Jenny: Clipped Wings

"Mm," said the Guttersnipe, feeling suddenly Spartan in her vocabulary.

She had woken to the sons of thunder in her head. Her mouth had been dry, her tongue stuck in her mouth like a piece of wool. The surfacing had been difficult, then she had crashed clear of the haze at the guttural tones of Latin around her. Saxons! She had hurtled out of the mottled oxhides, vision swimming with spangling red light and huge clouds of sickening purple. Run! run! her mind told her desperately. And she had tried. She had made it to the tent opening before they were upon her. She did not remember much, only the whirling press and the struggle, and then the blow which had knocked her out of consciousness. She could not remember seeing Ambrosius or Artos, or even hearing their voices. She did not even know how long she had been separated from them, nor if they even knew she was missing. But she ran for them, not knowing where in the wide world she was, only that she was not with them. Her desperation empowered her with the frenzy of a wildcat. They caught at her and she howled, swiping, clawing, biting, screaming. One of the burlier soldiers got behind her and held her tight, lifting her feet clear off the ground. She clawed up his front with her feet, trying to get high enough that he could not keep his hold on her. She was screaming "Ama! AMA!" in tones that set the rooks rocketing from their roosts in the surrounding trees. A dog was barking. Men were shouting. A horse screamed. She screamed. She fought and gouged until her hands were slippery with blood, and the game was getting ugly. They might have killed her, having had enough of her fight, if the burly fellow had not landed a square blow to the side of her head and knocked the fight clean out of her.

When she had awoken, with the same pounding thunder in her head, she had woken quietly. She could still hear the sounds of bad Latin and the stranger tones of whatever language the Saxon kind spoke, though from a distance as though soft milky veils lay between her and the world. Her desperation had turned into a quiet despair. She lay on her pile of oxhides, her jaw an immobile mass of bruises, and she had cried silently, her tears dropping off her face to run down in silver lines across the white and brown of the skins. She had cried, and there had been no one to hear her cry, save the burly fellow who sat at guard at the front of the tent. She did not think he knew Latin, for when she had recovered from crying a little she had asked them where they were, and he had only shook his head mutely. Too sick and tired to care where she was, she had turned away from him and flung herself down on her bed, and cried herself to sleep.

She pulled her legs up to her chest, resting her chin on her knees. "I know more than you think I do. I'm not just an arrogant Roman," she said.

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