when our women have some fire!”
Anna broke into tears, kneeling besides her husband. “Leo, please, Leo, no...” she just kept murmuring, his head on her lap, stroking his hair. “Please, don’t go. I need you...I need you...” Karla on the other side still watched the soldiers. Once again, the Oren was responsible for the death of people she loved. Against the last one, she wasn’t able to do anything. But today, that she swore to herself, was the last day the Orens would live in peace.
They all didn’t sleep this night. They just sat in the living room, crying their hearts out. They didn’t eat anything for the next day. When the second day dawned, Karla heard a cry. She ran out of her chamber...just to see Anna hanging there. It seemed like everything had been to much for her. She fled from this life into the next, reuniting with her husband. Natalya came out of her room too, and as soon as she saw her mother, swinging lightly from one side to the other, the started crying.
Karla was wondering, where Erika was. She didn’t hear anything from the old lady. So she entered her room, and saw her lying in her bed. With bad foreboding, she touched Erika’s forehead. Cold as the night. Karla closed her eyes, the tears flowing out. Natalya now was the last part of her family she had. She left the room and shook Natalya, still screaming. “Natalya! Natalya! Little one! We have to pack up our clothings! We have to leave. If we stay here, we will die!” The girls seemed to understand. Crying, she went back to her room. Karla packed her things into her backpack, together with a lot of food and something to drink. They would need to find somewhere to stay.
Chapter 4: Reunited?
The girls wandered through the icy forests of Kosul for days. The winter came faster than expected, and more than once Karla feared that she or Natalya wouldn’t survive the next night. They didn’t eat much, so that what they took with them would be enough for the travel to the next big city, the city of the Orens, Korovyat. It would be the place where Karla would start fighting against the oppressors. The place where she started her new life. She smiled a grim smile while she gave Natalya the last piece of flesh they had. If they wouldn’t reach Korovyat during the next two days, everything would’ve been in vain. But if they should make it, Aleksandr would surely take care of them for some time. That was something Karla was sure about.
The next morning was the first time they had luck. A merchant was driving along the road with his cart when he saw the two girls, nearly starved down to only their skeletons, slowly walking in the same direction he was driving. With a warm smile he offered them a ride to the City and some food that he could spare. Natalya started crying, but Karla gave him a warm smile. She wasn’t able to cry anymore. And that evening, they camped in sight of the City. Tomorrow, they would be there. Safe from the hardships of the Kosulian wilds during winter. Karla’s heart got warm once again.
The next morning, they woke up early, ready to enter the city at first light. Over night, more carts had arrived and camped in front of the gates of the City, and the merchant wanted to be one of the firsts to enter. About half an hour later they passed the guards at the gates, and another smile crawled across Karla’s face. She entered the capital of the enemy with no problems. They didn’t expect the slightest thing. And their doom would come silently over them.
With a warm hug and some of their few coins they said goodbye to the merchant. Karla was sure she’d never forget him. Not after what he did for them. But now they had to find Aleksandr. They had no clue where he exactly lived, but today was market, so they could search for him at the market. She took Natalya’s hand and asked the first person coming into sight if he’d know a former farmer now merchant called Aleksandr. The young man didn’t know anything.
They searched for nearly the whole day. It started getting dark, and Karla had almost lost her hope. Only Natalya kept her going with her fresh hope. Karla smiled and asked an old man who was just closing his market-stand. The man looked at her with a questioning look. “Why are you asking, girl? Are you related to him?” Karla’s heart jumped up, and she nodded her head. “Aye! I grew up with him on Leo’s farm!” Then she got silent. “I have to tell him some really bad news about it.”
The man nodded slowly. “If you help me closing my stand, I’ll take you back home with me so that you may speak with my son-in-law.” Karla smiled and laughed and started helping the old man. Natalya just watched them, but she started laughing too. It filled Karla’s heart with joy and warmth to hear the little girl laugh like that.
About an hour later, they came to a small house. It wasn’t bigger than the farm-house of Leo, but suddenly, it seemed to be as big as a palace to Karla. She pulled the small cart of the merchant, holding pottery. A young woman came out of the house, greeting them happily. “Hello father! How did it go today?!” She yelled some meters before she reached them. Then she stopped, looking at the two girls. “And who are these girls? They look like ghosts! Dirty ghosts! I told you often enough, father, we don’t have enough to feed beggars every day!” Behind her, a big silhouette came through the door.
“Karla? Natalya? What are you two doing here?” Aleksandr shouted with joy. “And why are you alone here? Are Leo and Michail waiting somewhere to surprise me?” He took Natalya and sat her upon his shoulder, but as Karla’s smile started to fade, so did his. “Karla, what’s up? Where are they?”
