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i don't wanna die

Bohdi sat alone on the highest ridge, watching in silence as the small wooden boat was sent out to sea. The priestess croaked a Word of Power and the flames burst to life, black smoke rising into a sky only just now pinkening with the coming dawn. Voices lifted in joyful song as the sea god welcomed the three deceased into his watery arms, the boat cracking and sinking until not even bubbles remained to mark its resting place. Though she knew it danced on the razor edge of blasphemy, Bohdi could not bring herself to sing along, or to smile. Betrayal burned like fire in her heart, and she worried it like a loose tooth until it ached. There was but one left of her bloodkin now, her sister and her mate and young son gone and only their little girl, Agis, remaining to carry on the Avild name... That was, if the child had been allowed to live.

"I thought we might find you here," came a voice from behind her. Bohdi ducked her head, sharply biting her tongue to keep the rage from her face. She got to her feet slowly, turning to face the woman and her three attendants waiting.

"I do not wish to speak of this now, Jarl Brunhilda," Bohdi murmured. She kept her voice gentle, but firm.

"It was you who requested an audience, Bohdi. Or would you rather we do this in public, where your sharp tongue cannot be so easily forgiven?"

"When will you send warriors across the inlet?" Bohdi snapped.

"You would have our people cut their hair for only three dead?" the Jarl asked, eyebrows raised in disappointed shock. The length of a person's hair indicated their clan's status; short hair spoke of war, and long of peace. Their clan had been peaceful for three years now, and many had hair hanging as low as their waists.

"My sister was an Avild, loyal members of this clan for generations! It is our right to avenge her, or would you let her death be meaningless? We have gone to war for far less. What are you afraid of?!"

"Be silent!" barked one of the Jarl's attendants. "Avild or no, you know nothing of what our Jarl does for us!"

"That's exactly right," Bohdi growled. "Since she has come to power our clan has grown weak and pitiful. She speaks when she ought to fight! She is a disgra-"

The sound of a hand striking flesh echoed, and silence fell. Bohdi lifted her golden eyes to the man who'd struck her, hate causing her lips to peel away from her teeth.

"You have gone mad with grief," another female attendant snarled. "You are lucky that our Jarl is so tolerant as to keep that in mind. She will not be so lenient next time you dare to utter such traitorous words."

Bohdi remained silent until she was certain she was alone again, finally allowing herself the scream of rage and pain that had been clawing at her throat since the night before. How could they do this? How could the Jarl forsake them? Only three dead this raid, fine, but what about next time? Or the time after that? Soon word of their weakness would spread, and their people would be taken or killed as the other clans saw fit.

No, Bohdi thought, rising to her feet again. The Jarl may have forgotten the ways of their people, but Bohdi had not. It was her right, her gods-given right, to avenge her sister's family and to reclaim her niece. If the Jarl chose to punish her for doing what she must, then so be it. She could make it as an exile, if she had to.

It took a bit of sawing, but soon Bohdi's long hair was shorn. A bit of fire magic lit the braid on fire, and Bohdi left it smouldering on the rock. Feeling lighter, driven by purpose, she marched down the hill towards the village. A few daring men and women, those who remembered the Old Ways, joined her as she passed through, their own braids left hanging from the totems before their homes. The gods would watch over those inside while the warriors fought. Only a few dared to argue with their decision, a few choice words hurled at their backs as they departed.

What would have taken moments by boat took days over land, but Bohdi and the others knew their best chance at getting Agis back was to surprise their enemies. Using the cover of darkness, they stepped into the opposing clan's village four days after the funeral... And walked directly into a massacre. Two other clans had joined the first, leaving their clan's people outnumbered by five to one. Lying in the street, her blood staining the ground around her, Bohdi looked up into the starry sky and waited patiently for death. The Jarl's face appeared above her, a smirk on her handsome features.

"I warned you, didn't I?" the woman said, laughing. "I knew you and your rebellious lot would take the bait."

"You did this?" Bohdi murmured tiredly. It was becoming hard to care about anything.

"Oh yes. From the beginning. Agis, darling, come say farewell to your auntie," the Jarl said. A small wisp of a girl moved to the Jarl's side, tears already streaming down her face. Bohdi gave the girl what she hoped was a reassuring smile, then clamped her remaining hand onto the Jarl's leg. Summoning the last of her energy, and using her own blood as payment, Bohdi thrust her magic out. The woman screamed as she was engulfed in flames.

Bohdi died smiling...

And woke up somewhere very strange indeed.

Total Word Count: 970

blood is getting hotter, body's getting colder
i don't wanna die, so you're gonna have to

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