Kimi shivered as she contemplated her fate. These men were not going to kill her. That was not what they wanted or they would have done so already. Did they want a hostage to ransom? That was not the style of the Tribes. They simply came and took what they wanted. Horses mainly. They did not use money and they measured their wealth by the number and quality of their animals.
Her musings came to an end when she found herself pulled roughly from her horse. Someone untied her feet so she could stand, and a tall man came over.
'Who is this?' he queried in a booming voice.
'She's a settler.' one of her captors replied. 'She came after us so we ambushed her and brought her here.'
The tall man circled Kimi, looking her up and down as if she were a piece of horseflesh.
'Not much to look at, is she?' he said. 'Plain face, and small. Still, she's got nice eyes, and lovely, thick, brown hair. I'm not sure how she'll be at bearing children, though.'
Kimi's eyes opened wide as she realised what this man was saying. They were going to use her as breeding stock, just like a mare. Something snapped in t he girl's mind and she kicked out at the tall man.
'I'm not a mare to be put to the stallion,' she responded, eyes blazing.
The men all laughed, and the tall man called another young man over, who was looking the stolen horses over. When he arrived, Kimi saw a likeness between him and the tall man and concluded the younger one was his son.
'What do you think of this girl?' asked the tall man.
The younger man looked her up and down as his father had done and said, 'She's very plain, and a bit small. She may not be able to bear children successfully.
His father frowned. 'She has spirit, though. That is what we need in the tribe. None of your submissive women. That's fine in a woman, but not if she breeds children like herself. We need women with spirit. I like this girl. You will marry her.'
With that, he stalked off. leaving the young men all staring at Kimi.
The chief's son, for the tall man was the tribal chief, told the others to take her to a tent and to make sure she could not escape. Struggle as she might, Kimi was not strong enough to break the hold of t he man holding her and she found herself thrust into a tent. The man then tied her to the tentpole by her wrists.
Kimi struggled to no avail, only succeeding in chafing her wrists. Then the tentflap opened and the chief's son entered.
'What's your name?' he demanded.
Kimi made no reply, but turned her head away. The chief's son grabbed her chin and turned her head back towards him.
'Answer me when I speak to you.'
Kimi spat in his face and received a blow across her cheek for her insult.
As he wiped the spittle from his cheek, the young man stood.
'We have your best horses now, and you, so we'll be leaving in the morning. My father says we must be married, but that won't happen before we get far away, back to our own territory, the territory of the Prowling Lynx. I will have my tattoos done to show I'm the son of the chief and then we'll be married.'
He started to leave the tent, but turned and kicked out at Kimi, landing a kick on her left leg.
'You're not what I'd have chosen. There are plenty beautiful women in the tribe who would jump at the chance of marrying me. Still, my father says I must marry you, so I'll do so. Those other women will still be anxious to be my lovers.'
He laughed as he left Kimi alone to consider her fate.
Kimi could not help it. She tried not to, but tears pooled in her eyes, and try as she might, they overflowed and fell onto the tent floor.
During he next few days Kimi had some relief from the taunts of her husband-to-be as he was busy erecting and taking down tents before moving off, or herding the horses, who tried constantly to turn back to their old home.
It started again each evening. though. The young man came to her tent and insulted her, or kicked and hit her. Kimi determined not to allow him to make her cry. At least not in front of him. but once he left for his own tent, she allowed the tears to fall.
How long would it take to reach the lands of the Prowling Lynx tribe? She hoped it was a very long time, She prayed that her father could raise some of the settlers and come after her. Then she prayed they would not, because many would be killed in the fight that ensued.
Eventually, she decided she would be co-operative in order to lull this raiding party into thinking she had become resigned to her fate. Perhaps she could manage to spot an opportunity to escape.