Karla took his hand and sighed with sadness. “Aleksandr. Leo, Anna and Erika, they are...they are dead. Soldiers sent by the new Oren killed Leo, Erika died from grief the night after, and Anna…” she started crying a bit. “She couldn’t life without Leo or the boys. Her precious boys, taken by the soldiers to be trained as soldiers themselves.” She felt Aleksandr’s hand clenching around hers.
“They...they did what?!” She looked into his eyes, filled with tears of rage. He sat Natalya back onto the ground, his muscles shivering in rage. “These dirty bastards! That’s not what Yushkov wants! He wants a new, a stronger Kosul, but also a united Kosul!”
Karla’s jaw dropped a bit open. Aleksandr was a supporter of the Oren? After all she told him? When he knew that she lost her parents because of the system, and now her new family? She backed away a bit, letting go of Aleksandr’s hand. She knew that she couldn’t watch out for Natalya, not here, not when she did what she came here to do. “I...I have to go, search for some other friends of mine. Please, watch out for Natalya. She’s all alone now.” Before someone could stop her, she turned away and ran into the darkness. She made only some hundred meters when she realized that she still had nowhere near enough money and nothing to eat. She cursed herself, but going back was no possibility. Not now, not when Aleksandr was a supporter of the enemy. She cried quietly as she marched on through the icy night. She had to find a place to stay, or she may she the fate of her parents. But Whenever she knocked at a door, she was turned away. Nobody wanted to help a little beggar-girl in the dark moons, when food was short for most of them.
As the sun started slowly rising, she wasn’t able to go any further. The last days finally took their toll, and she sat down in a corner. She laid her head against the wall behind her and fell into sleep.
Chapter 5: A friendly face
Karla woke up when something hit her head. “Oy! Little missy, time to stand up! We don’t like people sleeping on the streets here!” a deep voice shouted at her. Slowly, she opened up her eyes, looking into the bearded face of a Kosulian Soldier. He had hit her with the shaft of his spear, and he looked at her angrily. “Never seen a soldier in your life, eh, little missy? You’re gonna see a lot more of us if you don’t stand up now! Sleeping on the main street will bring you to the jail sooner than a girl like you should end there.”
Karla stood up. Her back hurt, she smelled and she felt all the dirt on her skin. “Ah, fuck off. I only took a little nap!” She shook her head, spat out and started walking away. The soldier grabbed her at the arm.
“Girl, you’re lucky I’m one of the nice guards. I have served under the old Oren, and I kept some dignity even though I serve Yushkov now. But for what you did there, I could have beaten you up and thrown into prison. So, watch out!” Karla was tired, so she just murmured an apology and went away. The soldier shook his head. “One more girl for the gutter. Poor little girl...”
Karla lived the day on the streets, begging for and stealing food. Not much, just enough to survive. She didn’t find a place to stay, and her pride kept her from going back to Aleksandr. But she didn’t know if she would survive another night out on the streets. She asked one person after another, but nobody would let her sleep in their house, not even a single night.
Depressed, she sat down in a lonely street, where no light from the lanterns shone. It must’ve been around midnight, when she saw a person sneak past her, just to stop a few steps further. The person turned around and looked into the shadow Karla was hiding in. Karla held her breath. The other person slowly walked back to her, and reached her a hand. “Stand up, girl! The streets are too cold to sleep in during this time of the year!” It was the voice of a man, wearing the green robes of a priest. “Sol’s light doesn’t have the warmth now as it has in summer. But I know of a place where you can sleep warm and safe. Come with me.”
Karla thought about it. He could also be a thief or worse, trying to get her into his house. But he was right, the streets were too cold. “Alright. But don’t you dare trying something strange!” The priest laughed as Karla grabbed his hand.
“I promise, I would never force you to do anything you don’t want.” He smiled at her, and Karla just could not doubt his words. So she let him help her up and started following him on his way. They came closer and closer to the walls of the city, and Karla started to rethink her choice. But now it would have been too late, so she just followed him further. As they reached a small door in the wall, a soldier stopped them.
“Who goes there, deep in middle of the night?” he asked with a deep, raspy voice. “Nobody is allowed to leave the city that late.” He looked firmly at them. But the priest remained calm. “Ah, Joseph! It’s me, Andrik. I have a girl with me who needs a place to rest her head safely.”
The soldier, Joseph, nodded. “Are you sure she’s alright? Did you check her? Or are you inviting our doom into our home?” He lowered his spear, and Karla made a step backwards, her eyes fixed at the head of the spear, glimmering in the light of the moon and the stars.
“No problem, Joseph. I saw her and her little sister coming to town yesterday, alone. And if she would be one of them, would she look like a walking corpse? She looks like she didn’t eat for days! And I’m not going to reveal everything to her, just giving her a place to sleep.” The priest reached for the door.
