Her eyes held the black fire of hatred, they were almost too intense to look at directly. She held up her hand and signaled ‘come’ then stepped back from the entrance. The warriors slipped into the room taking in the scene with a sweeping glance.
A naked man lay in the center of the large room. He’d been cut from groin to gullet, his guts spilling onto the bloody stone floor in a mass of carnage and gore. Another man, dressed as the two guards outside had been in a rough tunic, lay crumpled near the entrance his head at an impossible angle with his body.
In the corner another form rested upon a heavy, wooden table. It lay curled up into itself, its skin mottled with dark bruises and scrapes. Willow, the healer’s young student, cautiously investigated the body.
The others watched as her gentle hands probed the form. She suddenly gasped, covering her mouth with her hands and stepping back. She turned and her eyes sought out Cloud, the pain evident in her expression. Willow shook her head slowly, her jaw working up and down unable to think of any words, unable to speak.
Scowling, Cloud stepped toward the body, roughly shoving Willow out of the way until she stood next to the form. She stood there for a moment and then dropped to her knees, her strong arms pulling the still form to her breast. Hot tears dripped upon the abused form. Questioning eyes sought out Willow and she mouthed the word “sister”.
An oppressive silence filled the room. The warriors turned their eyes away, giving Cloud what little privacy they could to mourn her loss. Only her tears and her labored breathing broke the quiet until a soft whisper came from the pair. It seemed impossible but Cloud’s sister yet lived.
Cloud cradled her dying sister in her arms, stared into her face while the tears streamed from her eyes. Storm stood over the pair listening, a scowl etching its lines deep within her brow. The dying woman’s words were almost too faint to hear.
“Our… magic,” she said straining hard to get the words out, “They… want… magic.” One eye opened, half red from a beating that had swollen the other shut, and gazed up at her sister for a moment. A single tear formed and rolled down her bruised cheek.
“Stop… them.” Each word was an agony to produce but the strength of the Amazon warriors was strong within her battered frame. Her breathing grew more faint, the effort to speak was sapping the last of her strength. She tried to form more words but no sound would come. Finally her eye lost focus and turned up. Her body shuddered and she lay still.
Cloud clutched her dead sister to her body, her grieving sobs all but silent. She rocked back and forth as Storm turned away.
Storm stepped to the center of the room and looked at each of her warriors in turn. Her expression was neutral but her eyes betrayed the burning fury within her.