To look at it, some would say the house was haunted. Joan leisurely padded through the complicated labyrinth of hollow rooms deliberately adjusting her step around the larger slabs of crumbling sallow-waxy wall. She diverted her dull sunken eyes from the cells that contained the mummified bodies of her dead sisters as she passed to answer the knock at the front door. There was no girlish flourish to Joan’s course. And while she plotted each step in total silence, the nagging mantra in her mind screamed, “Father, when will you return from the war?”
In truth, Joan barely knew her father. Her last memory of him was bathed in a blinding light. She remembered the sparkling glint in his dancing black eyes and the first rays of the morning sun gleaming off the sharp, honed edge of his sword as he and the other males of the small colony rallied and swarmed off to war. Their voices were a vibrating mass of lusty bravado exclaiming the plunder of riches that would soon be theirs. But that was years ago and the loud bluster of that morning came to Joan’s ear now, as a sad, low buzz. One brief glance at their moldering home was vivid testimony that there were no riches of war.
The knock at the door escalated to rapid pounding. She was used to that. Their once comfortable nest had been pillaged many times before. With the warriors away on their grand adventure; Joan, her mother, and her sisters were seen as easy prey by marauding mercenaries who terrorized the countryside feeding off the defenseless situation of the abandoned females. By the time she reached the front portal, the persistent visitor began shouldering the door. This time they were ready.
She braced herself against the rank, meady stench that would accompany the inebriated intruder through the door. Her senses tingled as she heard the frustrated caller plod away from the house. Her nose twitched when she heard the tramp’s heavy feet quickly crunching through the debris on the rotting porch, propelling him at high speed toward the heavy door.
At the apex of timely precision, she sprang the latch, gave a mighty yank, and pulled the door open. Joan watched blankly as the surprised barbarian stumbled and tumbled through the jamb into the open vestibule to fall prostrate at her mother’s feet. Without hesitation, and with exact intent, the queen of the domain flung her great sword high over her head and powerfully pulled it down across the midsection of the petrified rogue cutting him in half.
Joan calmly closed and latched the door. She and her mother each took hold of one of the bisected invader’s legs and slowly dragged his bloody bottom half deep into the interior of their lair. That night; Joan, her mother, and her sisters feasted on the loins of the hapless stranger. Nothing was ever the same after that.