The soldier nodded, and opened the door with his key. “But if he invades us tomorrow, we know who is responsible for it.” Still looking grim, he let them pass.
Karla was stunned a bit. “Are you famous here, Andrik?” She pronounced the last word a bit, to show that she was a bit confused that he didn’t care to tell her his name. “Or why does a soldier of the Oren let you pass, even though it’s forbidden?”
The Priest laughed a bit. “No, little one.” He pronounced the last words to show her that he still didn’t know her name. “Only few people in Korovyat know my name, and none of them are supporters of Yushkov. But what’s about you, why are you here? And where is your sister?”
Karla smiled a sad smile. “First, my name is Karla, and Natalya’s not my sister. She the daughter of my foster father. No, she WAS the daughter of him. He’s dead. Killed by the soldiers of Yushkov. His mother and wife died shortly after, his sons were taken by the murderers. Only one of his former farmhands still lives, here in Korovyat. Natalya’s with him, but...he is a supporter of Yushkov.” Some tears started running down her cheeks. “My real parents died years ago out in the cold. I’m all alone again, and all due to the Orens. I’m here to pay them back.”
Andrik smiled at her as he dried her tears. “Then you’re at the right place.” He stopped walking and pointed towards a cave. “Come in. It’s warm and cozy, and there are more like you.” He stepped into the cave, and Karla followed him, a strange feeling in her stomach.
Chapter 6: A warm welcome
The small cave which Karla and Andrik entered was enlightened by some torches, and in the back was a small entrance deeper into the caverns. Karla looked around in the first cave, until two men came out of the shadows right behind the entrance through which they entered in the first place. The men pointed spears at her.
"Andrik? Who is this? Why are you bringing a stranger into our hideout?" One of them shouted, the other one poked her lightly with his spear. Before Andrik could answer, Karla shoved the spear away from her. "He picked me up on the streets. He wanted to help me. But if I understand correctly, you're the people that will really help me. I want to help to fight against the Oren. His soldiers killed and abducted my family."
The two men started laughing, but Andrik smiled. The one who spoke first reached her his hand. "Well, we're going to see if you can do something for us, girl. You don't look as if you fought much in your life. What CAN you do?"
Karla clenched her fist. "I lived my life at a farm. I worked hard, and I survived the cold and freezing winters. When my parents died, it was my fifteenth winter, I survived three days out in the wildness. I was saved by a farmer and his family. When Yushkov's soldiers killed them, I survived another two days out in the cold, together with my little sister. What did you do to survive in the cold? Did you fight for yourself or did you sit them through in a warm house?"
The men stared at her, then they laughed again, but it was a warm and welcoming laughter. "Andrik, this girl has got some fire! We could need more of them!" Andrik himself smiled too as he took Karla's hand and went deeper into the cavern, through the other entrance.
The next cavern was bigger. And warmer. A lot of forges were standing around and some people were forging weapons, even now, in the middle of the night. Not just humans, but she also saw some Onis and Minotaurs here. Swords, axes, hammers and even some guns were produced here. She stared a bit, before she took up one of the hammers and weighted it in her hand. It was heavy, but not too heavy for her to swing it around for a bit. A minotaur looked at her. "Hey, girl! Ya sure ya know how to fight with tha'? A hammer ain't as easy ta wield as ya might fink!" He took the hammer out of her hands. "An' it ain't a toy fer lil' girls tae swing around!"
Karla smiled. "Hey, big one. I haven't fought in my life yet, but I would be happy to learn something about it, especially from someone who seems as skilled as you." The minotaur laughed and hit her on the back. "Ye've got tha rite spirit, lass. Maybe I'll show ya how ta handle tha big hammer someday, but now I've got tae get back ta work!" He smiled at her while he put down the warhammer and got back to working at the forge.
Andrik had listened to the small conversation. "Come now, Karla. Time for you to meet our leader, the Fox. She's always happy to meet some new recruits to the cause." Karla nodded and followed him to another cavern. This one was smaller, big enough for a bed and a table made out of three casks and a wooden board. There she sat, the Fox. "Ah, Andrik, you are back! And I see, you brought someone with you! Hello there, girl. Welcome to the rebellion, I'd say. What's your name?"
Karla bowed in front of what seemed to be the leader of the rebels. "My name is Karla. I lost all what I called family due to the Orens. It's time to fight back, to get my revenge on them."
The Fox laughed. "That's the spirit, Karla! And you don't need to bow down in front of me. I may be the leader of this troupe, but we are all the same here! Heck, it's more likely that you'd have to bow before our little priest here!" She pointed at Andrik. "But we all gave up our old selves here. No matter if you are a butcher, a soldier or a peasant, we're all the people of Kosul! Now, go to the sleeping cavern, search for a free bed, and get some sleep. It's deep in the night, and you look like you could need some really good rest. Andrik, you stay here, we have some things to discuss."
