These could be my final diary entries. I’ve tried again and again to wake myself up from this nightmare, but it’s all real. A band of Ogres has taken me captive.
I managed to gather the current date from those louts, and according to this diary it has been two days since the last entry. This whole time I have been completely vulnerable to any manner of foulness. As far as I can tell, I am untouched but I do not know what they have planned.
On the road to Elmet we encountered one of their kind. It was standing over a dead horse so my guards drew their swords to protect me.
The thing turned around, and with one downward blow of its fist struck Nathan’s head. I can still see the sickening crumple of his body in my mind, life suddenly knocked out of it. The rest is a blur, the other guards running in, getting on a horse to escape…
And now I have ended up in such an unthinkable circumstance: I am in their camp alone. I have not heard any tortured screams from the men my father assigned to me. So I can only assume they are already dead or eaten. It is not a coincidence that I am left alive. As the daughter of the local baron, or simply as a woman... their glares tell me more than enough about their wicked intentions.
A guard is always posted at the entrance to the pavilion and got angry when I tried to leave. How long will I be their prisoner?
This diary is my haven from this horrific time. I am truly thankful for it. Surrounded by these ignorant brutes, it is the sole place I can confide.
When I woke, two of them were looming over me. They had watched me as I slept. Rightly, I screamed and kicked the moment I reached consciousness. Eventually the brutes backed off. One of them was the guard, who returned to the entrance.
Their smell still lingers in the pavilion, so it is impossible to not see those horrid faces if I close my eyes. I keep remembering a line from one of those pictured stories I read as a child: “Ogres always cook in pairs.” It was on my mind all day as a pair of small Ogres watched me from outside. Eventually the guard made them leave, but the way they continuously stared frightens me. Even now my pen is quivering.
Maybe there is still hope left. I cannot recall ever being happier than this morning, when my father’s retainer Phillip entered the tent. He somehow convinced the Ogres to let him speak to me without being killed.
He told me that my father’s men should arrive in five days. He could not convince the Ogres to let me leave with him.
It will be unbearable to hold on for five days, but knowing that my dad is coming for me is a new comfort I can hold onto, other than this diary.
Valent 8th Braghed
The Ogres’ intentions remain a mystery, even more so after today. There was little to do this morning but wish for my father’s men to arrive, however, early in the day an Ogre came that could speak the trade tongue.
He was neither deft nor subtle in his speech, but the thought that any Ogre could summon the intelligence to speak a civilised tongue was stupefying. I was so surprised that when he started talking I thought I was hearing some kind of primitive grunting. Eventually I realised those grunts were words that I actually understood, and upon listening again, questions were being asked to me.
He asked me if I could walk, if my head ached, if I felt pains anywhere… so many questions about my wellbeing. I thought carefully about what my answer should be but I ended up answering honestly. I was well.
The Ogre introduced himself as Gohrda, from some other clan whose name I cannot remember. However, I managed to quickly scribble the name of the clan which has me prisoner at the top of the page.
Gohrda said that I had fallen off my horse and the Braghed clan was worried that I had lasting injuries. He said they had been trying to check, but had concerns that my injuries would be aggravated while I was awake.
Gohrda’s clumsy speech unintentionally helped to mask his intent, but clearly the clan’s concern was a lie. It should have been obvious that I was healthy enough for anything they could possibly want. They are more than strong enough to do whatever they will with me. I don’t know for what purpose they are trying to get me to lower my guard, but I am wise enough to keep my wits about me. That is my only advantage.
I was even taken to talk to the supposed “chief” of Braghed, Dedgra. Gohrda translated that Dedgra was sorry for the death of my companions and offered prayers to Aeas for my own recovery.
I played along with the farce and didn’t ask any questions which might compromise myself. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. What leader apologises to her captive?
Given that I was supposedly being kept to heal and recover, I decided to see if I could use that to do something other than wait the day away in my tent. Perhaps I would be able to ascertain their intentions from outside and act against their plans. At any point the Ogres would be able to use their strength to stop me, but so long as they continued their farce, I could investigate.
When Gohrda came in the morning with the physician, I allowed the physician to work so that I could gather good will. The physician mostly checked for breaks and asked if there were pains or aches while working.
The physician’s hands were easily as large as my waist, but despite the largeness of his hands, he was incredibly careful and controlled in his movements. I could feel the weight and firmness of them as he scrutinised over me. If he wanted, he could have crushed me in his hands with little effort. However, whenever I showed any discomfort the physician would stop and ask if everything was fine, even if the discomfort was plainly not for bodily reasons. At the end, he tried to offer some herbs, but when I refused them he finalised his work and left.
Gohrda was not of much use throughout the process, but the means to communicate with the physician who could so easily take my life was certainly welcome. When I declared I wanted to go outside, I was not at all surprised that Gohrda was tasked to watch over me.
In contempt, I chose to go to a nearby brook instead of another place Gohrda recommended. I sat by the edge and watched two small Ogres that were playing in the water. When they began to stare back, I recognised them as the two from a few days ago. My discomfort must have shown because Gohrda went and talked to them. Eventually they left.
