She ran. That is all she knew she could do, so she ran. Her pursuers were on horseback and she on foot. She knew she would have no chance of escaping them, but she thought she could at least try. Her feet were bleeding raw as she ran through a large thicket. She had been running now for three hours. Hiding as she went. One question ran through her mind: Why was I running?
They started chasing her after they found her worshipping. No one knew it, not even her parents. She was a Christian. Unlike her Druid people. She was adopted by a Druid priest and Faith. No one knew she prayed to "another". She was rejected when they found her praising another God, not of their own. She did not believe in her parent's choice of praise. Jesus Christ is her Savior and God. She felt Daghda is a myth, and only that. She had heard tales of people like herself being tortured back to Druidism, even killed. That's why when they found her, she ran.
She tripped over a large tree root and the air was knocked from her lungs. Dazed and tired, she just lay there. That's when they caught her.
Two men grabbed her arms and stood her up, tying her hands in front of her. One of them and hit her hard on the back of her head and all went black.
When she awoke she found herself on horseback with someone seated behind her. Still dazed, she could see the large ship docked in front of her. The man dismounted and roughly pulled her down with him the pushed her forward. She started walking when she heard pistols cock. She had no idea where the ship was going and if it would ever return home with her. She tripped on something and landed in the arms of a stranger with soft hazel eyes. He frowned at her as her captor pulled her by the arm and spat something in Spanish at her. Then he pushed her down a hole in the floor. She passed out as her head hit the ladder.
When she woke up, it was dark place. Her hands were now tied to a post in front of her. Chains around her wrists were too short to allow her to fully sit on the ground below her, so she squat. There were voices above her and they seemed joyful. She could not understand the language. She was used to the harsh roll of a Gaelic tongue and this fast language was painful to her ears.
Little squares of light came through from above and she could barely make out a man's smile. He would not smile if he were down here, she thought. The door creaked as it opened. She snapped her head around to find a man with a strange rope in his hands.
It was thick at one end then thinned out like a rat's tail at the other.
She had seen people use this kind of rope on poor horses and prayed he would not use it on her.
The man walked over to her and gagged her mouth. He pushed her back hard into the pole in front of her. She hit her head hard and let out a moan of pain. Then she felt lightening strike her back. She screamed, but the cloth in muffled it as he struck my back again with the torturous weapon. She cried in pain and begged to make him stop but he continued until she could no longer take it and passed out from the pain.
A young man talked to the captain of the ship above and pondered what the whipping noise he heard was.
"Rats, seņor. Nothing to worry about." The captain shrugged the conversation to another shoulder and continued with another topic.
She awoke to what felt like fire on her back. It stung horribly and she could feel cold blood trickle from the wounds. She whimpered horribly from the pain as her stomach turned from the strong swaying from the moving ship. She saw the man that whipped her coming from the corner of her eye and tried to scream. But he slapped her hard in the face, sending her back against the post to which she was tied to. He continued to beat her in the head profusely. She tried her hardest to sustain the pain but couldn't and blacked out once again.
"Why are they doing this to me?" She thought to herself while she tried to sleep. "Why? I'm only eighteen years old. Why would they beat me to half death? What did I ever do to them?"
A young man walked in the moonlight aboard the Spanish ship. He was tall in height and thin but muscular. A gentle ocean breeze passed and mussed with his luscious black hair. His hazel eyes glistened as the water below reflected on them. Everyone was asleep as he walked the deck that night, when he heard noises come from the hull below.
He nonchalantly stepped over the grate that acted as the door to below and listened carefully.
"Hey Ricardo...let me get a whip at her!" A deep voice growled harshly and the young man above heard the snap of a tight whip and the muffled scream of a woman. He knelt down and looked through the squares and found two men whipping a young girl. His eyes became dark with rage.
He stepped away as he saw the two men stop and go towards the ladder. They came atop deck and bowed their head at the young don passing by. When the two beaters were out of sight, the young man went back to the grate and opened it and climbed down inside. He went to the near corner and found the young girl, tied at the wrists to a post. Her body was sprawled out and hanging from her hands and her head held low. He walked over to her, but she made no movement. He went around, and stepped in front to face her, kneeling beside her beaten body.
She was curled up, trying best to protect herself when he asked something in Spanish. He sighed and asked something else, only this time in English. A language the Missionaries had taught her. She looked at him and he tried the best of a smile.
"Please! Dun her' me anymore! I dun notin wrong!" She could not scream, her throat was so dry.
"I am not going to hurt you, seņorita." He said calmly, looking her over. "Why in the world would they beat a woman?" He whispered to himself.
"Please...." she cried, "Help me....!" He gave her a sorrow filled look and snapped his head up, hearing her captors entering this dreadful place. He got up and hid behind a large crate, so not to be seen.
"Well, well, well....." A man walked up to her and grabbed a fistful of her hair, making her face him. He spoke in English, knowing she would understand him. "My, how you've been hurt! Now, who could do such a thing to an 'innocent' child?" He laughed as he looked to his partners and back to her. "All right kid, praise Daghda!" She did not answer him, nor did she look him in the eyes. He wrenched her hair, and she gasped at the pain. He groaned in madness and threw her head down. Tears fell from her cheeks as they finally left. The young man returned once again.
"What is Daghda?" He whispered, kneeling beside her once again. She shook her head 'no' slowly and coughed, spitting up blood. He looked around and left, soon returning with a metal cup. He reached his hand to her face, she jerked back in response. "I'm not going to hurt you... here, drink some water." He seemed so nice, but she would trust no one from this day forth. He cupped her cheek, supporting it, as he brought the cup to her lips. She drank the cool liquid greedily and finally looked him in the eyes. Hazel eyes, the same eyes that caught her on deck when she tripped. The eyes of one's fir-fer or hero. Her hero. She thanked him and he gave her another cupful of the water and left. She did not sleep that night, as she did not any other night for the next four weeks.