Karla smiled as she left the room. She was greeted with so much warmth here, it remembered her about the time when she reached the farm of Leo. It was like a family, bonded by their fight against the Oren.
She passed two more cavern before she reached the living quarters of the cave complex. Some people were still awake, playing some games of cards or dice and drinking some ale or liquor. She didn't think about sleeping now. It has been an exciting evening, and she wanted to make some new friends here before she went to sleep. So she joined a small group of men who played a game of dice. "Hey, can I join you?" She asked.
The men looked up to her and smiled. "No problem, lass, take a seat, grab some ale, and join in!" She did as they said. "What's your name, lass?" One of them asked.
"I'm Karla. I just came here." She replied, nipping at the ale. It wasn't the best she drank, a bit too watery, but she was sure that they wouldn't have nearly enough ale for all of them if they drank it pure. And it wasn't so bad that she wouldn't drink it. She took the dice and started playing.
Two hours later, she left them, tired but smiling. It was a nice feeling being part of such a group. She still smiled as she fell asleep on her new bed, not more than a small pile of hay with a sheep's pelt, but it felt better than any bed she had slept on before.
Chapter 7: Downwards
Although the life of a rebel was hard on her, she started to really like it. The days flew by, and she more and more became a part of the rebellion. She learned how to wield a hammer, how to repair a damaged armor and more. She made many friends, and trained harder and harder, trying to become an important part of the group. They sabotaged some smaller traderoutes, trying to cut off the support of Korovyat. They stayed hidden, just sabotaging the streets at night. Nobody ever saw one of them, as they changed their targets every night. Some more people joined them as they saw that the Oren was not able to keep the city safely supported. Hunger and unhappiness started spreading. But as the unhappiness spreaded, so did the resistance against the rebels. More and more people started speaking against them. Karla was one of the rebels going in and out of the city to buy the needed supplies, and the longer the sabotages plagued the city, the more armed, simple people did she see, and most of them were talking about the resistance.
One night, things started going downwards. A militia had formed and protected the streets leading to Korovyat. While the rebels managed to dodge them, this night, a patrol surprised them when they were destroying the pavement of the street.
"Hey! What are you doing there?!" A man shouted towards the rebels, and Karla, part of this nights sabotage team, raised her head in shock, as did most of them. They didn't hear or see anyone approaching, and yet, there they were, about a dozen men, armed with simple weapons, most of them tools like hatchets, smithing hammers or pitchforks. The rebels were fewer in number, only eight, but their weapons were real tools of war, swords, warhammers, axes, spears and even a gun. The man who started speaking continued, angrily. "You are the ones responsible for the hunger in the city! You are not fighting for the people! You are the real threat to them! The Oren protects us as good as he can. Surrender, or we have no choice but to kill you!"
Some of the rebels started laughing while they drew their weapons, the rest was dead silent, while still doing the same. "Go home, old man. Pretend you haven't seen anything. Yushkov will fall. He is an usurper, the crown on his head is not his to wear. But if you fight against us, you will die. We are trained in using our weapons. You are untrained and wielding tools. You have not a single chance against us." one of the rebels said. "But if you leave now, we won't hurt you, we promise."
Now it was the turn of the militia-men to laugh, but Karla heard a bit of unsecurity in some of the laughs. "We are the people of Kosul! You rebels won't succeed in defeating the people. You will fall, as does any threat to Kosul." The man turned around and raised his heavy hatchet. "Militia of Korovyat, CHARGE!" The men raised their weapons and yelled a warcry, before they started running towards the rebels.
Karla's heart skipped a beat. She had trained fighting day after day, but she never fought a real fight. Now it was her time to show the world she was able to fight for herself and all she stood for. She raised her warhammer up, ready to break bones. A shot from the gun rang out through the night, and the leader of the militia fell to the ground as the bullet had pierced through his chest. He coughed and spat blood. Then the militia-men reached the lines of the rebels. The gunslinger dropped his gun to draw a shortsword, and the real fight began.
The adrenaline flooded through Karla as she swung her weapon again and again. A young man, who had maybe seen his seventeenth summer, tried to attack her with a butcher's hatchet. She dodged his blow while swinging the pointy end of her weapon towards his head. The attacker wasn't fast enough, and even though he tried ducking beneath the horizontal swing, the spike pierced his head right above the temple, only to then split the head wide open as more and more of the spike entered the head. The young man didn't even manage to cry out or anything, he just collapsed in front of Karla. But she didn't get any possibility to think about waht she had just done, as another man attacked her.
