Chapter Twenty Two

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Chapter Twenty Two

Aurelia had never been in a fight before, even when she was a child. There were play fights of course, mock wrestles in the grass or with blunt wooden swords but they never used to strike out against each other with the intent to hurt. It was unbecoming of a Roman Noble woman, despite the taste for Gladiatorial spectator entertainment, and even then Aurelia hadn't seen many of the games in her lifetime. It had been too violent for her.

So it was laughable that she could even entertain the notion of standing against a Shield Maiden. A Shield Maiden whose whole life was honed for war, who was faster, stronger and weighed twenty pounds more than she did. Her moment of insanity where she had slapped Lena in the face was going to cost her dearly, possibly her very life.

Lena let out a sound of pure rage and lunged at Aurelia, taking them both off their feet to sprawl hard on the grass. The air was knocked painfully from Aurelia's lungs and she wheezed for breath. Her head had hit the ground, sending pain to lance through her skull and her vision became blurry. Lena had landed on top of her, her hands seeking Aurelia's neck to strangle the life out of her but Aurelia wriggled away, kicking out at Lena so that the warrior rolled off of her.

Renna was screaming and the noise brought people out of their huts to see what was going on. They formed a half ring around them, looking on with grave faces, but none of them moved to pull them apart. This was obviously a personal fight, and the people of the tribe didn't interfere until it was sorted and there was one true victor.

There would be no help coming for Aurelia. She was on her own.

Aurelia got shakily to her feet as quickly as she could, stumbling with dizziness and blinking rapidly to clear her vision. Lena was already on her feet and advancing towards her with a fierce ugly expression.

Aurelia didn't have the presence of mind to shy away and she was rewarded with a fist to the stomach. She doubled over and retched, heaving under the shocks of agony. Lena grabbed her by the hair and pulled back to a standing position, her scalp screaming at the rough treatment. Lena's other hand came up to deliver her own slap across the face, her nails catching across her temple and making her bleed.

She went for another blow across the other cheek, but Aurelia saw it coming. In an act of desperation, Aurelia drew her own fist back and aimed for Lena's nose. Lena jerked back at the last moment, but the blow landed at her throat, making her gag loudly and let Aurelia go.

Aurelia's hand throbbed alarmingly as she didn't know how to properly form a fist to punch without injuring herself, but it had the desired results as Lena leaned forward on her knees, gasping for air with abused vocal chords.

Aurelia knew this was it, this was her chance to end the fight. She would never get another chance, Lena would not allow it. She had surprised the warrior by striking back but that advantage was over, she could see it in the Shield Maiden's eyes.

So Aurelia hoisted the skirt of her dress up to her knees for more ease of movement and to allow her to put some force behind the kick she dealt to Lena's ribs, causing her to cry out and fall to the floor.

It was like someone else had taken over her body, made her turn into some vicious animal that inflicted pain on others without a second thought. She felt numb as she pushed Lena further into the ground by straddling the other woman's stomach and reached for a rock that was half-embedded into the ground, skin breaking from the sharp edges and raised it above her head to beat Lena bloody.

She had every intention of doing so, the scared hopelessness she had felt at the start of her coming to Briton making her lash out at the one person who now posed a real threat of hurting her. Except Lena cringed away from her, a look of fear on her face as she realised what Aurelia was gong to do and it checked Aurelia.

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