One night she saw a shadow on her chamber wall move and tried my best to eye it, but it forever stayed out of sight. The man who beat her regularly, Ricardo, came over to her and cupped her cheek hard and rubbed it harshly with salt in her open flesh. He stopped and pushed her head down. She tried frantically to get the salt away from her skin, but it was to no avail.
She saw the shadow from her bloodshot eyes appear from no where and fight Ricardo, sending him into a crate, head first. The demon came towards her and she looked at him with horror, her eyes filled with tears and pain. He smiled at her caringly, as he pulled a key from his sash and unchained her wrists, and gathered her into his arms. She dared not say a word, fearing he would toss her overboard. She immediately pulled her hands to her face, trying frantically to rub out the salt and he whispered to her in English.
"Don't rub seņorita, it will only make it worse." She didn't listen to him as he carried her up the ladder and onto the deck. She saw the moon shining for the first time in a month and would have smiled had her lips not been swollen. He carried her gently to a room and shut the door, laying her in a sweet comfortable bed. He quickly applied a wet rag to her stinging face, cooling it off and removing the swollen pain and stinging from the salt. The cool wetness of the cloth on her face was so comforting, and a sweet smell came from the drenched cloth. By the time she realized she had been drugged by inhaling the sweet smell, she was asleep, albeit a tortured rest.
She awoke the next morning with covers up to her neck keeping her warm. Her back was stinging horribly and she sat up as quickly pushing the covers off of her. The hazel eyed man was at her side in a moment, a small smile across his face.
"Wh'er am I?" she whispered, her throat too hoarse to speak loudly.
"You are in my cabin on the ship. Don't worry, I won't hurt you...I am here to help you." He carefully pushed her hair away from her eyes and behind her ear. She jerked at the pain he caused by placing his hand on her shoulder. He had a worried expression on his face as he retracted his hand and looked at the blood on his fingers. "Please, I need to bandage your back...I had no idea it was so badly hurt. How long have they been beating you like this?"
"Since after ya cau't me on deck." she stated sadly. It seemed like an eternity. He stood and poured water from a basin into a bowl and placed rags into the small pool of water, placing the bowl on the small stand next to the bed.
"I will need you to lie on your stomach if I wish to clean your wounds."
She gave him a fearful look, but those eyes. Something in his eyes. She slowly situated myself and rolled onto her stomach, releasing slight gasps from the pain as I did. He brushed her long blonde hair away from her back gently and cut down the middle of her homespun shirt. She could feel the dismay in his heart as he looked at my beaten back. Slashes and cuts every inch, covering her back, oozing with fresh blood, some with puss.
He applied a wet rag and she clenched at the pillow below her head and muffled her moans of pain. His touch was soft and caring, a touch she had never before felt. "Why do ya help mae?" she asked as he wrung out the red stained cloth and started again, this time, softer, with less pain.
"No one deserves to be treated this way. Not even the King's worst enemy's dog, much less a woman." He stated with disgust and a small smile formed on her lips.
"Thank ya kind stranger, and may God bless ya fer this." She whispered as he began applying a cold cream to the inflicted area, her entire back.
"I shall be no stranger. I am Diego de la Vega, and I will protect you from anyone that wishes you harm. This I swear."
"Ya dun even know me...un, I dun know you...how do I know ya won't hurt me like thay did?" She asked, and he recognized the fear in her throat as she spoke softly, and he placed a towel atop her back. She felt no pain.
"I won't hurt you, seņorita. That I swear to you. I would like to know you, and I would like you to know me...what is your name, seņorita?" She turned her head to face him, still lying on her stomach.
"Brighid...Brighid Daghda." He gave her a puzzled look and sat in a chair near the bed.
"Daghda? That is what that man said that night....why would you worship something of your last name?"
"Me father's belaev'd to be the Druid god. I's found as a babe, wrap' in a blanket in tha woods during a storm. They though' me a gift from Daghda, the god of all. I think meself a person." Tears trickled down her cheeks as she remembered the ceremonies they put her in. Sacrifices of her dear friends, pets, anything she cherished was sacrificed to her 'father'. She did not even believe their ways, she believed she lived in the light of God, the Creator. At the age of seventeen she learned she was to be sacrificed the day of her eighteenth birthday. She did not want to be sacrificed to a pagan she did not follow; She followed God, but no one knew this.
"I just wanna ba free to worship God, the God." She cried and he answered her in a whisper.
"Brighid, you have the right to worship who you please... I am sorry that they have done this to you, but as you may believe, God has a plan for us all, may it be pleasant or not, we have a purpose on this earth. Maybe yours is does not look promising, but with God, all things look promising."
She managed a small smile and he brushed the back of her head softly, lulling her back into tortured sleep.
"I know Bernardo! I should not have her here...but, something tells me she should be. Would you care to take her place on that whipping post just because you don't worship a pagan?!" Diego grew angry at Bernard but soon cooled his temper as he saw Brighid stir in her sleep. He could only imagine the dreams she had. She had been in his cabin for over a week now, and three times they suspected him of kidnap.
He may have kidnapped her, but he saw it as freedom. He plotted her "death" to throw them off of anyone's course. He had to cut her long hair unfortunately, and stitched it to a large stuffed sack, clothed in her old clothes. He shoved it over board, left and came back, spotting it, telling everyone on board, making them believe it was a suicide, when in fact; she lay asleep in his cabin.
"Kelley!" Brighid awoke suddenly from one of her dreams, and her breathing was eratic as she sat up in bed, shaking. She buried her head in her hands and repeated the name aloud. She snapped around, half fearing who was touching her on the shoulder, but relaxed when she saw it was him.