On her right side, a minotaur swung his double-handed axe, splitting one of the militia-men's head. An Oni Cut another one down with a single blow of his masterfully crafted blade. On her left side, a young rebel, armed with a simple Sword, fell to the pike of a militia-man. Seeing themselves still outnumbered, the rebes formed a circle, with Karla, the Minotaur, the Oni and two sword-wielding men on the outer side, and the two spear-wielders in the middle.They fought on and on. The gunslinger got cut down by a hatchet, but after about twenty minutes, eight of the militia-men were dead, the rest had fled. The rebels breathed heavily, all of them wounded, blood seeping down their clothes. They picked up their tools and fallen comrades and made their way back to the hideout, as they were sure more militia-men would show up, informed by the fleeing enemies, and they wouldn't survive another fight against the reinforcements.
As they arrived at the hideout, the guards helped them carrying the dead comrades inside, and soon afterwards, the Fox showed up. "I heard what happened. I mourn the death of our friends. They died doing the right thing."
The Oni stepped forward. "You think so, Fox? I have SEEN the people in the city! They are starving! I did not sign up to fight against the people! How many soldiers have we killed by starving the city? NONE! Only the poor are dying! The people are fighting against us! How are we supposed to save them, if we have to KILL them? No, this resistance is not mine anymore. I will leave you. I won't work against you, but I will not support this ANY longer!" Murmuring among the rebels started, some agreeing with the Oni as he turned around and left the caves.
The Fox nodded towards one of the guards who followed the Oni outside. A short time afterwards, a shot rang through the night, accompanied by the cry of the Oni. "You all know the secrets of this hideout. Anyone who leaves us is a danger to our security and secrecy. We can't let anyone leave us. So, are there any more among you not confident with what we do?" Not a single one of them moved a single bit. "Noone? Fine. Let's continue planning then." The Fox turned around, intending to leave, as Karla spoke up.
"Fox. We are not too far away from the city. The militia will know we're out here, and they will search for us. We need a hideout farther away from the city. To find this should be our first and foremost goal right now, and then we can continue what we do." The Fox turned around, looking into Karla's face.
"Alright. I know a place where we can hide. It was once property of my family. Get all your stuff ready, tomorrow, we will move there. Try to get some sleep, everybody. There's much work coming for us."
Chapter 8: A new place, a new face
They moved to their new location the following morning. Karla expected some form of old farm, nearly worn down by time. Instead, they found a nearly intact mansion. Judging by the looks, it was used just a few years ago. Some weeds started growing on the place, dust had settled everywhere, but most statues where intact, as was the house itself. Karla started wondering to what kind of family the Fox had belonged. But she didn't care, as the Fox was fighting for the righteous cause, no matter if she was a noble or a peasant.
They rebuild their forges around the house and stored their food and other belongings inside. It was far enough away from any used streets so that they wouldn't be found easily, but close enough to some important traderoutes for them to continue their nightly activities. The first night, they didn't go out, because they all were pretty exhausted from moving their stuff. They slept inside the old main hall, they used the old kitchen. Even though they were exhausted, they were in good spirits, and so they drank and celebrated, played cards and dice.
Karla sat outside of the mansion, deep in her thoughts. She had a mug full of ale in her hands and was enjoying the cold and clear night. Her life had been full of losses. She never had the possibility to fight for those important to her. Now, finally, she was part of something. Something big, something that would make a difference for everyone in Kosul, maybe even outside of it. She liked the thought of following generations remembering all their names. She sat there until the first rays of sunlight broke through the surrounding forest, then she went to bed. Most of the other rebels were already sleeping and snoring, the smell of alcohol was omnipresent.
The next day was back to business. Karla was woken up by the sound of hammers hitting ambosses and steel. The first weapons clashed in training, and she knew, it was time to stand up. The world wouldn't change itself. When the night fell, it was time to raid the surrounding traderoutes.
Even though they were further away from Korovyat now, it didn't take long for the militiamen to find their usual hunting grounds. The merchants got more and more careful, hiring mercenaries to protect them on their way to the city. More and more fights were the consequence. Karla did take part in many of them, earning the respect of her fellow rebels. She started to understand that changing the world meant erasing all resistance. She spared those who didn't fight against them, but everyone drawing their weapon against them was their enemy. So Karla trained harder and harder. She had lost too much in her life to be able to let others fight her fights now. She had to stand up for what she believed in, and she believed in the Fox.
She didn't earn only the respect of the normal rebels. Even the Fox started paying her respects due to her immovable ideals. But as time went on, Karla got more and more into fights with her comrades who weren't as radical in their beliefs as she was. She just couldn't understand people trying to drive away Yushkov just for another tyrant to take over. Nobody should stand above the people of Kosul, and nobody should stand beneath it.