He apologised for their staring and explained that the two children had never seen humans before and were frightened of me. The idea of an Ogre fearing a human made me laugh, but Gohrda did not find it so humorous. He explained further that to the children I looked far too skinny and white like a ghost, like I was some departed soul haunting them.
While I am fair in complexion, I could not understand how I was being compared to a corpse.
Gohrda’s grim mood was clear as he explained that their mother had been the one who had struck down my companions on the road, fearing for her unborn child. She was currently in temporary exile, leaving the twins on their own.
I was not sure how to feel about the tale so I remained silent. Apart from one comment about the colour of the sky, Gohrda also was silent.
As I walked through camp today I noticed small details in how the Ogres were treating me.
There were certain subtleties in their gestures and stances. Whenever I passed Ogres in the street they would stop and watch to not trample or disturb me. Children raised less commotion when others were around. Even Gohrda gave up his seat for me and stood when meals were given to me.
As I write this, I am reading entries from previous days. I am second guessing everything I wrote before. Even the physician acted so kindly, though I was so harsh with him. I was so scared, and he must have seen that.
I could not contain myself when I was then offered coffee. I asked why everyone had been treating me with such kindness. Gohrda said two words “feel… sorry”. They had felt sorry for me, for the death of my companions and how lonely I must feel in this camp. It was so difficult to believe, but it was clear that Gohrda’s feelings were genuine.
I don’t know how long I sat there wordless. A slow anger was building inside me and Gohrda took notice, showing concern, but it was not him or any of the people in the camp I was angry at.
These people showed more respect and courtesy to me than some knights that I know. But they have sworn no oaths, nor do they abide by some code of rightness. They are kind to me with no expectations or intent. They may be strong and immense, but they are also gentle and pensive.
Ogres are so dissimilar to the pictured books I read as a child. Their faces had always been terrifying, with fangs or large jaws for swallowing children. They always had cruel, dreadful plans for their victims accented by absurd stupidity. Not one Ogre that I had seen here was truly that terrifying. Their faces were round and kindly. And those plans… only human minds had conceived such things.
I’m not sure what I should be most angry at… I am angry at myself… my father… all the people around me…
But it is not simply the blatant fiction which angers me. What sickens me is how these gentle creatures are forced to anger by our own actions towards them. Human violence born of pure falsehoods.
I want to offer my deepest apologies to everyone, but Gohrda left at noon to see his wife and family in the neighbouring clan. None of my “sorrys” were being understood by anyone, instead they worried about my state of distress.
So I write it here. Sorry. I am not worthy of your forgiveness for how terrible I have been but I am truly sorry.
When Gohrda returns, I will say the same to him.
Tomorrow my father’s men arrive to “rescue" me. It occurred to me during the day, I had sincerely forgotten about it. I have tried to tell everyone to leave the area and settle somewhere else, but without Gohrda no one understands me. They must have thought I was asking for Gohrda, because they kept motioning in the direction he went while repeating his name.
Despite all my so-called “wits”, nothing I have done has made anybody leave.
When they arrive tomorrow they will find little reason to leave the Ogres unpunished after keeping the lord’s daughter captive for nine days. With all my might, I must stop them. I must.
I feel sick.
This has been harrowing… woeful…
Misery. Distress. Gloom. There is no word for this. Everything feels wrong.
But I must write. I cannot allow myself to ever forget this.
I left the camp early yesterday morning to the place Phillip told me the men would arrive from. I found them moving towards the camp and managed to call out to them. They were surprised that I had secured my own safety and grateful I was unhurt.
Fredrick, the leader of the group, cut me off before I began. He wanted to spare me recounting the “horrible things” that the Ogres had done to me, and promised swift justice upon them.
I told him that no such terrible things happened, to take me home immediately as my father would want.
He gave me a confused look and promised that I was now safe.
I once again ordered him to take me home. I pulled out this diary to show him how these people were kind and innocent, that they had only been caring for me.
But the illiterate lout had no care for my writings nor for my “hysteric quibbling”. Frederick said these were no innocent creatures, for they killed three fellows of the lord.
When he went to command the men I jumped on him yelling for him to stop. He threw me to the dirt and ordered the men to keep me “safe” and restrained. I cried there in the dirt as boots advanced towards the Ogres below.
There I continued to cry until a bannerman returned who said “We found this one in the tent we were told Sahanna would be kept. No doubt preparing a wicked scheme. A fine prize for the lord.”
Even through my tears I recognised the head of Gohrda mounted on my father’s banner. He must have hurried back when he heard fighting.
I vomited there. The men let me go, probably disgusted from my vomiting, but I did not have the will to struggle anymore and stayed in that miserable pool.
The men probably thought I was reacting to the bloody sight, but I had already seen a similar sight some seven days ago when Nathan’s face caved in. No, my terrible tears and retching were for far worse.
I am not sure why, but in that miserable state I recalled some words a priestess once said to me: “Sarkanya’s greatest weapons aren’t forged from iron.” For the first time I truly understand what she meant.