Saul woke, he breathed and his eyes slowly opened. His heart slammed against his chest in surprise as he stared up at the night sky. Alive, he was alive? He closed his eyes, calming himself. There was an explanation, there was always an explanation. He sat up slowly and looked around. He was still in his coffin and the lid had been thrown off, but why and where was Dawn. His eyes rested on another coffin, this one was empty. Death. He remembered it, tasted it, and he had slept next to her, he had known even after passing that it would be this way. He had felt her there, her soul and his had stayed together. Now she was gone, she was missing and he panicked. Why would someone take her? They had unearthed both and had left him upon resurrection so that means they had been looking for her. He got slowly up, his muscles a bit stiff. He had to get home, had to find his daughter. He knew it would be a shock, but he needed to find Dawn.
Dawn’s eyes fluttered open as the cart bounced. She had a gag covering her mouth and her arms and legs were bound tightly. She blinked, confused at the fact that she lived and breathed. It was dark, but when her eyes adjusted, she saw other women. She tried to think, to focus and come up with an explanation for what was happening. She wiggled a little and it drew the attention of the others. She cried out, the sound muffled and one slid slowly over to her and removed her gag. “Wh…what’s going on?” She asked.
“It’s slavers, you were resurrected.”
It was hard for Saul to run but he pushed himself. Anybody could have Dawn and he wasn’t going to let his body stop him from getting to his daughter. He was grateful she had buried them so near their town. He knew he would probably scare her but there was no time to ease into hey I’m alive. He banged on her door, seeing lights on within. His daughter answered and screamed, scaring Zikmund and causing him to drop what he was doing and run to the door. He got there just in time to hear his girlfriend say in tearful disbelief “dad” Saul hugged his daughter.
“I’m sorry to scare you like this baby but I really am back from teh dead. Somebody resurrected your mother and I. She’s gone, they obviously wanted her. We need to find her honey. It’s never for good reason when somebody brings back the dead. If it was someone with good intentions they would have let you know and not left me there” Her mind was still struggling to understand what was happening but she jumped in anyway “Okay dad, Zikmund, get our horses. Dad will need one too. I know Yula isn’t fully trained yet but she’s the only extra we have. Dad can handle her”
Zikmund didn’t bother to question what was going on, he just ran out to get the horses. Saul sat down for a moment, still getting used to being back on his feet. “How has it been sweetie?” He asked.
“Good, Zikmund and I are dating.”
“That great news, your mother will be happy.”
“I still can’t believe this is real, you’re real.”
“How do you think I feel.” He got back to his feet, stretching out his muscles. “Whoever took your mother isn’t going to like me when I find them.” He could see his daughter was still struggling and he hugged her. “Sorry about the shock and the rush. I know this has to be hard.”
“It’s okay, it’s just I never expected to see you again.”
“we’ll get your mother back and we’re going to be a family again baby” She held him a little tighter, remaining in the hug until Zikmund returned with the horses. Makana got up and grabbed Yula’s reigns “Yula is a sweet horse but when we’re traveling and she sees something she wants; she wants to do what she wants to do and doesn’t listen well. Honestly I think she’d be easier to teach if her past masters weren’t so hard on her. She’s just young. Those scars on her hind are from the people we purchased her from. We obviously didn’t need a third horse but we couldn’t leave her with those owners”
Saul took her and gently stroked her muzzle “I’m sorry, please listen to me though. We need to get back to where I was buried and figure out what took place”
Yula was a spirited creature, stubborn, but he had no issue keeping her head pointed where he wanted it. He knew Dawn would love her and he was impatient to have her back. He reigned her in and swing from the saddle when they made it back to the empty graves.
“Why would someone dare do this?” Makana asked, her voice swinging between anger and sadness.
Saul studied the two graves, the empty caskets. There were footprints from at least four people. They had only taken Dawn which means he was resurrected first. He moved further out, following the footsteps of the people who had taken his wife. They ended next to hoof prints and wheel tracks. They had brought horses and a cart, something they wouldn’t have needed for just one woman.
“Slavers.” He said. “It was slavers.”
Oh my god dad” Zikmund put a comforting hand on her shoulder “we’ll find them before she gets hurt baby”
“lets hurry and follow in hopes those words can be true Zikmund” They all got back on their horses and followed the tracks. Dawn was looking around for some sort of way to break their cell but it was difficult since she didn’t want it to be obvious. They’d stop and deal with her if they noticed her trying to set them all free. One woman who looked like she may have already been abused in some manor said “you look familiar for some reason”
“I am Dawn. I don’t know how long I was dead but I was a bounty hunter”
“You’re really that Dawn?” She nodded. “You and your husband rode through my village often.”
“What’s your name?”
“Why would they resurrect women?”
“Because it’s easier that way. They probably didn’t think you’d be missed.”
“You mean they don’t know who I am.”
