My weakened state could not come at a worse time. I know that the Harvesters were only a small portion of the Fallen Feyini. We still have yet to encounter the Red Cap and the Bendith Y Mamau. Not to mention several other evil groups.
But if the sudden mass death of the Harvesters weakened me, How much more will it have weakened them? Sara appears with one of the girls. They help me up. And they continue to help me to a place to sit.
I look at Sara. “I will be fine.”
She knows better. “Just tell us what you need and we will get it for you.”
I look at her. “Catch me three live rabbits. And bring my haversack. I need to get a cup out of it. But keep the rest of the refugees from knowing what I am about to do. We do not need a panic to set in.”
The two of them move me out of the sight of the ret of the camp and call the rest of the girls together. One leaves and gets my haversack. The others go hunting. I sit and contemplate it all weakly.
Sara sits down next to me. I look over at her. “Aren’t you nervous? Or even the slightest bit scared?”
She smiles and shakes her head. “Nope. You are in need. We will just tell the people that you are preparing the conies for the pot.”
I smile back at her weakly. “Not really a lie. I was going to send the dressed rabbits to the cook anyway.”
Another of the girls comes and sits down. She looks over at me. “You look a bit pale.”
We all three burst into laughter. I look over at her. “What is your name?”
She looks away. “Daphne.”
I smile. “Well, Daphne. I am proud to call you a comrade-in-arms. You fought well earlier. We are all in your debt.”
She smiles and looks back at me. “Thanks. I am honored to be your friend.”
The other girls return. Three conies. And I have gotten my cup from my haversack. I slit the conies’ necks and drain the blood into the cup. I set the cup beside me and finish dressing each. I hand the skinned and gutted conies to the youngest, who had proudly returned with all three. She disappears with them. Then returns a few moments later.
I pick up the cup of blood. And drink it down in a few short gulps. Then cross myself in prayer. I wonder to myself if my prayer is even heard. Then let it pass from mind.
I sit back and close my eyes. It takes a few moments for the life from the blood to renew my strength. Once it does, I bend over and pick up the entrails and skin from the conies and take them to the river. I toss them in for the fish. Anymore, they’ll eat anything. Even an errant child who decides to skinny dip.
But I wouldn’t recommend skinny dipping in the river. Not now. Never know what might happen after you do. All the chemicals and the radiation. And the toxins.
The cook brings me my portion first. “For your dressing of the conies. The others insisted that I give you the first bowl.”
I look up at her and smile. “Thank you.” I take the bowl.
The cook leaves and then returns with Sara and Daphne’s bowls. Then with the bowls for the rest. We eat the stew in silence. The youngest of my girls take the bowls back to the cook.
I rise. “As soon as we rest a little longer, we need to move on. We need shelter. Out in the open, we are vulnerable. But first, I want to know all your names. I already know Sara and Daphne.”
The youngest goes first. “Matti.”
They go in order of youngest to oldest. All twelve. They have become a sisterhood of sorts. More than a team. They would give their lives for one another. Hell. I would give my life for any of them. And they, for me.
I smile at them. “I am honored to be your friend. My Name is Cris.”
We are on the road again. With the destruction of The Crystal Ship, we have no way to cross the river. Yet. So we head farther south. Toward Vicksburg. There has to be a ferry here somewhere.
The girls fan out around the group now. We form a sort of outer barrier. Keeping away the ghouls and zombies. Protecting the rest of the refugees. As evening comes, we spot a house. I nod. And three of the girls go to investigate. As we reach it, they come out.
“All clear.” Faith is the one who was the lead on this.
I smile at her. “OK.” I turn to the refugees. “Go on in and find your places.”
The girls remain out with me. Nell looks at me. “How we going to get across?”
I look down. “I was wondering that myself. We can’t enter Vicksburg. It is probably under siege. We’ll have to cross somewhere between here and there. Do we have any rope?”
Matti Shakes her head. “No.”
I look at them. “We need to find some. And fast. It needs to be good and strong. Nothing rotten.”
They all nod. We scatter to search for the needed rope. I come up empty-handed. So does everyone else. Except Matti. She is smiling when she returns.
She looks at me. “It isn’t exactly rope, but I found some cable we might be able to use. Come. I’ll show ya.”
We all follow her out to one of the sheds. Sure enough. There sits a whole spool of thick wire cable. It isn’t extremely heavy cable, but it will be strong enough to use as a guide wire.
I look at my warriors. “Well, we found our guide wire. Search for some vines and I will braid them into rope to make a raft with.”