Elveric thinks he has found a loophole in the deal. He doesn’t come against them directly, but he kills their livestock, figuring to starve them out. Itza has her own doubts about letting him live, but she is a woman of her word. Unless Elveric violates their agreement directly, she hopes to honor it.
The men were already gathering up the dead animals, lining them up for dressing as the women set up cook pots, brine barrels and smoke racks. It wasn’t going to be a happy day, but it would be a busy one. Even the children would work.
They were just setting up the smoke houses, stoking them with hardwood for a slow, long burn, when they heard it; the rumble of hooves. What was making the racket? They could not imagine what it might be. Terrified mothers grabbed their children, running for the village hall in the center of town, for it was the sturdiest structure.
Moments later, the men gathered around Itza casting curious, fearful glances at her and one another as the rumbling grew louder. Suddenly, they burst from the trees and bushes to the northwest of town! Dozens of volfboars, large, wild pigs. Usually docile beasts, they could be formidable and dangerous when angry. Something had them in a stampede and they would not stop until they destroyed all in their path.
Itza and the men roared to the women and children who were left, but the boars were upon them, goring and trampling anyone in their path. Children fell, battered to death, as their mothers watched.
“Itza!” she heard someone call her name and saw Bastia shouting to her from their home. It was in the center of the stampeding beasts, but Bastia, focused on something else, had not yet seen them.
“Bastia! Go in, bar the door!” But her sister could not hear her. Instead, she finally noticed the wild boars only a few yards away and froze in terror, door wide open, screaming and terrified.
Itza ran as fast as she could, but already she knew she was too late. The lead boar was nearly to her front steps and Bastia had not moved.
“Bastia! Go inside! Someone, please! Save her! Bastia!”
A man burst through the back of the house, grabbed Bastia and dragged her inside, slamming the door in the boar’s face. Startled, it hesitated for a moment, then battered against the door in anger. The rest of the wild beasts were running around the house on both sides, their momentum slowed slightly, but still a frightening adversary. The house shook with their passing, the porch groaned and fell as the animals flung themselves one after another toward the front door. Thankfully, it held.
After what felt like hours, the animals stopped running and either wandered around town or out into the woods again. Itza knew it was another warning to them that Elveric was still around; angry and vengeful.
“What will stop this?” Itza cried, looking at the death and devastation around them. “What does he want?”
No one answered her, she had not really expected it. The door to her home opened and a very shaken looking Bastia walked onto the porch, stumbled over a broken step and fell on the ground. Itza was at her side in a moment, checking her for wounds.
“Are you all right? What happened? Who saved you?”
She looked up to see Crex standing in the door, his arm bleeding freely onto the porch. Leaving Bastia, she leaped lightly next to him, taking his arm gently in her hands. She could see at a glance that it was not only broken, but the skin was ripped away, exposing muscle and bone.
“Sit,” she told him firmly, but he needed little coaxing, his face pale and his knees weak.
Bastia got a basin of warm water and some soft cloths for cleaning and then ran for the doctor to set his arm for him. She was back in a flash without the doctor.
“He’s busy tending the wounded and says he can’t come yet awhile. He said you can manage yourself, he has faith in you.”
“I’ve never set an arm before,” Itza said, “I don’t know what to do.”
“I do,” Crex told her through clenched teeth. “You just pull my arm till you see the bones line up and pop it back in place. With the skin like that, you should see it well enough.” He grimaced, breathing in short, sharp gasps.
“You hold me, little one and brace yourself, for I’ll likely fall into a faint. Arm setting ain’t pretty and it hurts neigh like being gored, but it’s over quick.”
He nodded at Itza, who took firm hold of his arm and pulled until she saw the bones slide back into place. She released with a sigh and saw Crex slump to the floor. She braced and bound his arm. There was nothing she could do for the skin but soak some bandages in a healing mixture and lay them gently over the wound until the doctor could look at it.
© 2015 Dellani Oakes