“Chances are they were told by someone where to find easily accessed graves. If your grave wasn’t marked they probably wouldn’t have thought twice about digging you up.” She looked around nervously. “They…they’ll get a good price for you because you’re so pretty.”
“I won’t let them touch me.”
“You won’t have a choice.”
“I’m not some wilting flower, I’ll tear their eyes out if they even think about trying anything.”
Mara saw no fear in Dawns eyes. It was amazing to her how she could be so sure she wouldn’t be raped by these men or someone they sold her to. She could see why she had chosen the life of a bounty hunter. With her bravery and self assurance she was well suited to the job of chasing violent criminals. Dawn began to think of her husband, hoping he had somehow been resurrected too. When she escaped she would find her daughter and have her lead back to where she had been buried to check for Saul.
Saul was displeased when the tracks went off the main road and onto a branching path through the woods. “Slow down a bit.” He ordered.
“But we might lose them.” Makana replied worriedly.
“We don’t want the horses losing their footing. Besides, they would have slowed as well.”
“Sorry, I just want mom.”
“I know, it’s killing me knowing slavers have her but we have to be smart and not let our emotions guide us.” Saying that pained Saul. All he wanted to do was have the horses run as fast as they could so they could catch up. He knew his wife wouldn’t let any man force his way with her but while that brought him comfort it also made him worry they’d get fed up to the point of killing her if they had her too long. Dawn might be suffering, being beaten for not obeying yet he knew he still had to slow to insure they got to her.
Dawn rolled herself onto her back and sat up. Her shoulders hurt from how tightly she was bound and she really wanted to take the pressure off. “Hey, Mara, do you think you could untie me?” She whispered in the near pitch darkness.
“That might be a bad idea.”
“It’s alright, I’ll take responsibility if they get pissed. I have a bone to pick with them anyway. Who digs someone up and brings them back to sell them?”
“Okay, hold still.” She sat there as Mara worked on the ropes and gave a sigh of relief when she was finally loose.
“Thank you.” She untied her ankles then slowly moved over to the small window in the side of their prison. “We’re in the forest, that’s good.”
“Why?” Mara whispered.
“Because if we get loose and run away, it’ll be harder for them to catch us. I know these woods like the back of my hand, my father trained me in them, I’ve chased bandits and killers and even my husband through them.”
“That’s if we get away.”
“Even without my sword, I could still deal a fair amount of damage and even if they managed to subdue me, at least it would give you and the others time to run away. As long as you stick together, you’ll be safe.”
“They could kill you.”
Dawn smiled. “There’s no way I’d let that happen, not when I might have the chance to see Saul and my daughter again.”
You’ll be proud of your daughter when you see her. She’s been working with her boyfriend Zikmund on jobs and they do quite well.” Dawn smiled “it’s good news to me just that she’s dating Zikmund. He has a good heart. Saul and I liked him a lot” Dawn waited until they had stopped for the night and she was sure all were sleeping but the two men who were up to keep guard. The women were all still wide awake since they knew Dawn was going to give them the best running start she could give them. Near silently she managed to get their door open. It caught the attention of the men and she urged them to run on, allowing her to fight them.
They all ran except for Mara “I’m helping and you dont’ have time to argue with me” It just took the two guarding men yelling for the rest to wake up. Some didn’t stay to fight the girls, they chased after the fleeing ones. Dawn cursed under her breath. She had been hoping they’d concentrate on just her. Mara was impressed as Dawn knocked man after man out. Mara had only been successful at one by the time they were done. Mara hadn’t noticed Dawn ger hurt until now as she saw her grip her bleeding shoulder “Oh my god Dawn”
One of the women who had been drug back by a man got up off the ground where she had been trembling in fear to come over and heal her. “Thank you”
“No, Thank you Dawn”
“Why didn’t you run away again like the other women”
“To be honest, I was too gripped with fear to try again” She looked ashamed and Dawn lifted the womans chin “don’t look down, we all get scared sometimes. What’s your name?”
“Follow me you two. I know odds aren’t good you live near me but at least getting to my family is a start”
Screaming caught Saul’s attention and he reigned Yula in, listening. It came again, carrying with it fear and panic. “You two stay at this pace, I’m going ahead.” He said.
“Be careful dad.” Makana replied.
“Yeah, I don’t want to see Makana sad again.” Zikmund added.
Saul nodded and kicked Yula into a run. “Don’t toss me alright, we have to find Dawn.” He patted the horses neck and she neighed. “Good girl.” Though the horse was young, she picked her way along the road with ease, managing to miss every shadowed hole and rock in her way. More screams came from the woods and he veered off the path, Yula jumping a fallen tree. He knew it couldn’t be Dawn, she would be cursing and definitely wouldn’t be scared. He figured it had to be one of the others, that maybe they had escaped. He was grateful for Yula’s speed and grace and when they came upon the man pinning the sobbing young woman to the ground, he swung from the saddle, kicking the man in the side of the head, using that moment to swing back on and turn Yula. The man was unconscious and Saul hopped down from the saddle, checking his pulse.