This conviction of her went so far that the Fox gave her the orders to execute traitors. Karla understood that they couldn't allow anyono to go back to Korovyat. The risks were too high. Whoever went away was her prey. She hunted them down with bow and hammer. The forests became her home.
One day, Andrik vanished. He had gone to try and convert some people in the smaller villages to their cause, and he didn't return for days. They expected him to be away for two days, maybe three, depending on the weather. But when he didn't return on the sixth day, Karla and some other set out to find him. They disguised as simple merchants, trying to sell low-quality wares. In each village they entered they asked about the priest, but they all told them he had moved on when nobody wanted to join his cause.
It took them three days to find the priest. He was standing atop a stake, people all around him holding torches and pitchforks, screaming at him, calling him a traitor to the Orens. One of them was waving a torch, holding it against the stake again and again, but the sparks didn't catch. Angrily, he shouted at Andrik. "Give yourself up to the truth, heretic, and Yushkovs seer may grant you mercy."
The Priest smiled. "Then come, light your pyre. I won't tell that madman where the Fox is." He closed his eyes, ready to be burned for his convictions. Karla had to hold herself back. They were a group of four people, but the people standing there were almost two dozen! They had no chance to rescue the priest. But someone else had. Just as Karla cursed herself for not taking more rebels with her, a young woman, riding on a white bear approached the crowd. On her side rode a young man, handsome, with fierce eyes that seemed to have seen all this before. In the distance, Karla could see more people, a lot more people, standing, waiting. The girl was definitely Kosulian, judging from her clothes a noble from a wealthy family. But the man wore clothes Karla had seen very seldom in Kosul. Some of the rebels wore similar clothing, as did a few of the merchants she had met in her life. This man was from across the borders, that was clear to her.
The young woman on the bear turned to her companion. "Did you hear that? We have to stop that!" she said, her eyes were filled with disgust of these people.
The man riding at her side leaned over to her. His eyes were full of wisdom, something not seen much in the eyes of young men. He seemed to have seen things like this happen too often. "These a your people, Svetya. Remind them of that." He folded his hands, waiting for her to react.
And she did react. She led her mount towards the crowd and stopped just about two meters away from them. She sat upright, her body under tension, and something majestetic in her look. Then she shouted: "I am Svetya Katarina Stormhalt-Kurtz, rightful Orene of Kosul I command you: Put down that torch!"
The man with the torch turned to her. He chuckled, pouring some more oil over the wood. "Not a chance...girl!" He looked at his companions, then he gave them a sign. Pitchforks were raised, as were swords and other weapons, both improvised and martial. They formed something resembling ranks, then they charged.
Karla already saw the body of the young girl pierced by those weapons. She closed her eyes, expecting her deathcries. Instead, she heard more running, the growl of the bear...and the clashing of weapons. Shots rang out, people cried in pain and death. Karla opened her eyes and saw how these foreign people formed a real army in a matter of seconds. She watched in awe. That was something she wished to achieve with her group. The foreigners slaughtered the crowd. Only a few of them were injured, and only a single foreigner was killed in this whole fight. The Kosulian crowd was shattered and slain.
The girl dismounted from her bear and freed Andrik. With a warm look she gave him some water. "Are you part of the resistance, friend?" she asked nicely.
The priest drank a bit of the water while massaging his wrists. He nodded thankfully. "I am no fighter, but I do what I can to bring comfort to those who suffer under Yushkov. If you are who you claim to be, then you must come with me." Karla sighed. She too had heard what the girl shouted. She was a descendant of the old Oren. She too was one of the oppressors. And Andrik had invited her to the resistance. She feared the worst. With a sign she told her squad to fall back. They had to reach their hideout before this girl did. She looked back a last time, her eyes resting at that rider. He really was handsome.
Chapter 9: The Final Chapter
Karla and her group reached the hideout of the resistance in a bit more than one day. The news of them returning without Andrik had spread like a wildfire in the camp, and the Fox welcomed them shortly afterwards in her planning room.
She looked at them, and Karla meant she saw something like fear in her eyes. "So, you have returned without Andrik. What happened to him. Is he dead?" Karla shook her head. "Phew. That's good to hear. But what then? Is he imprisoned? Was he captured by Yushkov's men? Then it's only a matter of time until they kill him." Karla again shook her head, this time a bit more reluctantly. "Ok, so what's up? Tell me!"
Karla sighed. "Fox, there is a new threat. An army from across the borders. They rescued Andrik from an angry mob that wanted to burn him. They are led by a girl who claims to be the 'rightful Orene of Kosul'. Ha, there's nothing like a 'rightful Orene'! Whoever claims that is an enemy of the Kosulian people!" She laughed a bit. "But Andrik is leading them here. He seems to believe her. I can't believe that he fell for something like that."