“Is he…” the woman said, her entire body shaking.
“Dead? Yes, his neck is broken.” He stepped over the dead body and squatted down in front of the woman. “You alright?”
“Yes, th…thank you.”
“What are you doing out here?”
“That red headed woman helped us escape. Sh…she stayed behind to fight.”
He smiled “Dawn, so she’s alright”
“How can you know that?”
“I know, she wouldn’t let a man end her. Get on my horse while I go to my wife” He helped her up and he went the way she instructed him to. He felt relief shoot through him when he saw his Dawn. He urged Yula faster and she obeyed. He jumped down off his horse, tightly and protectively embracing his wife. “Dawn” he said, his voice full of emotion. “Oh Saul” she answered, shedding a few happy tears. “Makana and Zikmund aren’t far behind”
“I can’t believe this, we’re alive.”
He smiled, brushing his fingers through her messy hair. “And you’re still so beautiful.”
She blushed and he crushed her to him once more, just holding her for a moment. She was warm and real and he couldn’t be happier. “Let the others have the horse, we can walk okay?”
He nodded and helped the other two women onto Yula’s back. “Be good now girl, no bucking or kicking or any funny business.” He told the horse as the three captives clung to each other. “Good.” He then turned and lifted Dawn into his arms, wanting her as close as possible as they walked. Yula stayed right beside him.
“We’re going to have to go back into the woods. There were other women besides us.”
“Zikmund and I will go my love, we’ll bring them back.”
She snuggled into him, her head resting on his shoulder. She had never expected a second chance with him. When they saw Makana and Zikmund, Saul put her down. Makana jumped from her horse and ran to her parents, her arms going around her mother, her momentum nearly knocking her over. “Mom.” She cried and Dawn stroked her hair while Saul held them both.
Saul let go “we need to see if we can find the other women who ran off. These two can protect one another and these women. I’d prefer to get them all somewhere secure first but if we did that those other women might be long gone and find themselves in trouble again.” Zikmund kissed the back of Makana’s head, not wanting to interrupt her finally getting to hug her mom again. He knew how hard it had been for her to go on without them. They held eachother a long awhile after the men left before they let go and Makana looked over her mom “I’m fine, you know your dad made sure of that”
“I just had to be sure” Dawn lovingly caressed Makanas face “you’ve grown, your face is more mature. How long was I gone baby?”
“almost four years. I’ve been doing jobs with Zikmund. We’re together now”
“I heard, I’m glad you picked someone like him” Makana smiled and Dawn couldn’t resist hugging her again and crying.
“What are we going to do about the slavers?” Zikmund asked as he and Saul moved through the woods.
“One of them is dead, but if we can manage it, I would like to bring at least one back alive.”
“It’s really something having you both back. Are you guys going to take back your old positions?”
“I’m sure we’ll think about it, but for now, I’d like us to spend some time with you two and then travel back to my homeland for a bit. You and Makana are welcome of course.”
“I know she’d like that. You’d be proud of her though. Despite the pain she was going through she didn’t lose it. She took on work again just months after you two passed and she’s done well on her jobs”
“I’m sure you contributed to that” Zikmund blushed “I hope so. I reminded her all the time that I was there to help her through it.”
“How long after did it take you two to date?”
“I asked her out on the first job she took so a couple months” Saul chuckled “did it take us dyeing for you to ask?”
“No sir, it’s just I didn’t realize my feelings until about six months before you died. By the time I was ready to ask she had lost you two and I didn’t want to ask her too soon after” They continued talking until they arrived at all the men Dawn had knocked out. Zikmund saw pride on Sauls face and smiled. “That’s my wife” he said before tieing the men together with rope they had on their cart, threw them in the back and rode their horses back to the women.
Both Saul and Zikmund felt relief when they saw Dawn and Makana unharmed “I collected the men you knocked out love”
“Good, we’ll take them in and probably make some people pass out”
“We’ve surprised people before and I wouldn’t have it any other way. More of the captives showed up while you were away, hopefully we can find their homes.”
“We will, we always come through.”
Makana and Zikmund gave up their horses to the other women and climbed onto the top of the cart while Dawn and Saul took their place behind the reigns. They went single file back through the woods and out onto the main road. The women talked softly to one another, sounding relieved.
The looks on the castle guards faces were of both shock and disbelief upon seeing Dawn and Saul, young and old had seen them before dying and they slowly opened the front gate, mouths hanging open.
Everyone inside was just as shocked as Dawn began explaining how they were back and what they had just gone through. The men were immediately dealt with and the King insisted they set a celebration in honor of their return to the living. Saul and Dawn only stayed local until the women were on their way to their homes and the party came and went then they left to see Sauls homeland with Zikmund and Makana in toe. They were a family again and the four of them felt incredibly blessed.
~ The End