The Fox looked at her with wide eyes. "Did the girl say anything else about herself? Describe her to me!" Her hands were shaking a bit.
Karla was surprised. "I wasn't really able to see her. A red scarf around her head. She rode a white bear, and what a bear it was! An amazing specimen!" The Fox's hands were clawing at the table. "Oh, and she called herself 'Svetya Katarina Stormhalt-Kurtz'. As if anyone of that family survived Yushkov's slaughter. I heard about it. Everyone at the palace was killed, and all who tried to flee were hunted down and killed too. She's nothing but an imposter."
The Fox laughed, but it wasn't a really happy laugh. "Svetya! You survived! You fled from Kosul and survived!" The Fox put down the Fox-pelt on her head and shook her long hair. "Oh, how much I look forward to see you, Svetya! After all this time!" She laughed and laughed, while signaling the others to leave. "Oh, and Karla, be so nice and inform me as soon as they are in sight. I want to greet them myself. Svetya, what a joy!"
Karla was now totally confused, as she left the room. She took a place at the gate and looked out along the street, waiting to spot the foreigners on their way to the hideout.
About half a day later, she saw the first banners floating in the wind. She spat out. She wouldn't trade one oppressor for another one. The people of Kosul should reign themselves! She couldn't understand why the Fox was kind of happy to hear about Svetya returning.
When the convoy finally arrived, they were welcomed coldly. Most of the rebels shared her outlook, but all were at least happy that Andrik returned. The Fox came out of the building, her gun at the ready. "Hello, Sister." She said coldly. Karla was perplexed.
Then the girl, Svetya, answered, her eyes filling with tears. "Camrin! You...you're alive!" The Fox, the leader of the rebellion against the Orens, was one of them? Karla couldn't comprehend that. Were they deceived the whole time?
Now, the face of the Fox grew even colder, and she spat the following words out. "Yes. And no thanks to you. I crawled through ice and mud to escape the slaughter. Andrik saved my life and hid me from Yushkov. Where have you been?" She threw a glance at the priest.
Now in tears not only of joy, but also of grief, the young girl almost cried her response. "In Argenport, trying to get help." She pointed towards the rebels behind her, led by that young man who came a bit closer.
With a sneer, the Fox shook her head. "And you arrive unharmed, with this rabble? Please." She raised her hand, and the resistance took up their arms. Karla had seen the rebels fight, and she knew that the resistence had not much of a chance to win a fight here. But Camrin needed to see the rebels fight, to know how good they were.
The young man smiled, as he too raised his hand and the rebels took up their positions. Looking towards Svetya, he said "I can see the resemblance." Then the arms clashed. Karla soon realized that the rebels did everything they could not to seriously harm anyone of the resistance, and the same yould be said about the resistance, but that would have meant that they had the possibility to seriously harm those trained warriors. Most of the resistance fighters hadn't fought for a single day in their life before they joined the cause, but their opponents had fought for their whole life.
Camrin went for Svetya, who had dismounted from her bear and wielded a sword. Camrin too had put down her gun and drawn two daggers. Svetya did nothing more than parrying the strikes Camrin threw at her. "Camrin, why are you doing this?
The fox spat out. "I've fought and bled every day since the night that Yushkov came. You've been of and played princess. You abandoned Kosul and our people. A real Orene would not run, sister." This seemed to hit a nerve in the young girl, as she now started to go into the offensive. It was a forth and back of blows between those two, and after a short time, the rebels and the resistance stopped fighting and watched the duel.
Svetya seemed to have enough of this, and ignoring the daggers, she threw a heavy blow towards Camrin. And even though one of the daggers cut through the cloth of her robe started turning her side red, the sword hit Camrin with the broad side and send her to the ground.
Laughing a bit, the Fox stood up again while the sword was pointing toward her chest. "Perhaps you are tougher than I thought. Very well, we will talk." She cleaned her clothes, and turned back towards the mansion. All of the fighters on the yard breathed out relieved, and the first hand were shook. Svetya and the man followed Camrin inside, while the others started to really warm up. Karla was amazed by the discipline those rebels showed, and soon after, the first cask of Ale was opened. She now realized that there were not only rebels from outside the borders of Kosul, but even some of the elite bearguard of the Orens. With those new troops, they had a real chance at winning the war against Yushkov. But she still was not able to accept that they did all this just for another Oren to oppress the people. she wouldn't let that happen.
The following days were hard. The rebels trained the resistance fighter, and plans were made. Plans on how to disrupt the army of Yushkov and his oppressive rule. Karla learned much during this time. And she also learned to admire the young leader of the rebels, Milos Izalio. He was handsome and full of determination, and he knew what he was doing. He told them that his father was the first leader of those rebels, and how he was brought up to be the leader of the rebellion over in Argenport since he was small. He had dedicated his whole life to the fight, and he was proud about that.
Then there came the days of action. They fought against tax collectors. They fought against militia. The infiltrated Korovyat. Karla was amazed at the efficiency they developed during the time. But not all shared this amazement. It was bloody. It did not only hit the supporters of Yushkov. Innocents died. Svetya grew sadder with every death, and Camrin grew bolder.
More and more people joined the hunt for them. The bounty on Camrins head grew and grew. And Camrin started to ignore the innocents. Karla shared her outlook. Those who weren't WITH them were AGAINST them. They could choose: fight, run or die. Those who did had chosen it themselves. The resistance was not to be held responsible for that. They fought for a higher cause.
Svetya was nowhere near understanding that, unlike Milos. At least that was what Karla felt. He seemed to understand it, but he also understood that making new enemies wasn't the right way. He warned them time and time again to slow down, to think more before acting.
More and more soldiers started to patrol the streets, maybe because Camrin shot a diplomat when they tried arresting her. They needed to lower the numbers of the soldiers. But how should they do it? Victory was near, but Kosul bled and bled.
It was Camrins idea to burn down he barracks. She was sad when she had to trade away the ring of her mother, but they needed the firebombs she could acquire with it. It would be the greatest victory they had won in this war. When night fell, the rebels infiltrated the barracks. They had no problems getting in and setting the firebombs. Karla was one of the bombers, together with Milos and some of both the rebels and the Kosulian Resistance fighters. Svetya, Camrin and the rest of their warriors stayed back and stood watch. That was when disaster struck. A group of soldiers entered the barracks just when the firebombs were set and the fuses lit. The leader of the group shouted "Intruders! Don't let them escape!"
Camrin cried out. "Damn! The firebombs are already set!" She drew her gun, but Milos shook his head.
"Get everybody out! I'll hold them off!" He himself now drew his two guns, while the first rebels retreated. Karla smiled. As Milos fired his first shots, she raised her hammer. She had fought the Oren and his soldiers for a long time, and she had hated them even longer.
Svetya started to cry, tears running down her face as she grapped Milos arm. "Milos!" She looked at him, trying to convince him to retreat with them. But his face stayed cold. He had decided that he would die here.
"Go. Your people need you!" He shook off her hand and shot another soldier. Svetya nodded thankfully and turned to retreat. Camrin stayed a bit longer, even though Milos threw a glance at her, telling her to retreat. She shot into the mass of soldiers coming their way, but Karla went over to her. "Fox, go. It is no good if you die here. Someone needs to remind Svetya who the true rulers of Kosul are. remind her of the might of the people when she starts going astray. We count on you. Don't let our sacrifice be in vain." She shoved Camrin towards the exit.
The Fox looked at Karla. "I am proud that you have served under me, Karla. You have your heart at the right place." Then she ran away.
Karla turned around and looked at the sad little group that was left here. She raised her voice, hearing the fuses of the firebombs burning. "Fighters of the Resistance! Rebels from a lost war in Argenport! We are the people! We will die here. But if we can hold them off for long enough, it will not be in vain! Let us die a good death! The Fox counts on us! Svetya counts on us! Kosul needs us! Let us show these soldiers who we are! For Kosul! For the people!" She raised her hammer and let out a battlecry, and the fighters joined in. They didn't charge, but formed a defensive ring around the bombs. Karla stood next to Milos and touched his arm. "It is an honour to die by the side of a great leader like you." She smashed the head of a soldier, while Milos targeted the ranged ones with his guns.
He smiled. "Father always said a man should die with his boots on and his guns ringing." He laughed, and the fighters with him. The first of them died to the mass of soldiers trying to get through to try to keep the bombs from exploding, but the Rebels just closed their ranks.
"Your father sounds like a wise man, Milos. Let's make him proud. For Kosul. For the Rebellion!" The fuses grew shorter and shorter, and Milso started counting down.
5... A soldier stabbed the Oni on Karla's side. She revenged him by smashing in the chest of his murderer.
4...Milos shot a soldier charging with a spear, but his speed and the bloody ground still carried him further. Karla tried to evade the spear, but it hit her in the side, piercing through her. She cried in pain and broke the spear sticking out of her, but she had to fight on.
3...More fighters fell around her, and the defensive ring grew smaller and smaller
2...Karla had to see how a sword pierced Milos, but he didn't show a single sign of pain as he blew away the face of his murderer.
1...grabbing the bear's tooth hanging around her neck, Karla closed her eyes. 'Mother, Father. Leo, Erika, Anna. I'll see you in the afterlife. I hope you are proud.'
0 The world around Karla turned into an inferno. The light shone through her closed eyelids as bright as the sun. There was a short feeling of pain, and then...nothingness.